A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

The 2020/21 Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest is Now Open

Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools (WITS) program is delighted to announce the theme of this year’s Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest!

Every year, WITS holds the Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest for students and teachers from all WITS schools, representing all writing genres. The 2020/21 contest, open until May 14, invites students and teachers to address the theme “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” inspired by Ocean Vuong’s novel of the same title.


This contest is open to students, grades K-12, who attend a WITS partner school in the 2020/21 school year, as well as to classroom teachers currently partnered with a WITS Writer-in-Residence. Editors will choose two finalists and one winner for the student contest, as well as two finalists and one winner for the teacher contest.

The winning pieces will be published on SAL/ON, SAL’s blog, and in the 2021 Elaine Wetterauer Contest eChapbook. Student winners may also have the possibility of reading on stage at an upcoming Seattle Arts & Lectures public program event!

To learn more about Elaine Wetterauer, who gives this contest its name, click here.


Students and teachers are invited to submit an original poem, comic, story, or essay of 1,000 words maximum, based on the title of 2020/21 SAL speaker Ocean Vuong’s novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is written in the form of a letter by a Vietnamese son to his mother who cannot read, covering familial history, personal revelation, unconditional love, and the exploration of race, class, and masculinity. This year’s contest invites applicants to use Vuong’s work—its intimacy, honesty, and vulnerability—as a point of inspiration for their own creation.

Submissions are welcome in all genres, and editors will choose winners based on originality, use of language, and impact of the piece.


• Limit one original poem, comic, story, or essay per applicant (please limit prose submissions to under 1000 words).
• Save the work in a Word document, in 12-point font (comics may be scanned and sent as a PDF), with the following information in the upper right-hand corner:

For Students:
Student’s Name
School & Grade
Parent’s Name
Parent’s Contact (email and/or phone)

For Teachers:
Teacher’s Name
School & Grade Taught
WITS Writer
Preferred Contact (email and/or phone)

• Save the Word file as First Name Last Name.WITSContest.doc. (E.g. Bre’AnnaGirdy.WITSContest.doc.)
• Email the submission as an attached document to [email protected] with subject: “WITS Contest.”

**CONTEST SUBMISSIONS are due by 5 P.M. on Friday, May 14th **

Download guidelines

Posted in Writers in the Schools2020/21 Season