Poets & Writers Blogs

2018 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Winner in Poetry: The Literary Community

Anushah Jiwani graduated summa cum laude from Hendrix College with a BA in English–Creative Writing and International Relations. She is the 2018 recipient of the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award (WEX) for poetry sponsored by Poets & Writers. She took honors in the 2017 Southern Literary Festival Competition and won third place in the statewide 2017 Jeannie Dolan Carter Collegiate Poetry Contest sponsored by the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas. Jiwani also won the Fourth Annual Short Fiction Contest sponsored by the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in 2017. Much of her writing centers on the duality of her Pakistani American identity and aims to provide a space for the immigrant voice.

In May of 2018, I found out that I was the recipient of Poets & Writers’ Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award for poetry. In addition to a generous honorarium and a reading, Joshua Idaszak, the winner for fiction, and I would get the chance to meet with editors, authors, and publishers in New York City. Bonnie Rose Marcus worked tirelessly to arrange meetings, and welcomed us with open arms in November.

What I learned: editors, publishers, literary agents—they’re all just ordinary people. They want to know about you, and it’s as easy as one simple conversation. This prize creates the opportunity for that conversation to happen, with generous support from the team at Poets & Writers.

Through these conversations, many things became clear: internal relationships mattered, there would be little money in poetry, literary agents wanted novels over short stories, small presses are dedicated to their authors, and within all this business, community around writing was a precious thing.

Among others, I chose to meet with Paolo Javier, who works tirelessly to create community and accessibility around writing at Poets House, and Sarah Gambito, cofounder of Kundiman, who is seeking holistic points of entry and multidisciplinary forms for audience engagement.

These poets have been motivated by lack of opportunity or equity in the writing world, and are trying to create honest spaces for established and growing writers. We talked about embracing rejections, finding the right MFA programs, expanding community programs, the discipline required for publishing one’s work, and our love for literature.

As a writer, I learned an incredible amount about the inner workings of the literary world through this trip. But what was more significant, personally, was being able to connect with other writers of color who shared their experiences about navigating and succeeding in this sphere.

The Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award is generously supported by Maureen Egen, a member of the Poets & Writers Board of Directors.

Photo: (left to right) Joshua Idaszak, 2018 WEX poetry judge Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Anushah Jiwani, R&W (east) director Bonnie Rose Marcus, R&W fellow Arriel Vinson, and R&W program assistant Ricardo Hernandez (Credit: Christian Rodriguez).

Upcoming Prose Contest Deadlines for Writers

Looking to work on submissions over the weekend? The contests listed below have deadlines through January 15 and are open to writers of fiction and nonfiction:

Australian Book Review’s Calibre Essay Prize: A prize of AUD $5,000 (approximately $3,600) is given annually for an essay. A second-place prize of AUD $2,500 (approximately $1,800) is also given. The winners will be published in Australian Book Review. J. M. Coetzee, Anna Funder, and Peter Rose will judge. Entry fee: $18. Deadline: January 14.

Ellen Meloy Fund’s Desert Writers Award: A prize of $5,000 is given annually to enable a creative nonfiction writer “whose work reflects the spirit and passions for the desert embodied in Ellen Meloy’s writing” to spend creative time in a desert environment. Entry fee: None. Deadline: January 15.

BkMk Press’s Chandra Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by BkMk Press is given annually for a short story collection. Entry fee: $30. Deadline: January 15.

University of Texas in Austin’s Dobie Paisano Fellowships: Two residencies, cosponsored by the Texas Institute of Letters, at a rural retreat west of Austin are given annually to writers who are native Texans, who have lived in Texas for at least three years, or who have published significant work with a Texas subject. The six-month Jesse H. Jones Writing Fellowship is given to a writer in any stage of his or her career and includes a grant of $18,000. The four-month Ralph A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship is given to a writer who has demonstrated “publishing and critical success” and includes a grant of $25,000. Entry fee: $20; $30 to enter both competitions. Deadline: January 15.

