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The Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Awards in Writing are one of ASU’s oldest and most celebrated traditions, recognizing the promising creative work of student writers. This will be the 59th year of the awards, which are made possible by the generosity of Swarthout Family.
There will be sixteen Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Awards in Writing given annually, divided into two categories Undergraduate and Graduate. These awards will consist of a first, second, third, and honorable mention prize in each genre, poetry and fiction.
February 1, 2021 - March 2, 2021 (All submissions are due by 4:00pm (MDT) on March 2, 2021)
First Prizes will be $2,225
Second Prizes $1,625
Third Prizes $1,000
Honorable Mention Prizes $500
In addition to the monetary awards, all sixteen winners will be invited to participate in a workshop/seminar with the contest judge in their genre
Undergraduate Student Category
Open to all ASU students not yet twenty-six (26) years of age
Students must be enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours in any college at ASU, this includes ASU online students
Graduate Student Category
Open to all graduate students regardless of age
Students must be ASU graduate students enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours
Each submission (poetry or fiction) must be accompanied by a cover sheet containing: the student’s Full Name, ASU ID #, ASU E-mail, Major, and the Genre and Title of Your Submission
The student’s name must appear only on the cover sheet, and not on the title page or on the pages of the text
Poetry manuscript of up to six (6) pages, which can be one long poem or multiple shorter poems
Fiction manuscript of up to thirty (30) double-spaced pages, which can consist of a short story/ stories, or a section of a novel
Students may submit a poetry and a fiction manuscript, but each must have its own coversheet, and be sent in a separate email
All submissions should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include your LAST NAME + Swarthout Award Spring 21 in the subject line of your submission email
Submission Deadline: March 2, 2021 by 4:00pm (MDT)
Winners are required to attend the award ceremony on April 15, 2021, 7:00pm (MDT), at the ASU University Club or via Zoom. If you cannot attend for some reason, please let us know, and we will help facilitate your attendance.
Jac Jemc is the author of the novels My Only Wife, winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award, and The Grip of It, and the short story collections A Different Bed Every Time and False Bingo, winner of the Chicago Review of Books Award for fiction and finalist for the Story Prize. Her forthcoming novel, Total Work of Art, will be published in 2022. Jemc currently teaches creative writing at UC San Diego.
Marwa Helal is a poet and journalist. She is the author of Invasive species (Nightboat Books, 2019) and winner of BOMB Magazine’s Biennial 2016 Poetry Contest. She has been awarded fellowships from Poets House, Brooklyn Poets, and Cave Canem, and is a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow. Born in Al Mansurah, Egypt, Helal currently lives and teaches in Brooklyn, New York. She received her MFA in creative nonfiction from The New School and her BA in journalism and international studies from Ohio Wesleyan University.
For reasons of public safety, the 58th Annual Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Awards Ceremony was moved to an online gathering. As you know, the Swarthout Awards are a highlight of our Spring Semester every year, and we hoped that this change in venue would allow us to continue to gather together in celebration.
The award ceremony was held on Zoom on April 16, 2020, at 7pm. This year's judges—Jac Jemc (fiction) and Marwa Helal (poetry)—were in attendance to announce the award recipients in Undergraduate Fiction and Poetry as well as in Graduate Fiction and Poetry.
In the past, our awards ceremony has always featured readings by the winners; for logistical reasons, we've decided this year to record those readings separately. Below you will find links to the 58th Annual Swarthout Awards Ceremony as well as links to individual readings by the winners in each category.
It was wonderful hosting you all online this year. Thank you to our judges and to the Swarthout family for their continued support during these challenging times.
Below you will find videos of this year's Swarthout Award Ceremony as well as readings by each of our winners. Please click on the text above the photos or the photos themselves to watch the videos.
Glendon Swarthout is the author of 16 novels, many of which were bestsellers and were adapted to film, including The Shootist, a 1976 film starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall and the film The Homesman, starring and directed by Tommy Lee Jones. Glendon was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and won numerous other awards for his novels, culminating in the Western Writers Award for Lifetime Achievement. Kathryn Swarthout has written a number of acclaimed young adult novels and was a free-form poetry columnist for Women’s Day Magazine for many years. Their son, Miles Swarthout, is a teacher, columnist, novelist, and award-winning screenwriter, notable for adapting The Shootist, among other films.
