Skip to main content

Annual writing contest seeks ASU student entries

2013 Swarthout Award winners
February 20, 2014

Do you have a Pulitzer Prize-winning story in you? What about a Swarthout Award?

Now through March 18 is your chance to find out. ASU student writers are invited to submit poetry and fiction for the annual Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Awards in Writing at Arizona State University.

One of the top five creative writing prizes in America for undergraduate and graduate writers, the Swarthout Awards in Writing were established in 1962 by celebrated authors Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout. One hallmark of the awards is that they are open to students in all departments and schools at ASU, not just students from creative writing or English programs. Writers must be under age 26 by the submission deadline of 4 p.m. on March 18. A complete set of rules and guidelines can be found at

“The Swarthouts are a unique set of awards; they come with relatively large purses, and they are open to graduate and undergraduate students. Just those facts make the awards stand out nationally,” said Sally Ball, acting director of the creative writing program at ASU. “Every year listening to the winners, we faculty members find ourselves both surprised and confirmed, which is an ideal pair of feelings for a teacher. The field is deeper than we knew, and we are so lucky to be working with such smart, committed poets and fiction writers. The recognition offered by the Swarthouts has been a first laurel for so many who go on to live their lives in the literary arts. Every year these awards help us celebrate that possibility, that desire.”

Alumnus Adam Johnson (bachelor's in journalism ’92), author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Orphan Master’s Son" and now an associate professor of English at Stanford University, won the Swarthout Award in fiction in 1992. “Winning the Swarthout Prize as an undergraduate was my first validation that maybe this thing could happen, and so thanks to the Swarthouts for making that happen,” he said.

Alumnus Robert Yen (juris doctor ’81), who won the award in poetry in 1976, said, “At the time, I was grateful for the Swarthout Award because, well – it helped to pay for rent and groceries. But I was most grateful because the award told me there was value in words, value in ideas, and value in what I was doing. That was a powerful message for a young person. It still is.”

The Swarthout Awards in Writing are administered by the creative writing program in the Department of English, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Corey Campbell,
Department of English, CLAS