Last Call for Submissions to the Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize

The LASY DAY to enter TMR‘s Editors’ Prize has arrived

And with it, the last call. The 29th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize Contest closes tonight! You have the rest of this Tuesday to go, so don’t fret. Let fly your poems, your stories, your essays. How many poems in a parliament of owls? How many stories in a skulk of foxes, or essays in a shrewdness of apes? How much soaring or falling in none of those things? Only you can tell us. We can’t wait to hear you.

Best of luck, and with gratitude for your art,
The Editors

Announcing the Winners of the 2015 Miller Audio Contest

Please join us in congratulating the winners and runners-up of this year’s Miller Audio Contest!  Winners were selected in collaboration with our guest judge, Andrew Leland, host and producer of the Organist (, a weekly arts and culture podcast from KCRW, and the Believer magazine. Stay tuned for these pieces to be released as featured podcasts on TMR‘s Soundbooth in June and July.

1st Place in Audio Documentary: “Lance and Nina: A Story of Addiction and Redemption” by Karen Brown

Runner-up in Audio Documentary: “Heartland, Missouri” by Abigail Keel

1st Place in Poetry: “Notes on his poems by a guy who observed them in their natural habitat” by Kevin McIlvoy

     Runner-up in Poetry: “Thresher” by Kai Carlson-Wee (with music by Channing Showalter)

1st Place in Prose: “Leaving Los Angeles” by Alison Byrne

       Runner-up in Prose: “Vox Rex” by Robert Morgan Fisher

1st Place in Humor: “Chicken Cutlets, Cleavage & Compromise” by Jaime Lowe

       Runner-up in Humor: “This is how I thought things were done…sorry”

by Erin Drew

Special thanks to judge Andrew Leland; Contest Assistant Editor Brad Babendir; our amazing contest interns Leanna Petronella, Angie Netro, Richard Miller, and Mollie Jackman; and the rest of the TMR staff. It was another great year for submissions, and they were a pleasure to listen to. If you didn’t place this year, we hope you will consider submitting in 2016, and again, a big congratulations to our winners!

Winners of the 2014 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize


By Michael Nye

After weeks of reading, passing, recommending, rereading, and more rereading, we’re proud to announce the winners of our 24th annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize. We received almost 3000 entries this year, and the quality of our finalists made this a very tough decision. I’d like to thank all of the writers who gave us the opportunity to read their work. Without further ado, here are our winners in all three genres:


Winner: Rachel Swearingen of Minneapolis, Minnesota, for “How to Walk on Water”


Robin Romm of Portland, Oregon, for “What to Expect”

Edward Hamlin of Boulder, Colorado, for “Indígena”

Dana Fitz Gale of Missoula, Montana, for “Leah, Lamb”


Winner: Alexandra Teague of Moscow, Idaho


Jennifer Barber of Brookline, Massachusetts

Miriam Bird Greenberg of Berkeley, California

Phillip B. Williams of Chicago, Illinois


Winner: Andrew Cohen of Portland, Oregon, for “Ronaldo”


Nicole Banas of Devon, Pennsylvania, for “Rash”

Nynke Passi of Fairfield, Iowa, for “Oom Ealse and the Swan”

Jeff Wasserboehr of Leverett, Massachusetts, for “Possess Stonewall”

In all three genres, we read all the work twice, getting our selections down to a group of semi-finalists in each category. Call it anywhere from two dozen to fifty, depending on the genre. Then we passed the manuscripts around again and discussed the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, and passed the work around again until we came to a decision. We were able to finish our reading and make our selection a little early this year in comparison to the past, and that’s really due to all the hard work of our staff. So, my thanks to everyone who made our contest a success this year: contest editor, Anne Barngrover, who was terrific in managing our her team and spreading the good word to get all these high-quality submissions. Also, Anne’s staff of readers and assistants were wonderful. Big thanks to Evelyn Somers, Brad Babendir, Chun Ye, Leanna Petronella, Angie Netro, Marek Makowski, Richard Miller, Chasity Hurd, Justine Reale, and Dedra Earl for all their help.

For over thirty-five years, the quality of our magazine has depended on the work writers send to us, and we think our Editors’ Prize issue is always one of our best. We frequently se the best of a writer’s work, and that makes the selection process a tremendous challenge. Which, of course, is what we want. Thank you to all the writers who entered our contest this year and trusted us with your work.

We’re making plans right now for our Editors’ Prize weekend, our annual spring reading and reception to honor the winners of the contest. Details will be forthcoming as soon as we lock down the date, but we’re aiming for dates in March or April. This Editors’ Prize issue, featuring our winners and selected finalists, will also be out in spring of 2015.

