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G&A: The Contest Blog

Brooklyn-based literary magazine and publisher A Public Space has announced a new international Emerging Writer Fellowship program for fiction and nonfiction writers. Three winners will receive $1,000, publication in the magazine, and a six-month mentorship with an established author.

In addition, fellows who are based in or visiting New York City will be given optional access to workspace in A Public Space’s Brooklyn offices for the duration of the six-month fellowship. The application deadline is April 15.

Writers from any country who have not yet published or been contracted to write a full-length book are eligible. Fiction and nonfiction writers may submit a previously unpublished short story or essay in English and a cover letter via Submittable by 5:00pm EST on April 15. Cover letters should include a short biography and discussion of a piece of writing that has been influential, along with contact information, the title and word count of the submitted work, and publication credits. There is no application fee. Visit the website for complete submission guidelines.

Winners will be notified by June 20. The fellowship period will run from September 1, 2014 to March 1, 2015. 

Established in 2006 by founding editor Brigid Hughes, A Public Space has published the early work of writers such as Leslie Jamison, Nam Le, Corinna Vallianatos, and Jesmyn Ward, who have since gone on to win major literary awards. “These fellowships continue that tradition,” the editors write. “Our focus when reviewing applications will be on finding writers who have not yet published or been contracted to write a book-length work, but whose writing shows exceptional promise.” 

A Public Space plans to award the fellowships twice yearly; the application period for the next cycle of awards will be September 1 through October 14. Visit the website for more information.

Last night, during a ceremony at the New School in New York City, the National Book Critics Circle announced the winners of its book awards for publishing year 2013.

Frank Bidart won in poetry for Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won in fiction for Americanah (Knopf); and Sheri Fink won in nonfiction for Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital (Crown).

Amy Wilentz won the autobiography award for Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter From Haiti (Simon & Schuster); Leo Damrosch won the biography award for Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World (Yale University Press); and Franco Moretti won the criticism award for Distant Reading (Verso).

The winners were chosen by a panel of established literary critics from a list of thirty finalists announced in January. The shortlist in poetry included Lucie Brock-Broido for Stay, Illusion (Knopf); Denise Duhamel for Blowout (University of Pittsburgh Press); Bob Hicok for Elegy Owed (Copper Canyon Press); and Carmen Gimenez Smith for Milk and Filth (University of Arizona Press). The finalists in fiction were Alice McDermott for Someone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Javier Marias for The Infatuations (Knopf); Ruth Ozeki for A Tale for the Time Being (Viking); and Donna Tartt for The Goldfinch (Little, Brown). The finalists in nonfiction were Kevin Cullen and Shelly Murphy for Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice (Norton); David Finkel for Thank You for Your Service (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); George Packer for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); and Lawrence Wright for Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (Knopf).

Anthony Marra won the inaugural John Leonard Prize, which honors a first book in any genre, for his novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth). Critic Katherine A. Powers won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing award, and fiction writer, essayist, and translator Rolando Hinojosa-Smith won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

The National Book Critics Circle awards are given annually for books published in the previous year. For more information about the awards, visit the NBCC website or its literary blog, Critical Mass.

In the video below from Britain's Channel 4 News, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses race, love, hair, and Americanah.

Claremont Graduate University announced today that Afaa Michael Weaver of Somerville, Massachusetts, has won the annual $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his book The Government of Nature (University of Pittsburgh Press). The award, given annually to a midcareer poet, is one of the largest monetary poetry prizes in the United States.

Yona Harvey of Pittsburgh has won the $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award for her debut poetry collection, Hemming the Water (Four Way Books). The award is given annually to a promising new poet for a first book.

