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ACM's Short Story Contest, Named for Hemingway Character, Enters Its 50th Year

Published: October 28, 2021

ACM's Short Story Contest, Named for Hemingway Character, Enters Its 50th Year

The Nick Adams Short Story Contest returns for its 50th year, offering a prize of $1,000 for the best story by an ACM student.

The competition is named for the young hero of many Hemingway stories.

Entries are once again being accepted for the Nick Adams Short Story Contest, now in its 50th year. The contest was established in 1973 with funds from an anonymous donor to encourage fiction writing at ACM colleges.

Named for the young hero of many Hemingway stories, the contest offers a prize of $1,000 for the best story by an ACM student. 

In 2021, Natalie Marsh, a student at Carleton College, was awarded first prize for her story "Underwater, I Am Weightless." Final judge Sandra Cisneros called Marsh "a brave and beautiful voice."

More winners from past years, as well as some of the winning stories, are listed on the ACM website at

A History of Distinguished Judges

One of the enduring highlights of the contest is the opportunity for students to have their work read by a prominent writer. Each year, a professional author serves as the final judge, reading the finalists and selecting the winner. 

Sandra Cisneros, author of the classic, coming-of-age novel The House on Mango Street (1984), served as the 2021 final judge. As a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, performer, and artist, Cisneros' work explores such themes as Chicana identity, cultural hybridity, and social position.

Additional past judges have included such writers as Maya Angelou, Saul Bellow, Larry Heinemann, Bharati Mukherjee, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Tyler, John Updike, Stuart Dybek, Audrey Niffenegger, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and Scott Turow.

How to Participate in the Contest

Each entrant may submit as many as two stories to their campus English department. The story need not have been written specifically for the competition, but it cannot have been previously published off-campus or reached finalist status in this contest. (Read the complete guidelines.)

Each department will select the four best stories to send to the ACM office; a small committee of faculty drawn from colleges throughout the consortium will then select the finalists. The winner will be selected by the final judge in March 2022.

Stories must arrive at the ACM office, from the English department, no later than February 11, 2022. For more information or to learn your on-campus submission deadline, please contact the chair of your college English department. 

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