Poets & Writers Invites Tennessee Writers to Appy for its 2009 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award

Prize Includes All-Expenses-Paid Trip to New York City and Meetings with Professionals in the Literary Community

August 1, 2008 -- Poets & Writers, the nation's largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers, invites poets and fiction writers in Tennessee to apply for its 2009 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. Writers who are residents of Tennessee and have never published a book, or have published only one full-length book of fiction or poetry are eligible. The winning poet and fiction writer will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City in October 2009 to meet with top literary professionals, including editors, agents, publishers, and prominent writers, and to give a public reading. This year's judges are Paula Morris for fiction and Natasha Trethewey for poetry.

Paula Morris is a novelist and short story writer from New Zealand. She is the author of three novels, all published by Penguin New Zealand: Trendy But Casual (2007), Hibiscus Coast (2005), and Queen of Beauty (2002). Queen of Beauty won best first book at the 2003 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and Hibiscus Coast has been optioned for film. Paula’s short stories have been widely published and broadcast in both New Zealand and the U.S., and her first short story collection, Forbidden Cities, will be published in October 2008. Paula has degrees from universities in New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S., including an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has been the recipient of a number of prizes and fellowships, and has made festival appearances in New Zealand, China, and the U.S. She lives in New Orleans, where she is an Assistant Professor of English at Tulane University.

Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Missouri. She is author of three collections of poetry, Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, Bellocq’s Ophelia (Graywolf, 2002), and Domestic Work (Graywolf, 2000). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She is the Professor of English and holds the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Emory University.

To date, 76 writers from 30 states have received the Writers Exchange Award. As a direct resul, many past winners – notably Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees– have had their books published, received awards and fellowships, secured teaching positions, and laid the groundwork for their professional lives as writers.

Guidelines and application forms are available here. Completed applications and manuscripts must be postmarked no later than December 1, 2008.


Established in 1984, the Writers Exchange Award provides writers with significant opportunities for professional advancement. Each year writers from a new state are invited to submit their work according to announced contest guidelines. Outside judges choose one poet and one fiction writer for this prize. Title of the award has been given to Maureen Egen—a gift in her honor was given to Poets & Writers by Hachette Book Group USA in 2007.