Poets & Writers Blogs

Deadline Nears for Nightboat Books Poetry Prize

The deadline is approaching for the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize. Open to “any poet writing in English,” the prize awards $1,000, a standard royalty contract, and twenty-five author copies for a book-length poetry manuscript. Emerging and established writers alike, based anywhere in the world, are eligible to submit.

Using only the online submission system, submit a manuscript of 48 to 90 pages with a $28 entry fee by November 15. All entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Founded in 2004 by Kazim Ali and Jennifer Chapis, Nightboat Books seeks to “develop audiences for writers whose work resists convention and transcends boundaries, by publishing books rich with poignancy, intelligence, and risk.” Collections published through the prize include Discipline by Dawn Lundy Martin and The Old Philosophy by Vi Khi Nao.

Celebrating the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of NOMMO

If you enjoyed our Hurricane Katrina Anniversary virtual event, join us on Thursday, October 29 as we celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the NOMMO Literary Society of New Orleans with a Facebook Live event.

NOMMO began as a workshop for Black writers in 1994 led by Kalamu ya Salaam in New Orleans. The workshop had high profile writing guests including Amiri Baraka, Toi Derricotte, and Terrance Hayes. Many consider it the foundation for similar writers workshops that would come soon after, such as Cave Canem and VONA. NOMMO dismantled formally after Hurricane Katrina but many of the participants continue their writing pursuits with success. Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jericho Brown was one of NOMMO’s early participants.

The upcoming virtual event will include Jericho Brown, Karen Celestan, Jarvis DeBerry, Freddi Williams Evans, Ayo Fayemi-Robinson, Keturah Kendrick, Marian Moore, and Kalamu ya Salaam. The panel will discuss the need for building community as writers, the cultural impact of New Orleans, and the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and how it is applicable to our current pandemic.

Register for Unique and Unified: Celebrating the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the NOMMO Literary Society here!

To learn more about NOMMO, read my previous post about its history.

Photo: NOMMO Literary Society anniversary event flyer.
 
Kelly Harris is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in New Orleans. Contact her at NOLA@pw.org or on Twitter, @NOLApworg.

 

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

If November doesn’t already feel high stakes enough, consider submitting to some writing contests. With deadlines of either November 1 or November 2, these awards include opportunities to publish both individual stories and poems, as well as book-length works. All offer a prize of $1,000 or more.

Alice James Books Alice James Award: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Alice James Books is given annually for a poetry collection by a poet residing in the United States. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: November 2. Entry fee: $30.

Briar Cliff Review Writing Contests: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Briar Cliff Review are given annually for a poem, a short story, and an essay. The editors will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $20 (includes a copy of the magazine).

Fiction Collective Two Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize: A prize of $15,000 and publication by Fiction Collective Two, an imprint of University of Alabama Press, is given annually for a novel, short story collection, novella, or novella collection. U.S. writers who have published at least three books of fiction are eligible. Joyelle McSweeney will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $25.

Fiction Collective Two Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,500 and publication by Fiction Collective Two is given annually for a novel, short story collection, novella, or novella collection. U.S. writers who have not previously published a book with Fiction Collective Two are eligible. Vi Khi Nao will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $25.

Gotham Book Prize: A prize of $50,000 will be given annually for a book of fiction or creative nonfiction about New York City or that takes place in New York City published in the current year. Anna Akbari, Ric Burns, Stephanie Danler, Christina Greer, Tom Healy, Mitchell Moss, Patricia Park, Melissa Rivero, Safiya Sinclair, and Dennis Walcott will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: none.

Malahat Review Open Season Awards: Three prizes of CAD $2,000 (approximately $1,490) each and publication in Malahat Review are given annually for a poem or group of poems, a short story, and an essay. Rebecca Salazar will judge in poetry, Philip Huynh will judge in fiction, and Lishai Peel will judge in creative nonfiction. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $40 (includes subscription).

Nina Riggs Poetry Foundation Poetry Award: A prize of at least $1,000 will be given annually for a single poem that examines relationships, family, or domestic life that was published in a book or magazine in the last three years. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: none.

