WINSTON-SALEM—The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize, which honors the best in short prose by African-American writers in North Carolina, is now open.
The contest, sponsored by NCWN and administered by the Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill, is open to any African-American writer whose primary residence is in North Carolina. Entries may be fiction or creative nonfiction, but must not have been published before (including on any website, blog, or social media), and must be no more than 3,000 words.
The deadline is January 2, 2021. The winner will receive $1,000 and possible publication of their winning entry in The Carolina Quarterly.
The final judge of the 2021 Jacobs/Jones contest will be W. Ralph Eubanks.
W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past, The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South, and A Place Like Mississippi, which will be released in 2021. His writing and essays on the American South have appeared in The New Yorker, WIRED, Vanity Fair, and the Oxford American. A 2007 Guggenheim Fellow, he is currently a visiting professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. He divides his time between Oxford, Mississippi, and Washington, DC.
The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize honors the nineteenth-century writers Harriet Jacobs and Thomas H. Jones. Jacobs was born in 1813 near Edenton, escaping to Philadelphia in 1842, after hiding for seven years in a crawl space above her grandmother’s ceiling. She published her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, under a pseudonym in 1861. Jacobs died in 1897 and was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1997.
Jones was born into slavery near Wilmington in 1806. Able to purchase the freedom of his wife and all but one of his children, he followed them north in 1849 by stowing away on a brig to New York. In the northeast and in Canada, he spoke as a preacher and abolitionist, writing his memoir, The Experience of Thomas Jones, in 1854, as a way to raise funds to buy his eldest child’s freedom.
This Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize was initiated by Cedric Brown, a Winston-Salem native and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Though Brown has lived in California the last three decades, he has “deep roots, an abiding love, and a little house in the Tar Heel State,” he said.
“The literary award was borne out of my frustration with being unable to readily find much fiction or creative nonfiction that conveys the rich and varied existence of Black North Carolinians,” Brown said. “I wanted to incentivize the development of written works while also encouraging Black writers to capture our lives through storytelling.”
The winner of the 2020 Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize was Barbara Johnson-Davis of Charlotte, for her short story, "The Last Straw."
The full competition guidelines are listed below and can be found at www.ncwriters.org.
JACOBS/JONES AFRICAN-AMERICAN LITERARY PRIZE
Postmark Deadline: January 2 (annual)
Submissions Accepted: November 1 – January 2
The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize honors Harriet Jacobs and Thomas Jones, two pioneering African-American writers from North Carolina, and seeks to convey the rich and varied existence of Black North Carolinians. The contest is administered by the Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill. The winner receives $1,000 and possible publication of the winning entry in The Carolina Quarterly.
Eligibility and Guidelines
- The competition is open to any African-American writer whose primary residence is in North Carolina.
- Entries may be fiction or creative nonfiction, but must be unpublished, no more than 3,000 words, and concerned with the lives and experiences of North Carolina African-Americans. Entries may be excerpts from longer works, but must be self-contained. Entries will be judged on literary merit.
- An entry fee must accompany each submission: $10 for NCWN members, $20 for nonmembers. You may submit multiple entries, but the correct fee must accompany each one.
- You may pay the members’ entry fee if you join the NCWN when you submit.
- Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.
- If submitting by mail, submit two copies of an unpublished manuscript, not to exceed 3,000 words, on single-sided pages, double-spaced, in black 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins.
- The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript. Instead, include a separate cover sheet with name, address, phone number, e-mail address, word count, and manuscript title.
- To submit by USPS:
Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize
UNC Creative Writing Program
Attn: Anita Braxton
Greenlaw Hall, CB#3520
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3520
- To submit online, go to https://ncwriters.submittable.com/submit. Submittable will collect your entry fee via credit card ($10 NCWN members / $20 nonmembers). (If submitting online, do not include a cover sheet with your document; Submittable will collect and record your name and contact information.)
- Entries will not be returned.
- The winner will be announced in February.
The non-profit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.