SDHC Announces 2021 Veterans Story Contest

Acclaimed veteran writer Brian Turner teaches a workshop at the 2019 South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood.

Submissions Accepted July 1-July 31

The South Dakota Humanities Council is sponsoring a storytelling contest for veterans that will culminate with an awards ceremony at the South Dakota Festival of Books Oct. 1-3 in Deadwood.

Written submissions will be accepted from July 1-July 31 for the Veterans Story Contest, which is open to veterans or current service members of any branch of the United States military who are living in South Dakota.

Submissions Should Address Military Experience

Submissions should consist of new, unpublished material addressing the military experience, such as recovery or lessons learned. Individuals may submit up to 1,500 written words in any genre — poetry, prose, fiction, creative nonfiction, etc. Only one submission per person. Entries must include name, address, phone and email.

During an interview with SDHC prior to his appearance at the 2017 Festival of Books in Deadwood, National Book Award-winning author Tim O'Brien said writing about war helps writers and readers find meaning in what happened.

"The word war is such an abstraction - it's almost meaningless as a word," O'Brien says. "It's not until it's something specific that it takes on any meaning, and often that's through a story."

U.S. Army veteran and 2021 Festival author Colin Halloran will announce the winners of the 2021 Veterans Story Contest and hold a workshop specifically for veterans.

U.S. Army veteran and 2021 Festival author Colin Halloran will announce the winners of the 2021 Veterans Story Contest and hold a workshop specifically for veterans.

2021 Festival Author Colin Halloran to Announce Winners, Teach Writing Workshop for Veterans

Three finalists will be invited to Deadwood for a reading of their work with U.S. Army veteran and 2021 Festival author Colin Halloran, who will announce the winners and hold a workshop specifically for veterans. Halloran is one of many award-winning veteran authors who have appeared at the Festival of Books, which in the past has featured O'Brien and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler. 

Halloran documented his combat experiences in Afghanistan in his memoir-in-verse Shortly Thereafter, which won the 2012 Main Street Rag Poetry Books Award and was named a Massachusetts Must-Read Book. He has also published the poetry collections Icarian Flux and American Etiquette, along with essays and short stories. When not writing, Halloran leads workshops that promote personal and international healing and reconciliation through writing and the arts.

The South Dakota Humanities Council, a statewide humanities organization that hosts the annual Festival, will ask the finalists to attend the Festival Oct. 1-3 in Deadwood. Writers do not need to attend the Festival of Books to submit work. A representative can read the author's work on their behalf.

Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place.

Stories should be submitted to:
1215 Trail Ridge Rd Ste A
Brookings, SD 57006

Past Winners

Veteran writers — especially those who have not entered the contest in previous years — may find inspiration from the winning entries listed below.

For more information or questions, contact SDHC at 605-688-6113.

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