G&A: The Contest Blog

Nunez, Acevedo Win 2018 National Book Awards

The winners of the 2018 National Book Awards were announced at a ceremony tonight in New York City. Sigrid Nunez took home the award in fiction for her novel The Friend (Riverhead Books), and Elizabeth Acevedo won the prize in young people’s literature for her novel, The Poet X (HarperTeen). Justin Phillip Reed won the prize in poetry for his debut collection, Indecency (Coffee House Press), and Jeffrey C. Stewart won the prize in nonfiction for his biography of Alain Locke, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke (Oxford University Press). This year the National Book Foundation also awarded a prize in translated literature to Yoko Tawada for her novel The Emissary (New Directions Publishing), translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani.

The annual awards are given for the best books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, young people's literature, and translated literature published in the previous year. The winners each receive $10,000.

Emceed by actor Nick Offerman, the ceremony celebrated the importance of literature and books. “In our inexorable pursuit of freedom and human rights, books serve us as weapons and shields,” he said. “They are perhaps the greatest creation of human kind, one that is living and ever growing.”

Earlier in the evening, writer Luís Alberto Urrea presented the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Isabel Allende, who has published more than twenty books, most recently the novel In the Midst of Winter (Atria Books, 2017). Allende, who is the first Spanish-language author to receive the award, spoke about what the award meant to her as a Chilean writer living in America. “I have always been a foreigner… This award means maybe I’m not alien anymore,” she said. “Maybe I can plant roots. Maybe I’m not going anywhere.”

Hidden Figures author Margot Lee Shetterly presented the Literarian Award for Outstanding Contribution the American Literary Community to Doron Weber of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for his work on the intersection of literature and science.

Established in 1950, the National Book Awards are among the largest literary prizes given in the United States. The 2017 winners were Frank Bidart in poetry, Jesmyn Ward in fiction, Masha Gessen in nonfiction, and Robin Benway in young people’s literature.

Photos (clockwise from top left): Sigrid Nunez, Elizabeth Acevedo, Justin Phillip Reed, Jeffrey C. Stewart, Yoko Tawada.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines for Poets

As we move closer to the end of the year, deadlines approach for several poetry competitions. All contests listed below are accepting submissions throughout the coming week.

Nightboat Books Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Nightboat Books is given annually for a poetry collection. Kazim Ali and Stephen Motika will judge. Entry fee: $28. Deadline: November 15.

Perugia Press Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Perugia Press is given annually for a first or second poetry collection by a woman. Entry fee: $27. Deadline: November 15.

Jean Feldman Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Washington Writers Publishing House, and 50 author copies are given annually for a poetry collection. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: November 15.

Lena–Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Pleiades Press with distribution by Louisiana State University Press is given annually for a poetry collection by a U.S. poet. The winner also receives $1,000 for book tour expenses. Traci Brimhall will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: November 15.

Yale Series of Younger Poets: An award of publication by Yale University Press is given annually for a poetry collection by an early-career poet who has not published a full-length book of poetry. Carl Phillips will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: November 15.

Narrative 30 Below Contest: A prize of $1,500 and publication in Narrative is given annually for a poem. The editors will judge. Entry fee: 25. Deadline: November 18.

Visit the contest websites for complete submission details, including eligibility guidelines and poem length requirements. For a look at more writing contests with upcoming deadlines, visit our Grants & Awards database and submission calendar.

Deadline Approaches for BMI & Believer Fellowships

Applications are currently open for the Black Mountain Institute & the Believer fellowships, open to emerging and established poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Fellows will reside in Las Vegas for the 2019–2020 academic year, where they will join a thriving community of writers and scholars on the UNLV campus. Fellows will also receive a stipend and contribute to the Black Mountain Institute (BMI) and/or the Believer magazine.

The Shearing Fellowships for Emerging Writers, which offer an honorarium of $18,000 each, are open to writers who have published at least one book with a trade or literary press. The Shearing Fellowships for Distinguished Writers, which offer an honorarium of $25,000 each, are open to writers who have published at least three books.

The deadline for both fellowships is November 14 at 12:59 PM Pacific Standard Time. Using the online submission system, submit a writing sample of 10 to 20 pages, a cover letter, and a proposal (totaling no more than two pages) with suggested contributions to the Believer and/or BMI. Finalists will be asked to send copies of their books.