Congratulations to Rachel, Andrew, and Alexandra!

Follow Michael Nye on Twitter: @mpnye

To Win A Mini-Van

Today’s Post comes from Nick Francis Potter. 

Let me talk to you about money, and possibly fame. But first money—

If you are anything like me, you are a writer—or something similar to a writer—and are therefore in want of money. If a writer, aspiring or otherwise, you’ll understand that money is something hidden in a shoebox on top of the refrigerator (and the refrigerator, more often than not, is a mini-refrigerator). This, I’ve found, is the essence of writing: being poor (write ‘student loans’ on the shoebox).

And so, yes—money. It’s a beautiful word, isn’t it? Pricks the ears with its two perfect syllables. Which brings me to TMR’s 23rd Annual Editors’ Prize, naturally.

Of course, you’re familiar with the prize. Our ad, which sits parallel to this article, is goading you now as you read. And while it’s true, the vibrantly colored background and authoritative font choice dominate the eye, the most attractive feature of the ad is this: “$5,000 awarded in each category.”

This should be repeated: $5,000!

I don’t know if you spend as much time trolling writing contests as I do, but $5,000 is more money than most writing contests award for a book length manuscript, let alone a single story, essay, or poetry. And if I’m assuming, again, you’re like me, that you occasionally whisper to yourself, “I’m a writer,” just for some kind of comfort, confirmation, or solidarity, then you already know that $5,000 is pretty much a half-year’s pay.

Now, here’s where I come clean: I’ve recently been familiar with as much as $5,000. That’s right, within the past month I have handled, in paper form, $5,000 (a check). No joke. And here’s what I did with it: I bought a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan pushing 106,000 miles. The van was actually advertised for $5,700, but I think the seller realized this was an unrealistic price when she found out I was in studying to be “a creative writing doctor,” which is what I told her.

So that monetizes it for you—winning TMR’s 23rd Annual Editors’ Prize is as good as winning a sweet, used mini-van (your eyes should be sparkling with wonder at this part).

Real talk, though: $5,000 is a lot of money.

And perhaps realer talk: if you are a writer, or an aspiring writer, or something else altogether (for those who handle the term as an epithet), reading is essential. And if you expect to get better, you need to read the best. What better way to subscribe to the best than to enter TMR’s 23rd Annual Editors’ Prize, wherein all submitters get an annual subscription to the finest literary publication in the nation (we’re allowed our bias)? It’s a win-win: a yearlong subscription to The Missouri Review, and potentially a mini-van (or $5,000 or whatever).

And, as I mentioned before, fame.*

*(Winners of TMR’s Annual Editors’ Prize are flown into TMR headquarters and paraded about like royalty. Trust me, it’s even better than the money.)

You can enter our Editor’s Prize here. 

Nick's FaceNick Francis Potter is a multimedia artist, writer, and alpaca enthusiast from Salt Lake City, Utah. His writing has been featured (or will be) in Black Warrior Review, Sleepingfish, The Chattahoochee Review, Caketrain, Fairy Tale Review, and The Collagist, among others. He currently lives in Columbia, MO with his wife and two boys. They really do have a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan.

When You Win

Today’s blog post comes from Rachel Yoder. 

Winning the contest will not make you happy. It might make you happy for a period of time, for a night or a week or a month or a springtime, but of course the writer’s drear will inevitably set back in. But bask in that miraculous moment of happiness. It happens so rarely. Go outside on Christmas Eve and let out a kind of embarrassing scream at the clear sky and jump up and down in your heavy boots, kick around some snow in your Midwestern in-laws’ driveway as they watch, amused. Back on the overstuffed sofa, feel the slight ebb of the bronchial gurgle in your lungs. Relax into the breaking fever, the long-awaited good night of sleep. Wake with the knowledge of winning as it alights on your forehead. It’s Christmas Day and here is the only present you wanted.

Winning the contest might, at first, make it a little bit weird with your writing friends. Buy them drinks and get them drunk. This will kill the brain cells that need to be killed.

Winning the contest will unveil the kindness of the writing community at large. Writers you admire will congratulate you. Writers you don’t know will email to say they read your story and liked it. You might feel part of something, part of a tribe or movement or moment in history, one of many who all believe in something, who have a calling. It might sound a little hokey but, goddamnit, sometimes we need hokey. The cynicism and irony have a way of clogging up everything. Winning the contest might make you sentimental and that’s okay. Maybe it’s even healthy. Winning the contest will remind you how it feels to be part of something bigger than your own petty goals and failures.

