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G&A: The Contest Blog

In an effort to celebrate great books of long ago that were overlooked by major American literary prizes such as the National Book Awards and the Pulitzer Prizes, online literary magazine Bookslut has launched its own new award.

The Daphnes will posthumously honor books published decades ago, starting with the year 1963, in order to “right the wrongs of the 1964 National Book Awards," editor Jessa Crispin writes on the Bookslut blog. “If you look back at the books that won the Pulitzer or the National Book Award, it is always the wrong book. It takes decades for the reader to catch up to a genius book, it takes years away from hype, publicity teams, and favoritism to see that some books just aren’t that good.”

The Bookslut team has begun compiling nominations of some of the best books published in 1963—very few of which even made the NBA shortlist—which in fiction included The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, V by Thomas Pynchon, and Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, among others (John Updike's The Centaur took the fiction prize that year). Notable nonfiction works of the year included Fire Next Time by James Baldwin and Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt (the award went to a biography of John Keats); and while a John Crowe Ransome anthology took the prize in poetry, other 1963 collections included 73 Poems by E. E. Cummings, Reality Sandwiches by Allen Ginsburg, Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law by Adrienne Rich, and All My Pretty Ones by Anne Sexton.

The editors are currently seeking more nominees for the best books of 1963, in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s books. Nominations can be sent via e-mail to Jessa Crispin.

A panel of judges in each category, comprised of writers chosen by the editors, will read each nominated book and vote on the winner.

Stay tuned to the Bookslut blog for more updates about the award, and in the meantime check out an interview with Crispin by Dustin Kurtz of independent publisher Melville House.

Submissions are currently open for the annual Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Held this year in affiliation with Fence Magazine, the prizes in each category include an all-expenses-paid trip to attend one of SLS’s writing programs in Kenya, Lithuania, or Montreal. The deadline is February 28.

The winners in poetry and fiction will have the choice of attending a two-week program in Vilnius, Lithuania, from July 13–26, or in Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya, in December, and will have their work published in Fence Magazine. The winner in nonfiction will have the choice of attending either of the two-week programs or the annual SLS workshop in Montreal from March 27–30. The programs include writing workshops, seminars, readings, walking tours, and other cultural events. Each prize includes airfare, tuition, and housing.

Second-place winners in poetry and fiction will receive a full tuition waiver for the two-week program of their choice; third-place winners will receive a 50 percent tuition discount. All qualifying entries will automatically be considered for a variety of additional prizes sponsored by SLS. All entrants will also receive a yearlong subscription to Fence Magazine.

Dorothea Lasky will judge in poetry, Aimee Bender will judge in fiction, and Phillip Lopate will judge in nonfiction.

Submit up to three poems, a short story or novel excerpt of up to twenty pages, or a work of creative nonfiction of up to twenty pages, with an $18 entry fee, by February 28. Submissions can be sent via e-mail or by postal mail to Summer Literary Seminars, Unified Literary Contest, English Department, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8 Canada.

Visit the SLS website for more information about the programs and complete contest guidelines.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is currently accepting applications for its annual creative writing fellowships. The $25,000 grants, which are given in alternating years to poets and prose writers, will be given in 2015 to poets. The deadline to apply is March 12, 2014.

Poets who have published at least one full-length poetry collection, or twenty or more poems or pages of poetry in five or more literary journals, anthologies, or publications, are eligible to apply. Detailed eligibility requirements are available here.

Complete application instructions, including all required materials, can be found on the NEA website. Applications must be submitted online through the Grants.gov website. Recipients will be announced in December 2014.

The annual fellowships are given in order to provide time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement for poets and prose writers. Applications are reviewed through an anonymous process in which “the only criteria for review are artistic excellence and artistic merit.” The NEA assembles a different advisory panel each year to review applications.

This year, thirty-eight fellowships were awarded to fiction and creative nonfiction writers; forty poets received the 2013 grants. Fellowships in fiction and creative nonfiction will be offered again in 2016; guidelines will be available on the NEA website in the fall of 2014.

Questions about the fellowship program and application process can be directed to the National Endowment for the Arts by e-mail to litfellowships@arts.gov or by phone at (202) 682-5034.

The finalists were announced today for the tenth-annual Story Prize, an award given for a short story collection published in the previous year. The winner will receive $20,000.

The finalists are Archangel by Andrea Barrett (W. W. Norton), Bobcat by Rebecca Lee (Algonquin Books), and Tenth of December by George Saunders (Random House). The collections were chosen by Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey and director Larry Dark from among ninety-six submitted books, published by sixty-four different presses in 2013. The finalists will each receive $5,000.

Lindsey and Dark also announced the winner of the second annual Story Prize Spotlight Award, a $1,000 prize given for a “short story collection worthy of additional attention.” The 2014 winner is Byzantium (Graywolf Press) by Ben Stroud.

