The Fitzgerald Museum’s Literary Contest and Zelda Award

The Fitzgerald Museum’s fourth annual Literary Contest for high school and college students opens its submissions period on September 1, 2021. This year’s theme for the general contest, which accepts submissions from anywhere in the world,  is “The Radiant Hour.” This theme celebrates the centennial of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1921 novel The Beautiful and the Damned. Also, this is the second year for the Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award, which is open to Alabama high school students. Submissions for this award are not governed by a theme, but should be comprised of a portfolio of writings.

The Fitzgerald Museum’s fourth annual Literary Contest
The Radiant Hour

F. Scott and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald were daring and revolutionary in their lives and in their art and writing. More than one hundred years after they met in Montgomery, Alabama, the Fitzgeralds’ literary and artistic works from the 1920s and 1930s are still regarded as groundbreaking, and The Fitzgerald Museum is seeking to identify and honor the daring and revolutionary young writers and artists of this generation.

Categories: Grades 9–10, Grades 11–12, Undergraduate

General Guidelines for 2021 – 2022:

The Fitzgerald Museum’s fourth annual Literary Contest is accepting submissions of short fiction, poetry, ten-minute plays, film scripts, and multi-genre works that exhibit the theme “The Radiant Hour,” which is the title of the second section of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1921 novel The Beautiful and the Damned. This theme implies works about illumination, discovery, or moments of clarity. Works with traditional forms and styles will be accepted for judging, yet writers are encouraged to send works that utilize innovative forms and techniques. Literary works may include artwork, illustrations, font variations, and other graphic elements, with the caveat that these elements should enhance the work, not simply decorate the page.

The submissions period is open from September 1 until December 31, 2021. Works will be judged within three separate age categories, not by genre, so please be clear about the age category. Submissions should not exceed ten pages (with font sizes no smaller than 11 point). Each student may only enter once. Awards will be announced by March 15, 2022. Each age category will have a single winner and possibly an honorable mention.

Works should be submitted through the web form on the Fitzgerald Museum’s website. Due to issues of compatibility, works should be submitted as PDF to ensure that they appear as the author intends. Files should be named with the author’s first initial [dot] last name [underscore] title. For example, J.Smith_InnovativeStory.pdf. Questions about the contest or the entry process may be sent to contest coordinator Foster Dickson at fitzgeraldliterarycontest@gmail.com, with “Literary Contest Question” in the subject line.

This year’s judges are Lisa Reeves for the undergraduate category and Jason McCall for the high school categories. Reeves has taught literature and composition at the University of Georgia for over twenty years.  She grew up in Muscle Shoals, and attended the University of North Alabama then Auburn University. Her father taught her to read at a young age and instilled in her a lifelong love of words. McCall is an award-winning writer and poet who is a native of Montgomery, Alabama. He holds an MFA from the University of Miami and teaches at the University of North Alabama. His most recent collections are A Man Ain’t Nothin’ and What Shot Did You Ever Take (co-authored with Brian Oliu). 

The Literary Contest’s annual themes honor and reflect upon the Fitzgeralds’ literary legacy. The inaugural contest had as its theme “What’s Old is New,” which encouraged students to look to tradition for inspiration. For the second year, the theme “Love + Marriage” celebrated the centennial of the couple’s courtship and marriage. In year three, “The Education of a Personage” centered on themes of growth and maturing aligned with the centennial of Scott’s debut novel This Side of Paradise. The current theme, for year four, harkens back to 1921’s The Beautiful and the Damned with the theme “The Radiant Hour.” While these themes do parallel the Fitzgerald’s literary and personal history, they are intended to guide students to consider and examine the present and the future as Scott and Zelda did in their day.


The second annual Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award
(for high school students in Alabama only)

Montgomery, Alabama native Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was daring and revolutionary in her life, art, and writing, and The Fitzgerald Museum’s Young Writers Award that bears her name seeks to identify and honor Alabama’s high school students who share her talent and spirit. Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was inducted into the Alabama Writer’s Hall of Fame in spring 2020. This award, which was first given the following year, celebrates her life and legacy by recognizing the talents and abilities of young Alabama writers.

General Guidelines:

The Fitzgerald Museum’s inaugural Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award is accepting submissions of portfolios from young writers who are currently attending high school (grades 9 – 12) in Alabama. Portfolios should contain literary works (stories, poems, plays or film scripts, multi-genre works) totaling 5 to 15 pages with font sizes no smaller than 11 point. Writers are encouraged to include works that are innovative in style, content, form, and/or technique. Literary works may include artwork, illustrations, font variations, and other graphic elements, but these elements should enhance the work, not simply decorate the page.

The submissions period is open from September 1 until December 31, 2021. Each student may only enter once. 

Portfolios will be judged holistically, and only one award will be given each year. The recipient will be announced by March 15, 2022.

Portfolios should be submitted through the web form on the Fitzgerald Museum’s website. Due to issues of compatibility, works should be collected into one PDF named with the author’s first initial [dot] last name [underscore] ZeldaPortfolio (for example, J.Smith_ZeldaPortfolio.pdf). Questions about the award or the entry process may be sent to contest coordinator Foster Dickson at fitzgeraldliterarycontest@gmail.com, with “Zelda Fitzgerald Award Question” in the subject line.

This year’s judge for the award is Kerry Madden-Lunsford. She is an associate professor of Creative Writing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the author of eight published books for children and adults. Her newest is a picture book, Ernestine’s Milky Way, published by Random House Studios in 2019 and was selected as the State Book of Alabama at the National Book Festival in Washington DC. Her book, Up Close Harper Lee, made Booklist’s Ten Top Biographies of 2009 for Youth. 

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