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Listen up Minnesota student writers: Nine fresh writing competitions are calling for your attention—and work. Whether you’ve entered a writing contest in the past or you’re waiting for the perfect opportunity, now’s the time to get crafting and submit. These nine contests cover the gambit of ages, topics, and genres, which means no student is left out. That’s right, there’s no excuse not to enter! So put down your phones, pull up a chair, and check out this listing of Minnesota student writing contests for Spring 2018:

Frankenstein Project – Novella Contest 2018

Theme: One or more fundamental themes of the Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein

Age: Any person living in southeastern Minnesota/SELCO library region

Contests participants are asked to write a novella on a Frankenstein theme, like vengeance and futility or creativity and the responsibility of what has been created. Submissions must be between 20,000 and 50,000 words. The contest is free to enter and includes monetary prizes and publication in an anthology. Deadline for submissions: March 4, 2018.


Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis – Student Essay Contest 2018

Theme: Should the Federal Government increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour?

Age: All high school students living in the Ninth Federal Reserve District

Essays must be limited to three pages on the topic and under the direction and supervision of a teacher. Monetary prizes for 30 finalists, along with first, second, and third cash prizes and a paid summer internship for the first prize winner. Teachers can also receive cash prizes. Deadline for submissions: April 20, 2018.


Minnesota State Fair – K-12 Competition

Theme: Reports and Creative Writing

Age: K – 12

Teachers or students submit work as an exhibit. Online registration begins May 7, 2018. Students may submit a variety of items; projects executed at home and school are welcome. Projects include drawings, paintings, reports, and creative writing. Entry is free. Deadline for submissions: August 7, 2018.


Twin Cities Juneteenth Celebration and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Youth Drawing and Essay Contest 2018

Theme: What Juneteenth means to you or your family or Why is Juneteenth an important historical event?

Age: 11-18

Juneteenth celebrates the end of African slavery in the U.S. Entrants must write a 250-word essay on one of the above themes. Contest is free to enter. First and second place winners are awarded prizes and honored at the Annual Juneteenth Celebration on June 16. Deadline for submissions: June 1, 2018.


2018 Lutherans for Life Minnesota Essay Contest

Theme: From Age-to-Age the Same and Bible verse Isaiah 46:3b-4

Age: Lutheran students in grades 6 – 12

Students must write a life-affirming essay on the topic, no more than 400 words for grades 6-8 and 750 words for grades 9-12. Monetary awards are given to top winners, along with advancement to the national contest. No entry fee. Deadline for submissions: March 18, 2018.


The Great River Shakespeare Festival/Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest 2018 (Winona)

Theme: Sonnet (see information below)

Age: Youth Category, ages 17 and younger

According to the website: “Sonnets may be written in Shakespearean, Spenserian, Petrarchan or Non-Traditional rhyme schemes, but each must be in the fourteen-line, iambic pentameter form.” Best youth category for this contest awards three winners, who will receive cash prizes. No fee to enter for youth category. Deadline for submissions: June 1, 2018.


The Great American Think-Off Writing Contest 2018

Theme: Which plays a greater role in shaping one’s life: success or failure?

Age: All ages

Essays must be no longer than 750 words. Four winners receive cash prizes and an invitation to a live debate on June 9 in New York Mills, MN, to answer the question. No fee to enter. Deadline for submissions: April 1, 2018.


2018 SCSC Writing Contest (South Central Service Cooperative & Minnesota State/Mankato)

Theme: Conservation and Sustainability

Age: Students in grades K - 12

Write a poem, fiction, or nonfiction piece that relates to the theme. Word length varies. The contest was created to recognize talented young writers in south-central Minnesota. Awards include publication in an anthology and copies for themselves and their school. Additional prizes may be awarded. Entry fee of $3 per submission, multiple submissions accepted. Deadline for submissions: March 19, 2018.


Lake Superior Writers 2018 Annual Contest

Theme: Rescue

Age: Must be 18 or older – open to college students

The LSW 2018 Annual Writing Contest covers multiple genres, including poetry, short-short fiction, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. Monetary prizes and publication for winners. Entry fees are free for members of LSW; $35 fee for nonmembers. Deadline for submissions: April 1, 2018.


Good luck to all contestants!

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800px-LadysslipperOnce again, spring is right around the corner—and so are some important deadlines for 2013 writing contests in Minnesota. Whether you’re a fan of writing contests or not, there's plenty here to spark any writer's interest. This list is a bit more extensive than the one I posted last spring, and it mainly applies to Minnesota writers (although a few contests are open to writers everywhere). So get your creativity flowing and get browsing. Many of the following deadlines are fast approaching!

