Poets & Writers Blogs

Upcoming Poetry Contest Deadlines

Poets! There are almost two weeks left to submit to the following poetry contests and grants, given for single poems, full-length manuscripts, and short samples of work. Each contest has a deadline of Thursday, August 31, and offers a prize of at least $1,000.

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award: A prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,290) and publication in Aesthetica will be given annually for a poem. The winner will also receive a subscription to Granta, books courtesy of Bloodaxe Books and Vintage Books, and a full membership to the Poetry Society in London. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $15

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

New Guard Poetry Contest: A prize of $1,500 and publication in the New Guard is given annually for a poem. Mark Doty will judge. Entry fee: $20

Snake Nation Press Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Snake Nation Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Entry fee: $25

Sustainable Arts Foundation Writing Awards: Twenty awards of $5,000 each are given annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers with children. Writers with at least one child under the age of 18 are eligible. Entry fee: $15

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 2018. Entry fee: 0

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines and submission details. Check out our Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more upcoming contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

The Power of Teaching and Storytelling: A Workshop for Bangladeshi Seniors

Ashwak Fardoush is a writer and a teacher. She was born in Bangladesh and emigrated to the United States with her family at a young age. Her writing explores issues related to gender and sexuality, trauma, body politics, immigration, and holistic writing practices. She facilitates workshops, coaches, and tutors writers to help them venture into unexplored terrains in their writing. Her work appeared in the Margins. She also has a blog about writing.

When India Home invited me to facilitate a bilingual memoir writing workshop for Bangladeshi seniors this year, I knew that I couldn’t pass up such an incredible teaching opportunity. The participants were a few decades older than me, and the sessions were conducted entirely in Bengali.

The night before each class, I would take out Zahir Raihan’s Borof Gola Nodi (translated as River of Melted Ice): a slim book that had its spine falling apart, pages yellowed from age. I had taken out the same book from my aunt’s bookcase over two decades ago. I remember reading that novel one morning when shadows and light played on the veranda floor of my aunt’s rented house. That was many, many moons ago. I had left Bangladesh twenty years ago only to return back to the country once for a handful of days. During my visit, I found Raihan’s book again in my aunt’s home, this time an apartment where the windows looked out at tall buildings that blocked out the light. When my aunt saw the book in my hand, she smiled and told me I could keep it.

When I prepared for the workshop, the novel stayed by my side. In the evening I was immersed in the world of the characters. It was the training ground for the following morning when I would live inside the world created on the page by the writers who came to my workshop.

For eight weeks, the Bangladeshi seniors and I met every Thursday morning. I could see that time had left marks on their bodies. Slouched back, trembling hands, age spots. Time had left behind stories, too. The participants would lean over their marble notebooks and scribble away to capture these stories. They mapped out their lives on the page, sometimes traveling to far-flung places or going deep within themselves. Sometimes personal stories would unfold against the backdrop of history, desires would run up against societal expectations. The seniors excavated memories from their long, rich, vibrant lives and shaped them into poems and personal essays.

I could see how much the writing workshop meant to the seniors. Salema Khatun said, “I had put away my writing for twenty years. After my husband’s death, I took on the full responsibility of my family. But I have written four poems in your class. Look what you have done for me.”

The workshop not only became the space for the seniors to write their stories but also a site for them to share their testimonies—tales suffused with pain, joy, love, loss, dreams, and despair—and be witnessed with respect and camaraderie.

The workshop was meaningful for me, too. I found myself writing alongside the seniors in Bengali after so many years of not writing in that language. Once, I read aloud what I wrote: about being on a boat and moving through the drying Kopothakho River in Jessore, Bangladesh and watching the boatman pushing aside the water hyacinths with his paddle.

Raihan’s novel still sits by my bedside. That book was the boat that bridged the gap between many worlds—between the participants and me, between Bangladesh and the United States, between the different versions of myself.

Through the writing workshop the participants and I coauthored an experience, a story in itself that soon became part of our life’s narrative.

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. 

