Terry Tempest Williams Creative Nonfiction Prize

Terry Tempest Williams Contest Header Graphic | Headshot of Williams above the arid Utah landscape

The Terry Tempest Williams Creative Nonfiction Prize is intended to recognize the finest essay writing. We welcome all forms of previously unpublished fiction—one essay per submission. We welcome all work painted with creative nonfiction’s broad brush: the lyric essay, the hermit crab essay, the braided essay, the memoir, the personal essay, literary journalism, and everything in between. Food essays, travel writing, nature essays, sports writing, and literary criticism will also be considered but should have a personal component. Williams is known for her environmental writing, but please do not feel limited to this topic. The Williams Prize welcomes previously unpublished nonfiction essays on any subject so long as it is well executed. The winning entry, runner-up, and any honorable mentions will be offered publication in the North American Review’s fall issue. Additional finalists and semifinalists may be offered for publication. Results will be announced in May.


2024 Contest Information

  • Contest Opens: January 1, 2024 at 10:00am CST 
  • Contest Closes: April 2, 2024 at 2:00am CST
  • Entry Fee: $23.00USD
  • Winner’s Prize: $1,000.00USD
  • Entry Length: 500–10,000 words
  • Contest Judge: Toni Jensen


The Judging Process

  • All submissions to the Terry Tempest Williams Creative Nonfiction Prize will be handled through our online submission system, Submittable.
  • Simultaneous submission to other journals or competitions is allowed with notice should your essay be accepted elsewhere.
  • Work previously published online or in print is ineligible for submission.
  • Submissions are gathered through Submittable and packaged by the Contest Manager, who may not serve as a Contest Reader or Coordinator.
  • Submissions are read by the Contest Coordinators, who are NAR Editors, as well as by fifteen or more Contest Readers, most of whom are undergraduate or graduate students at the University of Northern Iowa.
  • Contest Readers receive the initial entries and select a slate of semifinalists.
  • The Contest Coordinators then reduce the semifinalist list to a pool of finalists; these poems are sent to the Prize Judge.
  • The Contest Judge selects a Winner, Runners-up, and possibly a number of Honorable Mentions from the pool of finalists.
  • All finalists and semifinalists will be announced on the NAR website in an Open Space post.


Manuscript Preparation Rules

  • Each entry can consist of only one file.
  • We only accept Microsoft Word (.docx) and Google Doc (.doc) files; we do not accept PDFs.
  • Remove all identifying information from the document: no names, addresses, or other identifying information should appear anywhere on the manuscript.
  • Remove all pagination as we have an internal system for managing page numbers.
  • Do not include a cover page.
  • If possible, please use single-spaced Times New Roman 12pt font with one inch margins.
  • If possible, center and bold the title at the top of the page using Title Case.
  • Entries over 10,000 words are ineligible, and please note we determine word count using Google Docs, which may yield a different—usually smaller—count than other programs, and here’s why.
  • These rules allow for a consistent double-blind reading and management of the contest, which reduces the possibility of unconscious bias.
  • Disregarding these rules may result in disqualification; no refund will be offered.
  • Should you have questions or concerns about your submission, please send a message via Submittable or contact the Contest Manager at nar@uni.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • All contact with writers will be managed through Submittable and the NAR email account, nar@uni.edu.
  • We will accept multiple submissions, but each submission will incur the $23.00 entry fee.
  • We will accept submissions from domestic and international writers.
  • We will NOT accept translations.
  • We will accept memoir excerpts so long as they stand alone as a complete essay with beginning, middle, and end.
  • We accept flash nonfiction—typically defined as 500-1,500 words—as well as longer works up to 10,000 words. That said, most of our finalists and winners have had word counts in the 2,500–6,500 range.
  • We love experimental nonfiction; however, if publishing your piece would require unusual formatting, please include a brief explanation of your layout preferences on the last page of your manuscript. Unusual formatting will not affect your consideration for the prize, but it may necessitate publication online rather than in print.
  • Current University of Northern Iowa students are ineligible to submit.
  • Friends of the Contest Judge are ineligible to submit.
  • The Entry Fee includes a copy of the fall issue (a $15 value) in which the Winner will appear. If you submit multiple times, we will send you subsequent issues, rather than multiple copies of the same issue.
  • The Contest Coordinators may offer publication—in a future issue of North American Review or on Open Space—to any notable work submitted to the contest.

Announcing Past Winners