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G&A: The Contest Blog

Last week, during a ceremony at the British Library in London, the Folio Society announced the launch of a new literature prize worth forty thousand pounds, or roughly sixty thousand dollars. 

The Folio Prize will be given annually for books of literary fiction, regardless of form or genre, written in English by an author from any country and published in the United Kingdom during the previous calendar year. The inaugural prize will be awarded in 2014. 

Led by prize cofounder Andrew Kidd, a literary agent and former publisher of Picador/Macmillan, the advisory committee gathered over a hundred authors, editors, and critics from around the world to form the Folio Academy, from which a panel of five judges will be selected each year. The Folio Society—a London–based publisher that reissues classic works of literature in illustrated special editions—was announced as the prize’s sponsor earlier this year. 

Academy members include Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee; Booker Prize recipients Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey, Ian McEwan, Michael Ondaatje, and Salman Rushdie; critics Geoff Dyer and Elif Batuman; Granta editor John Freeman, n+1 editor Keith Gessen, and New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman; American authors Michael Chabon, Michael Cunningham, Bret Easton Ellis, Junot Díaz, Ben Lerner, Richard Powers, Alice Sebold, and Maria Semple; and international writers Nam Le, China Mieville, David Mitchell, Philip Pullman, Zadie Smith, Miguel Syjuco, Colm Toibin, and Jeanette Winterson.

The panel of judges will consider eighty books each year for the prize. The Academy will nominate sixty titles (each member is encouraged to nominate up to three titles per year); publishers will also be invited to nominate titles, from which twenty additional finalists will be chosen. The panel will select a shortlist of eight books, and the final winner will be announced in the spring. The judges for the first Folio Prize will be announced this summer, and the inaugural winner will be announced in March 2014. 

To watch a video from the launch and for more information, visit the Folio Prize website. 

The Poetry Foundation has announced that poet and translator Marie Ponsot will receive the 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes given to American poets. Given for lifetime achievement, the award carries with it a $100,000 purse. 

Born in New York City, where she still resides, Ponsot, ninety-one, joins poets John Ashbery, Lucille Clifton, Yusef Komunyakaa, Philip Levine, and Adrienne Rich on the roster of Ruth Lilly winners. W. S. di Piero took the 2012 prize. Ponsot’s work—which often tackles and challenges traditional forms such as the vilanelle and sestina—includes the collections Springing, The Green Dark, True Minds, The Bird Catcher (which won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award), and, most recently, Easy (Knopf, 2009). She has also translated more than thirty books into English from the French.

Given annually since 1986, the Ruth Lilly Prize is one of the largest monetary prizes given for poetry in the world. As part of the award, Poetry magazine will publish eleven of Ponsot’s poems in its May issue. Christian Wiman, the magazine’s editor, described Ponsot’s poems as “marvels of intellectual curiosity and acuity” that “will also break your heart.” She will participate in a celebratory reading on April 8 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

Last fall, the Poetry Foundation also named the recipients of the 2012 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships, the $15,000 awards given annually to five emerging U.S. poets between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one. 

It’s been a good week—and a good year—for Claire Vaye Watkins, whose debut short story collection, Battleborn, was published by Riverhead Books last fall. On Thursday morning it was announced that Watkins would receive an American Academy of Arts & Letters Prize of $10,000; the night before, she beat out Junot Díaz and Don Chaon for the 2012 Story Prize, the coveted annual award of $20,000 given for an outstanding collection of short fiction. 

At a reading and awards ceremony at the New School in New York City on Wednesday night, Watkins’s debut was selected for the Story Prize—given since 2004 for a collection published in the previous year—over Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead), and Chaon’s Stay Awake (Ballantine). The award is the largest monetary book prize given for fiction in the United States. Chaon and Diaz each received $5,000. 

Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey and prize director Larry Dark selected the three finalists from among ninety-eight books submitted for consideration. Final judges Jane Ciabattari, Yiyun Li, and Sarah McNally selected Watkins as the winner. The 2011 award went to Steven Millhauser for his collection We Others (Knopf).

Watkins will also receive the American Academy of Arts & Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, a prize of $10,000 given to an emerging writer for a work published in the previous year. Watkins joins a host of established writers to win 2013 Arts & Letters Awards, including Lydia Davis, Jennifer Egan, D.A. Powell, and Kevin Powers. 

Adding to Watkins’s ever-growing list of literary accolades, she was also selected this week as a 2013 One Story Literary Debutante. Earlier this year, she was chosen as one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35, and Battleborn was named a Best Book of 2012 by the San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Time Out New York and Flavorwire. The debut also received a Best Short Story Collection nod by NPR, and won the 2012 Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

Watkins’s stories and essays have appeared in GrantaOne Storythe Paris Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Best of the West 2011and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Sewanee and Bread Loaf Writers' Conferences. An assistant professor at Bucknell University, Watkins is also the co-director, with Derek Palacio, of the Mojave School, a nonprofit creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.

Yale University Press has announced the winner of the 2013 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. Given annually since 1919 to a poet under the age of forty, the prize is the oldest literary award in the United States. 

Eryn Green of Denver received the 2013 prize for his collection, Eruv, which will be published by Yale University Press in April 2014. Judge Carl Phillips says that the winning work “reminds us how essential wilderness is to poetry—a wilderness in terms of how form and language both reinvent and get reinvented; meanwhile, the sensibility behind these poems points to another wilderness, the one that equals thinking about and feeling the world—its hurts, its joys—deeply and unabashedly, as we pass through it.”

