»

| Give a Gift |

  • Digital Edition

G&A: The Contest Blog

PEN American Center has announced the shortlist for its annual literary awards, which this year will give nearly $150,000 in prize money to established and emerging writers and translators. The awards are given for works of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, translation, and children’s books.

“The PEN Literary Awards bring together writers, editors, and members of the literary community to celebrate the ultimate fruit of free expression: great literature,” said PEN Executive Director, Suzanne Nossel. “These shortlists represent a remarkable array of diverse talents.” In May, PEN issued the first longlist for the awards, in an effort to bring greater attention to the books submitted for the prizes.

The final winners will be announced on September 29 in New York City at the PEN Awards Ceremony, cosponsored by the New School.

On Wednesday night, PEN also announced Ron Childress as the winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. The biennial prize, founded and funded by novelist Barbara Kingsolver, is given for an unpublished novel by an author whose work “addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships.” Childress will receive $25,000, and his novel And West Is West will be published by Algonquin Books in Fall 2015. Terry McMillan, Nancy Peral, and Kathy Pories judged.

Established in 1922, the New York City–based PEN American Center works to “ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literature of others.” PEN American Center has administered its Literary Awards for almost 50 years.

Below is a full list of finalists in each category:

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2013—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), Anthony Marra
Brief Encounters With the Enemy
(The Dial Press), Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
Everybody’s Irish
(FiveChapters Books), Ian Stansel
Godforsaken Idaho
(Little A/New Harvest), Shawn Vestal
The People in the Trees
(Doubleday), Hanya Yanagihara

Judges: Charles Bock, Jonathan Dee, Fiona Maazel, and Karen Shepard

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2013 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem the essay form imparts to literature.

Forty-One False Starts (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Janet Malcolm
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls
(Little, Brown and Company), David Sedaris
The Faraway Nearby
(Viking Adult), Rebecca Solnit
Critical Mass
(Doubleday), James Wolcott

Judges: Geoff Dyer, Stanley Fish, Ariel Levy, and Cheryl Strayed

PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences published in 2013.

The End of Night (Little, Brown and Company), Paul Bogard
Five Days at Memorial
(Crown), Sheri Fink
High Price
(Harper), Carl Hart
Surfaces and Essences
(Basic Books), Douglas Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander
Wild Ones
(Penguin Press), Jon Mooallem

Judges: Akiko Busch, Rivka Galchen, and Eileen Pollack

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2013.

Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon Press), Kwame Dawes
Leaving Tulsa
(University of Arizona Press), Jennifer Elise Foerster
domina Un/blued
(Tupelo Press), Ruth Ellen Kocher
Cowboys and East Indians
(FiveChapters Books), Nina McConigley
Ghana Must Go
(Penguin Press), Taiye Selasi

Judges: Catherine Chung, Randa Jarrar, and Monica Youn

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2013.

Lawrence in Arabia (Doubleday), Scott Anderson
Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Linda Leavell
Margaret Fuller
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Megan Marshall
American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Deborah Solomon
A Life of Barbara Stanwyck
(Simon & Schuster), Victoria Wilson

Judges: James Atlas, Lisa Cohen, and Wendy Gimbel

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2013.

Collision Low Crossers (Little, Brown and Company), Nicholas Dawidoff
The Sports Gene
(Current), David Epstein
League of Denial
(Crown Archetype), Mark Fainaru-Wada & Steve Fainaru
The Emerald Mile
(Scribner), Kevin Fedarko
Their Life’s Work
(Simon & Schuster), Gary M. Pomerantz

Judges: Joel Drucker, Chad Harbach, and Jackie MacMullan

PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing ($5,000): To a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2013.

Train (Orchard Books), Elisha Cooper
Tea Party Rules
(Viking), Ame Dyckman
The King of Little Things
(Peachtree Publishers), Bil Lepp
Crabtree
(McSweeney’s McMullens), Jon & Tucker Nichols

Judges: Mac Barnett, Ted Lewin, and Elizabeth Winthrop

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2013.