The son of a sharecropper, Afaa Michael Weaver grew up in Baltimore where, after two years in the Army, he worked in factories for fifteen years before attending Brown University on a full scholarship. The Government of Nature is his twelfth poetry collection. “He essentially invented himself from whole cloth as a poet,” said chief awards judge Chase Twichell in a press release. “It’s truly remarkable." Weaver has received two Pushcart Prizes, the May Sarton Award, and fellowships from the NEA, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Pew foundation, as well as a Fulbright appointment in Taiwan. He is also a translator of Chinese poetry, having worked with poets from China and Taiwan. He teaches at Simmons College and in Drew University’s graduate program in poetry and poetry in translation.

Yona Harvey’s poetry and prose have appeared in jubilat, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Coast, Rattle, the Volta, West Branch, and elsewhere. She has received a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts residency and an Individual Artist Grant in Literary Nonfiction from The Pittsburgh Foundation. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

Now in its twenty-second year, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award was established at Claremont Graduate University by Kate Tufts in memory of her husband, who worked in the Los Angeles shipyards and wrote poetry as his avocation. The award is given for a work published in the previous year 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 has been given annually since 1993. A ceremony for the winners will be held in Claremont on Thursday, April 10.

Finalists for the 2014 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award were Brenda Shaughnessy for Our Andromeda (Copper Canyon Press) and Brian Teare for Companion Grasses (Omnidawn). Finalists for the 2014 Kate Tufts Discovery Award were Kim Young for Night Radio(University of Utah Press) and Leila Wilson for The Hundred Grasses (Milkweed Editions). Along with Twichell, the judges were David Barber, Kate Gale, Ted Genoways, Carl Phillips, and Stephen Burt.

Marriane Boruch won the 2013 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and Heidy Steidlmayer received the 2013 Discovery Award.

Last night in New York City, George Saunders took home the 2014 Story Prize for his collection Tenth of December. The coveted $20,000 award, now in its tenth year, honors short story collections published in the previous year.

Saunders beat out Andrea Barrett for Archangel (Norton) and Rebecca Lee for Bobcat and Other Stories (Algonquin), who each received $5,000. All three finalists read from and discussed their work with Story Prize director Larry Dark as part of the evening's event.

George Saunders discusses his work at the Story Prize ceremony.

Saunders, who lives in Oneonta, New York, is the author of six previous books, including the story collections CivilWarLand in Bad DeclinePastoralia, and In Persuasion Nation, which was a finalist for the Story Prize in 2007. Tenth of December (Random House), spent ten consecutive weeks on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list, reaching as high as the number two spot. Among numerous other accolades, Saunders received the 2013 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story and was included in Time's 2013 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

In his on-stage interview, Saunders discussed his process, the role of sound in his work, and how putting himself inside his characters and “turning to the truth” helps him find what he’s looking for in a character or story. Saunders, who once penned a 700-page novel before scrapping it to turn to stories, praised the short form in his acceptance speech, adding that often the smallest details of the human experience are what ultimately matter most. “We don’t have anything but those small motions of the heart and mind,” he said. “Short stories remind us of that.”

Dark and Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey selected the three finalists from among ninety-six books entered in 2013, from sixty-four different publishers. Three final judges—Stephen Ennis, director of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin; award-winning author Antonya Nelson; and Rob Spillman, founding editor of Tin House—chose the winner.

“George Saunders offers a vision and version of our world that takes into account the serious menace all around us without denying the absurd pleasures that punctuate life,” the judges said in a statement. “This book is very funny and very sad.”

Claire Vaye Watkins won the 2013 prize. The award is the largest first-prize amount of any annual U.S. book award for fiction.

Ansel Elkins of Greensboro, North Carolina, has been named the winner of the 2014 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. Her collection, Blue Yodel, will be published by Yale University Press in April 2014. She will also receive one of five writing fellowships at the James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut.

Courtesy Yale University Press

Carl Phillips praised the manuscript, his fourth selection as final judge of the series. “Through her arresting use of persona, in particular, Ansel Elkins reminds us of the pivotal role of compassion in understanding others and—more deeply and often more disturbingly—our various inner selves,” he said. “Razor-edged in their intelligence, southern gothic in their sensibility, these poems enter the strangenesses of others and return us to a world at once charged, changed, brutal, and luminous.”

Elkins is also the recipient of a 2013 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, the 2012 North American Review James Hearst Poetry Prize, the 2012 Fugue Poetry Prize, and the 2011 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize. She received her MFA from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Born and raised in Alabama, Elkins writes, “Much of my work explores the South as a complex place of racial violence and isolation, but also familial love.”

Elkins’s book will be the 109th volume in the Younger Poets Series. Given annually since 1919 to a poet under the age of forty for their first collection, the prize is the oldest literary award in the United States. Eryn Green’s Eruv, also chosen by Phillips, received the 2013 prize, and will be published in April. Past winners include John Ashbery, Jack Gilbert, Robert Hass, Adrienne Rich, and Jean Valentine.

The finalists for the thirty-fourth annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, which are awarded in ten categories, were announced last week.

The finalists in poetry are Joshua Beckman for The Inside of an Apple (Wave Books), Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge for Hello, the Roses (New Directions), Ron Padgett for Collected Poems (Coffee House Press), Elizabeth Robinson for On Ghosts (Solid Objects), and Lynn Xu for Debts & Lessons (Omnidawn).

The finalists in fiction are Percival Everett for Percival Everett by Virgil Russell (Graywolf Press), Claire Messud for The Woman Upstairs (Knopf), Ruth Ozeki for A Tale for the Time Being (Viking), Susan Steinberg for Spectacle: Stories (Graywolf Press), and Daniel Woodrell for The Maid’s Version: A Novel (Little, Brown).

The finalists for the Art Seidanbaum Award for First Fiction are NoViolet Bulawayo for We Need New Names (Reagan Arthur Books), Jeff Jackson for Mira Corpora (Two Dollar Radio), Fiona McFarlane for The Night Guest (Faber & Faber), Jamie Quatro for I Want to Show You More (Grove Press), and Ethan Rutherford for The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories (Ecco).

Fiction writer Susan Straight will receive the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. Straight is the author of eight novels, most recently Between Heaven and Here (McSweeney’s, 2012). Straight writes about Rio Seco, a fictional town inspired by Riverside, California, where she currently resides.

The winners will be announced during an award ceremony on April 11 at the University of Southern California. The event is open to the public, and tickets will go on sale for $10 on March 17. For more information on the event, and a list of finalists in the additional categories of biography, current interest, graphic novel/comics, history, mystery/thriller, science and technology, and young adult literature, visit the L.A. Times Book Prizes website.

In the video below from TEDx Redondo Beach, Susan Straight talks about why she became a writer.

Vela Magazine, an online journal that publishes works of nonfiction written by women and inspired by travel, has launched its inaugural nonfiction contest for women. The winner will receive $500 and publication. The deadline is March 31; there is no entry fee.  

The editors seek a “strong voice, a compelling narrative, and/or a powerful driving question. We’re interested in a wide range of essays and stories, including literary journalism, personal essays, memoir, and expository or experimental essays.”

Women writers may submit a previously unpublished essay of up to 6,500 words along with a cover letter via the online submission system. While there is no entry fee, donations to the magazine are accepted with submissions; those who donate will receive a PDF titled Women We Read This Year, an annotated compilation of writing by women from 2013, drawn from the magazine’s weekly Women We Read This Week column.

In addition to the winner, two finalists will also have their work published.  All entries will be considered for publication.

Michelle Orange, the author of the essay collection This Is Run­ning For Your Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), will judge.

Vela Magazine was founded in 2011 by nonfiction writer Sarah Menkedick in response to the gender disparity in publishing, which is tracked each year through VIDA’s annual count. “As long as [this disparity] continues to be the case,” Menkedick writes in the magazine’s manifesto, “then I believe in creating a separate space in which women can write what they want to write, with the same intellectual freedom as men; without a major overhaul of self and world views.”

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