Announcing the Winners of Iron Pen 2020

Hello Iron Pen Contestants,

Thank so much to everyone who participated in Iron Pen 2020. We received many terrific entries, and our judges had difficult decisions to make in their evaluations. Without any further ado, here are the winners of the 2020 Iron Pen contest by category:


1st Place: Samantha DeFilippo, “The Threads of Time”
2nd Place: Dan Moore, “Birds in Paradise”
3rd Place: Elizabeth Cullett, “Casting My Net in Ao Nang”

Honorable Mentions:
-Mike Bayles, “Nets Must Be Cast and Thrown Aside”
-Todd Hogan, “Giancarlo learns to fly”


1st Place: Louis Young, “Abraham Lincoln Returns to Rock Island”
2nd Place: Sal Marici, “When we had a Torn Net before we Met”
3rd Place: Samantha DeFilippo, “Broken, not Weak”


1st place: Kristin DeMarr, “The Writing Process of a Procrastinator with a Writing Prompt”
2nd place: Jeanne Anderson, “Untitled (Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural speech)”
3rd place: Wesley Burton, “Some Fragments on Nets”

Honorable Mentions:
– Michael Lewis-Beck, “Mortal Blush”

Congrats to all of our winners! The Award Ceremony and Reading is this Saturday, February 29th at 2pm, here at the MWC (sorry for the mistake in a previous email). The winners, 2nd, 3rd Places and Honorable mentions will be our featured readers, but anyone who participated is welcome to come and read their entry to this year’s contest. Please let us know if you plan to attend, and if you plan to read, so we have an idea of the schedule. Thanks!

We will have some light refreshments and will hand out the medals, books, and certificates for our winners this Saturday, and we’ll also have our drawing for the full registration to the David R. Collins Writing Conference (please note that you do not need to be present to win the conference registration—anyone with a paid Iron Pen Entry will be included in the raffle, and each paid entry enters your name one time—so, for example, if you entered in all 3 categories, your name will be in the drawing 3 times). You are of course welcome to bring family & friends to help us celebrate all of your creative efforts.

We hope you had fun with this year’s prompt—everyone certainly did a great job of going from zero to finished piece in a mere 24 hours! Thank you all so much again! Please let me know if you have any other questions about the contest or the Award Ceremony this Saturday 2/29. Thanks again and have a good day…


The fastest writing contest in the Quad Cities is back and taking registrations now!

The Midwest Writing Center is taking registrations for its 12th annual Iron Pen Contest. MWC will supply a prompt to all contestants at 5 p.m. on Friday, February 21st and contestants have 24 hours (entries are due Saturday, February 22nd by 5 p.m.) to write and submit their best fiction, non-fiction, and/or poetry pieces. Writers are welcome to enter into as many categories as they like with a paid registration for each entry.

The cost to enter the Iron Pen contest is $10 per entry, per category. Contestant entries will be judged blind in genre categories—Poetry, Fiction and Non-Fiction (please note there is a 2,000 word limit for fiction and nonfiction entries). The Iron Pen contest is open to all ages.

Registration forms can be found via the link below or at the Midwest Writing Center, c/o RIPL, 401 19th St., Rock Island, IL 61201.

Iron Pen 2020 Registration Form (jpeg)
Iron Pen 2020 Registration Form (pdf)

**Everyone that participates in the 2020 Iron Pen Contest will have a chance to win a paid-in-full tuition with a value of $300 for the 2020 David R. Collins Writing Conference in June 25-27 at St. Ambrose University.**

This year all winners and finalists will have the opportunity to publish their work in the MWC’s annual Writers Block e-magazine, which will be released to MWC members at MWC’s annual meeting in May 2020. Winners and finalists will also have the opportunity to publisher their work on the MWC website.

Contest Timeline:

On Friday, February 21 at 5 p.m. contestants will receive an email from the MWC that includes: a topic, an opening line, or a specific character. The prompt will also be announced on our website and on the MWC voicemail message.

On Saturday, February 22, contestants must email or bring their work to the Midwest Writing Center no later than 5 p.m. – please do not mail them.

The winners of this 24-hours contest will be announced by email on Wednesday, February 26. Awards will be given out on Saturday, February 29 at 2 p.m. at the Midwest Writing Center, where the winners in each category will receive medals, and the winners and finalists will be invited to read their work.


Register for the 2020 Iron Pen Contest via PayPal today:

Iron Pen 2020 – Contest Registration (per entry)
Number of Categories:
Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction: