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G&A: The Contest Blog

The finalists for the thirty-fourth annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, which are awarded in ten categories, were announced last week.

The finalists in poetry are Joshua Beckman for The Inside of an Apple (Wave Books), Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge for Hello, the Roses (New Directions), Ron Padgett for Collected Poems (Coffee House Press), Elizabeth Robinson for On Ghosts (Solid Objects), and Lynn Xu for Debts & Lessons (Omnidawn).

The finalists in fiction are Percival Everett for Percival Everett by Virgil Russell (Graywolf Press), Claire Messud for The Woman Upstairs (Knopf), Ruth Ozeki for A Tale for the Time Being (Viking), Susan Steinberg for Spectacle: Stories (Graywolf Press), and Daniel Woodrell for The Maid’s Version: A Novel (Little, Brown).

The finalists for the Art Seidanbaum Award for First Fiction are NoViolet Bulawayo for We Need New Names (Reagan Arthur Books), Jeff Jackson for Mira Corpora (Two Dollar Radio), Fiona McFarlane for The Night Guest (Faber & Faber), Jamie Quatro for I Want to Show You More (Grove Press), and Ethan Rutherford for The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories (Ecco).

Fiction writer Susan Straight will receive the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. Straight is the author of eight novels, most recently Between Heaven and Here (McSweeney’s, 2012). Straight writes about Rio Seco, a fictional town inspired by Riverside, California, where she currently resides.

The winners will be announced during an award ceremony on April 11 at the University of Southern California. The event is open to the public, and tickets will go on sale for $10 on March 17. For more information on the event, and a list of finalists in the additional categories of biography, current interest, graphic novel/comics, history, mystery/thriller, science and technology, and young adult literature, visit the L.A. Times Book Prizes website.

In the video below from TEDx Redondo Beach, Susan Straight talks about why she became a writer.

Vela Magazine, an online journal that publishes works of nonfiction written by women and inspired by travel, has launched its inaugural nonfiction contest for women. The winner will receive $500 and publication. The deadline is March 31; there is no entry fee.  

The editors seek a “strong voice, a compelling narrative, and/or a powerful driving question. We’re interested in a wide range of essays and stories, including literary journalism, personal essays, memoir, and expository or experimental essays.”

Women writers may submit a previously unpublished essay of up to 6,500 words along with a cover letter via the online submission system. While there is no entry fee, donations to the magazine are accepted with submissions; those who donate will receive a PDF titled Women We Read This Year, an annotated compilation of writing by women from 2013, drawn from the magazine’s weekly Women We Read This Week column.

In addition to the winner, two finalists will also have their work published.  All entries will be considered for publication.

Michelle Orange, the author of the essay collection This Is Run­ning For Your Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), will judge.

Vela Magazine was founded in 2011 by nonfiction writer Sarah Menkedick in response to the gender disparity in publishing, which is tracked each year through VIDA’s annual count. “As long as [this disparity] continues to be the case,” Menkedick writes in the magazine’s manifesto, “then I believe in creating a separate space in which women can write what they want to write, with the same intellectual freedom as men; without a major overhaul of self and world views.”

The biennial South Carolina First Novel Prize, sponsored by Hub City Press and the South Carolina Arts Commission, is currently open for submissions. The winner will receive $1,000, publication, and national distribution for a first novel.

Residents of South Carolina who have lived in the state for at least one year and who have not yet published a novel are eligible. Writers may submit a novel manuscript between 150 and 400 pages with a $35 entry fee by March 3. Submissions may be sent via postal mail or hand-delivered to the South Carolina Arts Commission offices. Visit the website for complete submission and eligibility requirements.

Novelist Ben Fountain, author most recently of the novel Billy Flynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco, 2012), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was shortlisted for the National Book Award, will judge.

Susan Tekulve of Spartanburg won the 2012 prize for her novel In the Garden of Stone, which was published by Hub City in May 2013. Matt Matthews of Greenville won for his novel Mercy Creek in 2010, and Brian Ray of Greensboro won in 2008 for Through the Pale Door.

In addition to publication and promotion by Hub City Press, the winner will also receive significant promotion from the South Carolina Arts Commission and the Humanities Council of South Carolina, including an invitation to appear at the 2015 South Carolina Book Festival, as well as a number of other festivals, bookstores, colleges, and libraries throughout the country.

Established in 1995, the Spartanburg, South Carolina–based non-profit Hub City Press publishes six books a year by emerging and established writers. For more information about the First Novel Prize, visit the South Carolina Arts Commission website or call (803) 734-8696.

In the video below from the National Book Foundation, Ben Fountain reads from Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

The Huffington Post, the AARP, and Simon & Schuster have teamed up to launch a new memoir contest for writers over the age of fifty. One grand prize winner will receive $5,000 and a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster.

Writers born before December 31, 1964, and who are residents of the United States may submit a synopsis and the first 5,000 words of a memoir by February 15. Submissions must be sent electronically via e-mail. There is no entry fee.

