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G&A: The Contest Blog

Folger Poetry, a program of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., announced yesterday that it will award Juliana Spahr its nineteenth annual O. B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize. She will receive the ten-thousand-dollar award and give a reading at the library on October 9.

The prize, named for poet, teacher, and former Folger director O. B. Hardison, is awarded to recognize poets' work as writers and their service as educators. Spahr, who teaches at Mills College in California, most recently published The Transformation (Atelos Press, 2007), a lyric memoir. Claudia Rankine and Joshua Weiner selected her for the honor.

Past winners of the poetry prize are:
2008 Mary Kinzie
2007 David Wojahn
2006 David Rivard
2005 Tony Hoagland
2004 Reginald Gibbons
2003 Cornelius Eady
2002 Ellen Bryant Voigt
2001 David St. John
2000 Rachel Hadas
1999 Alan Shapiro
1998 Heather McHugh
1997 Frank Bidart
1996 Jorie Graham
1995 E. Ethelbert Miller
1994 R. H. W. Dillard
1993 John Frederick Nims
1992 Cynthia MacDonald
1991 Brendan Galvin

A prize of one thousand dollars and publication in Bear Deluxe Magazine out of Portland, Oregon, is being offered for a short story that addresses the environment, sense of place, and the natural world. The magazine is published by Orlo, a nonprofit that supports creative arts that explore environmental issues.

The judge for this year’s prize will be Portland writer Jon Raymond, whose most recent book is the story collection Livability (Bloomsbury, 2009), two pieces from which have been adapted for film. The 2006 film Old Joy was based on the story of the same title, and "Train Choir" became the 2008 movie Wendy and Lucy. Raymond has also written and edited for locally-based literary magazine Tin House.

Writers may submit stories of up to 5,000 words by September 8. The contest charges a $15 entry fee, which includes a copy of the prize issue.

Last year’s winner, Justin Blessinger of Madison, South Dakota, had his story "Winter Count" published in the Summer 2009 issue of the magazine. The judge was Katherine Dunn, also a Portland resident and the author of Geek Love (Knopf, 1989).

In 2010, the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, will give at least four fellowships to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers who wish to explore American history before the twentieth century. The organization’s goal in providing the monthlong residencies, which include $1,100 and housing on the campus of the independent research library (or $1,600 without housing), is to "multiply and improve the ways in which an understanding of history is communicated to the American people."

Fellowship recipients may spend their time at the library researching any subject, with the objective of producing "imaginative, non-formulaic works dealing with pre-twentieth-century American history." The opportunity will also be offered to painters, sculptors, filmmakers, playwrights and other artists working on historical projects.

Writers should submit ten copies of a twenty-five-page manuscript, a resumé, and a five-page project proposal by October 5. Two references should also send letters of recommendation directly to the society. Complete guidelines are available on the organization's Web site.

Past fellows include poet Nicole Cooley (1999), who researched the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 for her collection The Afflicted Girls (Louisiana State University Press, 2004); fiction writer Amy Brill (2005), who worked on a novel set in the 1800s about a female astronomer in Nantucket; and creative nonfiction writer and novelist Ginger Strand (2006), who investigated the library’s collection of Niagara Falls–related writings, images, and miscellania for her book Inventing Niagara (Simon & Schuster, 2008).

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has awarded Deb Olin Unferth the Cabell First Novelist Award for Vacation, published by McSweeney’s Books in 2008. She will receive five thousand dollars and an all-expenses-paid trip to Richmond to attend VCU’s First Novelist Festival in November.

Unferth has previously published a short story collection, Minor Robberies, one-third of the boxed set One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box (McSweeney's Books, 2007), which also includes How the Water Feels to the Fishes by Dave Eggers and Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape by Sarah Manguso.

Unferth’s debut novel was selected for the honor by previous prizewinners Travis Holland and Peter Orner, and Andrew Blossom, the editor of Makeout Creek magazine and the anthology Richmond Noir, forthcoming from Akashic Books in March 2010. Holland won the 2008 award for The Archivist’s Story (Dial Press, 2007), and Orner won in 2007 for The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo (Little, Brown, 2006).

