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Nominations are currently open for the 2015 American Literary Translators Association’s National Translation Awards (NTA) in poetry and prose, and the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize. Individual prizes of $5,000 are awarded annually to book-length works of translation published during the previous year.

For the National Translation Awards, publishers and translators are invited to nominate translations from any language into English. The Lucien Stryk prize accepts nominations of book-length translations of Asian poetry or Zen Buddhist texts into English. The NTA and Lucien Stryk prizes are sponsored by the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) to support the organization’s goal of advancing the quality and art of literary translation.

For both the NTA and Lucien Stryk awards, PDF files of translated books should be uploaded using the online submission manager by May 1. Submissions are judged according to the “literary significance of the original and the success of the translation in recreating the artistry of the original.” For complete guidelines and eligibility requirements, visit the ALTA website.

This year’s award-winning translators and finalists will be honored at the thirty-eighth annual conference of the American Literary Translators Association in Tucson, Arizona. Judges for the 2015 NTA in prose are Pamela Carmell, Jason Grunebaum, and Anne Magnan-Park. The judges in poetry are Lisa Rose Bradford, Stephen Kessler, and Diana Throw. The 2015 Lucien Stryk prize judges are Lucas Klein, Janet Poole, and Stephen Snyder.

Now in its seventeenth year, the National Translation Award is the oldest prize for a work of literary translation. This year marks the first time the prize will be given in both the poetry and prose categories. Last year, Eugene Ostashevsky and Matvei Yankelevich won for their translation of Russian poet Alexander Vvedensky’s An Invitation For Me to Think (New York Review Books, 2013).

The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize was established in 2009 to “recognize the importance of Asian translation for international literature,” and is named for acclaimed translator of Asian poetry and Zen Buddhist Lucien Stryk. The 2014 winner was Jonathan Chaves for his book Every Rock a Universe: The Yellow Mountains and Chinese Travel Writing (Floating World Editions, 2013), which includes the first complete translation of Chinese poet Wang Hongdu’s Comprehending the Essentials of the Yellow Mountains.

ATLA will also award four to six travel fellowships of $1,000 each to emerging translators to attend the ATLA conference in Tuscon on October 28. Submissions are open until June 1. Fellowship eligibility requirements and application guidelines are available online.

For inquiries, e-mail ALTA managing director Erica Mena at erica@literarytranslators.org.

Samuel Ace is the author of three collections of poetry: Normal Sex (Firebrand Books, 1994), Home in Three Days. Don’t Wash. (Hard Press, 1996), and most recently, Stealth (Chax Press, 2011) co-authored with Maureen Seaton. His work has been widely anthologized and has appeared most recently in Aufgabe, Black Clock, the Atlas Review, Mandorla, Volt, Rhino, Versal, Trickhouse, Eleven Eleven, Tupelo Quarterly, the Volta, and Troubling the Line: Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics.

Samuel Ace

A transplanted New Yorker, I moved to Tucson in 1997. It is often said that people move to the desert to burn out karma. Perhaps that is true. I certainly have passed through several lifetime transformations here under the scorching sun, the blooms of ocotillo, and the fresh smell of creosote after summer rains. I had long harbored a fantasy about living in the desert but thought that the move was temporary.

Before coming here, I visited the University of Arizona’s Poetry Center, then a tiny cottage on the border of the university. I somehow understood that Tucson had a long tradition of drawing in writers from around the country, and thought yes, it would be a good place to land for a while. Once I arrived, I found that I was not wrong.

Not only did Tucson have a vital literary community, it had many diverse writing communities. The city, in the midst of a state full of deeply problematic politics, seemed to offer an antidote. The crossroads and richness of the border, of indigenous communities, languages, queerness, experimentation, scholarship, activism, and more saturate this small city in the desert. Those traditions have only gotten richer and more visible over the years. Poets & Writers funds many of the organizations that have added to that diversity. During the season (August through May), one can easily attend three to five readings a week in Tucson.
Fred Moten

In 1996, Tenney Nathanson and Charles Alexander, director of Chax Press, founded POG, a collective of poets, literary critics, and practitioners of other art forms in Tucson. They hoped to offer public programming and other related events designed to promote appreciation of and engagement with avant-garde work in a variety of media, especially poetry and multi-disciplinary art. I joined the Board of Directors of POG for a short time in the early 2000s, then rejoined the Board a few years ago. Besides original board members Nathanson, Alexander, and Cynthia Miller, the following diverse group of writers and artists make up our current board: Farid Matuk, Steve Salmoni, Susan Briante, Johanna Skibsbrud, John Melillo, Teré Fowler-Chapman, and Brian Blanchfield.

