Davidson College Writing Competitions

The Department of English urges all students and all years to submit your best work to our annual writing competitions: the R. Windley Hall, Charles Lloyd, and Vereen Bell competitions, and the newest named award, the Gibson Prize for Scholarly Writing. 

Each winning entry is selected by a distinguished external judge. 

a group of students stand together in an auditorium

Photo by Emily Drew, James K. Batten Professor of English

Writing Competition Categories


Awarded to the best work of fiction by a Davidson student. Submit up to eight pages (if excerpted, indicate so) of any story written in 2023-2024. More than one story may be submitted, but the total page count may not exceed eight. If excerpted, say so.

Creative Nonfiction

Awarded to the best work of creative nonfiction by a Davidson student in any discipline written in 2023-2024. The total page count may not exceed eight. If excerpted, say so.


Awarded to the best poetry by a Davidson student. Submit up to eight poems written in 2023-2024. The total page count may not exceed eight.


Awarded to the best scholarly essay written by a Davidson student in any discipline in 2023-2024. The total page count may not exceed eight. If excerpted, say so.



  • Submit up to eight pages in a category.
  • Work may have been written for any class, or on your own.
  • All work must be double-spaced.
  • You may enter 2 contests: one in creative writing (either fiction, creative nonfiction or poetry), and another in scholarly writing.
  • All students submitting to these competitions must be available to attend the awards on Wednesday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. For questions about this requirement, contact Professor Alan Michael Parker at amparker@davidson.edu.

Meet the Judges

Photo Bio
a middle aged Black man wearing a black top and red scarf with a hat while smiling

John Keene

Poetry Submissions Judge

2018 MacArthur Fellow John Keene is a writer, translator, professor, and artist. He is the author or co-author of half a dozen books, including Annotations and Counternarratives. His collection Punks won the 2022 National Book Award in Poetry. Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University-Newark, he chairs the Africana Studies Department and also teaches in the English Department and MFA Program in Creative Writing.

John Keene will give a reading at 7:30 p.m. on April 3 in the 900 Room of the Alvarez Student Union. 


a young white woman with curly brown hair with a green background

Emily Nemens

Creative Nonfiction Submissions Judge

Emily Nemens is the author of the novel The Cactus League, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and was named one of NPR favorite books of 2020. Her short fiction has appeared in BOMB, The Gettysburg Reviewn+1, Esquire, and elsewhere. Emily has spent a dozen years editing literary quarterlies, including leading The Paris Review, which won the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Award for Fiction under her tenure; she also served as co-editor and prose editor of The Southern Review and is currently sports/senior editor for Stranger’s Guide, a magazine of place-based journalism. She recently served as the 2023 Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University and the 2022-23 Picador Guest Professor for Literature at the University of Leipzig.


a middle aged white woman with short brown hair wearing a black sleeveless top

Lynn Steger Strong

Fiction Submissions Judge

Lynn Steger Strong is the author of the novels Hold Still, Want, Flight, and the forthcoming The Float Test. Her nonfiction and criticism have appeared in The Paris Review, New York Magazine, Esquire, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and elsewhere. She teaches writing at Columbia and Princeton Universities. 


a middle aged white man wearing a suit and tie and glasses

James Newlin '05

Scholarly Submissions Judge 

James Newlin received his PhD in English from the University of Florida. His teaching and research interests include Shakespeare, film, and psychoanalysis. He is the author of Uncanny Fidelity: Recognizing Shakespeare in Twenty-First-Century Film and Television (University of Alabama Press, 2024) and the co-editor, with James W. Stone, of New Psychoanalytic Readings of Shakespeare: Cool Reason and Seething Brains (Routledge, 2024). His scholarship has also appeared in Shakespeare Bulletin, SubStance, the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, and in other journals and edited collections. He is currently developing a book project on allusions to King Lear in Romanticism and in the critiques of Romanticism by Søren Kierkegaard and Jacques Lacan. He is a lecturer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he primarily teaches in the General Education Writing program.