G&A: The Contest Blog

Powers, Gander Win 2019 Pulitzer Prizes

This afternoon the winners of the 2019 Pulitzer Prizes were announced at Columbia University in New York City. The annual $15,000 prizes are given for works of journalism and literature published during the previous year. First awarded in 1917, the Pulitzer Prizes are considered among the most prestigious prizes in American letters.

The award in fiction went to Richard Powers for his novel The Overstory (Norton). The finalists were Rebecca Makkai for The Great Believers (Viking) and Tommy Orange for There There (Knopf).

Forrest Gander won the award in poetry for Be With (New Directions). The finalists were Jos Charles for feeld (Milkweed Editions) and A. E. Stallings for Like (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Jeffrey C. Stewart won the award in biography for The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke (Oxford University Press). The finalists were Max Boot for The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam (Norton) and Caroline Weber for Proust’s Duchess: How Three Celebrated Women Captured the Imagination of Fin-de-Siècle Paris (Knopf).

The nonfiction award went to Eliza Griswold for Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The finalists were Elizabeth Rush for Rising: Dispatches From the New American Shore (Milkweed Editions) and Bernice Yeung for In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers (New Press).

David W. Blight won the award in history of the United States for Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster). The finalists were W. Fitzhugh Brundage for Civilizing Torture: An American Tradition (Belknap) and Victoria Johnson for American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic (Norton).

Each year the Pulitzer Prizes receive nearly 1,400 submissions for its five book categories. The 2018 winners included poet Frank Bidart, fiction writer Andrew Sean Greer, and nonfiction writer Caroline Fraser.

Read more about Powers’s winning book in “A Talk in the Woods: Barbara Kingsolver and Richard Powers” from the November/December 2018 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Photo: Richard Powers

BOMB’s Biennial Fiction Contest Open for Submissions

Submissions are currently open for BOMB’s Biennial Fiction Contest. The contest winner will receive $1,000 and publication in BOMB’s literary supplement, First Proof. Artist and writer Renee Gladman will judge.

Using the online submission system, submit a story of up to 5,000 words with a $20 entry fee, which includes a yearlong subscription to the magazine. The deadline is May 5. The winner will be announced on July 31, 2019. 

In 2017, Kristen Gleason’s “Mumbai” was chosen as the winning entry by Paul La Farge. Previous winners include Jen GeorgeMichael Baptist, and Karen Walker Thompson

Established in 1981 as a quarterly magazine of conversations and interviews between artists, BOMB is now a “multi-media publishing house that creates, disseminates, and preserves artist-generated content from interviews to artists’ essays to new literature.”

Deadline Approaches for Spoon River Poetry Review Editors’ Prize

Submissions are currently open for the Spoon River Poetry Review Editors’ Prize Contest. The annual contest awards $1,000 and publication in the journal to a single poem. The winning poet will also be invited to read at the annual Lucia Getsi Reading Series held in Bloomington, Illinois. Two runners-up will also each receive $100.

Using the online submission system, submit up to three previously unpublished poems totaling no more than 10 pages with a $20 entry fee, which includes a yearlong subscription to the review. The deadline is April 15. All entries will be considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The judge, who will write an introduction to the winning poem, will be announced after the winner is selected. Recent judges include G. C. Waldrep, Rachel Zucker, Joshua Corey, Juliana Spahr, David Baker, and C. S. Giscombe. Last year, Li-Young Lee selected Mark Svenvold’s poem “Immigration Algorithm (Application Form D (3) b (1) a)” as the winning entry.

Founded in 1976, Spoon River Poetry Review is housed at Illinois State University and celebrates “a poetics of emplacement: writing that reveals the borders of our comfort zones as sites of connection rather than irreconcilable difference.” Kirstin Hotelling Zona has been editor since 2010.

T. S. Eliot Four Quartets Prize Finalists Announced

Catherine Barnett, Dante Micheaux, and Meredith Stricker have been chosen as the finalists for the 2019 Four Quartets Prize. The annual $20,000 prize, sponsored by the T. S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Society of America, is given for a “unified and complete sequence of poems” published in the United States in 2018. The winner will be named at a ceremony in New York City on April 30.

Poets Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Carmen Giménez Smith, and Rosanna Warren judged. “The three finalists for the 2019 Four Quartets Prize represent how the long poem continues to delight, attract, and sustain readers and fellow poets alike into the twenty-first century,” says Phillips. “These poems are daring, expertly crafted, alluring, and infused with a sense of poetic purpose. They rose to the top of an incredibly competitive field of submissions.”

Barnett is nominated for her sequence “Accursed Questions” from her collection Human Hours (Graywolf Press); Micheaux is nominated for his book Circus (Indolent Books); and Stricker is nominated for her chapbook anemochore (Newfound Press). “That the finalist list comprises three different modes of the long poem—the book-length poem, the extended lyric passage, and the chapbook—speaks to the vital diversity of the form,” says Phillips, “for they suggest, rather emphatically, that the American long poem sequence is in good health and in good hands today and going forward into the future.”