Even Now: Poems by Hugo Claus (Archipelago), David Colmer
Diaries of Exile
by Yannis Ritsos (Archipelago), Karen Emmerich & Edmund Keeley
Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson
by Yosa Buson (Copper Canyon Press), Takako Lento & W.S. Merwin
Paul Klee’s Boat
by Anzhelina Polonskaya (Zephyr Press), Andrew Wachtel
Cut These Words Into My Stone: Ancient Greek Epitaphs
(Johns Hopkins University Press), Michael Wolfe

Judge: Kimiko Hahn

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2013.

An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman (New York Review Books), Elizabeth & Robert Chandler
Transit
by Anna Seghers (New York Review Books), Margot Bettauer Dembo
The African Shore
by Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Yale University Press), Jeffrey Gray
The Emperor’s Tomb
by Joseph Roth (New Directions), Michael Hofmann
Autobiography of a Corpse
by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (New York Review Books), Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov

Judges: Ann Goldstein, Becka McKay, and Katherine Silver

Photo: Ron Childress, credit PEN American Center

For the tenth and final installment of this summer's Winners on Winning series, we spoke with Jessica Hollander, who won the 2013 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Short Fiction for her debut story collection, In These Times the Home is a Tired Place. The annual prize includes $1,000 and publication by the University of North Texas Press. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Hollander received her MFA from the University of Alabama, where she currently teaches English, composition, and creative writing.

How has winning this award impacted your career?
The most exciting part about winning has been engaging with the larger writing community. Getting reviews and interviews and being invited to participate in readings and events is invigorating and has certainly gotten my writing more exposure. I’ve also received a handful of contacts from agents and editors, and I recently signed with an agent.

Has winning this award, or previous awards, changed the way you approach your work?
I think winning the award has reinvigorated my enthusiasm to experiment with short stories. I took risks in structure and language in this collection, and winning the award has encouraged me to continue to do so. There’s such a range of publishing opportunities for collections, so many small and university presses with varying aesthetics, so it’s not necessary to think about a mainstream market. I like taking risks from story to story and focusing on what’s exciting me about the writing.

Have you ever entered a contest that you didn't win?
I’ve entered tons of contests that I didn’t win. In These Times the Home is a Tired Place had been turned down by several contests and presses before winning the Katherine Anne Porter Prize. There are so many different aesthetics out there, so many different readers and judges, and there’s no way to predict who might love your work. It’s a lesson I learned when submitting to literary journals, when it would sometimes take a dozen tries before placing a piece. Not to mention I’ve disliked many books that received praise by others, and I’ve loved books that others have hated. Of course rejections still hurt enough that it can be hard to write for a day or two. I try to accept that disappointment is inevitable.

What advice would you offer to writers thinking of submitting to writing contests?
Don’t count on anything in this writing life, but throw your name in the hat as much as you can afford. I suggest first having your writing workshopped by experienced writers you trust, and it doesn’t hurt to get stories or novel excerpts published before sending full books to contests. These things can help you weather rejections better. Because the writing world is insanely competitive. My whole experience being a writer, from applying to graduate schools, getting published in magazines, winning contests, and now seeking tenure-track employment, has taught me to not be too emotionally invested in the outcome of anything. Getting published or winning a contest is the second most satisfying thing that can happen to a writer, but the most satisfying has to be writing itself.

To read more from winners, check out the previous weekly installments of our Winners on Winning series.

Photo: Jessica Hollander, credit Richard Mocarski.

Submissions are currently open for the second annual Prada Feltrinelli Prize, cosponsored by the Italian fashion house Prada and the Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore. The winner or winners will each receive €5,000 (approximately $6,783) and publication in Prada Journal, a digital anthology distributed through the Prada website. The annual award is given for a short story.

Using the online submission system, submit a story of 10 to 20 pages in any language by June 24. There is no entry fee. The story should focus on the question, “What are the signs of a changing world? And what situations can we envision? Taking a good look at the details might give us the answer.” Representatives from Prada and Feltrinelli Editore, along with an international jury, will judge the contest. The winner will be announced by December 31, and the full terms and conditions can be read on the Prada website.