POG has always showcased innovative poets and artists from around the United States and beyond, including Bernadette Mayer, Fred Moten, Alice Notley, Anne Waldman, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Nathanial Mackey, Ariana Reines, Giovanni Singleton, Heriberto Yepez, Roberto Tejada, and over a hundred more. Our readings traditionally pair a local poet with someone from outside of the Tucson area. POG has also hosted workshops and artist talks; the recent inPrint Symposium in February featured Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. and Kyle Schlesinger. The POG & Friends reading, now an annual tradition, is designed to build community and has fostered a greater sense of kinship among Tucson’s diverse literary venues.

POG also collaborates regularly with other Poets & Writers-funded organizations, including the Intermezzo Reading Series, Casa Libre en Solana, the Tucson Festival of the Book, the University of Arizona Poetry Center, and the University of Arizona English and Writing MFA programs. Just this month, our most current collaboration with the Tucson Poetry Festival enabled us to bring Claudia Rankine to Tucson. 

The desert brings transformation and gifts. For this poet, those gifts have come in multitudes through the writers who make Tucson their home and the writers who touch down for a short visit. Many have come and stayed. None leave untouched by what is found here.

Photo (top): Samuel Ace     Photo Credit: Samuel Ace
Photo (bottom): Fred Moten    Photo Credit: Samuel Ace

Support for Readings & Workshops events in Tucson is provided by an endowment established with generous contributions from the Poets & Writers Board of Directors and others. Additional support comes from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Sometimes we pick up a book or read an article at the exact moment it's so needed. This week, write a story in which one of your characters is going through a difficult time and picks up a book that changes his outlook. Have your character become so connected with the book that he feels like it was written for him. Who knows, maybe it was?

This week, construct a poem as if the words that comprise it are three-dimensional. Imagine their shape, their heft -- how you must manipulate them in space to build your poem. Then print words on index cards or construct three-dimensional shapes out of cardboard and sculpt your poem with the words and shapes you've chosen.

The Pulitzer Prize board announced the winners of the 2015 Pulitzer Prizes today in New York City. Of the twenty-one categories, the awards in letters are given annually for works published in the previous year by American authors.The winner in fiction is Anthony Doerr for All the Light we Cannot See (Scribner). The finalists were Richard Ford’s Let Me Be Frank With You (Ecco), Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account (Pantheon), and Joyce Carol Oates’s Lovely, Dark, Deep (Ecco). The winner in poetry is Gregory Pardlo for Digest (Four Way Books). The finalists were Alan Shapiro’s Reel to Reel (University of Chicago), and Arthur Sze’s Compass Rose (Copper Canyon Press).

Mike Pride, who replaced Sig Gissler as prize administrator in July, announced the winners and finalists at Columbia University. Each winner will receive an award of $10,000 at a ceremony on May 28. For a complete list of winners in each category, visit the Pulitzer Prize website.

Last year, Donna Tartt won in the fiction category for The Goldfinch (Little, Brown), and Vijay Seshadri won the poetry prize for 3 Sections (Graywolf Press).

Administered by the Columbia University School of Journalism, the Pulitzer Prizes were established in 1911 by Hungarian-American journalist and newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer. The first prizes were awarded in 1917.

To celebrate the approaching centennial of the Pulitzer Prize, the board announced a new project called the Pulitzer Prize Centennial Campfires Initiative. The project, which aims to “ignite broad engagement with the journalistic, literary and artistic values they represent,” will fund a wide range of nationwide literary events throughout 2016 that showcase Pulitzer Prize works. For inquiries about the Campfires Initiative, contact Mike Pride at cmp2208@columbia.edu.

Photos from left to right: Anthony Doerr (credit Isabelle Selby Hires), Gregordy Pardlo (credit Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

PEN American Center announced this morning the shortlist for its annual literary awards. PEN will award over $150,000 in prize money to emerging and established writers and translators. The winners will be announced on May 13 and honored in a ceremony at the New School in New York City on June 8.

The 2015 awards will be given in seventeen categories, including poetry, poetry in translation, debut fiction, biography, creative nonfiction, children’s literature, and sports writing; the shortlist and longlist of each award is available on PEN’s website. Below are the finalists for a select few prizes:

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2014—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The judges are Caroline Fraser, Katie Kitamura, Paul La Farge, and Victor La Valle.

Molly Antopol for The UnAmericans (Norton)
Cynthia Bond for Ruby (Hogarth)
Phil Klay for Redeployment (Penguin Press)
Jack Livings for The Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Merritt Tierce for Love Me Back (Doubleday).

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For an essay collection published in 2014 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem the essay form imparts to literature. The judges are Diane Johnson, Dahlia Lithwick, Vijay Seshadri, and Mark Slouka.