Winning the contest will probably make you question the very concept of the contest. It’s so subjective. Anyone could have won. You were lucky.  It just so happened the story you wrote spoke to the judge who was judging it. The stars aligned. You will think winning the contest doesn’t really mean anything about the story you wrote other than it was in the right place at the right time in front of the right people. And maybe this is all true, but still. Stop being so self-effacing for just one minute and let yourself think you are good. That you are a writer who wrote a good story. Don’t worry: the self-doubt and self-abasement will naturally reemerge, perhaps even more strongly than before. (Sorry.) Don’t worry about growing too smug, too big for your britches. Pride goeth before the fall and all that. Perhaps winning the contest was a lesson in learning how to be reasonably, graciously proud.

Of one thing we can be sure: if you win the contest, you will be five thousand dollars richer. And five thousand dollars is five thousand fucking dollars.

Winning the contest will not make you successful. Sure, the agents might write, but they will be looking for a fat fat novel or confessional memoir about a childhood spent in a Mennonite commune. You will have neither and will wonder what you’ve been doing for the past ten years. You like writing short stories, but maybe it’s time to start a novel. Will winning the contest make you start to write a novel? It might. (Sorry.)

Once you have won the contest, you will have always won the contest. That is to say, six months later, at a summer barbecue in someone’s back yard, a guy will approach you and accuse you of having won the contest that he also entered. He will be jokingly embittered, but, underneath, actually embittered. There will be an awkward silence. Offer to get him another beer. Then beat him at badminton.

Winning the contest will not cure your carpal tunnel. It won’t make coffee work again. It will not make you a better lover or daughter or friend. You will not keep you from ripping off your fingernails. It will not make you a morning person. But it might add a few more boards and nails, a solid slab of foundation, to that small rickety shack inside you. I have been building a place to live and here is the roof. The wall has been reinforced. Look how pretty these curtains are. They curve around the breeze and tint the sunlight pink. I sewed them myself.

You can enter our Editor’s Prize Contest Here.

YoderRachel Yoder edits draft: the journal of process, which features first and final drafts of prose and poetry along with author interviews about the creative process. She earned an MFA in Fiction from the University of Arizona and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Iowa, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. Her most recent work is included in the anthology Writing That Risks: New Work From Beyond the Mainstream from Red Bridge Press. She lives in Iowa City.


Extra! Extra! for Editors Prize Entries in June

Our most recent issue features the winners of our 21st Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize: poetry by David Kirby, an essay by Peter Selgin, and a story by Yuko Sakata. The issue has been out for a few weeks now, so you probably already know this and have already read the issue. And if you haven’t, well, goodness, go here and get yourself a copy.

What you may or may not know is that we are now open for Editors’ Prize entries for this year’s contest. Our deadline remains the same – October 1st – but as a previous winner of our Editors’ Prize, Jacob Appel, once argued in an article about contests in Poets & Writers, entering early is a good thing.

We agree!  The submission period for our annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize is now open. To entice you further, we would like to offer you an additional issue of The Missouri Review at no extra cost if you submit your entry during the month of June.  Winners in each genre receive $5,000, plus a featured publication in our spring 2013 issue—making this one of the top literary prizes in the country. Three finalists in each genre will also receive awards and be considered for publication.

The entry fee of $20 includes a year-long, 4-issue subscription. To take advantage of our special offer, simply submit your entry during the month of June and your subscription will automatically be upgraded to include a fifth issue, in digital format, for free. You may choose to receive the rest of your subscription in print or digital format. Our digital issue includes full access to our print version, readable on all mobile devices such as the iPad and Kindle—plus the audio version of the magazine, allowing you to hear every poem, story, and essay performed by either the author or a professional reader. Head over to our audio page to hear a few of this terrific recordings, such as this ditty by Austin Bunn to get a feel for it.

It would be super smart to read our full contest guidelines and then you should absolutely submit your contest entry by mail or online. As always, please feel free to contact us via email at  if you have any questions.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye

Downton Abbey: the Non-Contest Results

I could not be more pleased to announce the winner of our latest non-contest, whose name I mention in the next paragraph. Entrants were asked to render a famous author’s impressions of Downton Abbey, as portrayed in the popular television show Downton Abbey.

The following winning entry comes from author C Wallace Walker:

Jane Austen’s Visit to Downton Abbey

May 4, 1913

Dearest Cassandra,

The house has been in such a bustle, I could scarce command quiet time to compose a letter to you. The new heir, Mr. Matthew Crawley, yesterday arrived with his mother. They are lodging at Crawley House but dined with us at the big house last night.

