The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize, which honors the best in short prose by African-American/Black writers in North Carolina, is now open for submissions.
The contest, sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network and administered by the Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is open to any African-American/Black 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, 2024. The winner will receive $1,000 and possible publication of their winning entry in The Carolina Quarterly.
The final judge of the 2024 Jacobs/Jones contest will be DéLana R. A. Dameron.
DéLana R. A. Dameron is an artist whose primary medium is storytelling. Her first book of fiction is the forthcoming Redwood Court (Random House, February 2024). She is a graduate of New York University’s MFA program in poetry and holds a BA degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her debut poetry collection, How God Ends Us, was selected by Elizabeth Alexander for the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, and her second collection, Weary Kingdom, was chosen by Nikky Finney for the Palmetto Poetry Series. Dameron is also the founder of Saloma Acres, an equestrian and cultural space in her hometown in South Carolina, where she resides.
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 H. 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.
“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 2023 Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize was Nina Roselle for her story “Emma’s Hands.”
The full competition guidelines are listed below and can be found here.
Eligibility and Guidelines
- The competition is open to any African-American/Black 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 African-American/Black North Carolinians. 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
P. O. Box 21591
Winston-Salem, NC 27120
- When you submit online, Submittable will collect your entry fee via credit card ($10 NCWN members / $20 non-members). (If submitting online, do not include a cover sheet with your document; Submittable will collect and record your name and contact information. For more information about Submittable, click here.)
- Entries will not be returned.
- The winner will be announced in February.
For questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.