Boston Review Contests 2020/ How to Apply (Payment: $1000 + more)

The Boston Review Contests began in 1996, and is awarded to a short story writer and a poet, with a prize of $1000 to the winner in each category and publication in the Boston Review special themed issue. The 2019 contest, which was judged by the African writers Ladan Osman (Poetry) and Yvonne Owuor (Short Story), was won in the short story category by Sabrina Helen Li for her story “Mother, Grow My Baby”, and in the poetry category by C.X. Hua. One of the finalists last year was Kechi Nomu, who was a judge for the Kreative Diadem Annual Writing Contest in the poetry category.

The Boston Review Contests are open for submissions this year, and is judged by Ivelisse Rodriguez (Short Story) and Alexis Pauline Gumbs (Poetry).

This year’s theme is “Ancestors”. According to the Boston Review Contest page:

Who are your people? Who made you who you are? What about you only makes sense to someone who knows where you’re from? What’s a secret about your past?”

The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2020.

Who is Eligible:

  • Writers from anywhere in the world.
  • There is an entry fee of $20 for writers from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, but there is none for writers outside of those countries. Entries are also free for writers who claim “hardship” from anywhere in the world.

How to Apply:

  • All entries must be related to the theme of the contest this year, “Ancestors”.
  • Submit a short story of no longer than 5000 words on the theme.
  • Or up to five poems, not longer than ten pages, on the theme.
  • Make sure that your name does not appear anywhere on the document.
  • Entrants must not have a close personal or professional relationship with any of the judges.
  • Submit here (fiction), or here (poetry).
  • The deadline for submission is April 15, 2020.


  • The first prize winner in each category receives $1000.
  • And their work will be published in the Boston Review special literary issue “Ancestors”, which is to be published in January, 2021.
  • Each writer whose work is selected will also be published, and each writer will receive a complimentary copy.

You can check out this articles on the art of short story writing: Recommended Short Stories, How to Write A Great Short Story: Lessons from A Short Story Day with TJ Benson, and this short story by the Nigerian writer Ope Adedeji, and this poem by the poet Nome Emeka Patrick. And this literary magazine currently accepting submissions.

Good luck.


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