North American Review James Hearst Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in North American Review is given annually for a single poem. Maggie Smith will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $23 (includes an issue of North American Review).

Reed Magazine Edwin Markham Prize for Poetry: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Reed Magazine is given annually for a poem or group of poems. Matthea Harvey will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $20 (includes a copy of the prize issue).

Reed Magazine Gabriele Rico Challenge for Creative Nonfiction: A prize of $1,333 and publication in Reed Magazine is given annually for an essay. Suzanne Rico will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $20 (includes a copy of the magazine).

Reed Magazine John Steinbeck Award for Fiction: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Reed Magazine is given annually for a short story. Rita Bullwinkel will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $20 (includes a copy of the prize issue).

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.

COVID Vivid Self Interview Part II

Hey mi gente, I will get right to the point. This series of interviews has been enlightening and inspirational these last few months and so what was supposed to be only five entries will now be extended. So far, you have heard from Katherine Hoerth, Daniel Peña, Melissa Studdard, and Jonathan Moody. Although I have answered already, I am in a new place (as I’m sure we all are each day of this pandemic) and will again answer the question I’ve been asking other writers:

What have you been doing since the pandemic started?

“I am adding myself as a double entry for one very brutal reason: I know what the pandemic has cost me. My mother died from complications due to COVID-19 earlier this month on October 1. She died at the age of eighty-six.

What have I been doing since the pandemic started? Trying to do all the things I said I was doing in the last post but more importantly, trying my damnedest to keep my family alive and well. I have to admit, a part of me feels like I have failed. In truth, there are so many feelings about this pandemic and how it has treated my family and many people of color.

I spent the last month or so, from August 25 to the start of October, in such distress. We were dealing/planning for the possibility of two storms in the Gulf of Mexico (my heart and candles are lit for folks in Lake Charles and to Kelly Harris, our literary outreach coordinator in New Orleans, as always staying in “hurricane mode” can wear on you), and my parents telling me they had a cold, which later turned out to be COVID-19. To this day, I don’t know how my father got it. He took care as much as he could (especially in the third most Republican county in Texas, where I have witnessed people not following social distancing measures with full care), but to no avail, my mother caught it.

I have spent time thinking. I have spent time thinking about how COVID-19 affects families. As this double storm was a thing, I think about the last conversation I had with my mother on August 25. I called to convince my folks to come up to Houston after Galveston initiated a voluntary evacuation. My mother told me, “no mijo, we will stay here, I don’t know if I have this thing and if I do, I don’t want to give it to you or Jasminne or mija.” My mom knew my wife is immunocompromised and she couldn’t think of even giving it to her two-year-old granddaughter. So they stayed home. She got worse. She went to the ER. She was treated. It didn’t work and she died.

I have spent time writing. The day we found out that she was being admitted to the hospital, they told us she tested positive. My father and I were stunned. We spent three hours together in a waiting room and so I had to rush to get him tested. He tested positive and we had to quarantine for two weeks. To keep from going crazy, I was posting daily updates on Twitter and on Facebook. I was writing curriculum for my day job. Now that my mother is gone, I have had to take notes about how to transfer information for bills, insurance policies, contact numbers, etc.—all the process of laying someone to rest. I even wrote my mother’s obituary.

I honestly don’t know what else I will do during the pandemic. I mean, I know I will do what I can do to try to stay alive, but so far, all I can really see is managing things one day at a time. I know I will take care of my father who has been shattered at the guilt of infecting his partner of forty-six years (even after I explain how transmission is a community thing) and try my best to find peace for my wife and child.

What am I doing during the pandemic? Trying to find light and pass it on to others, just like my mom taught me to do.”

Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Trick-or-treating may not be on the table this year, but October’s final writing contests may offer their own sweet rewards. Each of these opportunities awards a prize of $1,000 or more, with a deadline of October 31. Good luck!

American Poetry Review Honickman First Book Prize: A prize of $3,000 and publication by American Poetry Review is given annually for a first poetry collection. The winning book is distributed by Copper Canyon Press through Consortium. Ada Limón will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Comstock Review Chapbook Contest: A prize of $1,000, publication by the Comstock Writers Group, and 50 author copies is given annually for a poetry chapbook. Michael McAnaney will judge. Entry fee: $30.

