Annual Writers' Café Writing Contest

The Writers' Café has offered an undergraduate writing contest in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction each spring term since 2004.

You can browse past winners of the contest.

Prizes: $200 for first place in each genre, $100 for second place in each genre.

This year, the Writers' Café Fiction prizes are in memory of Jed Waverly.

Eligibility: All currently enrolled Pitt undergraduates who have attended at least one Writers’ Café session this academic year (Sept. 2017–February 2018). If you haven’t, there’s still time. The last session before the deadline is February 16, 2018.


Poets — 1-3 poems (no more than 3 pages per poem)

Prose Writers (fiction and nonfiction) — one submission per genre, up to 5,000 words. 

In all genres, names should not be included on your work; students may submit in more than one genre, but each submission should be accompanied by a separate entry form. Submitted work will not be returned. 

·      Download and complete an entry form

·      Each submission must include a title. Do Not put your name on your submission. Your name goes only on the entry form.

·      Submit your entry form and submission via email attachment in a Word file to Include “Writers' Café Contest” and the genre of your submission in the subject heading.

·      Winners will be notified by email; the names of the winners will be posted on the Café web page.

Deadline:  March 16, 2018 at 3 p.m.


Thanks to This Year's Judges:

Fiction: Rachel Hall is the author of Heirlooms (BkMk Press), which was selected by Marge Piercy for the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize. Her short stories and essays have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies including Black Warrior ReviewCrab Orchard ReviewGettysburg ReviewGuernica and New Letters, which awarded her the Alexander Cappon Prize for Fiction.  She has received other honors and awards from Lilith, Glimmer Train, Bread Loaf and Sewanee, Ragdale, the Ox-Bow School of the Arts, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. Hall is a Professor of English in the creative writing program at the State University of New York at Geneseo where she holds two Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence—one for teaching and one for her creative work. She lives in Rochester, New York with her husband and daughter. Learn more at

Nonfiction: D. Gilson is the author of I Will Say This Exactly One Time: Essays (Sibling Rivalry, 2015); Crush, with Will Stockton (Punctum Books, 2014); Brit Lit (Sibling Rivalry, 2013); and Catch & Release (2012), winner of the Robin Becker Prize. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Texas Tech University, and his work has appeared in Threepenny Review, POETRY, and The Rumpus.

Poetry: Adriana E. Ramírez is a Mexican-Colombian writer, critic, and performance poet based in Pittsburgh. She won the inaugural PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize in 2015 for her novella-length work of nonfiction,  Dead Boys (Little A, 2016), and in 2016 she was named Critic at Large for the Los Angeles Times Book Section. Her essays and poems have also appeared in the Los Angeles Review of BooksGuernica/PEN AmericaLiterary HubConvolutionHEArtApogee, and on Once a nationally ranked slam poet, she cofounded the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective and continues to perform on stages around the country. She and novelist Angie Cruz founded Aster(ix) Journal, a literary journal giving voice to the censored and the marginalized. Her debut full-length work of nonfiction, The Violence, is forthcoming from Scribner. Visit