On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, Knuckledown Press cancelled the writing contest for the Richard M. Thorson Literary Prize for Agrarian Prose. The press cancelled the contest because the press learned that some U.S. states do not allow consideration in a skill contest; that is, no entry fee or other consideration may be charged. This surprised us, of course, because we modeled the contest after so many others (http://www.pw.org/grants) that do charge fees for entrance. The entry fees help to fund the contests and the prizes, and also help to reduce entries to manageable volumes, because only serious writers typically pay fees to enter writing contests. In the case of the Thorson literary prize, Knuckledown Press set up the fee to be a $20 reading fee, compensation for a screening editor to read a manuscript, make a judgment, and deliver a critique back to the writer. In other words, the writer would receive a professional service in exchange for the fee, a service that typically costs much more than $20. However, it's not clear whether asking for a reading fee is equivalent to asking for an entrance fee. Therefore, we cancelled the contest before we received any submissions. It would be very costly for the press to offer this prize without charging a reading fee, mainly due to the amount of time it would take for our screeners (who would no longer be compensated) to sift through what we would expect to be an unmanageable volume of entries. The convenience of the Internet enables writers with even the least of intentions to submit to open contests without hesitation. We regret having to cancel this prize, mainly because we will no longer be honoring Mr. Thorson and his legacy. In the future, we may revive this prize as a book prize (with no entry fee), to be awarded to an author whose book has already been published, and which exemplifies what might be called "agrarian prose."FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE LITERARY PRIZE TO BE AWARDED FOR AGRARIAN PROSE Richard M. Thorson family to award $500 to winning author, Knuckledown Press to publish book (Fargo, N.D.) - Knuckledown Press, an independent Midwestern literary small press, began accepting submissions May 15, 2011, for the Richard M. Thorson Literary Prize for Agrarian Prose, which is awarded annually for a previously unpublished manuscript of literary fiction or creative nonfiction with an agrarian setting. The Richard M. Thorson family will award $500 and Knuckledown Press will grant a publishing contract to the winning author. What is "agrarian prose?" “It might be about the rural way of life generally, or about farmers and farming specifically, but it might just be about how living out of town means living wild, and how nature—even cultivated land—is a spiritual force to be reckoned with,” said Ryan C. Christiansen, publisher for Knuckledown Press. For the contest, Christiansen said the editors are looking for works that are “agricultural and rural, mostly honest, plain, and natural, sometimes rustic, native, or wild, but rarely peaceful—and never pure.” The literary prize is named after Richard M. Thorson (April 26, 1915 - June 1, 1981), who grew up on a farm in Colfax township in Kandiyohi County, Minn., where he attended rural school. In the fall of 1937, he attended the Riesch American School of Auctioneering in Austin, Minn., and the following spring, he started working as an auctioneer. Besides auctioneering farm sales in the region, Mr. Thorson managed the Belgrade, Minn., sales barn, helped to operate his home farm, and managed the Farmers Livestock Shipping Association. He was president of the Lake Prairie Rural Telephone Company and a director for the Belgrade Cooperative Association. He was an avid outdoorsman. “Members of the Thorson family are pleased to honor their forbearer’s legacy with this prize,” Christiansen said, “and Knuckledown Press is excited about the opportunity to bring literature about rural life to readers everywhere.” For more information about Knuckledown Press and how to enter the contest, visit the press’s web site at www.knuckledownpress.com.