Conduit Books & Ephemera Minds on Fire Open Book Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Conduit Books & Ephemera, and 30 author copies is given annually for a book of poetry. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Elixir Press Poetry Award: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Elixir Press is given annually for a poetry collection. John Nieves will judge. Entry fee: $30.

Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Finishing Line Press is given annually for a poetry chapbook. All entries are considered for publication. Entry fee: $15.

Indiana Review Blue Light Books Prize: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Indiana University Press is given in alternating years for a collection of poetry or a collection of short fiction. The 2021 prize will be awarded in poetry. The winner will also receive travel expenses to read at the 2021 Blue Light Reading in Bloomington, Indiana. Entry fee: $20.

PEN/Faulkner Foundation Award for Fiction: A prize of $15,000 is given annually for a book of fiction published during the current year. Four finalists will each receive $5,000. The winner and finalists will also be invited to read in Washington, D.C., in May 2021. Entry fee: none.

Persea Books Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Persea Books is given annually for a first poetry collection by a woman who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The winner also receives a six-week, all-expenses paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy. Entry fee: $30.

Poetry Society of the United Kingdom National Poetry Competition: A prize of £5,000 (approximately $6,350) and publication on the Poetry Society of the United Kingdom website is given annually for a single poem. A second-place prize of £2,000 (approximately $2,540) and a third-place prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,270) are also given. The winners will also be published in Poetry Review. Poems written in English by poets from any country are eligible. Neil Astley, Jonathan Edwards, and Karen McCarthy Woolf will judge. Entry fee: £7 (approximately $9) for one poem, £4 (approximately $5) for each additional poem.

Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award: A prize of $3,000, publication by Red Hen Press, and a four-week residency at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon, is given annually for a poetry collection. Jeffrey Harrison will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Red Hen Press Quill Prose Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Red Hen Press is given annually for a short story collection, a novel, or an essay collection by a queer writer. Amber Flame will judge. Entry fee: $10.

River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by University of New Mexico Press is given annually for a book of creative nonfiction. Megan Stielstra will judge. Entry fee: $27.

Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Tupelo Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry chapbook. Entry fee: $25.

Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards: Three prizes of $1,000 each are given annually for works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The winners will also receive scholarships to attend a workshop at the Tucson Festival of Books in March 2021. Entry fee: $20. 

University of North Texas Press Vassar Miller Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by University of North Texas Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Entry fee: $25.

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.

 

 

 

 

Hamtramck Meets Detroit: An Interview With Katja Rowan

Hamtramck is a small city in Wayne County that is surrounded by the city of Detroit. It is one of the many cultural hubs of southeastern Michigan, home to large Middle Eastern and South Asian communities. Hamtramck has been influential to numerous Detroit writers who have taken up residence there and enjoyed the company of welcoming bakeries, coffee shops, and bookstores. I have personally spent quality writing time at Cafe 1923 and Book Suey.

I recently had an opportunity to speak with Hamtramck native and high school student Katja Rowan about how the city has influenced her writing. Rowan is a dancer, violinist, and writer who participated in virtual panels, readings, and workshops this summer as a member of InsideOut Citywide Poets’ new Performance Troupe. Rowan became serious about her writing in middle school. “I realized writing can be more than just something I like to do,” she says. “It can be powerful and can make a change.”

Rowan enjoys the closeness felt between residents in Hamtramck and the diversity of the city. “Hamtramck has made me aware of different perspectives because there are so many cultures and backgrounds to learn from,” she says.

Rowan also discussed how Detroit offers artists on stage and on paper support, and how the community comes together in a strong way. The dynamics of both Hamtramck’s physical tight-knit nature and Detroit’s supportive community are valuable gems for residents in the area. The thinking and creating that comes from this support is inspiring and has the potential to inform the wider world on how an encouraging environment can influence art and be enriching for all.

Rowan is currently working on a project that she hopes will inform her community and the wider world on “Queer Narratives of Joy,” the running theme of her novel-in-progress. “Queer folks face a lot but I also want to highlight some of the beauty and joy,” she says. “I want to create for queer readers like me who want to read those positive narratives too.”

