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G&A: The Contest Blog

Wednesday was a busy day for book awards ceremonies in New York City. At the New School last night, Tobias Wolff was named winner of the annual Story Prize for Our Story Begins (Knopf, 2008), edging out finalists Jumpha Lahiri (Unaccustomed Earth, Knopf) and Joe Meno (Demons in the Spring, Akashic Books). Earlier in the day, Gin Phillips and David Sheff were named winners of Barnes & Noble's sixteenth Discover Great New Writers Awards. Phillips won in fiction for her debut novel The Well and the Mine (Hawthorne Books) and Sheff won in nonfiction for his memoir Beautiful Boy (Houghton Mifflin).

Wolff received twenty thousand dollars, while Phillips and Sheff each received ten thousand dollars as well as a year of additional marketing and merchandising support from Barnes & Noble. But the winners aren't the only ones with a little extra coin in the bank today. Story Prize finalists Lahiri and Meno each received five thousand dollars, while the second- and third-place finalists in the Discover Great New Writers Awards program each received five thousand dollars and twenty-five hundred dollars respectively. Those finalists are Benjamin Tayler for The Book of Getting Even (Steerforth Press) and Zachary Lazar for Sway (Little, Brown) in fiction and Eric Weiner for The Geography of Bliss (Twelve) and Nia Wyn for Blue Sky July (Dutton) in nonfiction.

That's sixty-five thousand dollars doled out to nine writers on one day in one city, which, considering today's installment of Daily News, is cause for either excitement or resentment, depending on your disposition.

 

 

Poet Sonia Sanchez, author of sixteen books and a Cave Canem faculty member, has received the 2009 Robert Creeley Award. A ceremony will be held on March 23 at the R. J. Grey Jr. High School Auditorium in Acton, Massachusetts; admission is free. Sanchez also will select books that have influenced her writing for inclusion in the Acton Memorial Library collection.

In its ninth year, the Creeley Award honors the memory of Robert Creeley, who lived in Acton, Massachusetts, from the age of four to fifteen. It has brought a variety of distinguished poets, including Galway Kinnell, Grace Paley, Martin Espada, and C. D. Wright, to read in Acton. Last year's winner was John Ashbery. Take a look:

In the print edition of our March/April 2009 issue, we described Narrative Magazine's Story Contest as the "Third-Person Story Contest." Since we went to press, Narrative expanded the scope of the award and is now accepting entries written from any point of view.

The $3,000 award will be given three times a year for a short story, a short short story, an essay, or an excerpt from a work of fiction or creative nonfiction of no more than 10,000 words. There is a $20 entry fee, and the deadline is March 31. Visit our Deadlines section for more upcoming grants and awards or our Grants & Awards database, if you'd rather search a year's worth.

The finalists for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, given to a writer thirty-five or younger, were announced this week, and—not to toot our own horn or anything, but—two of the five, Rivka Galchen and Salvatore Scibona, were included in our July/August 2008 feature on debut fiction writers.

Galchen was nominated for her novel Atmospheric Disturbances (HarperCollins, 2008), which was also mentioned in Sarah Weinman's article, "Book Trailers: The Key to Successful Marketing" (November/December, 2008), for its especially inventive trailer

Salvatore Scibona was nominated for his novel,The End, published by Graywolf Press, the St. Paul-based indie, whose authors have been raking in the acclaim lately. Along with Scibona's, Graywolf publishes the work of inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander and recently released a special chapbook of Alexander's poem "Praise Song for the Day." Matthea Harvey recently won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, given for a book by a midcareer poet, for her collection Modern Life, which Graywolf published in 2007. (Harvey, by the way, was featured in "Why We Write Now," our special feature on inspiration included in our January/February 2009 issue.)

The three other finalists are Jon Fasman for The Unpossessed City (Penguin, 2008), Sana Krasikov for One More Year (Spiegel & Grau, 2008), and Zachary Mason for The Lost Books of the Odyssey (Starcherone, 2008).

The winner, who receives $10,000, who be announced on March 16.

Don Williams, the editor of the annual literary magazine New Millennium Writings, recently established a new contest that offers a thousand dollars for the best creative writing on the subject of president Barack Obama. 

After receiving an outpouring of response to an essay about the newly inaugurated commander in chief that he posted last month on his own Web site, Williams decided to accept online submissions "for a once-only special contest to mark this moment in our still-young millennium." The Special Contest on Obama is open to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. One winner, who will receive a thousand dollars, and at least three runners-up will be published in the next issue of New Millennium Writings and on the journal's Web site.

Writers may submit as many poems, stories, or essays as they'd like, but the entry fee for each is $17. Work that has already been published elsewhere, either online or in a magazine with a print circulation under five thousand, will be accepted. The deadline is March 1. Complete guidelines are available on the New Millennium Writings Web site.


 

Okay, so this contest doesn't offer literary fame or fortune—or much of anything, really, beyond a little fun. But if you're into poetry and movies, Entertainment Weekly is holding a contest in honor of Hollywood's biggest self-congratulatory party—the Academy Awards—that might be of interest.

After the editors of the popular culture magazine received a letter in the form of a poem celebrating Oscar season from a reader in McHenry, Illinois (who somehow manages to reference Revolutionary Road, Milk, Gran Torino, Frost/Nixon, My Bloody Valentine, Fantasia, Slumdog Millionaire, Marley and Me, Liar, Liar, Yes Man, The Wrestler, and The Dark Knight, all in thirty-four lines) they posted it on Entertainment Weekly's Web site and invited poets to submit their own Oscar-themed verse.

So go ahead, put your film critic's hat on and submit a poem before those little gold statues are handed out on February 22.

 

 

As we wrote about yesterday, this week is the submission period for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and it seems the occasion has stirred up debate about the merits of the award.

Yesterday, Mediabistro's GalleyCat posted a defense of the success of last year's winning book, Fresh Kills, in response to snarky reader comments. Another Galleycat post yesterday linked to an article published in N1BR, the new online book supplement to lit mag n+1, written by Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, one of last year's award judges. And, today, GalleyCat posted a correction to Wellington's article submitted by Jane Ciabattari, president of the National Book Critics Circle. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

 

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