Eryn Green is a doctoral candidate at the University of Denver and received an MFA from the University of Utah. His work has appeared in Jubilat, Colorado Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere. In addition to the publication of his book, he will also receive one of five writing fellowships offered at The James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut.

Green’s book will be the 108th volume in the Younger Poet series. Will Schutt’s Westerly, also chosen by Phillips, received the 2012 prize, and will be published in April. Past winners have included John Ashbery, Jack Gilbert, Robert Hass, Adrienne Rich, and Jean Valentine. 

Submissions for the 2014 prize will open this fall. Visit the website for more information and complete guidelines. 

Claremont Graduate University has announced the winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, given annually to a mid-career poet for a book published in the previous year. At $100,000, the Kingsley Tufts Award is one of the largest monetary poetry prizes in the United States.

The 2013 award has been given to Marianne Boruch of West Lafayette, Indiana, for her collection The Book of Hours, published by Copper Canyon Press. Heidy Steidlmayer of Vacaville, California, received the $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award for her debut collection, Fowling Piece (Tri-Quarterly). The Kate Tufts Award is given annually for a first book by a poet.

“We are delighted to honor these poets and celebrate their achievements,” said Wendy Martin, director of the Tufts Poetry Awards program and vice provost at Claremont Graduate University, in a press release. “These awards will help them gain wider recognition and will sustain their continuing commitment to writing outstanding poetry.”  

The winners were selected from a list of finalists for each award. Boruch’s most recent books include the poetry collections Grace, Fallen from (Wesleyan, 2008) and Poems: New and Selected (Oberlin, 2004), and a memoir, The Glimpse Traveler (University of Indiana, 2011). Steidlmayer’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and the 2012 Ploughshares John C. Zacharis Award.

Now in its twenty-first year, the Kingsley Tufts award was established at Claremont Graduate University by Kate Tufts to honor the memory of her husband. The award is presented for a work by a poet “who is past the very beginning but has not yet reached the pinnacle of his or her career.” The Kate Tufts Discovery Award was established in 1993 and is given annually for a debut collection.

The winners will be honored at a ceremony at the Garrison Theater in Claremont on Thursday, April 18. David Barber, Kate Gale, Ted Genoways, Linda Gregerson, and Carl Phillips judged.

Timothy Donnelly received the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Award; past winners include Robert Wrigley, Tom Sleigh, Matthea Harvey, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Chase Twichell.

To be considered for next year's awards, books published between September 1, 2012, and August 31, 2013, may be submitted by September 15. Visit the Claremont Graduate University website for more information and complete submission guidelines.

The recipients of the inaugural Windham Campbell Prizes in fiction, nonfiction, and drama were announced this morning at Yale University. Each of the nine winners of the new prize will receive $150,000 to support their writing.

The winners in fiction are Tom McCarthy, James Salter, and Zoë Wicomb; the winners in nonfiction are Adina Hoffman, Jonny Steinberg, and Jeremy Scahill; the winners in drama are Naomi Wallace, Steven Adly Guirgis, and Tarell Alvin McCraney. 

Sponsored by Yale and established with a gift from the estate of the late writer Donald Windham, the Windham Campbell Literature Prizes recognize English-language writers at all stages of their careers. The prizes are named in honor of Windham and his longtime partner, the journalist and publisher Sandy M. Campbell. The prizes are administered by the Beinecke Rare Book Room and Manuscript Library, which also houses Windham’s papers. The awards join a list of esteemed literary prizes already sponsored by Yale, including the Bollingen Prize for Poetry and the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

“Yale is a place that hopes to inspire and recognize greatness in every field,” said Peter Salovey, president-elect of Yale University, in a press release. “The Windham Campbell Prizes allow us to fulfill that ambition in the field of world literature in ways we are only beginning to understand.”

There is no application process for the Windham Campbell Prizes. Established professionals in each category are asked to nominate names for consideration, and a selection committee meets at Yale to name up to nine writers to receive prizes. 

The winners of the inaugural prizes will receive their awards at a ceremony at Yale during the Windham Campbell Literary Festival from September 10 to September 13 in New Haven.

“I look forward to the dialogue the winners will inspire on the Yale campus and around the world,” Salovey said. “We will learn much from our prize-winners, particularly in these first years of awarding the prize.”

In the video below, Salovey announces the prize and the first annual winners.

Last night, during a ceremony at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium in New York City, the National Book Critics Circle announced the recipients of its book awards for publishing year 2012. 

D. A. Powell won in poetry for Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Graywolf); Ben Fountain won in fiction for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco); and Andrew Solomon won in nonfiction for Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (Scribner).

Leanne Shapton won the autobiography award for Swimming Studies (Blue Rider Press); Robert A. Caro won the biography award with The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Knopf); and Marina Warner won the criticism award for Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights (Belknap Press). 

The winners were chosen by a panel of established literary critics from a list of thirty finalists announced this past January. The shortlist in poetry included David Ferry for Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press); Lucia Perillo for On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths (Copper Canyon Press); Allan Peterson for Fragile Acts (McSweeney’s Books); and A. E. Stallings for Olives (Triquarterly). The finalists in fiction were Laurent Binet for HHhH, translated by Sam Taylor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Adam Johnson for The Orphan Master’s Son (Random House); Lydia Millet for Magnificence (W. W. Norton); and Zadie Smith for NW (The Penguin Press). 

The annual National Book Critics Circle awards are given for books published in the previous year. For more information about the awards, visit the NBCC website.

In the video below, watch the finalists read from their work at last night’s ceremony.   

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