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Veterans Writing Award

Congratulations to the 2019 Award Winner


Dewaine Farria-author photo

Revolutions of All Colors

by Dewaine Farria

Revolutions of All Colors is a vivid, original  novel of young men struggling with questions of race, injustice, personal and political violence; of responsibility to family, friends, lovers, sexual identity—of what it means to be a man. With great assurance the narrative ranges from New Orleans to Ukraine, Somalia, Brooklyn, Oklahoma, and from the military world to the worlds of prison, dance, mixed martial arts, even municipal government. It is a remarkable achievement.”—Tobias Wolff, Veterans Writing Award Judge

Dewaine Farria’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, CRAFT, Drunken Boat, Outpost Magazine, and on the Afropunk website. He is a frequent contributor to The Mantle. He holds an MA in International and Area Studies from the University of Oklahoma and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. As a U.S. Marine, Dewaine served in Jordan and Ukraine. Besides his stint in the military, Dewaine has spent most of his professional life working for the United Nations, with assignments in the Russian North Caucasus, Kenya, Somalia, and Occupied Palestine. He presently lives in the Philippines with his wife, daughter, two sons, two cats, and a dog.


Honorable Mention


Thomas Bardenwerpaer-author photo

Mona Passage: A Novel

by Thomas Bardenwerper

“Moving in its portrait of families divided by the hostilities of their governments, in this case Cuba and the United States. The narrative is persuasive in its characterization of both Cubans and Americans, its evocation of San Juan, Havana, and life aboard a Coast Guard cutter responsible for intercepting Cuban refugees and sending them back to the country they had good reasons to flee. Certainly a suspenseful, humane, eminently publishable novel.”—Tobias Wolff, Veterans Writing Award Judge

Thomas “Buddy” Bardenwerper served five years as a Coast Guard officer aboard cutters homeported in Maine and Puerto Rico. He participated in law enforcement and humanitarian missions from Canada to Colombia. His career came to an unexpected end when he was medically retired in 2018 for Type 1 diabetes. Thanks to the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, Buddy is now a law student at Harvard.


About the Award

In keeping with Syracuse University’s longstanding commitment to serving the interests of veterans and their families, Syracuse University Press, in cooperation with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), has established a Veterans Writing Award. We invite unpublished, full-length novels or short story collections in manuscript form for consideration. This contest is open to U.S. veterans and active duty personnel in any branch of the U.S. military and their immediate family members. This includes spouses, domestic partners, and children. We encourage women veteran writers and veterans of color to submit. Although work submitted for the contest need not be about direct military experience, we seek original voices and fresh perspectives that will expand and challenge readers’ understanding of the lives of veterans and their families.

Finalists will be read by award-winning novelist, short story writer, Vietnam veteran, and former Syracuse University faculty member Tobias Wolff, and the winning entry will be announced in October of 2021.

The award includes a $1,000 cash prize and a publication contract with Syracuse University Press. Manuscripts of high merit not selected for the final award may receive honorable mention


Submission Guidelines

  • Submit a full-length novel or short story collection in manuscript form. Submissions must be double-spaced in a standard twelve-point font (such as Courier or Times New Roman) and should not exceed 90,000 words. The manuscript should be a PDF or Word file (.doc and .docx). Work must be previously unpublished.
  • Manuscripts under consideration for this competition may be submitted elsewhere at the same time. Please withdraw your manuscript if it is accepted by another publisher or contest and should no longer be considered for this prize.
  • Entrants must not have published a full-length manuscript or collection of stories previously.
  • All entries must be submitted between December 15, 2020 and February 15, 2021.
  • Email submissions should be sent to:
  • To submit by mail please send manuscripts to:Veterans Writing Award
    Syracuse University Press
    621 Skytop Rd. Suite 110
    Syracuse, NY 13244
  • Submissions must include a cover page listing your name, address, e-mail address and/or telephone number, branch of service or that of your family member, and the title of the work. To maintain the integrity of a blind review process, your name should not appear on the manuscript itself. Manuscripts will not be returned.
  • Mailed entries must be postmarked by February 15, 2021. No phone calls please.
  • The judge will select a winner from a group of finalists.
  • Proof of military service is not required when submitting. We will require documentation and verification, however, if a writer’s work reaches the final round of judging.
  • There is no entry fee.
  • Current faculty and staff of Syracuse University are not eligible to enter the contest.
  • Although the contest uses a blind review process, the judge may be able to identify an entrant by the style of writing. The judge will not select an entrant for the award if he has a personal or professional relationship with that individual. We advise entrants not to enter the contest if the judge is someone they know personally or have worked with professionally.

The inaugural Veterans Writing Award Advisory Board

  • Kyle Bass
    Department of Drama Instructor, Associate Director of Syracuse Stage, Playwright
  • Christopher Kennedy
    Professor, English Department, and Director, MFA in Creative Writing Program
  • Eileen Schell
    Professor, Writing and Rhetoric, Director of Graduate Studies and Co-leader of the Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group
  • Daniel Piston
    Program Evaluation Manager, IVMF
  • Kicia Sears
    Program Evaluation Manager, IVMF
  • Suzanne Guiod
    Director, Bucknell University Press
  • Lisa Kuerbis
    Marketing Coordinator, Syracuse University Press

For questions, contact Lisa Kuerbis:

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