This year's finalists were David Mura for Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire (Coffee House Press) and Jesmyn Ward for Where the Line Bleeds (Agate Bolden), recently nominated for a Legacy Award from the Hurston/Wright Foundation.

The annual award is named for prolific Richmond author and poet James Branch Cabell, known for his contributions to fantasy fiction, though he also wrote literary works. His debut novel, The Eagle’s Shadow—the first of fifty-two volumes of work—was published by Doubleday in 1904.

The next deadline for publishers to submit nominations is September 15, for books published in January through June of this year. The entry deadline for books released in July through December is January 15, 2010.

Lost Horse Press has announced the winner of the 2009 Idaho Prize for Poetry. Stephen Gibson of West Palm Beach was named the recipient of the one-thousand-dollar prize, which includes publication of his winning collection, Frescoes, by Lost Horse Press. Carolyne Wright judged.

Gibson’s most recent book of poetry is Masaccio’s Expulsion, published in 2008, which won MARGIE/IntuiT House Press’s Robert E. Lee and Ruth I. Wilson Poetry Book Award, judged by Andrew Hudgins. His debut collection, Rorschach Art, was published by Red Hen Press in 2001. Frescoes will be released in February of next year.

Two runners-up for the Idaho Prize were also named. They are John Brady for Thunder Shakes the Snake: The Poetry of Cheng Hui and Matthew Thorburn for Every Possible Blue.

The longlisted finalists are John Bensko for Fur Traders on the Missouri, Esther Lee for little lung damage, James McKean for We Are the Bus, Peter Munro for Animal Kingdom, Richard Robbins for Radioactive City, Catherine Staples for Still-Life Breathing, Joe Wilkins for Ragged Point Road, and Maya Jewell Zeller for Rust Fish.

The book prize is given annually in August, and the next deadline for manuscript submissions is May 15, 2010.

Travel Web site Trazzler and NYCgo, a New York City lifestyle site, are currently running a travel writing competition for a short-short essay on a personal oasis. One writer will win ten thousand dollars and a two-week trip to New York City to write about oases in the urban landscape for Trazzler. Four runners-up will receive five-hundred-dollar contracts to cover fifteen excursions. The deadline for 160-word entries, accepted online only, is August 17.

"Modern life can often feel like a trek through the desert," Trazzler says in its contest guidelines. "We want you to write about a place that not only satisfies your thirst for a change of scenery, but goes beyond this, breaking the spell of everyday existence and providing the ‘refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast’ that we all crave, especially in the summer." 

According to the guidelines, writers may have to employ some self-promotion to make it through the three-tiered selection process. Semifinalists’ pieces, chosen by editors and posted on Trazzler, will be voted on by the public. For writers among the semifinalists, Trazzler recommends publicizing the mini-essays using Twitter, social networking sites, and blogs. An editorial jury will then select the winner from the ten most popular pieces, and the prize announcement will be made during the week of September 21.

In order to enter, writers must sign up to be members of Trazzler using their Facebook accounts. A note to residents of Arizona: according to the official rules, this contest is void in the state.

St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York, announced the shortlist for its new fifty-thousand-dollar literary award, given to honor a fourth book of fiction. The finalists are Chris Abani for his novella Song For Night (Akashic Books, 2007), Aleksandar Hemon for his short story collection Love and Obstacles (Riverhead Books, 2009), Jim Krusoe for his novel Girl Factory (Tin House Books, 2008), and Arthur Phillips for his novel The Song Is You (Random House, 2009).

The judges for the award are authors Michael Chabon, Heidi Julavits, Jonathan Lethem, Ben Marcus, and Ayelet Waldman. They selected the four finalists from a pool of just under forty submissions.

The winner will be announced on September 12 at a gala celebrating the Brooklyn Book Festival, which will be held the following day at Brooklyn Borough Hall, a few blocks from the St. Francis campus. A ceremony to honor the prize recipient, who will conduct a fiction workshop and give a reading at St. Francis, will be held at the college in the fall.

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