PRISM’s Jacob Zilber Prize for Short Fiction: A prize of $1,500 CAD (approximately $1,130) and publication in PRISM is given annually for a short story. Entry fee: $40. Deadline: January 15.

Literal Latté’s K. Margaret Grossman Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Literal Latté is given annually for a short story. Entry fee: $10. Deadline: January 15.

Third Coast’s Fiction Contest: An award of $1,000 and publication in Third Coast is given annually for a short story. Deborah Reed will judge. Entry fee: $18. Deadline: January 15.

Visit the contest websites for complete submission details, including eligibility guidelines and length requirements. For a look at more writing contests with upcoming deadlines, visit our Grants & Awards database and submission calendar.

Milkweed Expands Midwestern Poetry Prize

Minneapolis–based independent publisher Milkweed Editions recently announced that its Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry will continue under a new name, the Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry. The annual books prize, which is open to poets living in the upper Midwest, has also been expanded to include Michigan on its list of eligible states of residence for entrants.

Established in 2011, the prize offers $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions for a collection of poetry by an emerging or established poet residing in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, or Michigan.

“This meaningful prize recognizes artistic excellence and rewards poets publicly and lucratively, and we are grateful for the vision and commitment of the Ballard Spahr Foundation to carry this prize forward in partnership with Milkweed,” said Daniel Slager, Milkweed’s publisher and CEO.

Submissions are currently open, and the deadline is February 15. Using the online submission system, submit a manuscript of at least 48 pages. There is no entry fee. Khaled Mattawa will judge.

Previous winners include Claire Wahmanholm for Wilder (2018); Caitlin Bailey for Solve for Desire (2017); Chris Santiago for Tula (2016); Jennifer Willoughby for Beautiful Zero (2015); Michael Bazzett for You Must Remember This (2014); Rebecca Dunham for Glass Armonica (2013); and Patricia Kirkpatrick for Odessa (2012).

Upcoming Poetry Contest Deadlines

Is it your New Year’s resolution to submit more of your poetry to contests and journals? Here are several poetry contests, all of which offer a cash prize of $500 to $2,000, with upcoming deadlines.

92Y Unterberg Poetry Center Discover Poetry Prizes: Four prizes of $500 each and publication in the Paris Review Daily are given annually for a group of poems. Winners also receive lodging and travel expenses to give a reading at the 92nd Street Y in New York City in May. Poets who have not yet published a full-length poetry collection are eligible. Timothy Donnelly and Mai Der Vang will serve as preliminary judges; Daniel Borzutzky, Randall Mann, and Patricia Smith will serve as final judges. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: January 11.

Colorado Review Colorado Prize for Poetry: A prize of $2,000 and publication by the Center for Literary Publishing is given annually for a poetry collection. Kazim Ali will judge. Entry fee: $25.Deadline: January 14.

BkMk Press Ciardi Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by BkMk Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Entry fee: $30. Deadline: January 15. 

WOMR/WFMR Community Radio Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a poem. Marge Piercy will judge. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: January 15.

Third Coast Poetry Contest: A prize of $1,000 each and publication in Third Coast is given annually for a poem. Leila Chatti will judge. Entry fee: $18. Deadline: January 15.

Asheville Poetry Review William Matthews Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Asheville Poetry Review is given annually for a poem. Dorianne Laux will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: January 15.

Wells College Press Chapbook Competition: A prize of $1,000, publication by Wells College Press, and 10 author copies is given annually for a poetry chapbook. The winner will also receive room and board to attend a launch party at Wells College in Fall 2019. Dan Rosenberg will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: January 15.

Visit the contest websites for complete submission details, including eligibility guidelines and length requirements. For a look at more writing contests with upcoming deadlines, visit our Grants & Awards database and submission calendar

 

Twenty Year-End Contest Deadlines for Poets & Writers

Planning to write over the holidays? Finish your writing year up strong and head into 2019 resolved to send more work out into the world with the following contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The twenty contests below have deadlines at the end of December or in the first days of January.

