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G&A: The Contest Blog

The Yale University Library announced today that Nathaniel Mackey has won the 2015 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. The biennial prize of $150,000 is awarded to an American poet for the best book of poetry published during the previous two years, or for lifetime achievement in poetry.

The judging committee, which consisted of Al Filreis, Tracy K. Smith, and Elizabeth Willis, said of Mackey’s achievements: “Mackey’s decades-long serial work—Songs of the Andoumboulou and Mu—constitutes one of the most important poetic achievements of our time. Outer Pradesh—jazz-inflicted, outward-riding, passionately smart, open, and wise—beautifully continues this ongoing project.”

Mackey is the author of numerous books of prose, critical essays, and over a dozen poetry collections, including the National Book Award­–winning Splay Anthem (New Directions, 2006), Nod House (New Directions, 2011), and most recently Outer Pradesh (Anomalous, 2014). In May 2014, Mackey was awarded the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lily Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. Other awards and honors include the Whiting Writer’s Award, a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Stephen Henderson Award from the African American Literature and Culture Society. Mackey has also served as chancellor for the Academy of American Poets. He teaches at Duke University.

Recent winners of the Bollingen Prize include Louise Glück, Gary Snyder, Adrienne Rich, Susan Howe, and Charles Wright. Established in 1948 by Paul Mellon, the prize is administered by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and has honored major American poets such as Ezra Pound, E.E. Cummings, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens.

You can read a selection from Mackey’s collection Outer Pradesh at the Beinecke Library website.

Photo: Nathaniel Mackey (credit Nina Subin/New Directions)

Submissions are currently open for the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Literary Awards. The annual prize is given for a short story written by a U.S. writer. The winner will receive $3,500 and possible publication in the Chicago Tribune’s weekly literary supplement, Printers Row Journal. Four finalists will each receive $1,000, and five runners-up will each receive $500.

Using the online submission system, submit a story of up to 8,000 words by Saturday, January 31. There is no entry fee. A panel of fiction writers and literary professionals will judge; the winners will be announced by June 1.

Ben Hoffman won the 2014 prize for his story “This Will All Be Over Soon,” about a man coping with the kidnapping of his wife. After four rounds of judging, judges Yiyun Li, Peter Orner, and Roxana Robinson selected Hoffman’s story from twenty-four hundred entries, almost double the number of entries in 2013. Other recent winners include Erika Schmidt, Jeremy T. Wilson, and Billy Lombardo.

Established in 1981 by Chicago Magazine and administered by the Chicago Tribune since 1986, the Nelson Algren Short Story Award has helped launch the careers of writers such as Stuart Dybek, Kim Edwards, and Louise Erdrich. The prize is named after American fiction writer Nelson Algren (1909–1981), who wrote several novels including The Man With the Golden Arm (1949) and A Walk on the Wild Side (1956).

Photo: Nelson Algren (credit Stephen Deutch/Chicago Tribune)

The finalists for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced yesterday. Poet Claudia Rankine, novelist Marilynne Robinson, and memoirist Lacy M. Johnson are among the thirty finalists for the awards, which are given in six categories: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, and criticism.

Rankine’s latest poetry collection, Citizen: An American Lyric, was nominated in both poetry and criticism, the first time in the awards’ forty-year history that a book has received nominations in two categories. “Citizen is a book of prose poetry whose inventive composition and topical content invite readers to consider different avenues toward the urgent conversation about race and politics in America,” said Rigoberto Gonzalez, chair of the NBCC poetry committee. “Rankine’s appearance on two separate categories is a testament to her book’s complexity, narrative reach and artistry.” Meanwhile, Phil Klay, whose debut short story collection, Redeployment, won the National Book Award in November, will receive the John Leonard first book prize. The award for lifetime achievement will be given to Toni Morrison.

The poetry finalists are Saeed Jones’s Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press), Willie Perdomo’s The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin Books), Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press), Christian Wiman’s Once in the West (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), and the late Jake Adam York’s Abide (Southern Illinois University Press).

The fiction finalists, all novels, are Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea (Riverhead), Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead), Rabih Alameddine’s An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press), Marilynne Robinson’s Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and Lily King’s Euphoria (Atlantic Monthly Press).

The finalists in autobiography are Blake Bailey’s The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait (Norton), Roz Chast’s graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury), Lacy M. Johnson’s The Other Side (Tin House), Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure (Random House), and Meline Toumani’s There Was and There Was Not (Metropolitan Books)

For a full list of finalists in each category, visit the National Book Critics Circle website.

The awards, founded in 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel and considered among the country's most prestigious literary honors, are the only prizes of their kind, selected by a jury of working critics and book-review editors. The 2014 winners will be presented at a ceremony on March 12 at the New School in New York City that is free and open to the public. 

Photo: Claudia Rankine (credit Elizabeth Weinberg/New York Times)

The finalists have been announced for the 2014 Story Prize. The annual award is given for a book of short fiction published in the previous year, and carries with it a $20,000 purse.

The three finalists are The Other Language (Pantheon) by Francesca Marciano, Thunderstruck (The Dial Press) by Elizabeth McCracken, and Bark (Knopf) by Lorrie Moore. The finalists were chosen from among 129 books published by 85 different publishers or imprints in 2014, marking a record number of submissions for the prize, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

For details on this year's finalists and their books, visit the Story Prize website. George Saunders won last year's prize for his collection Tenth of December. This is the first year since the award's inception, in 2004, that all three finalists have been women.

