About LMU

The Mountain Heritage Literary Festival
June 12-14, 2015


About the Jean Ritchie Fellowship

Through literature, a region tells stories to its citizens and the world. The Jean Ritchie Fellowship seeks to support, encourage and honor writers from the Southern Appalachians.

The fellowship is the first of its kind for the region's writers, and is committed to Appalachian voices.

Jean Ritchie of Viper, Kentucky, and Port Washington, New York, is a musician, author of prose and poetry, social activist, teacher, historian and folk music collector. The fellowship strives to support artists who, like Ritchie, create works of beauty and social relevance, while honoring traditional heritage and forging a new path.

Award amount: $1,500

Fellowship Guidelines:

Poetry: Submit no more than ten pages.
Prose (Fiction and Nonfiction): Submit no more than twenty pages.
All work samples must be page numbered.
Prose writing should be double-spaced.
Poetry should be single-spaced.
Please do not submit previously published material, which we consider to include online venues such as journals, blogs, personal websites or anywhere accessible to the general public.
Previously published material will not be accepted.
No collaborative work samples or joint applications, please.

Include a very brief, one page cover letter. To ensure an anonymous reading process, please do not put your name on any application materials excepting the cover letter.

Submissions that include identifying marks within the work will not be considered.

For all genres, include a statement of purpose—no more than two pages—summarizing:

  1. What Appalachia means to you (for example: identity, culture, sense of place, values, economics, environment).
  2. What does writing mean in your life?
  3. Your current writing project.
  4. How would you utilize the fellowship funding?
Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

If awarded a fellowship, you will not be eligible to apply for another five years.

MapPlease consult the map (click for a list of individual counties in each state) to determine if the county and state in which you live, or are originally from, is eligible as defined by the fellowship requirements. Clearly indicate your county and state in the cover letter.

Fee: Ten dollars per submission. You may apply in more than one genre. For each genre in which you apply, there is an additional five dollar reading fee.

Submissions will be accepted through Sunday, May 31, 2015.

Deadlines are firm. Early, late, ineligible and incomplete applications will be rejected. There are no refunds for fellowship submission fees.

Manuscripts will not be returned but will be recycled.

Fellowship submissions should be uploaded as a single document to our online form and must accompany payment . If you have any questions or problems submitting electronically, please contact Denton Loving.

Fellowship winner will be announced at the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival, Saturday, June 13, 2015, and posted on this website within the following week.  Email notification will be sent to contest entrants if a working email address is included with your submission.  Contest results will only be announced online and by email; please do not send a SASE for results. 

Please do not seek information on the status of your application before the announcement date listed above.

The winner of the 2015 Jean Ritchie Fellowship recipient was Jim Minick.

Jim Minick is the author of four books, the most recent, The Blueberry Years, a memoir that won the Best Nonfiction Book of the Year from Southern Independent Booksellers Association. His work has appeared in many publications including Oxford American, Shenandoah, Orion, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Sun. Currently, he is Assistant Professor at Georgia Regents University and Core Faculty in Converse College’s low-residency MFA program.
Amy Clark

The winner of the 2014 Jean Ritchie Fellowship recipient was Mesha Maren-Hogan of Alderson, West Virginia.

The winner of the 2013 Jean Ritchie Fellowship recipient was Charles Dodd White of Candler, North Carolina.

The winner of the 2012 Jean Ritchie Fellowship recipient was Amy Clark of Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

The winner of the 2011 Jean Ritchie Fellowship recipient was Tiffany Williams of McRoberts, Kentucky.

The winner of the 2010 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Writing was Katie Perry of Austin, Texas.

The winner of the 2009 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Writing was Larry Bingham of Portland, Oregon

The winner of the 2008 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Writing was Mindy Beth Miller of Hazard, Kentucky.

Submissions for the Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Writing come from literally every state in the region, as well as from natives who live in various states across the country.  Our judges are consistently impressed by the quality of the manuscripts and the purpose statements of our applicants. The judging process for the fellowship is strictly blind—not one judge ever sees one name attached to the submissions.

If you have questions, email:

Lincoln Memorial University
Cumberland Gap Parkway
P.O. Box 2005
Harrogate, TN 37752

423.869.6432 or 800.325.0900, ext. 6432