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G&A: The Contest Blog

The National Book Foundation (NBF), sponsors of the National Book Awards, announced yesterday their plans to celebrate Tom Wolfe at this year's awards ceremony. The innovative journalist and novelist who also holds a doctorate in American studies from Yale University will receive the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters alongside the 2010 National Book Award winners.

Wolfe, responsible for coining popular phrases such as "good ol' boy," "the right stuff," and "the Me Decade," is the author of culturally-keen nonfiction works including The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test  and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, and three novels, I Am Charlotte SimmonsA Man in Full, and The Bonfire of the Vanities. According to NBF executive director Harold Augenbraum, Wolfe's work, along with that of the NBF's 2010 Literarian Award recipient, Sesame Street cocreator Joan Ganz Cooney, "led to enormous changes in our view of the world and took established media in new directions."

The author, who joins a list of past recipients that includes Joan Didion, Maxine Hong Kingston, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, and John Updike, will receive the award on November 17.

In the short video below, Wolfe (sans white suit, circa 1970) talks about the expression of language in his native American South with media maven Marshall McLuhan.

The fifth incarnation of National Public Radio's Three-Minute Fiction contest promises to be a supernatural one. The free competition, which will be judged by Michael Cunningham, is open only to stories that begin with the line, "Some people swore that the house was haunted" and end with, "Nothing was ever the same again after that."

Cunningham, the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel of visitations, voices, and convergences, The Hours, will select one winner to be interviewed on NPR and have his or her winning story read on the air. The winner will also receive autographed copies of The Hours and the author's forthcoming novel, By Nightfall, due to arrive in stores on October 5.

Stories must be under six hundred words and capable of being read in under, you guessed it, three minutes. The deadline for entries is September 26. Full guidelines, an entry form, and more on the history of the competition are available on the NPR Web site.

In the video below, some music to write by—a performance of Phillip Glass's score for the film adaptation of The Hours.

Recently-born literary journal the New Guard has received such a swell surge of entries to its two contests that it's jonesing for more. The editors are "thrilled" with the "overwhelming response" they've received to their competitions, reports publisher and editor Shanna Miller McNair, and want to keep each of the staggered contests open for three weeks longer than their initial deadline dates.

The journal, which is looking for both traditional and experimental work, will accept entries for the Machigonne Fiction Contest until October 1 (the initial deadline had been September 13), and the Knightville Poetry Contest will run until November 1 (drawn out from October 4). Former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall, whose most recent collection is White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946–2006 (Houghton Mifflin) will select the winner of the poetry competition. Debra Spark, author of three novels, most recently Good for the Jews (University of Michigan Press, 2006), will judge the fiction contest. Winners will receive one thousand dollars each, and their works will be published in the New Guard.

More information about the new lit mag and how to enter the contests is available on the New Guard's Web site.

In the video below, Hall and fellow poet Alicia Ostriker discuss why people sometimes reject poetry.

The Poetry Foundation has named the five recipients of 2010 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships. Each winner, none born earlier than 1980 this year, will receive a fifteen-thousand-dollar prize intended for poetic study and practice, no strings attached.

The winners are Brooklyn Copeland, an Indianapolis native who teaches yoga and whose chapbook Laked, Fielded, Blanked, will be released by Alice Blue Books this winter; Michener Center alumna Miriam Bird Greenberg, a current Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University; Nate Klug, a candidate for ordained ministry and master's student at Yale Divinity School; Iowa Writers' Workshop alumna Dora Malech, author of two collections, Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2010) and Say So (forthcoming from the Cleveland State University Poetry Center); and another Indiana-born poet, Christopher Shannon, who is the editor and publisher of Cellpoems, a text-message poetry magazine.

Applications for the 2011 awards, which are given annually to poets between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one, will be available in February on the Poetry Foundation Web site.

In the video below, new fellow Malech discusses poetics with poets Justin Cox and Shane McCrae.

As the release date approaches for the Allen Ginsberg biopic Howl, the poet's publisher, City Lights Books, is calling all "angelheaded hipsters" to submit their own trailers for the "notorious epic poem" that lends the film its name. The winner of the video contest will receive a movie poster, a Howl T-shirt, a "Howl if You Heart City Lights" bumper sticker, and a copy of Howl on Trial, the story of the 1957 obscenity trial that called into question the book's literary value.

