The Lake Prize

The Lake Prize from Midwestern Gothic
The Lake Prize offers annual awards for fiction and poetry that best represents the Midwest. It seeks to reward those who see the beauty of the region, whether that be quiet forests, gutted industrial wastelands, small towns or vibrant urban neighborhoods. We believe the Midwest is filled with immense literary talent, and the intent of The Lake Prize is to illuminate the best stories and writers we have to offer.

Entries should be previously unpublished. Writers and contest entries should have a strong and verifiable connection to the Midwest (see guidelines below).

1st Prizes for Fiction and Poetry: $300 + publication in Winter 2017 Issue
One finalist for each category: $100 + publication in Winter 2017 Issue

Submissions for the 2016 Lake Prize are OPEN, and will close on August 31, 2016.

Emily Schultz

2016 Fiction Judge: Emily Schultz is the co-founder of Joyland Magazine, host of the Truth & Fiction podcast, and creator of the blog Spending the Stephen King Money. Her family hails from Michigan and Schultz grew up across the border in Canada. Her newest novel, The Blondes, was named a best book of 2015 by NPR and Kirkus. Her forthcoming novel, Men Walking on Water, is set in 1920s Detroit and inspired by her family’s rumrunning history. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

Airea Dee Matthews

2016 Poetry Judge: Airea D. Matthews, a resident of Detroit, is the winner of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets for her manuscript collection, simulacra, which Yale University Press will publish in 2017. Her poems and prose have appeared in a number of periodicals and anthologies, such as Best American Poetry 2015, Missouri Review, Muzzle, Indiana Review, Four Way Review, American Poets, Michigan Quarterly Review, Vinyl, Callaloo and elsewhere. She is the Assistant Director of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she earlier received her MFA in creative writing.


  • Writers should have lived in the Midwest at some time, and contest entries should be set in the Midwest.
  • $5 fee per entry (one story or group of up to 3 poems). Stories should not exceed 5,000 words.
  • All entries should be submitted through Submittable.
  • One entry per person. Judges will be reading and ranking finalists blind to determine the winners and runners-up.
  • Prizes awarded on publication.
  • Each category will award a single 1st prize and two finalists. Poetry will be awarded to a single poem in your submission.
  • Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but please notify us as soon as possible if a submission is taken elsewhere.
  • Friends, family and close associates (including students) of Midwestern Gothic editorial staff, contest readers and judges are ineligible. If you aren’t sure if you qualify, send us an email and ask.

2015 Fiction Finalists (Published in Issue 20, Winter 2016)

First Prize: “Milk and Cookies on the Other Side” by K Brattin
Finalist: “The Tour” by Jeannette Hinkle
Finalist: “Wilson Lake, 1999” by Chloe Seim

2015 Poetry Finalists (Published Issue 20, Winter 2016)

First Prize: “Nostalgia for the Chevy Monza” by Marc J. Sheehan
Finalist: “My Labor and My Leisure Too” by Katie Hartsock
Finalist: “His Body Like Water, His Bones Like Oil” by Brian Clifton

2014 Fiction Finalists (Published in Issue 16, Winter 2015)

First Prize: “Our Lady of Cleveland” by Brian Petkash
Finalist: “Just For Now” by Sarah Terez Rosenblum
Finalist: “Please Don’t Make Us Come Down” by Aaron M. Geer
Special Mention: “Japan Air, 1985″ by Katie Steen

2014 Poetry Finalists (Published Issue 16, Winter 2015)

First Prize: “Animal Bride” by Sara Quinn Rivara
Finalist: “The Last Ohioans” by Holly Jensen
Finalist: “On the Tundra that is Lake Michigan in February” by Bailey Spencer