Unclassifiables Contest


Michael Martone

Our 3rd annual Unclassifiables contest is open May 1st to July 31st.

Challenged by Diaghilev to astonish him (“Etonnez-moi!”), Cocteau responded with an “unclassifiable” ballet: music by Satie, sets and costumes by Picasso, book by himself. The year: 1910. In this age of branding and marketing, can such “unclassifiable” works survive? What is gained—or lost—when boundaries are blurred?

This contest is for unclassifiable works: works that blur, bend, blend, erase, or obliterate genre and other labels. Works of up to 5000 words considered. Judged by Michael Martone.

All submissions must be sent through Submittable (link below) and will be read blind, so please do not include your name or identifying material anywhere on the manuscript. The entry fee is $8, and the winner will receive $500. Only send us work that has not been previously published elsewhere.

2016 Winner
Emily Wolahan, “The Direct Account of Frank Thomas”
Her winning work can be found in Issue 34 of Arts & Letters.


2016 Finalists
Jessie van Eerden, “The Whole Painting”
Erik Hoel, “Higher Education
Kirsten Imani Kasai, “A Snail Without its Shell is a Slug
Tom Sheehan, “Letter Across Open Waters to Lost Comrades”
Penny Perkins, “My NPR Interview with Terry Gross”
Elizabeth Robinson, “Vulnerability Index”


Michael Martone’s most recent books are Four for a QuarterNot Normal, Illinois: Peculiar Fiction from the FlyoverRacing in Place: Collages, Fragments, Postcards, Ruins, a collection of essays, and Double-wide, his collected early stories.  He is also the author of The Blue Guide to Indiana, published by FC2Martone is the author of five other books of short fiction including Seeing Eye, Pensées: The Thoughts of Dan Quayle, Fort Wayne Is Seventh on Hitler’s List, Safety Patrol, and Alive and Dead in Indiana. His stories and essays have appeared in Harper’s, Esquire, Story, Antaues, North American Reviews, Epoch, Denver Quarterly, Iowa Review, Third Coast, Shenandoah, Bomb, and other magazines.

Unclassifiable Contest