Skip to main content

The Paul Witherington Prose Contest

The Paul Witherington Prose Contest

The Paul Witherington Creative Writing Contest is open to all high school (9th-12th) and middle school (6th-8th) students in South Dakota.

The contest is for short fiction or creative non-fiction on any subject and must be no longer than ten pages double spaced using a 12 point font.

The Paul Witherington Creative Writing Contest was created by students in 1993 to honor Professor Emeritus Paul Witherington when he retired from the English Department. Dr. Witherington, a Fulbright lectureship recipient, is a prolific writer with more than 40 published short stories which have appeared in many literary magazines, including the Mississippi Review, Kansas Quarterly, Epoch, Chicago Review, Cimarron Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Mid-American Review, New England Review and Sonora Review. The great success and longevity of the contest are a testament to the many students and teachers who have participated through the years as well as the support of the SDSU School of English and Interdisciplinary Studies, the SDSU Foundation, SDSU Alumni and generous donations from participating business sponsors. Funding for this year's contest has been provided by Wells Fargo and Paul and Gay Witherington.

The deadline for submissions is February 15 of each year (postmarked). There are separate prizes for high school and middle school students. Prize-winning submissions will be published in a chapbook of Winning Writing, and we will print sufficient copies for students, teachers and immediate family.


  • First prize: High School - $100.00 / Middle School - $100.00
  • Second prize: High School - $ 75.00 / Middle School - $ 75.00
  • Third prize: High School - $ 50.00 / Middle School - $ 50.00
  • Honorable mention: Up to five in each category


  1. A student may not submit more than three poems or three prose entries (six total).
  2. Include a cover sheet with the following information:
    • name of the contest
    • title of work(s)
    • student’s name and grade, and home address
    • school’s name and address
    • teacher’s first and last name
    • teacher’s statement declaring that the student’s work is the student’s own.
  3. The student’s name should not appear on the actual submission. We assign the entries numbers and read them blind.

    Deadline: Submissions must be postmarked on or before Feb. 15, 2024. Send to:

    Steven Wingate
    School of English & Interdisciplinary Studies
    PO Box 2218/ Pugsley Center 301
    South Dakota State University
    Brookings, SD 57007

We expect to contact the teachers whose students won a contest prize or honorable mention by April 1. I will let you know about any changes to this schedule.

Note: In past years we have accepted “mass submissions”—the work of an entire class on the same assignment. These will no longer be accepted, as similarity of theme and form makes our assessment more difficult. Please focus instead on the strongest work you encounter and/or the work of your most enthusiastic students.

For more information, contact professor Steven Wingate of the SDSU School of English and Interdisciplinary Studies.