David Bromwich for Moral Imagination (Princeton University Press)
Ian Buruma for Theater of Cruelty (New York Review of Books)
Charles D’Ambrosio for Loitering (Tin House Books)
Leslie Jamison for The Empathy Exams (Graywolf Press
Angela Pelster for Limber (Sarabande Books)

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction ($10,000): To an author of a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective and illuminating important contemporary issues which has been published in 2013 or 2014. The judges are Andrew Blechman, Paul Elie, Azadeh Moaveni, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, and Paul Reyes.

Danielle Allen for Our Declaration (Liveright)
Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru for League of Denial (Crown Archetype)
Sheri Fink for Five Days at Memorial (Crown)
Jonathan M. Katz for The Big Truck That Went By (Palgrave Macmillan)
Naomi Klein for This Changes Everything (Simon & Schuster)

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2014. The judges are R. Erica Doyle, W. Ralph Eubanks, and Chinelo Okparanta.

Rabih Alameddine for An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press)
Teju Cole for Every Day Is for the Thief (Random House)
Roxane Gay for An Untamed State (Black Cat)
Claudia Rankine for Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press)
Samrat Upadhyay for The City Son (Soho Press)

PEN America Center has administered its literary prizes for nearly fifty years. Established in 1922, PEN works globally to defend free expression, support persecuted writers, and promote literary culture.

This week, think about the things you find beautiful. Make a list of the items, structures, scents, and scenes that you find particularly appealing. Are there any entries on that list that might be considered unusual? For example, some people find the smell of gasoline pleasant or a high-voltage neon shade of pink alluring, while others are attracted to industrial architecture. Pick one of these entries and write about why you find it so beautiful.  

Submissions are currently open for the inaugural Health Affairs Narrative Matters Poetry Contest. Three prizes of $500 each and publication in Health Affairs will be given for “well-crafted poems that touch on topics related to health and health policy.” The final judges are poet Hakim Bellamy, physician and poet Serena Fox, and poet and teacher Natalie Lyalin. The winners will be announced at the end of April.

Submit up to three previously unpublished poems, each no longer than a single-spaced page, and a cover letter that includes your name, address, and a brief biography via e-mail to narrativematters@healthaffairs.org by April 22. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines, as well as to read poems previously published by the journal.

Established in 1981, Health Affairs is a leading peer-reviewed journal of health policy issues and research. The Narrative Matters section of Health Affairs features poetry and creative nonfiction pieces that “explore problems and concerns with health care delivery, roles of providers or patients, need for research, system redesign, and changes in public policy."

Do you have a buddy that also enjoys writing? This week, write something in the voice of your friend. Ask her for a particular topic to focus on, or just let your imagination run wild. It may be fun to have your friend do the same for you and swap stories once you’re both finished.  

This week, try creating your own erasure poem. First, select a page of text. This could be from a book, newspaper, computer printout, advertisement—anything that's handy. Then, take a pencil and circle the words in the text that will comprise your poem and draw a line through all the words you want to exclude. Take a thick black marker and color over the words you had drawn a line through, leaving the circled words untouched. For inspiration, read from Austin Kleon's book Newspaper Blackout (Harper Perennial, 2010). 

Irene Sherlock's poems, essays, and short stories have been published in a variety of literary magazines and her poetry chapbook Equinox was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. Since 2008, she has been writer-in-residence at the Adirondack Mountain Writers' Retreat. Sherlock is an addictions counselor in Danbury, Connecticut.

In the summer of 2008, I was asked to be the writer-in-residence at the Adirondack Mountain Writers' Retreat, organized by Perky Granger who directs an organization called Fiction Among Friends. Perky has been a recipient of grants from the Readings & Workshops Program at Poets & Writers for many years, and I was delighted to be paid to teach at this retreat. Never having done this kind of thing, I wondered if I’d be up to the task. I’d published work and had been an adjunct college writing instructor for years. Writing and being in the classroom were both a joy for me, but this would be something quite new: I’d be the sole developer of several workshops, leading a mix of both beginning and seasoned writers that I would weekend with, as well. Sounded fun. Sounded a little daunting.

The weekend Writers' Retreat experience, which sometimes lasts four days, is one of complete immersion. We discuss craft, writers, meals we’ve prepared, our love lives—even our kids’ lives. But mostly it’s about the thing that brought us together: what we’re writing now. The experience is both invigorating and somewhat exhausting and my guess is participants feel the same relief by retreat’s end. It’s like being at a wonderful but intense party that lasts for days, something I haven’t done since my early twenties.

