Come One, Come All…


From March 1 to April 2, 2021, take part in the Penn State Short Edition spring contest. Submit your short story or poem to have the chance to be published in our Penn State Short Story dispensers across the Commonwealth! Nothing is easier: read the rules below and submit your short story or poem.

Our spring contest theme is:

"A Night at the Circus"

To be accepted, your short story or poem must be significantly tied to this theme and be vetted by our Short Edition Editorial Board.

Step right up for your ticket to a night at the circus. Wonder and spectacle await you underneath the big top, and the best part is… You’re the ringmaster! For this contest, the Editorial Board wants to be transported into a world of amusement, of slights of hand, and shadow play. The possibilities are truly endless with this theme. Stories of secret romance, thoughts of never fitting in, magic unfolding before one’s eyes, and what happens when the show’s over and everyone goes home for the night. You can write about all of that and more. We’ll be here with our popcorn and cotton candy, waiting for your entries on the edges of our seats.

Submissions for this contest will open March 1 and you'll have until Friday, April 2 to submit your story. As a reminder, submission lengths are:

  • Short story (maximum of 8,000 characters, including spaces)
  • Poetry (maximum of 6,000 characters)

Please review our full writing guidelines for more information.


The Editorial Board recognizes the problematic history of the circus (in regard to racism and ableism) and will take extra care in reading entries for this contest. Be sure to check the guidelines before submitting and review our page of resources as you start writing. Our resource page contains information on the historical context of the circus as well as how circuses today are striving for an anti-racist environment. Writers can write about these topics as long as they are acknowledging that they are not advocating for inequality in any way. The Editorial Board will not tolerate racism or any other type of bigotry in submissions.

Questions about this contest can be directed to Hailley Fargo, Student Engagement Coordinator, University Libraries at