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G&A: The Contest Blog

Fiction writer Claire Vaye Watkins has been named the winner of the 2013 Dylan Thomas Prize. She receives the £30,000 (approximately $48,000) award for Battleborn, her debut short story collection.

The international prize is awarded annually for a book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction or a play in English by a writer under the age of thirty.

Watkins, twenty-nine, is the second American author in a row to receive the prize, following novelist Maggie Shipstead’s win in 2012. Watkins received the award during a ceremony in Swansea, Wales, late last week. In addition to the prize money, Watkins was presented with a bronze cast of a young Dylan Thomas. The shortlist included two poets and five prose writers from around the world.

Battleborn, published by Riverhead Books in the United States and by Granta Books in the UK, addresses the myth of the American West. Watkins, who was born in California and raised in Nevada near the Death Valley, has won a number of awards for the book, including the annual Story Prize.

Chair of judges Peter Florence said, “Claire Vaye Watkins has some of Dylan Thomas’s extraordinary skill in the short story form of giving you a perfect vision of a complete world and that’s extraordinarily rare.”

The prize is yet another nod to the form of the short story, following Alice Munro’s win of the Nobel Prize last month.

Founded in 2006, the Dylan Thomas Prize celebrates the legacy of Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas, who is known for writing some of his best work in his twenties.

The New York City–based Academy of American Poets has extended the deadline for its annual Walt Whitman Award until December 1. The award includes a cash prize of $5,000 and publication for a first book of poetry.

The winning work will be published by Louisiana State University Press, and will be distributed to thousands of Academy members. In addition, the winner will receive a one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center, and will be invited to read at the annual Poets Forum in New York City next fall. Previous winners have also been profiled in American Poet, the Academy's biannual magazine, which is sent to all of the organization’s 8,500 members.

Original manuscripts in English written by current United States citizens who have not yet published a full-length collection are eligible. Individual poems may have been previously published in periodicals or limited-edition chapbooks. Visit the Academy of American Poets website for complete guidelines.

Using the online submission manager, poets may submit a collection between 50 and 100 pages with a $30 entry fee by December 1. Rae Armantrout will judge.

In addition to its writing awards, the Academy of American Poets, founded in 1934, administers a variety of programs, including National Poetry Month, celebrated nationwide in April each year; numerous events and readings; free online educational resources; and an extensive audio archive of over 700 recordings dating back to the 1960s.

Chris Hosea of Brooklyn, New York, won the 2013 prize for his collection Put Your Hands In. Minnesota poet Matt Rasmussen, who won the 2012 award for his collection Black Aperture, has since been shortlisted for the National Book Award in poetry. Listen to Rasmussen read the poem "After Suicide" from his winning collection.

Poet and fiction writer Mia Couto of Mozambique has won the 2014 Neustadt Prize for Literature. The $50,000 prize is given internationally for lifetime achievement.

Couto, 58, is the first Mozambican author to be nominated for and to win the prize. His books include the novels Sleepwalking Land and The Last Flight of the Flamingo and a short story collection, Voices Made Night. His works have been published in more than twenty languages.

Italo-Ethiopian author Gabriella Ghermandi, who nominated Couto for the prize, said, “He is an author who addresses not just his country but the entire world, all human beings.”

Sponsored by the University of Oklahoma; World Literature Today, the university’s magazine of international literature and culture; and the Neustadt family, the international prize is awarded to a poet, fiction writer, or playwright. Couto was chosen by a jury of nine international authors.

Established in 1969, the award is given every two years. Previous winners include Elizabeth Bishop, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Alice Munro, Octavio Paz, Orhan Pamuk, and Mo Yan.

Couto is the twenty-third laureate of the Neustadt Prize and will accept the award at the University of Oklahoma during the Fall 2014 Neustadt Festival.

Submissions are currently open for the annual Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Awards. The prizes are given to published poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers of African descent.

To apply, publishers and may submit four copies of books published in the United States in 2013 with a $30 entry fee by November 22. Submissions must be mailed to Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, 12138 Central Avenue Suite 953, Bowie, MD 20721. Books of poetry, fiction (including novels, novellas, and short story collections) creative nonfiction (including memoirs and essay collections), and general nonfiction are eligible.

Eligible writers must be of African descent from any area of the diaspora. Visit the website for complete submission and eligibility guidelines.

The winners of the 2012 prize were announced last week at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The prize in poetry was awarded posthumously to the late Lucille Clifton for The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 (BOA Editions). Esi Edugyan won in fiction for her novel Half-Blood Blues (Picador); Fredrick C. Harris won in nonfiction for The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and Rise and Decline of Black Politics (Oxford University Press).

