Skip to main content

Nick Adams Short Story Contest

Ernest HemingwayEach year in the spring, ACM sponsors the Nick Adams Short Story Contest. The contest, named for the young protagonist of many Hemingway stories, was established in 1973 with funds from an anonymous donor to encourage fiction writers at ACM colleges. A first prize of $1,000 is awarded to the author of the winning story.

Any student currently enrolled with good academic standing at an ACM college is eligible to enter the Nick Adams Contest and may submit up to two stories to their English department. The story need not have been written especially for the competition, but it cannot have been previously published off-campus. Each department selects the four best stories to enter in the competition, which is coordinated by the ACM office.

A small committee of faculty drawn from ACM colleges selects the finalists. A prominent writer serves as the  contest's final judge each year and selects the winning story from among the finalists.

Nick Adams Contest final judges in past years have included such literary luminaries as Jane Smiley, Saul Bellow, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Anne Tyler, Maya Angelou, Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Hamilton, and Stuart Dybek. See the complete list of final judges.

Nick Adams Contest final judges in recent years

Peter Geye

2013 - Peter Geye

Gina Frangello

2012 - Gina Frangello

Binnie Kirshenbaum

2011 - Binnie Kirshenbaum

Alex Kotlowitz

2010 - Alex Kotlowitz

Audrey Niffenegger

2009 - Audrey Niffenegger

2015 Nick Adams Contest

Maureen McCoy

Maureen McCoy

Author Maureen McCoy to Serve as Final Judge for the 2015 Nick Adams Short Story Contest

Maureen McCoy, an author and emeritus professor of English and creative writing at Cornell University, has agreed to serve as the final judge for the 2015 Nick Adams Short Story Contest.

McCoy is the author of the novels Junebug (2004), Divining Blood (1992), Summertime (1987), and Walking After Midnight (1985), as well as short fiction, personal essays, and monologues for actors. Her essay "Vickie's Pour House: A Soldier's Peace," published in the Antioch Review, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2009.  Read more

Call for Entries

ACM has issued a call for entries for the 43rd annual Nick Adams Short Story Contest.

Stories for the 2015 contest must be forwarded from the colleges' English departments to the ACM office no later than February 13, 2015 and the results of the competition will be announced in mid-March. Students should contact the English department chair on their campus for information about the on-campus submission deadline.

2014 Nick Adams Contest

Students from Knox and St. Olaf Named Co-Winners of the 2014 Nick Adams Short Story Contest

St. Olaf College senior Zoey Slater and Knox College junior Alex Zimay have been named co-winners of the 42nd annual ACM Nick Adams Short Story Contest.

Alex Zimay

Alex Zimay

Author Bonnie Jo Campbell, who served as the final judge for the 2014 contest, selected "The Fawn" by Slater and "Infinite" by Zimay for the award from among 39 stories submitted by students from ACM colleges. The two winners will split the contest’s $1,000 first prize.

Zoey Slater

Zoey Slater

In addition, Campbell gave Honorable Mention recognition to Alexander Boyd (Coe College), Kelly Clare (Knox College), and Elise Erickson (St. Olaf College) for their stories.

Professors Timothy Spurgin from Lawrence University and Ann Pleiss Morris from Ripon College served as initial faculty readers for the contest, choosing six finalists to forward to Campbell for her consideration.

Praising the quality of all six finalist stories, Campbell remarked that she "would have been thrilled to receive stories of this quality from any of my MFA students."

Bonnie Jo Campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell

Campbell is the author of two novels, Once Upon a River (2011) and Q Road (2003) and two short story collections, American Salvage (2009) and Women & Other Animals (1999). She was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2011, has been a finalist for both the National Book Award in fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction, and won a Pushcart Prize in 2001 for her short story "The Smallest Man in the World."

Read more about:

More information about the Contest


Who we are

The Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) is a consortium of independent, liberal arts colleges in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado.