Contest

The spaces and places in our lives play an important role in creating, shaping, and sustaining the quality of our health. As our locales shape us and our health, we also shape these spaces and places. Space can be understood as the physical location that can be defined by coordinates, but we also sometimes view space as an atmosphere or mental landscape, such as a “safe space.” While space often occupies a more objective location or contextual environment, ‘place’ is what gives these space[s] meaning, personality, and attachment, intersecting both cultural and personal connections to identity. Place is continuous, a hub for community building and activity, and piecing communal identity-making. These spaces and places are sensationalized and continuously shaped as we move through the world. What role does, or could, our space- or place-health relationship look like? Can engaging with the identity of our spaces and places help us understand our health? Creativity, through mediums such as poetry, art, letters, and stories, can be used to reimagine, transform, and understand one’s attachment and meaning to a space or place.

For example, if you were to describe your childhood house as a space, you might say it’s in Jackson, MO. It is located on a farm in the countryside down a long, gravel road and surrounded by vast fields of corn and beans. It sits on a hill with a big yard, the yard where you ran after cats as a child in the summer and went sledding in the winter. However, if you want to describe your house with the notions of place, you might think of how it may be a multigenerational home with relatives, built from scratch over 50 years ago, and it is shaped by holidays painted with tradition. This home was vibrant, full of joy, is still where many of your loved ones spend their time, and it holds many memories you continue to cherish.

So, what is a healthy space or place to you? From person to person, we know healthy spaces and places may have vastly different meanings. Think about the spaces or places that may contribute to defining or describing who you are as an individual, spaces or places you ‘escape’ to from reality, those where you gather to socialize, or even simply just go to be alone, places or spaces you read about in books and dream of going to, those that stimulate your brain and create a healthy learning environment, the ones that promote mental or physical wellness–like your local park or farmer’s market, where you go to relax your body or mind or gather with family and friends. It could be somewhere a majority of your time is spent or somewhere you spend time once a week or twice a month as upkeep for your health. To some, it may resemble improvement, empowerment, and growth, while to others it may mirror a loving and nurturing environment. It could be personal or public—in a hospital where you receive treatment, your iPad where you create, your mental realm, or your favorite restaurant where you gather to eat your traditional cuisine—all these spaces and places are vital in influencing our health and well-being.

Using art, letters, stories, and poetry, tell us: how might we create healthy spaces and places for all?

Note: At this time, submissions will only be accepted if written in English. Submissions should not have been previously published and should be properly formatted with little to no grammatical errors. Submissions will be accepted via Submittable. Please do not include any identifying information in your uploaded file.

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Deadline

The deadline for all submissions in each category is Wednesday, May 1, 2024, by 11:59pm CST. All submissions should follow LIGHT guidelines on Submittable and the specified judging criteria.

Potential Timeline

– Open call launch: February 1, 2024

– Open call deadline: May 1, 2024

– Review and judging: May 2024

– Finalist notifications by: June 2024

– Expected magazine release: Spring 2025

Prizes

LIGHT awards three prizes: 1st place: $500, 2nd place: $375, and 3rd place: $125. The top three submissions in each of our four categories (art, letters, poems, and stories) receive a prize. The top contestants in each category will be notified early June 2024 and will be featured in the fourth issue of our magazine. All submissions will receive consideration for publication in the magazine dependent on the number and quality of submissions. Prizes for each category are as follows:

Prizes for each category are as follows:

Dear Public Health/or Letters to Public Health Prize

We believe letters are the truth of life. A space to cherish connections between the public and their health. We believe the public carries a gift for health so necessary to survival, and we come close to this gift through letters. Dear Public Health is for the public, written as a letter to make connections with the public and their health easier, not difficult. Public health experts are people who live in our society. The public lives in our society too. Public health is not something that should be left for experts only to shape. It should be for anyone, for everyone. Public health should not be something that the public cannot understand or use, but rather, it should be collaborative and co-created. So, we want your letters to help light up public health, to center the public in public’s health. Our top letter will win $500. The second-place winner will win $375, and the third-place winner will win $125.

