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G&A: The Contest Blog

After a year in which must-read book lists notoriously shut out the talented ranks of female authors, the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) has named four women poets, four women fiction writers, and four women memoirists finalists for its 2010 awards. In conjunction with the shortlists announcement last Saturday, Joyce Carol Oates was honored with the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award and New Yorker book and dance critic Joan Acocella received the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

The finalists for the NBCC award in poetry are:
Rae Armantrout for Versed (Wesleyan)
Louise Glück for A Village Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
D. A. Powell for Chronic (Graywolf Press)
Eleanor Ross Taylor for Captive Voices: New and Selected Poems, 1960-2008 (Louisiana State University Press)
Rachel Zucker for Museum of Accidents (Wave Books)

In fiction, the finalists are:
Bonnie Jo Campbell for her story collection American Salvage (Wayne State University Press)
Marlon James for his novel The Book of Night Women (Riverhead)
Michelle Huneven for her novel Blame (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Hilary Mantel for her novel Wolf Hall (Holt), which took the Booker Prize last year
Jayne Anne Phillips for her novel Lark and Termite (Knopf)

In autobiography, the finalists are:
Diana Athill for Somewhere Towards the End (Norton)
Debra Gwartney for Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Mary Karr for Lit (Harper)
Kati Marton for Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America (Simon & Schuster)
Edmund White for City Boy (Bloomsbury)

The shortlisted authors will give a reading in New York City on March 10. They'll be joined by finalists in biography, criticism, and general nonfiction, a group that includes William T. Vollman, nominated for his nonfiction book Imperial (Viking); David Hajdu, a finalist in criticism for Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture (Da Capo Press); and Martha A. Sandweiss, nominated in biography for Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (Penguin Press). The winners will be announced on March 11.

Fiction writer Eugene Cross is the recipient of the third annual Dzanc Prize, given by Dzanc Books to facilitate the completion of a novel or story collection and support a writer in realizing plans to serve his community. Cross, whose submission rose to the top of over one hundred entries, will receive half of his five-thousand-dollar prize next month and the other half once he has completed his proposed service project.

In his hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, Cross plans to run three four-month creative workshops for refugees from Nepal, Sudan, and Bhutan who are learning English as a second language. He also anticipates completing a short story collection titled "Fires of Our Choosing."

"Eugene's writing has that perfect blend of modernism and classic storytelling, is at once humorous and sexy, intelligent and provocative, and is at the same time composed and controlled," Dzanc publisher Steven Gillis said in a press release. "We were also very much moved by Eugene's service program. With all that is going on in the world, and in particular as the devastation in Haiti is front page news, we found Eugene's desire to work with refugees in the telling of their stories a wonderful and timely idea." 

Cross, an MFA alum from the University of Pittsburgh, teaches English and creative writing at Penn State in Erie. His stories have appeared in Hobart, Narrative Magazine, the Pinch, and Third Coast, among other journals.

The Library of Congress announced today that U.S. poet laureate Kay Ryan has selected two emerging poets as recipients of the thirteenth annual Witter Bynner Fellowships. Jill McDonough and Atsuro Riley will each be awarded $7,500 and will both give a reading next month in Washington, D.C.

McDonough, who hails from Boston, and Riley, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, will each also organize readings in their respective hometowns as part of the fellowship. The two poets—both Pushcart Prize winners who have seen their work published in established journals such as Poetry and Threepenny Review—are each authors of a single collection. McDonough's debut, Habeas Corpus (Salt Publishing, 2008), is a sonnet series on the theme of real-life executions whose "histories of injectings, hangings, and burnings wind up not sensational but mysterious," Ryan says. In April, the University of Chicago Press will release Riley's first book, Romey's Order—interlocking poems evocative of the poet's South Carolina Lowcountry heritage that, according to Ryan, "play equally over the skin and the mind."

There is no application process for the fellowships, which are awarded using funds from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry to support poets in their practice. Previous winners, selected each year by the current poet laureate, are:
1998 Carol Muske-Dukes and Carl Phillips
1999 David Gewanter, Heather McHugh, and Campbell McGrath
2000 Naomi Shihab Nye and Joshua Weiner (all seven chosen by Robert Pinsky)
2001 Tory Dent and Nick Flynn (chosen by Stanley Kunitz)
2002 George Bilgere and Katia Kapovich
2003 Major Jackson and Rebecca Wee (all four chosen by Billy Collins)
2004 Dana Levin and Spencer Reece (chosen by Louise Glück)
2005 Claudia Emerson and Martin Walls
2006 Joseph Stroud and Connie Wanek (all four chosen by Ted Kooser)
2007 Laurie Lamon and David Tucker (chosen by Donald Hall)
2008 Matthew Thorburn and Monica Youn (chosen by Charles Simic)
2009 Christina Davis and Mary Szybist (chosen by Kay Ryan)

For information about the free, public reading in Washington, D.C., which will take place at the library's James Madison Building at 6:45 PM on February 18, visit the Library of Congress Web site.

