What kind of submissions are you looking for in ‘First Word’? And why only the essay?
The essay is a highly adaptive genre well suited to our intention of fostering a community of young writers who are not only inquisitive about ideas and arguments, and responsive to particular moods and moments, but are also adept at shaping their words in a form that suits their individual styles. Through this endeavor we hope that students will submit literary non-fiction or critical essays which reflect a nuanced understanding of the world, originality in thought and elegance in expression—the founding ideals of our flagship course ‘Introduction to Critical Thinking’.
Why is First Word open only to first-year undergraduate students?
The Undergraduate Writing Programme works most closely with first-year students through the ‘Introduction to Critical Thinking’ courses that we teach. The competition is intended to celebrate the creative and literary coming-of-age of these young thinkers and writers. However, we are open to broadening the base in the coming years. So check in with us again next year!
Currently, I am in my second year and took ICT in Monsoon 21’ semester. Am I eligible to send in my essay for this competition?
No, if you have not taken a year or semester off previously, you are not eligible to participate in this contest.
What if I have a pre-written essay, can I still submit it?
While we hope you will write something fresh for us, it is alright to refashion an older piece as long as the piece has not been published before and engages clearly with one of the prompts. (However, please do remove the details of prior submissions before you send it to us!)
Do I need to stick to the genres already mentioned in the concept note?
No, you can surprise us! However, it needs to be an essay, it needs to be largely non-fiction (we say ‘largely’ because some narrative essays, among others, may weave fiction with non-fiction), it needs to be in English, and it needs to be text!
Do you accept other languages?
For our inaugural contest, we will be accepting submissions only in English. However, we intend to widen our language pool in future editions of ‘First Word’, and develop the infrastructure needed to fairly judge such contributions.
Can I submit an original translation of someone else’s essay?
Since we wish to celebrate student composition rather than translation through this initiative, we are unable to accept translated pieces.