Bauhan Publishing Monadnock Essay Collection Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Bauhan Publishing, and 50 author copies is given annually for an essay collection. Anne Barngrover will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: December 31.

Bayou Magazine Poetry and Fiction Prizes: Two prizes of $1,000 each and a subscription to Bayou Magazine are given annually for a poem and a short story. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: January 1.

Boulevard Short Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,500 and publication in Boulevard is given annually for a short story by a writer who has not published a nationally distributed book. Entry fee: $16. Deadline: December 31.

Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Competition: A prize of $1,000, publication by Bright Hill Press, and 30 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Entry fee: $27. Deadline: December 31.

Crosswinds Poetry Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Crosswinds is given annually for a poem. Tina Cane will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: December 31.

Florida Review Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Florida Review is given annually for a chapbook of short fiction, short nonfiction, or graphic narrative. Entry fee: 25. Deadline: December 31.

Gemini Magazine Poetry Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gemini Magazine is given annually for a poem. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $7. Deadline: January 2.

Glimmer Train Family Matters Contest: A prize of $2,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of the prize issue is given annually for a short story about families of any configuration. Entry fee: $18 Deadline: January 2.

Lascaux Review Prize in Short Fiction: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Lascaux Review is given annually for a short story. Entry fee: $10. Deadline: December 31.

Mississippi Review Prize: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Mississippi Review are given annually for a poem, a short story, and an essay. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: January 1.

The Moth Poetry Prize: A prize of €10,000 (approximately $12,000) and publication in the Moth is given annually for a poem. Three runner-up prizes of €1,000 (approximately $1,200) each are also given. The winners will also be invited to read at an awards ceremony at the Poetry Ireland festival in Dublin in Spring 2019. Jacob Polley will judge. Entry fee: $13. Deadline: December 31.

New Rivers Press Many Voices Project Competition: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication by New Rivers Press are given annually for a poetry collection and a book of fiction or creative nonfiction by an emerging writer. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: December 31.

Nowhere Magazine Travel Writing Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Nowhere Magazine is given twice yearly for a poem, a short story, or an essay that “possesses a powerful sense of place.” Porter Fox will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: December 31.

Press 53 Award for Short Fiction: A prize of $1,000, publication by Press 53, and 50 author copies is given annually for a story collection. Kevin Morgan Watson will judge. Entry fee: $30. Deadline: December 31.

Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Award: A prize of $1,000, publication by Quercus Review Press, and 15 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Sam Pierstorff will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: December 28.

River Styx Micro-Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,500 and publication in River Styx is given annually for a short short story. Entry fee: $10. Deadline: December 31.

Tampa Review Danahy Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Tampa Review is given annually for a short story. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: December 31.

Tampa Review Prize for Poetry: A prize of $2,000 and publication by University of Tampa Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Entry fee: $28. Deadline: December 31.

Tupelo Press Dorset Prize: A prize of $3,000 and publication by Tupelo Press is given annually for a poetry collection. The winner also receives a weeklong residency at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Entry fee: $30. Deadline: December 31.

Whitefish Review Montana Award for Fiction: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Whitefish Review is given annually for a short story. Rick Bass will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: January 1.

Visit the contest websites for complete submission details, including eligibility guidelines and length requirements. For a look at more writing contests with upcoming deadlines, visit our Grants & Awards database and submission calendar. Happy holidays, and happy submitting! 

Writing in Community

Jim Hornsby Moreno is a Vietnam veteran and an adopted member of the Smuwich Chumash tribe. He is the author of Dancing in Dissent: Poetry for Activism (Dolphin Calling Press, 2007), and two CDs of poetry and music: reversing the erased: exhuming the expunged (Dolphin Calling Press, 2016) and A Question From Love (Dolphin Calling Press, 2017). His poems have appeared in Tidepools, Magee Park Poets Anthology, the San Diego Poetry Annual, and others. Hornsby Moreno is a teaching artist with San Diego Writers, Ink, and on the advisory board of the Poetic Medicine Institute in Palo Alto, California.

On November 18 I facilitated a workshop at San Diego Writers, Ink called Gems of 10 Imagists: Masterpiece Poems of Imagism. The course description began with a quote from Wallace Stevens: In poetry, you must love the words, the ideas and the images and rhythms with all your capacity to love anything at all. This quote captures the essence of how I teach: Write from your heart. Don’t let your editor write your poem. Let your poet write the poem. Then, as many have said, turn it over to your (internal) editor so the craft can begin.

My workshops are not critique classes. I go out of my way in my course descriptions to make that point. I also point out that if you are looking for an audience for your poems, my workshops are not for you. I teach poetry as discovery, as Joy Harjo often describes her writing process. Or as Julia Alvarez wrote: I write to find out what I am thinking. I write to find out who I am. I write to understand things.

After one of my classes in San Diego’s Juvenile Hall I sent Joy one of my student’s poems. I had read “She Had Some Horses” in class, Joy’s poem from her book of the same name. The young woman had written a poem from her heart, obviously influenced by the Muscogee poet. Joy sent me a box of books and CDs with a short note thanking me for the poem. She also encouraged me to continue teaching. A nice prompt from a master prompter.

My workshops involve a lot of research. In the five years I lived on the Pala Reservation, I saw the differences and the similarities of tribes that were just a few miles down the highway from each other in San Diego’s North County. From that experience, my workshops have two parts. The first part exposed students to the poetry of e .e. cummings, Amy Lawrence Lowell, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, and the founder of the Imagist movement T. E. Hulme, among others.

The second part of the workshop focused on poets from other genres, cultures, and generations that resonated with the poems of the Imagists: Sandra Cisneros, Joy Harjo, Octavio Paz, Lawrence Raab, Sonia Sanchez, and William E. Stafford. A three-hour workshop takes two to three weeks of research and is a labor of love finding the bridges that unite poets and people.

Writing in community is different than writing in solitude. When you find a safe space with an instructor that invites you to grow as a writer, your writing will take off because of the consciousness in the room and your innate talent as a storyteller, waiting for you to take on the blank page. Write from your heart and listen to your muse.

Support for Readings & Workshops in California is provided by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional support comes from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photo: Jim Hornsby Moreno (Credit: Jack Foster Mancilla)

Weekend Contest Deadlines

Planning to submit your work this weekend? The writing contests listed below all share a deadline of December 15, and offer opportunities for poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers looking to submit a single work or a full-length book.

Center for Book Arts Letterpress Poetry Chapbook Competition: A prize of $500 and letterpress publication by the Center for Book Arts is given annually for a poetry chapbook. The winner will also receive an additional $500 to give a reading with the contest judge at the Center for Book Arts in New York City in Fall 2019, and a weeklong residency at the Winter Shakers Program at the Millay Colony for the Arts in Austerlitz, New York. Edwin Torres will judge. Entry fee: $30.

LitMag’s Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction: A prize of $3,500 and publication in LitMag is given annually for a short story. A second-place prize of $1,000 will also be given. The winners will have their work reviewed by Sobel Weber Associates literary agency. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $20.

Public Poetry’s Poetry Contest: A prize of $1,000, publication in an e-book anthology, and an invitation to give a reading in Houston, Texas, is given annually for a poem on a theme. This year’s theme is “Enough.” Entry fee: $15; $20 for three poems.

Santa Fe Writers Project James Alan McPherson Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by 2040 Books, an imprint of the Santa Fe Writers Project, is given annually for a book of fiction or creative nonfiction by a writer of color. Gish Jen will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Willow Books Literature Awards: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication by Willow Books are given annually for a poetry collection and a book of fiction or creative nonfiction by writers of color. Entry fee: $25 for poetry; $30 for fiction or nonfiction.

Visit the contest websites for complete submission details, including eligibility guidelines and poem length requirements. For a look at more writing contests with upcoming deadlines, visit our Grants & Awards database and submission calendar.

2018 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Winner in Fiction: Timeline

Joshua Idaszak is the winner of Poets & Writers’ 2018 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award (WEX) for fiction. His stories have appeared in Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. His fiction has won Boulevard magazine’s 2015 Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers, was a finalist for the 2015 Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren Award, and has been listed as distinguished by Best American Mystery Stories 2017. Idaszak received an MFA from the University of Arkansas, and has received support from the Fulbright Program and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He lives in Massachusetts and is at work on a story collection and a novel.

It was a misty, cool morning in May when I heard from Bonnie Rose Marcus that I had won the 2018 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award for fiction. I had just emerged from two days on the Lost Coast Trail and was standing in a small beachside parking lot in Shelter Cove, California, a town made famous (to me, at least) by the opening of Denis Johnson’s novel Already Dead. I had just completed my MFA from the University of Arkansas after four years in Fayetteville, teaching, studying, and writing fiction. I was in the midst of determining what came next—for my writing, for my life—when I listened to Bonnie’s voicemail.

Manhattan is not Shelter Cove. In place of redwoods were skyscrapers, and we were ascending them. Bonnie, director of Readings & Workshops (East) and the Writers Exchange, was our fearless leader. She shepherded Anushah Jiwani, the winner for poetry, and me around Manhattan for four days of meetings with agents and editors and poets and publishers.

At Penguin, we met Lee Boudreaux and asked about editing Ben Fountain’s fiction. At Ecco, Megan Lynch talked about Deborah Eisenberg’s short story collection Your Duck Is My Duck, and how a book and its cover come together. Jonathan Galassi of FSG recalled his time studying poetry under Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. I had carried poet Charles Wright’s Negative Blue during my Lost Coast walk, and I was excited to hear that FSG would be publishing Oblivion Banjo, a compendium of his work, next spring. Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, this year’s poetry judge for WEX, helped us celebrate at a wonderful dinner with our families after our Sunday reading at McNally Jackson in Soho.

Writing is solitary work. The drafting and revision often happen in quiet rooms, often alone. It can feel, sometimes, like we’re plucking the strings of our very own oblivion banjo. It was a joy to step outside of that: to sit across from Brigid Hughes and hear about her work to create space and time for writers through the fellowships and residencies of A Public Space, to hear Emily Nemens speak about her plans for the Paris Review, or to discuss possibilities for invigorating public readings with Sarah Gambito.

The trip was a reminder (or rather a series of reminders) that there are so many of us engaged in this calling. That we love books, love reading, love watching people and thoughts rise in language. And ultimately, that our work is vital, and always ongoing.

The Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award is generously supported by Maureen Egen, a member of the Poets & Writers Board of Directors.

Photo: Joshua Idaszak, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, and Anushah Jiwani (Credit: Christian Rodriguez).

Pine Reads Review Invites Dhonielle Clayton to Tucson

Christy Duprey is a graphic artist, and a staff writer and podcast producer for Pine Reads Review, an online publication for young adult literature showcasing new and established writers. She has also interned with Sonora Review and volunteered at the Champlain College Young Writers’ Conference. Currently a senior at the University of Arizona, Duprey created the podcast Pine Reads Pod Reviews, which invites their interns, and guest hosts, to review the best and latest young adult literature.

On September 27, author Dhonielle Clayton—cofounder of Cake Literary, a literary development company, and the chief operating officer of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books—made quite the splash in the Sonoran Desert of Tucson, Arizona. Clayton, whose novel The Belles (Freeform, 2018) was recently recommended for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal, came to Tucson at the invitation of Pine Reads Review and with the support of a grant from Poets & Writers’ Reading & Workshops program. She was able to organize two events at the University of Arizona, highlighting her accomplishments both as an author and an advocate for increasing diversity in children’s and young adult literature.

