2016 Nota Bene Entries Due April 1

Middle of August — the air is filled to the brim with blister-inducing Carolina heat. Swarming in the dust around your dirt-caked knees, the fire-red ants send you running out of the ditch where you and Lucia Faye have been playing “Bless His Heart,” jumping out at cars driving past before disappearing again into the ditch. You know that Lucia Faye is the real brain behind this and all other games you play with her. She knows everything: which side the moss grows on and what “state of the art” means and how lovemaking works. She’s even seen mountains out in Asheville, a place you’ll likely never see as you’re stuck living here in a place as flat as your old Meemaw’s corn cakes.

This is the opening paragraph from “Liars & Thieves,” the short story by Caitlin Vander Meulen of Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan that took the top prize in the 2015 Nota Bene literary competition. View the 2015 issue.

As a recipient of the Nell Ewing Citation Award, Vander Meulen received a $1,000 scholarship. Three other Phi Theta Kappa members received Reynolds Scholarships of $500 each.

“I wasn’t able to attend college right after high school, so deciding to go back to school after being married has been difficult financially,” Vander Meulen said. “The Nota Bene scholarship will help me make the last stretch for my associate degree, and then I can transfer to a four-year school. I have always loved writing, and having the opportunity to work on my craft while getting an education has been an immense blessing.”

Nota Bene showcases exceptional writing among community college students. Since its founding in 1994, $63,000 in scholarships have been presented to members, and more than 300 students have had their work published.

Research papers, short stories, poems, essays and works of drama are all accepted for the literary competition. There is a 2,500-word limit, and no more than five works may be submitted by any single member. Read all of the rules.

Between 20 and 30 works will be selected for the 2016 Nota Bene issue. Submissions are due Friday, April 1, by 5 p.m. CT. Submit your work.