Complete guidelines and eligibility requirements can be found here.

Ten finalists will be invited to submit their complete memoir by June 15. Final manuscripts should be between 20,000 to 50,000 words in length. The winning work will also be excerpted in AARP The Magazine and will be featured on the Huffington Post website.

Judges will include editors from each sponsor, including the Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington and Huff/Post 50 editor at large Rita Wilson, a top editor from Simon & Schuster, and AARP editorial director Myrna Blyth. “We’re searching for the next great memoir,” says Blyth. “We want to find a gifted writer who can tell a remarkable story of his or her life. We believe this memoir contest could really be the chance of a lifetime.”

The winner will be announced in September. To receive a list of contest results, entrants may send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to AARP & Huff/Post 50 Memoir Contest Winner’s List Request, 601 E Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20049.

The Poetry Society of America (PSA) has announced that poet Gerald Stern will receive the 2014 Frost Medal, the organization’s most prestigious award, given annually for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.

The son of immigrants from Poland and Ukraine, Gerald Stern was born in 1925 in Pittsburgh. He is the author of eighteen books of poetry, including most recently In Beauty Bright (Norton, 2012), as well as two chapbooks and four essay collections. His collection This Time: New and Selected Poems, received the National Book Award in 1998, and in 2000 he was appointed the first poet laureate of New Jersey. Among numerous other accolades, he has also received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He studied at the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University, and has taught literature and creative writing at Temple University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Drew University, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.

Stern will be honored, along with the recipients of PSA’s annual Shelley Award, Chapbook Fellowships, and a number of other annual poetry awards, at a ceremony on April 9 in New York City. Admission is free and open to the public.

Previous Frost Medal winners have included Robert Bly, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Marianne Moore, Marilyn Nelson, Charles Simic, and Wallace Stevens.

In the video below, Gerald Stern reads his poem “The Dancing” for Public Television’s Poetry Everywhere series.

In an effort to celebrate great books of long ago that were overlooked by major American literary prizes such as the National Book Awards and the Pulitzer Prizes, online literary magazine Bookslut has launched its own new award.

The Daphnes will posthumously honor books published decades ago, starting with the year 1963, in order to “right the wrongs of the 1964 National Book Awards," editor Jessa Crispin writes on the Bookslut blog. “If you look back at the books that won the Pulitzer or the National Book Award, it is always the wrong book. It takes decades for the reader to catch up to a genius book, it takes years away from hype, publicity teams, and favoritism to see that some books just aren’t that good.”

The Bookslut team has begun compiling nominations of some of the best books published in 1963—very few of which even made the NBA shortlist—which in fiction included The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, V by Thomas Pynchon, and Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, among others (John Updike's The Centaur took the fiction prize that year). Notable nonfiction works of the year included Fire Next Time by James Baldwin and Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt (the award went to a biography of John Keats); and while a John Crowe Ransome anthology took the prize in poetry, other 1963 collections included 73 Poems by E. E. Cummings, Reality Sandwiches by Allen Ginsburg, Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law by Adrienne Rich, and All My Pretty Ones by Anne Sexton.

The editors are currently seeking more nominees for the best books of 1963, in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s books. Nominations can be sent via e-mail to Jessa Crispin.

A panel of judges in each category, comprised of writers chosen by the editors, will read each nominated book and vote on the winner.

Stay tuned to the Bookslut blog for more updates about the award, and in the meantime check out an interview with Crispin by Dustin Kurtz of independent publisher Melville House.

Submissions are currently open for the annual Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Held this year in affiliation with Fence Magazine, the prizes in each category include an all-expenses-paid trip to attend one of SLS’s writing programs in Kenya, Lithuania, or Montreal. The deadline is February 28.

The winners in poetry and fiction will have the choice of attending a two-week program in Vilnius, Lithuania, from July 13–26, or in Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya, in December, and will have their work published in Fence Magazine. The winner in nonfiction will have the choice of attending either of the two-week programs or the annual SLS workshop in Montreal from March 27–30. The programs include writing workshops, seminars, readings, walking tours, and other cultural events. Each prize includes airfare, tuition, and housing.

Second-place winners in poetry and fiction will receive a full tuition waiver for the two-week program of their choice; third-place winners will receive a 50 percent tuition discount. All qualifying entries will automatically be considered for a variety of additional prizes sponsored by SLS. All entrants will also receive a yearlong subscription to Fence Magazine.

Dorothea Lasky will judge in poetry, Aimee Bender will judge in fiction, and Phillip Lopate will judge in nonfiction.

Submit up to three poems, a short story or novel excerpt of up to twenty pages, or a work of creative nonfiction of up to twenty pages, with an $18 entry fee, by February 28. Submissions can be sent via e-mail or by postal mail to Summer Literary Seminars, Unified Literary Contest, English Department, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8 Canada.

Visit the SLS website for more information about the programs and complete contest guidelines.

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