Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize

Each spring, Lake Forest College, in conjunction with &NOW Books, sponsors an emerging writer under forty years old—with no major book publication—to spend two months in residence at our campus in Chicago’s northern suburbs on the shore of Lake Michigan.

There are no formal teaching duties attached to the residency. Time is to be spent completing a manuscript, participating in the annual Lake Forest Literary Festival, and offering a series of public presentations.

The completed manuscript will be published (upon approval) by &NOW Books imprint, with distribution by Northwestern University Press.

The stipend is $10,000 with a housing suite and campus meals provided by the college.

For this year’s competition we are seeking a poet. See the guidelines below. 

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    Recipients of the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize stay in a suite in Glen Rowan House. Lake Michigan is one mile away.

2015 winners and finalists:

Winner: Christopher Pérez, al-Quds, Palestine: LOVE PANT ALIEN 


Wendy L. Burk, Tucson, AZ: Transcripts of Tree Talks

Finalists (in alphabetical order):

Johnny Damm, Athens, GA: The Old Man’s Illustrated Library
Aimee Harrison, Bothell, WA: The Bearded Ballerina
Hailey Higdon, Nashville, TN: Quiet Speak Quiet

Past winners:

2014 Winner (Prose):

Matthew Nye, author of Pike and Bloom, a novel (available Fall 2015)

2013 Winner (Poetry):

Cecilia K. Corrigan, author of Titanic, a book of poems (available Fall 2014)

2012 Winner (Prose):

Elizabeth Gentry, whose novel, Housebound, was released in September 2013.

2011 Winner (Poetry):

José Perez Beduya, whose book, Throng, was released in September 2012. (Guest Judge: Jennifer Moxley.)

2010 Winner (Prose):

Gretchen Henderson, whose book Galerie de Difformité, was released in October 2011.

2009 Winner (Poetry):

Jessica Savitz, whose book Hunting is Painting, was released in October 2010.

Apply for the Madeleine P. Plonsker Prize

We have reached the submissions cap of 200 for the 2014-2015 competition. Submissions are now closed. The winner will be announced this summer.


Guidelines / annual submission period: January 1-March 1:

For the 2014-2015 competition we invite applications for a poet under forty years old, with no major book publication, to spend two months (February-March or March-April) in residence at Lake Forest College.

Submit a 20- to 30-page excerpt of a manuscript in progress at The competition opens on January 1, 2014; the closing deadline is March 1. Only the first 200 submissions will be considered, so apply early!

We will close submissions once we reach 200. There is no need to inquire as the total submissions received. 

Please note: The submission link will not accept submissions until January 1 of each new year.

Send, in a single file, WITHOUT your name, contact information, or other identifying marks:

A) A one-page statement of plans for completion; 
B) Between 20 and 30 pages of manuscript in progress.

Your cover letter, pasted into the text box, should include the basic details of your cv or resume: education, employment, significant publications, etc. This information may be provided in narrative form.  

Entries will be screened by the editors of Lake Forest College Press / &NOW Books. The final judge for the 2014-2015 competition is poet Eleni Sikelianos.

Direct inquiries to with the subject line: Plonsker Prize.

Note: The Plonsker Prize will be on hiatus for the 2016 residency. Therefore, we will not hold a contest during the spring of 2015.  This is your last chance to apply before spring 2016 (for 2017 residency)!

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