The Lifted Brow and RMIT non/fictionLab’s Prize for Experimental Non-fiction Is Back for 2017


After two huge years and an amazing response from our readers and supporters, The Lifted Brow and RMIT non/fictionLab is back for 2017. We’re stoked to announce that we’ve found five absolutely wonderful judges for this year’s prize: none other than Leslie Jamison, Fiona Wright, Wayne Koestenbaum, Claudia La Rocco, and Eileen Myles. Actually, to say that we are stoked that these phenomenally talented human beings have agreed to judge our award would be a massive understatement.

Thanks to the generosity of our partners – RMIT non/fictionLab and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund – we are able to offer $5000 to the winner of the prize, as well as $500 for two runners-up. The winner will also be published in issue 35 of our quarterly attack journal, and the runners-up will enter into discussions with the Brow’s editors about possible publication.

The deadline for entries to the prize is May 29th, and there is an entry fee of US$7 (waived for Brow subscribers and RMIT students and alumni). Entries are open now now now – head to our prize page to find out how to submit, or keep reading below:

The Lifted Brow & RMIT non/fictionLab Prize for Experimental Non-fiction aims 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
  • Geoff Dyer
  • Hilton Als
  • Claudia Rankine
  • Michelle Tea
  • Eliot Weinberger
  • Maggie Nelson
  • Hannah Black
  • Sarah Manguso
  • Georges Perec
  • Ali Smith
  • Sheila Heti
  • Dave Hickey
  • Helen Macdonald
  • John Cage
  • Susana Moreira Marques
  • Joe Brainard
  • Kate Zambreno
  • John D’Agata
  • Elizabeth Hardwick

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

Please submit your entry via our Submittable page. Submissions must be sent through by midnight AEST on Monday May 29th, 2017.

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 US$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 at any time.)

Have a question? Direct your enquiry to the guidelines on our prize page. Still have a question? You can email us at