Exploring the art of prose


CRAFT Creative Nonfiction Award 2021

2021 CRAFT Creative Nonfiction Award

Judged by Ira Sukrungruang

Welcome to our award for unpublished creative nonfiction up to 6,000 words!

Thank you to all writers who sent creative nonfiction to our CNF award! We are delighted to publish the winning pieces and editors’ choice selections in Summer 2022. Congratulations to the winners, finalists, longlisters, and honorable mentions!

  • Open November 1 to December 30
  • CRAFT submissions are open to all writers
  • International submissions are allowed
  • Creative nonfiction only! (please no academic work, fiction, or poetry)
  • Please submit work in English only
  • 6,000 word count maximum
  • We review literary nonfiction, but are open to a variety of genres and styles including memoir, lyric essays, personal essays, narrative nonfiction, and experimental prose—our only requirement is that you show excellence in your craft
  • Previously unpublished work only—we do not review reprints or partial reprints, including self-published work, for contests
  • We allow simultaneous submissions—writers please notify us and withdraw your entry if your work is accepted elsewhere
  • $20 reading fee per entry allows ONE creative nonfiction piece from 1,001 to 6,000 words OR up to TWO flash creative nonfiction pieces of 1,000 words or fewer each—if submitting two flash pieces (2,000 words maximum combined/1,000 words maximum each), please put them both in a SINGLE document
  • We allow multiple submissions—each entry should be accompanied by a reading fee
  • All entries will also be considered for publication in CRAFT
  • All submissions must be made via Submittable
  • Please, please, double-space your submission and use Times New Roman 12 pt. font
  • Please include a brief cover letter with your publication history (if applicable)
  • We do not require anonymous submissions
  • We do not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, or for any other reason
  • Additionally, we do not tolerate discrimination in the writing we consider for publication: work we find discriminatory on any of the bases stated here will be declined without complete review (you will be refunded, less fees)

Friends, family, and associates of the judge are not eligible for consideration for the award.


The writers of the three winning essays will receive:

  • $1,000 each
  • Publication in CRAFT, each with an introduction by Ira Sukrungruang
  • Publication of an Author’s Note (craft essay) to accompany the piece
  • A complete set of fourteen titles of Graywolf’s The Art Of series

The two writers chosen in the editors’ choice round will receive:

  • $300 each
  • Publication in CRAFT
  • Publication of an Author’s Note (craft essay) to accompany the piece
  • A complete set of fourteen titles of Graywolf’s The Art Of series

Ira Sukrungruang was born in Chicago to Thai immigrants. He earned his BA in English from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and his MFA from The Ohio State University. He is the author of four nonfiction books This Jade World (2021), Buddha’s Dog & Other Meditations (2018), Southside Buddhist (2014) and Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy (2010), the short story collection The Melting Season (2016), and the poetry collection In Thailand It Is Night (2013). With friend Donna Jarrell, he co-edited two anthologies that examines the fat experience through a literary lens—What Are You Looking At? The First Fat Fiction Anthology (2003) and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology (2005). He is a former member of the Board of Trustees for the Association of Writers and Writing Program (AWP), and is currently on the Advisory Board of Machete, an imprint of The Ohio State University Press dedicated to publishing innovative nonfiction by authors who have been historically marginalized.

Sukrungruang is the recipient of the 2015 American Book Award for Southside Buddhist, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Nonfiction Literature, an Arts and Letters Fellowship, and the Anita Claire Scharf Award in Poetry. His work has appeared in many literary journals, including The Rumpus, American Poetry ReviewThe Sun, and Creative Nonfiction. He is the president of Sweet: A Literary Confection, a literary nonprofit organization, and is the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing at Kenyon College.

Graywolf Press is a nonprofit literary publisher of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and work in translation.

Their mission:

Graywolf Press is a leading independent publisher committed to the discovery and energetic publication of twenty-first century American and international literature. We champion outstanding writers at all stages of their careers to ensure that adventurous readers can find underrepresented and diverse voices in a crowded marketplace.

We believe works of literature nourish the reader’s spirit and enrich the broader culture, and that they must be supported by attentive editing, compelling design, and creative promotion.