PEN-3 Prize in Storytelling

We believe stories are a guide. They are always with us. As teachers, they evoke a feeling, leading us, helping us the reader to discover, to explore the public in public health. So, what is your story about health, about the public and their health? We all have stories in us. We want to learn about your careful observation of reality in public health and not just the negative aspects. We want to hear your stories that are existential or unique, and of course your positive stories. The PEN-3 (Positive, Existential, Negative) Prize in Storytelling is modeled after the PEN-3 cultural model developed by Dr. Collins Airhihenbuwa who suggested that public health should not only focus on things that are negative but also things that are unique and things that are great. We want your PEN-3 stories to light up our public’s health, to center the public in health. Our top story will win $500. The second-place winner will win $375, and the third-place winner will win $125.

Airhihenbuwa CO. Perspectives on AIDS in Africa: strategies for prevention and control. AIDS Educ Prev. 1989;1(1):57-69.

Poetry Is Not a Luxury Prize

We believe poetry is not a luxury. They put to words what we feel within and dare make real or bring into action, our fears, our pain, our power. They also probe the present, clarify the past, and enlighten the future. They help transform silence into action, engaging both emotionally and intellectually. We believe poetry can be used to shape the public’s health. Not as luxury as Audre Lorde once mentioned, but to scrutinize our lives, to bring change, to bring hope to lives long forgotten and excluded in public health. Poetry Is Not a Luxury Prize is based on Audre’s Lorde invitation to use poetry as a vital necessity of our existence, our hopes, our dreams towards survival and change, first made into language, then an idea, then action. So, poetry is not a luxury for us. It is a life and death affair that we believe can be used to light up the public’s health, to center the public in health. Our top poem will win $500. The second-place winner will win $375, and the third-place winner will win $125.

Lorde A. Poetry Is Not A Luxury. Osnabrück: Druck- & Verlagscooperative; 1993.

PEN-3 Prize in Storytelling

We believe poetry is not a luxury. They put to words what we feel within and dare make real or bring into action, our fears, our pain, our power. They also probe the present, clarify the past, and enlighten the future. They help transform silence into action, engaging both emotionally and intellectually. We believe poetry can be used to shape the public’s health. Not as luxury as Audre Lorde once mentioned, but to scrutinize our lives, to bring change, to bring hope to lives long forgotten and excluded in public health. Poetry Is Not a Luxury Prize is based on Audre’s Lorde invitation to use poetry as a vital necessity of our existence, our hopes, our dreams towards survival and change, first made into language, then an idea, then action. So, poetry is not a luxury for us. It is a life and death affair that we believe can be used to light up the public’s health, to center the public in health. Our top poem will win $500. The second-place winner will win $375, and the third-place winner will win $125.

Lorde A. Poetry Is Not A Luxury. Osnabrück: Druck- & Verlagscooperative; 1993.

Judging

Submissions will be reviewed by three to five independent judges. Judging criteria will include the following using a collaborative style of judging:

Innovation

Is the submission transformative? Does the submission offer a new way to rethink a public health issue?

Clarity of expression

Is the submission clearly expressed, narrated, or represented? Is the submission understandable?

Originality and creativity in expression

Does the submission show creative thinking? Does the submission stand out as unique and original?

Appeal of content

How well would the submission resonate with the public? Would the public find interest in the content?

Relevance to public health

Does the submission connect to a public health issue? How much significance does the submission offer to the public health field?

FAQ

Who is eligible to participate?

Anyone can participate! There is no age requirement for submission. Submissions can be US-based or international, but all submissions must be in English.

Should I include my name in my file I submit?

No, please do not include your name or any other identifying information in the file you submit. Your name will be documented in Submittable.

Is there a limit to how many pieces of work I can submit?

No, you can submit as many pieces of work as you want. At the same time, be mindful that quality of the work is more important than quantity.

Can I submit creative work that has been previously published?

No, your creative work cannot have been previously published. An exception would be if it has been published on a personal website, blog, Spotify, etc.

Can I submit to LIGHT and another contest simultaneously?

Yes, but if you are submitting concurrently, please tell us if your submission is accepted elsewhere. Your submission with LIGHT will have to be withdrawn.

Will my submission be shared publicly?

Yes, your creative submission could be published in the LIGHT magazine. Please only submit what you would like the public to see or read in our magazine. Your name will be published along with your submission.