The inaugural winners of the prize were Mattia Conti of Molteno, Italy; Leisl Egan of Melbourne, Australia; Angel Mario Fernández of Soraluze, Spain; Sarah Harris Wallman of New Haven, Connecticut; and Peng Yang of Beijing, China. They each received €5,000, and were honored at an event at the Prada Epicenter in New York City in October 2013. At the event, excerpts of their stories were read aloud by writers and actors Jonathan Ames, Zoe Kazan, Anthony Mackie, Jay McInerney, and Gary Shteyngart. Over 1,300 entries in over 30 languages were submitted for the 2013 prize. The 2013 Prada Journal can be downloaded from the Prada website and read in both the original language and in English. Of the five winning entries, two were written in English, one in Italian, one in Spanish, and one in Mandarin Chinese.

Four of the five inaugural winners, from left to right: Sarah Harris Wallman, Peng Yang, Mattia Conti, Leisl Egan.

Photo credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images North America

For the ninth installment of our Winners on Winning series, we spoke with Jacob Newberry, who won the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest in nonfiction for his essay What You Will Do. The prize, given annually in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, includes $1,000 and publication in Ploughshares. Newberry is originally from the Mississippi coast, and is a PhD student in creative writing, with an emphasis in poetry, at Florida State University.

Has winning this award, or previous awards, changed the way you approach your work?
The awards I've won, and this one in particular, have given me a very tangible validation for my writing. I think we can all understand how nice this might feel when it's never happened, but it's more than a nice feeling: It's an important form of motivation. There were many times when I was just starting to write when I'd convince myself that I wasn't any good at it at all. In the first workshop I ever took, which was when I was working on an MA (not in creative writing), most of the people in the class were workshop pros and were actually quite hostile toward me. They took a lot of opportunities not just to tear down the work (which needed tearing down) but to really tear down my ambition altogether. At the time, I was new enough to writing that it was pretty damaging. The effect was that I stopped believing in my skills as a writer for a while, though I never stopped writing.

Once I started winning awards and seeing things in print, though, I stopped doubting and fearing my ambition. And if that self-doubt ever creeps up on me again, I can remember that I had the same feeling of worry and panic and confusion when I was writing the pieces that won these awards, and so I should spend the energy on the writing and not on unfounded panic. 

The bottom line is that winning hasn't changed the way I write. If it had, I suspect it would be only for the worse. As I said, it's really been a way of mitigating the self-doubt that all writers experience when we're not writing. So when I step away from the page, that's when the self-sabotage might begin. The difference now is that I just don't let it begin at all. 

Have you ever entered a contest that you didn't win?
I've entered plenty of contests that I didn't win. Not winning those contests actually gave me a better sense of perspective once I did start winning. All awards are about quality writing to a large extent, of course, but there's also a really unknowable percentage of it that's just chance. Who are the first readers of your submission, and what if their taste is simply different from yours (or the final judge's)? What effect does submitting late or early or right in the middle have on the time and attention given to your piece? What if the editor tells you she absolutely loves your poem about Jerusalem, but she just published some Jerusalem poems last issue, and now it's too soon to revisit that topic? (The last one happened to me.) 

What advice would you offer to writers thinking of submitting to writing contests?
Save your very best work and submit it only to contests that you'd be proud to win or place in. If winning that contest would be an important enough achievement for you and the contest requires a fee, then pay it. Otherwise, never pay for a contest that doesn't give you a subscription in return. 

For more Winners on Winning, read the current issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, and check back next Wednesday for a new installment.

Poets Anne Carson and Brenda Hillman have won the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prizes, given annually since 2000 for books of poetry published in, or translated into, English in the previous year and submitted from anywhere in the world. They each received $65,000 Canadian (approximately $60,000).

Carson, a poet, essayist, and translator who was born in Canada and currently teaches at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, won the Canadian prize for her most recent collection, Red Doc> (Knopf). Hillman, who serves as a professor and poet-in-residence at St. Mary’s College in Morago, California, and is the author of eight previous collections, won the International Prize for her collection Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (Wesleyan University Press).

The announcement was made late last week at an annual awards ceremony in Toronto. Scott Griffin, the founder of the prize, and trustees Carolyn Forché, Robert Hass, Robin Robertson, Karen Solie, Colm Tóibín, and David Young hosted the event.