Natasha Trethewey, the United States Poet Laureate and author most recently of the collection Thrall, was also honored at the ceremony, along with nonfiction writers Wil Haygood and Isabel Wilkerson.

Founded in 1990 and named in honor of authors Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, the Hurston/Wright Foundation seeks to “discover, educate, mentor, and develop African American writers.”

In the video below, poets gathered in New York City earlier this year for Blessing the Boats: A Tribute to Lucille Clifton, a celebration of the late poet's life and work on the occasion of the publication of Collected Poems.

Author Bennett Sims has been selected to receive the 2014 Bard Fiction Prize. Given annually to an emerging writer for a book of innovative fiction, the prize includes a $30,000 cash award and an appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College for one semester.

Sims receives the award for his debut novel, A Questionable Shape, published by Two Dollar Radio this past May. He will complete his residency during the spring 2014 semester, during which time he will continue his writing, meet with students, and give a public reading.

Bennett Sims
Photo credit: Carmen Machado

“The judges delight in welcoming to the literary community of Bard a writer whose first novel represents a powerful (and very readable) fusion of genres—a story about the vagaries of human perception which is also a wild romp of zombies biting through a curiously lyrical apocalypse,” the Bard Fiction Prize committee wrote in a press release. “The author was one of the last students of David Foster Wallace, who was the first reader of the first version of this haunting novel of love and estrangement.”

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sims has studied at Pomona College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in A Public Space, Conjunctions, Electric Literature, Tin House, and Zoetrope: All-Story.

Established in 2001, the Bard Fiction Prize is given to writers under the age of forty. Last year’s prize was awarded to Brian Conn for his experimental novel, The Fixed Stars (Fiction Collective 2, 2010).

To apply for the 2015 prize, fiction writers may submit a curriculum vitae, a cover letter explaining the project they plan to work on while at Bard, and three copies of a published book of fiction by July 15, 2014. Visit the website for more information.

The Whiting Writers’ Awards, given annually by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation to ten emerging writers who show “exceptional talent and promise in early career,” were announced on Monday. Each writer will receive the $50,000. 

The 2013 winners are Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, a fiction and nonfiction writer whose novella, The Man Who Danced with Dolls, was published in 2012 by Madras Press; Amanda Coplin, a fiction writer whose first novel, The Orchardist, was published by HarperCollins in 2012; Jennifer duBois, a fiction writer whose debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was published by Dial Press in 2012, and whose newest novel, Cartwheel, was published in September by Random House; Virginia Grise, the author of several plays including Making Myth; Ishion Hutchinson, a poet whose debut collection, Far District, was published by Peepal Tree Press Limited in 2010; Morgan Meis, a nonfiction writer whose collection of essays, Ruins, was published by Fallen Bros Press in 2012; C. E. Morgan, a fiction writer whose first novel, All the Living, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2009; Rowan Ricardo Phillips, a poet whose first collection, The Ground, was published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in 2012; Clifford Thompson, a fiction and nonfiction writer whose essay collection, Love for Sale, was published this year by Autumn House Press; and Stephanie Powell Watts, a fiction writer whose debut story collection, We Are Taking Only What We Need, was published in 2012 by BkMk Press. 

The Whiting Awards honor works in the categories of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and plays, and are intended to identify writers “who have yet to make their mark on the literary culture.'’

Since 1985, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Writing Foundation has given over $6 million to 290 writers. Visit the website to learn more about this year's winners.

The National Book Foundation announced the finalists for its annual National Book Awards this week. The selection of finalists follows last month’s longlist announcement, the first time in the foundation’s sixty-four-year history that such a list has been published.

The finalists in fiction are Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (Scribner); Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Knopf); James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead); Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (Penguin); and George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House).

The finalists in poetry are Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion (Knopf); Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke (Penguin); Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture (Louisiana State University Press); and Mary Szybist, Incarnadine (Graywolf Press).

The finalists in nonfiction are Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Knopf); Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (Norton); and Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief (Knopf).

Also new from the foundation is The Contenders: Excerpts from the 2013 National Book Award Finalists, a free National Book Award eBook series available for download from the foundation’s website in a variety of formats.

Visit the website to read more about the finalists, and to see the selections in the category of young people’s literature. Selections in each of the four categories were made by a panel of judges comprised of five writers and literary professionals.

The winners will be announced at the sixty-fourth annual National Book Awards Benefit Dinner and Ceremony in New York City on November 20, which will be streamed live on the Foundation’s website. Winners will receive $10,000; all finalists will receive $1,000.

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