The evening event featured Clayton speaking about her journey into the literary world, focusing in particular on her mission to tell underrepresented stories. After an introduction from Pine Reads Review’s director Stephanie Pearmain, Clayton began by saying, “you can’t be what you can’t see,” pointing out that too few kids and teens see their own lives on the page. Not just lives centered around systemic struggles of race, sexuality, or disability, but lives that are about having fun. There are a great many stories out there of Black children facing down the horrors of slavery or civil rights abuses, she reminded the audience, but shockingly few about Black children discovering a magical land or going on a secret quest. When asked why her writing and the work published by her book developing company tend to skew more towards delightful adventure than inherited cultural pain, her answer was simple: “I want to create books that are just about kids doing fun stuff, and not dealing with drama.”

The evening talk attracted members of the community ranging from teenage fans to teachers and librarians, as well as local writers hoping for insight into the publishing industry.

In addition, Clayton held a workshop earlier in the day with the university’s publishing class to offer wisdom on the ins and outs of “the business” to juniors and seniors. In an environment where students are frequently pushed to—and often beyond—their breaking points, her advice was refreshing. She advocated for slowing down, for taking the time you need to get the writing right and take care of yourself. A round of chuckles followed her pronouncement: “There are days where you just have to be disgusting and watch Netflix, and then the next day you’re back to the grind.” It was a breath of fresh air to a room full of young writers hoping to enter an industry where burnout is common and stress levels are often high.

Clayton’s visit served as a reminder to aspiring writers that even when books are the focus, it’s the people who matter. She offered a vision of publishing that lifts others up. “As writers,” she said, “we have been given the great privilege to create something that gives people a space to explore who they are.”

Support for Readings & Workshops 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.

Photos: (top) Christy Duprey (Credit: Victoria Pereira). (bottom) Dhonielle Clayton at the University of Arizona (Credit: Stephanie Pearmain).

Upcoming Prose Contest Deadlines

Planning to get some writing done over the break? There are a number of contests for fiction and nonfiction writers with upcoming deadlines.

Narrative Fall 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 longer work of prose. A second-place prize of $1,000 and publication in Narrative is also awarded. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $26. Deadline: November 30.

Fish Short Story Prize: A prize of €3,000 (approximately $3,400) and publication in the annual Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a short story. The winner will also be invited to attend a five-day short story workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival in July 2019. Mia Gallagher will judge. Entry fee: $24. Deadline: November 30.

Dappled Things J. F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction: A prize of $500 and publication in Dappled Things will be given annually for a short story. The editors will judge. Entry fee: None. Deadline: November 30.

Quarter After Eight Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest: A prize of $1,008.15 and publication in Quarter After Eight is given annually for a prose poem, a short short story, or a micro-essay. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: November 30.

American Library Association W. Y. Boyd Literary Award: A prize of $5,000 is given annually for a novel published in the previous year that is set in a period when the United States was at war. Entry fee: none. Deadline: December 1.

David J. Langum Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a book of historical fiction published during the previous year. Entry fee: none. Deadline: December 1.

Stanford University Wallace Stegner Fellowships: Ten two-year fellowships, five in poetry and five in fiction, are given annually to allow emerging writers to develop their craft in workshops with senior faculty members at Stanford University. Entry fee: $85. Deadline: December 1.

Visit the contest websites for complete submission details, including eligibility guidelines and poem length requirements. For a look at more writing contests with upcoming deadlines, visit our Grants & Awards database and submission calendar.

Nunez, Acevedo Win 2018 National Book Awards

The winners of the 2018 National Book Awards were announced at a ceremony tonight in New York City. Sigrid Nunez took home the award in fiction for her novel The Friend (Riverhead Books), and Elizabeth Acevedo won the prize in young people’s literature for her novel, The Poet X (HarperTeen). Justin Phillip Reed won the prize in poetry for his debut collection, Indecency (Coffee House Press), and Jeffrey C. Stewart won the prize in nonfiction for his biography of Alain Locke, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke (Oxford University Press). This year the National Book Foundation also awarded a prize in translated literature to Yoko Tawada for her novel The Emissary (New Directions Publishing), translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani.

The annual awards are given for the best books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, young people's literature, and translated literature published in the previous year. The winners each receive $10,000.