Photo: (bottom, left to right) Salema Khatun, Farida Talukdar, Quamrun Nahar, and Ashwak Fardoush. (top, left to right): Haque Mohammad, Md. Hoque, Rafiqul Islam, and Md. Mokbul Hossain. (Credit: Sabit Bhuiyan).

Echoes in These Streets: A Reading Series for Women Overcoming Homelessness

Daniela Jungova is the Development & Communications associate at Calvary Women’s Services, the award-winning organization that empowers homeless women in Washington, D.C., to transform their lives through housing, health, education, and employment programs. She feels lucky to have had the opportunity to witness the inspiration that poetry offers to women overcoming homelessness.

“Poetry is people conveying their dreams through words,” mused Sonja Berry, who attended all three of the Echoes in These Streets poetry readings at Calvary Women’s Services—an award-winning organization empowering homeless women in Washington, D.C.

The P&W–supported reading series took place over the course of three beautiful summer Sundays (July 9, 16 and 30) and featured five outstanding poets from the D.C. area—Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Hayes Davis, Katherine McCord, Saundra Rose Maley, and Nancy Arbuthnot. The poets were selected for their cultural relevancy, as well as the ability to connect with diverse populations—the majority of women living at Calvary are survivors of domestic violence, are learning to manage a mental illness, and/or are in recovery from substance abuse.

For many women facing similar challenges, closing up to the world is an easy way to cope. Berry, who came to Calvary four months ago, says that the poets’ openness was a true gift: “Seeing the poets describe reality in metaphors made me feel inspired, and, well, curious.”

Indeed, all five of the presenting poets got quite personal. Their poems tackled issues such as ordinary life, identity, depression, stereotypes, fatherhood, even breastfeeding. Some delivered their works boldly, fearlessly offering their musings to the world. Others invited the audience to an intimate conversation, softly whispering as if to a best friend. All of them though, voiced their inner thoughts in a genuine and relatable way.

Hayes Davis wrote in his piece “Musings”: “One myth that’s part truth / is men don’t always share sadness that rests / on a foundation of vulnerability.” In “Gaze,” Teri Ellen Cross Davis wrote: “Standing, I name myself / shedding the fiction of availability / becoming nonfiction.” In her piece about islands, Katherine McCord contemplated: “After all, swimming is all / luck. We have no gills / and islands are all light. / Escape that.” Saundra Rose Maley described a hot summer night scene in “First Blues”: “Televisions gone bleary / blinked / in front of men / in undershirts drinking beer.” In “Song,” Nancy Arbuthnot observed: “The best things are nearest / breath, light, flowers / the path just before you.”

Arbuthnot, a poetry teacher at the Naval Academy and longtime volunteer at Calvary Women’s Services, says most of her poems, like the one above, explore everyday life, spirituality, and the way we confront major life issues. Perhaps that’s why her poems resonated so strongly with women at Calvary. She feels the same way about them: “Echoes in These Streets was held on Sundays, and attendance was voluntary. The women who showed up were clearly very interested. They were an incredibly receptive audience, which is what every poet certainly appreciates. It’s been delightful—it made me wonder who really is giving and who is gaining.”

Echoes in These Streets brought much joy and inspiration to women at Calvary, who have long enjoyed experimenting with their own creative abilities. Even though the reading series is over, women at Calvary will have the support they need no matter what artistic endeavor they decide to undertake in the future—Calvary’s literacy and arts program, LEAP, runs year-round and is designed to empower women in understanding and using their own talents and strengths.

Elaine Johnson, who coordinates LEAP and witnesses women’s artistic sides firsthand, noted: “Echoes in These Streets deepened women’s relationship with writing. At the last session, the women were discussing the idea of continuing to meet on Sunday evenings to share and discuss their own poetry—and I see that as evidence of the lasting effect of the series!”

Nancy Arbuthnot agrees: “I think it’s really great that Poets & Writers makes it possible for poets to go out to communities like Calvary. Echoes in These Streets clearly showed that the audience and poets alike benefit from these readings.”

The staff and residents of Calvary Women’s Services would like to thank everyone who participated in the readings and savored poetry as a tool for self-expression, empowerment, and acceptance. A sincere thank you also goes to Poets & Writers who made it possible for the five brilliant poets to present their work to women at Calvary. There is no way these three wonderful evenings would have been possible without your generous support. Here at Calvary, your gift of poetry will certainly keep on giving.

