Department of English Department of English College of Arts and Sciences
University of Memphis Photo

Celebrating over 35 years at the University of Memphis, the WordSmith competition brings 200 middle and high school students from 30 area schools to the University of Memphis to test their writing and creative thinking skills with a series of dashes.

These dashes include a 40-word dash that asked students to describe an object without actually naming it.  The 100-word dash asks students to create a narrative of events depicted in one of a set of interesting and unusual pictures.  Students also participate in a 120-word dash that asks them to write a letter to the editor taking a stance on an issue referenced by a collection of recent news headlines. 

At the conclusion of the first three events, door prizes are given out and student winners of each dash and in each grade are announced. Each student winner is then invited to participate in the 400-word main event dash, a chance to write for 60 minutes on topics selected by WordSmith organizers.

The first three dashes are judged by English Department faculty and local English teachers who also serve as coaches for many of the teams. The final dash is judged by University of Memphis Department of English faculty members. Winning entries are published and distributed to all participating schools.

The event is sponsored by the University of Memphis Department of English and the Shelby- Memphis Council of Teachers of English.

For more information, enjoy these videos (2013 and 2012) about WordSmith or find us on Facebook!

Past Winners


Wordsmith Registration Forms

Registration Forms are always available in late fall or by contacting the Director, Cathy Dice, at

Student Registration Form
School Entry Form
Volunteer Judge Form

WordSmith Dash Descriptions, Rules and Prizes

Important Links
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
University of Memphis Campus Map


Catherine Dice:, Patterson Hall, (901) 678 4535

Look for us on Facebook! - Search for the WordSmith Writing Olympics.



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Last Updated: 7/30/13