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G&A: The Contest Blog

The annual literary journal Stone Canoe, published by the University College of Syracuse University, is offering three prizes—in poetry, fiction, and, for the first time, in creative nonfiction—to writers who have a strong connection to upstate New York. Award winners will have their work published in the 2011 issue of Stone Canoe and receive a five-hundred-dollar prize.

Poets may submit, via the online submission system, up to five poems, and prose writers may submit a single piece of up to ten thousand words. The journal also asks for a short biography of up to one hundred words that includes details about the writer's connection to upstate New York. The deadline is July 31, and there is no entry fee. Guidelines are available on the journal's Web site.

This year's winner in poetry is Juliana Gray of Alfred, New York, for her poems "Nancy Drew,
45, Posts on Match.com," "The Birds," and "Three Scenes." In fiction, Sarah Layden, who currently lives in Indianapolis, received the award for her short story "Hysterectomy." Their winning works were published in the 2010 issue of Stone Canoe.

The fifth annual Dolman Best Travel Book Award, given for a literary work "in the tradition of great travel writing, combining a personal journey with the discovery or recovery of places, landscapes,
or peoples," was awarded yesterday to Ian Thomson. The Scottish author received the twenty-five-hundred-pound prize (approximately $3,800) for The Dead Yard: Tales From Modern Jamaica (Faber and Faber, 2009), a narrative that observes a postcolonial Jamaica "that's neither the rum and reggae of Disneyfied Montego Bay nor the 'guns, guns, guns' of Kingston's slums" often depicted in stories about the country, according to a review in the Guardian.

Earlier this year, Thomson's book received the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize, which honors a work that evokes the spirit of a place. "His candid portrait—vigorous, illuminating and sometimes shocking—allows Jamaica to speak for itself," the Ondaatje Prize judges said. "This is the best kind of travel writing: stimulating, educative, and evocative."

Other books that were shortlisted for the Dolman Award, given only for a work released by a U.K. publisher, are:
Along the Enchanted Way
by William Blacker (John Murray)
A Single Swallow by Horatio Clare (Chatto & Windus)
Eleven Minutes Late by Mathew Engel (Macmillan)
Lost and Found in Russia by Susan Richards (I. B. Tauris)
Out of Steppe by Daniel Metcalfe (Hutchinson)
Tequila Oil: Getting Lost in Mexico by Hugh Thomson (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

The 2010 judges were Jonny Bealby, Ben Fogle, Candida Lycett Green, Michael Jacobs, Dan Linstead, and Brett Wolstencroft.

Flatmancrooked, the Sacramento-based publisher of Poets & Writers Magazine's recent cover subject James Kaelan's debut novel, is currently holding its second story contest. The winner of the Flatmancrooked Fiction Prize—taken last year by Kevin Walsh for "Un-Love Letters"—will receive one thousand dollars and publication of the winning work in the anthology Flatmancrooked 4, which will appear in print and e-book editions.

Benjamin Percy, author of the novel The Wilding (forthcoming from Graywolf Press in the fall) and the story collections Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk, will serve as judge, selecting the winner and a runner up from ten finalists determined by the editorial staff.

Story entries must be submitted via an online form by July 31, along with a fifteen-dollar fee for one story, or forty dollars for three. More details about the submission process are available on the Flatmancrooked Web site, which, incidentally, features new fiction on its blog every week. 

Hitting the road this weekend? If you're writing about your journey by car, bike, or foot, the travel Web site Trazzler is running a contest that might be up your alley (or street, or highway). The site, a hub for brief pieces covering the nuances of destinations around the world, is looking for short short essays about "the in-between places, quirky attractions, scenic drives, irresistible pit stops, natural oases, sleepy forgotten towns, places of pilgrimage, roadside enigmas, monuments, crossroads," and other places of pause on the road.

The On the Road writing contest winner, selected by the site's editors, will receive a five-thousand-dollar contract to write twenty more short pieces about trips for Trazzler as well as fifteen nights in Fairmount Hotels, which have locations in North and Central America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Runners up for the editorial prize and the people's choice honorees will also receive hotel vouchers. People's choice winners will be determined by Trazzler users who save trip stories to their accounts with the site.