Support for Readings & Workshops in Washington, D.C. 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) Hayes Davis, Sonja Berry, and Teri Ellen Cross Davis (Credit: Elaine Johnson). (bottom) Saundra Rose Maley and Nancy Arbuthnot with audience member (Credit: Elaine Johnson).

Submit Poetry, Win Beer (and Money and Publication)

Poets who like beer, we have just the contest for you! Submissions are currently open for the fifteenth annual Dogfish Head Poetry Prize. A prize of $500, publication by Broadkill River Press, ten author copies, and two cases of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales are given annually for a poetry collection written by a poet living in the mid-Atlantic states. Destiny Birdsong, Christopher Salerno, and Michael Dwayne Smith will judge.

Poets currently living in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, or Washington, D.C. may submit a manuscript of 48 to 78 pages by August 15. There is no entry fee.

The winner will be expected to attend a reading and award ceremony at the Dogfish Head Brewery in Lewes, Delaware, in December; lodging at the Dogfish Inn will be provided. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Academy of American Poets Launches Spanish Poetry Prize

The Academy of American Poets has launched the Ambroggio Prize, an annual award given for an unpublished poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and translated into English by the poet or a translator. The winner will receive $1,000 and publication by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe at Arizona State University.

The prize will be open for submissions from September 15 through February 15, 2018.  Poet Alberto Ríos will judge. Ríos is the state poet laureate of Arizona and had published several poetry collections, most recently A Small Story About the Sky (Copper Canyon Press, 2015).

“We are happy to be working with the Academy of American Poets, which has been honoring artistic excellence in poetry for many decades, on this new prize to celebrate poets in the United States writing in Spanish as an important part of our rich American poetic tradition,” says Luis Alberto Ambroggio, the sponsor of the prize. Jennifer Benka, executive director of the Academy of American Poets, agrees. “We are thrilled to expand our prizes to include one that recognizes the important place the Spanish language has in American culture,” she says.

The prize is the first of its kind in the United States to honor American poets whose first language is Spanish. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States, with the 2013 U.S. Census estimating that approximately 38.4 million people—or 13 percent of the population—speak Spanish at home.

The Academy of American Poets administers several other prizes, including the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award, the $25,000 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the $5,000 Walt Whitman Prize, and the $5,000 James Laughlin Award. Cosponsor Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe publishes literary works, scholarship, and art books by or about U.S. Hispanics.

Submissions Open for New Lyric Essay Book Prize

Submissions are currently open for Seneca Review’s inaugural Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize. An award of $2,000 and publication by Hobart and William Smith College Press will be given biennially for a lyric essay collection. The winner will also be invited to give a reading at Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, New York. John D’Agata will serve as final judge.

The contest accepts “cross-genre and hybrid work, verse forms, text and image, connected or related pieces, and ‘beyond category’ projects.” Using the online submission manager, submit a manuscript of 48 to 120 pages with a $27 entry fee by August 15. The contest is open to both emerging and established writers.

Sponsored by Seneca Review in conjunction with the TRIAS residency program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the new biennial book series intends to “encourage and support innovative work in the essay.” Visit the website for complete guidelines.

For more upcoming prizes in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, visit our Grants & Awards Database and Submission Calendar.

Short Fiction Contest Deadlines

Short fiction writers: The following contests—each offering an award of at least $1,000 and publication for a short story—are open for submissions until July 31. Additional prizes include a residency and an agency review.

