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G&A: The Contest Blog

The shortlist for the 2009 Costa Book Awards, given for books published in the current year by writers living in the United Kingdom, was announced earlier today. Among the finalists are Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel and poet Ruth Padel, nominated for a collection centered on her great great grandfather, Charles Darwin. The prizes, formerly the Whitbread Literary Awards (they now take the name of their sponsor, a popular U.K. coffee chain), recognize the year's "most enjoyable books" in the categories of poetry, novel, and first novel.

The finalists are, in poetry:
Clive James for Angels Over Elsinore (Picador Poetry)
Katharine Kilalea for One Eye’d Leigh (Carcanet)
Ruth Padel for Darwin: A Life in Poems (Chatto & Windus)
Christopher Reid for A Scattering (Arete Books)

In the novel:
Penelope Lively for Family Album (Fig Tree)
Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate)
Christopher Nicholson for The Elephant Keeper (Fourth Estate)
Colm Tóibίn for Brooklyn (Viking)

In first novel:
Rachel Heath for The Finest Type of English Womanhood (Hutchinson)
Peter Murphy for John the Revelator (Faber and Faber)
Raphael Selbourne for Beauty (Tindal Street Press)
Ali Shaw for The Girl with Glass Feet (Atlantic Books)

The winner in each category, announced on January 5, will receive five thousand pounds (approximately eight thousand dollars). A "Book of the Year" selected from among the works of the genre winners will be awarded twenty-five thousand pounds (approximately forty thousand dollars). The overall honoree will be revealed on January 26.

Missouri Review is offering a prize of fifteen hundred dollars for what it calls "voice-only literature"—a poem, story, or work of creative nonfiction recorded with no other sound but the author's voice reciting the work. The journal says in the award guidelines that the audio submissions "will be judged on literary merit and technical proficiency."

Entries, which should ideally "make creative use of recording technology as a means of furthering...literary craft" are limited to ten minutes. Writers are asked to record on a CD labeled with writer, producer, title, and duration of play, and to submit a twenty-four-dollar fee per entry (this also entitles entrants to a one-year subscription to the journal). The deadline is January 2, 2010.

The journal is also running a contest for a video documentary short, not to exceed ten minutes. The DVD recording may either present a nonfiction narrative, a documentary play, or an interview (on "any topic of interest to a general literary audience"). The prize is fifteen hundred dollars and a screening of the winning work at Columbia, Missouri's, True/False Film Festival.

Last year's voice-only literature winners, who received five hundred dollars each, are Douglas Collura in poetry for “Living the Life of the Great Buster Keaton" and Ann Rosenquist Fee in fiction for “Annunciation of the Baby Jesus One Block North of Riverfront Dr." Rachel Hanel won in creative nonfiction for "Smoke Rings." In 2007, Todd Boss won in poetry for “To Wind a Mechanical Toy”; Josh McDonald won in flash fiction for “Lost”; and Albert Haley won in creative nonfiction for “The Cough.” A list of the runners-up and the documentary honorees is on the Missouri Review Web site.

Poems, stories, and essays from a free audio issue of Missouri Review, published in 2007 and featuring work by writers such as Paul Guest and Stephen O'Connor, are available for download from the journal Web site.

In the video below, Boss, who wrote a story for Poets & Writers Magazine on how writers can build an audio platform, recites another of his poems titled "Constellations."

 

River Styx, the thirty-five-year-old literary and arts journal, is running its fourth annual short short story contest with a prize of fifteen hundred dollars and a case of Schlafly beer. The Saint Louis–based microbrewery is cosponsoring the competition, which invites fiction writers to submit up to three stories of no more than five hundred words each. The winning work will be published in River Styx.

The 2009 winner, selected from more than five hundred submissions, is Amina Gautier for her story "Minnow." The second- and third-place winners, respectively, are Rose Bunch for "Season" and Gerry Canavan for "When We're Gone." Honorable mentions went to Avni Vyas for "Cartography," Lisa Nikolidakis for "Misplaced,"
 Fred Venturini for "Punches," and 
Gary Leising for "Enter Fortinbras."

This year's deadline for entries is December 31, and all entrants will receive a one-year subscription to the journal.

At a benefit dinner in New York City tonight the winners of the sixtieth annual National Book Awards were announced. In poetry, Keith Waldrop won for his collection Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press), his fifteenth book of poems. Colum McCann won in fiction for his fifth novel Let the Great World Spin (Random House). They each received a ten-thousand-dollar prize.

Awards were also given in young adult literature, to Phillip Hoose for Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and nonfiction, to T. J. Stiles for his biography The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Knopf).