Emceed by actor Nick Offerman, the ceremony celebrated the importance of literature and books. “In our inexorable pursuit of freedom and human rights, books serve us as weapons and shields,” he said. “They are perhaps the greatest creation of human kind, one that is living and ever growing.”

Earlier in the evening, writer Luís Alberto Urrea presented the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Isabel Allende, who has published more than twenty books, most recently the novel In the Midst of Winter (Atria Books, 2017). Allende, who is the first Spanish-language author to receive the award, spoke about what the award meant to her as a Chilean writer living in America. “I have always been a foreigner… This award means maybe I’m not alien anymore,” she said. “Maybe I can plant roots. Maybe I’m not going anywhere.”

Hidden Figures author Margot Lee Shetterly presented the Literarian Award for Outstanding Contribution the American Literary Community to Doron Weber of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for his work on the intersection of literature and science.

Established in 1950, the National Book Awards are among the largest literary prizes given in the United States. The 2017 winners were Frank Bidart in poetry, Jesmyn Ward in fiction, Masha Gessen in nonfiction, and Robin Benway in young people’s literature.

Photos (clockwise from top left): Sigrid Nunez, Elizabeth Acevedo, Justin Phillip Reed, Jeffrey C. Davis, Yoko Tawada.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines for Poets

As we move closer to the end of the year, deadlines approach for several poetry competitions. All contests listed below are accepting submissions throughout the coming week.

Nightboat Books Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Nightboat Books is given annually for a poetry collection. Kazim Ali and Stephen Motika will judge. Entry fee: $28. Deadline: November 15.

Perugia Press Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Perugia Press is given annually for a first or second poetry collection by a woman. Entry fee: $27. Deadline: November 15.

Jean Feldman Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Washington Writers Publishing House, and 50 author copies are given annually for a poetry collection. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: November 15.

Lena–Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Pleiades Press with distribution by Louisiana State University Press is given annually for a poetry collection by a U.S. poet. The winner also receives $1,000 for book tour expenses. Traci Brimhall will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: November 15.

Yale Series of Younger Poets: An award of publication by Yale University Press is given annually for a poetry collection by an early-career poet who has not published a full-length book of poetry. Carl Phillips will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: November 15.

Narrative 30 Below Contest: A prize of $1,500 and publication in Narrative is given annually for a poem. The editors will judge. Entry fee: 25. Deadline: November 18.

Visit the contest websites for complete submission details, including eligibility guidelines and poem length requirements. For a look at more writing contests with upcoming deadlines, visit our Grants & Awards database and submission calendar.

Deadline Approaches for BMI & Believer Fellowships

Applications are currently open for the Black Mountain Institute & the Believer fellowships, open to emerging and established poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Fellows will reside in Las Vegas for the 2019–2020 academic year, where they will join a thriving community of writers and scholars on the UNLV campus. Fellows will also receive a stipend and contribute to the Black Mountain Institute (BMI) and/or the Believer magazine.

The Shearing Fellowships for Emerging Writers, which offer an honorarium of $18,000 each, are open to writers who have published at least one book with a trade or literary press. The Shearing Fellowships for Distinguished Writers, which offer an honorarium of $25,000 each, are open to writers who have published at least three books.

The deadline for both fellowships is November 14 at 12:59 PM Pacific Standard Time. Using the online submission system, submit a writing sample of 10 to 20 pages, a cover letter, and a proposal (totaling no more than two pages) with suggested contributions to the Believer and/or BMI. Finalists will be asked to send copies of their books.

Applications will be reviewed by an advisory committee of UNLV graduate students, staff, and community stakeholders. Recipients will be notified in Spring 2019.

Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute aims to bring “writers and the literary imagination into the heart of public life through events, fellowships, publications, and student engagement opportunities.” The Believer, a five-time National Magazine Award finalist, is a bimonthly literature, arts, and culture magazine based at the Black Mountain Institute. The 2018–2019 fellows include Hanif Abdurraqib, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Amanda Fortini, Derek Palacio, and Claire Vaye Watkins.