Munster Literature Centre Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition: A prize of €2,000 (approximately $2,300) and publication in Southword, an online literary journal published in Cork, Ireland, is given annually for a short story. The winner also receives a weeklong residency at the Anam Cara Writer’s Retreat on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork. Entry fee: $20

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

Narrative Spring Story Contest: A prize of $2,500 and publication in Narrative is given annually for a short story, a short short story, or an excerpt from a work of fiction. A second-place prize of $1,000 is also awarded. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $25

New Millennium Writings Awards: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in New Millennium Writings and on the journal’s website are given twice yearly for a short story and a short short story that have not appeared in a print publication with a circulation over 5,000. Entry fee: $20

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

Never Forgotten: A Nisei Writing Workshop

Naomi Shibata, author of Bend With the Wind: The Life, Family, and Writings of Grace Eto Shibata (Shibata Family Partnership, 2014), is a docent and senior engagement writing instructor with the National Japanese American Historical Society of San Francisco. She also delivers guest lectures on the Japanese American experience to schools, historical societies, museums, service organizations, libraries, and book clubs. Shibata is a University of California graduate and a high technology industry veteran. From April to June 2017, Shibata led a series of P&W–supported writing workshops for second-generation Japanese American elders (the Nisei) with the theme: “Tell your story as you would like it told.” Below, Shibata blogs about her approach to working with the elders and the importance of the project.

In late 2016, I received an invitation to lead a workshop for first-time writers. Sponsored by the Friends of the Little Tokyo Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library and Poets & Writers, the four-part program targeted second-generation Americans of Japanese descent, the Nisei.

The Nisei, now in their eighties and nineties, are the last in a line of storytellers with firsthand accounts of a dark time in American history. Their racial-ethnic community was disenfranchised, incarcerated, and exiled by the U.S. government during World War II. For some Nisei, the time has come to speak of their lives before, during, and after the incarceration. It is time to write about the long road to the American Dream. It is time to tell their stories as they would like them told.

I knew that the success of this workshop hinged on integrating the Japanese American experience with the how-tos of Storytelling 101. Presenting the material in a relevant context would help participants internalize the concepts and release their ideas into words. I also suspected that healthy doses of offbeat humor would lighten and facilitate the learning process for an audience comprised of educators, medical professionals, attorneys, and amateur historians.

The workshop participants shared a common goal—kodomo no tame ni, to write “for the children.” In the winters of their lives, they chose to tell their stories on their own terms. Forthright and candid, they knew that their words were the most priceless legacies. One observer asked these novice writers how they found the courage to reveal so much about themselves. One participant answered for them all when he replied, “I want my grandchildren to know the truth.”

The new voices recorded crossroad moments, human drama, and the value of small acts of kindness. Succinct and uncensored, they spoke of how one teacher’s arbitrary change of a little girl’s name shaped the six-year-old’s resolve always to have her voice heard; how a ten-year-old boy experienced loss when the FBI interned both his parents; and how a young woman valued the simple social courtesies shown to her by strangers.

The workshop participants and I wish to extend our thanks to Alanna Lin Ramage and the Friends of the Little Tokyo Branch library, Los Angeles Public Library Senior Librarian James Sherod, and Readings & Workshops (West) director Jamie Asaye FitzGerald. Their support was instrumental in helping new writers preserve the stories of lives well lived.

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.

Photos: (top) Naomi Shibata giving an introduction at the culmination reading (Credit: Jamie Asaye FitzGerald). (bottom, left to right): Irma Fukumoto, Adeline Manzo, Hagiko Kusunoki, Vice President of the Friends of the Little Tokyo Branch Library Ron Hirano, Ray Saruwatari, Naomi Shibata, and President of the Friends of the Little Tokyo Branch Library Alanna Lin Ramage (Credit: Jamie Asaye FitzGerald).

First-Book Prize for Women and Nonbinary Writers of Color

Submissions are currently open for the second annual Louise Meriwether First Book Prize, cosponsored by the Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine. A prize of $5,000 and publication by the Feminist Press is given annually for a debut book of fiction or nonfiction by a woman or nonbinary writer of color.

Women and nonbinary writers of color (or those who self-identify as nonwhite) who are U.S. citizens and who have not yet published a book may submit a manuscript of 50,000 to 80,000 words by July 31. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete submission guidelines.

This year’s final judges are acclaimed authors Tayari Jones and Ana Castillo, Feminist Press executive director Jennifer Baumgardner, and TAYO editor in chief Melissa Sipin. Five finalists will be announced in October; the winner will be announced in February 2018.

Fiction writer YZ Chin won the inaugural book prize for her story collection, Though I Get Home. Of Chin’s manuscript, Sipin said, “The need to escape, to live, and to survive is rendered beautifully in these eclectic and visceral stories.”

