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G&A: The Contest Blog

The literary festival named for the late author and playwright is holding its first poetry contest in honor of Tennessee Williams, whose verse New Directions founder James "Jay" Laughlin once wrote has a "way of getting right into the marrow of life" in contrast to the younger American "decorator" poets he witnessed being published the 1950s. (Laughlin was Williams's publisher of choice since before his first collection, In the Winter of Cities, was released in 1956.)

The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival will host the winner of the poetry contest as a VIP, along with the fiction and one-act play competition winners. All will give readings at the twenty-fifth anniversary event to be held in New Orleans next March in conjunction with Williams's one-hundredth birthday. The winner will also receive one thousand dollars and publication in Louisiana Cultural Vistas magazine.

Writers who have not published a poetry collection have until August 15 to enter the contest with two to four poems (plus a twenty-dollar entry fee). Complete guidelines and more about the event are available on the festival Web site. (Prose writers take note: The fiction contest deadline is November 15.)

Two writers recently received laurels, including a cash prize and the promise of publication of their respective books, from University of Nebraska Press, but two runners up were missing from this year's roll of winners. Due to budget constraints, the Prairie Schooner Book Prizes (named for the university's literary journal) were awarded to only first-place authors this year, poet James Crews and fiction writer Greg Hrbek, each of whom won three thousand dollars.

Crews, who has an MFA from University of Wisconsin in Madison and has seen poems published in Prairie Schooner in the past, won for his first collection, The Book of What Stays. He has been a student at Portland, Oregon's the Attic writing center and, according to a shout-out on their Web site, also volunteers for AmeriCorps.

Hrbek won for his short story collection Destroy All Monsters, which follows his debut book, the novel The Hindenburg Crashes Nightly (William Morrow, 1999). He earned his MFA at University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and is a writer-in-residence at Skidmore College in Sarasota Springs, New York.

According to managing editor James Engelhardt, the press will reinstitute its two one-thousand-dollar runner-up prizes, which were given last year to poet Nicole Cooley and fiction writer Garth Risk Hallberg (the winners were Shane Book and Ted Gilley), as soon as the economy permits. More details about the awards, now in their ninth year, are available on the University of Nebraska Press Web site.

The Poetry Foundation has revealed the twenty-nine finalists for its five coveted Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship awards. The winners of the fifteen-thousand-dollar prizes, given annually to support poets between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one in their writing and study of poetry, will be announced by September 1.

Out of a reported eleven-hundred entrants, the finalists are:
Justin Boening
Julie Brown
Lily Brown
Kara Candito
George David Clark
Brooklyn Copeland
Tarfia Faizullah
Patrick Ryan Frank
Andrew Grace
Miriam Bird Greenberg
Chelsea Jennings
Paul Killebrew
Nate Klug
Laura Koritz
Brandon Kreitler
Dora Malech
Jamaal May
Amanda Nadelberg
Kathryn Nuerenberger
Idra Novey
Brittany Perham
Cherry Pickman
Frances Justine Post
Courtney Queeney
Margaret Reges
Christopher Robinson
Sarah Schweig
Christopher Shannon
Will Tyler

In the video below, finalist Idra Novey reads from her debut collection The Next Country, published by Alice James Books in 2008 as part of the Kinereth Gensler Award.

The Arvon Poetry Prize, established thirty years ago by poet and husband of Sylvia Plath Ted Hughes, is now accepting entries. Until August 16, poets from around the world are invited to submit poems (with a seven-pound fee per piece) for the seventy-five-hundred-pound prize (a little less than twelve hundred dollars) sponsored by the British writing organization the Arvon Foundation.

Second- and third-place prizes of twenty-five hundred pounds and one thousand pounds, respectively, will also be given. Winners will be individually notified by October 1, and an announcement will be made in London on November 4.

The judges will be U.K. poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who last year launched the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry won by Alice Oswald; Elaine Feinstein, poet, translator, and Hughes biographer whose first collection, The Circle (Faber Finds, 1970), was a semifinalist for the Lost Man Booker Prize; and Sudeep Sen, whose most recent collection is Letters of Glass (Wings Press, 2010).

For a list of previous winners (including former U.K. poet laureate Andrew Motion) and complete guidelines are available on the Arvon Foundation Web site.

In the video below, judge Duffy's poem "Mrs. Midas" is adapted in animation. The text of the poem is also available on the Web.