The Image Is: A Poetry Workshop

Aldrin Valdez is a Pinoy artist and the author of ESL or You Weren’t Here (Nightboat Books, 2018). Their poetry and visual art has appeared in the Felt, Femmescapes, Nat. Brut, Poor Claudia, and the Recluse. They have presented work at Dixon Place, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Poetry Project, and been awarded fellowships from Queer/Art/Mentorship and Poets House. Currently Valdez curates the Segue Reading Series with fellow poet Joël Díaz.

On October 27 I led a workshop at the Bureau of General Services–Queer Division (BGSQD), currently hosted by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City. The workshop was organized by Sarah Sala, founder of the Office Hours poetry workshop, with support from Poets & Writers’ Readings & Workshops program. I haven’t led many workshops before, so this was an experiment of sorts. I called the craft class “The Image Is _____” and its focus, of course, was the image. A series of questions motivated this workshop:

  • What is an image?
  • Where and how do we encounter images today?
  • As prose writers, poets, and artists who use text, how do we each relate to images?
  • Do images factor into our individual works?
  • How can we use images to surprise our writing?
  • Is there an image that haunts/grips/inspires you, will not leave you, or one that you invoke often?
  • What does the image contain?
  • Is the image a dam we choose to break? What language emerges if we do?
  • Does the language trickle out? Or is it a torrent, flooding us/out of us into writing?
  • Are we prepared to write through this flood?

To guide the workshop, I shared poems by Derrick Austin, Anne Carson, Rio Cortez, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Lara Mimosa Montes, and Justin Phillip Reed. I see their work as having complex, dynamic relationships with images. They’re aware of how we are surrounded by, and surround ourselves with, images and the tools with which to make them. And they acknowledge and question images as historical, political, and personal. What can we learn from their works in thinking about our own creative processes?

In a series of exercises I asked the class to interact with images—those around them (the BGSQD bookshop and the Center are filled with art) and those on their phones (if they had phones)—as catalysts for writing. One particular exercise, inspired by poems from Justin Phillip Reed’s Indecency (Coffee House Press, 2018) and Lara Mimosa Montes’s The Somnambulist (Horse Less Press, 2016), encouraged the class to think of the page—either as the screen of phones and computers or as a sheet of paper in their notebooks or a printed book—as constituting in itself a visual, physical, and material experience. Do we consider the white space, for instance, as blankness, silence, emptiness, a pause, or a held breath? Does a poem require that you move the book about in your hand? Is the poem concerned with legibility? What happens when a photograph precedes the text or a text precedes an image—how does that affect the experience of reading and our subjective ways of making meaning?

As a visual artist and writer, I enjoyed sharing these questions and activities with the class. It was thrilling to be writing together for a few hours, immersed in poetry—a collectivity I’ve been missing lately. I left the space feeling uplifted by the vulnerability and tenderness with which the group thoughtfully engaged and shared with each other.

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) Adlrin Valdez (Credit: Aldrin Valdez), (bottom) Workshop participants (Credit: Sarah Sala).

Last Day to Submit to Sonora Review Contests

Today is the last day to submit to the Sonora Review’s annual flash prose contest and nonfiction contest. Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Sonora Review will be given for a piece of flash prose and an essay. Nicole Walker will judge the flash prose contest and Jo Ann Beard will judge the nonfiction contest.

The theme of the contest is “Desire.” “Where can desire be found on the wide spectrum between contemplation and action?” write the editors on the contest website. “Does a child’s desire look anything like a spouse’s? How does desire shape-shift from person to person, culture to culture?”

Using the online submission system, submit three pieces of flash prose of up to 1,000 words each or an essay of up to 5,000 words by midnight (Mountain Standard Time). The entry fee is $8 for the flash prose contest and $15 for the essay contest.

Edited by graduate students at the University of Arizona, Sonora Review publishes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The review also runs an annual prize in poetry and fiction, which will be held later this year.

Photo: Nicole Walker, Jo Ann Beard