Alice Quinn, the executive director of the Poetry Society of America, agrees. “The recent proliferation of chapbook publication in America and of journal publication of sequences of poems has fostered an extraordinary climate for this prize, which is becoming a beacon, holding out hope of significant recognition and reward for achievement in this area of poetic endeavor.”

The London-based T. S. Eliot Foundation and the New York City–based Poetry Society of America established the prize last year on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets in America. Clare Reihill, the director of the T. S. Eliot Foundation, says the two organizations launched the award because she “sensed T. S. Eliot’s presence in the land of his birth and early life had somewhat fallen away.” Born in Saint Louis, Eliot spent the majority of his life in the England, where he wrote two of the most important long poems of the twentieth century, The Waste Land and Four Quartets.

Danez Smith won the inaugural prize for their lyric sequence “summer, somewhere” from Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press). 

Photos (left to right): Catherine Barnett, Dante Micheaux, Meredith Stricker

End of March Contest Roundup

As we head into the end of March, consider submitting to these writing contests for poets and prose writers. Each contest offers a prize of at least $1,000 and has a deadline of March 31.

Arts & Letters Prizes: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Arts & Letters are given annually for a group of poems, a short story, and an essay. GennaRose Nethercott will judge in poetry, Peter Nichols will judge in fiction, and Pam Houston will judge in nonfiction. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: March 31.

Bellingham Review Literary Awards: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Bellingham Review are given annually for works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The 49th Parallel Award for Poetry is given for a poem or group of poems; Nickole Brown will judge. The Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction is given for a short story; Robin Hemley will judge. The Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction is given for an essay; Ira Sukrungruang will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: March 31.

Black Lawrence Press Hudson Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Black Lawrence Press, and 10 author copies is given annually for a collection of poems or short stories. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: March 31.

Bosque Press Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in bosque is given annually for a short story or a novel excerpt by a writer over the age of 40. Julie Williams will judge. Entry fee: $22. Deadline: March 31.

Elixir Press Antivenom Poetry Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Elixir Press is given annually for a first or second poetry collection. Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis will judge. Entry fee: None. Deadline: March 31.

Fish Publishing Poetry Prize: A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,180) and publication in the Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a single poem. The winner is also invited to read at the anthology launch event at the West Cork Literary Festival in July. Billy Collins will judge. Entry fee: $17. Deadline: March 31.

Florida Review Editors’ Awards: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Florida Review are given annually for a group of poems, a short story, and an essay. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: March 31.

Indiana Review Poetry and Fiction Prizes: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Indiana Review are given annually for a group of poems and a story. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: March 31.

Lascaux Review Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Lascaux Review is given annually for a single poem. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: March 31.

Narrative Winter Story Contest: A prize of $2,500 and publication in Narrative is given annually for a short story, a short short story, an essay, or an excerpt from a longer work of fiction or creative nonfiction. A second-place prize of $1,000 is also awarded. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $26. Deadline: March 31.

Press 53 Prime Number Magazine Awards: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Prime Number Magazine are given annually for a poem and a short story. Ginger Murchison will judge in poetry and Pinckney Benedict will judge in fiction. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: March 31.

Red Hen Press Nonfiction Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Red Hen Press is given annually for an essay collection, memoir, or book of narrative nonfiction. Nikki Moustaki will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: March 31.

Willie Morris Award for Southern Poetry: A prize of $2,500 will be given annually for poem that exudes the American South in spirit, history, landscape, or experience. The winner will also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City in October. Susan Kinsolving will judge. Entry fee: None. Deadline: March 31.

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

Leah Naomi Green Wins Walt Whitman Award

The Academy of American Poets announced today that Li-Young Lee has chosen Leah Naomi Green as the winner of the 2019 Walt Whitman Award for her collection, The More Extravagant Feast. Green will receive $5,000, a six-week all-expenses-paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy, and publication of her collection by Graywolf Press in April 2020. The Academy will also purchase and distribute thousands of copies of her book to its members.

“This book keeps faithful company with the world and earns its name,” says Lee. “The darkness and suffering of living on earth are assumed in this work, woven throughout the fabric of its lineated perceptions and insights, and yet it is ultimately informed by the deep logic of compassion (is there a deeper human logic?) and enacts the wisdom of desire and fecundity reconciled with knowledge of death and boundedness.”

Green lives in the Shenandoah Mountains where she teaches at Washington and Lee University. The author of the chapbook The Ones We Have (Flying Trout Press, 2012), she has published poems in Tin House, Southern Review, and Pleiades.

Established in 1975, the annual Walt Whitman Award is considered one of the most prestigious first-book contests in poetry. Recent winners of the prize include Emily Skaja for Brute, Jenny Xie for Eye Level, and Mai Der Vang for Afterland.

Whiting Award Winners Announced

At a ceremony tonight in New York City, the Whiting Foundation announced the recipients of its 2019 Whiting Awards. The annual $50,000 awards are given to emerging poets, fiction writers, nonfiction writers, and dramatists on the basis of “early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come.”

