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National Poetry Month April 2023: Jessamyn West Creative Writing Contest

The Jessamyn West Writing Contest

The English Department at Napa Valley College continues to host the annual Jessamyn West Creative Writing Contest for students of Napa Valley College in honor of local author Jessamyn West (1901-1984). Hoping to encourage local writers, the contest was established in the 1960s by Dr. Harry McPherson (West's husband and the founding President of NVC) and Dr. James Diemer.

The contest is open to all Napa Valley College students enrolled in classes on a full or part-time basis during the last twelve months.

The 2024 deadlines for entries is Friday, April 19th.

Accepted works include unpublished:

  • Short Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Multilingual Creative Work

A cash prize is given the first ($150) and second ($100) place winners of each type. In addition to cash prizes, all winners will receive free entry to all public events, including craft lectures and readings at the 2024 Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, held this summer.

All winners will be invited to read from their winning submissions at the Jessamyn West Awards Ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 at 5:30 pm at Napa Valley College.

Jessamyn West

Photograph of Jessamyn West by Johan Hagemeyer September 25, 1954. From UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library. 

Published Collections

The McCarthy Library retains a number of the published collections of the poetry and prose by winners. The following lists what title each collection was published under with the date of publication in parentheses. 

Winning Prose and Poetry Entries

  • 1985 & 1984 (September, 1985)
  • 1986 (September, 1986)
  • 1987 (September, 1987)
  • 1988 (September, 1988)

Jessamyn West Review

  • 1989 (1989)
  • 1990 (1991)
  • 1991 (1992)
  • 1992-1993 (1994)


  • 2005 (2005)
  • 2006 (2006)
  • 2007 (2007)
  • 2009 (2009)
  • 2010 (2011)
  • 2013-2014 (2015)
  • 2015 (2017)