Photo: Katja Rowan.
 
Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Poetry Rooted in History: Brenda Marie Osbey

If you have sincere interest in Black New Orleans, the Louisiana Creole language, and how language summons us to grapple with history—Brenda Marie Osbey is my first recommendation. Osbey is the author of books in English and French, most recently, 1967 (William & Mary, 2018), All Souls: Essential Poems (LSU Press, 2015), and History and Other Poems (Time Being Books, 2013). For more than thirty years she has researched and recorded the history of Faubourg Tremé, a community founded by free Blacks in New Orleans. From 2005 to 2007, Osbey served as the first peer-selected poet laureate of Louisiana. I had an opportunity to speak with Osbey about her appointment as poet laureate, her writing process, and her advice for writers.

Photo: Brenda Marie Osbey (Credit: Baquet, New Orleans)
 

You were the second Black woman to be selected for the role of poet laureate of Louisiana. What lessons, if any, did you learn from this public role?
Because my spring 2005 appointment was the first one recommended by a committee of literary peers, I began by considering how I might best serve beyond the expected class visits that dominate most laureateship tenures. Then Katrina hit New Orleans on the 29 of August as a Category 1* hurricane, after which the levees broke, flooding the city of New Orleans and the surrounding area.

During my two-year laureateship, I traveled the United States, advocating for the right to return and rebuild, speaking on disaster panels, giving mini-versions of the Black New Orleans Research Seminar I had been teaching at universities across the country in the years before the storm. For a while, there was a narrative floating about that New Orleans was not worth rebuilding or saving in any way that would be deemed costly. I sought to dispel this notion in various ways. Additionally, every week I gave readings, and met and engaged with southeast Louisianians—mostly New Orleanians—dispersed across the country, bearing with them their narratives of displacement. It was a wrenching and humbling experience. And it taught me countless lessons about the far reach of community.

In a 1986 interview in the Mississippi Quarterly, you were asked if the New Orleans community was supportive of your work and mentioned that although you love the city, you do some of your best work away from here. You also made a distinction between New Orleans being an arts city and a cultural city. Do you still feel the same way today, and how has that impacted your work?
I was attempting to convey how, despite the city’s long history of cultural/creative output, there was no structure or system in place in New Orleans to support the arts—beyond the entertainment model, that is—which would include supporting arts workers. Which is a longer conversation than is possible here.

Rooted as it is in New Orleans—history, culture, language, sensibilities—writing often requires the kind of distance that allows one to see and consider one’s objectives and materials differently away than at home. Seeing the forest for the trees is necessary to thought, insight, and reflection, and is required to produce work.

Out of all your amazing books, which was the most difficult to write and why?
I don’t think in terms of difficulty or ease. My work is primarily research-based, and each book is a deliberately conceived project with its own arc and progression. And since I’m always working on multiple projects at any given time, my attention is either on the work at hand, what’s next in queue, or some combination.

What’s your advice to young poets?
Learn to read one or more languages. Moreover, study your native language as if learning it for the first time. More so than other genres, poetry is rooted in the human tongue.

Listen to Osbey read “Everything Happens to (Monk and) Me”:

 
*“Reported in 2005 as having struck New Orleans as a Category 1, online information has recently changed the impact of Hurricane Katrina to a Category 3—levees purportedly having been built to withstand hurricanes at the higher level,” Osbey says. “Those of us who were here in New Orleans, however, experienced and witnessed Katrina as a Category 1 hurricane, and recognize the levee breaches and loss of lives as a man-made disaster.”
 
Kelly Harris is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in New Orleans. Contact her at NOLA@pw.org or on Twitter, @NOLApworg.

Malinda A. Markham Memorial Prize in Translation Open for Submissions

The deadline is approaching for the inaugural Malinda A. Markham Memorial Prize in Translation, presented by Saturnalia Books. Established in the memory of poet and translator Malinda A. Markham, this annual prize awards $2,000 and publication by Saturnalia Books to a manuscript of a female poet’s work, translated by a female translator.