The Strand, beloved bookstore of New York City's resident and visiting literary types, will award a trio of prizes for original poems on the theme "love of the Strand." The winner will receive a Strand gift card worth $250, and the winning work may be featured on the bookstore's Web site and merchandise. The second-place prize is a bundle of books and swag worth $175, and the third-place prize is a $50 gift card.

The "fiercely independent family business" was opened nearly eighty-three years ago in New York City's former Book Row, among forty-seven other booksellers, all of which have ceased operation. The Strand, now located on Broadway near the city's Union Square, boasts an inventory of eighteen miles of rare, used, and new books, not including the selection at their kiosks in Central Park.

There is no cost to submit to the competition, and entries may be made via e-mail, with "Poetry Contest" as the subject line. The deadline is February 11 at 6 PM.

In the video below, Strand owner Fred Bass gives a tour of the bookstore.

 

 

If you catch wind of a free writing contest in your area, please drop us an e-mail letting us know about it. And if you're interested in bidding homage to your own local bookseller, check out our Inside Indie Bookstores series and leave us a comment about your favorite literary haunt.

Black Lawrence Press is offering an "early bird" entry fee for poets and fiction writers who submit manuscripts to the Hudson Prize this month. The special fee to submit a collection of poetry or short stories for competition is the price of a title from the press's catalogue, which ranges from fourteen to eighteen dollars for full-length works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

The winner will receive one thousand dollars and a spot among the Black Lawrence Press titles including, in poetry, Matthew Gavin Frank's Sagittarius Agitprop, Rachel Galvin's Pulleys and Locomotion, and Stefi Weisburd's The Wind-Up Gods. In fiction, the press has published Daniel Chacon's Unending Rooms, Marcel Jolley's Neither Here Nor There, Fred McGavran's The Butterfly Collector, and Jo Neace Krause's The Last Game We Played, all story collections.

In order to take advantage of the entry special, place a book order on the Black Lawrence Press Web site and then send a cover letter, noting the title purchased, and a manuscript of any length via e-mail by February 1. The deadline for all submissions (with a twenty-five-dollar entry fee) is March 31.

In the video below, Stefi Weisburd reads from The Wind-Up Gods.

The Story Prize has announced the 2009 shortlist for its annual twenty-thousand-dollar award. In the running for the honor, given for a short story collection published in the previous year, are National Book Award finalist Daniyal Mueenuddin for In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Norton), Victoria Patterson for Drift (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and Wells Tower for Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

The shortlisted books, all of them debut collections, were selected from seventy-eight titles submitted by fifty-three presses. The winner will be announced on March 3 at the New School in New York City after a reading by all three finalists, and two runners up will then be awarded a five thousand dollar prize.

Past winners of the prize, given since 2004, are Edwidge Danticat for The Dew Breaker (Knopf), Patrick O'Keeffe for The Hill Road (Viking), Mary Gordon for The Stories of Mary Gordon (Pantheon), Jim Shepard for Like You'd Understand, Anyway (Knopf), and Tobias Wolff for Our Story Begins (Knopf).

In the video below, the title story of Tower's collection—a tale of Viking plunderers—is excerpted in an animated short.

Artist Trust has extended the deadline for its annual Grants for Artist Projects. Poets and prose writers now have until June 25 to submit entries for grants of up to fifteen hundred dollars to support specific literary endeavors. Grant applications will be available online in May.

The recipients will be selected by a panel of Washington state writers. Last year's eleven grantees were chosen from a pool of 167 entries by poets Samuel Green, the state poet laureate, and Dennis Held and fiction writers Adrianne Harun, Philip H. Red Eagle, and Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner.

The recipients—six women and five men—included four poets, five fiction writers, and two creative nonfiction writers. Five out of the eleven were residents of Seattle, King County, less than the average of the applicant pool across disciplines, which has been comprised of over 60 percent King County residents for the past several years. Most 2009 winners in literary arts received the full fifteen-hundred-dollar award.

In the video below, 2009 grantee Oliver de la Paz, who received funds to purchase a laptop and work on his poetry manuscript "Grace Equations," reads with New Jersey poet Evie Shockley.

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