James Knudsen Prize for Fiction

Contest Opens: October 1

Contest Closes: January 1


The winner of this year’s contest will receive $1,000 and a year’s subscription to Bayou Magazine. Finalists will be named on our website, and all entries will be considered for publication.


Laymon, Kiese 300x300

2017 Judge Kiese Laymon


Kiese Laymon is the award-winning author of the novel, Long Division  and a collection of essays,  How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the UK edition released in 2016. Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, McSweeneys, New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, The Best American Series, Ebony and Guernica.

Laymon has two books forthcoming, including a memoir called Heavy and the novel called And So On which can be expected in 2017 and 2018, both from Scribner.



  • Submissions must be original, previously unpublished work of fiction, no longer than 7500 words.
  • Reading fee: $20, which includes a contest issue.
  • You may enter more than one story, but each submission must be uploaded separately with its own entry fee.
  • Contest Entries accepted via Submittable only
  • We accept novel excerpts if the submission stands alone as a complete short story.
  • Please enter your name, address, phone number, email address, and the title of your submission on our online form. DO NOT include your name or any other personal information on the pages of the story. Any story with identifying material will be disqualified.

We subscribe to the CLMP contest code of ethics. UNO students and alumni are ineligible. All current and former Bayou staff, previous contest winners, and current or former students of the judge are ineligible to submit.

About James Knudsen

James Knudsen served as Director of the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans from 2001-2003. A beloved teacher, friend, and colleague, Jim taught all levels of creative writing at UNO from 1977 until his death from cancer in 2004. He authored the novels, Playing Favorites and Just Friends, the story collection, Evening of Wonders, and with his friend and colleague, Joanna Leake, the textbooks The Illustrated Guide to Writing and The Illustrated Guide to College Composition.