Poets & Writers Blogs

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.

Upcoming Prose Contest Deadlines

Fiction and creative nonfiction writers: If you are sitting on a finished short story, essay collection, novel, or other work of prose, check out the following contests that are open to submissions for two more days! Each of the contests has a June 30 deadline and offers a prize of at least $1,000 and publication.

Autumn House Press Literary Prizes: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication by Autumn House Press are given annually for a book of fiction and a book of creative nonfiction. Each winner also receives a $1,500 travel and publicity grant. Amina Gautier will judge in fiction and Alison Hawthorne Deming will judge in nonfiction. Entry fee: $30

Engine Books Fiction Prize: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Engine Books is given annually for a short story collection, a novella collection, or a novel. Maya Lang will judge. Entry fee: $30

Glimmer Train Press Short Story Award for New Writers: A prize of $2,500 and publication in Glimmer Train Stories is given three times yearly for a short story by a writer whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation over 5,000. Entry fee: $18

Hidden River Arts William Van Wert Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a short story or a novel excerpt. Entry fee: $17

Key West Literary Seminars Emerging Writer Awards: Two prizes valued at $4,000 each are given annually for a short story and a novel-in-progress by writers who have not published a book with a major publisher. The winners will each receive $500 and full tuition, airfare, and lodging to attend the Key West Literary Seminar and Workshop Program in January 2018 in Key West, Florida. There is no entry fee.

Los Angeles Review Literary Awards: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Los Angeles Review are given twice yearly for a short story, a short short story, and an essay. Bryan Hurt will judge in fiction, Siel Ju will judge in flash fiction, and Chelsey Clammer will judge in nonfiction. Entry fee: $20

The Moth International Short Story Prize: A prize of €3,000 (approximately $3,420) and publication in the Moth is given annually for a short story. A second-place prize of publication, a weeklong retreat at the Circle of Missé in Missé, France, and a €250 (approximately $285) travel stipend; and a third-place prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,140) and publication are also given. Belinda McKeon will judge. Entry fee: $14

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.

Poets & Writers’ Seventh Annual Los Angeles Connecting Cultures Reading

Readings & Workshops (West) director Jamie Asaye FitzGerald blogs about Poets & Writers’ seventh annual Los Angeles Connecting Cultures Reading at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, California.

Each year for the past seven years, Poets & Writers has held the Los Angeles Connecting Cultures Reading, which astounds audiences with the diversity of its performers and their unique voices, and the power of the work read to redeem, heal, and delight.

We select five organizations that serve culturally diverse groups and have received support from the Readings & Workshops (R&W) program to help curate the event. Each organization chooses readers to represent them at the reading. This year’s event was held at Beyond Baroque on June 4, 2017 and included 826LA, a writing and tutoring center; Beyond Baroque, a literary/arts center; the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory, serving homeless and at-risk youth; Bittersweet: The Immigrant Stories, a reading featuring the voices of immigrant writers; and Urban Possibilities, serving the urban poor of Los Angeles. It’s wonderful to witness the general comradery between the presenters as they meet and discover one another’s work.

Among the eleven readers, who all gave strong readings, were four teen writers, including Xolo Maridueña, a fifteen-year-old sophomore who attended a R&W–supported writing workshop with Jeff Chang at the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory in March. Xolo read his first poem ever—a poem about falling in love, in which he wrote: “When I would see her, the butterflies in my stomach would turn into pterodactyls,” an experience I’m sure many in the audience could relate to. Also writing on the theme of love was another teen writer, Ashla Chavez Razzano, representing 826LA, who wrote, “a spider’s web taught me to love.” Nadia Villegas, also representing 826LA, read a poem about how “blue nail polish is freedom,” and Vera Castañada from the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory called the neighborhood around Cesar Chavez Avenue where she grew up, “the West Coast Ellis Island.”

So Hyun Chang, representing Bittersweet: The Immigrant Stories, read in Korean his poem “Sugarcane Arirang,” recounting the first Korean American’s long days in the sugar fields of Hawaii, where they would chant a song of hope, “arirang, arirang,” to help pass the time. Hack Hee Kang read a poem using the Korean dish bi bim bap to convey a sense of loneliness and longing, and Jun C. Kim moved silently as a recording of his poem played over the loud speaker.

Ambika Talwar, who hails from India, read on behalf of Beyond Baroque rich, evocative poems about searching for home and “the true power of your own volition.” Jessica Ceballos y Campbell also representing Beyond Baroque, read her poem from Only Light Can Do That, a collection of stories, poems, and essays published by PEN Center USA in response to the 2016 presidential election and ensuing events. Her poem, dedicated to her parents and “all of the magicians” spoke of those who make “gardens, in a world that would prefer us not to exist” and how “When man, woman, and child pour their bodies across the man-made borders they are executing a willed-intention to change what they know of the world….”

