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Creative Nonfiction Prize

*Please Note: Although Poets & Writers have this listed with a September 10 deadline (the original deadline), we have extended the deadline for this contest to March 1. You may still submit now and up to March 1. Winners will be announced in summer 2016. Thank you.

What is the Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize?

An annual contest for the best writing in the boundless field of creative nonfiction. A chance for your creative nonfiction to be read by Hunger Mountain editors and guest judges.

What will the winner receive?

One first place winner receives $1,000 and publication. Two runners-up receive $100 each.

Who can enter the contest?

Any writer – residing in any country or U.S. state – is eligible to enter; Hunger Mountain and VCFA staff and currently enrolled students are ineligible.

Who is this year’s judge?

Robert Michael Pyle (photo credit: Florence Sage)

Robert Michael Pyle (photo credit: Florence Sage)

The 2016 judge is Robert Michael Pyle.

Robert Michael Pyle dwells, writes, and studies natural history in rural Cascadia. An Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and a Guggenheim Fellow, he founded the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Pyle’s eighteen books include Wintergreen (winner of the John Burroughs Medal), Sky Time in Gray’s River, The Thunder Tree, Where Bigfoot Walks, Chasing Monarchs, Mariposa Road, Walking the High Ridge, The Tangled Bank, Evolution of the Genus Iris: Poems, and a flight of butterfly books. Pyle has taught place-based writing at Utah State University, as Kittredge Distinguished Writer at the University of Montana, and in many other venues from Alaska to Alabama, Tasmania to Tajikistan. He is currently making poems and music with his friend, neighbor, and Grange brother, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.

When is the deadline?

The deadline is March 1, for both electronic and snail mail entries, with the submission period open from October 1 to March 1. (THIS IS A NEW DEADLINE. We are sorry for any confusion! You may have read about this contest in a magazine or blog that posted an old deadline; please note that the deadlines listed here on the Hunger Mountain website are the correct deadlines, thank you.)

Where are last year’s winning entries?

Last year’s winning piece,“Nocturne in the Key of We” by Laura Distelheim, is published in Hunger Mountain 19: The BODY issue.

Does Hunger Mountain accept electronic entries?

Yes! We use Submittable. Please enter an original unpublished piece of creative nonfiction, no more than 10,000 words. Your name and address should not appear on the essay itself; we read contest entries blind. There is a $20.00 entry fee, payable online.

Click here to enter the Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize.

Does Hunger Mountain still accept entries via snail mail?

Yes! Hunger Mountain accepts postal entries for contests. Entries must be postmarked by March 1st and accompanied by your $20.00 entry fee – send a check or money order made out to Vermont College of Fine Arts.  Please enter an original unpublished piece of creative nonfiction, no more than 10,000 words. Your name and address should not appear on the essay itself; we read contest entries blind.  Instead of writing your name on the manuscript, enclose an index card with the essay title, your name, address, phone number, and email address. If you like, you may also enclose a postage-paid postcard for acknowledgement of entry and a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) for a list of winners.  Entries must be typed, double-spaced, and on one side of the paper only. Use a paper clip or send unbound (no staples or binding, please!).

Send entry and $20.00 entry fee to:

CNF Prize
Hunger Mountain
Vermont College of Fine Arts
36 College Street
Montpelier, VT 05602

Will entries be considered for general publication as well as for the CNF prize?

Yes, they will.

Are simultaneous submissions okay?

Yes,  but please let us know right away if your work is accepted elsewhere. Unfortunately, we cannot refund entry fees if the work is accepted elsewhere. Previously published submissions are not eligible for the contest. Please send original, unpublished work.

May I submit more than one essay for the contest?

Yes, multiple entries are allowed. But each entry should be submitted separately, and include its own entry fee. (You may send more than one entry and entry fee in the same envelope if you’re using snail mail.)

Are previously published essays eligible?

No. We accept original, unpublished work for the contest.

What if I have a question that’s not answered here?

Email us at

Thanks for entering our contest, and good luck!