  1. Support the U—Essay Contest for College Affordability. This student-organized essay contest seeks essays highlighting college affordability and why the University of Minnesota is a good investment for Minnesota. U of M students are invited to submit appropriate essays of between 250 and 500 words. Multiple cash prizes are available, including $300 for the first place winner. Deadline: March 1, 2013.
  2. Rolfzen Memorial Writing Contest for Poetry and Short Fiction. Sponsored by the organization honoring Bob Dylan in his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, this international contest is open to poets and fiction writers for poems of no more than 1,000 words and stories under 4,000 words. Adult and student poets as well as adult fiction writers are eligible. Prizes include publication in Talkin' Blues journal. Deadline: March 3, 2013.
  3. Minnesota Journal Writing Contest—Citizens League. For this debut contest by the Citizens League of St. Paul, you can write an 800-word journal article answering the question: What common assumption in today's public policy world is completely unfounded, and why? Prize is publication in the spring edition of the Minnesota Journal. Deadline: March 4, 2013.
  4. Minnesota Emerging Writer’s Grant. Though not a writing contest, this grant is worth competing for. It provides financial and professional support to writers for their artistic endeavors. Sponsored by The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, the Emerging Writer's Grant may be awarded to several emerging Minnesota writers (non-K-12 students, who have published fewer than three books) in amounts up to $10,000. Deadline for applications: March 27, 2103.
  5. student writingMinnesota Historical Society Dear President Lincoln Student Writing Contest. All Minnesota students in grades 6-12 are invited to write a response to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in 300 words or less. Winners receive a trip to the Pennsylvania Battlefield in July 2013, an iPad, and the opportunity to blog about the experience.
  6. Lake Superior Writers— 2013 Writing Contest. This is an open-theme writing contest in the areas of poetry (up to three poems), fiction (up to 500 words), and creative nonfiction (up to 1,500 words). Only members of the Lake Superior Writers group are eligible. Membership to the group is available for $35. First place winners receive $100, plus a $50 gift card. Deadline: April 1, 2013.
  7. Rochester Public Library’s 2013 Youth Writing Contest. Both poetry and short stories will be judged in this teen writing contest sponsored by the public library of  Rochester, Minnesota. Winners receive Barnes & Noble gift cards, publication, and an awards program in May. Deadline: April 14, 2013.
  8. Minnesota Christian Writers Guild—2013 Writing Contest. Members of the MCWG are eligible to enter this travel writing contest for cash prizes. Membership is available for $40 ($20 for students). Articles must be between 700 and 1,200 words. Deadline: April 15, 2013.
  9. Minnesota Medicine ‘s 10th Annual Medical Musings Writing Contest. Minnesota medical school students or Minnesota physicians can enter a piece of writing on any aspect of medical practice or the study of medicine. Submissions must be unpublished. Winners will be published in the July 2013 issue of Minnesota Medicine magazine. Deadline: May 3, 2013.
  10. Geek Partnership Society’s Annual Writing Contest. The GPS honors science fiction writing, fantasy, horror, supernatural, and alternate history fiction. For this writing contest, five contest divisions are available: open (which includes the premier Scott Imes Award), poetry, youth (two divisions), and graphic novel. The Scott Imes Award will go to a local contest entrant. All submissions must be unpublished and written by amateurs (nonprofessional writers). Prizes include gift cards and publication. Deadline: May 15, 2013.

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An interesting new website just launched by some graduate students from North Dakota State University. Sponsored by Assistant Professor of History Angela Smith, the site is called The Fargo History Project and serves as "a vehicle for student research” in a digital history class. The site is designed to attract community engagement about local Fargo history and will continue to add information from future history classes at NDSU.

I’m especially excited about this new website for several reasons. First, I’m from Fargo and have always been interested in learning more about the city’s beginnings. Also, as a writer of history, I appreciate reading what other history writers have to share. And finally, I have a small part in the project. I was asked to perform an audio recording of a history piece I wrote years ago on Fargo pioneer Martin Hector. Unearthing my old article and reading – aloud – what I’d written years ago turned out to be as fun as it was rewarding. Plus, I got to relearn the story of the man who happens to be my great-grandfather.

I am grateful to Angela Smith and the students at NDSU for creating an innovative way to share and discuss important local history – and keep yesterday’s news fresh and alive. Check out the new website at Fargohistory.com.