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The plot thickens for annual writing, design contest

Tempe contest co-sponsored by ASU expands to all of Maricopa County and will award cash prizes for first time

Sheet of paper in typewriter with first line of a poem

The fifth annual Tempe Writing and Cover Design Contest, co-sponsored by ASU, will accept online submissions of poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction and cover designs from Jan. 7–Feb. 18. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

November 26, 2018

The annual Tempe Writing and Cover Design contest, now in its fifth year, again invites ASU students from all majors and campuses in metropolitan Phoenix to submit their creative work for review, with submissions accepted online Jan. 7–Feb. 18. 

Writers (high school age and above) are encouraged to submit an original, unpublished work in either poetry, short fiction or creative nonfiction (including essays and memoir). Budding graphic artists (age 14 and above) are invited to prepare a color cover design for the 2019 issue of Tempe Writers Forum, the publication that shares the winning entries. 

“This year there are a couple of added plot twists,” said Jeanne Hanrahan, director of community outreach in ASU’s University College. Hanrahan co-launched the contest in 2015 with Tempe Public Library adult-services librarian Jill Brenner. 

Wanting to encourage even more submissions, the contest has busted out geographically, expanding its reach to include teens and adults living in Maricopa County rather than just Tempe residents and Tempe Library cardholders, she explained. 

“Also, thanks to the generosity of Friends of the Tempe Library, this year a $50 prize will be awarded to all winners,” Hanrahan said.

In each writing genre a winner will be chosen for the three entry categories: high school student, college student (undergraduate or graduate) and community adult.

Contest winners — in addition to having their work published in Volume 5 of the Tempe Writers Forum and on the library’s website — will be celebrated at a reception at the Tempe Public Library on April 3. 

Hanrahan and Brenner agree that the growing excitement about — and attendance at — the contest’s recognition reception over the years has been an unexpected delight.

“Our focus from the start has been on encouraging writers, celebrating writing and creative expression, and building community around that,” said Brenner. “It’s been really wonderful to see contest winners, runners-up and participants attend with an entourage of friends and multi-generations of family members to cheer them on as they read their work or to enjoy the works of others.

“A number of the contest judges, volunteers from ASU’s creative writing community in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Department of English, also regularly attend,” she added. “It’s become quite an event in and of itself!” 

Full contest submission guidelines, as well as past issues of Tempe Writers Forum and the works of writers receiving honorable mention, can be found at the Tempe Public Library website

For additional questions, contact Jeanne Hanrahan, director of community outreach in University College, at 480-727-0707 or

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