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Essay Contest

Northwest Perspectives
Essay Contest 


The 2016 winners of the Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest are as follows:

At School, A Shooting by Drew Terhune

Refuge by Valerie Rapp

A Forest Curator by Karen Krueger

Honorable Mention

Hurdles and Barricades by Noah Schultz


Territory by Kim Conolly

What Pulls You Through by Emily Edelman

Not Exactly the Teenage Dream by Rebecca Miles

The Gate on the Oregon Trail by Charley Roberts

[Untitled] by Corey Freer

Little Tumescent Water Droplets by Edward Engs

Two Truths and a Lie by Erin Kanzig


Now in its 17th year, the Oregon Quarterly Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest welcomes nonfiction, personal essays of up to 1,500 words on any topic related to the Pacific Northwest. Winning essays will be published in Oregon Quarterly magazine and their authors will receive a stipend of $750. In a change from previous years, we hope to publish several winning essays in the print magazine over the course of the 2016 calendar year. This reaffirms our commitment to presenting great writing and to offering our readers a variety of perspectives on the Northwest. The 2016 deadline for submissions has passed. 

Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia selected this year's contest winners.

Contest Rules and Eligibility

  • The contest is open to all nonfiction writers, except: (1) first-place winners from previous years’ contests; (2) authors who have written a feature for Oregon Quarterly in the past calendar year; and (3) staff of Oregon Quarterly, the UO’s University Communications division, and their family members.
  • Submission deadline is January 20, 2016 (online submission and postmark date).
  • There is no entry fee.
  • All entries received by the contest deadline (January 20, 2016) are read by our editors, who select a short list of finalists. The finalist essays are then read by the judge, who chooses the winners. This year’s judge is noted Northwest author Karen Russell.
  • Winning essays will be published in Oregon Quarterly magazine and their authors will receive a $750 stipend.
  • Additional finalist essays will be published at

Manuscript Submission Guidelines

  • We strongly prefer that essays be submitted via our online form.
  • Hardcopy entries can be mailed to: Oregon Quarterly, 5228 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon  97403-5228.
  • Author's name and contact information (email address, phone number, and mailing address) should be listed on the first page, but not on other pages of the document. Judges are not given the authors’ names when reading the essays.
  • One entry per person.
  • Maximum length is 1,500 words.
  • Submission deadline is January 20, 2016 (online submission or postmark date).
  • Entries will not be returned. Those that do not meet these submission guidelines are automatically disqualified.

Submit your essay here.

About Karen Russell, 2016 Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest judge:

Karen Russell’s debut novel, Swamplandia!, was chosen by the New York Times as one of the Ten Best Books of 2011, long-listed for The Orange Prize, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Russell has been featured in the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 list, and was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. In 2009, she received the 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation. In 2013 she was named a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant,” the youngest of the year’s 24 winners. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Read the winning essays from 2015:



First Place "Water, Water, Everywhere," by Kristianne Huntsberger

Second Place "Vintage Keys," by Drew Terhune

Tied for Third Place "Moccasin's End," by Autumn Depoe-Hughes & "When the Lights Go Out," by Sue Lick


"The Aftermath of Loss – What Happens When a Hoarder Dies" by Melissent Zumwalt 

"Black Hole" by Jason Silverstein

"The Hobo Pirates of Portland" by Shannon Gadberry


First Place "155 Days," by Nysia Trejo

Second Place "A Temperate Mind," by Forrest Munro

Third Place  "Floater," by Max Rubin


"Anything Can Happen Now" by K.R. Sodikoff

"The Buzzing Space" by Carl Cacela

"Life in the Shadow of Death" by Nicole Krueger

Views expressed in these essays do not necessarily reflect the views of the UO administration.


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