The semifinalists for the Man Booker Prize, which annually awards fifty thousand pounds (approximately seventy-eight thousand dollars) to a novelist writing in English, were announced yesterday. Thirteen writers from Australia, Canada, Ireland, England, Scotland, and South Africa are included in the 2010 longlist, selected by judges Rosie Blau, Financial Times literary editor; writer and dancer Deborah Bull; former U.K. poet laureate Andrew Motion; Independent columnist Tom Sutcliffe; and biographer and book reviewer Frances Wilson.

The semifinalists, whose novels were all published in U.K. editions in 2010 are:
Peter Carey for Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)
Emma Donoghue for Room (Picador)
Helen Dunmore for The Betrayal (Fig Tree)
Damon Galgut for In a Strange Room (Atlantic Books)
Howard Jacobson for The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)
Andrea Levy for The Long Song 
(Headline Review)
Tom McCarthy for C (Jonathan Cape)
David Mitchell for The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet  (Sceptre)
Lisa Moore for February (House of Anansi Press)
Paul Murray for Skippy Dies (Hamish Hamilton)
Rose Tremain for Trespass (Chatto & Windus)
Christos Tsiolkas for The Slap (Tuskar Rock)
Alan Warner for The Stars in the Bright Sky 
(Jonathan Cape)

The shortlist will be announced on September 7, and the winner will be named on October 12. More information about the longlisted books is available on the prize Web site.

In the video below, semifinalist Levy introduces and reads from The Long Song.

The University of Wales has announced the semifinalists for its annual Dylan Thomas Prize, given for a literary work in English by a writer of any nationality under the age of thirty. The 2010 longlist, which for the first time features a playwright—American Johnny Meyer—includes six poets and nine novelists from the Australia, Canada, Great Britain, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Somalia, South Africa, and the United States.

The longlisted poets are:
Caroline Bird, 23, for Watering Can (Carcanet)

Adebe D.A., 23, for Ex Nihilo (Frontenac House)
Elyse Fenton, 29, for Clamor (Cleveland State University Poetry Center)
Katharine Kilalea, 28, for One Eye'd Leigh (Carcanet)

Dora Malech, 28, for Shore Ordered Ocean (The Waywiser Press)

Leanne O'Sullivan, 27, for Cailleach (Bloodaxe Books)


The longlisted fiction writers are:
Eleanor Catton, 24, for The Rehearsal (Granta)
Brian DeLeeuw, 29, for In This Way I Was Saved (John Murray Publishers)
Ciara Hegarty, 29, for The Road to the Sea (Macmillan New Writing)
Emily Mackie, 27, for And This is True (Sceptre)

Karan Mahajan, 26, for Family Planning (Harper Perennial)

Nadifa Mohamed, 28, for Black Mamba Boy (Harper Collins)

Amy Sackville, 29, for The Still Point (Portobello Books)

Ali Shaw, 28, for The Girl with Glass Feet (Atlantic Books)

Craig Silvey, 27, for Jasper Jones (Windmill Books)

The winning writer, announced in Thomas's hometown of Swansea, Wales, on December 1, will receive a prize of thirty thousand pounds (approximately $46,700). Judging this year's award are Kate Burton, Peter Florence, Kurt Heinzelman, Gwyneth Lewis, Bruno Maddox, Natalie Moody, and Peter Stead.

In the video below, Somali-British novelist Mohamed discusses her debut, Black Mamba Boy, based on the life of her father. The book recently won the Society of Authors Betty Trask Prize, given to an author for travel abroad.

Manchester Metropolitan University has opened its second biennial poetry competition, which carries a prize of ten thousand pounds (approximately fifteen thousand dollars). Poets writing in English, regardless of nationality, are invited to submit a portfolio of three to five poems totaling no more than 120 lines by August 6.

This year's judges are Simon Armitage (Seeing Stars, Zoom!), Lavinia Greenlaw (Minsk, Thoughs of a Night Sea), and Daljit Nagra (Look We Have Coming to Dover!), who have all been recognized by the prestigious Forward Poetry Prize as winners or finalists.

The 2008 judges, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, and Carol Ann Duffy, chose two winners to share the inaugural prize, Lesley Saunders and Mandy Coe, both of England. Coe is the author of two collections, most recently The Weight of Cows (Shoestring Press, 2004), and Saunders the author of four, including No Doves (Mulfran Press, 2010).

The poetry award alternates annually with an award in fiction. English fiction writer Toby Litt, author of ten novels, won the first fiction prize in 2009.

Poetry entries, which should be accompanied by a fifteen pound fee, can be made online or via postal mail. Guidelines and contact information for the university are available on the school's Web site.

In the video below, 2010 judge Armitage reads at the most recent Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.

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