The Kurt Brown Prizes

AWP offers three annual scholarships of $500 each to emerging writers who wish to attend a writers’ conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency. The scholarships are applied to fees for winners who attend one of the member programs in AWP’s Directory of Conferences & Centers. Winners and six finalists also receive a one-year individual membership in AWP. The goal of the contest is to spread the word about the incredible work being done at local writing centers, conferences, festivals, retreats, and residencies.

In 1990, Kurt Brown founded WC&C, a coalition of writers’ conferences and festivals, to help these groups support one another and thrive. Kurt was a friend and mentor to many writers, a poet, editor, memoirist, essayist, teacher, and administrator. Today, the group he founded is an important part of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, which hosts more than 120 member programs. We hope you will take the time to visit our directory and explore them all. There is an excellent chance you will find one that meets in your local area that can help you connect with a community of writers and friends.

Congratulations to Our 2018 Winners

Sarah Cheshire

Creative Nonfiction

“Thinking about the Process of Leaving the Body” by Sarah Cheshire

Sarah Cheshire is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Scalawag Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, and River Teeth. A finalist for creative nonfiction in the 2018 Disquiet Literary Prize, she was shortlisted for the 2017 American Shorter Fiction Prize.

Of Sarah Cheshire’s submission, judge Elizabeth Silver wrote:   
“This is a stunning portrayal of the body’s fracture, abuse, rage, confusion, and renaissance. I was utterly lost in the poetry of the prose and innovation in storytelling. “Thinking About the Process of Leaving the Body” was a stand-out among many, not only in the lyricism of the language itself, but in the power of the author’s voice. The writer pulls the reader into her narrative, into her pain and her confusion, and there is nowhere else to be than alongside her in this journey. A beautiful and harrowing welcome piece welcoming a promising writer.”

Runners-Up in Creative Nonfiction
Sylvia Sukop, “Rescued: Holding onto History and Each Other”
Gabriela Ramos, “Healthcare”

Noah Bogdonoff


“Indoor Animals” by Noah Bogdonoff

Noah Bogdonoff is a writer and clinical social worker living in Providence, Rhode Island. His fiction has appeared in Catapult and the Forge. He has a degree in environmental studies, and a cat named Alaska.

Of Noah Bogdonoff’s short story, judge Benjamin Ludwig said: 
“Told from the second-person point of view, “Indoor Animals” revolves around a baby deer named Starwars, who enters an unnamed character’s life (the story is told in the second person). It’s a story that stayed with me long after I finished it, one that’s worthy of a being read very, very widely. Honestly, it’s one of the most powerful works of short fiction I’ve ever read. There are mysteries to solve here, questions that whisk past both the character and the reader, beginning with ‘you forgot to ask her who she was and how she knew that you would be the kind of loony to accept an orphan baby deer.’ The story circles back upon itself several times, leading us deeper into the primary issue at stake: the search for meaning, which builds itself a structural answer through a series of spiraling questions which the narrator knows he/she need not answer, but only ask.”

Runners-Up in Fiction
Jennifer Fliss, “In the Space Where They Meet”
Yvonne Yevan Yu, “Escalators”

Hannah Perrin King


“Nidus” by Hannah Perrin King

Hannah Perrin King grew up on a dirt road and now lives in Brooklyn, NY where she writes about god and horses. A 2017 Tin House Summer Workshops Scholar, she recently received honorable mention in the Cincinnati Review’s Robert and Adele Schiff Awards in Poetry and Prose. This May, she completed her MFA at The New School, and she is currently an affiliate editor at the Alaska Quarterly Review.

Of Hannah King’s submission, judge Leslie Harrison wrote the following:
“Nidus means an origin, means also the site of an infection. It is from the Latin word for nest. This group of poems orbits around all of those senses of this word—they're wild and infected with fire, they're deeply rooted in place, they practically burst from the page—they're nearly incandescent—like a baby phoenix already alight.  It is hard for me to imagine that an emerging writer wrote them—there is craft and control adding fuel to their heat. Formally inventive—a prose poem set as a newspaper column, classic tercets, even a poem in all caps—the poems have each found their true form already. They contain, barely, their own difficult, gorgeous music. They read like they're setting a match to their own paper. They read like fire.”

Runners-Up in Poetry
Kate Gaskin, “Forever War”
Ondřej Pazdírek, “A Small American Prayer”

Previous Award Recipients

Tribute to Kurt Brown
List of Winners

Check out previous winners