The Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize

In honor of Fourth Genre’s founding editor, Michael J. Steinberg.

Please note that the deadline for this contest has been extended to March 31st!

At Fourth Genre, we value great writing. That’s why we’re proud to sponsor The Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize. The contest gives us an opportunity to highlight outstanding writers and their work. The first place winner will receive $1000 and publication in the next year’s spring issue. Finalists and the first-place winner will be announced on Fourth Genre’s Facebook, Twitter, and website. This year’s contest judge is Mary Cappello.

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More About Mary Cappello

Mary Cappello is the author of six books of literary nonfiction, including Awkward: A Detour (a Los Angeles Times bestseller); Swallow, based on the Chevalier Jackson Foreign Body Collection in Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum; and Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack. Her work has been featured in The New York Times,, The Huffington Post, on NPR, in guest author blogs for Powells Books, and on six separate occasions as Notable Essay of the Year in Best American Essays. A Guggenheim and Berlin Prize Fellow, a recipient of The Bechtel Prize for Educating the Imagination, and the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize, Cappello is a former Fulbright Lecturer at the Gorky Literary Institute (Moscow), and currently Professor of English and creative writing at the University of Rhode Island. Her most recent book, LECTUREappeared in 2020 as the inaugural title in Transit Books’ Undelivered Lecture Series.

Frequently Asked Questions

We read contest submissions each year from January 1st to March 15th. In 2022, the deadline has been extended to March 31st. 

Yes, the contest submission fee is $20.

The winner and finalists are announced in the late spring on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Yes, all submissions are considered for publication. Essays that are not finalists may still be published in Fourth Genre.

Yes, please keep contest submissions under 6,000 words. 

Yes. Unlike our general reading period, we do accept multiple submissions for the Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize. We also accept simultaneous submissions, though you must withdraw your submission immediately if it is accepted elsewhere. 

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