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Nick Adams Short Story Contest

Ernest HemingwayEach year in the spring, ACM sponsors the Nick Adams Short Story Contest. The contest, named for the young protagonist of many Hemingway stories, was established in 1973 with funds from an anonymous donor to encourage fiction writers at ACM colleges. A first prize of $1,000 is awarded to the author of the winning story.

Any student currently enrolled with good academic standing at an ACM college is eligible to enter the Nick Adams Contest and may submit up to two stories to their English department. The story need not have been written especially for the competition, but it cannot previously have been published off-campus or been a finalist in this contest. Each English department selects the four best stories to enter in the competition, which is coordinated by the ACM office.

A small committee of faculty drawn from ACM colleges selects the finalists. A prominent writer serves as the  contest's final judge each year and selects the winning story from among the finalists.

Nick Adams Contest final judges in past years have included such literary luminaries as Jane Smiley, Saul Bellow, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Anne Tyler, Maya Angelou, Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Hamilton, and Stuart Dybek. See the complete list of final judges.

Nick Adams Contest final judges in recent years

Maureen McCoy

Maureen McCoy - 2015

Bonnie Jo Campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell - 2014

Peter Geye

2013 - Peter Geye

Gina Frangello

2012 - Gina Frangello

Binnie Kirshenbaum

2011 - Binnie Kirshenbaum

2016 Nick Adams Contest

Bill Hillmann Will Serve as Final Judge for the 2016 Nick Adams Short Story Contest

Bill Hillmann

Bill Hillmann

Author Bill Hillmann will select the prize-winning story in the 2016 Nick Adams Short Story Contest.

Hillmann is the author of two books, including a memoir entitled Mozos: A Decade Running with the Bulls of Spain (2015) and a novel, The Old Neighborhood (2014). In addition to his books, he has contributed to The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Playboy,, and National Public Radio (NPR).

The Old Neighborhood was named "Best Novel of 2014" by the Chicago Sun-Times, "Best New Book" by the Chicago Reader, and received critical acclaim from Booklist and The Week. Read more about Bill Hillmann.

Call for Entries

ACM encourages students enrolled at ACM colleges to submit stories for the 44th annual Nick Adams Short Story Contest, which will award a prize of $1,000 to the author of the winning story. Read more about the Call for Entries.

2015 Contest

Evelyn Coffin from Knox College Named 2015 Winner for "Proudly, Unburied"

Evelyn Coffin, a sophomore at Knox College, received the $1,000 first prize as winner of the 43rd annual Nick Adams Short Story Contest.

Evelyn Coffin

Evelyn Coffin

Her story "Proudly, Unburied" was selected by final judge Maureen McCoy from among 38 stories submitted by students from ACM colleges. In commenting on Coffin's story, McCoy wrote:

"'Proudly, Unburied' is a powerful story evoking childhood wonder, trauma and, finally, fragile dreams of future. The story seems to proceed unhurriedly, riding on rhythmic language that defines its own music through vivid imagery and character insight. All the writing mastery here is in service to character; character is at the heart of the story, and at the heart here is a young girl of particular experience and vivid observation who is growing into the world."

Read Proudly, Unburied by Evelyn Coffin.

McCoy also gave Honorable Mention recognition to Isabel Taylor from Beloit College for "Mothers," noting that Taylor's story "presents a deeply felt, yet unsentimental portrait of a character, Gina, in present circumstances on which the past bears significantly."

Read more about the 2015 Nick Adams Contest

More information about the Contest