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G&A: The Contest Blog

Moon Milk Review, a free literary (and art and music) magazine whose aesthetic tends toward the "'otherlands' or 'slipstream' in literary style, including an appreciation for magical realist, surrealist, metarealist, and realist works with an offbeat spin," is holding a no-fee "prosetry" writing contest—but only through today. The journal is asking for a work of micro fiction, strictly under five hundred words, that responds to Salvador Dalí's painting Three Young Surrealist Women Holding in Their Arms the Skins of an Orchestra (1936), which is displayed on their Web site.

There is no cash prize, but the winning work will be published by Moon Milk Review, which offers a new issue monthly online.

Entries can take any form, as long as they relate to the painting and honor the length constraint. The online submission form and more about what the journal is looking for are available on the Moon Milk Review Web site

For a bit more Dalí inspiration, check out the video below, the dream sequence scene from the 1945 film Spellbound designed by the artist.

New Orleans Review, published by Loyola University in New Orleans, is currently holding its Walker Percy Short Fiction Contest, named in honor of the late physician novelist whose novels were often set in the Big Easy. The city has also been a realm of interest for this year's judge and NOLA native, Nancy Lemann, who called Percy her "hero" in a 1988 interview in BOMB magazine.

Lemann authored her first book, Lives of the Saints (Knopf, 1985), at age twenty, and has since published four additional works: the novels Sportsman's Paradise (Knopf, 1992), The Fiery Pantheon (Scribner, 1998), and Malaise (Scribner, 2002), and the nonfiction book Ritz of the Bayou (Knopf, 1987). Lemann's recent projects include, according to her bio on the Johns Hopkins
Web site, "an intergenerational saga of New Orleans
culminating in the hurricane."

The prize is one thousand dollars and publication in New Orleans Review. The journal will also consider the stories of twenty-five finalists for publication.

Story submissions of up to 7,500 words can be sent online or via postal mail until October 1, along with a fifteen-dollar fee per entry. Contest details and select content from the magazine's archive are available on the New Orleans Review Web site.

With a new batch of deadlines listings just posted in our Grants & Awards database, over the next few days we'll be highlighting select prizes with details about what winners can expect, judge profiles, winner stats, and more.

Fiction Collective Two (FC2), an imprint of the University of Alabama Press, is now accepting short story collections, novellas, and novels of any length for its two prizes, the Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize, which offers fifteen thousand dollars, and the one-thousand-dollar Ronald Sukenick American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize. Both awards include publication by FC2.

We asked FC2 how the winners’ books are promoted, how the authors are publicized, and if finalists are typically awarded publication. Here’s what managing editor Carmen Edington had to say:

"Both contests' winners benefit from FC2's imprint-of-the-University-of-Alabama-Press (UAP) status. Together with UAP, FC2 promotes our authors in several national literary magazines, on our Web site and blog, and at the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference.

"FC2 aims to publish books of high quality whose style, subject matter, and form push the limits of American publishing. Our contests help us discover writers who are doing this and who have been doing this for years but haven't yet found a home for their writing."

The number of finalists published typically varies from none to two, according to Edington.

In 2009 Tricia Bauer received the first annual Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize for Father Flashes, which will be released in March 2011. Bauer, who works as vice president of special markets for Rosen Publishing in Manhattan, has previously published four books: Working Women and Other Stories (Bridge Works, 1995), Boondocking (St. Martin’s Press, 1999), Hollywood & Hardwood (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), and Shelterbelt (St. Martin’s Press, 2000). The Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize accepts submissions from any U.S. writer who has published a minimum of three books. Entries will be accepted until November 1.

The judge for this year’s contest is Ben Marcus, the author of The Age of Wire and String (Dalkey Archive Press, 1998), Notable American Women (Vintage Contemporaries, 2002), and The Father Costume (Artspace Books, 2002), who will also pen the foreword to the winning book. Known for his surrealist fiction, Marcus is the 2009 recipient of the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, and many other fellowships and prizes.

Sara Greenslit, a veterinarian at Healthy Pet Veterinary Clinic in Wisconsin, won the 2009 Ronald Sukenick American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize for her novel As If a Bird Flew by Me which will also be released in 2011. She is also the author of The Blue of Her Body, which won the Starcherone Fiction Prize in 2005. The Sukenick Prize is open to any U.S. writer who has no history of publication with FC2. The deadline for submissions is November 1.

Kate Bernheimer, a member of FC2’s board of directors and editor of Fairy Tale Review, is slated to select this year’s winning manuscript. Members of the FC2 board of directors will also select finalists for both prizes.

Manuscripts will be judged on how well they fulfill FC2’s mission to publish “fiction considered by America’s largest publishers too challenging, innovative, or heterodox for the commercial milieu.” According to FC2’s website, these are works of “high quality and exceptional ambition whose styles, subject matter, or forms push the limits of American publishing and reshape our literary culture.”

Nightboat Books has been offering its poetry book publication prize since one year after the small press that "resists convention and transcends boundaries" was founded in 2003. The award, judged this year by Kimiko Hahn, includes one thousand dollars as well as a standard royalty contract and twenty-five author copies.

We asked Hahn, author of eight collections including Toxic Flora (Norton, 2010) and The Narrow Road to the Interior (2006), about her guiding principles when judging the contest. "I tend to favor highly textured language—see Jack Myers's description," she said. "Also, a mix of personal and social concerns doesn't hurt."

