Author Archives: Darian Araiza-Samples

Unclassifiable Contest – Submissions Open!

Our 10th annual Unclassifiable Contest is open May 1 to July 31, 11:59 P.M. EST. 

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? 

Our Unclassifiable Contest is for works that blur, bend, blend, erase, or obliterate genre and other labels. We consider works of up to 5,000 words. Michael Martone judges our Unclassifiable contest.  

Curious about Unclassifiable works? Check out our featured Unclassifiable Contest Winner, “The Direct Account of Frank Thomas” by Emily Wolahan, or our Ampersand Interviews with Unclassifiable Contest Winners, where Kat Mustatea discusses her work, “Voidopolis,” and Shawndra Miller discusses her work, “Bleeding the Butterfly.”

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 $10, and the winner will receive $500. Only send us work that has not been previously published elsewhere. 

2023 Winner 

Christy Sheffield Sanford, “Wreck Tangles of Désirée Acking,” which appears in Issue 47 of Arts & Letters. 

2023 Finalists 

Kelly Houle, “Alphabet Shell and Other Poems” 

Tom Laichas, “Four Pieces” 

Ayesha Raees, “CYCLE” 

Julie Marie Wade, “Healthcare Hopscotch: 2001-2011” 

Unclassifiable Judge 

The Unclassifiable Contest is now open for submissions until July 31!

Michael Martone’s newest book is Table Talk & Second Thoughts: A Memoir in Prose Poems. Plain Air: Sketches from Winesburg, Indiana (Baobab Press) and The Complete Writings of Art Smith, the Bird Boy of Fort Wayne, Edited by Michael Martone (BOA Editions) appeared recently. Retired after forty years of teaching at Iowa State, Harvard, Syracuse, and the University of Alabama, he lives in Tuscaloosa next to the abandoned gothic country club featured in Walker Percy’s novel Love in the Ruins. 


25th Annual Prize – Submissions Closed

Prize submission period February 1st – March 31st

25th Annual Arts & Letters Prize Judges Announced

2024 Prize Judges

Poetry: Chelsea Rathburn 

Creative Nonfiction: Beth Ann Fennelly

Fiction: Tiphanie Yanique

Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, and Fiction Winners will appear in next year’s Fall or Spring issue of Arts & Letters.

About the Prizes
For our prizes in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, we offer the winner a $1,000 prize and publication in the next year’s Fall or Spring issue. Our prizes are made possible through generous gifts to our prize endowments from Dr. Martin Lammon, Dr. Barry Darugar, Bahram and Fari Atefat, and other friends of Arts & Letters. If you are interested in contributing to our endowments, please contact us!

Submission Guidelines:

Please do NOT include your name on any part of the uploaded file you submit to any genre.  We accept most file formats (Word, .rtf, PDF).

We prefer, for the prizes, that your work not be simultaneously submitted. This helps us preserve the integrity of the contest(s). Our judges’ decisions are usually made by the end of May.

All fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction prize submissions will be considered for publication at regular payment rates.

All writers and poets writing in English are eligible to enter, excepting friends, relatives, or current and former students of the current-year judges.

The submission period for our annual prizes is February 1 – March 31. The entry fee is $20.

Arts & Letters Prize for Fiction:

Submit a manuscript of up to 25 pages, typed, double-spaced

Susan Atefat Prize for Creative Nonfiction:

Submit a manuscript of up to 25 pages, typed, double-spaced

Rumi Prize for Poetry:

Submit a manuscript of up to 4 poems, typed, single-spaced (poems need not be thematically linked, though it is fine if they are)

All submissions are through our Submittable site:


24th Annual Arts & Letters Prize Winners

Rumi Prize for Poetry Judge: Rodney Jones WINNER: Owen Lewis, for “Something’s Wrong,” “Waking This New Year’s Day,” and “More Than Twice”

Arts & Letters Prize for Fiction Judge: Francesca Ekwuyasi WINNER: Patricia Grace King, for “Pax Americana”

Susan Atefat Prize for Creative Nonfiction Judge: Sue William Silverman WINNER: Jonathan VanBallenberghe, for “Winchester Street: Living with My Father’s Suicide”

Issue 47

25th Anniversary
Order Online


Patricia Grace King
Pax Americana

Jonathan VanBallenberghe
Winchester Street: Living with my father’s suicide

Owen Lewis
Something’s Wrong, More Than Twice, and Waking Early This New Year’s Day,


Christy Sheffield Sanford
Wreck Tangles of Désirée Acking


Laura Cruser
Counting Mississippis


Ciaran Berry
The Last Days of the Amato Opera

Billy Collins
L’esprit D’escalier

Todd Davis
The Dam on Loup Run
The Bear Inside the Bear

Kathie Jacobson
Feynman, Joan
Still Life with Boat and Woman

Zachary Kluckman
Describe a Skull to Someone Who Has Never Seen One
Agree to Disagree
Half Sunken Home

Chelsea Rathburn
“…And That’s How People Burn to Death in Hotel Rooms”
On Failing to Feel What I Think I Ought at the Keats House, London


Nolan Capps
Strange Fire

Kristin W. Davis

Gila Green
Messianic Games

Alexandria Peary
Sleeping with Knickknacks


Jessica Barksdale
Ready for Digging

Sophia Khan

Alyson Mosquera Dutemple

Anna Schachner
All My Appreciation

Laura Newbern
Creative Nonfiction Editor

Peter Selgin
Fiction Editor
Chika Unigwe
Poetry Editor
Kerry James Evans
Managing Editor
Alexis Calhoun
Assistant Managing Editor
Cas McKinney

Assistant Editors
Collin Bishoff
Timothy Connors
Jordan Crider
Sherri-Anne Forde
Rachel Kerger
Aron Liebig
Natalie Mau
Michaela Reed
Jonna Smith
Nathanael Williams