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Prizes: First prize is $5000 and publication in Edition 35 of The Lifted Brow (out September 2017). 
Two runners-up will each receive AU$500, and Brow editors will discuss with these runners-up the potential publication of their pieces.

Deadline for submissions: May 29th, 2017

Word limit: 5000 words (or equivalent)

Judges: Leslie Jamison, Fiona Wright, Wayne Koestenbaum, Claudia La Rocco, and Eileen Myles

The Lifted Brow & RMIT non/fictionLab Prize for Experimental Non-fiction is looking to unearth new, audacious, authentic and/or inauthentic voices from both Australia and the world.

This prize seeks work that is unlike any other. We want to hear from writers we’ve never read before, and we want writers we already know and love to challenge themselves to create work unlike any they’ve previously produced.

What is ‘experimental non-fiction’? A basic definition is that like all non-fiction it is writing based on facts, real events and real people with the aim of communicating information, truth and meaning — but that it tries to do so using unorthodox form, or style, or voice, or point-of-view, or etc. The best pieces of experimental non-fiction are those in which any unorthodox element adds to the meaning and authenticity of the subject matter.

Submissions to this prize need to be able to be read on the printed page. We applaud the current focus and fascination with boundary-pushing non-fiction that is published online, but we still believe there’s scope to further experiment on the page, using facts, maybe-facts, words from life, journals, journalism, collage, theory, photography, illustration, tricks, arguments, etc. The essay, as the end of experience, is a malleable form, and we want to celebrate that with this prize.

To further understand what this might mean by 'experimental non-fiction', we recommend reading the work of some of our favourite practitioners (apart from our judges) who write/have written in this non-genre, including:

Chris Kraus
Geoff Dyer
Hilton Als
Claudia Rankine
Michelle Tea
Eliot Weinberger
Maggie Nelson
Hannah Black
Sarah Manguso

Georges Perec
Ali Smith
Sheila Heti
Dave Hickey
Helen Macdonald

John Cage
Susana Moreira Marques
Joe Brainard
Kate Zambreno

John D'Agata
Elizabeth Hardwick

To read a few examples of pieces of experimental non-fiction, see the list of links/works here.

The Prizes

First prize: AU$5000 + publication in Edition 35 of The Lifted Brow

2 x runner-up prizes: $500 each + discussion with Brow editors about potential publication in The Lifted Brow

The Judges

Leslie Jamison is the author of The Empathy Exams, a New York Times bestselling essay collection, and a novel, The Gin Closet, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award. 


Fiona Wright is an Australian poet, critic, and essayist. Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays in Hunger (2015) is a collection of ten essays that detail the author’s own experience with anorexia, as well as being essays in cultural and literary criticism. 


Wayne Koestenbaum is a poet, critic, and artist. He has published nine books of nonfiction, on such subjects as hotels, Harpo Marx, humiliation, Jackie Onassis, opera, and Andy Warhol; his cult classic, The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. 


Claudia La Rocco is a poet, critic and performer who works as a columnist for ARTFORUM and writes about books and theatre for The New York Times; prior to that she worked as a dance and theatre critic for the paper from 2005-2013. She was recently named editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s publication Open Space.


Eileen Myles is the author of nineteen books including I Must Be Living Twice: New & Selected Poems, and a 2015 reissue of Chelsea Girls. Eileen is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in non-fiction, an Andy Warhol/Creative Capital Arts Writers grant, four Lambda Book Awards, and the Shelley Prize from the PSA. In 2016 Myles received a Creative Capital grant and the Clark Prize for excellence in art writing. Currently they teach at NYU and Naropa University and live in Marfa TX and New York. 

How to Submit

You do so right here, using this Submittable page! 

Submissions must be sent by midnight AEST on Monday May 29th, 2017.

In a short cover letter, please include: your name, address, phone number, email address, the title of piece, its word count, a one-paragraph bio, and a one-paragraph synopsis of the piece.

We charge US$7 fee per entry for non-subscribers, paid during the Submittable submission process. This fee is waived for subscribers to The Lifted Brow and also for current RMIT University students and RMIT University alumni. (You can subscribe here.)

Have a question? Direct your enquiry to the guidelines below. Still have a question? You can email us at info@theliftedbrow.com

The Guidelines

  • Entries are welcome from writers anywhere in the world.
  • We particularly encourage people who identify as queer and/or trans and/or of any colour, religion, or gender, and/or have a disability, and/or are rad and excellent and canny, to apply.
  • There is no age limit.
  • Online submissions only. No hard copies.
  • Deadline is midnight AEST on Monday May 29th, 2017. Late submissions will not be accepted. 
  • In a short cover letter, please include: your name, address, phone number, email address, the title of piece, its word count, a one-paragraph bio, and a one-paragraph synopsis of the piece.
  • All submissions will be read blind, meaning that your submission will be assessed without your name or any biographical information attached to it. As such, your name must not appear anywhere in the document or in the name of the file. The file name should only include the title of the piece.
  • Each entry must be accompanied by an entry fee of US$7. All entry fees go directly to the running of the prize. This fee is waived for subscribers (print or digital) to The Lifted Brow and also for current RMIT University students and RMIT University alumni.
  • TLB staff are not eligible to enter. RMIT staff may enter as they are not in any way involved in the reading process.
  • Due to the large number of submissions, TLB editorial staff will take responsibility for the initial reading stage, during which a shortlist is decided upon. This shortlist of pieces is what the judges will read.
  • Entries must be a single piece of up to 5,000 words, written in English (any footnotes or endnotes should be included in that word count). Please make your entry legible.
  • All entries are final. No revisions are accepted. 
  • Multiple entries are permitted, each with an entry fee.
  • Entries must be original works written by an individual author or a collaboration between authors, and must not infringe upon anyone’s copyright.
  • Entries should not be on offer to other publications or prizes or anthologies for the duration of the prize.
  • Previously published, prize-winning, or broadcast work will not be accepted. (Previous online posting constitutes prior publication.) 
  • If an entrant elects to withdraw an entry, the entry fee will not be refunded.
  • Copyright remains with all entrants, including the winner.
  • A shortlist will be announced in late June, followed by the announcement of the overall winner close to the publication date of The Lifted Brow Edition 35 in September 2017.
  • The judges’ decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into about the judgements or the judging process.
  • Only shortlisted entrants and the winner will be notified. No feedback will be given on entries.
  • TLB reserves the right not to award a prize.

The Thanks

Thanks to both The Copyright Agency, and RMIT University’s non/fiction Lab in the School of Media and Communication, for supporting this prize. It is only through these two institutions that we can offer such a generous amount of prize money. 

Also, our very special thanks must go to all the readers and the judges.

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