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G&A: The Contest Blog

Bloomington, New York's Codhill Press, whose "voice was conceived as lying at the intersection between spiritual, literary, and poetic thought," is open for entries to its fifth annual poetry chapbook contest, this year with a prize of one thousand dollars. The winner, selected by Pauline Uchmanowicz, will also receive fifty copies of his or her chapbook, which will be distributed by SUNY Press—another recent development for Codhill.

The competition's finalists will also have their manuscripts considered for publication by the press, "dedicated to making beautifully crafted, carefully edited books." Images of selections from the Codhill catalogue, including 2009 chapbook contest winner Elizabeth Rees's Tilting Gravity, are viewable online.

To enter this year's contest, poets writing in English should send a manuscript of twenty to thirty pages with a twenty-five-dollar entry fee by November 30. Details on what to submit along with your poems are available on the Codhill Press Web site.

A few weeks ago the Canadian Writers’ Trust announced the finalists for its Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, which could have induced a bit of sibling rivalry, given two of the names on the five-strong shortlist. But authors Kathleen Winter and her younger brother, Michael, are far from feeling any familial animosity, according to Canada's the Star—in fact, they've mentioned, tongue-in-cheek, splitting the prize of twenty-five thousand Canadian dollars.

"In terms of anything like battle, it’s more of a tag team," Mr. Winter told the Star. "And the other people had better watch out."

Mr. Winter was shortlisted for The Death of Donna Whalen (Hamish Hamilton Canada). His sister, five years his senior, was nominated for her first novel, Annabel (House of Anansi Press), which is also up for the Scotiabank Giller Prize of fifty thousand Canadian dollars and the twenty-five-thousand-dollar Governor General’s Award for Fiction.

"I wouldn’t be a writer if I hadn’t seen Kathleen writing," says Mr. Winter, who published his first book, the story collection Creaking in Their Skins (Quarry Press, 1994), before his sister released her debut collection, boYs (Biblioasis, 2007). "When I was in university, Kathleen was already a writer. I don't know if there was much of a living in it, but she lived and breathed books and writing. She was always sending things out to publishers and magazines."

The other authors up for the Writers' Trust prize are Trevor Cole for Practical Jean (McClelland & Stewart), Emma Donoghue for Room (HarperCollins), and Michael Helm for Cities of Refuge (McClelland & Stewart). Next Wednesday, all of the finalists will give a reading at the International Festival of Authors, and the winner will be announced on November 2 at Toronto’s Isabel Bader Theatre.

The ten finalists for the T. S. Eliot Prize, a U.K. award worth fifteen thousand pounds, were recently named in what chair of judges Anne Stevenson called an "exceptional year for poetry." Among the titles selected from 123 entries are the second collection from an American Army veteran, three Forward Poetry Prize–nominated books and this year's winner (who is one of two Nobel laureates on the list), and a collection by the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud that includes a poetic sequence informed by family letters.

The shortlisted poets, each of whom will receive one thousand pounds, are below.

Simon Armitage for Seeing Stars (Faber)

Annie Freud for The Mirabelles (Picador)

John Haynes for You (Seren)

Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney for Human Chain (Faber; Farrar, Straus and Giroux), which won the Forward Prize this year

Pascale Petit for What the Water Gave Me (Seren)

Robin Robertson for The Wrecking Light (Picador; forthcoming from Mariner Books), which was a 2010 Forward finalist

Fiona Sampson for Rough Music (Carcanet Press), also a 2010 Forward finalist

Brian Turner for Phantom Noise (Bloodaxe, Alice James Books)

Nobel laureate Derek Walcott for White Egrets (Faber; Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Sam Willetts for New Light for the Old Dark (Jonathan Cape)

The winner will be named on January 24 after a reading by the finalists at London's Royal Festival Hall on the previous day.

In the video below, Petit reads from What the Water Gave Me, inspired by the life of artist Frida Kahlo.

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost a star player this year to the sultry climes of Miami, and the Florida city's largest newspaper is looking for a poetic way to usher in the Heat's new signee. Until this Friday at 6 PM, the Miami Herald is running its one-off LeBron James poetry contest to "welcome (or not)" King James to the court.

"Are you so happy (or depressed) that LeBron James has arrived in Miami that you can't find the words?" the Herald asks, offering as a reward for those elusive words the opportunity for the winner to read his or her poem on WLRN Miami Herald News, as well as two tickets to a Miami Heat game. The King's bard will also receive passes to the finale event of O, Miami: A Contemporary Poetry Festival, which will occur for the first time next April.

