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Thursday, January 23, 2014

WVW Contest F.A.Q. #23

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing Competitions.  To see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION:  For the Pearl S. Buck Award for Writing for Social Change category, the entry form says "nonfiction or poetry...on a topic related to social change," and what I'm wondering is whether nonfiction submissions need to be creative (like poetry) or whether academic, journalistic, and/or otherwise persuasive nonfiction would be acceptable?  Would you address this question for me? Perhaps you could answer by referring to the previous winning pieces.

ANSWER:  The category itself has a lot of range when it comes to subject matter.  Basically anything that isn't outright fiction is fair game.  Academic/journalistic and persuasive nonfiction essays are completely acceptable.  These don't have to be creative, but that approach would be fine as well.  The judge for the category is Meredith Sue Willis.  She's the sort of writer who would be open to many different approaches.

It is difficult to address this in terms of what has won in the past, because any approach could be accomplished to a winning level.  From a sheer statistical point of view, most of last year's entries and honorable mentions were poetry, but again I don't believe this to be a determiner.  According to last year's judge, Lee Maynard, first and foremost the entries had to be about Social Change, not simply espousing a viewpoint; secondly, they had to be well-written to be considered for placement.  He said the poetry entries tended to be the better ones last year.  The winner of the first year the category was offered was "Lethal Silence" by Daleen Berry.  This was, from what I recall, an excerpt from a larger nonfiction work Berry was writing which I believe is now being developed as a nonfiction book.