Jacobs/Jones African American Literary Prize

The literary prize, which honors the best in short prose by African American writers in North Carolina, is now open.

The contest, sponsored by the NC Writers Network and administered by the Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill, is open to any African American writer whose primary residence is in North Carolina.

Entries may be fiction or creative nonfiction, but must not have been published before (including on any website, blog, or social media), and must be no more than 3,000 words. Entries may be excerpts from longer works, but must be self-contained.

The deadline is January 2, 2021. The winner will receive $1,000 and possible publication of their winning entry in The Carolina Quarterly.

The final judge of the 2021 Jacobs/Jones contest will be W. Ralph Eubanks, author of Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past, and A Place Like Mississippi, which will be released in 2021. Eubanks’s writing and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, WIRED, Vanity Fair, and the Oxford American.

The Jacobs/Jones African American Literary Prize honors the nineteenth-century writers Harriet Jacobs and Thomas H. Jones. Jacobs was born in 1813 near Edenton, escaping to Philadelphia in 1842. She published her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, under a pseudonym in 1861. Jacobs died in 1897 and was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1997.

Jones was born into slavery near Wilmington in 1806. Able to purchase the freedom of his wife and all but one of his children, he followed them north in 1849. In the northeast and in Canada he spoke as a preacher and abolitionist, writing his memoir, The Experience of Thomas Jones, in 1854.

The Jacobs/Jones African American Literary Prize was initiated by Cedric Brown, a Winston-Salem native and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “The literary award was borne out of my frustration with being unable to readily find much fiction or creative nonfiction that conveys the rich and varied existence of Black North Carolinians,” Brown said.

Full competition guidelines can be found at www.ncwriters.org.


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