English Department Student Prizes

2016 Writing Prizes Requiring Submissions


The prizes below are open to Barnard students of ALL majors.  Questions should be directed to Dr. Timea Szell, Director of Creative Writing, at tszell@barnard.edu.

For information about Columbia's writing prizes (some of which are open to Barnard students), visit their website.

2016 Axinn Foundation/Anna Quindlen Award for Creative Writing

A generous prize from the Joan F. and Donald E. Axinn Foundation in honor of author and Barnard alumna Anna Quindlen ’74, this prize will be awarded to a single graduating Barnard senior (of any major), to support her creative writing (preferably fiction, but creative non-fiction will also be considered). The prize honors Anna Quindlen's oeuvre and her enthusiastic support for women’s education and creative youth.  


Applicants must submit 20-25 double-spaced pages of their work electronically to the director of the creative writing program. These pages may consist of a single piece, a collection of stories or creative non-fiction essays, or a chapter or two of a longer prose form.  Please provide a cover page listing your name, year of expected graduation, major, telephone number and e-mail address.  The deadline is 11:59 pm on Monday, February 15, 2016.  Dr. Szell’s email address is tszell@barnard.edu

2016 Brandt Playwriting Award

This new award has just been generously given to us by Barnard alumna and playwright Penny Brandt Jackson whose long-standing support of the Creative Writing Program has been vital to our functioning.  The Brandt Playwriting Award will be given to a Barnard student of any year or major who writes what will be deemed as the strongest, most promising one-act play submitted for consideration by three internal judges. 


Applicants should submit electronic copies to the director of the creative writing program at tszell@barnard.edu.  Please attach a cover sheet with your name, e-mail address, expected year of graduation, the name of the Prize and the title of the play. The play should be around 25 pages.  The deadline  is 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 1.

2016 Peter S. Prescott Prize for Prose Writing

This prize is offered annually by the family of the distinguished writer and critic, the late Peter S. Prescott, author of Child Savers and former book critic at Newsweek.  Competition is open to all Barnard undergraduates of whatever year or major.  The prize will be awarded for a work in prose, fiction or creative non-fiction, which gives the greatest evidence of creative imagination and sustained ability. 


1. Applicants should submit four copies of each entry, each set labeled with the author's name, email address, expected year of graduation, a list of the contents, and each securely fastened in a manila folder or envelope.  Every envelope or folder should be labeled on the outside as well with the student's name and a list of contents.  Do not use heavy binders.

2. Typescripts should be double-spaced, on one side only of standard 8-1/2" by 11" sheets.

3. Each separate essay or story must carry the student's name, and the pages of each must be numbered.

4. You may submit one short story or piece of creative non-fiction, or several shorter such pieces, totaling no more than 20-25 pages.

5. Please retain copies of your work as these entries will not be returned.

6. Past winners of cash awards in the writing competition may enter again; their entries, however, should be composed of new material.

Deadline: Entries in the contest must be turned in absolutely no later than 4:00 pm on Monday, February 15, 2016 in the English Department Office, 417 Barnard Hall.  As this deadline is final, students would be well advised to set a somewhat earlier deadline in order to forestall emergencies.

2016 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

This prize was established on a permanent basis by the New Hope Foundation in memory of Lenore Marshall, the writer and peace activist who had given the prize annually for many years before her death.  Besides the prize money, the winner receives Latest Will, Lenore Marshall's collected poems. 


This competition is open to all Barnard undergraduates. It is suggested that each competitor submit more than one poem, but no more than five.  There is no fixed number of lines required; contestants may find it helpful to think of approximately 100 lines, but they should not hesitate to submit fewer or more. 

Please submit four separate and complete sets of manuscripts, each set labeled with your name, expected year of graduation, and a list of the contents, and each securely enclosed in a manila folder or envelope.  Each separate poem within the set must also carry the writer's name.  Pages must be numbered and single-sided on standard 8-1/2" x 11" pages.  Every envelope or folder should be labeled with your name and a list of contents.  Do not use heavy binders.

Entries in the contest must be submitted absolutely no later than 4:00 pm on Monday, February 15, 2016 in the English Department Office, 417 Barnard Hall.

Please retain copies of your work as these entries will not be returned.  Past winners of cash awards in the poetry competitions may enter again; their entries, however, should be composed of new material.

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Judges for the 2015 Prizes

2015 Poetry Judges


Christina Davis

Christina Davis' remarkable body of work includes Forth a Raven, published in 2006, and An Ethic, published in 2013. Her poems have also appeared in The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Boston Review and Jubilat. She studied at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Oxford, and is now the curator of the prestigious Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University.