The ten winners are poets Kayleb Rae Candrilli, Tyree Daye, and Vanessa Angélica Villarreal; fiction writers Hernan Diaz, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and Merritt Tierce; nonfiction writers Terese Marie Mailhot and Nadia Owusu; and dramatists Michael R. Jackson and Lauren Yee. Find out more about the winners at the Whiting Foundation website, and read excerpts of their work at the Paris Review.

Since establishing the awards in 1985, the Whiting Foundation has awarded $8 million to 340 emerging writers. Previous winners include poets Terrance Hayes and Jorie Graham and fiction writers Colson Whitehead and Denis Johnson. Last year’s winners included poets Anne Boyer and Tommy Pico, fiction writers Patty Yumi Cottrell and Weike Wang, and nonfiction writer Esmé Weijun Wang.

The annual awards are not open to submissions. A group of writers, professors, editors, agents, critics, booksellers, and other literary professionals nominate writers; a smaller panel of writers, scholars, and editors select the winners. In addition to the Whiting Awards, the Whiting Foundation administers grants to creative nonfiction writers, scholars in the humanities, literary magazines, and people who work “to preserve, document, and disseminate the timeless cultural heritage that is under threat around the world.”

Photos clockwise from top left: Kayleb Rae Candrilli, Tyree Daye, and Vanessa Angélica Villarreal; fiction writers Hernan Diaz, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Lauren Yee, Michael R. Jackson, Nadia Owusu, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Merritt Tierce.

Lammy Finalists Announced

Lambda Literary has announced the finalists for the thirty-first Lambda Literary Awards. Established in 1989, the annual awards—also known as the “Lammys”—recognize and honor books published during the previous year by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender writers. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on June 3 at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. Special awards will also be given to recognize writers who “have left an indelible mark on LGBTQ literature.”

“In the ongoing work of LGBTQ equality, literature plays a distinct and powerful role—offering roadmaps for loving, fighting, and thriving,” says Sue Landers, executive director of Lambda Literary. “We are thrilled to announce [this year’s] finalists, which reflect our community’s vast and continually evolving brilliance.”

This year Lambda Literary will give out awards in twenty-four categories, including a new award for Bisexual Poetry. Other categories include fiction, mystery, horror, memoir/biography, drama, anthologies, and LGBTQ Studies, A panel of more than sixty judges selected the finalists from a group of over a thousand books. Visit the website for the complete list of finalists.

Winners last year included Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf Press) for Lesbian Fiction, CAConrad’s While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books) for Gay Poetry, and C. Riley Snorton’s Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity (University of Minnesota Press) for Transgender Nonfiction.

Based in Los Angeles, the Lambda Literary Foundation has been a resource for LGBTQ writers since 1987. With a mission to “nurture and advocate for LGBTQ writers,” the organization hosts an annual writing retreat and literary festival, publishes an online magazine, and runs educational programs, among other initiatives.

Read more about the organization in Jonathan Vatner’s article “Lambda Literary Looks to the Future” from the September/October 2018 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

PEN Announces 2019 Literary Award Winners

At a ceremony last night in New York City, PEN America announced the winners of its 2019 Literary Awards. This year the organization awarded more than $370,000 to writers and translators for books and literary works published in 2018. 

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah took home the biggest prize of the night, the $75,000 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, for his debut story collection, Friday Black (Mariner Books). The annual award is given for a book of any genre for its “originality, merit, and impact.”

The $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection went to Will Mackin for Bring Out the Dog (Random House), and Michelle Tea won the $10,000 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions, & Criticisims (Feminist Press). Nafissa Thompson-Spires received the $5,000 PEN Open Book Award for her novel, Heads of the Colored People (Atria). The annual award is given for a book of any genre by a writer of color. 

PEN America also honored poet, essayist, and novelist Sandra Cisneros with its Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. Cisneros, the author of several books, including the acclaimed novel The House on Mango Street, will receive $50,000. The organization also awarded its inaugural $25,000 PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award to Kenneth Lonergan; the annual award honors the year’s best writing for performance.

PEN America started its award program in 1963 to “celebrate literary excellence, encourage global discourse, champion important voices, and bring new books to life.” Visit the PEN website for a complete list of winners, finalists, and judges.

Photo: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum Open for Residency Applications

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott, Arkansas, is open for applications for its 2019 writer-in-residence position. The resident will be provided with private lodging in Piggott during the month of June, access to the studio where Ernest Hemingway worked on A Farewell to Arms, and a $1,000 stipend. The writer-in-residence will also serve as mentor for a weeklong retreat at the center and will be expected to give one or two readings.

To apply, send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and writing sample to Dr. Adam Long at adamlong@astate.edu by February 28. Candidates with an MA or MFA in a relevant field are preferred. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Established in 1999, the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center aims to contribute to “the understanding of the regional, national and global history of the 1920s and 1930s eras by focusing on the internationally connected Pfeiffer family of Piggott, Arkansas, and their son-in-law and regular guest, Ernest Hemingway.” Kate Osana Simonian was awarded the inaugural residency in 2018.

Photo: The barn studio at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center where Ernest Hemingway wrote several short stories and part of A Farewell to Arms.



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