Select trailers, which must be under ninety seconds long, will be posted on the City Lights YouTube page, and the winning work will also appear on Facebook. Entries are due on September 24, the major city release date for the film. More information about how to enter via e-mail is available on the City Lights Facebook page.

The trailer for the film, which stars James Franco as Ginsberg, is below.

The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland, just a few miles north of Washington, D.C., home to writing workshops and resources for area writers also offers a number of reading fellowships to poets and prose writers in the early stages of their careers. Fellows receive an honorarium and a slot to read at Story/Stereo, a fusion of live music and literature in performance that was attended by roughly seven hundred listeners in its first year, 2009.

Story/Stereo's fall season opens tonight, featuring California-based poet Allison Benis White, whose poetry collection Self-Portrait With Crayon won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize in 2008, and fiction writer Aryn Kyle of New York City, author of a short story collection, Boys and Girls Like You and Me (Scribner, 2010), and a novel, The God of Animals (Scribner, 2007). Benis White and Kyle will be accompanied by musician John Davis at the event, which begins at 8 PM.

Other fellows selected for the fall are poet Jenny Browne (The Second Reason) and memoirist Debra Gwartney (Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters), who will read on October 8, and poet Alison Pelegrin (Big Muddy River of Stars) and fiction writer Doreen Baingana (Tropical Fish: Stories Out of Entebbe), set to perform on November 5.

The fellows are chosen by a panel of the center's board members, community representatives, and workshop leaders. In the first two seasons of the program, the winners were seven men and five women, half of whom had published only one book, and the other half two. Five fellows were writers of color.

Kyle Semmel, the center's publications and communications manager, says the organization is looking to bring in emerging writers from across the country. (Fellows who live more than 250 miles from Bethesda receive an honorarium of five hundred dollars and local writers receive half that amount.) The deadline for writers nationwide to submit work for spring 2011 consideration is September 30.

In the video below, tonight's featured writer Aryn Kyle reads the first part of an essay at the Franklin Park Reading Series in Brooklyn, New York, about her experience on a book tour (and dating another writer at the time). Subsequent scenes from the reading are posted on YouTube.

Now in their tenth year, the ReLit Awards honor independent poetry and fiction with a focus on celebrating ideas without the offer of a prize purse. The shortlists for this year's honors in poetry, short fiction, and the novel were announced earlier this week, highlighting titles published in 2009 by a variety of Canada-based small presses such as House of Anansi Press, Oberon Press, ECW Press, and Coach House Books.

The finalists in poetry are:
The Others Raisd in Me by Gregory Betts (Pedlar Press)
A Nice Place to Visit
by Sky Gilbert (ECW Press)
Red Nest by Gillian Jerome (Nightwood Editions)
The Last House
by Michael Kenyon (Brick Books)
Lisa Robertson's Magenta Soul Whip
by Lisa Robertson (Coach House Books)
Paper Radio by Damian Rogers (ECW Press)
Always Die Before Your Mother
by Patrick Woodcock (ECW Press)

The short fiction finalists are:
Sentimental Exorcisms by David Derry (Coach House Books) 
What Boys Like by Amy Jones (Biblioasis)
Men of Salt, Men of Earth by Matt Lennox (Oberon Press)
Fatted Calf Blues
by Steven Mayoff (Turnstone Press)
Buying Cigarettes for the Dog by Stuart Ross (Freehand Books)
What We’re Made Of
by Ryan Turner (Oberon Press)
The Moon of Letting Go by Richard Van Camp (Enfield & Wizenty)

The finalists in the novel are:
Overqualified by Joey Comeau (ECW Press)
After the Red Night
by Christiane Frenette (Cormorant Books)
The Plight House
by Jason Hrivnak (Pedlar Press)
The Beautiful Children by Michael Kenyon (Thistledown Press)
Wrong Bar
by Nathaniel G. Moore (Tightrope Books)
Away From Everywhere
by Chad Pelley (Breakwater Books)
Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall (House of Anansi Press)

The winners will be announced on October 20 during the opening night of the Ottawa International Writers Festival in Ontario. Each will receive the ReLit ring, composed of four dials embossed with the alphabet.

The video below is a trailer for novel award finalist Zoe Whittall's shortlisted book.

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