Please read these Guidelines carefully and follow them closely! Thanks!

The editors of Deep Wild: Writing from the Backcountry invite students currently enrolled in undergraduate programs to submit work for our 2020 Student Essay Writing Contest.  We are open for submissions for the contest between January 15 and March 31, on our Submittable website.

We seek work that conjures the experiences, observations, and insights of backcountry journeys. By “backcountry,” we mean away from paved roads, preferably more than a day’s journey by foot, skis, snowshoes, kayak, canoe, horse, or any other non-motorized means of conveyance. We are open to a wide range of carefully-crafted work, both personal and political (however you construe that word). Work that does not fall within this backcountry spectrum, however excellent it might be, is not a good fit for us.

The length limit is 3,000 words. Essays that are tightly written and error-free and that have already benefited from feedback will stand the best chance.

There is no entry fee. Up to three essays will be chosen for publication in the June 2020 volume of Deep Wild Journal, and the authors will receive cash awards of $100 and five copies of the journal. Each essay will be read by at least two readers. Finalists will be judged by Deep Wild editors. 

Submissions must be made using your private email account from the college or university, or if you do not have such an account, inform us in your cover letter. Also in the cover letter, please state the name of the college, your year of study, and your major. Additional Guidelines:

  • Each student may submit only once.
  • Submissions cannot be revised after you press <send>, although if your essay is selected we will work with you to polish it.
  • Your manuscript should be double-spaced with one-inch margins, 11- or 12-point font.
  • Indicate paragraph breaks by indenting, not by skipping a line (although an extra space to indicate section breaks is fine).

We encourage students to familiarize themselves with the kind of writing published in Deep Wild by reading essays from Deep Wild 2019, which can be found in our library.

We look forward to reading your work!