Marty Shambles
2 min readJun 17, 2022
Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash

A demographic survey of potential participants in a writing contest for Black Mockingbird Press found that nobody in the entire world is eligible to enter.

The contest description, originally posted on the Black Mockingbird Press website, starts with the usual flourish of what the press is looking for in its submissions:

“We want writing that challenges us, makes us think, makes us dance in the waterfall of delight…”

But then it gets specific. “We’re looking for writers who live in the Tupelo area but were born in Cincinnati. Entrants should be left-handed, blood type B, and of matrilineal Balkan descent. We want work that exemplifies the left-handed experience from an Eastern European American perspective. Eye color should be hazel at the time of writing.”

The study by Timothy Waxman of Alabama College said that he was shocked by the demographic results. “When we began the study, we thought for sure there would be at least one person eligible for the contest. But our research has been checked and double checked. There’s nobody who can enter this one.” Waxman had heard the collective THUD of writers everywhere, moaning about yet another contest they can’t apply to; apparently, the writing world gets more niche as the days pass.

When reached for comment, Black Mockingbird Press editor Connie Berry said, “I fit all the criteria laid out in the contest rules. The researchers missed me, I guess.”

She declined to comment when asked whether the editorial staff was allowed to enter the contest. Even tenured editors know the pain of seeing yet another rejection waiting for them in the inbox.



Marty Shambles

Pushcart nominated author of short fiction. New book available at