Dappled Things currently holds two annual contests, the J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction and the new Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction. The prizes have no reading fee and winners receive cash awards and publication in the journal. For more information about either prize, please see below.

The Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction


Jacques Maritain

Building on the success of our fiction prize, which drew 400 entries during its first year, we are introducing this year the Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction. Maritain was an influential 20th century Thomist philosopher and Catholic convert whose work covered a wide range of topics, including metaphysics and epistemology, ethics and politics, and—significantly for us—literature and art. His book Art and Scholasticism has been a major influence in Dappled Things’ own approach to aesthetics. Here’s what you need to know if you are interested in making a submission:

Prize Amounts

1st place: $500

2nd place: $300

3rd place: $200

Is there a theme?

In keeping with Maritain’s own broad interests, we are not limiting submissions to a particular theme, other than what would fit within the context of a Catholic cultural and literary journal. In other words, please follow our nonfiction submission guidelines and look at the nonfiction pieces that appear in our previous issues. Book reviews and interviews are not eligible for the prize, but all other forms of nonfiction are.

Submission Deadline

Since all nonfiction submissions will be eligible for the prize (the winner will be selected from among all the essays published in Dappled Things during a given year), then submissions for the prize are accepted year-round. To participate in the current prize, your piece should appear at the latest in the Mary, Queen of Angels 2015 edition, which means you would have to make a submission by June 2015. The issues could all be filled before then, however, so don’t delay. We publish about two to three essays per issue, and all published essays will be finalists for the prize. The earlier you submit, the likelier the chances your essay will appear among a given year’s finalists.

Winners of the Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction will be announced in December 2015 (with the finalists being announced as each issue is published, starting with the Christmas 2014 edition).

2015 Prize Judge

This year the prize will be judged by James Matthew Wilson, who is author of The Violent and the Fallen, Some Permanent Things, and The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry, among other books, as well as a literature professor at Villanova University.


The J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction


“One foot in this world and one in the next”: that’s how J.F. Powers described the Midwestern priests he wrote about in his fiction. Having one foot in another world can be awkward, and Powers’ characters are known not for their graceful mysticism, but for the humiliating and mordantly entertaining stumbles they make while trying to live their faith. We’re looking for carefully crafted short stories with vivid characters who encounter grace in everyday settings—we want to see who, in the age we live in, might have one foot in this world and one in the next.

Deadline: Submissions for the 2016 J.F. Powers Prize will be open until November 27, 2015. Winners will be announced in February 2016.

Click here to make your submission and see the writer’s guidelines.

Prize Amounts

1st place: $500 and publication in Dappled Things

2nd place: $250 and publication in Dappled Things

8 Honorable mentions: Publication and a year’s subscription to Dappled Things

The 2015 Prize Judges

Matthew Lickona is a staff writer and film critic for the San Diego Reader, a weekly newspaper. He is the author of the memoir Swimming with Scapulars, as well as the historical fiction Surfing with Mel and the first two issues of the Alphonse comic book series. He lives with his family in La Mesa, California.

Arthur Powers received a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, three annual awards for short fiction from the Catholic Press Association, and 2nd place in the 2008 Tom Howard Fiction Contest. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in many magazines & anthologies. He is the author of A Hero For The People: Stories From The Brazilian Backlands (Press 53, 2013) and The Book of Jotham (Tuscany Press, 2013).

2015 Winner: “The Ends of the Earth” by Anthony Lusvardi, S.J.

tony lusvardi
Anthony Lusvardi, S.J.

Anthony Lusvardi, S.J., a Jesuit brother, writes for The Jesuit Post and is the administrator of St. Charles, St. Bridget, and St. Agnes parishes on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Before joining the Jesuits, he taught English for the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, among other ventures.


Kristin Luehr

2014 Winner: “Where Moth and Rust” by Kristin Luehr

The 2014 prize judges had this to say about the winning story:

“Where Moth and Rust” was our pick as winner of the 2014 J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction.  This painful, yet hopeful story is about family dynamics, about leaving and returning home, about the baggage we carry with us, and, ultimately, about the underlying power of love.  With a writing style that was taut yet portentous, and with a keen eye for unusual detail, the writer brought us into the lives of an ordinary family in the devastated landscape of rural Nebraska.  It was this very landscape, in fact, that was a character itself, and made the story’s notes of hope all the more powerful.  We were impressed.


I think it’s possible to write something, for me to write something, that even God might like. It’s possible for me to hit a note, to get in a mood, to write something that is worthy even of God’s attention. Not as a soul seeking salvation, but just as entertainment for God. This may be blasphemous to say, but I believe it. I don’t think God is there and we’re here, and there are no connections. I think there are connections, and I think art is certainly one.        

– J. F. Powers