Wednesday 30 March 2016



Prizes: First prize is AU$5000 + publication in Issue 31 of The Lifted Brow (out September 2016).
Additionally, two runners-up will each receive AU$500, and Brow editors will discuss with these runners-up the potential publication of their pieces.

Deadline: May 29th, 2016

Word limit: 5,000 words

Judges: Helen Macdonald, Dodie Bellamy, Maria Tumarkin and Kate Zambreno


The Lifted Brow & RMIT non/fictionLab Prize for Experimental Non-Fiction is looking to unearth new, audacious, authentic and/or inauthentic voices from both Australia and the world.

This prize seeks work that is unlike any other. We want to hear from writers we’ve never read before, and we want writers we already know and love to challenge themselves to create work unlike any they’ve previously produced.

Submissions to this prize need to be able to be published on the printed page. We applaud the current focus and fascination with boundary-pushing non-fiction that is published online, but we still believe there’s scope to further experiment on the page, using facts, maybe-facts, words from life, journals, journalism, collage, theory, photography, illustration, tricks, arguments, etc. The essay, as the end of experience, is a malleable form, and we want to celebrate that with this prize.

What is ‘experimental non-fiction’? Like all non-fiction writing it is steeped in facts, real events and real people, with the aim of communicating information, argument, and truth. It differs from traditional non-fiction in that it tries to convey its meaning using unorthodox form, or style, or voice, or point-of-view, or etc. The best pieces of experimental non-fiction are those in which any unorthodox element deepens the meaning and authenticity of the subject matter.

To further understand what this might mean by ‘experimental non-fiction’, we recommend reading the work of some of our favourite practitioners (apart from our judges) who write/have written in this non-genre, including:

Chris Kraus
Wayne Koestenbaum
Eileen Myles
Geoff Dyer
Hilton Als
Claudia Rankine
Michelle Tea
Eliot Weinberger
Maggie Nelson
Georges Perec
Ali Smith
John Cage
Susana Moeira Marques
Joe Brainard
John D'Agata
Elizabeth Hardwick

Here are a few examples of shorter pieces you can read right now:

An excerpt from last year’s winnerDon’t Let Me Be Lonely [There was a time]From My Diaries (2006-10) in Alphabetical Order
What’s the Matter With the Modern World: Jonathan Franzen
An excerpt from CitizenNot Writing
An excerpt from The Lifespan of a FactThe Glass EssayAdrien Brody
An excerpt from H is for Hawk‘The Arrest’Grand Unified Theory of Female PainApples
An excerpt from An Elemental Thing


First prize: AU$5000 + publication in Issue 31 of The Lifted Brow

2 x runner-up prizes: AU$500 per person + discussion with Brow editors about potential publication in The Lifted Brow


Helen Macdonald is an English writer, naturalist, and an Affiliated Research Scholar at the University of Cambridge Department of History and Philosophy of Science. She is best known as the author of H is for Hawk, which won the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize and Costa Book Award.

Dodie Bellamy is an American novelist, nonfiction author, journalist and editor. She is one of the originators in the New Narrative literary movement of the early and mid 1980s, which attempts to use the tools of experimental fiction and critical theory and apply them to narrative storytelling. Bellamy also directed the San Francisco writing lab, Small Press Traffic, and has taught creative writing at the San Francisco Art Institute, Mills College, University of California, Santa Cruz, University of San Francisco, Naropa University, Antioch University Los Angeles, San Francisco State University, California College of the Arts, and the California Institute of the Arts.

Maria Tumarkin writes books (Traumascapes, 2005, Courage, 2007, and Otherland, 2010), as well as reviews, pieces for performance and essays. She has collaborated with visual artists, psychologists and pubic historians, and her work has been published, performed, carved into dockside tiles and set to music.

Kate Zambreno is an American writer. She is the author of the novella O Fallen Angel, winner of the “Undoing the Novel—First Book Contest,” by Chiasmus Press, as well as the novel Green Girl, published by Harper Perennial. Heroines, her “critical memoir” centred on the women of modernism, partially incubated on her blog Frances Farmer is My Sister, was published by Semiotext(e)’s Active Agents, edited by Chris Kraus. A chapbook, Apoplexia, Toxic Shock, and Toilet Bowl: Some Notes on Why I Write was released as part of the Guillotine series in 2013.


You do so using our Submittable page!

Submissions must be sent by midnight AEST on Sunday May 29th, 2016.

In a short cover letter, please include: your name, address, phone number, email address, the title of piece, its word count, a one-paragraph bio, and a one-paragraph synopsis of the piece.

We charge AU$7 fee per entry for non-subscribers, paid during the Submittable submission process. This fee is waived for subscribers to The Lifted Brow and also for current RMIT University students and RMIT University alumni. (You can subscribe here.)

Have a question? Direct your enquiry to the guidelines below. Still have a question? You can email us at


Entries are welcome from writers anywhere in the world.

We particularly encourage people who identify as queer and/or trans and/or of any colour, religion, or gender, and/or have a disability, and/or are rad and excellent and canny, to apply.

There is no age limit.

Online submissions only. No hard copies.

Deadline is midnight AEST on Sunday May 29th, 2016. Late submissions will not be accepted.

In a short cover letter, please include: your name, address, phone number, email address, the title of piece, its word count, a one-paragraph bio, and a one-paragraph synopsis of the piece.

All submissions will be read blind, meaning that your submission will be assessed without your name or any biographical information attached to it. As such, your name must not appear anywhere in the document or in the name of the file. The file name should only include the title of the piece.

Each entry must be accompanied by an entry fee of AU$7. All entry fees go directly to the running of the prize. This fee is waived for subscribers to The Lifted Brow and also for current RMIT University students and RMIT University alumni.

TLB staff are not eligible to enter. RMIT staff may enter as they are not in any way involved in the reading process.

Due to the large number of submissions, TLB editorial staff will take responsibility for the initial reading stage, during which a shortlist is decided upon. That shortlist of pieces is what the judges will read.

Entries must be a single piece of up to 5,000 words, written in English (any footnotes or endnotes should be included in that word count). Please make your entry legible.

All entries are final. No revisions are accepted.

Multiple entries are permitted, each with an entry fee.

Entries must be original works written by an individual author or a collaboration between authors, and must not infringe upon anyone’s copyright.

Entries should not be on offer to other publications or prizes or anthologies for the duration of the prize.

Previously published, prize-winning, or broadcast work will not be accepted. (Previous online posting constitutes prior publication.)

If an entrant elects to withdraw an entry, the entry fee will not be refunded.

Copyright remains with all entrants, including the winner.

A shortlist will be announced in late June, followed by the announcement of the overall winner close to the publication date of The Lifted Brow Edition 31 – approximately September 1st.

The judges’ decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into about the judgements or the judging process.

Only shortlisted entrants and the winner will be notified. No feedback will be given on entries.

TLB reserves the right not to award a prize.


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