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
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.