The Louise Meriwether Prize was founded in 2016 to honor the legacy of novelist, journalist, and activist Louise Meriwether, whose 1970 novel Daddy Was a Number Runner was one of the first contemporary novels to feature a African American girl as the protagonist. The book went on to inspire the careers of authors such as Jacqueline Woodson and Bridgett M. Davis.

Learn more about the prize and sponsoring organizations at www.tayoliterarymag.com and www.feministpress.org, and visit the Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for a complete list of upcoming poetry and prose deadlines.

(Photo: YZ Chin)

An Evening at the Bryant Park Reading Room

Program assistant for Readings & Workshops (East) Ricardo Hernandez blogs about an evening at Bryant Park’s Reading Room series in New York City, co-curated by Poets & Writers.

Since 2003, the Reading Room at Bryant Park has hosted established and emerging poets at an “open air” reading series held in the heart of Manhattan. This summer, the Readings & Workshops program was offered the opportunity to co-curate an evening of this series. Against a backdrop of jugglers, double-decker buses, and the New York Public Library’s Main Branch, Oliver Baez Bendorf, Elana Bell, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, and Duy Doan shared their work.

Opening the evening, Baez Bendorf read poems from his book, The Spectral Wilderness (Kent State University Press, 2015), many of which interrogate and obfuscate masculinity. In one, the speaker directed us to call him, “giddyup and Tarzan, riot boy/ and monk, flavor-trip and soldier and departure,” each image bucking against what Judith Butler, quoted in the poem’s epigraph, calls “the ambivalent process” of identification.

Next, Bell read one poem written from a hilltop overlooking the settlement of Neve Daniel on the West Bank, dedicated to a woman named “Amal, whose name means hope.” With a piercing eye, the speaker outlines the differences between herself, who has “never drunk rain/ collected from a well dug by [her] own hands,” and Amal, who “moves/ through her land like an animal” and “laughs with all her teeth,” resulting in a tender ode to domesticity and diversity.

Boyce-Taylor read from her latest collection, Arrival (Northwestern University Press, 2017), which tells the story of a recently immigrated Trinidadian girl, her parents, and her stillborn twin brother. In one of the most poignant moments of Boyce-Taylor’s reading, the speaker imagines a moment of kindness in the womb, before her twin’s death: “He handed me the soft bread of his lips. ‘Sell it if you ever need shelter.’ Then he was gone.”

Bringing the reading came to an end, Doan shared poems from his manuscript, We Play a Game, selected by Carl Phillips for the 2017 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. In the poem “Love Trinkets,” Doan’s speaker presents his experiences with love in a poignant litany, detailing lovers who had spurned him; who had deceived him; and one who “was kind, so kind, in kissing/ [him] at all.”

Poets & Writers is thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Reading Room, and a special thanks to each of our featured readers!

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.

Photo: (left to right) Duy Doan, Oliver Baez Bendorf, Elana Bell, and Cheryl Boyce-Taylor (Credit: Ricardo Hernandez).

July 15 Fiction and Nonfiction Contest Deadlines

If you write short stories or essays, consider submitting to the following contests offering prizes of at least $1,000 and publication—all with a July 15 deadline.

Cincinnati Review Robert and Adele Schiff Award in Prose: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Cincinnati Review is given annually for a work of fiction or creative nonfiction. Michael Griffith will judge. Entry fee: $20

Fairy Tale Review Award in Prose: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Fairy Tale Review is given annually for a work of fiction or creative nonfiction influenced by fairy tales. Helen Oyeyemi will judge. Entry fee: $10

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 literary agents Laura Biagi of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners, and Amy Williams of the Williams Agency. The Masters Review editors will judge. Entry fee: $20

PRISM Creative Nonfiction Contest: A prize of $1,500 Canadian (approximately $1,170) and publication in PRISM is given annually for an essay. Entry fee: $40

The Story Prize: A prize of $20,000 is given annually to honor a short story collection written in English and published in the United States in the previous year. Two runners-up receive $5,000 each. The $1,000 Story Prize Spotlight Award is also given for a short story collection that “demonstrates the author's potential to make a significant contribution to the short story form.” Publishers, authors, or agents may submit. Larry Dark and Julie Lindsey will select the three finalists and Spotlight Award winner; three independent judges will choose the Story Prize winner. Entry fee: $75

Check out our Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more upcoming contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

July 15 Fiction and Nonfiction Contest Deadlines

If you write short stories or essays, consider submitting to the following contests offering prizes of at least $1,000 and publication—all with a July 15 deadline.

