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"Inspired By" Arts Showcase

"Inspired By" Arts Showcase is one of several student-based competitions open to high school and college students to create a work of visual, literary, or musical art that connects with a theme from Saint Louis University's 2021 Campus Read book.

The “Inspired By” Student Arts Competition 2021 Submission Guidelines

Hailed as containing “some of Smith’s most vibrant, original fiction,” "Grand Union" by best-selling author Zadie Smith is a collection of short stories engaging with a wide range of human experience and emotion. Saint Louis University is proud to announce "Grand Union" as the 2021 Campus Read and Zadie Smith as the 2021 St. Louis Literary Award Winner. The second annual “Inspired By” Student Arts Competition provides high school and college students with their own opportunities to connect with and build from Smith’s works. The competition is part of the St. Louis Literary Award series of programs at Saint Louis University.

What We’re Looking For

To participate in the showcase, please read "Grand Union" by Zadie Smith (2019). Your task will then be to create a work of art inspired by a theme in the collection. We are accepting submissions in the following categories: 

  • Written works: Poetry (long or short form), creative writing (fiction or nonfiction), scripts, etc. Submissions should be no longer than 1,000 words. 
  • Performance: Short films (animated or live action), dance/choreographic displays, original music/lyrics/compositions, etc. Submissions should be no longer than 10 minutes.
  • Visual and other non-digital submissions: Photographs (digital or print copies), collages, paintings, sculptures, drawings, etc.

Submissions and Deadlines

Submissions will be accepted starting September 1, 2021, and will close at 12 p.m. CST on December 10, 2021.

  • Please include in your submission a brief statement describing the theme or message of your work and how it relates to "Grand Union." This statement should be no more than 250 words.
  • Digital submissions will be accepted via Google Drive. Digital submissions may include the following formats: JPEG, MP3, MP4, PNG, Word, PDF. 
  • Non-digital submissions will be accepted at Pius XII Memorial Library during the hours of 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. on December 10, 2021. 


The Arts Showcase will select one finalist in each of the three categories (Written, Performance, Visual/Non-Digital); submissions from high school and college students will be judged separately and only against others in the same category (total of three college finalists and three high school finalists). Pieces will be judged on the following criteria: 

  • Expression of theme
  • Quality
  • Creativity 

Finalists will be notified of their status via email and will be asked to provide a brief autobiography. Final pieces will be displayed on the Pius Library website. Awards are given to the winning submissions in each of the following categories: 

Recipients Writing Award

Colleges and Universities Division

  • Writing Award: $250
  • Performance Award: $250
  • Visual Arts Award: $250

High Schools Division

  • Writing Award: $150
  • Performance Award: $150
  • Visual Arts Award: $150

All are encouraged and welcomed to attend both the St. Louis Literary Award Ceremony on November 4 and the Zadie Smith Author Craft Talk on November 5. Both events are open to the public and open for registration.