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It’s the Sufjan Stevens of writing contests—every year since 1984, the nonprofit group Poets & Writers has given a prize, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award, to a poet and fiction writer in a particular state. Press releases summoning people to “Participate in a writing competition!” usually head directly to the recycling bin around here, but Poets & Writers is a reputable organization, there are no onerous “contest fees” involved, and though I admit I’d never heard of the Egen Award until today (do in-the-know folks call it the Eggy?), it has a decent track record—-genuine big-deal writers like Sue Monk Kidd, Susan Straight, and Mona Simpson have won it.

This year the contest is open exclusively to writers from D.C. who:

  1. Have never published a book, or;
  2. Have published no more than one full-length book
    in the genre in which they are applying, and;
  3. Have resided in Washington, D.C. for at least two
    years prior to the date they submit their manuscripts.

If you win, you get an all-expenses-paid trip to New York to chat up agents and other publishing types, 500 bucks, and an invitation to spend a month at a Wyoming writers’ retreat—-because nothing is going to help you nail down the pulse of D.C. like a month in cattle territory.

Applications are due on December 1. Start typing!