Duke Voices COVID-19 Writing Contest

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced every one of us to confront significant and unexpected change.  Things are simply not as they were, and many of us have felt compelled to respond to these new circumstances through writing.  For some, this might take the form of an essay or “op-ed” piece; for others, a fictional or autobiographical short story.  Whether writing is a longstanding habit, or a new desire, if you’ve felt a need to write about this pandemic, please read on.

Voices, a literary journal sponsored by the Duke University Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, & History of Medicine, is sponsoring a new writing contest. We are searching for the best writing to emerge from Duke in this new era, to bridge our social distance through the medium of the written word.  Any genre of short-form prose writing – essay, memoir, fiction – will be considered. Target length is 1,000-2,000 words. The first and second place winning pieces will be published in the summer 2020 issue of Voices. Other pieces of high quality will be considered for publication in the Fall issue. We are accepting pieces from students from all health occupations, residents, DUMC staff, and faculty.

The deadline for submission to the contest is Monday, June 15, 2020.  All entries should be submitted with a cover page that includes the name and contact information of the author and title of the piece; the text itself should follow, on a new page, with no identifying information. The entries will be anonymized and judged by a group consisting of Voices editors and faculty from the Trent Center. Please submit to: trent-center@duke.edu


  1. Open to all Duke health professional students (medical, nursing, physician assistant, etc.), residents, and staff; faculty are invited to submit pieces for publication, but they will not be included in the contest.
  2. All prose genres accepted. Target length 1,000-2,000 words. Poetry may be submitted for consideration for publication, but this contest is for prose pieces only.
  3. Deadline: June 15th. Submit to: trent-center@duke.edu.

Best wishes and we look forward to reading your work,  

Brian P. Quaranta, MD, MA

PS. If you are a practicing clinician or health professional student at Duke and have an interest in writing, we invite you to attend meetings of La Pluma: a Narrative Essay Writing Group for the Duke Medical Community.  We have been meeting for nearly a year to help each other improve our writing, and have seen a number of publications as a result. If interested, please contact brian.quaranta@duke.edu for more information.