Deadline Approaches for Frontier Poetry Award

Submissions are currently open for Frontier Poetry’s Summer Poetry Award. A prize of $2,000 and publication on the Frontier Poetry website is given annually for a poem by an emerging poet. The editorial staff will judge.

The editors request work “that is blister, that is color, that strikes hot the urge to live and be. We strongly invite poets from all communities.” Using the online submission system, submit up to three poems totaling no more than five pages with a $20 entry fee by July 15

Frontier Poetry is a weekly online publication championing emerging poets; “A place where voices—of all colors, ages, orientations, identities—are made equal by a shared belief in the power of language to confront the dark, the vast, the unexplored.” Frontier sponsors several literary awards throughout the year, including the Frontier Award for New Poets, the Frontier Open, and the Chapbook Contest. Visit the website for more information.

Speculative Memoir

7.12.18

In an interview published earlier this year by Electric Literature, Sofia Samatar discusses the concept of speculative memoir with authors Matthew Cheney, Carmen Maria Machado, and Rosalind Palermo Stevenson, all who have written work that blends memoir with elements of the highly imaginative that is typically reserved for science fiction, fantasy, and fabulist literature. Machado talks about alternating between real events and genre fiction that act as extended metaphor. Stevenson says, “In some ways introducing the imagined is perhaps a way of daring to approach the material.” Think of a specific memory whose particulars seem blurry or difficult to approach. Write a speculative essay or short memoiristic piece in which you approach this memory by inserting a blatantly fictional aspect or character. How does this element of fiction open up new or alternative possibilities for the way you’ve long recalled this event, situation, or relationship?

Sea Change

7.11.18

Ash, beech, dandelion, fern, ivy, lark, nectar, pasture, and other nature-related terms have been removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary in the past decade or so, replaced by words related to social media and technology, such as blog, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, and voicemail. Write a short story that takes place in a society in which language is experiencing a transition of values from nature to technology, a change reflected in its use or regulation of words. What happens when references to nature are superseded by an emphasis on technology? How do your characters resist or rally in support of these social changes? Consider how this change in language might infiltrate other elements of daily life in your story, such as politics, food, family, housing, or arts and entertainment.

Travel Verse

7.10.18

Although we often associate travel writing with essays about journeys or road-trip novels, poetry has had a long, rich history of association with travel. Many nineteenth- and twentieth-century poems explore wanderlust and faraway locales and new modes of transportation, which can be seen in the exoticism of John Masefield’s “Cargoes” and Rudyard Kipling’s “Mandalay” and the romanticization of rail travel in Thomas Hardy’s “On the Departure Platform” and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Travel.” More recent poems, such as Khaled Mattawa’s “The Road From Biloxi,” Jenny Xie’s “Rootless,” Naomi Shihab Nye’s “The Burn,” and Roger Reeves’s “Brazil,” explore themes of identity, migration, and diaspora. Write a poem based on a favorite travel memory that brings to mind a rich mixture of emotions and a connection with contemporary issues, perhaps touching on ideas of alienation and belonging, or the allure and repulsion of a certain mode of transit. Consider the binaries of travel and home, movement and stillness, the foreign and the familiar. Where have you been and, perhaps more important, where are you going?

July Short Story Deadlines

Fiction writers, polish up your short stories! The following contests each offer a prize of at least $1,000 and publication.

Sixfold Short Story Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Sixfold is given quarterly for a short story. Entry fee: $5. Deadline: July 24.

Munster Literature Centre Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition: A prize of €2,000 (approximately $2,400) and publication in Southword, an online literary journal published in Cork, Ireland, is given annually for a short story. The winner also receives a weeklong residency at the Anam Cara Writer’s Retreat on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork. Entry fee: $18. Deadline: July 31.

Narrative Spring Story Contest: A prize of $2,500 and publication in Narrative is given annually for a short story, a short short story, an essay, or an excerpt from a work of fiction or creative nonfiction. A second-place prize of $1,000 is also awarded. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $26. Deadline: July 31.

Masters Review Short Story Award for New Writers: A prize of $3,000 and publication in Masters Review is given twice yearly for a short story by a writer who has not published a novel (writers who have published story collections are eligible). The winning story will also be sent to agents Laura Biagi of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners, and Amy Williams of the Williams Agency. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: July 31.

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines, and check out the Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Poets & Writers’ Connecting Generations Seventeenth Annual Intergenerational Reading

Readings & Workshops (East) director Bonnie Rose Marcus writes about Poets & Writers’ Connecting Generations seventeenth annual Intergenerational Reading held at Barnes & Noble at Union Square in New York City.

On Saturday, June 23, Poets & Writers held its seventeenth annual Intergenerational Reading at Barnes & Noble at Union Square, where we’ve held the reading for the past seven years. As I listened to the thirty-six writers from the ages of eleven to eighty-six, I thought back to the beginnings of this celebratory reading, when we were given a grant in 2001 from the Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation to conduct writing workshops at senior and teen community centers. Visiting the programs, I was moved by the diversity of voices, and the similarities and differences in the generations. I thought it would be inspiring to bring these generations together. The first Intergenerational Reading was held in a community room at the Goddard Riverside Community Center’s NORC Program, with about six readers and an audience of about twenty.

