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G&A: The Contest Blog

The Durham, North Carolina–based Carolina Wren Press has launched the new Lee Smith Novel Prize, which will include $1,000 and publication for a novel by a Southern writer, or about the American South. The deadline is October 15.

Novels by an author originally from, currently living in, or writing about the South are eligible. Original and previously unpublished works of at least 50,000 words, written in English, may be submitted via Submittable by October 15.

The prize was established in honor of award-winning Southern writer Lee Smith, the author of ten novels and four story collections, whose forthcoming novel, Guests on Earth, will be published in October by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

“It is our hope to find and promote novelists from the South and their novels,” the Carolina Wren Press editors write on the website, “and, in the process, to explore and expand the definition of Southern literature.”

Founded in 1976 in Chapel Hill by poet Judy Hogan, Carolina Wren Press is an independent nonprofit press whose mission is, simply, “new authors, new audiences.” The press publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature, and sponsors two other annual contests, the Doris Bakwin Award for books by women writers, and the Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series, given for a poetry collection. Visit the website to read an essay by Hogan on the history of the press.

In the video below from Algonquin Books, Lee Smith discusses the inspiration for and creation of her forthcoming novel, which is based in part on historical events that occurred North Carolina.

The New York City–based Academy of American Poets has announced the winners of the 2013 poetry prizes, an annual awards series through which over $200,000 is given to poets at various stages of their careers.  

Former United States poet laureate Philip Levine has been awarded the Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement. The $100,000 prize is given annually by the Academy for “outstanding and proven mastery of the art of poetry.” Levine’s collections include Ashes, which won the National Book Award in 1979 and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1980; What Work Is, which won the National Book Award in 1991; The Simple Truth, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995; and, most recently, News of the World (Knopf, 2009). Levine, a former Detroit autoworker, was appointed to the poet laureate post in late 2011.

Carolyn Forché has won the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which offers a $25,000 prize for “distinguished poetic achievement.”

Patricia Smith has been awarded the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, a $25,000 award given for the best book of poetry published in the previous year, for her most recent collection, Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, published by Coffee House Press in 2012.

Jillian Weise won the James Laughlin Award for her recent collection, The Book of Goodbyes (BOA Editions, 2013). The $5,000 prize is given to honor a poet's second book.

John Taylor received the $25,000 Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Fellowship for his translation of Selected Poems by the Italian poet Lorenzo Calogero.
Cynthia Hogue and Sylvain Gallais received the $1,000 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award for their translation of Fortino Sámano ("The Overflowing of the Poem"), by Virginie Lalucq and Jean-Luc Nancy.

Visit the Academy of American Poets website for more information and submission guidelines for the 2014 awards.

In the video below, Philip Levine reads a selection of poems, including "What Work Is." Also listen to a podcast of Levine reading his poem "The Mercy."

At a press conference in London this morning, the Man Booker Prize Foundation announced the shortlist for the 2013 prize. The winner, who will receive 50,000 British pounds, or approximately $75,000, will be announced October 15.

The finalists are:

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatto & Windus/Reagan Arthur Books)
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Granta)
The Harvest by Jim Crace (Picador)
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Canongate)
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín (Viking)
The judges selected the six finalists from a longlist of thirteen announced in July, a list that judge chair Robert Macfarlane called the most diverse in recent memory. The shortlist maintains that diversity, with the novelists hailing from New Zealand, England, Canada, Ireland, and Zimbabwe, and the time periods and settings spanning the biblical Middle East (Tóibín), contemporary Zimbabwe (Bulawayo), 19th-century New Zealand (Catton), 1960s India (Lahiri), 18th-century rural England (Crace), and modern Tokyo (Ozeki). The oldest author on the list is Jim Crace, at 67; the youngest, Eleanor Catton, is 28.

“It is an exceptionally international and exceptionally varied shortlist,” Macfarlane said. “What connects them is connection. They are all about ways of connecting: technological, familial, emotional and in one case elemental. There are also inevitably about connections in reverse: loss, grief, separation, exile and dispossession. In some ways, these novels are all about the strange ways in which people are brought together and the painful ways in which they are held apart.”

The Man Booker Prize is given annually for a book of fiction published in the previous year and written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the British Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland.

The City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) is currently seeking the city’s next Poet Laureate. Applications will be accepted until September 30.

Poets who are residents of Philadelphia, and who are able to demonstrate both a significant body of work and a record of commitment to community service, are eligible to apply. Using the online application form, applicants may submit four poems (up to ten pages total), a list of publications, a résumé, an artistic statement, and three references. Applicants may also submit up to three links to videos of public readings or performances. Applications must be completed and submitted online.