To enter, submit a travel essay of no more than 160 words by August 31. There is no entry fee. Visit the Trazzler Web site for guidelines.

For a bit of off-the-beaten-path inspiration, check out the video below, in which travel writer Rolf Potts, author of the essay collection Marco Polo Didn't Go There and the guide Vagabonding, takes a break on the road to shop for homemade fireworks in El Salvador.

This year's winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, given annually for a short story by an African writer published in English, was announced earlier this week. Olufemi Terry, born in Sierra Leone and now living in Cape Town, South Africa, won the ten-thousand-pound prize (approximately fifteen thousand dollars) for "Stickfighting Days," which appeared in the South African journal Chimurenga. The writer, who is currently working on a novel, was honored at a ceremony at the Bodleian Library in England, home country of the award named for the late Booker Prize chair Michael Caine.

Terry's work was recognized by the prize committee once before and included in the eighth annual Caine Prize collection, Jambula Tree and Other Stories
(New Internationalist, 2008). As part of this year's honor, in addition to the monetary prize, he will
receive a monthlong residency at Georgetown University in Washington,
D.C., during February 2011.

Also shortlisted this year were Ken Barris for "The Life of Worm" and Alex Smith for "Soulmates," both stories from New Writing From Africa 2009 (Johnson and King James Books); Lily Mabura for "How Shall We Kill the Bishop" from the Spring 2008 issue of London-based Wasafiri; and Namwali Serpell for "Muzungu" from The Best American Short Stories 2009 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

The judges were Ellah Allfrey of Granta, University of East Anglia professor Jon Cook, Georgetown University professor Samantha Pinto, and Economist literary editor Fiammetta Rocco.

First for some good news. Danielle Cadena Deulen, whose name has appeared in our Grants & Awards pages a few times in recent years has won the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize from the University of Arkansas Press. Lovely Asunder, which will be the debut poetry collection of the University of Utah PhD candidate, was selected by Enid Shomer for publication. Deulen will also receive a prize of five thousand dollars.

What this year's winner won't receive is the trip to Fayetteville to give a reading, with most expenses paid, that once came with the award. Due to budget cuts affecting the University of Arkansas MFA program, the annual spring festival that had played host to the winners' performances has been canceled. The press anticipates that the reading will be reinstated as part of the prize at some future point, but it's too early to tell when.

Back to the bright side: This year's competition also recognized one finalist, Stephen Gibson, for his manuscript "Paradise." Gibson also recently won the Idaho Prize for Poetry from Lost Horse Press for his collection Frescoes.

Earlier this week the Australian Publishers Association celebrated its favorite books of last year, with honorees including a pop rocker and a classical musician. The book award for a debut title went to pianist Anna Goldsworthy, who performs solo and in the Seraphim Trio, for her memoir, Piano Lessons (Black Inc.). Novelist and indie singer and songwriter Craig Silvey won both the Australian Book of the Year award and the prize in literary fiction for his second novel, Jasper Jones (Allen & Unwin).

Both books are available in the United States as e-book editions for Amazon's Kindle, and Goldsworthy's memoir is forthcoming in October from St. Martin's Press.

For the Book of the Year honor, Silvey's novel was up against Australian literary luminary David Malouf's novel Ransom (Random House Australia) and Peter Temple's literary crime novel Truth (Text Publishing), along with a biography of horse racing legend Bart Cummings and a history of Australia by Thomas Keneally.

Malouf's book also appeared with Silvey's on the shortlist for literary fiction, joining novels Dog Boy by Eva Hornung (Text Publishing), The World Beneath by Cate Kennedy (Scribe Publications), and Lovesong by Alex Miller (Allen & Unwin).

In debuts, the shortlist included the novels Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest (Random House Australia), Red Dust by Fleur McDonald (Allen & Unwin), and The Weight of Silence by Catherine Therese (Hachette Australia).

The video below is the trailer for Silvey's winning book, which has been compared to classic coming-of-age novels like To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn.

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