Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Beth Ann Fennelly to Judge Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival Writing Contests

NEW ORLEANS (press release) – The Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival is now accepting entries for its 2019-2020 Fiction, Poetry, Very Short Fiction, and One-Act Play Contests.

Acclaimed fiction writer Maurice Carlos Ruffin (We Cast a Shadow) will judge the Fiction Contest, and Mississippi Poet Laureate Beth Ann Fennelly will preside over the Poetry Contest. The One-Act Play Contest is adjudicated by the President of the Dramatists Play Service, Peter Hagan, and the Very Short Fiction Contest will be judged by fiction writer Jac Jemc (False Bingo.)

“Our contests are an essential part of our Festival’s mission to nurture young literary talent,” said executive director Paul J. Willis. “We’re proud that our winners have gone on to land major agents and book deals, as well as productions.”

Previous winners include David Lindsay-Abaire (Pulitzer winner for his play Rabbit Hole), Kristen-Paige Madonia (Young Adult author of Invisible Fault Lines), and New Orleans native Kent Wascom, who published a trio of novels to great acclaim.

Emerging writers are encouraged to submit work for a chance to win generous awards, which include grand cash prizes ($500 – $1,500), a trip to New Orleans, VIP Festival passes, public readings at the 2020 Festival (March 25-29, 2020), and publication. Full guidelines for each contest are available online at Contest deadlines are in October but early submission is encouraged.

The Festival’s LGBTQ literary conference, the Saints + Sinners Festival is also accepting entries for its Short Fiction Contest. Publisher Don Weise will select a grand prize winner ($500) and two second place honorees ($100 each). All top stories will be included in the SAS anthology published by Bold Strokes Books and finalists are invited to read at the annual anthology launch party at the Festival in March 2020. For full guidelines and to enter, please go to

2019-2020 Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival Writing Contests Fact Sheet

For our Fiction Contest the deadline is October 1, 2019. Entry Fee is $25.
Grand Prize: $1,500
Domestic airfare (up to $500) and French Quarter accommodations to attend the Festival
VIP All-Access Festival pass for the next Festival ($600 value)
Public reading at a literary panel at the next Festival
Publication in Louisiana Literature
Judge: Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of the acclaimed novel, We Cast a Shadow and a forthcoming short story collection.


Our Poetry Contest deadline is October 15, 2019. Entry Fee is $15.
Grand Prize: $1,000
VIP All-Access Pass ($600 value) for the Festival
Publication in Antenna::Signals Magazine
Public reading at the next Festival at Antenna::Signals live event
Judge: Beth Ann Fennelly, Mississippi Poet Laureate and author of three poetry collections: Open House, Tender Hooks, and Unmentionables. Her newest book is Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs.


Our One-Act Play Contest deadline is October 1, 2019. Entry Fee is $25.
Grand Prize: $1,500
Professional Staged Reading at the next Festival
VIP All-Access Festival pass ($600 value)
Publication in Bayou Magazine
Judge: Peter Hagan, President of the Dramatists Play Service.


Our Very Short Fiction Contest deadline is October, 15, 2019. Entry fee is $10.
Grand Prize: $500
Public reading at a literary panel at the next Festival
VIP All-Access Festival pass ($600 value)
Publication in New Orleans Review Web Features
Judge: Jac Jemc, author False Bingo.
Top nine finalists for all contests will receive a literary discussion pass ($100 value) to the Festival (March 25-29, 2020), and their names will be published on the Festival’s website. For more information and full guidelines, see our submission page( 

In addition, the Saints + Sinners Festival, an LGBTQ literary festival held in conjunction with TWFest, has a Fiction contest. The deadline is October 1, 2019. Entry fee is $20.
Grand Prize: $500
Two Finalists: $100
Winner, finalists, and top stories will be published in a SAS Fest Anthology published by Bold Strokes Books.
Judge: Publisher Don Weise
Full guidelines available at

The Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival celebrates the genius of Tennessee Williams, who once called our city his “spiritual home,” and the contemporary artists who are as honest and unflinching in their examination of the human condition as our patron playwright. Founded in 1986 by a group of cultural enthusiasts, the Festival has grown from a small gathering of 500 to a five-day literary event, which sees 13,000+ seats filled each year. In late March, we toast Williams’ birthday with theater, literary panels, food, and music events featuring luminaries and the brightest new talents in American arts. For more information, or find us @TWFestNOLA on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.  

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