The Philadelphia Poet Laureate position was established in 2012 "in order to give one talented poet the opportunity to publicly represent the city in the medium of poetry and to serve the art form and field of poetry within the city.” The Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term, from January 2014 through December 2015, during which time they will be expected to raise awareness of poetry and creative writing within the city of Philadelphia through public events, readings, and community service activities, and provide mentorship to the city’s Youth Poet Laureate. The Poet Laureate will receive a stipend of $5,000 over the two-year term.

The city's inaugural Poet Laureate position has been held since January 2012 by poet and retired Temple University professor Sonia Sanchez. Her term ends in December.

The Poet Laureate Governing Committee—which is comprised of writers, editors, professors, and arts organization professionals from the Philadelphia area—will review all applications and make its recommendation to the mayor. Visit the OACCE website for more information and complete guidelines.

The Chicago–based MacArthur Foundation announced last week that it will increase the value of its annual fellowships—also known as “genius grants”—to $625,000.

Previously, grants of $500,000 have been given through the MacArthur Fellows Program to individuals working in various fields including literature, music, visual art, science, and medicine. Past winners—nearly nine hundred since the program's inception—have included poet Kay Ryan and fiction writer Junot Díaz. The foundation last increased the grant amount in 2000.

“We looked at many benchmarks and decided it was time to make an adjustment,” said Cecilia Conrad, vice president of the Fellows Program, who cited inflation as one factor in the decision to increase the grant amounts.

Established in 1970 by philanthropists John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, the MacArthur Foundation bestows the unrestricted five-year grants to individuals based not on their past accomplishments, but instead on their potential.

“We believe the program inspires people from all walks of life to think about how they can use their own skills and ideas to make the world a better place,” Conrad wrote in a recent report on the inspiration and impact of the fellows program.

There is no application process for the grants, and recipients are nominated anonymously. The 2013 fellows will be announced September 25.

In the following video from the MacArthur Foundation, 2012 Fiction Fellow Junot Díaz discusses his work and the impact of the grant.

The Table 4 Writers Foundation, established in honor of New York City restaurateur Elaine Kaufman, is currently accepting submissions to its second annual writing competition, which offers five grants of $2,500 each to fiction and nonfiction writers.

Kaufman, who ran the celebrated Elaine’s restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for more than forty-seven years, was known for nurturing writers and other creative people inside her restaurant—and in particular at Table 4, where, according to the foundation’s website, she “offered writers just what they needed: sometimes a kick in the pants, an introduction to a fellow writer or agent, but always a directive to order something to eat.” She died in December 2010.

To apply for the grants, writers may submit four copies of a short story, an essay, or a novel excerpt of up to ten pages (or between 1,000 and 2,500 words), along with the required entry form and a $10 entry fee, by October 20. Submissions are accepted by postal mail only. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Works by the inaugural winners, who were announced and honored at a ceremony in New York City this past March, were chosen by a panel of publishing professionals and members of the Table 4 Foundation board. Each writer received $2,000.

“I’m pleased that in our second year we’re able to increase the amounts that we award our winners,” said Jenine Lepera Izzi, the foundation’s chair. “We hope that the prizes will help them focus on their work and also bring attention to their writing.”

The Table 4 Writers Foundation was founded on February 10, 2012—a date that would have been Kaufman’s eighty-third birthday—in order “to help struggling and promising writers, just as Elaine had for nearly fifty years.”

After announcing earlier this month that Wendell Berry would receive the annual Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation announced yesterday the finalists for the 2013 Peace Prizes in fiction and nonfiction, given annually for books published in the previous year.

The fiction finalists are:

The Round House by Louise Erdrich (Random House)
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
by Ben Fountain (HarperCollins)
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (Random House)
The Life of Objects by Susanna Moore (Random House)
The Coldest Night by Robert Olmstead (Algonquin)
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (Little, Brown)
Ben Fountain's debut novel won a National Book Critics Circle Award.

The nonfiction finalists are:

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (Random House)
Pax Ethnica by Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac (Public Affairs Books)
Burying the Typewriter by Carmen Bugan (Graywolf Press)
Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden (Viking)
Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King (HarperCollins)
Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon (Scribner)

Louise Erdrich's The Round House won a National Book Award.

"This year’s finalists examine conflict and the need for tolerance across the spectrum of relationships, from family members to diverse groups within communities to citizens of a country at war," said Sharon Rab, chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. “Each work reminds us that our lives are filled with moral dilemmas every day, and each work offers an inspiring model to look to as we strive to resolve the conflicts such dilemmas bring.”

Katherine Boo's debut won a National Book Award for nonfiction.

A winner and runner-up in fiction and nonfiction will be announced on September 24. Winners receive $10,000 each and runners-up receive $1,000. They will be honored at a ceremony in Dayton, Ohio, on Sunday, November 3rd.

Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize was established in 2006 to honor writers “whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding.” The awards are given for books published in the previous year.

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