Step into the Unknown

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From October 4 to October 29, 2021, take part in the Penn State Short Edition fall 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 fall contest theme is:

"Through the Woods"


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


Between forget-me-not skies and the soft earth, there lies a seemingly never-ending wood. Full of whispers and secrets, hidden cottages and enchantment, folklore around campfires and late-night stargazing – what will you find within the trees? Will you wander off the path, losing yourself in the process? Will you find a new world you never could have imagined? Or will you encounter the dark shadows and haunts that seem ever present under the glow of the full moon. The woods are simultaneously a place of fairytales and nightmares. You’re standing on the edge. So, do you dare take a journey through the woods?



Submissions for this contest will open October 4. 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.

Submissions must be received before Oct. 29 to be considered. Stories and poems accepted by the editorial board will be published on the Penn State Short Edition website, during which time the public is encouraged to vote for their favorites. From across the Commonwealth, five winners will be chosen: four selected by the editorial board and one “voter favorite” winner, chosen by the public on the website. Each of the five winning student authors will receive $100 and have their story or poem published on the Libraries' 10 Penn State Short Edition Short Story dispensers. Several honorable mentions, chosen by the editorial board and community voters, will also be published on the dispensers. Any applicants from the Penn State community are eligible to win honorable mention.


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