Cincinnati Review Robert and Adele Schiff Award in Prose: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Cincinnati Review is given annually for a work of fiction or creative nonfiction. Michael Griffith will judge. Entry fee: $20

Fairy Tale Review Award in Prose: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Fairy Tale Review is given annually for a work of fiction or creative nonfiction influenced by fairy tales. Helen Oyeyemi will judge. Entry fee: $10

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 literary agents Laura Biagi of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners, and Amy Williams of the Williams Agency. The Masters Review editors will judge. Entry fee: $20

PRISM Creative Nonfiction Contest: A prize of $1,500 Canadian (approximately $1,170) and publication in PRISM is given annually for an essay. Entry fee: $40

The Story Prize: A prize of $20,000 is given annually to honor a short story collection written in English and published in the United States in the previous year. Two runners-up receive $5,000 each. The $1,000 Story Prize Spotlight Award is also given for a short story collection that “demonstrates the author's potential to make a significant contribution to the short story form.” Publishers, authors, or agents may submit. Larry Dark and Julie Lindsey will select the three finalists and Spotlight Award winner; three independent judges will choose the Story Prize winner. Entry fee: $75

Check out our Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more upcoming contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Poets & Writers’ Connecting Generations Sixteenth Annual Intergenerational Reading

Christine Penney is newly retired. She is excited and daunted by discovering her voice again in writing through P&W–supported workshops at Goddard Riverside Community Center’s Senior Center in New York City, where she worked as a program coordinator for fourteen years. Many moons ago, she cowrote a one-woman show “Kaethe Kollwitz Presents a Brief History of Modern Art,” and performed it in New York City. Acting in theatre, television, and films in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City spanned her early years. She raised a brilliant and deeply loved and admired daughter, Kalen Wheeler, in a railroad apartment on the Upper West Side, who is her greatest support.

The Poets & Writers’ Connecting Generations Sixteenth Annual Intergenerational Reading took place on Saturday, June 17 at Barnes & Noble at Union Square in New York City.

Poets & Writers began this event in 2001 to celebrate the work of elders and teens, who have participated in writing workshops supported by the Readings & Workshops program throughout New York City. It began in a community room at Goddard Riverside Community Center’s Naturally Occurring Retirement Community program with ten readers and has grown to thirty-five plus readers.

The age span for the participating readers this year was about fifty years. The seniors were from Goddard Riverside Community Center, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, Grand Street Settlement, Kew Gardens Community Center, Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, and the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College in collaboration with Siloam Presbyterian Church. The young adults were from Union Square Slam, Urban Word NYC, and the Capicu Cultural Showcase and La Sopa NYC, the School of Poetic Arts.

For fourteen years I worked behind the scenes as a program director at the Goddard Riverside Community Center. From the time I was hired to the time I retired, Poets & Writers has supported writing workshops with seniors in this community; inspiring writers of a population seldom heard, whose lifetime of experiences could just as well have dissolved into airy nothing, if not for these workshops.

I would peek through the small window of the art room intrigued by these writers and their rapt attention as they listened to each other’s work. Outside looking in through the door, I could feel their churning minds, imagination, and their deep desire to tell their stories before time ran out. I longed to be among them.

When I retired, I entered the writing workshop. The challenge brought me back to my own creative roots, brought me back to me, and renewed my sense of purpose. I got to read my work for the first time in public and it was thrilling.

This year’s Intergenerational Reading featured issues of immigration, race, sexual identity, domestic abuse, parenting, and love.