Here is the definition Myers and his coauthor Don Wukasch offer for texture in their Dictionary of Poetic Terms (Longman, 1985): "From Latin for 'to weave.' Originally, the surface constitution of a painting or sculpture. In poetry, according to the New Critics, which used the term frequently, texture refers to the unparaphrasable elements of a poem."

What are those important elements? According to Myers and Wukasch, "aesthetic surface, dramatic structure, form, imagery, irony, lineation, meter, rhyme, rhythm, sound system, and typographical arrangement." They also refer to the "heresy of paraphrase," a critical idea introduced by Cleanth Brooks in his 1947 book, The Well Wrought Urn, which argues that a poem cannot be expressed satisfactorily via paraphrase.

Last year's poetry prize judge, Fanny Howe, chose Black Took Collective cofounder Dawn Lundy Martin's second book, Discipline (forthcoming in February 2011) for the 2010 prize. "These poems are dense and deep," Howe said of Martin's winning work. "They are necessary, and hot on the eye. I was reminded of Leslie Scalapino, the sensitivity to the surrounding arrangements and to human suffering. There is no distance from Martin’s subject, but immersion and emotional conflict. Discipline is what it took to write such a potent set of poems.”

Other past winners include Paula Cisewski for Ghost Fargo, Lytton Smith for The All Purpose Magical Tent, Jonathan Weinert for In the Mode of Disappearance, Joshua Kryah for Glean, and Juliet Patterson for Truant Lover.

In the video below, Hahn discusses her love of language and reads from her latest collection.

In honor of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that brought an end to the war in Bosnia, the international Dayton Literary Peace Prize recognizes authors whose work celebrates peace, understanding across borders, and social justice. This year's winner of the ten-thousand-dollar lifetime achievement award is Geraldine Brooks, a novelist and journalist whose novel March (Viking) won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize.

Brooks's most recent work is People of the Book (Viking, 2008), a novel centered on the true story of the Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated Jewish text protected during centuries of European wars and conflicts by Muslims and Christians. She is also the author of the novel Year of Wonders (Viking, 2001) and the nonfiction books Foreign Correspondence (Anchor Books, 1998) and Nine Parts of Desire (Anchor Books, 1995).

"A writer is always thrilled to have her work recognized," Brooks said. "But this prize has a particular meaning to me, because I covered the fighting in the Balkans as a journalist and I know what peace, even an imperfect peace, can mean to a civilian population that has been besieged and violated by years of war." Remarking on the Bosnian peace agreement, she said, "As Dayton shows, it is at the table, rather than on the battle field, that wars may be brought to an end."

Brooks will receive her award at a ceremony in Dayton on November 7, during which the winners in fiction and creative nonfiction will also be honored.

In the video below, Brooks talks about the resonance of People of the Book, which is dedicated to librarians.

With a new batch of deadlines listings just posted in our Grants & Awards database, over the next few days we'll be highlighting select prizes with details about what winners can expect, judge profiles, winner stats, and more.

Kore Press, a feminist outfit in Tucson, Arizona, is now accepting story submissions for its Short Fiction Award competition (judge TBA), which offers a one-thousand-dollar prize and publication of the winning work as a chapbook. We asked the folks at Kore how the chapbooks are promoted and distributed and how authors are publicized. Here's what they had to say:

"Our chapbooks are usually published in editions of about four hundred, and are distributed and sold in independent bookstores and libraries throughout the United States, as well as on our Web site and Amazon.

"These chapbooks are collected by many special collections and archives throughout the country, along with the rest of the Kore Press collection of published works, appreciated for its cultural, aesthetic,and social value as Kore Press is one of six feminist presses in the United States.

"Kore Press and the author work collaboratively pre- and post-publication to plan effective marketing and publicity for the book and sales goals. Kore Press works up press releases, tip sheets, press kits, and more to represent the book, and likes to pitch its chapbooks to various book awards and always hopes to support our authors in as many readings and events as possible."

In other Kore Press contest news, the deadline for the First Book Award in poetry has been extended to August 31. The judge for this year's contest is Bahnu Kapil, who teaches at Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado. Her works, which "for some readers, function as prose, and for others as poetry" (according to her bio on the Web site of literary magazine Almostisland), include Incubation: A Space for Monsters (Leon Works), and The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers and Humanimal: A Project for Future Children, both published by Kelsey Street Press, a Berkeley, California, press for women writers.

In addition to their contests, Kore Press also accept submissions of full-length book manuscripts during the month of January to consider for its annual catalog of six to nine titles. Since the open submissions period is not a contest, the editors' review process is not anonymous.

The finalists for the tenth Thurber Prize for American Humor were announced by Thurber House, the literary center housed in the late humorist James Thurber's former home in Columbus, Ohio. The five-thousand-dollar award, given previously to writers such as David Sedaris, Christopher Buckley, and Ian Frazier, is the premier honor for literary humor writing given in the nation.

Contending for this year's five-thousand-dollar prize are former MTV veejay and Rolling Stone writer Jancee Dunn for her second memoir Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo? (Villard); Steve Hely, who has written for The Late Show With David Letterman and 30 Rock, for his novel, How I Became a Famous Novelist (Grove/Atlantic); and Rhoda Janzen, a former poet laureate of California who holds a PhD from University of California in Los Angeles, for her memoir Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (Henry Holt).

The winner, who will also provide "guest entertainment" at the Thurber House's annual gala in December, will be announced on October 4.

In the video below, Janzen discusses her memoir.

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