Nebraska high schoolers invited to participate in Emerging Writers Contest

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney is looking for the state’s best young writers.

Open to any high schooler in the state, the annual Nebraska Emerging Writers Contest gives students an opportunity to showcase their talent while competing for cash prizes.

The theme for this year’s contest is “Democracy,” based on “The Meaning of Democracy” essay written by American author E.B. White during World War II.

Using that piece as inspiration, students are asked to write their own poem, short story or essay about democracy and what it means today.

Maximum word counts are 300 for poetry, 2,000 for essays and 4,000 for short stories. First-place winners in each category will receive a $100 prize. Runners-up receive $50 each. Only one entry is allowed per person.

To participate, send your submission to along with your name, telephone number, high school and grade. Please include the contest category and a title for your work, as well. The submission and accompanying information should be included in the body of the email (no attachments). Submission deadline is Feb. 1, 2022.

The Nebraska Emerging Writers Contest is sponsored by the UNK Writing Center, American Democracy Project and Phi Eta Sigma and Sigma Tau Delta honor societies. It’s judged by UNK undergraduate students.

For more information, visit or contact UNK English professor Maria O’Malley at

“The Meaning of Democracy,” which first appeared in the July 3, 1943, issue of The New Yorker

We received a letter from the Writers’ War Board the other day asking for a statement on “The Meaning of Democracy.” It presumably is our duty to comply with such a request, and it is certainly our pleasure. Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don’t in don’t shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn’t been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It’s the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the rationed coffee. Democracy is a request from a War Board, in the middle of a morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is.