University of Southern Indiana

Robert Owen 250th Creative Writing Contest

Celebrating Robert Owen’s 250th Anniversary
Historic New Harmony’s Global Creative Writing Contest

Sponsored by the Working Men's Institute
In Partnership with Indiana Poet Laureate, Matthew Graham

In celebration of the 250th Anniversary of Robert Owen's birth, writers are asked to creatively connect one of Robert Owen’s philosophies, passions, or aspects of his life with current world events. 

Poems should be no longer than two pages; essays should be between 500-1500 words; and short stories may be up to 10 pages (using a 10 pt. type or larger). Works will be judged on originality and content, not on length, in three age groups: under 13, 13-17 and 18+.

Prizes for each Age Group: 

  • 1st – One selected from each age group at $100 and featured in Anniversary communications, social media, events and exhibition 
  • 2nd – One selected from each age group at $25 and featured in Anniversary communications and social media

Submissions close July 1, 2021

Guest Judge: Matthew Graham – Indiana Poet Laureate


During his 35 years in southern Indiana, Matthew Graham has been a respected and recognized writer, teacher, and advocate for poetry and the arts. Having recently retired from the University of Southern Indiana (USI), he has taught all levels of creative writing, contemporary literature, and worked with multicultural and international students in freshman composition. Among other community service Graham has worked with diverse writing groups such as high school students and community writing groups.

Matthew Graham is the author of four books of poetry, most recently The Geography of Home (Galileo Press, 2018). His work has earned numerous national, regional and local honors and awards, including a Pushcart Prize, an Academy of American Poets Award, two grants from the Indiana Arts Commission, and the Artist of the Year Award from the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana.

While at USI, Matthew co-founded and co-directed (with Thomas Wilhelmus) The Ropewalk Writers' Retreat, a summer program that brought national and international writers to New Harmony, Indiana for 22 years, and the Ropewalk Visiting Writers Series, which brought prominent fiction and non-fiction writers and poets to the USI campus for free public readings. The list of participating writers includes the present U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo.

Visit his Indiana Poet Laureate site.

Rules and Disclaimer: 
  • Winners will be announced August 1, 2021 via email and social media.
  • By entering this contest, you are giving the University of Southern Indiana and Historic New Harmony the right to use your creative writing content submissions on University websites, social media, displays and promotional materials. 
  • Winners may be invited to present their works virtually. 
  • This contest is open to writers in the United States and around the world.
  • Disclaimer: The University of Southern Indiana / Historic New Harmony and the Working Men’s Institute are not responsible for entries not received due to lost, failed, delayed or interrupted connections or miscommunications, or other electronic malfunctions. The sponsor is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate entry information, whether caused by persons entered at the website or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the contest or by any human error, which may occur in the processing of the entries in this contest.  By entering, participants release and hold harmless the University of Southern Indiana / Historic New Harmony and the Working Men’s Institute, as well as any directors, officers or employees of those organizations from any and all liability for any injuries, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with the contest.  If, for any reason, the contest is not capable of being conducted as planned, including any causes beyond the control of the administrators, the University of Southern Indiana / Historic New Harmony reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, modify, suspend or terminate the contest without notice to the entrants.  The Winners are responsible for any and all taxes payable, VAT, etc as a result of a prize being awarded or received. Entry into the creative writing contest does not create any vested right or interest for the participants in the prizes offered for the contest. 

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