One Day for Iowa

TIR Staff

For the first time, The Iowa Review is participating in the University of Iowa's 24-hour giving campaign, One Day for Iowa, which takes place on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. We're asking for funding to continue our veterans' writing contest. Until 11:59 p.m. this Wednesday, donations can be made here

For social media posts, we asked some recent winners for their thoughts on what the contest has meant to them, and the testimonials were so moving that we wanted to collect and preserve them in one place. Thank you for your support, Ashley Hand, Laura Joyce-Hubbard, James Janko, Libby Kurz, Adam Straus, Brian Kerg, and Erik Cederblom! (More testimonials are on the way, and we'll add them here as they come in.)

"I feel like this contest is one of the ONLY venues that amplifies veterans' voices in a meaningful way. The fact that the opportunity even existed made me feel a certain degree of belonging in this community of writers which otherwise can feel truly alienating as a vet. If a magazine as distinguished as The Iowa Review wants to publish military stories, it transforms what you think is possible for your work. I cannot emphasize enough how important it was for me on the path of believing in myself as a writer. Being published in TIR was one of the reasons I had the audacity to apply for the Stegner [Fellowship]. And GOT it. Academics feel like the writing world was built for them. Veterans don't. This contest is so important because it helps a very niche demographic of people who have important stories to tell feel truly seen." —Ashley Hand (issue 51/1, Spring 2021)

"Winning The Iowa Review’s Jeff Sharlet Memorial Veteran Writing Award was an enormous honor. But it was submitting to the contest in the years before I won that most shaped my writing. The two-year cycle meant I kept motivated and worked on my craft until the next contest window. I knew that every two years, I’d have another chance to submit a new piece and that my work would, once again, be read alongside other veterans’ work by a specific and prestigious journal within the literary community. Each time the contest results were published, I learned more about my fellow veterans’ lived experiences which, in turn, inspired me to persist in writing additional essays and poems. I continue to consult TIR’s online veteran gallery from past contests regularly—either for inspiration or simply connection." —Laura Joyce-Hubbard (issue 53/1, Spring 2023)

"Literary magazines are lifelines for writers, and The Iowa Review is among the best. After my story, 'Fallujah in a Mirror,' won the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award, I was able to find a literary agent to represent my work. Prizes from outstanding literary magazines bring attention to writers and writing that would otherwise be ignored. My new novel, The Wire-Walker, is forthcoming from Regal House Publishing in the fall of 2025." —James Janko (issue 51/1, Spring 2021)

"The Jeff Sharlet Memorial Contest gave me the rare opportunity to share my military experience with a wider audience and connected me with a community of veteran writers I would not have met otherwise. I'm grateful for the way The Iowa Review honors the stories of those who have served and, in doing so, promotes the value of both sacrifice and peace." —Libby Kurz (issue 53/1, Spring 2023)

"Placing in The Iowa Review's Veterans' Writing Contest remains one of my proudest moments as a writer, a moment I still come back to when stuck or lost in a story. I truly feel like I found my voice for the first time when I wrote 'Motorcycle Pope.' Publishing my work in The Iowa Review gave me the confidence to stick with that voice." —Adam Straus (issue 53/1, Spring 2023)

"This contest is a key means by which veterans can share their experience with the American public and help close the civil-military divide." —Brian Kerg (issue 51/1, Spring 2021)

"I was one of many who flew choppers for the Marine Corps in Viet Nam. When I mustered out, there was no parade, no ceremony, not even a handshake. So I still get choked up when someone acknowledges my service. Thank you, Iowa Review, for providing a forum so the voices of those who served are not lost." —Erik Cederblom (issue 51/1, Spring 2021)