LIGHT will award 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) will receive a prize. The top contestants in each category will be notified in early June 2023, and will be featured in the second issue of our journal that is expected to be released in Spring 2024. All submissions will receive consideration for publication in the journal dependent on the number and quality of submissions. Prizes for each category are as follows:

Prizes for each category are as follows:

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.

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.

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.

We believe art can be used as a bridge to center the public in health, a foundation for what has never been before. Art can be used to express what we have and long for within the public’s health; our courage to see, to feel, to speak, to dare can be made real through art. We also believe that art can be useful and entertaining to promote the public’s health. Arts for Public Health Prize is modeled after Derek Griffith and Andrea Semlow’s invitation to use art to help people unlearn misinformation about the public’s health, to eliminate or mitigate the health effects of racism, to decolonize the public’s health, and to communicate hope, resilience, and strength amid what seems impossible. We want your art to be in the service of the public’s health, to center the public in public health, and to inspire a re-imagined public health. Our top art piece will win $500. The second-place winner will win $375, and the third-place winner will win $125.

Griffith DM, Semlow AR. Art, Anti-Racism and Health Equity: "Don't Ask Me Why, Ask Me How!". Ethn Dis. 2020;30(3):373-380. Published 2020 Jul 9. doi:10.18865/ed.30.3.373


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


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?

In a world where the public is absent in conversations about the public’s health, a group of individuals began a mission to give voice to the most fundamental aspect of public health—the people. learn more
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LIGHT is a community of leaders, public health researchers, artists, poets, storytellers, and readers, and we welcome you to join us. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive news of our submissions and latest journal issues.

Saint Louis University, College for Public Health and Social Justice
Texas A&M University, College of Liberal Arts & School of Public Health