Poets & Writers Blogs

Applications Open for Black Mountain Institute Shearing Fellowships

Applications are now open for the Black Mountain Institute Shearing Fellowships. Hosted at the institute’s home at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the fellowships each include a $20,000 stipend, free housing in downtown Las Vegas, work space at the institute’s campus offices, and eligibility for health care coverage. The upcoming fellowships will take place during the 2020–2021 academic year; candidates may apply for residencies of one or two semesters. While the fellowship has no formal teaching requirements, incoming fellows will be expected to maintain a regular in-office presence and to engage with the Black Mountain Institute literary community.

The fellowship is open to emerging and distinguished writers who have published at least one critically-acclaimed book of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Recent fellows include Hanif Abdurraqib, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Tayari Jones, Ahmed Naji, and Claire Vaye Watkins.

Using only the online application system, submit a one- to two-page cover letter, a ten-page writing sample, and a résumé or CV by November 1. Finalists will be asked to submit copies of their books. There is no application fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute is “an international literary center dedicated to bringing writers and the literary imagination into the heart of public life.” Located within the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the institute is home to the Believer, a bimonthly magazine of literature, arts, and culture.

Hot Houston Part One

¿Que dice mi gente? I’m really excited to fill you in on what went on here in Houston this summer. We do a lot. Seriously.

I celebrated with the nonprofit organization Inprint as they formally announced the readers for the 2019/2020 season of their Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. This is one of the city’s dopest reading series—always a treat—and they do it up. This year to unveil their line-up they hosted a happy hour mixer for the public at the Night Heron, a slick little spot in town.

The season runs from September 16, 2019 through April 27, 2020 and features ten renowned authors, including Colson Whitehead, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Natalie Diaz. I plan to be in attendance and will bring you more on the series.

I also traveled back to my hometown of Galveston for Speak Up, Speak Out 2019, an annual regional youth poetry slam hosted by Iconoclast Artists. The daytime event kicked off the summer nicely. Al puro cien. I was invited to serve as a judge and witnessed a lively slam. Several teams from different parts of the state were on hand for the competition (shout-out to the slam team at César E. Chavez High School!). It is so refreshing to get a chance to see youth take the stage and show their poetic “teeth” in the literary world. This community is vibrant and I look forward to sharing more from Houston.

Photo: Margarett Root Brown Reading Series poster.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Citywide Poets at ArtBlock

Last week I helped organize InsideOut’s annual Citywide Poets orientation, which preps the writing mentors who will lead after-school sessions in local high schools and community centers in Detroit from October through May. This year the program is bringing together eighteen writers to participate as mentors, including Nadine Marshall, Jassmine Parks, Brittany Rogers, and Devin Samuels.

In addition to our growing numbers, what made this year’s orientation awesome was the place where we gathered, a new community arts center in the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood called ArtBlock. This space offers an outstanding first impression with its colorful mural on the north wall of the building. Inside the building, there are three separate mural-covered rooms fit for anything from readings to workshops to parties. ArtBlock is available for community groups and local nonprofits to use free of charge, which was a great help to InsideOut. I look forward to this year’s Citywide Poets programming and to seeing future events at ArtBlock.

Photo: ArtBlock mural by artist Fel3000ft (Credit: Justin Rogers).
 
Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Submissions Open for Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes

Submissions are open for the third annual Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes. Launched in 2017, the prizes recognize publications that “actively nurture the writers who tell us, through their art, what is important.”. Three prizes will be given to print magazines and two to magazines publishing primarily online. Print publications can win up to $60,000, $30,000, and $15,000; digital publications can win up to $30,000 and $9,000. 

Across all categories, the award is dispensed over three years. Each magazine will receive an outright grant in the first year, followed by matching grants in the second and third years. The Whiting Foundation will also connect all recipients to expert advisors for consultation in matters such as fund-raising and marketing, and help organize meetings throughout the year for the winners to discuss shared challenges. 

This year the application for the prizes will include two rounds of review. Magazines are invited to submit a short-form application using the online portal by December 2. In February 2020 a limited number of applicants will be invited to complete an expanded application due in early April. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines and eligibility requirements

The Whiting Foundation hopes the financial and professional support offered by the grants will help the winners develop and achieve ambitious goals. Courtney Hodell, the foundation’s director of literary programs, notes the long-term results: “As the prize continues to mature, we see more clearly how critical these intrepid magazines are to developing and building healthy careers,” she says. “Supporting magazines benefits the entire literary landscape.” 

The 2019 print prizes went to the Common, American Short Fiction, and Black Warrior Review. The Margins and the Offing received the digital prizes. 

Founded in 1971, the Whiting Foundation believes in “identifying and empowering talented people as early as possible in their creative and intellectual development.” In addition to the Literary Magazine Prizes, every year the organization honors emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama with the Whiting Awards, and supports nonfiction writers completing works-in-progress with the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grants. 

¡Saludos Desde Houston!

Hola mi gente, my name is Lupe Mendez and I am an educator, writer, and activist originally from Galveston, Texas. I am the founder and current director of Tintero Projects, a grassroots organization that helps provide opportunities for Latinx writers and other writers of color along the Texas Gulf Coast. I received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and have been a part of the Houston literary scene for more than twenty years. You can check out my Poets & Writers Directory profile for more about my writing.

As the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston, I am excited to provide information to local literary organizations and writers about the resources P&W offers—from applications for minigrants through the Readings & Workshops program to free online resources such as the Literary Events Calendar.

I also have the opportunity to speak about the brilliant writing scene represented in the fourth largest city in the United States. Houston is a powerhouse with exciting open mic events (Notsouh, the First Friday reading series), an active slam scene (Houston VIP, Write About Now), and excellent literary organizations and writing programs (Inprint, Nuestra Palabra, University of Houston).

I look forward to reporting on what’s happening out in Houston. Nos vemos pronto.

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

The Slam at the Cube

LaShaun “Phoenix” Kotaran is a longtime figure in the slam community and has recently been chosen to host a new poetry slam series in Detroit. It is exciting to see poetry back in a venue that hasn’t had a poetry event in over ten years—Detroit Symphony Orchestra. This immaculate building offers a dynamic recital hall known as the Cube for performances.

I had a chance to speak to Phoenix about adding this new gig to her extensive hosting career. While Phoenix is excited about the opportunity, she feels that the literary offerings in the city have shrunken, especially since the city’s bankruptcy. “It’s been tough to partner with venues in downtown Detroit and Cass Corridor,” Phoenix says. However, the new slam series at the Cube brings hope of fresh growth. “Detroit Symphony Orchestra is very Detroit, very white and blue collar. It is Detroit grit. This is the perfect space to cultivate culture,” she says.

The first Cube Poetry Slam went down last month and featured incredible local poets and an acoustic set by singer and songwriter Peter Collins who made his Detroit debut. This fall, the series continues with an all-female lineup. I will be watching this series very closely and reporting about it in the near future!

Photo: LaShaun “Phoenix” Kotaran and poets at the Cube (Credit: Justin Rogers).
 
Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize Open for Submissions

Submissions are open for the inaugural Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize. Sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, with support from Treehouse Investments, the award will honor “exceptional poems that help make real for readers the gravity of the vulnerable state of our environment at present.” The award for first place is $1,000; a second-place prize of $750 and a third-place prize of $500 will also be awarded. The winners will all be published in the Academy of American Poet’s Poem-a-Day series.

Using only the online submission system, submit a poem of any length by November 1. Submissions in Spanish will be allowed if they are accompanied by an English translation. Performance or spoken word poets may submit video of their work. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

This year’s contest will be judged by environmentalist Bill McKibben and poet Julia Alvarez. “We’re grateful to have the opportunity to address the climate crisis through poetry and hope the poets’ poems we’ll publish might inspire people to learn more about the issue and how they can help,” says Jennifer Benka, executive director of the Academy of American Poets. 

Established in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is one of the largest nonprofits in the United States dedicated to supporting contemporary poetry. In addition to the Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize, the organization annually awards more than $1 million to poets through its American Poets Prizes.

Raise a Glass to Poetry

I recently had the pleasure of attending a new poetry series hosted by Detroit poet Caesar Torreano. Lyrics & Libations is held at Detroit Vineyards, a new venue and winery featuring Michigan-grown wine. This unique venue offers an elegant, spacious feel complete with a bar and one-of-a-kind floating tables. The staff are welcoming and friendly, and the unique wine options keep everyone smiling and warm as they listen to local poets—many of which are established in the community—share their work.

The space offered me the opportunity to chat with artists and organizers who I haven’t crossed paths with in a number of years. Caesar managed to offer the same inspiring allure I recalled from the first time I walked into one of his events over seven years ago.

I highly recommend checking out Lyrics & Libations, which happens every Wednesday starting at 7:00 PM at Detroit Vineyards. There are exciting featured poets to listen to and meet, fine wine, and an open mic for anyone who wants to share and join in. I’ll be back to participate again soon!