This year's final judges—author Antonya Nelson; Tin House editor Rob Spillman; and Stephen Ennis, director of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin—will select the 2014 Story Prize winner, who will be announced at the annual awards ceremony and reading on March 5 in New York City.

More about this year’s finalists and Spotlight Award winner can be found on the Story Prize website and official blog. Claire Vaye Watkins won the 2013 award for her debut collection, Battleborn.

Below, listen to finalist Rebecca Lee read an excerpt from her collection, Bobcat, as part of the Poets & Writers Author Podcast series.

Sponsored by Dzanc Books, the annual DISQUIET Literary Prize in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction is currently open for submissions. A winner in each category will receive publication in a participating literary journal, and one grand-prize winner will receive airfare, accommodations, and tuition—a prize worth approximately $5,000—to attend the fourth annual DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal, this summer.

The winner in poetry will be published in the Collagist; the winner in fiction will be published in Guernica; and the winner in nonfiction will be published in Ninth Letter. Finalists in each category will be offered partial tuition scholarships to attend the DISQUIET program. Four full scholarships to attend the retreat are also available for writers of Luso descent.

Submit up to ten poems or up to twenty pages of prose with a $15 entry fee by February 15. Entries may be submitted online via Submittable or sent by mail to Dzanc Books, the DISQUIET Prize, 610 South Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01002. Previously unpublished works in English are eligible. Writers must live or have lived in the United States or Canada, but need not be citizens or permanent residents.

Founded by Dzanc in 2011 and inspired by Lisbon poet Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet, the annual DISQUIET International Literary Program is a two-week retreat that brings together North American and Portuguese writers in the heart of Lisbon. The program offers workshops in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and writing the Luso experience; craft seminars; discussions with editors from Dzanc Books, GuernicaNinth LetterNew York Review of BooksSt. Petersburg Review, and other publishers and magazines; a series of lectures on Portuguese literature and culture; talks and readings with Portuguese writers; literary walks; film screenings; and social events and excursions in and around Lisbon.

The 2014 program will be held from June 29 through July 11. Workshop faculty includes poets Erica Dawson and David Lehman; fiction writers Denis Johnson, Alissa Nutting, and Padgett Powell; and nonfiction writer Josip Novakovich, among others. Visit the website for more information and general application guidelines.

First founded in Iowa City in 1958, December, the storied literary magazine resurrected last month after being shuttered for nearly three decades, is currently considering submissions for its first annual literary awards.

The Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize and the Curt Johnson Prose Awards in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction will include three first-place prizes of $1,500 each and three honorable mention awards of $500 each for a group of poems, a short story, and an essay. The winning works will be published in the Spring 2014 issue of December. The deadline is February 1.

Poets may submit up to three poems of any length; prose writers may submit a short story or essay of up to 8,000 words. The entry fee is $20, which includes a copy of the Spring issue. Submissions will be accepted online via Submittable or can be sent by mail to Gianna Jacobson, Editor, December, P.O. Box 16130, St. Louis, MO 63105.

All entries will be considered for publication. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but writers are asked to notify the editors upon acceptance of work elsewhere. Previously published work, either in print or online, will not be considered.

Finalists will be selected by December’s editorial staff; final judges will be Stephen Berg in poetry, Mary Helen Stefaniak in fiction, and William Kittredge in creative nonfiction.

The biannual December’s Revival Issue was published last month and is currently available for individual purchase and by subscription. Visit the December website for more information and complete submission guidelines. 

The Sonora Review is currently accepting submissions to its annual poetry contest, given for a poem or group of poems. The winner will receive a prize of $1,000 and publication in Sonora Review. The deadline is February 14.

Eduardo C. Corral, the winner of the 2011 Yale Younger Poets Prize and author of the collection Slow Lightning (Yale University Press, 2012), will judge.

Poets may submit three to five pages of poetry and a $15 entry fee using the online submission system or by postal mail to Mike Coakley and Laura Miller, Editors in Chief, c/o Poetry Editorial Board, Sonora Review, English Deptartment, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85719. A cover letter with a brief biography and contact information should be included with submissions, but names should be removed from all manuscript pages. The winner will be published in Issue 66 of Sonora Review; finalists will also be considered for publication.

The winner of the 2013 prize, judged by Dawn Lundy Martin, was Shawn Fawson. Kenzie Allen won the second-place prize, and Cat Richardson received the third-place prize. The winning works can be read in Issue 63.

Founded in 1980, Sonora Review is one of the oldest student-run literary journals in the country. Each issue is edited and assembled by an all-volunteer staff of graduate students in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Arizona. Former staff members include Robert Boswell, Antonya Nelson, Tony Hoagland, Richard Russo, Richard Siken, and David Foster Wallace. Work originally published in the Sonora Review has appeared in the Best American Poetry and Best of the West anthologies, and has won O. Henry Awards and Pushcart Prizes. Visit the website for more information.

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