Mrs. Crawley is a pushy sort, but not nearly the equal of old Lady Grantham. I maneuver away from her ladyship whenever possible, though do try to remain within earshot of her remarks. Her wit is not to be missed as long as it is not directed at oneself. The Lady does heartily approve of my performance at the pianoforte. She cannot tolerate ragtime and prefers the waltzes and quadrilles with which I am familiar. I had not the heart to tell her that for want of a secluded room in which to practice, I would wish to learn the contemporary pieces. The house contains an abundance of modern sheet music, but the only pianoforte sits in the library, a room nearly always occupied. In a stroke of fortune, the library also contains books enough for even me.

Mr. Crawley, aside from being bestowed with a future of both rank and fortune, seems of good character, despite having once studied the law. The Lady Mary clearly considers her station above Mr. Crawley’s, though she is neither the eldest son of a man of fortune, nor engaged to be married to a man of fortune. Lady Mary is perfunctory in her behavior toward me and the other guests, summoning a servant to attend to any of our needs but not troubling herself. She is so wholly unhappy with the threat to her position that the entailment poses. Lady Mary is the Charlotte Lucas of Downton, only in better clothes, prepared to steer her heart to the most advantageous attachment.

Quite the opposite, Lady Sybil the youngest, handsomest sister, cares nothing for rank or fortune. She is a headstrong girl, who feels a conviction to speak her mind, yet hopes to marry.

Lest you think me too severe on our sex, Lady Edith and I are similar in disposition and temperament. Like me, she takes pleasure in a good novel.

Lord Grantham is all you would expect for a man of his situation in life, a fair and kind master, neither soft nor severe. Aside from the unfortunate fact that Lady Grantham is American, one would never suspect that she is of no breeding.

In closing my dearest Cassandra, I do you wish you could see the grounds of Downton. I would sketch them for you, but my drawings are horribly unlike their subjects. With more than 50 bedrooms the house is impressive, but most majestic are the Lebanon cedars that surround the gardens. I long to walk among them with you and listen to the wind whisper in their branches.

Yours very affectionately,



Congratulations, C Wallace Walker, and thank you for entering!

You can reread Walker’s entry at our tumblr page right now, where we’ve also posted the work of three finalists, Jack Anderson, Michael Credico, and David Nahm, who channeled Cormac McCarthy, Lydia Smith, and W G Sebald, respectively.  We could not have been more pleased to read their work, and we hope you will wheel on over and check them out.

Contest Deadline Extension and Home Recording

I was able to spend a fair portion of the recent AWP Conference camped out at The Missouri Review’s book fair table. It’s always fun meeting former TMR contributors and past contest winners face-to-face—and I get especially get excited, as the contest editor, when people take an interest in our upcoming contests. This year we gave away quite a few flyers announcing our Audio Competition, but I also noticed faces falling when people took note of our deadline. “That’s not a lot of time,” a number of people said. And it’s true; March 15 is now less than a week away.

For this reason—because so many folks learned about our contest for the first time at AWP—we’ve decided to extend the contest deadline by an extra week. Additionally, our online entry format and our pay-by-donation fee structure are completely new this year, and it’s taken us a while to adjust the website to accommodate those improvements. We thought a deadline extension was the best option all-around. Entries are now due (emailed or postmarked) by March 22nd.

I also wanted to address any concerns about the re-defining of our contest categories. In the past, we’ve had separate categories for professionally-recorded and home-recorded documentaries, but we did away with that this year. In the end, we found that there was little qualitative difference between entries submitted in the two categories. Many home-recorded pieces were just as strong, if not stronger, than those recorded by “professionals.”

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts and emails, home recording is fairly straightforward with the help of a computer, a microphone, and free recording software like GarageBand or Audacity. I’ll share a link here for a website that offers some helpful tips on ways to improve the quality of home recordings. While the focus of the site is Audio Documentaries, most of the suggestions would be just as helpful for recording other kinds of content too.

TMR Podcast: Audio Winners Series: Judith Sloan, "Sweeping Statements"

Our first installment of the Audio Competition winners features the first place recipient of the Narrative Essay category, Judith Sloan. The essay, “Sweeping Statements,” is a first-person author-read accounting of teaching theatre, writing, and juggling in jails and alternative sentencing institutions with incarcerated teenagers. Category judge Jay Allison, of, says the essay “truly left the  page and warranted its existence in sound.”Sloan is an actress, oral historian and audio artist. Her audio pieces have been produced for National Public Radio and New York Public Radio. She is also co-founder of the non-profit arts organization EarSay, The piece was written, voice edited and performed by Judith Sloan; music produced and performed by Taylor Rivelli, for Taylormade Sounds, LLC; trumpets performed by Dave Guy; and music sequencing by Tomek Gross/Judith Sloan.  You can subscribe to our podcast through iTunes, or listen to this entry directly here.