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Society for Humanistic Anthropology 2024 Ethnographic Poetry Competition

The 2024 Contest is now open!

The Society for Humanistic Anthropology announces our annual poetry competition as a means to encourage scholars to use diverse literary genres to explore anthropological concerns. These concerns may be any of those associated with any of the five fields of anthropology: Archaeological, Biological, Linguistic, Sociocultural and Applied.

Before submission, please consider exploring the work of the ethnographic poets we have published in our journal.

Poems should exhibit technical virtuosity, through attention to poetic convention, form, and technique, and the sonic and musical qualities of language, combined with fresh language, vivid imagery, imagination, and risk-taking, and an ability to convey penetrating insights into human experience. We seek a layer of trust concerning the writer’s experience and perspective as both anthropologist and creative writer – one who is ethically responsible in terms of representing the other, one who is able to locate his or her reader in the context of the ethnographic study and reveal anthropological themes associated with any of the fields of anthropology. As well as ethnographic poems, we welcome autoethnographic poems, auto-theoretical poems, found poems, and other experimental forms that still adhere to the above.

Submission deadline this year is July 15th 2024. Submissions must be previously unpublished and not currently under consideration elsewhere. You may submit up to three poems. (Note: if you submit more than one poem, your accompanying ethnopoetry statement may specify whether they are intended as a set or sequence, or as individual entries; the judges will award a prize either to an individual poem, or a set of poems, at their discretion). There is no entry fee.

The entry consists of two separate parts:

  1. The online Entry form which collects cover page information (name, contact information, etc.).  Information on this form is not taken into account while judges make their award selections, and information collected is used ONLY for award granting and notifications.
  2. Your poems together in one pdf file WITHOUT the author’s name (i.e. anonymized), PLUS an extra page with an ethnopoetry statement of no more than 400 words that answers the question: “How is this piece anthropologically informed, and in what ways has your background in the field contributed to it?” This statement will be taken into account as the judges make their award selections; examples of ethnographic/ethnopoetry statements can be found here. Please use your first poem title as your document file name. This file should be emailed as a pdf to as soon as your online entry form is completed.


  • All winners will receive one year Society for Humanistic Anthropology (SHA) and American Anthropology Association (AAA) gift memberships.
  • The first-place winner will also receive an award of $100 and publication in the Society’s journal, Anthropology and Humanism.
  • The second-place winner will also receive $75, and be invited to submit to the journal
  • The third-place winner will also receive $50, and be invited to submit to the journal
  • All winning entries and honorable mentions will be recognized by the Society for Humanistic Anthropology at the 120th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (Seattle, WA, November 9-13th, 2022), and all winners will receive a certificate of their award, and be eligible to submit to the journal

2024 JUDGING COMMITTEE:  Susan Wardell (chair), Atreyee Majumder, and Adrie Kusserow