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Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Blog

Introducing the Randall Albers
Young Writers Award

Randall Albers

With the start of the new year, the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame (CHLOF) institutes a new award: the Randall Albers Young Writers Award. 

The award has the dual value of both honoring one of Chicago’s most beloved literary dignitaries, Randall Albers, as well as recognizing, supporting, highlighting, and celebrating the literary gifts of Chicago’s youth.

The Randall Albers Young Writers Award is open to all Chicago-area students currently enrolled in grades 9–12. This year’s inaugural awards will honor young writers of fiction and nonfiction. 

About Randall Albers

Professor and Chair Emeritus of Fiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago, Randall Albers was founding Producer of the long-running Story Week Festival of Writers, received the Columbia College Teaching Excellence Award, and, as chair of the Fiction Writing Department, fostered innovative interdisciplinary and community-based arts work in Chicago, and led development of abroad programs in Moscow, Prague, Florence, Bath, and Rome. A Story Workshop® Master Teacher, he has been a visiting professor at England’s Bath Spa University, has lectured at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and has presented at numerous national and international conferences on the teaching of creative writing. His fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarly work have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Chicago Review, TriQuarterly, Writers Digest, Writing in Education, Brevity, F Magazine, and Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck, among others. With Steve May, he authored the lead article in Creative Writing and Education, edited by Graeme Harper; and two chapters from his novel-in-progress, All the World Before Them, have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

As an educator, volunteer, advocate, and mentor, Randall has long supported helping young writers find, develop, and amplify their voices, finding ways for their words and voices to gain a wider audience and full inclusion into local arts and letters. 

Randall’s tireless efforts to enhance the city’s literary profile and honor the great diversity and legacy of Chicago writers through encouragement, education, and philanthropy has earned him a cherished place in the hearts and minds of Chicago Literati. 


All awards will be presented at a ceremony on Saturday, May 13, 2023. Please direct any questions to

Be sure to read and agree to our Rules & Guidelines before you enter the contest.

$500 prize will be awarded to the 2023 1st Place winner, with finalists receiving the following amounts: 

  • 2nd Place: $250
  • 3rd Place: $150
  • 4th Place: $100 

Each winner will also receive a writing consultation with one of the editors for DePaul's Blue Book: Best American High School Writing 2023, and their winning pieces may be eligible for inclusion in the publication. The winner and finalists will be listed on our website and will have the opportunity to read from their entries during the award ceremony. 

Rules & Guidelines


The contest is open to all Chicago-area high school students currently in grades 9–12. Entrants must reside in Chicago or one of its surrounding counties (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will) but can attend any school, public or private, homeschool, or online school within or outside of these areas. Submission is free. 


In this inaugural year of the contest, we’re accepting original prose entries of up to 2,500 words. (There is no minimum word count but please do not exceed our maximum of 2,500 words.) Both fiction and nonfiction entries are welcomed. We hope to expand the award in future years to include other genres. 

Submission Instructions

  • All entries must be received by 5:00 pm Central Standard Time on April 3, 2023. To submit, fill out our entry form, attaching a PDF, DOC, or DOCX file.
  • Manuscripts must be typed and double spaced and in Times New Roman size 12.
  • All manuscripts must be in English. If you include words or phrases in another language, please provide a translation. 
  • Only one submission per student is allowed.
  • Work previously published in print or online (including on social media or blogs), is ineligible. 
  • Please DO NOT submit cover letters with your submissions.
  • DO NOT include your name or any personally identifiable information in your file. Submissions will be judged blindly to ensure fairness.
  • Research papers and book reports should not be submitted. For fiction, we’re looking for stories addressing any subject or situation. In creative non-fiction, we’re looking for pieces in the realm of personal essay.
  • We’re interested in stories and essays that exhibit originality in thought and voice and that demonstrate your unique perspective. Of course, we love high-quality prose and want to see it in your work. Send us your best, we’re excited to read it!

Selection of Winners

Entries will be judged by a panel of Chicago-area writers selected by the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. The 1st place winner and runners-up will be contacted and announced on the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame website ( in late April, 2023. Awards will be presented in a ceremony on Saturday, May 13, 2023.


A 1st place winner will receive a prize of $500.00, with finalists receiving prizes in the following amounts:

  • 2nd place:  $250.00
  • 3rd place:   $150.00
  • 4th place:   $100.00

The winner and finalists will be listed on our website and will have the opportunity to read from their entries at the award ceremony.


Enter the Contest

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