Yvette Jones-Johnson, the executive director of Urban Possibilities, spoke powerfully about homelessness in Los Angeles, citing lifelong poverty, losing everything, life after incarceration, abuse, and military trauma as some of the factors contributing to the high rates. Her readers, Keith Brown and Norma L. Eaton, are both alums of the Urban Possibilities writing empowerment program. Brown, a veteran who hails from the U.K., read a gorgeous pastoral poem reminiscent of Wordsworth, and Eaton astounded the audience with a devastating poem about her experience of homelessness. After the reading, she commented: “I felt as though I was the Reincarnation of Maya Angelou! She Understood ‘Why the Cage Bird Sang’ And I know how it feels to be homeless and destitute, knowing that ‘My Name Is Forgotten.’  I wanted the Message to be conveyed with the hope of transforming the hearts and changing the stigma of homelessness…. Sharing the stage with the other artists was phenomenal.  I sat and feasted at the table of literary Art.”

We give our thanks to the organizations, project directors, and writers who made this event possible, as well as Beyond Baroque, for hosting and for their support.

To keep up with Readings & Workshops news and events, such as Connecting Cultures, please be sure to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, Readings & Workshops Presents.

Major support for Readings & Workshops in California is provided by the James Irvine Foundation and the Hearst Foundations. Additional support comes from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photos (top): Teen poet Xolo Maridueña representing the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory (Credit: Craig Johnson Photography). (bottom): (left to right) Brandi Spaethe, Norma L. Eaton, Keith Brown, Jamie Asaye FitzGerald, Eyvette Jones-Johnson, Ambika Talwar, Hack Hee Kang, audience member, Tanya Ko Hong, Jun C. Kim (Credit: Craig Johnson Photography).

Upcoming Poetry Contest Deadlines

Poets, start your summer on a high note by submitting your best work to writing contests! Whether you are ready to submit a single poem, chapbook, or full-length collection, the following contests offer cash prizes from $1,000 to $11,600 and publication—all with a deadline of June 30.

Bauhan Publishing May Sarton New Hampshire Book Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Bauhan Publishing, and 100 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Jennifer Militello will judge. Entry fee: $25

Cider Press Review Editors’ Prize Book Award: A prize of $1,000, publication by Cider Press Review, and 25 author copies is given annually for a first or second poetry collection. The editors will judge. Entry Fee: $26

Munster Literature Center Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition: A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,060) and publication by the Munster Literature Center is given annually for a poetry chapbook. Entry fee: $26

National Poetry Review Press Book Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by National Poetry Review Press is given annually for a poetry collection. C. J. Sage will judge. Entry Fee: $27

Omnidawn Publishing First/Second Poetry Book Prize: A prize of $3,000, publication by Omnidawn Publishing, and 100 author copies is given annually for a first or second poetry collection. Myung Mi Kim will judge. Entry Fee: $27

Parlor Press New Measure Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Parlor Press in its Free Verse Editions series is given annually for a poetry collection. Marianne Boruch will judge. Entry Fee: $28

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Poetry Prize: A prize of $15,000 AUD (approximately $11,600) and publication in an e-book anthology is given annually for a poem. A second-place prize of $5,000 AUD (approximately $3,870) and publication is also given. Billy Collins will judge. Entry fee: $26

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.

Milkweed Announces Inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize

Milkweed Editions, in partnership with the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, has announced its inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. An award of $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions in April 2018 will be given for a debut poetry collection. Award-winning poet Henri Cole will judge.

Poets currently residing in the United States are eligible to apply. Using the online submission system, submit a manuscript of at least 48 pages with a $25 entry fee between July 1 and August 31. Judge Henri Cole has selected four emerging poets as first readers for the prize: Ruth Awad, Graham Barnhart, Lauren Cook, Allison Pitinii Davis, and Jordan Zandi.

The prize honors the legacy of Max Ritvo, who Milkweed publisher Daniel Slager describes as “one of the most original and accomplished poets to emerge in recent years.” The press published Ritvo’s debut collection, Four Reincarnations, in 2016, a month after he died of cancer at the age of twenty-five. With an award amount of $10,000, the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize is now one of the richest first-book prizes in the United States. Visit the Milkweed website for more information and complete submission guidelines.

For more upcoming poetry and prose deadlines, visit pw.org/grants. Read more about Ritvo in “The World Beyond: A Last Interview With Max Ritvo,” written by poet Dorothea Lasky and published as on online exclusive for Poets & Writers.

Photo: Max Ritvo; Credit: Ashley Woo

David Grossman Wins Booker International Prize

Last night at ceremony in London, Israeli author David Grossman was announced the winner of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize for his novel A Horse Walks Into a Bar (Jonathan Cape). The annual £50,000 (approximately $63,600) award is given for a book of fiction translated from any language into English and published in the U.K. during the award year. The prize will be split between the author and his translator, Jessica Cohen.

