Stephen Bonga Award in POetry & Prose for High school students

Prize Now Closed

Potrait of Steven Bonga.jpg

Win $125 + Publication / 1 Award in Poetry & 1 award in Prose / September 1 – November 15

Judge: Deborah Keenan

Contest Guidelines:

  • Open to high school writers currently living in Minnesota, Michigan, or Wisconsin.
  • All work will be considered for inclusion in the print journal.
  • Only previously unpublished work will be considered.
  • Submit your double-spaced work as a single doc, docx, or pdf file. Poetry may be single space. 
  • Close friends of the judge, as well as close friends or family of Up North Lit editors, staff, and readers are prohibited from submitting
  • No entry fee to submit
  • All winners and finalists will receive a year subscription to Up North Literary Journal.

This award will be given annually to two high school students in the Northland in memory of Stephen Bonga, an Ojibwe and African American fur trader, interpreter, and founder of United Methodist Church in Superior, WI. Bonga was influential in the development of Fort Snelling and Grand Portage among other accomplishments.

All applicants should submit the following material:

  • One creative manuscript consisting of either (1) a short story of at least 4,000 words, (2) a creative nonfiction story or essay of at least 4,000 words, or (3) three poems of any length. The first page of this packet must be a title page.
  • A 300-word description detailing the student’s artistic vision and any creative projects in progress.

Each award will be judged by Deborah Keenan. Each document in the packet should be formatted as a doc, docx, or PDF, and the student’s name, high school, email, phone number, and address should appear only on the title page of the creative manuscript.





Deborah Keenan, 2017 Judge

Deborah Keenan is the author of ten collections of poems, and a book of writing ideas, from tiger to prayer, now in its third edition, from broadcraft press.  Her book, Willow Room, Green Door, New and Selected Poems, was published by Milkweed Editions and received the Minnesota Book Award for Poetry in 2008.  She lives in beautiful, mysterious St. Paul.