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G&A: The Contest Blog

Three writers have received 2009 Beyond Margins Awards from PEN American Center, the literary and human rights organization announced today. The winners are Uwem Akpan, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Lily Hoang.

Akpan, of Lagos, Nigeria, won for his debut short story collection Say You're One of Them (Little, Brown and Company). Herrera, who lives in Redlands, California, received the award for his poetry collection Half of the World in Light (University of Arizona Press), which also won the International Latino Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award this year. Hoang, of South Bend, Indiana, is honored for her novel Changing (Fairy Tale Review Press).

The writers join award alumni including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Alberto Ríos, Chris Abani, and Joy Harjo, to name four of the twenty-nine previous winners.

The Beyond Margins Awards are given by PEN each year to recognize works by writers of color published in the previous year. The prize is sponsored by PEN's Open Book Program, which promotes diversity within the American literary community and publishing industry. Then next deadline for publishers and agents to submit books for prize consideration is December 14.

The Rona Jaffe Foundation announced the winners of the organization's fifteenth annual Writers' Awards, devoted to the support of emerging women poets and prose writers. The recipients of the twenty-five-thousand-dollar grants are poets Vievee Francis, Janice N. Harrington, and Heidy Steidlmayer, fiction writers Lori Ostlund and Helen Phillips, and creative nonfiction writer Krista Bremer.

The winners were selected from a pool of nominations made by select writers, editors, and critics who remain anonymous. In September, the six writers will be honored at a reception in New York City, where the foundation says the honorees will be introduced to an array of industry professionals, including agents, publishers, and fellow writers, among them inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander.

Rona Jaffe, author of the best-selling novel The Best of Everything (Simon & Schuster, 1958) and other works of fiction, established the annual awards in 1995. Ninety-eight women have since received the grants, among them Lan Samantha Chang, ZZ Packer, Tracy K. Smith, and Rivka Galchen.

Beginning today, U.S. fiction writers who have published at least one book have the opportunity to apply for four-thousand-dollar fellowships from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. Five to eight writers will receive the awards, intended to enable them to set aside time for writing.

Isherwood, born in England in 1904, was a novelist and translator, friend and collaborator with writers such as W. H. Auden, and an activist for gay rights. U.K. publisher Jonathan Cape released Isherwood's first novel, All the Conspirators, in 1928. In the early 1930s, he lived in Berlin, during which time he wrote Berlin Stories, which was adapted into the musical Cabaret. Isherwood spent the latter part of his life in California, where he worked in film and television among other writers including Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and Aldous Huxley. He died in 1986.

According to the organization's Web site, the Isherwood Foundation was established to grant funds to published fiction writers, as well as scholars of the late novelist. For the fiction grants, writers who have published a novel or short story collection may submit three copies of twenty to thirty pages of fiction, a curriculum vitae, and a letter of interest between today and October 1.

Before sending materials, entrants should visit the Web site to complete an online application and obtain an ID number. The organization is specific about how materials should be organized and mailed, so be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

Shenandoah, the literary magazine of Washington and Lee University, has extended the deadline for its occasional prize for a work honoring the life and fiction of Flannery O'Connor. Writers now have until October 31 to submit poems, fiction, or essays for a chance to win one thousand dollars and have their work included in the journal's sixtieth anniversary issue, dedicated to the prose maven from Georgia.

O'Connor, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, debuted with the novel Wise Blood (Harcourt, Brace) in 1952, and went on to publish the short story collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find (Harcourt, Brace, 1955) and another novel, The Violent Bear It Away (Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1960), before her death at thirty-nine, from complications of lupus, in 1964. Her story collection Everything That Rises Must Converge (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) was released posthumously in 1965. Her letters to fellow literary luminaries, as well as essays and reviews, have also been collected for publication over the years.

All entries to Shenandoah's contest will be considered for publication in the special issue, and there is no length restriction on pieces. Reviews, photographs, and works of visual art are also eligible for the contest.