More information about the Swarthout family and their creative work can be found at http://www.glendonswarthout.com/
The Swarthout Awards in Writing, established in 1962 by celebrated authors Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout, is financially one of the top five creative writing prizes in America for students from undergraduate and graduate writing programs. With 2012 marking the 50th anniversary of the awards, this award series has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to support emerging creative writers at Arizona State University. The contest is a wonderful opportunity for young writers to receive recognition and financial support for their work. Past winners of the Swarthout Awards have used this support as a springboard for their future careers, reflecting upon Glendon Swarthout’s own fortune in winning the Hopwood Award, the first award in his distinguished literary career. In 2013, the tradition continued when Swarthout Award winner Adam Johnson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Orphan Master's Son.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Swarthout family’s generous patronage, we encourage you to consider donating your own gift to help continue this wonderful tradition of literary support for young writers. From a one-time gift to an annual sponsorship, your financial support will enhance the giving spirit founded by the Swarthouts and will enable the Department of English at Arizona State University to continue to provide unique opportunities to celebrate our students’ creativity and drive.
"At the time, I was grateful for the Swarthout Award because, well--it helped to pay for rent and groceries. But I was most grateful because the award told me there was value in words, value in ideas, and value in what I was doing. That was a powerful message for a young person. It still is." -Robert E. Yen (1976, Poetry)
"Young writers are often told to not worry about publishing, prizes, or awards-- to only concern themselves with the quality of their work, but it's a difficult thing to do, to go into an artistic field blind, unsupported. Thank you to the Swarthout family, not only for the recognition but for the encouragement to continue doing what I love to do." -Naira Kuzmich (2012, Fiction and Poetry)
"Writing is a precarious balance between internal and external measure, and I'm still learning to trust my work whether or not it finds awards, but the Swarthout had a major impact on my life. It was the first external reward that validated my writing, that told me I was on the right path, that said, yes, this." -Danielle Roderick (2001 and 2002, Fiction)
"I know my involvement with the Swarthout Awards has had a positive impact on my life and has encouraged me to continue writing in the years since I graduated. In fact, I still do most of my writing on the laptop I purchased with the prize money. Again, my thanks to the Swarthout family for their truly remarkable contributions to young artists at ASU." -Christopher Hanks (2005, Fiction)
"I live in New York City where I am a freelancer and a published poet, novelist, screenwriter, and journalist, partly in thanks to a little pat on the back I got from the ASU English Department in the form of a Swarthout Award back in the late 1970's. I might have gotten 400 bucks in a check signed by Glendon, whose work I admired and learned from. While financially helpful, it was the endorsement that mattered, not the amount of the award. Newer and bigger awards, fellowships, and publications have replaced older ones on my curriculum vitae, but not the Swarthout Award. It will always stand as my first award as a dedicated young writer, and as a great push in the right direction." -Jack Stephens (1980, Poetry)
"Language is, Carole Maso says, a rose, opening. In that sense writers are gardeners, tilling the earth, raking the dirt with nails, watering the roots. Awards of this nature convince these gardeners that there are people out there who are equally concerned that this rose might not open, and encourage them to bloom one more flower, its fragrance reaching to the distant windows that have forgotten to witness the magic in the air." -Shertok Lama (2012, Fiction)
"I owe a great debt to the Swarthout Awards, which served as a launchpad to my current graduate work, and the opportunity to work on the novel I've nearly finished." -Andrew Marks (2009, Fiction)
"I have long appreciated the generosity that the Swarthouts have bestowed upon young writers, generosity from which I, too, have benefitted. I won second place in poetry in 1982. The money I received was very nice, but it was the recognition that mattered most to me then and now... After the death of my mother in early 2003, I began thinking of something I might do to honor her. For several years, I had noticed that there were awards here at the university for fiction and for nonfiction prose, but not for poetry. Thus, I was struck with the idea of emulating the Swarthouts, and I decided to donate my salary for teaching summer school in 2006 to create a poetry prize. At first awarding prize money to just one poem, the contest, which is now in its sixth year, recently awarded a first prize of $250, a second prize of $150, and a third prize of $100 to three students, and I hope in years to come I can donate enough to make all three prizes truly significant amounts of money. The contest is open to all undergraduates here at Cameron. I modeled the prize to a certain extent on the Swarthout Awards." -John G. Morris, Professor of English, Cameron University (1982, Poetry)