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

Submissions Open for Peter Porter Poetry Prize

One of Australia’s most prestigious literary awards, the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, is open for submissions. The annual award, which is given for a single poem, honors Australian poet Peter Porter, who wrote more than fifteen collections of poetry and was celebrated with the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and the Whitbread Prize for Poetry. Porter was also a longtime contributor to the Australian Book Review, which sponsors the eponymous prize. This year’s winner will receive $7,000 AUD (approximately $ 4,713) and will be published in an issue of the review.

Using only the online submission system, submit a poem of up to 70 lines with an entry fee of $25 AUD (approximately $17) by October 1. All poets writing in English are eligible. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

John Hawke, Bronwyn Lea, and Philip Mead will judge this year’s prize. Its most recent winners are Belle Ling and Andy Kissane, who jointly received the 2019 prize. Ling won for “63 Temple Street, Mong Kok” and Andy Kissane won for “Searching the Dead.”

Inside First Draft Open Mic

A large part of the work that I do for the literary community in Detroit is with the nonprofit organization InsideOut Literary Arts. InsideOut is Detroit’s largest and oldest literary arts nonprofit, placing writers in schools across the city and offering an award-winning after-school program known as Citywide Poets. As the coordinator for Citywide Poets, I have the honor of organizing the after-school activities for the program. We offer weekly writing workshops, a visiting writer series, and my favorite event, First Draft Open Mic.

First Draft began by demand from our students who wanted a space to share their in-progress work. The series has continued to flourish and is now closing its second season. The last event held on August 16 featured poetry and music, and a special performance by the 2019 Detroit Youth Poetry Slam team. It is obvious how the youth of the program have taken full ownership of this event series, from hosting to performing. Events like this, along with the work I do for InsideOut and Poets & Writers, all lines up in a way that reminds me that writing is thriving among new, young artists as well as veteran artists. At First Draft Open Mic, there is more that happens than just sharing first drafts, everyone in the space shares a moment of vulnerability and a community is instantly built.

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

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Summer’s final deadlines are upon us! Contests with a deadline of August 31 span poetry and prose, and include awards celebrating queer writers, writers over the age of 60, and writers living in upstate New York. Each offers a prize of at least $1,000.

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award: Two prizes of £1,000 (approximately $1,225) each and publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual are given annually for a poem and a short story. The winner in poetry also receives a membership to the Poetry Society in London, and the winner in short fiction receives a consultation with the literary agency Redhammer Management. Both winners receive a subscription to Granta and a selection of books from Bloodaxe Books and Vintage Books. Katy Guest, Oz Hardwick, Liz Jones, Teresa Palmiero, Martine Pierquin, and Steve Toase will judge. Entry fee: £12 (approximately $15) for a poem of up to 40 lines, or £18 (approximately $22) for a short story of up to 2,000 words.

Black Lawrence Press St. Lawrence Book Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Black Lawrence Press is given annually for a debut collection of poems or short stories. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Ex Ophidia Press Poetry Book Contest: A prize of $1,000, publication by Ex Ophidia Press, and 15 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Richard-Gabriel Rummonds will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Gemini Magazine Flash Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gemini Magazine is given annually for a short short story. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $6.

Grid Books Off the Grid Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Grid Books is given annually for a poetry collection by a writer over the age of 60. Jon Davis will judge. Entry fee: $25.

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 Victoria Cappello from the Bent Agency, Sarah Fuentes from Fletcher & Company, Andrea Morrison from Writers House, and Nat Sobel from Sobel Weber Associates. Tope Folarin will judge. Entry fee: $20.

Omnidawn Publishing Open Book Prize: A prize of $3,000, publication by Omnidawn Publishing, and 100 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Rachel Zucker will judge. Entry fee: $27.

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. Uzodinma Iweala will judge. Entry fee: $10.

University of New Orleans Press Publishing Lab Prize: A prize of $10,000 and publication by University of New Orleans Press is given annually for a short story collection or a novel. Entry fee: $28.

Utica College Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize: A prize of $2,000 is given annually for a poetry collection published in the previous year by a resident of upstate New York. The winner will also give a reading and teach a master class at Utica College in April 2020. Entry fee: none. 

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.

