GonzoFest 2017 Literary Journalism Contest

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2017 Gonzo Literary Nonfiction Contest

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Call for Entries!

“This is the horror of American politics today—not that Richard Nixon and his fixers have been crippled, convicted, indicted, disgraced and even jailed — but that the only available alternatives are not much better; the same dim collection of burned‐out hacks who have been fouling our air with their gibberish for the last twenty years.
How long, oh Lord, how long? And how much longer will we have to wait before some high‐powered shark with a fistful of answers will finally bring us face‐to‐face with the ugly question that is already so close to the surface in this country, that sooner or later even politicians will have to cope with it?
Is the democracy worth all the risks and problems that necessarily go with it? Or, would we all be happier by admitting that the whole thing was a lark from the start and now that it hasn’t worked out, to hell with it.”

Hunter S. Thompson, ‘Fear and Loathing in the Bunker,’ The New York Times, Jan. 1, 1974.


The directors of the annual GonzoFest in Louisville, Ky., hometown of the late Hunter S. Thompson, invite writers from all corners of the world to enter a single piece of literary journalism in this year’s contest which aims to honor Louisville’s most famous literary son.

All entries are due by 11:59pm EST on March, 24th They must be submitted as word files, double-spaced, and as an attachment to an email sent to gonzoliterarycontest@gmail.com. Entries are encouraged to be between 1,500 and 2,000 words and must be unpublished non-fiction, based on the author’s original reporting, observations or insights. The entry should include a cover page containing the author’s name, address, and contact information — as well as a brief statement attesting to entry’s originality.

The judges, encourage work that is reported with a keen eye for detail and written in a bold and elegant style, as Thompson’s best work was.

No type of story is preferred over another — so long as it’s true. The emphasis should will be on the quality of the writing, and the significance of the story it tells.

The winning entry will be considered for publication in the GonzoFest edition of the Louisville Eccentric Observer, Louisville’s venerable alternative weekly, and the author will be honored during the festival, scheduled for April 15th, 2017, in Louisville.

Judges for Gonzo Literary Journalism Contest, part of the 2017 GonzoFest: 

Dug Begley is a native of Louisville who currently covers transportation and urban development in America’s fourth-largest city, and its most diverse city, for The Houston Chronicle. A former man-aging editor The Evening News in Jeffersonville, Ind., Begley also contributed to LEO and was a founding staff member of Snitch, the short-lived crime weekly headquartered in Louisville. Since leaving his hometown, Begley has been a reporter in Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark. and River-side, Calif., before moving to Texas. He was also part of Hearst Newspapers go-team for extend-ed coverage of the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school slayings. This is Dug’s second year judging the contest.

Eric Westervelt is a long-time correspondent for National Public Radio, where he he had the sometimes frightening, yet always exhilarating experience of covering all three North African revolutions for National Public Radio in 2011. The assignments were a return to the place and the politics that first inspired him to become a journalist. On a break from Reed College in Portland, Ore., where he was majoring in American studies, he had sailed to Portugal on a three-masted schooner. His adventure continued by foot, train and hitchhiking through Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and the Western Sahara. Ever curious, he talked to all kinds of people — and took notes. He landed in Tunisia just after a coup. In Algeria, he visited rebels challenging Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. Now he knew he wanted to be a journalist. After graduating from Reed, he freelanced, then worked for New Hampshire Public Radio. In 1996, he moved to NPR, cover-ing national security and the Pentagon. He was an NPR correspondent in Jerusalem before being named Berlin bureau chief in 2009. He has been education correspondent based in San Francis-co since 2013, after completing a year-long John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University. This is Eric’s second year judging the contest.

Stephen George is Executive Editor of Louisville Public Media, where is the top editorial executive for a newsroom that includes the on-air and online staff at WFPL, WFPK, WUOL and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. He was previously editor of the Nashville City Paper and LEO Weekly, and most recently served as news editor of Insider Louisville. His journalism has appeared in a variety of local, state and national media, and he has served as communication director for two members of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is Stephen’s first year judging the contest.

Michael Jones has been a fixture of Louisville journalism since the 1990s, when he was first a staff member of the Jeffersonville Evening News and later the first full-time staff writer of the Louisville Eccentric Observer, where he continues to contribute cover stories, essays and stories about music, history and culture. He is also author of the book, Louisville Jug Music: From Earl McDonald to the National Jubilee. This is his second year judging the contest.

Rebecca S. Miller is editorial director at Library Journal and School Library Journal, where she was previously editor-in-chief. Trained as a librarian, with a master’s degree in library sciences and information technology from the Pratt Institute, Miller began her career as a journalist at Utne Reader. A resident New York City, this is Rebecca’s first year asa judge.