 

The U.K. newspaper the Guardian announced today the ten semifinalists for its 2009 First Book Award. The winner, whose book will be selected from a field of poetry, fiction, memoir, and nonfiction works, will receive ten thousand pounds (approximately sixteen thousand dollars).

The longlisted authors are:
Eleanor Catton for her novel The Rehearsal (Granta)

Petina Gappah for her short story collection An Elegy for Easterly (Faber and Faber)

Samantha Harvey for her novel The Wilderness (Jonathan Cape)

Siân Hughes for her poetry collection The Missing (Salt Publishing)

Reif Larsen for his novel The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet (Harvill)

Ali Shaw for her novel The Girl With Glass Feet (Atlantic)

Gabriel Weston for her memoir Direct Red (Jonathan Cape)

Three writers of nonfiction books were also selected as semifinalists. They are Edward Hollis for The Secret Lives of Buildings (Portobello), Graham Farmelo for The Strangest Man (Faber and Faber), and Michael Peel for A Swamp Full of Dollars (I. B. Tauris).

The judges for this year's prize are Claire Armitstead, Nadeem Aslam, John Gray, Tobias Hill, Martha Kearney, and Katharine Vinero. To aid in their selection of the winner, the judging panel will be offered commentary from five reading groups assembled by the U.K. bookstore Waterstone's. In November the group will reveal its shortlist of five authors and the winner will be announced in December.

The annual prize, past winners of which include Jonathan Safran Foer and Zadie Smith, is open to all debut authors writing in English.

The University of Iowa Press announced today the winners of the 2009 Iowa Poetry Prize, both of them receiving the honor for debut collections. The prize, which is given annually to both emerging and established writers, went to Samuel Amadon for Like a Sea and Molly Brodak for A Little Middle of the Night. Their books will be published by the press next March, and each writer will receive a standard royalty contract.

Amadon is the author of the chapbooks Advice for Young Couples from H_NGM_N B_ _KS, Goodnight Lung from Octopus Books, Each H from Ugly Duckling Presse, and Spy Poem, released by Projective Industries, the chapbook press where he serves as coeditor. He received his MFA in poetry from Columbia University and is a PhD candidate in creative writing and literature at the University of Houston, where he teaches as a graduate fellow. "Rather than create worlds," University of Iowa Press said of Amadon's poems in the awards announcement, "they point out what a strange world already exists."

Brodak, whose Instructions for a Painting was selected by Reginald Shepherd for the 2007 GreenTower Press Midwest Chapbook Series, received her MFA in creative writing from West Virginia University and teaches at Augusta State University. The press noted that her collection "simmers with wit as Brodak confronts tragedy, childhood losses, transcendent love, and the question of art itself."

The next deadline for the prize is April 30, 2010.

The Academy of American Poets announced yesterday that poet Marvin Bell will judge the 2010 Walt Whitman Award, given for a first poetry collection. Bell's debut collection, published in 1966 by Stone Wall Press, is Things We Dreamt We Died For, and his most recent book is 7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 Book (Trinity University Press, 2009), a collaborative project with six other writers.

The winner of the Whitman Award, which will open for entries on September 15, will receive a prize of five thousand dollars, publication of his or her winning manuscript by Louisiana State University Press, and a monthlong residency at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson. Writers who have not published a poetry collection in a standard edition—that is, a book of forty pages or more in length that was released in an edition of five hundred copies or more—may submit a manuscript of fifty to one hundred pages between September 15 and November 15 with a twenty-five-dollar entry fee. Poets who have published chapbooks or books in limited editions still eligible. An entry form and complete guidelines are available on the Academy Web site.

The winner is expected to be announced in May 2010. Last year's award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, was given to J. Michael Martinez of Boulder, Colorado, for his debut collection, Heredities, which will be published next spring.

To read a selection of poems by Bell, and to link to an interview with him conducted by Rebecca Seiferle, visit the Academy's Web page on the poet.

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