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Erma Bombeck Writing Competition

The Erma Bombeck Writing Competition is hosted every two years by the University of Dayton and the Washington-Centerville Public Library in Centerville, Ohio, where Erma wrote the books and columns that launched her national fame. Over the years, the contest has drawn thousands of hopeful entries, submissions inspired by Erma Bombeck’s humor and humanity. In 2020, 559 writers from 10 countries, 48 states and the District of Columbia entered previously unpublished essays in humor and human interest categories — roughly 251,550 words. The four winning writers receive a free registration to the Oct. 29-31 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, $1,000 and publication of their essays online and in the workshop’s program. Eight writers received honorable mentions, $100 and publication of their essays online. 

Enjoy Their Essays

Two prolific authors — Bill Bryson and Jess Montgomery — served as finalist judges for the humor and human interest categories, respectively. The nearly 60 preliminary judges included nationally known authors, columnists, screenwriters and stand-up comedians. None other than Betsy Bombeck, Erma’s daughter, will keynote the virtual 7 p.m. awards presentation on Thursday, Oct. 8. The ceremony is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. Check back for details.

More About the 2020 Winners