Annual Writers' Café Writing Contest

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

Browse past winners of the contest.

Submissions: Contest submissions are currently closed. Annual submission period is January - March. 

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

2020 Contest Judges:
Fiction: Christine Stroud
Nonfiction: Paola Corso
Poetry: Christine Stroud

Eligibility: All currently enrolled Pitt undergraduates who have attended at least one Writers’ Café session this academic year (September 2019–February 2020). 


  • 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.
  • 2020 Contest Deadline:  Friday March 27, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.

Meet the Judges:

Christine Stroud is a poet and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Her chapbook, The Buried Return, was released by Finishing Line Press in March of 2014, and her second chapbook, Sister Suite, was released from Disorder Press in early 2017. Stroud’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Hobart, Ninth Letter’s first web edition, The Paterson Literary Review, Cimarron Review, The Laurel Review, and many others. She is the editor in chief of Autumn House Press. 

Paola Corso is the author of poetry and fiction books set in her native Pittsburgh where her Italian immigrant family found work in the steel mills. Most recent are The Laundress Catches Her Breath, winner of the Tillie Olsen Award in Creative Writing, Once I Was Told the Air Was Not Breathing, and her forthcoming collection Vertical Bridges: Poems, Essays, and Photographs of City Steps. Her nonfiction has appeared in venues such as The New York Times, Women’s Review of Books, and U.S. Catholic. Corso is co-founder and resident artist for Steppin Stanzas, a grant-awarded poetry and art project celebrating Pittsburgh city stairs.