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G&A: The Contest Blog

Last week, National Public Radio commenced a monthlong microfiction contest, seeking out prose that, in the words of judge James Wood, "strikes at the very heart of the short story as a project, which is to get something going rapidly." Writers are asked to submit original fictional stories that can be read in less than three minutes, with a length limit of six hundred words.

While no monetary prize is offered, Wood, a literary critic for the New Yorker and author of numerous essays on fiction, will read his favorite works on air throughout the summer, and one writer will be interviewed on a weekend edition of All Things Considered. The winning selections will also be posted on the NPR Web site.

Pointing to authors such as Anton Chekov and Lydia Davis as masters of the form, Wood offers some words of advice to writers of tiny tales: "One of the most effective ways to get a very short story vivid is to think in terms of voice," he says on the NPR Web site. "I'm going to be looking at a writer's ability to suggest a world, rather than to fill it in and dot every i."

Works can be submitted via the NPR Web site until July 18. As of Sunday, the contest had received thirteen hundred entries.

Not too long ago the Great Lake Colleges Association announced the winners of its New Writers Awards, given annually to a poet, fiction writer, and creative nonficiton writer to honor their first books. The University of Iowa Press published two of the winning titles: Don Waters's story collection Desert Gothic and Melissa J. Delbridge's memoir Family Bible. Indie publisher Curbstone Press released Teeth, the debut of winning poet Aracelis Girmay. (Incidentally, both Girmay and Delbridge have been featured in Poets & Writers Magazine.) As part of the award, each of the winners are invited to give readings, meet with students, and lead classes at several of the GLCA's member colleges, each of which pay five hundred dollars.

So, where might these three recent winners travel to collect their honoraria and meet potential readers? The following are the association's member colleges in Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvanie, and Ohio: 

Albion College
Allegheny College
Antioch College
Denison University
DePauw University
Earlham College
Hope College
Kalamazoo College
Kenyon College
Oberlin College
Ohio Wesleyan University
Wabash College
The College of Wooster

The deadline for this year's Pearl Poetry Prize is July 15. The annual award, which offers a thousand dollars and publication by Pearl Editions, an independent press in Long Beach, California, is given for a full-length poetry collection. Below are the winners of the last ten contests. Who will judge Debra Marquart, herself a previous winner, pick this year?

2008: Alison Luterman's See How We Almost Fly, chosen by Gerald Locklin
2007: Lavonne J. Adams's Through the Glorieta Pass, chosen by David Hernandez
2006: Kevin Griffith's Denmark, Kangaroo, Orange, chosen by Denise Duhamel
2005: Ada Limón's This Big Fake World, chosen by Frank X. Gaspar
2004: Elizabeth Oakes's The Farmgirl Poems, chosen by Donna Hilbert
2003: Andrew Kaufman's Earth's Ends, chosen by Fred Voss
2002: Richard M. Berlin's How JFK Killed My Father, chosen by Lisa Glatt
2001: Micki Myer's Trigger Finger, chosen by Jim Daniels
2000: Debra Marquart's From the Sweetness, chosen by Dorianne Laux
1999: Robert Perchan's Fluid in Darkness, chosen by Ed Ochester

Julia Alvarez was recently named winner of the fourteenth annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Award. The prize, sponsored by the F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference, an annual day-long event held at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, honors the achievements of a "great American author." Alvarez, whose most recent book is the novel Return to Sender (Knopf, 2009), writes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and books for young readers. She will recieve the award at this year's conference on October 17.

Previous recipients of the award are William Styron, John Barth, Joyce Carol Oates, E. L. Doctorow, Norman Mailer, Ernest J. Gaines, John Updike, Edward Albee, Grace Paley, Pat Conroy, Jane Smiley, William Kennedy, and Elmore Leonard.

The conference was started in 1996 when the city of Rockville celebrated the centennial of the birth of Fitzgerald, who happens to be buried in the town at Saint Mary's Church. This year's event will feature panel discussions, workshops, and "publication conversations."

Times Square may have been reduced to a pedestrian mall—or elevated to a walker's oasis, depending on your perspective—but it's a safe bet that it will always retain a certain poetic quality. The fine folks at the Poetry Society of America know this, and they've launched the second annual Bright Lights Big Verse contest to prove it.

Four winners will each receive a prize of $750 and a trip to New York City to read their winning poems at an event in Times Square. Until July 15, poets may submit poems of any length that celebrate Times Square and the qualities it represents: diversity, desire, dynamism, and the marriage of commerce and culture, according to the PSA and its cosponsor, the Times Square Alliance. Robert Casper, Brett Fletcher Lauer, and Alice Quinn will judge.

Check out the PSA Web site for complete guidelines and instructions for online submissions. And remember, any poem submitted must be suitable for public display, which, since we're talking about Times Square, home to the Naked Cowboy, is open to interpretation.

 

The shortlist for the 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing was announced last month, and for the six finalists, the waiting is almost over. The winner of the annual prize, which is worth ten thousand pounds (approximately sixteen thousand dollars), will be announced at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England, on July 6.

The following shortlist was selected from 122 entries from 12 African countries: 

Mamle Kabu (Ghana) for "The End of Skill" from Dreams, Miracles and Jazz (Picador Africa)
Parselelo Kantai (Kenya) for "You Wreck Her" from the St. Petersburg Review
Alistair Morgan (South Africa) for "Icebergs" from the Paris Review
EC Osondu (Nigeria) for "Waiting" from Guernica Magazine
Mukoma wa Ngugi (Kenya) for "How Kamau wa Mwangi Escaped Into Exile"  from Wasafiri

The prize is given for a short story written by an African writer and published in English. Last year's winner was South African writer Henrietta Rose-Innes for her short story "Poison" from Africa Pens (Spearhead). 

 

Late last year we told you about Cave Canem's announcement of the inaugural Cave Canem Northwestern Press Poetry Prize, a second book award for African American poets. Six months later, the nonprofit has announced the first winner of the prize: Indigo Moor for his book Through the Stonecutter's Window. John Keene, who, along with Reginald Gibbons and Parneshia Jones, judged the prize, wrote that Moor's poems "open a sustained and impressive dialogue with the visual arts, history, the natural world, and the poet's dreams and nightmares, while dancing poly-rhythmically across and down each page."

Moor's first poetry collection, Tap-Root, was published in 2006 by Main Street Rag as part of its Editor's Select Poetry Series. Northwestern University Press will publish Through the Stonecutter's Window in March 2010. 

In addition, two poets received honorable mention: Remica Bingham for "What We Ask of Flesh" and JoAnne McFarland for "Acid Rain." 

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