I’m a therapist by trade and my day job demands that I listen well. These weekends require the yin and yang of when to listen and when to respond. Response is the trickier of the skills. When I lead a therapy group, I ask myself: Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said now? Does it need to be said by me?

Amazingly the process of leading a writing group and the process of doing therapy are quite similar. I wait and hope someone from the group will talk about where the piece comes to life, what needs to be cut. Who, I wonder, will address the writer’s aversion to letting us know how his or her character is feeling?

Both therapy and writing require courage, honesty, and a willingness to receive honest feedback. Both are connected to the process of self-expression, the work of creating art out of experience real or imagined, which oftentimes involves pain, confession, and sometimes transcendence.

Writing, like therapy, is a way to connect with the larger world. In an age of social networking and digitalized “sharing,” this weekend creates one of the most impactful ways to connect with others. It’s been my pleasure to act as writer-in-residence for eight years now, with support from the Readings & Workshops Program.  Much to my surprise, many of the same gifted participants come back each year. I really cannot take credit for that. Call it alchemy or just a stroke of luck on my part; whichever it is, I’ll keep returning, too, for as long as I’m asked.

Photo (Top): Irene Sherlock.  Photo (below):  Irene and Writer's Group. 

Photo Credit: Perky Granger

Support for Readings & Workshops in New York is provided, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, with additional support from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Submissions are currently open for the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize. A prize of $1,000 will be given for a single poem written by a poet residing in the western United States that “best exhibit[s] the qualities of originality, novelty, complex meaning, linguistic skill, and wit.” Jack Mueller will judge. The winner will be honored in a ceremony during the Telluride Literary Arts Festival in Telluride, Colorado, on May 16.

Submit a poem of any length with the required entry form and a $6 entry fee by April 15. E-mail submissions are preferred, but writers may submit via postal mail to Telluride Institute PO Box 1770, Telluride, CO 81435. Multiple submissions are accepted. Poems of any length, form, and content will be considered. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Now in its eighteenth year, the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize is cosponsored by San Miguel County Commissioner Elaine Fischer and San Miguel County Poet Laureate Peter Waldor. The prize pays tribute to the late Mark Fischer, a “much-loved poet, lawyer, skier, and raconteur.” The prize is hosted through a partnership with the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds poetry program, the Wilkinson Library, the Telluride Arts District, Ah Haa School for the Arts, and Arroyo’s Telluride. Art Goodtimes, director of Talking Gourds, said in a press release: “We’re pleased to be able to honor Mark’s memory with a contest that benefits Western poets.” For more information about the prize, e-mail Art Goodtimes.

Photo: Mark and Elaine Fischer

Sometimes you need to finish writing your piece before you can give it a proper title. This week, pick the title first and write your personal essay around it. If something doesn't immediately come to mind, try and model your title after one of your favorite stories, books, albums, or movies. Then, free write for twenty minutes on anything and everything that your title brings to mind. At the end, organize your notes and use them as a framework for your personal essay.

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation announced yesterday that Atticus Lish has won the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel, Preparation for the Next Life (Tyrant Books, 2014). The $15,000 annual award is given for a book of fiction by an American author published in the previous year.

Judges Alexander Chee, Marc Fitten, and Dierdre McNamer chose Lish’s novel from 360 entries. “With ferocious precision, Atticus Lish scours and illuminates the vast, traumatized America that lives, works, and loves outside the castle gates," said McNamer. “The result is an incantation, a song of ourselves, a shout.”

Preparation for the Next Life, which tells the love story of a Chinese Muslim immigrant and an Iraq War veteran living in New York City, is Lish’s debut novel. The son of the renowned editor Gordon Lish, who famously edited the work of Raymond Carver, Atticus Lish spent five years quietly writing his novel before selling it to small press Tyrant Books for a modest advance of two thousand dollars.

The 2015 finalists for the prize are Jeffery Renard Allen for his novel Song of the Shank (Graywolf Press); Jennifer Clement for her novel Prayers for the Stolen (Hogarth); Emily St. John Mandel for her novel Station Eleven (Knopf); and Jenny Offill for her novel Dept. of Speculation (Knopf). Each finalist will receive $5,000.

Lish and the four finalists will be honored at the 35th annual PEN/Faulkner Awards ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. on May 2. The event is open to the public; tickets are available online.

C. S. Lewis used a wardrobe, J. M. Barrie used the second star to the right, and Lewis Carroll used a rabbit hole—each a gateway to another world. This week, pick an object that is important to you and transform it into a portal to an alternate world. Write a story about someone discovering the portal and adjusting to life where everything is foreign. Take into consideration where this secret passage is located and what it feels like to pass through it.  

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