The finalists, who each receive £1,000 (approximately $1,270), included French author Mathias Énard for Compass (Fitzcarraldo Editions); Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen for The Unseen (Maclehose); Danish author Dorthe Nors for Mirror, Shoulder, Signal (Pushkin Press); Israeli author Amos Oz for Judas (Chatto & Windus); and Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin for Fever Dream (Oneworld).

Set in a comedy club in a small Israeli town, A Horse Walks Into a Bar centers on a veteran comedian’s act as he confesses past wounds and unravels onstage. Judges Nick Barley (chair), Daniel Hahn, Helen Mort, Elif Şafak, and Chika Unigwe Barley selected Grossman’s novel from a list of 126 titles. Barley commented: “A Horse Walks Into a Bar shines a spotlight on the effects of grief, without any hint of sentimentality. The central character is challenging and flawed, but completely compelling. We were bowled over by Grossman’s willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks: every sentence counts, every word matters in this supreme example of the writer’s craft.”

Grossman, sixty-three, was born in and currently resides in Jerusalem. He is the best-selling author of more than a dozen books of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books, which have been translated into thirty-six languages. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Frankfurt Peace Prize, Israel’s Emet Prize, and the French Chevalier de l’Ordre Arts et des Lettres. He is the first Israeli author to win the Man Booker International Prize.

The Man Booker International Prize was created in 2005 to highlight “one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the world stage.” Until 2015, the award was given biennially to a living author for a body of work published either originally in English or available widely in translation.

Below, watch chair of the judges Nick Barley comment on this year’s winning novel, and visit the Man Booker website for more information about the prize.

The First-Ever Poetry Workshop at Footsteps

Jessica Greenbaum’s most recent book of poems is The Two Yvonnes (Princeton University Press, 2012). Recipient of an NEA award in 2015 and the Poetry Society’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award in 2016, she is a social worker and teaches inside and outside academia, most recently at Barnard, Central Synagogue, Brooklyn Poets, Footsteps, and for 9/11 first responders through the World Trade Center’s Health Program. You can find out more about her work at poemsincommunity.org.

Last winter, Poets & Writers supported a poetry workshop at Footsteps, the only agency in North America providing services for people venturing out of the insular world of Jewish ultra-Orthodoxy. I had heard about Footsteps through a fellow social worker, Jesse Pietroniro, who was a Footsteps staff member—and I was immediately drawn to working with this community.  (A stellar feature piece about Footsteps, “The High Price of Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Life,” was recently published in the New York Times Magazine.) Jesse helped champion the notion of a workshop to his colleagues, but it was clear that any payment was going to have to come from an outside source. Luckily, a friend introduced me to Emily Rubin, a writer who has been supported by P&W for her workshops with cancer survivors, their families and caregivers, at two hospitals in New York City. Emily told me about P&W’s grant program, and after I reached out to the director of Readings & Workshops (East) Bonnie Rose Marcus, it took P&W almost no time at all to recognize Footsteppers—as they call themselves—as an underserved population if ever there was one.

Because we ran the five weeks of workshops as open door sessions, participants often overlapped from the week before, but each week the room held new people and a varied dynamic. One participant had been writing for years, and was just awaiting the publication of her chapbook, while others came as novices. Very little is as refreshing—and instructive—as the passion of a reader without internalized hierarchies. Discussing the poem of a laureled poet one participant said, “I hate this guy!” This same participant also unpacked more exciting ideas from another well-known poet’s six-line poem than I ever had, adding, “I love this stuff!” Because Footsteppers have learned to survive by listening to their true thoughts, they have honed the tools of a poet—an honest listening—before even stepping into the room.

The big decision in such a workshop is: How overtly therapeutic should the workshop feel—and still offer poetry writing as a means of expression for everyone? In order to best serve the Footsteppers, how directly should I address issues of identity, family abandonment, trauma, and the other emotional weather systems in the world of people leaving an insular community? From the work I had done with 9/11 first responders, and in consultation with studies used by the NEA’s writing program for veterans suffering from PTSD, I decided to offer some model poems that would touch on those issues at a slant, but that the workshop would present itself more neutrally, almost like a cooking class, and that I would follow where discussion and concerns wandered.

As so often happens, class prompts allowed participants to have spontaneous, organic responses. When asked to recount, as if telling the story to a friend, an incident from childhood that remained resonant for them, participants found their way to anecdotes that seem to hold whole microcosms of their bigger histories. And a prompt to follow stream of consciousness did the same.

Find a community with a tragic amount unsaid and you’ll find a workshop with a true reason for finding words. Find people who have lost a profound sense of their past in order to shape their true selves, and you’ll find poems that blaze with life force and discovery.

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 Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photo: (top) Jessica Greenbaum (Credit: Leslie Jean-Bart).