The winner of the best of the National Book Awards Fiction, given in celebration of the awards' anniversary, was The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor. The public was invited to vote on the standout of six fiction volumes, including books by Ralph Ellison and Eudora Welty, earlier this fall. O'Connor's collection received the majority of a reported ten thousand votes.

In the video below, McCann discusses his winning book.

Today the University of Pittsburgh Press named Bobby C. Rogers the winner of the 2009 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. His debut collection, Paper Anniversary, selected by Pitt Poetry Series editor Ed Ochester, will be published by the press next fall. Rogers will receive a prize of five thousand dollars as well as a standard royalty contract.

According to Pitt's press release, Rogers cites his influences as ranging from Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson to the prose of writers such as Flannery O'Connor and John Cheever, as well as "the book of Ecclesiastes and the epistle of James" and the voices of the community in his native Tennessee. The forty-five-year-old writer lives in Memphis and teaches at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

Given since 1981, the annual Starrett Prize presents the only opportunity for first book manuscripts to be considered for publication by the press. The press reports that in 2009 it received more than seven hundred contest entries, which are accepted each year during the months of March and April.

The past years' winners are:
2008 Cheryl Dumesnil for In Praise of Falling
2007 Michael McGriff for Dismantling the Hills
2006 Nancy Krygowski for Velocity
2005 Rick Hilles for Brother Salvage: Poems
2004 Aaron Smith for Blue on Blue Ground
2003 David Shumate for High Water Mark
2002 Shao Wei for Pulling a Dragon's Teeth
2001 Gabriel Gudding for A Defense of Poetry
2000 Quan Barry for Asylum
1999 Daisy Fried for She Didn't Mean To Do It
1998 Shara McCallum for The Water Between Us
1997 Richard Blanco for City of a Hundred Fires
1996 Helen Conkling for Red Peony Night
1995 Sandy Solomon for Pears, Lake, Sun
1994 Jan Beatty for Mad River
1993 Natasha Sajé for Red Under the Skin
1992 Hunt Hawkins for The Domestic Life
1991 Julia Kasdorf for Sleeping Preacher
1990 Debra Allbery for Walking Distance
1989 Nancy Vieira Couto for The Face in the Water
1988 Maxine Scates for Toluca Street
1987 David Rivard for Torque
1986 Robley Wilson for Kingdoms of the Ordinary
1985 Liz Rosenberg for The Fire Music
1984 Arthur Smith for Elegy on Independence Day
1983 Kate Daniels for The White Wave
1982 Lawrence Joseph for Shouting at No One
1981 Kathy Calloway for Heart of the Garfish

PEN American Center recently initiated an award that will recognize and fund the translation of Paraguayan literature. The organization announced today that novelist Lily Tuck has donated one hundred thousand dollars to establish the prize, which will award three thousand dollars to a living Paraguayan author for a major work and, in the following year, the same amount to a translator. The inaugural prize will be given in 2010.

Tuck was inspired to found the prize following the release of her National Book Award–winning 2004 novel set in Paraguay during the nineteenth century. "In gratitude for the enthusiasm and welcome both my novel, The News from Paraguay, and I received in Paraguay, I am delighted to offer PEN a translation prize for both established and emerging Paraguayan writers and thereby enhance literature worldwide," she is quoted as saying in a PEN press release. "Writing is hard and lonely work, and I believe in writers reaching across international borders and language barriers to support one another."

PEN is inviting Paraguayan publishers to submit five copies of a work in Spanish or Guaraní along with a letter of nomination to PEN Paraguay by December 15. Entry information is posted on the PEN Web site.

Undergraduate and grad student writers take note: The Atlantic is welcoming submissions for its annual poetry, fiction, and nonfiction competitions until December 1. The winners each will receive one thousand dollars, and second- and third-place prizes will also be awarded. The Atlantic doesn't mention publication as part of the prize, but works by past winners of the contest have appeared in the magazine.

In order to enter, one must be enrolled full-time at an accredited U.S. college or university. The submitted work—one to three poems or up to 7,500 words of prose (fiction or a personal or journalistic essay)—should be previously unpublished, but the guidelines state that pieces that have previously appeared in student publications are still eligible. There is no fee for submission, but only one entry per genre is allowed.

In order from first place to third, the 2008 winners in poetry are Diana Chien of Princeton University, Adam Nunez of College of Idaho, and Luke Johnson of Hollins University. In fiction, the winners are Jonathon Walter of the University of Arizona, Marjorie Celona of the University of Iowa, and Shelley Scalleta of Columbia University. The nonfiction recipients are Danielle Luther Luebbe and Kelly Grey Carlisle, both of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, and Simon Tudiver of Yale University. The titles of their winning works have not been announced.

A list of the current contest's winners will be published in the May 2010 issue of the Atlantic, after honorees are contacted in March.

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