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. 


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