The Zachary Doss Friends in Letters Memorial Fellowship Deadline Has Been EXTENDED: JUNE 15 @11:59 p.m. CST

Note: ALL subs not pertaining to the collaborative fellowship will be auto-rejected.

In thinking about my relationship with my late friend and fellow writer Zach Doss, I often feel nostalgic about my lunches with him (and our subsequent conversations on the walk home); we would talk about writing, publishing, submissions (when we worked together at Black Warrior Review), campy TV series we were watching at the time, gossip about our MFA, or life in general. It was a significant aspect of our friendship. Though we rarely critiqued each other’s work in class, these meals and conversations were important to our relationship as friends and writers.

It is with this kind of friendship in mind that I (along with the generous donation of an anonymous donor) am offering a small sum of $50 to four pairs of friend-artists who submit portfolios of work (with a short introduction) intended to be used for the winners to get a meal together, see a movie, get a few drinks together at a conference, etc. The key is being together. In this way, the offering is low stakes—with no expectation of production—yet I also hope to encourage writers to look beyond ideas of individual work and success that most competitions encourage and toward a deliberate investment in their relationship with their creative partner.

ed. Ryan Bollenbach

The portfolio should consist of no more than 10 pages of work (in any genre combination) and must include a 1 page introduction speaking, in any way you see fit, to your friendship with your collaborator and how it has influenced your writing or this portfolio. There is no submission fee for this fellowship opportunity.

The judges for the fellowship will be friends—and friends of Zach—Brandi Wells and Leia Penina Wilson, who will collaboratively judge the finalists’ portfolios and select four winners. The winners will receive the $50 prize for their hangout of choice and the opportunity to have the winning portfolio published at Heavy Feather Review.

Submit to Friends in Letters


Beginning on February 14 and EXTENDED TO JUNE 15, at 11:59 p.m. CST, collaborators are encouraged to submit portfolios for consideration. The work can be in any genre and any combination—fiction, poetry, nonfiction, translations (with permissions/rights from original authors), visual art, interactive website etc. Emphasis should be placed on cohesion and how it all fits together as opposed to a “best of” from each of the authors.

A few possibilities (to show range):

  • 9 pages of critical prose introducing a painting taking up one page
  • 10 pages of collaboratively written prose pieces comparing/contrasting pop songs
  • 10 pages of poems alternating between authors
  • A really compelling 10-page interview between the two authors
  • 5 pages of poems 5 pages of nonfiction
  • 5 pages of untranslated work with 5 pages of English translation
  • Whatever else you dream up with your partner

Portfolios and introductions should be submitted as one document (.doc, .docx, or .pdf). Portfolios should not exceed 10 pages, and introductions should not to exceed 1 page. If there are individual pieces (i.e. flash fictions or poems), please start each new piece on a new page.

I will read every portfolio myself (unless I receive a truly surprising amount of submissions. Then I might employ the help of some friends). I will choose up to 10 portfolios to give to Brandi and Leia to select the winners. I will then send the $50 to a member of the four winning pairs via the recipient’s e-wallet of choice.


More about Zach:
Zachary Doss was a writer and editor whose work appeared in Sonora Review, Fourteen HillsFairy Tale ReviewCaketrainDIAGRAMPaper Darts, and other journals. His short story “Bespoke” was the winner of the 2016 Puerto del Sol Short Fiction Contest. He held an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama, where he taught composition and rhetoric, literature, and creative writing. He was also pursuing a PhD in creative writing and literature at the University of Southern California at the time of his death. Red Hen Press will be publishing his collection Boy Oh Boy, winner of the Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction, in June 2020. Read some of Zach’s work in Heavy Feather Review.