Some highlights included a sestina of thumping political injustice by Suzanne Pavel, and lines of poetry from others. In “As a Teacher, I Use My Heart,” Brendan Gellette wrote: “I pull it out in the classroom, leave it on the table.” “Another heart vanished into a steamy mirror, as her father entered,” is how my piece “Bath Time” ends. “You’ll thank me for this some day. And took out his belt and buckle,” wrote George Schirmann. In I. S. Jones’s poem (to be published in Anomaly, formerly Drunken Boat) she wrote: “You break me with love because this is your inheritance, a family heirloom.”

Protesting vaginas and slamming sexual confusion rapped out in beats, contrasted with the quiet rhythmic grace of Tony Morris’s piece: “Behold, time is a precious thing. But when you must, answer the call.” Even Marilyn Monroe showed up in a fictional piece by Kathy Wilson, where Marilyn phoned another actor humbly asking if he was available to rehearse a scene for a Lee Strasberg class.

Young or old, we took our moment, whether unapologetically flinging it out with the raw, passionate urgency of youth, or tiptoeing softly to the end, quietly speaking our truth. The style did not matter. Let no one shut us up about what we see or what we feel, no matter what age, what race, what country, what disability, or sexual orientation we have.

“It made me feel alive, brought me back the anger and injustice I felt as a young adult. Bravo to the young folks’ vulnerability and grit,” said one senior.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea that P&W brings together this wide range of poets in terms of age, race, gender, and life experience. As an emerging poet, it gives me a lot of hope to read alongside seasoned poets because in this particular craft, we play the long game. It gives me hope that if I stay true to myself and what I need out of my work, that I will be alright,” said I. S. Jones.

To return to my creative core is a blessing and the best part is finding a community of like-minded people to share this new discovery with. Thank you to my friends in the writing group, to our loved and trusted workshop facilitator Elena Alexander, and to Bonnie Rose Marcus, director of the Readings & Workshops (East) for inviting me to write this blog. And thank you Poets & Writers for this gift, offering us a platform to express ourselves, listen to others, and learn!

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): Christine Penney and her daughter Kalen Wheeler (Credit: Margarita Corporan). (bottom): Readers and host Regie Cabico (Credit: Margarita Corporan).

Deadline Extended for Omnidawn Poetry Contest

The deadline for Omnidawn’s First/Second Poetry Book Prize, which was previously June 30, has been extended to July 17. A prize of $3,000, publication by Omnidawn Publishing, and 100 author copies is given annually for a first or second poetry collection.

Submit a manuscript of 40 to 120 pages via e-mail with a $27 entry fee, or $30 to receive a book from the Omnidawn catalogue. Visit the Omnidawn website for complete guidelines.

The judge for this year’s award is Korean American poet Myung Mi Kim, whose most recent collection is Penury (Omnidawn, 2009). Kim has previously judged Bayou Magazine’s Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry and Kelsey Street Press’s Firsts! series for women poets, among other contests.       

Recent winning titles of the First/Second Book Prize include Henry Wei Leung’s Goddess of Democracy (to be published in October), Jennifer S. Cheng’s House A (2016), and Margaret Ross’s A Timeshare (2015).

Check out our Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more upcoming contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Deadline Approaches for Crab Orchard First Book Award

Poets: Submissions are currently open for Crab Orchard’s First Book Award. A prize of $2,500, publication by Southern Illinois University Press, and a $1,500 honorarium to give a reading at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale is given annually for a debut poetry collection.

Using the online submission system, submit a manuscript of 50 to 75 pages with a $20 entry fee by July 10. U.S. poets who have not published a full-length book of poems in an edition of over 500 copies are eligible. Visit the Crab Orchard website for complete guidelines.

Poet Chad Davidson will judge. Davidson is the author three poetry collections published by Southern Illinois University Press, most recently From the Fire Hills (2014).

Previous winners of the Crab Orchard First Book Award include Kara van de Graaff’s Spitting Image (forthcoming in 2018), Charif Shanahan’s Into Each Room We Enter Without Knowing (2016), and Gregory Kimbrell’s The Primitive Observatory (2015).

Check out our Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more upcoming contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Below, listen to previous winner Charif Shanahan read his poem "Plantation" for the Academy of American Poets.