The judges, who are selected each year by the prize trustees, were for 2014 Robert Bringhurst, Jo Shapcott, and C. D. Wright. They each read 542 books of poetry, submitted from forty different countries, including twenty-four translations.

The 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist featured collections by four international and three Canadian poets. The finalists were Rachael Boast’s Pilgrim’s Flower (Picador), Carl Phillips’s Silverchest (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Mira Rosenthal’s translation from the Polish of Colonies by Tomasz Rózycki (Zephyr Press), Sue Goyette’s Ocean (Gaspereau Press), and Anne Michaels’s Correspondences (McClelland & Stewart). Each finalist received a $10,000 honorarium.

During the awards ceremony, Brazilian poet and writer Adélia Prado was honored with the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry's 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology: A Selection of the 2014 Shortlist, edited by Robert Bringhurst and published by House of Anansi Press, is now available at retail bookstores and online. Royalties generated from the anthologies, published annually, are donated to UNESCO's World Poetry Day.

Carson (above left), and Hillman (above right, Brett Hall Jones)

Last night at the Southbank Centre in London, Irish author Eimear McBride won the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for her debut novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. She received £30,000 (approximately $50,385). 

Established in 1996, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, formerly known as the Orange Prize, is given annually for a novel written in English by a woman and published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. The shortlisted finalists included Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for Americanah (Knopf); Hannah Kent for Burial Rites (Little, Brown); Jhumpa Lahiri for The Lowland (Knopf); Audrey Magee for The Undertaking (Atlantic Books); and Donna Tartt for The Goldfinch (Little, Brown).

The judges for this year’s prize were Mary Beard, Denise Mina, Caitlin Moran, Sophie Raworth, and chair of judges Helen Fraser, who called McBride’s winning book “an amazing and ambitious novel that impressed the judges with its inventiveness and energy. This is an extraordinary new voice—this novel will move and astonish the reader.”

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, which tells the story of a young woman struggling with sexual abuse and her brother’s brain tumor, is written in an experimental stream-of-consciousness style. McBride wrote the book in six months, and spent almost nine years trying to get the book published. It was finally picked up by the small UK-based Galley Beggar Press, which published it as their second book. The book has gone on to win the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year award and the Goldsmiths prize.

At last night’s award ceremony, McBride said of her win, “I hope it will serve as an incentive to publishers everywhere to take a look at difficult books and think again. We are all writers but we are all readers first. There is a contract between publishers and readers which must be honored, readers must not be underestimated.”

 Photo: Reuters

For the eighth installment of our Winners on Winning series, we spoke with Chris Hosea, the winner of the 2013 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets for his debut collection, Put Your Hands In. The prize, given annually to a poet who has not yet published a book, includes $5,000, publication, and a residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Hosea's winning manuscript, selected by John Ashbery, was published by Louisiana State University Press in March. Hosea received his MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and is a senior copywriter at H4B Chelsea. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

What kind of impact has winning the Whitman Award had on your career?
I'm pretty sure the Whitman Award helped me recently to land a new job, with better pay and more impressive-sounding title, in advertising. Creative distinctions, and particularly established institutional honors, are valued in such industries. 

Has winning this award, or previous awards, changed the way you approach your work?
I'm certain that contest judge John Ashbery's comparison between my poems and Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descebding a Staircase, and even more Ashbery's remarks about derision and eroticism in Put Your Hands In, will affect my writing for the rest of my life.

Have you ever entered a contest that you didn't win?
I have entered hundreds of contests and spent thousands of dollars on fees. If you don't play, you can't win. 

What advice would you offer to writers thinking of submitting to writing contests?
Sequencing is important. Give yourself at least a month to order and reorder the poems in your book. Also, contest screeners are often (though by no means always) young students who haven't read a lot of poetry before: so include some lyrical candy up front. 

For more Winners on Winning, read the current issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, and check back next Wednesday for a new installment.

Hosea: Myles Paige

<< first < previous Page: 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 next > last >>

78 - 84 of 747 results

Subscribe to P&W Magazine | Donate Now | Advertise | Sign up for E-Newsletter | Help | About Us | Contact Us | View Mobile Site

© Copyright Poets & Writers 2015. All Rights Reserved