Using only the online submission system, submit a cover letter and a manuscript of at least 48 pages with an entry fee of $25 by October 31. Manuscripts featuring the work of multiple female poets are ineligible, but manuscripts may have multiple translators, so long as all collaborators identify as female. The editors will judge. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Founded in 2002 by the poet Henry Israeli, Saturnalia Books seeks to publish both new and established poets and to “encourage the publication of literature of a noncommercial and challenging nature.” In addition to the Markham Memorial Prize, the press offers two other awards for poetry manuscripts: the Saturnalia Books Poetry and Editors Prizes.

Special Reminder: Deadline for Project Grants

We interrupt our regularly scheduled United States of Writing Blog content to remind writers in Detroit, Houston, and New Orleans that applications for Project Grants for BIPOC Writers are due this Wednesday, September 30!

Grants range from $250 to $750 and can be used to pay for costs related to coordinating online literary events in the genres of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. In addition, projects must take place between October 16 and December 31.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color;
  • be a resident of Detroit, Houston, or New Orleans, including the surrounding metro areas of each city;
  • be a published writer of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction, or have performance credits as a spoken word artist.

So for example, if you were a Black fiction writer living in Houston who wants to coordinate a fiction reading that will be live-streamed to the public, and you want to compensate yourself and other writers who will give readings for the event, you would be a great candidate for a project grant!

Of course, not all projects need to fit the mold above: We are also interested in supporting other literary projects that will engage the communities of these cities, such as workshops, panels, discussions, town halls, or Q&As.

Writers interested in applying can find the guidelines and link to the application form here.

We can’t wait to read your project ideas!

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

As the days grow shorter and colder, consider cozying up indoors and submitting to the last contests of the month. With deadlines of either September 28 or September 30, these awards include numerous opportunities to publish book-length work and two contests with no entry fees. All offer a prize of $1,000 or more.

Boulevard Nonfiction Contest for Emerging Writers: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Boulevard is given annually for an essay by a writer who has not published a full-length book in any genre with a nationally distributed press. The editors will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $16.

California State University in Fresno Philip Levine Prize for Poetry: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Anhinga Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Cathy Park Hong will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $25 ($28 for electronic submissions)

Coffee-House Poetry Troubadour International Poetry Prize: A prize of £2,000 (approximately $2,548) is given annually for a single poem. A second-place prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,274) is also given. Both winners receive publication on the Coffee-House Poetry website. Mona Arshi and Mark Doty will judge. Deadline: September 28. Entry fee: $7.

Dzanc Books Diverse Voices Prize: A prize of $3,000 and publication by Dzanc Books will be given for a novel, memoir, story or essay collection, or cross-genre work by a writer from a minority, underrepresented, or marginalized community. Chaya Bhuvaneswar, Charles Johnson, and Robert Lopez will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: none.

Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction: A prize of $5,000 and publication by Dzanc Books is given annually for a novel. Tina May Hall, Anne Valente, and Jessie van Eerden will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $25.

Dzanc Books Short Story Competition: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Dzanc Books is given annually for a story collection. The editors will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $25.

Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000, publication on the Ghost Story website and in the Ghost Story print anthology, 21st Century Ghost Stories, is given twice yearly for a short story with a supernatural or magic realism theme. The editors will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $20.

Hackney Literary Awards Novel Contest: A prize of $5,000 is given annually for an unpublished novel. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $30.

Lascaux Review Prize in Creative Nonfiction: A prize of $1,000 and publication on the Lascaux Review website is given annually for an essay. The winner and finalists will also be published in Volume 8 of the Lascaux Review. Previously published and unpublished essays are eligible. All entries will be considered for publication. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $15.

Red Hen Press Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Red Hen Press is given annually for a short story collection or a novel. Susan Straight will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $25.

University of Arkansas Press Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize: A prize of $5,000 and publication by University of Arkansas Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Patricia Smith will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $28.

University of Iowa Press Iowa Short Fiction Award: Two awards of publication by University of Iowa Press are given annually for first collections of short fiction. Writers who have not published a book of fiction are eligible. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: none.

University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prizes: Five prizes of $1,000 each and publication by University of Massachusetts Press are given annually for a first poetry collection, a poetry collection, a short story collection, a novel, and a book of creative nonfiction. The creative writing faculty at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $30.

