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G&A: The Contest Blog

The National Poetry Series (NPS), the Princeton, New Jersey–based nonprofit organization that has helped publish early books by poets such as Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Marie Howe, and Terrance Hayes, may be at risk of closing.

Daniel Halpern, the NPS’s founding director, reports that because the organization has been unable to meet its annual fundraising goal, whether or not it will be able to continue programming into next year is uncertain.

Established in 1978, the National Poetry Series sponsors the publication of five poetry collections by emerging writers each year. The annual NPS literary awards program accepts unsolicited manuscript submissions through its open competition, and a panel of established poets selects five winning books to be published by participating presses. Recent judges have included John Ashbery, Nikky Finney, Campbell McGrath, D. Nurkse, D. A. Powell, Patricia Smith, and Dean Young. The NPS subsidizes the publication of each title, and pays each winning author a stipend of $1,000. Despite the tenuous state of the organization, submissions for the 2014 series are still open and will be accepted until January 1. Complete submission guidelines can be found on the NPS website.

Participating publishers have included those both large and small, including Akashic Books, Coffee House Press, Fence Books, HarperCollins Publishers, Milkweed Editions, Penguin Books, and the University of Georgia Press.

In a letter sent to supporters, Halpern says that a total of $25,000 is needed by the end of December to pay staff salaries and rent. He writes that the organization, which operates on an annual budget of less than $100,000, has been unable for several months to pay either the rent of its office or the salaries of its two employees.

Contributions to support the National Poetry Series can be sent by mail to National Poetry Series, 57 Mountain Avenue, Princeton, NJ 08540. Visit the website for more information.

The Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Award, a new prize established by the San Francisco State University–based Fourteen Hills Press, will be given for a poem with a “truly inventive spirit.” The winner will receive five hundred dollars and publication in Fourteen Hills. The deadline is January 1.

Using the online submission system, poets may submit one poem of up to ten pages in length. The winning poem will be published in the Spring 2014 issue of Fourteen Hills: The SFSU Review. Students currently enrolled at San Francisco State University are ineligible. All entries will be considered for publication. There is no entry fee.

The award was founded in honor of poet and translator Stacy Doris, who died in 2012 after a battle with cancer, and whose “inventive spirit is legendary,” the Fourteen Hills editors write. “Every book she wrote created a new poetic world with unexpected poetics.” The award will be given for a poem that posseses Doris’s “spirit of creative invention and inventive creation; engaging wit and ingenious playfulness; discovery in construction; and radical appropriations based on classical forms.” Chet Wiener will judge. 

Established in 1994, Fourteen Hills Press publishes two volumes of its literary journal each year, as well as the annual winner of the Michael Rubin Book Award, a first-book prize given each year in alternating genres. General journal submissions of poetry, fiction, and art are open until January 1.

The Fence Books Ottoline Prize—given for a poetry collection by a woman writing in English who has published at least one previous book of poetry—includes a $5,000 cash prize and publication by Fence Books. The deadline is November 30.

Using the online submission system, poets may submit a manuscript of up to eighty pages with a twenty-eight dollar entry fee. All entrants will receive a subscription to Fence Magazine.

Poet Brenda Hillman, whose most recent collection is Seasonal Works With Letters on Fire (Wesleyan Poetry Series, 2013) will judge. The winning collection will be published by Fence Books in the spring of 2015.

Established in 2001 as the Motherwell Prize (and later renamed the Alberta Prize), the recently rechristened Ottoline Prize has been awarded to poets such as Harmony Holiday, Chelsey Minnis, Ariana Reines, Sasha Steensen, and Laura Sims.  

Fence Books is a branch of Fence Magazine, a literary journal and nonprofit organization founded in 1998 by editor Rebecca Wolf and affiliated with the University at Albany and the New York State Writers Institute. The press publishes books of poetry, fiction, critical texts, and anthologies, and sponsors three other book prizes for poetry and prose.

Last night at a ceremony in New York City, James McBride received the National Book Award for his novel The Good Lord Bird, published by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, this past August.

Victoria Will/Associated Press

A surprised McBride took the stage and said that he had not prepared a speech, as he hadn’t planned on winning. Considered the underdog of the shortlist, he beat out finalists Rachel Kushner, for her novel The Flamethrowers; Jhumpa Lahiri, for her novel The Lowland; Thomas Pynchon, for his novel Bleeding Edge; and George Saunders, for his short story collection Tenth of December. Charles Baxter, Gish Jen, Charles McGrath, Rick Simonson, and René Steinke judged.

McBride, the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir The Color of Water and the novels Miracle at St. Anna and Song Yet Sung, said he wrote his latest novel, about the journey of a young slave in the 1850s, amidst the death of his mother and the dissolution of his marriage.

The poetry award went to Mary Szybist for her collection Incarnadine, published by Graywolf Press. George Packer won in nonfiction for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The award in young people’s literature went to Cynthia Kadohata for The Thing About Luck.

Maya Angelou received the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, a prize that was presented by Toni Morrison. E. L. Doctorow received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. 

The winners of the National Book Award each received $10,000. The awards are given annually by the National Book Foundation for works of literature published in the previous year.

The National Book Foundation will kick off National Book Awards Week tonight in Brooklyn, New York, with its annual 5 Under 35 celebration, during which five emerging fiction writers under the age of thirty-five will be honored for their work.

The 2013 5 Under 35 honorees are: Molly AntopolThe UnAmericans (Norton, 2014), selected by Jesmyn Ward; NoViolet BulawayoWe Need New Names (Reagan Arthur Books, 2013), selected by Junot Díaz; Amanda Coplin,The Orchardist (Harper, 2012), selected by Louise Erdrich, the 2012 National Book Award winner in fictionDaisy HildyardHunters in the Snow, (Jonathan Cape, 2013), selected by Kevin Powers; and Merritt TierceLove Me Back (Doubleday, 2014), selected by Ben Fountain.

Carrie Brownstein, a musician and the co-creator, writer, and star of Portlandia, will host the event. Author Colson Whitehead will DJ, and Fiona Maazel, a 2008 5 Under 35 honoree and author most recently of the novel Woke Up Lonely (Graywolf Press) will moderate a conversation with the writers.

Established in 2006, the 5 Under 35 five program honors five young fiction writers each year, who are selected by past National Book Award winners and finalists. The program has recognized emerging writers such as Téa Obreht, Karen Russell, and Justin Torres. Each of the winning authors receives a cash prize of $1,000. For the first time in the program’s history, the selected authors are all women.

The annual National Book Awards ceremony—during which the winners of the 2013 National Book Awards in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and young people’s literature will be announced­—takes place this Wednesday night in New York City. For live coverage of tonight’s 5 Under 35 celebration follow Prize Reporter on Twitter, and stay tuned to the G&A Blog for continued coverage of National Book Awards Week.

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.

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