Founder Julie Lindsey and director Larry Dark selected the finalists. This year’s final judges—Boulder, Colorado–based bookseller Arsen Kashkashian, Center for Fiction director Noreen Tomassi, and author Laura van den Berg—will select the winner. The two runners-up will each receive $5,000.

The 2014 winner will be announced at an annual ceremony at the New School in New York City on March 4. The event is open to the public; tickets can be purchased at the New School box office or by phone at 212-229-5488.

Meanwhile, Kyle Minor’s second collection, Praying Drunk (Sarabande Books), was named the winner of the third annual Story Prize Spotlight Award, a $1,000 prize given for a short story collection worthy of additional attention. Dark and Lindsey annually select the Spotlight Award winner from among the regular pool of Story Prize entries. Listen to Minor read from Praying Drunk as part of Poets & Writers Magazine’s Page One podcast series.

Photos above, left to right: Francesca Marciano (credit Laura Sciacovelli), Elizabeth McCracken (credit Edward Carey), and Lorrie Moore (credit Zane Williams).

The Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition, sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network, is currently open for submissions. The annual prize is given for a work of “lasting nonfiction that is outside the realm of conventional journalism and has relevance to North Carolinians.” The winner will receive $1,000.

Eligible forms include personal essays, reviews, travel articles, profiles or interviews, place or history pieces, and cultural criticism. Writers who are legal residents of North Carolina or members of the North Carolina Writers’ Network are eligible to enter. The winning essay will be considered for publication in Southern Cultures magazine.

Writers may submit two copies of an essay of up to 2,000 words with a $12 entry fee ($10 for NCWN members) via postal mail or using the online submission system by January 17. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Jason Frye, a travel, culinary, and culture writer from Wilmington, will serve as the final judge.

Laura Herbst of Chapel Hill won the inaugural prize in 2014 for her essay “Breast Cancer: A Love Story.” Jason Hess of Wilmington won the second-place prize for his essay “The Adopted Person” and Joanna Catherine Scott of Chapel Hill won the third-place prize for her essay “How I Went to Adult Prison as a Child.”

The award is named in honor of Rose Post, who worked for the Salisbury Post for fifty-six years as a reporter, features writer, and columnist. She won numerous state and national awards for her writing throughout her career, including three O. Henry Awards and the 1994 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ Award. The NCWN’s Rose Post Prize is made possible through a grant from the Post family.

At their annual benefit and awards dinner held last night in New York City, the Center for Fiction announced Tiphanie Yanique as the winner of the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. Yanique, who won for her debut novel, Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead Books, 2014), will receive $10,000. The annual prize is given for a debut novel published in the previous year.

Yanique was chosen from a shortlist of seven debut novelists. The shortlisted finalists, who each received $1,000, were Rene Denfeld for The Enchanted (Harper), Smith Henderson for Fourth of July Creek (Ecco), Josh Weil for The Great Glass Sea (Grove Press), Vanessa Manko for The Invention of Exile (The Penguin Press), Ted Thompson for The Land of Steady Habits (Little, Brown), and Matthew Thomas for We Are Not Ourselves (Simon & Schuster). In July the Center for Fiction announced the longlist for the prize, which included twenty-six novelists. David Gilbert, Tayari Jones, and Margaret Wrinkle judged.

Yanique is the author of a short story collection, How to Escape From a Leper Colony (Graywolf Press, 2010), and a picture book, I Am the Virgin Islands (Little Bell Caribbean, 2012). Land of Love and Drowning tells the story of two sisters and their half-brother orphaned after their parents die in a shipwreck. The novel takes place during the early 1900s in the Virgin Islands. In a video from our Poets & Writers Live event in New York City last June, Yanique—along with four other authors— discusses her work, her process, and what inspires her to write.

Established in 2006, the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize honors reporter and writer Ray Flaherty, the father of late writer Nancy Dunnan. Dunnan, who sponsored the award, passed away in August. Previous winners of the prize include Junot Díaz, Ben Fountain, Hannah Tinti, and Margaret Wrinkle.

Photo Credit: Debbie Grossman

After hosting its first writing contest last spring, the literary travel magazine Nowhere is currently accepting submissions to its inaugural Fall Travel Writing Contest. Both fiction and nonfiction entries are eligible. The winner will receive $1,000 and publication.

The Nowhere editors are “looking for young, old, novice and veteran voices to send us stories that possess a powerful sense of place.” Using the online submission system, writers may submit stories and essays between 800 and 5,000 words with a $15 entry fee by January 1. Works that have been previously published are eligible, but must not have been chosen as a contest winner. Lorin Stein, the editor of the Paris Review, will judge.

Founded by travel journalist Porter Fox, Nowhere magazine began as a web zine in 2009 and relaunched as a digital quarterly in 2013. “We are a magazine about the world,” the editors write. “The Nowhere staff values the ties that travel and cultural exchange foster….Our writers—and readers—are the kind of people who still look out a plane window in awe. We don’t just see places, we see people, culture, diversity and commonality. Travel to us—like any good pastime—is a game of reinvention, of who you are and how you interact with your world.”

Visit the Nowhere website to learn more about the magazine, and to read the current issue. Or check out the video below.

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