Winning Writers Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contests: Two prizes of $3,000 each and publication on the Winning Writers website are given annually for a poem in any style and a poem that either rhymes or is written in a traditional style. Jim DuBois and Soma Mei Sheng Frazier will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $15.

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.

Writing in Detroit

As we near the end of September, temperatures in Detroit are falling with leaves highlighting the end of the summer season. Safety concerns regarding COVID-19 are still lingering, meaning beloved and well-known Detroit festivals such as the annual African World Festival and Dally in the Alley have been canceled. These festivals are networking hubs for local writers and artists alike so it is unfortunate that they can’t be held this year. Despite these cancellations, writers are still documenting this ever-changing new era with their words and sharing work through virtual events like the ninth annual Detroit Lit Walk hosted by M. L. Liebler and Jenifer DeBellis, which provided a daylong literary experience.

There is also a buzz among the writers and organizers of literary events who have been applying for Poets & Writers’ Project Grants available for BIPOC writers in Detroit, Houston, and New Orleans—applications are due by September 30! The grants provide funding for one-, two-, or three-session projects and can be used to cover any cost associated with your project. Read more about the guidelines and apply here!

As we move into October and look for ways to help writers stay connected, I am excited to be hosting Writing in Detroit, a virtual reading on October 23 sponsored by Poets & Writers. Writing in Detroit will feature Christiana Castillo, Devin Samuels, and Scheherazade Washington Parish. Each writer will share original work and say a few words about how living in Detroit has influenced their writing. I believe these three writers will offer a unique insight into how our city’s culture finds its way into our words. Register for your virtual seat and tune in on October 23 at 4:00 PM EST.

For more upcoming events, check out the Literary Events Calendar.

Photo: Writing in Detroit Virtual Reading flyer.
 
Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Deadline Approaches for TulipTree Publishing Underdogs Story Contest

Submissions are open for the TulipTree Publishing Underdogs Story Contest. The editors seek work in any genre—fiction, nonfiction, or poetry—that responds to the “underdog” theme of the fall/winter issue of TulipTree Review. “It’s easy for the powerful, the strong, and even just the loud to get our attention, but we would argue it’s much more satisfying when the underdog lands in the spotlight for upsetting the odds.” The winning writer will receive $1,000 and publication in TulipTree Review.

To submit, e-mail a work of fiction or nonfiction of up to 10,000 words or a poem of any length with a $20 entry fee by September 23. There is no limit on the number of entries per writer, and entry fees may be submitted by PayPal or by mail. All entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

TulipTree Publishing was established in 2015 with the mission to “tell stories that need to be told.” In addition to printing a biannual literary journal, the organization also publishes an annual story anthology and a series of books dedicated to raising funds for various social causes.

Katrina Fifteenth Anniversary Virtual Reading

On August 26, I curated a virtual reading highlighting New Orleans writers to remember, as I said at the event, all the people, all the cultural places, all the businesses, all the family artifacts, all the schools, all the neighborhoods, and the ways of being that were lost physically and dismantled systematically by Hurricane Katrina. It is hard to believe, but August 29 marked the day the levees broke in New Orleans fifteen years ago.

To commemorate the occasion, Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy, Tom Piazza, Alison Pelegrin, José Torres Tama, Lolis Elie, and Asia Rainey read from their work and shared their experiences. Fourteen-year-old New Orleans saxophonist Akeel Salah Muhammad Haroon treated us with a performance to close the evening.

Readings & Workshops program coordinator Ricardo Hernandez, who helped with tech support, said of the event: “The featured readers were all incredible. I was especially moved to hear Lolis Elie read from “The Whys” and I looked up the piece so I could quote it accurately: ‘Some of us came back because we didn’t believe that the insurance company that we’d dutifully paid for decades would cheat us in our hour of gravest need. (If Dante Alighieri had endured the inferno of our flood, he would have kindled a special fire for insurance companies!)’”