Regan Good

Regan Good received her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and was awarded a poetry fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She has published two books, The Imperfect and The Book of Nature. Her first collection of poetry, The Atlantic House, was published in 2011. Her work has also appeared in The Paris Review, American Letters and Commentary, Lit, Fence, Field, Tin House and The Literary Review.



Sandra Lim

Sandra Lim is the 2013 winner of the Barnard Women’s Poet Prize. Her publications include The Wilderness and Loveliest Grotesque. Her work has also appeared in Boston ReviewCourt Green, GuernicaThe Colorado Review and American Letters and Society. She has been awarded fellowships from the McDowell Colony and Vermont Studio Center. Lim is an assistant professor of English at University of Massachusetts Lowell.



2015 Prose Judges


Christine Schutt

Christine Schutt’s large body of work includes a collection of short stories, A Day, A Night, Another Day, Summer, and three novels, Florida, All Souls and Prosperous Friends.  She has been awarded fellowships from The New York Foundation for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation and is the winner of both the O. Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize. She has taught and continues to teach at a number of well-known institutions such as Barnard College, Bennington College, Columbia University, Hollins University, Sarah Lawrence College, Syracuse, UC Irvine and University of Massachusetts, Amherst.                                                 


Anya Ulinich

Anya Ulinich is a Russian American writer. Her first novel, Petropolis, was published in 2007. Other work includes the graphic novel Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel, which was published in 2014. She has won the Goldberg Prize for Emerging Writers of Jewish Fiction and the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35.”




Malena Wartrous

Malena Watrous

Melena Watrous is a novelist, short story writer and essayist. She published her first novel, If you Follow Me, in 2010. Watrous has been awarded the Wallace Stenger Fellowship at Stanford University. She studied at Barnard College and received her MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop. Currently, Watrous teaches at the Stanford Online writers’ workshop.



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Judges for the 2014 Prizes

2014 Poetry Judges

Elisabeth FrostElisabeth Frost

Elisabeth Frost’s books include two collections of poetry, All of Us and the chapbook Rumor, as well as a critical study, The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry.  She is co-editor (with Cynthia Hogue) of Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews.  She teaches at Fordham University, where she is founder and editor of the Poets Out Loud book series from Fordham Press.

Jessica GreenbaumJessica Greenbaum

Jessica Greenbaum is the author of two collections of poetry: Inventing Difficulty, which won the Gerald Cable Prize in 2000, and The Two Yvonnes, a 2012 selection in the Princeton University Press Series of Contemporary Poets.  She is the poetry editor for the annual upstreet.

Sean Singer

Sean Singer’s first book, Discography, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, selected by W.S. Merwin, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. His second book, Honey & Smoke, is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in 2015. He has also published two chapbooks, Passport and Keep Right On Playing Through the Mirror Over the Water, both with Beard of Bees Press, and is the recipient of a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has a PhD in American Studies from Rutgers-Newark.

2014 Prose Judges

Kristopher JansmaKristopher Jansma

Kristopher Jansma's debut novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, was published by Viking/Penguin and was selected as a ALA 2014 Notable Book. He received his B.A. in The Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University and an M.F.A. in Fiction from Columbia University. He writes a monthly column for Electric Literature’s blog, “The Outlet” and his work has also been published in The New York Times, The Believer, Slice Magazine, the Blue Mesa Review, and on The Millions. Currently, he is a Creative Writing Lecturer at SUNY Purchase College.

Malena WartrousMalena Watrous

Malena Watrous is the author of the novel, If You Follow Me, which won a Michener-Copernicus award and was selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the best works of fiction by Bay Area Authors in 2010. She attended Barnard College and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. Her short stories have been published in such literary journals as StoryQuarterly, TriQuarterly, and The Massachusetts Review, and her nonfiction has appeared in Allure, Salon, The Believer, and Conde Nast Traveler. She also writes book reviews for the San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times. She has taught writing at the University of Iowa, Stanford, and in the MFA program at University of San Francisco.

kate zambrenoKate Zambreno

Kate Zambreno is the author of two novels, O Fallen Angel (Chiasmus Press) and Green Girl (Harper Perennial). She is also the author of Heroines (Semiotext(e)'s Active Agents) and Book of Mutter (forthcoming from Wesleyan University Press). She teaches in the creative writing program at Sarah Lawrence College and the MFA program at Columbia University.

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page last updated 4/9/15