Inspired by a rumination on the New York Times Paper Cuts blog that asked whether a blog could ever rise to the level of literature, the literary magazine Creative Nonfiction is asking blog readers and writers to nominate "vibrant new voices with interesting, true stories to tell" for a special issue of the magazine. Specifically, the magazine is looking for entries of literary ("narrative, narrative, narrative") blog posts that were published between November 1, 2009, and March 31 of this year.
The winning essays will be published in the July 2010 issue of Creative Nonfiction and each author will receive a fifty-dollar reward for one-time reprint rights.
Can a blog post transcend the tendency of its kind toward, as Gregory Cowles of Paper Cuts puts it, being "too topical and too fleeting to count as literature"? The deadline for nominations of previously blogged essays—your own, a friend's, a stranger's—totaling no more than two thousand words each is Monday, April 26. More information is available on Creative Nonfiction's Web site.
Acclaimed novelist, memoirist, and short story writer John Edgar Wideman, who made news last month when he announced that his new book of short short stories would be released using the self-publishing outfit Lulu, recently launched a writing contest inspired by the collection, Briefs: Stories for the Palm of the Mind. The author, whose many honors include the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (which he won a history-making two times), a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, and the Rea Award for Excellence in the Short Story, is inviting entries of what he is calling "micro-stories" for possible inclusion in a special edition of his book.
Story entries should be no more than six hundred words, and should be submitted via e-mail to email@example.com by May 1. Wideman will announce the winner, who will also receive a signed copy of the special edition including his or her story, on the Lulu blog on May 14.
"The micro-fictions in my collection are about losing time, saving time, enduring time, fearing and escaping time," Wideman says in an essay that draws parallels between the short short form and the flow of a basketball game. He explains that the act of entering and soon after exiting a story—as if a time-out has been called in a game—allows the reader to "freeze, review, highlight the action. As if you can press a pause button and be released temporarily from the game’s intensity, from time." The complete essay is posted on the Lulu blog.
In the video below, actor Theron Cook reads the story "Bananas" from Briefs.
Ninety-year-old poet Eleanor Ross Taylor is this year's recipient of the one-hundred-thousand-dollar Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, given by the Poetry Foundation to recognize lifetime achievement. Taylor, who lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, will be presented the award next month during the Poetry Foundation's Pegasus Awards ceremony at the Arts Club of Chicago.
The May issue of Poetry, published by the Poetry Foundation, will feature a portfolio of Taylor's poems, many of which were out of print before Captive Voices, a book of her selected poems, was published last year—a volume that was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her previous collections are Wilderness of Ladies (1960), Welcome Eumenides (1972), New and Selected Poems (1983), Days Going/Days Coming Back (1991), and Late Leisure (1999).
In an award citation, Poetry editor Christian Wiman noted the "spiritual largesse and…great inner liberty” of Taylor's poems. "We live in a time when poetic styles seem to become more antic and frantic by the day, and Taylor’s voice has been muted from the start," Wiman said. "Muted, not quiet."
Today the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation announced its 2010 U.S. and Canada fellows, including twenty-eight literary writers. The fellowship winners, who can only receive the award once, include J. Allyn Rosser, whose work takes on traditonal forms and experimental, and poet-documentarian Mark Nowak; recent Pulitzer Prize–winning debut novelist Paul Harding and David Rhodes, who published his latest novel, Driftless, in 2008 after thirty-three years without publication; and creative nonfiction writers Maggie Nelson, who has also published five poetry collections, and memoirist and travel writer Tom Bissell.
The creative nonfiction fellows are: Tom Bissell
The amount of each writer's grant varies, but the average given last year in literature was upwards of thirty-six thousand dollars. Midcareer North American writers who have "demonstrated exceptional creative ability in the arts" are invited to apply for the fellowships through September 15.
The winners of the 2010 Pulitzer Prizes in Letters, which award ten thousand dollars to each winner, were announced today. Rae Armantrout won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her collection Versed (Wesleyan University Press), which the judges called "striking for its wit and linguistic inventiveness, offering poems that
are often little thought-bombs detonating in the mind long after the
Paul Harding received the prize in fiction for his debut novel Tinkers (Bellevue Literary Press). The fiction jury called his book "a powerful celebration of life in which a New England father and son,
through suffering and joy, transcend their imprisoning lives and offer
new ways of perceiving the world and mortality."
The finalists in poetry are Lucia Perillo for Inseminating the Elephant (Copper Canyon Press) and Angie Estes for Tryst (Oberlin College Press). Stephen Burt, Wesley McNair, and Maureen McLane judged. In fiction, runner-up honors went to Lydia Millet for Love in Infant Monkeys (Soft Skull Press) and Daniyal Mueenuddin for In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Norton). Charles Johnson, Laura Miller, and Rebecca Pepper Sinkler judged.
In other awards news, the Los Angeles community-building organization Liberty Hill announced today that it would award its 2010 Upton Sinclair Award to novelist Walter Mosley. The author will receive the award, given to recognize work that contributes to social change, at a gala dinner in Los Angeles on May 20.
Mosley is the author of novels including Fearless Jones (Little, Brown, 2001), Fortunate Son (Back Bay Books, 2007), and Diablerie (Bloomsbury USA, 2007), and the story collection Six Easy Pieces (Washington Square Press, 2003), part of his series of books centered on a character named Easy Rawlins. A new novel, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books in November.
Kafi Blumenfield, CEO of Liberty Hill, says that Mosley "has powerfully
tackled such monumental events in Los Angeles like the Watts riots in
his work and eloquently created an authentic picture of the social
injustice being faced by African-Americans in our complicated city."
In the video below, Mosley talks about the responsibility of a writer with Chris Abani.
The Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word at Oregon State University recently announced its Mount Saint Helens Field Residencies program for writers. The May 1 deadline is fast approaching for poets and prose writers whose work explores place and the natural world, and who are interested in writing "creative responses to the volcano and its varied landscapes."
Residents receive a stipend of one thousand dollars, a campsite at a meadow base
camp—though writers must bring their own camping gear—located near Randle,
Washington and the volcano; meals; and transportation around the
residency site. The program, held from July 18 to 24, will take place at the same time as Mount Saint Helens Science Pulse, a conference of ecologists and field researchers who, in addition to doing their own fieldwork, will travel with writers on field trips and make time for more informal interactions.
The residency program is a companion to the Spring Creek Project's Long-Term Ecological Reflections program, which is rooted in tenets including, "That storytelling
and poetry, observation and experiment, myth and mathematics are
all authentic windows on the world."
ForeWord Reviews, a magazine and online resource for writers, publishers, and purveyors of literature, is holding a video contest for independent press books published in 2009 and 2010. The magazine is asking authors and publishers to enter book trailers of no more than three minutes each by the end of April.
The winning trailer, determined by public voting on the magazine's YouTube page, will receive an Apple iPad. Every eligible video submitted will be screened at Book Expo America, held in New York City in May, in the Indie Press Lounge.