Iron Pen

Friday, February 17 – Iron Pen 2017 Guidelines and Prompt

Hello Iron Pen 2017 Contestants,

Thank you all very much for participating in the fastest writing contest in the Midwest! We appreciate your writing courage & quick imagination, and we look forward to seeing all of your terrific submissions.

Before we get to the prompt (which will also be available via phone on the MWC’s outgoing voice message at 309-732-7330, via the home page and the Iron Pen page on the MWC website, and on our Facebook page), a few guidelines and other important bits of information:

  1. Submissions must be received by Saturday, February 18th at 5:00 p.m. CST (tomorrow!).
  2. Submissions must be emailed to (preferred), or to, or delivered to the MWC office—please do not mail your submissions.
  3. If you have not yet indicated which category you will be competing in, or if you would like to change categories, that’s fine—please indicate which category you are submitting for when you email/return your submission. If you decide you want to compete in more than one category, that is fine, but you will need to pay $10 per category you will be competing in.
  4. We strongly encourage you to submit via email. Email submissions should be sent as MS Word attachments (.doc, .docx, .rtf—no .pdf please), or pasted into the body of the email (attachments are strongly preferred for formatting). Please include “IRON PEN SUBMISSION” in the subject line of your email.
  5. Limit of one poem, one story, or one nonfiction piece per entry (but you are, of course, welcome to write as many as you can/want/need—just submit your best one!).
  6. Fiction and nonfiction pieces must be 2,000 words or less; there is no word/limit for poems.
  7. Submissions will be read anonymously by the judges.
  8. Winners will be announced the afternoon of Wednesday, February 22nd via email, on the MWC home page, and on Facebook.
  9. The awards ceremony is Saturday, February 25th at 2:00 p.m. here at the MWC. The winners in each category receive medals, 2nd and 3rd place in each category receive certificates. Winners will be featured readers at the awards ceremony, but anyone who participated in this year’s contest is welcome to come and read their submission so we can all enjoy your efforts!
  10. Please remember that everyone that participates in this year’s Iron Pen Contest will have a chance at winning a full registration with value of approx. $265 for the David R. Collins Writers’ Conference, June 22-24, 2017. There will be a drawing at the awards ceremony next Saturday to determine the winner. You do not have to present to win, but it would terrific if you are!
  11. A Note on the Prompt: The Iron Pen prompt can be used as the title of your piece, as an epigraph, as the first line, somewhere in the text of the piece, as a premise for your piece, an inspiration, etc. The prompt does not have to appear explicitly in the text of your submission, but its influence/inspiration/other use or reference must be clear in your submission. Your submission will be judged on artistic merit and the adherence to/use of the prompt.

Now that we have all of that established, I get to play Chairman (like in Iron Chef’s Kitchen Stadium) and reveal the secret ingredient (THE PROMPT!):

(drum roll please…)  The prompt for the 2017 Iron Pen contest is:

“Miracles are wrought with axes”

Go words!

Please let me know if you have any questions—I’ll be in the office today until 5pm, and tomorrow from 11am until 5pm. Please call or message me with any questions at 309-269-6569. Thanks again for being a part of Iron Pen 2017. Have fun & best of luck!

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The Iron Pen Contest

**Everyone that participates in this year’s Iron Pen Contest will have a chance at winning a full tuition (valued at $240) for the David R. Collins Writing Conference in June 22-24, 2017.**

Registrations for the 2017 Iron Pen Contest are now OPEN!

Iron Pen Registration Form 2017

Cost is $10 (per entry) for all contestants
*Pre-Registration is Required*

2017 Iron Pen Contest Timeline:

Friday, February 17:
Receive an email from MWC at 5 p.m. that includes a writing prompt. 

Saturday, February 18:
Return entry by email or bring to MWC no later than 5 p.m.—do not mail!

Wednesday, February 22:
Winners will be announced by email & on our website

Saturday, February 25:
From 2-4p.m. winners will present their work at MWC on the ground floor of the Rock Island Public Library where they will receive an award

Register for the 2017 Iron Pen Contest via PayPal today:

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

 About the annual Iron Pen Contest

The Midwest Writing Center’s Annual QC Iron Pen 24 Hour Writing Contest is held on the third Friday to third Saturday in February. Register by 5 p.m. on Friday 2/17 to enter.

Entrants will receive a writing prompt by email and will have 24 hours to write a fiction, non-fiction or poetry piece. Entries will be judged by genre (poetry, fiction, nonfiction). Please note there is a 2,000 word limit for fiction and nonfiction entries.

Winners will receive medals and will have the opportunity to read their winning piece on the following Saturday at the Midwest Writing Center, located in the Rock Island Public Library, 401 19th St., Rock Island, IL 61201.

Cost to register is $10 per entry per category. Pre-registration is required. 

For more details, email us at or call us at 309-732-7330.


 Results of the 2016 Iron Pen Contest

1st Place: “The Shoes” – Jeffrey Bert
2nd Place: “Untitled” – P. Charles Horan
3rd Place: “Mountain Falls” – Xixuan Collins

Honorable Mention: “Culpepper” – Daniel Moore

1st Place: “Crescent Phase” – Megan Vollstedt
2nd Place: “Sorry Wasn’t Big Enough” – Michelle Ladwig
3rd Place: “Back From The Brink” – Mark Lucas

Honorable Mentions: “Mercy” – Michelle Opsahl
“The Love of a Parent” – Jennifer Knox

1st place: “The Perils of Penelope” – Laura Winton
2nd place: “Hold on a Minute” – Margaret Sherwin
3rd place: “The Bus” – Roger Pavey, Sr.

Honorable Mention: “Bird Feeding” – Steve Robinson

Fostering appreciation of the written word, supporting and educating its creators.

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