Submit any number of poems via the online form, each piece being no more than six lines, in honor of James's new jersey number, in any style or form. The director of the new poetry festival, P. Scott Cunningham, will choose six finalists who will be announced on October 26 on WLRN Miami Herald News and online, on the day of the season's opening game.

For a taste of the possibilities of sport and glory in verse, check out NBC Miami's LeBron James poem picks from a couple of esteemed basketball blogs. And for a more dramatic rendering of James's poetry in motion, see the video below.

Yesterday afternoon the National Book Foundation announced the contenders for the National Book Awards, among them several titles published by small publishing outfits such as Coffee House Press, Four Way Books, and Copper Canyon Press. The lists of honorees in poetry and fiction are below; the finalists in young people's literature and nonfiction (a category that includes rocker-poet Patti Smith for her memoir Just Kids) are posted on the NBF Web site.

The finalists in poetry, judged by Rae Armantrout, Cornelius Eady, Linda Gregerson, Jeffrey McDaniel, Brenda Shaughnessy are:
The Eternal City
(Princeton University Press) by Kathleen Graber
Lighthead (Viking Penguin) by Terrance Hayes
By the Numbers (Copper Canyon Press) by James Richardson
One with Others (Copper Canyon Press) by C. D. Wright
Ignatz (Four Way Books) by Monica Youn 

The finalists in fiction, judged by Andrei Codrescu, Samuel R. Delany, Sabina Murray, Joanna Scott, Carolyn See are:
Parrot and Olivier in America
(Knopf) by Peter Carey
Lord of Misrule (McPherson) by Jaimy Gordon
Great House (Norton) by Nicole Krauss
So Much for That (Harper) by Lionel Shriver
I Hotel (Coffee House Press) by Karen Tei Yamashita

The National Book Award winners, who will be named on November 17, will each be awarded ten thousand dollars. Runners-up will receive one thousand dollars apiece.

Meanwhile, our neighbors to the north have made public the shortlists for their own national book prize, the Governor General's Literary Award to recognize Canadian literature in English and French. Among the English-language finalists are poet Daryl Hine (&: A Serial Poem, Fitzhenry and Whiteside), former editor of Poetry magazine; fiction writer and Booker Prize finalist Emma Donoghue (Room, HarperCollins); and memoirist Ian Brown (Boy in the Moon, Random House Canada), who received the Trillium Book Award, the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction, and British Columbia's National Award for Canadian Nonfiction this year.

The full lists, including the honorees in French-to-English translation, are posted on the award Web site. The winners, who will be revealed on November 16 in Montreal, will receive twenty-five thousand Canadian dollars (worth roughly the same amount in U.S. currency).

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, which carries a purse of fifty thousand pounds (approximately $79,200), was announced last night at a ceremony in London. Coming from behind his shortlisted counterparts, at least in terms of where betters placed his book, London author Howard Jacobson took the award for his "comic novel" The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury), which was released today in the United States.

The prize, which Salon's Laura Miller calls "the best literary award," typically promotes a worldwide rise in sales. Last year's winner, Hilary Mantel, has seen rights to her winning book, Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate), sold in thirty-seven countries, and its sales climb to over a half a million copies in the United Kingdom alone.

This is the first Booker for Jacobson, who was longlisted for the prize twice before in 2006 for Kalooki Nights (Jonathan Cape) and in 2002 for Who's Sorry Now (Jonathan Cape). His novel The Mighty Walzer (Jonathan Cape) won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing in 2000.

This year's judging panel includes former U.K. poet laureate Andrew Motion, Financial Times literary editor Rosie Blau, Royal Opera House creative director Deborah Bull, journalist Tom Sutcliffe, and critic Frances Wilson.

In the video below, Jacobson and a group of reviewers discuss his winning book, which the author has described as his darkest.

The Nebraska Center for the Book has announced the winners of its 2010 book awards. Debut author Dwaine Spieker won the poetry award for his collection Garden of Stars, published by All Along Press, a cooperative letterpress workshop in Saint Louis. Fiction writer and Ploughshares  editor   Ladette Randolph, who teaches at Boston's Emerson College, won in fiction for her first novel, A Sandhills Ballad (University of New Mexico Press).

The authors will be honored, along with winners in nonfiction, anthology, and design, on November 6. Also receiving recognition will be twenty-year-old poetry magazine Plainsongs, published at Hastings College, which won this year's Jane Geske Award, given to an organization that supports literacy in Nebraska.

Nominations for the awards are accepted in the spring. The 2010 deadline for book awards entries was July 1, and for the Geske Award, July 15.

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