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G&A: The Contest Blog

Manchester Metropolitan University has opened its second biennial poetry competition, which carries a prize of ten thousand pounds (approximately fifteen thousand dollars). Poets writing in English, regardless of nationality, are invited to submit a portfolio of three to five poems totaling no more than 120 lines by August 6.

This year's judges are Simon Armitage (Seeing Stars, Zoom!), Lavinia Greenlaw (Minsk, Thoughs of a Night Sea), and Daljit Nagra (Look We Have Coming to Dover!), who have all been recognized by the prestigious Forward Poetry Prize as winners or finalists.

The 2008 judges, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, and Carol Ann Duffy, chose two winners to share the inaugural prize, Lesley Saunders and Mandy Coe, both of England. Coe is the author of two collections, most recently The Weight of Cows (Shoestring Press, 2004), and Saunders the author of four, including No Doves (Mulfran Press, 2010).

The poetry award alternates annually with an award in fiction. English fiction writer Toby Litt, author of ten novels, won the first fiction prize in 2009.

Poetry entries, which should be accompanied by a fifteen pound fee, can be made online or via postal mail. Guidelines and contact information for the university are available on the school's Web site.

In the video below, 2010 judge Armitage reads at the most recent Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.

The second annual Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize winner has been announced. Detroit-based poet and Cave Canem fellowship recipient Vievee Francis received the award for her second poetry collection, Horse in the Dark, selected by Parneshia Jones and Adrian Matejka.

Francis, a 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation prize winner and graduate of the MFA program at the University of Michigan, is also the author of the collection Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne
State University Press, 2006). Horse in the Dark will be published by Northwestern University Press in March 2011.

The prize, established in 2008, is given for a second poetry collection by an African American writer. The inaugural winner was Indigo Moor for Through the Stonecutter's Window.

To hear a selection of recordings of Francis reading her poems, as well as her words on a humanitarian poetry project, the pleasure of writing, and poets she recommends reading, visit her archive page at From the Fishhouse.

The Munster Literature Centre in Cork, Ireland, named five U.S. writers finalists for the most lucrative prize in short fiction, the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award. American authors Robin Black, Belle Boggs (one of Poets & Writers Magazine's featured debut fiction authors in the July/August 2010 issue), T. C. Boyle, Ron Rash, and Laura van den Berg were shortlisted for the thirty-five-thousand-euro prize (approximately $45,000) along with David Constantine of Oxford, England.

Debut authors make up half of the finalists, with Black shortlisted for If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This (Random House), Boggs for Mattaponi Queen (Graywolf Press), and van den Berg for What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books). Boyle is a finalist for Wild Child (Viking), Rash for Burning Bright (HarperCollins), and Constantine for The Shieling (Comma Press). Three of the finalists' publishers are small presses—Graywolf Press, Dzanc Books, and Comma Press.

The annual award recognizes a book of short stories written in English and published in the twelve months preceding the September award announcement, made with all finalists in attendance at the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Festival. Last year's winner was Simon van Booy of Wales for his second collection Love Begins in Winter (Beautiful Books).

The 2010 judges are novelist Mary Morrissy; Nadine O'Regan, books and arts editor for the Sunday Business Post; and Diana Reich, a former Orange Prize administrator and the founder of the Small Wonder short story festival in Sussex, England.

In the video below, van den Berg reads from her debut collection, the manuscript for which won the 2007 Dzanc Prize.

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.

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