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Norman Mailer High School and College Writing Awards - Previous Revision

2011 High School Winner: Dalia Wolfson
Hunter College High School, New York, NY

2011 Two-Year College Winner:Christopher Woodard
Berkeley City College, Berkeley, CA

2011 Four-Year College Winner:

2011 Results.
The Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony and the National Council of Teachers of English jointly sponsor the 2011 Norman Mailer High School and College Writing Awards.  Entries accepted March 1–April 28, 2011, Noon CST.   2011 Brochure.

Thank you for your interest in the 2011 Norman Mailer Awards.  Submission closed  April 28, 2011, Noon CST.  All participants will be notified of results by email in mid-October.

Writing Category:  Creative Nonfiction

Norman Mailer produced extraordinary works in many genres, including the category of this year’s award. The awards are for excellence in creative nonfiction which is truth/fact-based writing with literary merit, work that features authorial voice and, often, personal experience, and often has a significant narrative quality.  The competition is broadly inclusive of genres and subgenres that fall under creative nonfiction: memoirs, personal essays, literary journalism, artful writings about place, environment, travel, people, etc.

Whatever its type, the best work will be true material presented with compelling literary merit.   Entries accepted March 1–April 28, 2011, Noon CST.  Enter online by selecting the link below beginning March 1:

   High School Competition is open to all high school students. Students may submit one or more pieces of writing as one file, maximum 10 single-spaced pages, endorsed by a teacher and released by a parent or guardian. Winner will receive the following:
• Cash award of $5,000
• *Travel and lodging to attend the Colony’s National Award Ceremony 
  Two-Year College Competition is open to first-and second-year full-time students enrolled in community colleges, junior colleges, and technical colleges. Maximum 15 single-spaced pages. Winner will receive the following:
• Cash award of $5,000
• *Travel and lodging to attend the Colony’s National Award Ceremony 

  Four-Year College Competition is open to current full-time undergraduate students. Maximum 15 single-spaced pages. Winner will receive the following:
• Cash award of $10,000
• Scholarship to the Norman Mailer Writers Colony during the summer of 2012
• *Travel and lodging to attend the Colony’s National Award Ceremony

*Funding for travel is limited to the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. Canadian and other foreign students are eligible to enter. Outside of the U.S. a $500.00 USD payment toward travel will be allowed. Hotel will be paid as for students in the U.S.

Formatting Guidelines

The writing you upload must include a title, your name, and page numbers within your file. Please use a plain, common, and easily readable font, such as Times New Roman, 11- or 12-point. Accepted file types: .pdf, .doc, .docx, and .txt (maximum file size: 8 megabytes).


One winner in each category will receive a cash award and will be an honored guest at the Colony’s National Award Ceremony in New York City on November 8, 2011. Winners will be notified by late September.  Four finalists in each category will be awarded trophies. Fixteen semifinalists in each category will be awarded certificates.


Submissions will be read by national panels of teachers and writers of creative nonfiction. They will be judged by how well they achieve several qualities:

  • artful treatment of true subject matter
  • originality
  • quality of insight
  • voice, and style
  • artful arrangement of elements and materials
  • overall aesthetic, emotional, or intellectual effect

Finalists selected through this process will be submitted to a distinguished author (or panel of authors) selected by the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, who will choose the winning writers.  

Writing Resources

Imagining a Place for Creative Nonfiction, Douglas Hesse

Tucking the Pigeons up Your Sleeve:  Ten Personae Teach One Nonfiction Course, Bonnie Sunstein 

Previous Winners and Semifinalists

2010 High School Winner: Dawna Bagherian, High Above the Ground
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora, Illinois

2010 Community College Winner: Gwyne Bahler, Hair
Ivy Tech Community College, Lafayette, Indiana

2010 College Winner; Minh Phuong Nguyen, Suffering Self
University of Missouri - Colombia


2009 High School Winner:  Emily Swanagin
Read Emily's essay Luna

2009 College Winner:  John Gilmore, Final Cascade 
John's piece has been accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of Creative Nonfiction

2009 College Finalists and Semifinalists
2009 High School Finalists and Semifinalists

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