Illustration by Johanna Lindsholm

Essay Awards

Literal Latté
Essay Awards

  • First Prize
    $1000
  • Second Prize
    $300
  • Third Prize
    $200

Contest Guidelines

  1. Send unpublished Essays, 8,000 words max. All topics.
  2. Postmark by September 30th.
  3. Name, Address, Telephone Number, Email Address (optional) — on Cover Page only.
  4. Include Self Addressed Stamped Envelope or Email Address for reply.
  5. Include $10 Reading Fee per essay — OR —
    $15 Reading Fee for two essays.
  6. All entries considered for publication

All currency above given in US dollars.

Remember: email submissions are NOT currently accepted.

All reading fees (by check or money order)
should be made out to
Literal Latté
and mailed with entry manuscripts to

Literal Latté Awards
200 East 10th Street, Suite 240
New York, NY 10003
(212) 260-5532

Literal Latte Essay Award Winners

Please note that this listing may be incomplete.

Spring 2014 Issue

Juanita and the Beach of Fairies By Jean Guerrero

First Prize, 2013 Literal Latte Essay Award.
On April 23, 2011, during what is known in Mexico as Semana Santa — or “Holy Week” — I went swimming off of the coast of an abandoned beach at the edge of the northernmost jungle in the Americas, Los Tuxtlas, and a rip current sucked me out to sea.

Four other foreigners and I were the only people on the beach; we were a 20-minute hike from our rental vehicle and about an hour from the nearest town of Catemaco, a small lakeside pueblo known primarily for its shamans….

Posted in Essays | Tagged , | 8 Responses
Spring 2014 Issue

Wood Swivel Chairs By J. L. Cooper

Second Prize, 2013 Literal Latte Essay Award.
In 1959 I was a nine-year-old freckled blond kid wearing a Red Sox little league hat just to the left of center, hungry for swings at wild pitches and the chase of impossible fly balls. On Saturdays after games, my father brought me to the newsroom where he worked as city desk editor for a small paper struggling to remain a daily….

Posted in Essays | Tagged , | 10 Responses
Spring 2014 Issue

Oddballs and Angels: A Tribute to Phoebe Snow By Glenn Berger

Third Prize, 2013 Literal Latte Essay Award.
In April of 2011, at the age of 60, singer/songwriter Phoebe Snow died. When I heard the news, I walked into my hallway, and stared at the gold record of her album, Second Childhood, which hung on my wall. I floated back to when I first met Phoebe. In 1973, I had just become an assistant recording engineer at A & R Studios in New York….

Posted in Essays | Tagged , | 10 Responses
Winter 2013 Issue

Luffing By Mary Heather Noble

Second Prize, 2012 Literal Latte Essay Award.
When I think about my father, the picture that always comes to mind is him standing on the shore of Lake Erie against the distant Cleveland skyline. He watches the wind socks on the pier waving in the breeze, their streamers a rainbow contrast against the blurry city beyond. I imagine in his mind a single perpetual question: Is it going to be a good day for a sail?

Posted in Essays | Tagged , | 5 Responses
Winter 2013 Issue

The Other Chair By Annita Sawyer

First Prize, 2012 Literal Latte Essay Award.
On G8-East, an inpatient psychiatry unit at the West Haven VA hospital, it was time for team meeting. I scribbled the last of my therapy notes, tucked the pen and notebook under my arm, grabbed my sweater, and slipped a loaded key ring over my wrist….

Posted in Essays | Tagged , | 1 Response
Winter 2013 Issue

Kritios Boy By Nancy Ludmerer

Third Prize, 2012 Literal Latte Essay Award.
I’d always remembered Michael’s birthday, even when years and miles separated us, and when there it was in The New York Times death notices after his name, I knew it was him, my first love, beginning when I was fifteen….

Posted in Essays | Tagged , | 8 Responses
Fall 2012 Issue

Amanda’s Violin By Judy Fort Brenneman

Third Prize, 2011 Literal Latte Essay Award.
The round table at the coffee shop is covered with a dark green and tan cloth. The four chairs fill its arc on the side away from the wall. I’m on one end of the arc; my backpack and a white teddy bear named Snowball fill the next two chairs; and Amanda, a slight, elven-faced girl-child of ten, sits in the fourth chair….

Posted in Essays | Tagged , | 4 Responses
Fall 2012 Issue

I’m Not Writing About Robin By Wendy Thornton

Second Prize, 2011 Literal Latte Essay Award.
My friend, Robin, died recently. I drove across the country to visit her before she died, to remind her that her bravery made me brave. She seemed comforted by this thought, as much as you can be comforted when you know you’re going to die within a specific timeframe….

Posted in Essays | Tagged , | 8 Responses
Fall 2012 Issue

Tinkering with Grief in the Woods By Mark Liebenow

First Prize, 2011 Literal Latte Essay Award.
I sit in my shorts by an open window in Kentucky surrounded by a hundred sleeping monks. Beyond the monastery’s stone walls, beyond the dark scrabbled woods of hickory and oak, a dog barks at raccoons moving through the night, or at nothing at all, and the world settles back down into quiet….

Posted in Essays | Tagged , | 7 Responses
Spring 2011 Issue

Addicted to Chad By Michael Varga

Second Prize, 2010 Literal Latte Essay Award.
When I was a child and my parents argued, my father used to escape to the basement and listen to his short-wave radio. Growing up in Philadelphia, I knew nothing of a wider world until I snuck down to the cluttered, messy cellar and eavesdropped behind the stacks of magic-markered wooden storage boxes and shelves of re-labeled peanut butter jars of nails and screws.

Posted in Essays | 13 Responses