Contest Guidelines

Submissions to the Third Coast Fiction and Poetry Contests are CLOSED but will open on October 15, 2022. 

Third Coast accepts contest submissions exclusively via our Submittable account.

Winners receive $1,000 and publication in Third Coast. All contest entries will be considered for publication in Third Coast.

Submit one previously unpublished story of up to 9,000 words or up to three previously unpublished poems at a time, in one file. All manuscripts should be typed and fiction manuscripts should be double-spaced. Please include entry title and page numbers on all manuscript pages. Because judging is blind, the author’s name and identifying information (address, email, phone number, and bio) should appear only in the “cover letter” section of the Submittable form; identifying information must not appear anywhere on the manuscript itself. Manuscripts including identifying information will be disqualified.

Simultaneous submissions are permitted, though if work is accepted elsewhere, we ask that it be withdrawn from the contest immediately. If a piece is chosen as a finalist, we ask that it be withdrawn from other publications’ consideration until our judge selects a winner. Multiple entries are permitted, but each entry must be submitted separately.

The $18 entry fee (payable online) entitles the submitter to a one-year subscription to Third Coast. No money will be refunded.

Writers associated with the judges, WMU, or Third Coast are not eligible to submit.


2020 Winners

The winners of our 2020 Fiction and Poetry Contests, judged by Kevin Wilson and Dennis Hinrichsen:

Fiction: Emily Lackey, “Matrilineal”

Of “Matrilineal” Kevin Wilson writes: “”Matrilineal” examines the nature of family, how we join ourselves to other people, how we make peace with the people who made us, how impossible it is to ever fully understand. And the story does it with such precision, such beautiful lines, and a depth of emotion that stunned me. And, if that isn’t enough, the story brings us into a reckoning with God, working these themes until the final line, which ends on such a note of yearning that the story opens up to swallow us whole.”

Runner-up: Sophia Veltfort, “Queen of the Dryads”

Poetry: Margaret Ray, “While Wandering in Montreal I Mistake Desire for That Feeling You Get When You Actually Want to Be Another Person”

Of “While Wandering in Montreal I Mistake Desire for That Feeling You Get When You Actually Want to Be Another Person” Dennis Hinrichsen writes: “This poem continually delights as it works that border beside desire and acting on that desire recognizing throughout that though the language used for expressing this is full of “soft romantic” sounds, it is still the “language of invaders.” There is still a “violent history of colonization.” And yet the speaker has crossed a border—from Vermont to Quebec—and desires to touch skin and “to live inside it.” How wonderful the rush of thinking here—itself borderless given the smart formal choice of dispensing with periods—as the ideas and music build toward the paradigm offered by, of all things, the BBC series, Killing Eve. This may be a “mistake” as the title suggests, not desire, and provisional, yes, but it still offers a path out of the body into that longed-for other. A poem I kept returning to for its precision and clarity.”

Runner-up: John Blair, “Junk”

The winning pieces will be published in Issue 50 (Fall/Winter 2020).