Curating this event was fun but challenging, especially with the added pressure of doing this virtually and praying for no tech hiccups. Luckily it all worked out and our virtual audience was pleased. My goal was to highlight all the ways Hurricane Katrina impacted the city’s writers. It was hard to curate because so much is at stake with a reading that represents the loss and trauma of an entire city. I was happy that each writer brought a different voice and perspective to the reading.

Thank you to all of those who joined us on Facebook for the live event. If you missed the reading, you can watch it here. There is also a wonderful piece written by Joshua Barajas for PBS NewsHour about our event.

Writing about Katrina can be painful, but mostly it is a celebration of what makes New Orleans so special. As Saloy says in the PBS NewsHour piece, “We’re not just authors. We are the carriers of our culture.”

Kelly Harris is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in New Orleans. Contact her at NOLA@pw.org or on Twitter, @NOLApworg.

COVID Vivid Self Interview

This COVID Vivid blog series has been a real treat to work on these last couple months, and so, what was supposed to be only five entries will now be extended for a few more. So far, you have heard from Katherine Hoerth, Daniel Peña, Melissa Studdard, and Jonathan Moody. And now I will spin the question on to myself:

What have you been doing since the pandemic started?

“I have been trying to keep it together. I’ll be honest: I’ve been praying. I’ve been cooking. I’ve started three little gardens and built things for my kid. I’ve been playing with my two year old and trying my damnedest not to go down the rabbit hole of what-ifs when it comes to reading about the pandemic on social media.

I’ve also spent a little bit of time trying to write, but sometimes, I just stare at my screen. I’ve been buying useless things and binge-watching shows, and fighting and then making up with my wife, and trying to lose myself in good music. I was lucky enough to get the month of June off (I am an eleven-month contract employee in my local school district) and as of this writing, I am knee-deep in creating updated lesson plans for teachers in my district as well as creating two sets of digital lessons for students under the scenario that they won’t have access to their teachers online. It is tough trying to plan for teachers and students in a situation where we are totally blind as to what might happen next. If you haven’t seen how Texas is handling COVID-19, it’s not pretty.

I am entirely in alert mode. I am in hurricane warning mode. It’s like I stay up at night listening to the house, listening to my daughter sleep, maybe writing late into the night or working on curriculum, but I am lucky if I get a full night’s sleep. I am working on trying to build routines to take better care of myself, but honestly I have always sucked at it. It is easier for me to tend to other people. I probably look a wreck. I know I look a wreck. But everything is a slow movement. I am learning every day to take better care of myself. I am reading more. That’s where I begin.”

And speaking of reading, if you don’t already have your copy of the September/October 2020 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, check out the piece published online about Spanish-language and bilingual creative writing programs, “Writing in Spanish Elevates Academia” by Enma K. Elias.

Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

The first contests of the fall season include opportunities for established and emerging writers alike. With deadlines of September 15, September 17, or September 18, all feature a cash prize of $1,000 or more.

Cave Canem Foundation Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize: A prize valued at approximately $2,500 is given annually for a poetry chapbook by a Black poet. The winner will receive $500, publication by Jai-Alai Books, and a weeklong residency at the Writer’s Room at the Betsy Hotel in Miami, Florida; the winner will also give a reading at the O, Miami Poetry Festival in April 2021. Mahogany L. Browne will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: none.

Gulf Coast Barthelme Prize for Short Prose: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gulf Coast is given annually for a work of short prose. Jenny Offill will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: $15 (includes subscription).

Gulf Coast Prize in Translation: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gulf Coast is given in alternating years for a group of poems or a prose excerpt translated from any language into English. The 2020 prize will be given for poetry. Urayoán Noel will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: $15 (includes subscription).

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Writing Fellowships: Fellowships of approximately $50,000 each are awarded annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise. Citizens and permanent residents of the United States and Canada with a significant and appropriate record of publication are eligible. Deadline: September 17. Entry fee: none.

Manchester Metropolitan University Poetry and Fiction Prizes: Two prizes of £10,000 (approximately $12,740) each are given annually for a group of poems and a short story.  Deadline: September 18. Entry fee: £18 (approximately $23) 

University of Wisconsin Press Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication by University of Wisconsin Press are given annually for poetry collections. Carmen Giménez Smith will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: $28.

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.