Meet Me at the Tuxedo Project

In just under two weeks I will be holding the first of what I hope to be an ongoing event series, the Detroit Writers Circle. On August 30, I am inviting Detroit writers, reading series hosts, and literary event planners to join me at the Tuxedo Project (7124 Tuxedo Street) from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM to write, share, and discuss the minigrants offered by the Readings & Workshops program. Our writing workshop will focus on poetry, and an open mic will follow. We will close the evening by offering a step-by-step tutorial of the application process for the minigrants. This will be a great time to ask questions and gain clarity about the guidelines.

We will also open the floor for suggestions on events in the Detroit area, including future workshop leaders, potential featured performers, and available venues. I am hoping to see a number of literary entities on August 30! Can’t wait to build community with you. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at Detroit@pw.org.

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

Westival Poetry Competition Open for Submissions

As part of its perennial celebration of literature, the Westival Music and Arts Festival invites poets to submit to the Westival Poetry Competition. Semifinalists will be invited to read onstage at this year’s festival in Co. Mayo, Ireland, where a winner will be announced live. First prize is €1,000 (approximately $1,110). 

Using the online submission system, submit up to three poems with a €15 entry fee (approximately $17) by August 30. Each poem should consist of no more than forty lines. Visit the website for complete guidelines. 

This year’s competition will be judged by Geraldine Mitchell, John McAuliffe, and Ger Reidy. The festival aims for emerging and established talent to share its stage; recent guests include Edna O’Brien, Dermot Healy, and Kevin Barry, as well as musicians, visual artists, and performers. The festival will be held from October 23 to October 28.

Hot Spots in Detroit

Exploring events in Detroit has been exciting this summer. There are a number of lesser-known venues in the city that have recently started hosting literary events. For those looking for a space to write or build community, the Room Project in the North End has been a go-to location for me. A membership includes use of the workspace, library, and podcast equipment. They also have an event space that hosts artist talks, readings, and writing workshops.

For a change of scenery and an interactive experience, Signal-Return in Eastern Market has hands-on workshops in their letterpress print shop as well as a range of public programming including exhibitions, book release parties, and the Motor Signal Reading Series cohosted by Literary Detroit. The series pairs a local writer with a traveling writer in a double-feature reading that includes an intermission activity with the audience.

Visiting these locations has been a pleasant learning opportunity on how to help build up the literary community across the city. Shout-out to other spots I’ve visited that I encourage all to check out: Artist Village Detroit, Book Suey, the Commons on Mack Avenue, and the Corner Ballpark.

Search the Literary Places and Reading Venues databases for spots to visit near you!

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

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Submissions are open for a wealth of opportunities with a deadline of August 15 or August 16. Each contest offers a prize of $1,000 or more, or a prize of $500 with no entry fee—and one also awards two cases of beer. Cheers, writers!

Baton Rouge Area Foundation Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence: A prize of $10,000 is given annually to an emerging African American writer for a book of fiction published in the current year. The winner also receives travel and lodging expenses to attend an awards ceremony and participate in educational outreach events in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in January 2020. Anthony Grooms, Edward P. Jones, Elizabeth Nunez, Francine Prose, and Patricia Towers will judge. Deadline: August 15. Entry fee: none.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales Poetry Prize: A prize of $500, publication by Broadkill River Press, ten author copies, and two cases of Dogfish Head craft beer are given annually for a poetry collection written by a poet living in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., or West Virginia. The winner is expected to attend a reading and award ceremony at the Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware, on December 14. Lodging is provided, but travel expenses are not included. Joseph Millar will judge. Deadline: August 15. Entry fee: none.

Grayson Books Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Grayson Books is given annually for a poetry collection. Robert Cording will judge. Deadline: August 15. Entry fee: $25.

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. Deadline: August 16. Entry fee: $20, which includes a subscription to Gulf Coast.

Indiana Review “1/2 K” Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Indiana Review is given annually for a poem or a work of flash fiction or creative nonfiction. Megan Giddings will judge. Deadline: August 15. Entry fee: $20, which includes a subscription to Indiana Review

Kore Press Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,500, publication by Kore Press, and 20 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection by a woman, trans, or gender-nonconforming poet. Erica Hunt will judge. Deadline: August 15. Entry fee: $28, with some entry fee scholarships available.

Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Red Wheelbarrow will be given annually for a poem. The winner will also receive 20 copies of a letterpress broadside of the winning poem. Marilyn Chin will judge. Deadline: August 15. Entry fee: $15.

TulipTree Publishing Stories That Need to Be Told Contest: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a poem, a short story, or an essay that “tells a story.” The winner will also receive a two-year subscription to Duotrope and publication in the contest anthology, Stories That Need to Be Told. Deadline: August 15. Entry fee: $20.

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.