Are you a writer? If so, then you may be eligible. For more information, check out our eligibility requirements

how do i know if i'm eligible to apply?

What if my income is in flux? For example, I had a well-paying job that put me outside the bounds of your income requirements, but I was just laid off, or divorced.

Many of us are freelancers and we certainly understand that income variability is part of life. Because of our requirements as a nonprofit, though, there must be some documented record of that your income fit into the categories above for at least the previous two years. If you don’t have that now, please consider applying to our program in future years.

Who are the judges?

We are grateful to our talented panel of judges, all of whom are talented and accomplished writers and editors. Here was our slate of judges for 2015:

  • Poetry: Billy Collins, Major Jackson, Michael Stone-Richards
  • Fiction: Toby Barlow, Matt Bell, Tamara Warren, Sean MacDonald,
  • Nonfiction: dream hampton, Nancy Kaffer, John Freeman

Finalists will also undergo a video interview with the Write A House founders, Toby Barlow and Sarah F. Cox.

What are the judges looking for?

The most important part of your application is your writing sample. In the online application, you will upload your writing sample as a PDF. It can be a single work or multiple pieces, but it must be in a single genre. Here are the eligible genres:

  • Poetry (free verse, formal, lyric, prose poem, etc.)
  • Non-fiction (memoir, critical theory, philosophy, journalism, essay, creative nonfiction, etc.)
  • Fiction (literary, science fiction, speculative, novel, short story, screenplay, playwriting, etc.)

Your writing sample can be from previously published work, or new work. Your complete sample should not exceed 2500 words, and it must be in standard form—12-point type, double-spaced—unless there is an artistic reason for it to appear otherwise (as with the unique formatting of a poem). It can be a work that has been translated into English. Do not include your name or any identification anywhere in the writing sample, or it will be disqualified: your writing sample will be evaluated in a blind judging process.

We will also ask you for a brief writer’s statement and a description of why you believe this program is right for you. Our Write A House team will be considering the ability of applicants to contribute to the neighborhood and the wider literary culture of Detroit.

If you are one of our 10 finalists, we will also ask for your full CV and income verification. We will do a credit and background check. We will spotlight you as part of our honored shortlist, and we will invite you to do a video interview with the Write A House founders.

Your writing sample, and all the information in your application, will be kept confidential. If we want to use anything from your submission for anything that goes beyond the selection process (including promotion), we will explicitly ask you for permission.

Will my writing sample be confidential or are you using it for promotional purposes?

No. Please pick the genre that you feel you are strongest in, and submit one application. If we receive multiple applications from one individual, we’re afraid we must disqualify all of them.

I write in multiple genres. Can I submit more than one application — say, one in fiction and one in poetry?

Unfortunately no. This program is dedicated to the literary arts.


I’m not a writer, but I’m some other kind of artistic/creative person. Can I apply?

No, we are accepting only individual applicants. But we hope to receive individual applications from both you and your partner! If one of you wins, the other can move in with you, of course.

My partner and I are both writers. Can we apply as a couple?

I write songs. Can I apply?

No, unless you sincerely believe your lyrics stand up as poetry (like Leonard Cohen or Lou Reed’s do.)

Yes. Apply in the “Fiction” category.

I am a playwright and screenwriter. Can I apply?

I am a composer. Can I apply?

No. Though we would love to have more composers in Detroit, this program is for the literary arts.



No. We are looking for people who will be an active part of the community. If you would need to leave for up to two months a year (for vacation, work assignments, etc.) that would be acceptable, but this needs to be your main base. Blue Field Writers House might be a temporary residency that would work well for you if you would like to spend some time in Detroit.

Yes. If you apply in the first two weeks that applications are open, it will be at the “earlybird” rate of $15. After that, the rate will be $25. After doing the first round of applications for Write A House, we learned that we needed this fee as a way to filter out the folks who are not serious – real estate speculators and so forth. Also, we have learned that it’s expensive to rehabilitate longtime vacant homes! Your application fee will be “paying it forward,” making it possible for us to fix up another house and give it away to a writer.

Is there a cost to apply?

We hate to disqualify any applications! But we’re afraid we must if, first of all, you don’t meet the eligibility requirements. (They are detailed above.) We also will disqualify applications that are incomplete, or that don’t follow the application instructions (don’t worry, they are very simple!). For example, you cannot include identifying information (like your name or address) anywhere on your writing sample.

What are the reasons my application may be disqualified?

See the section, “Living in Detroit,” for more details.

Will I like living in Detroit? And what is the house like?

The writer-in-residence will be responsible for supplying relocation costs.

Will Write A House cover relocation costs?

No. But we are happy to make introductions to the people we know in the publishing industry.

Will Write A House cover the costs for publishing my book?

We are afraid that we cannot employ the people we give houses too; most of us are volunteers as it is. But we are broad, diverse, and well-connected set of folks, and we will work very hard to make sure you land softly, finding work in your chosen field.

We have found that the talent of our finalists, as well as the high-profile of our program, makes this path smoother. For example, our first winner, Casey Rocheteau, was swiftly hired by the InsideOut Literary Arts Project as a writer-in-residence at two Detroit high schools.