Arts and Entertainment

Lost? Found? Fall writing contest seeks creative entries, adds poetry option

Penn State University Libraries Short Stories Fall 2018 writing contest invites anyone with an active Penn State ID — students, faculty and staff University-wide — to submit creative writing and poetry entries based on the theme “Lost and Found” to The contest is open through Nov. 16.  Credit: illustration provided by Short EditionAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries’ second University-wide Short Stories writing contest is seeking short creative writing entries on the theme of “Lost and Found.” Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to submit entries, now including a poetry option, for the new contest, which is open through Friday, Nov. 16.

The University Libraries’ Short Stories contest webpage explains the rules and theme with the following writing prompt:

“American poet Elizabeth Bishop once said, ‘The art of losing isn't hard to master.’ We lose something every day — our keys, student ID, an earring, our favorite pen or hours in the day. Sometimes we get frustrated or flustered; losing something or someone can be difficult. We might spend days looking for that missing thing. When we find what has been lost, there's a sense of pride and accomplishment in that moment. We often find something new after moments of loss. We want you to explore the emotions, ideas and stories behind ‘Lost and Found.’”

Winners, selected by a student-driven editorial board, will be announced during the week of Nov. 26 and will have their “Lost and Found” stories added to Penn State’s four Short Edition short story dispensers on the University Park campus and one at Schlow Centre Region Library. They also will be added to five additional dispensers planned to be placed among five Commonwealth Campuses later this year.

Student entrants also will be eligible to win one of five $100 gift cards. In addition, all entries will be considered by Short Edition staff for placement on all of its English-language short story dispensers worldwide.

“This semester we wanted to choose a theme that was especially fun. ‘Lost and Found’ seemed like it would be a great launchpad for a wide variety of stories and poems,” Sarah Williams, a student editorial board member, explained. “Our conversations about the theme started with things like the classic missing socks, pencils, et cetera, but as the prompt goes on to suggest, it can also take on a much broader subject matter. In losing things, we often find ourselves. We encourage our writers to approach this prompt from whatever way speaks to them most.”

Creative writers and poets University-wide are able to submit stories on any theme at any time at the Libraries Short Stories website,, although only submissions tied significantly to the “Lost and Found” theme will be considered for the current contest.

Short stories are limited to 8,500 characters and poems are limited to 7,000 characters. Character counts include spaces.

Questions and comments about the contest, the University Libraries Short Stories website, and Short Edition short story dispensers at Penn State may be submitted online at

Last Updated October 18, 2018