This year’s writers were from six programs funded by our Readings & Workshops program: senior writers from the Goddard Riverside Community Center, Grand Street Settlement, the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College in collaboration with Siloam Presbyterian Church, Kew Gardens Community Center, and the Stanley Isaacs and Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center. The teen and young adult writers were from Kamit Preparatory Institute, the National Domestic Writers Alliance, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Newtown Literary Alliance, Concourse House, and Office Hours Poetry Workshop.

Hosting our event was veteran host Regie Cabico, a recipient of a Poets & Writers’ Writers for Writers Award in 2006. A pioneer of spoken word, and the first openly queer and Asian slam poet to take top prizes, Regie continues to perform his unique blend of poetry, stand-up comedy, and theater, and teaches writing workshops throughout North America and the United Kingdom.

Regie’s enthusiasm was contagious. It was evident that each reader felt honored and respected, and was cheered on by Regie and the audience, a full house of about seventy-five people. The writers shared work about loss, abuse, and love: a Tibetan woman read a poem about the suffering in her country, another writer shared a prose poem featuring Noah (and his ark) and Donald Trump, and there were many moving pieces about the challenges and celebrations on life’s journey.

Perhaps the best way to sum up the flavor and value of this reading is to hear from some of the writers themselves:

“It is an extraordinary event for so many reasons. It is an opportunity to hear young and old from so many different vantage points. Many of us may never have that chance of hearing stories from the LGBTQ community, the senior community, or inner-city youth, most of whom are passionate, wistful, angry, and gifted. To see that many participants, some who are facing an audience for the first time, pour out their most intimate feelings with pride and receive kudos for their efforts, is a humbling and inspiring experience.”
—Joyce Berger, Kew Gardens Community Center

“This year, I finally shed a lifelong struggle with stage fright and enjoyed myself at the reading! I also relished everyone’s spoken words, especially those of the younger poets who infuse me with creative energy.”
—Suzanne Pavel, Goddard Riverside Community Center

“I have always felt that one never stops learning. Young folks can learn from seniors and vice versa. This year I had the chance to let young folks know about the real situation in Tibet, because they are our future. Afterwards some of the young folks hugged me and commented on the power of my poem. I also think my poem was timely because of the current situation at our southern borders. What struck me most were the young people who spoke so honestly and showed that poetry is an outlet for all of us.”
—Chukie Wangdu, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center

“Young talents lyrically reported their passions from today’s frontlines while older writers arranged those puzzle pieces left on youth’s table. The reading reminded me that poetry is an instrument played to remember, berate, reveal, coax, question, love, revolt, heal, and most significantly, to witness and connect. Thank you for creating space for all of us!”
—Marty Correia, Office Hours Poetry Workshop

Support for the Readings & Workshops Program in New York City is provided, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, with additional support from the Frances Abbey Endowment, the Cowles Charitable Trust, and the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photos: (top) Dena Igusti, Aaliyah Daniels, Solomon Mussings, and Shakeva Griswould from Urban Word NYC (Credit: Christian Rodriguez). (bottom) Participants of the 2018 Intergenerational Reading (Credit: Christian Rodriguez).

Submissions Open for Sewanee Review Contest

The Sewanee Review is currently accepting submissions to its inaugural Fiction & Poetry Contest, given for a short story and a group of poems. The winners will receive $1,000 and publication in the Winter 2019 issue. Dan Chiasson will judge in poetry, and Danielle Evans will judge in fiction.

Using the online submissions system, submit one to three poems or a story of up to 10,000 words with a $30 entry fee, which includes a one-year subscription to Sewanee Review, by is July 31. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Poetry judge Dan Chiasson is the poetry critic at the New Yorker and the author of four poetry collections, most recently Bicentennial (Knopf, 2014). Fiction judge Danielle Evans is the author of the story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Riverhead Books, 2010).

Established in 1892, the Sewanee Review is one of the oldest literary quarterlies in the country. The review, which publishes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, has recently published work by poets Erin Adair-Hodges and Heather McHugh and fiction writers Andrea Lee and Justin Taylor.

Read more about the journal’s editorial focus and redesign under editor Adam Ross in the Poets & Writers online exclusive “The Sewanee Review at 125.”

Procrasti-what?

What do you do to put off important tasks? The social media hashtag #procrastibaking pulls up thousands of posts of goods baked while more pressing matters may have been at hand. Some procrastibakers claim that it’s part of the creative process and can help overcome writer’s block, that the sensory experience and rhythms of following a recipe’s steps can be conducive to warming up to a creative task. Write a personal essay about your own go-to procrastination method. How does your procrastination activity help or hinder your work? Does it do more than satisfy a desire to feel good and enjoy the present while postponing something else?

From Another Planet

Octopuses have unusual characteristics and intellectual abilities that might just be from out of this world. Earlier this year, a group of international scientists published research in the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology asserting the possibility that octopuses may have their origins in outer space. Write a short story that makes use of a character who seems bafflingly odd or otherworldly. What sort of behaviors can be pointed out as unusual? What theories do the other characters have about the reasons for this strangeness, and what do these judgments and justifications reveal of the characters making them?

Misheard Words

Do digital assistants like Siri and Alexa really understand what you’re saying? Last month, a Portland, Oregon couple’s Amazon Alexa device misinterpreted a series of sentences it overheard as instructions to record a private conversation and send it to an unsuspecting person in their contact list. Write a poem that centers on a misheard conversation between two people. Experiment with different homonyms or homophones, or other ways the sounds of different words or phrases can be misheard. How might the misinterpretation of words create unexpectedly fresh ideas or images?

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