A Call For Entries

Please spread the word about the Seventh Annual Fire Escape Contest for teen-authored poetry and short stories. Entries are due by June 1, 2009, and cash prizes are awarded for first, second, and third place (plus winning looks great on those college apps, right?)

Here's the poem that won first place in the 2008 contest:

First Prize:
Doll Skin by Monika, Panama/USA, Age 17

Dear Josephina,

I owe you an apology
many years in the making
I am sorry that you were always
last in line
That when my mother said
you look so much alike
I would scowl
I am sorry that I
loved Summer over you
that her blond hair
and green eyes
made me smile like
I never smiled at you
I am sorry that when my grandmother
made matching dresses
I never gave you one
that your thick dark hair
never was braided
never was brushed
I am sorry I pronounced your name
with a stiff and angry
I knew it was wrong
but most of all
I am so sorry
that I hated my
own skin
and that you
had to
live in it

Read other past winning entries here, and please note the contest rules:

Do you love to weave words together?
Were you and/or one or both of your birth parents born in another country?
Do you live in the United States or Canada now?
Are you 13-19 years old?

If you answered yes to ALL of the questions above, YOU qualify to enter the 2009 Fire Escape Writing Contests! Submit an original, unpublished poem or story that reflects some of the joys and struggles of growing up between two cultures in America. The Fire Escape will only consider one poem and story per person, so send your best work. (If you like writing non-fiction, too, check out the Fire Escape's Write-a-Review Contest.)

Poetry (up to three poems)
Short Fiction (up to 800 words)

First Prize: $50
Second Prize: $35
Third Prize: $15

How to submit an entry:

Paste your poem or story into an e-mail message and send it to contests -at - mitaliperkins.com. I will not open attachments.

Proofread thoroughly and keep your presentation simple. Entries with spelling, grammar or punctuation errors and funky characters/fonts may be disqualified without notice. Do not include any clip art, images, or photos with your entry. Words only, please. Fiction longer than 1000 words will not be considered.

Include your name, age, and e-mail address in your e-mail. Also include your countr(ies) of origin. You and/or ONE of your birth parents must have been born outside North America. If you were born in Puerto Rico and are now living in one of the states or Canadian provinces, you qualify.

Current U.S. or Canadian residents only please, and previous winners in one category are not eligible to enter that category. To qualify, your entry must be received between September 1, 2008 and June 1, 2009.

REPEAT: you must be an immigrant or internationally-adopted teen or a teen with one immigrant parent currently living in the United States or Canada.

NOTE: Failure to follow all of the contest guidelines will disqualify your entry.

Winning Poems and Stories will be published on the Fire Escape. Winners will be notified by June 30th. If you do not hear from us by June 30th, you can assume that your entry was NOT a winner. Prizes must be claimed by September 1, 2009. Please note that editorial or any other personal comments will not be provided for contest submissions. The Fire Escape reserves the right to award no prizes if no entry meets the judge's standards.

The Fire Escape seeks the following permissions from young authors: permission to publish your work on the web site, and permission to include your work in online archives after publication. Authors retain the copyright to their work. Once selected, winners must send their school information and a mailing address so that the Fire Escape can validate the entry and send the prize. Read the Fire Escape's privacy policy for more information.