Stephen Bonga Award in POetry & Prose for High school students

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Win $125 + Publication / 1 Award in Poetry & 1 award in Prose / October 1 – December 15

Poetry Judge: Kai Carlson-Wee

Contest Guidelines:

  • Open to high school writers currently living in Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, or Wisconsin.

  • All work will be considered for inclusion in Up North Lit.

  • Only previously unpublished work will be considered.

  • Submit your 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

This award will be given annually to two high school students in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Michigan 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 no more than 4,000 words, (2) a creative nonfiction story or essay of no more than 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 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 on the title page of the creative manuscript.

The poetry award will be judged by Kai Carlson-Wee. The fiction award will be judged by Up North Lit editors and readers.  


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Kai Carlson-Wee, 2018 Judge

Kai Carlson-Wee is the author of Rail (BOA Editions, 2018). He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and his work has appeared in Ploughshares, Best New Poets, AGNI, New England Review, Gulf Coast, and The Missouri Review, which awarded him the 2013 Editor’s Prize. His photography has been featured in Narrative Magazine, and his poetry film, Riding the Highline, has screened at film festivals across the country. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco and is a lecturer at Stanford University.