Applications will be reviewed by an advisory committee of UNLV graduate students, staff, and community stakeholders. Recipients will be notified in Spring 2019.

Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute aims to bring “writers and the literary imagination into the heart of public life through events, fellowships, publications, and student engagement opportunities.” The Believer, a five-time National Magazine Award finalist, is a bimonthly literature, arts, and culture magazine based at the Black Mountain Institute. The 2018–2019 fellows include Hanif Abdurraqib, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Amanda Fortini, Derek Palacio, and Claire Vaye Watkins.

Last Day to Submit to Sonora Review Contests

Today is the last day to submit to the Sonora Review’s annual flash prose contest and nonfiction contest. Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Sonora Review will be given for a piece of flash prose and an essay. Nicole Walker will judge the flash prose contest and Jo Ann Beard will judge the nonfiction contest.

The theme of the contest is “Desire.” “Where can desire be found on the wide spectrum between contemplation and action?” write the editors on the contest website. “Does a child’s desire look anything like a spouse’s? How does desire shape-shift from person to person, culture to culture?”

Using the online submission system, submit three pieces of flash prose of up to 1,000 words each or an essay of up to 5,000 words by midnight (Mountain Standard Time). The entry fee is $8 for the flash prose contest and $15 for the essay contest.

Edited by graduate students at the University of Arizona, Sonora Review publishes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The review also runs an annual prize in poetry and fiction, which will be held later this year.

Photo: Nicole Walker, Jo Ann Beard

Anna Badkhen Receives Barry Lopez Fellowship

Author, journalist, and war correspondent Anna Badkhen has been awarded the second Barry Lopez Visiting Writer in Ethics and Community Fellowship. Badkhen will spend several weeks in residence in Hawaii, where she will also participate in outreach events and present a public talk on the social responsibility of contemporary writers.

Sponsored by the Manoa Foundation of Honolulu, the Barry Lopez Visiting Writer in Ethics and Community Fellowship was established in 2015 by Frank Stewart and Debra Gwartney to honor the seventieth birthday of acclaimed writer and naturalist Barry Lopez, who is the author of fourteen books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently the short story collection Outside (Trinity University Press, 2014). The fellowship is given to a writer whose work, like Lopez’s, “contributes to an awareness of the civic and ethical obligation of artists; that helps us understand, through storytelling, that the survival of a human world depends upon a commitment to integrity, empathy, and compassionate reconciliation; and inspires us to take social responsibility for the perils, which we have created ourselves, to the human and non-human world.”

The fellowship provides several weeks of solitude and support in a quiet environment where writers can work on a project of their choosing. There is no application process. Fellows are nominated and chosen by a committee of editors and writers. In addition to Barry Lopez, this year’s selection committee included poet Jane Hirshfield, writer Pico Iyer, and Frank Stewart, editor of Manoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing. The fellowship and the public presentation are sponsored in part by the Manoa Foundation of Honolulu. Additional support is provided by the Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki.

Born in the Soviet Union, Anna Badkhen moved to the United States in 2004. She is the author of six books of nonfiction, including most recently Fisherman’s Blues: A West African Community at Sea (Riverhead, 2018) and Walking With Abel: Journeys With the Nomads of the African Savannah (Riverhead, 2016). She has also written about wars in Asia, Africa, and Europe for Foreign Policy, the New Republic, the New York Times, the Common, the Boston Globe, and other newspapers and journals.

The winner of the first Barry Lopez Fellowship was novelist Ann Pancake.

Anna Burns Wins 2018 Booker Prize

Tonight at a ceremony in London, Anna Burns was announced the winner of the 2018 Booker Prize for her third novel, Milkman (Faber & Faber). The annual £50,000 (approximately $66,000) award is given for a novel published in the previous year in the United Kingdom.

“None of us has ever read anything like this before,” said Kwame Anthony Appiah, the chair of judges. “Anna Burns’s utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humor.” Along with Appiah, the 2018 judges were Val McDermid, Leo Robson, Jacqueline Rose, and Leanne Shapton.

Burns, the author of three novels, is the first Northern Irish writer to win the prize. Her novel Milkman is a coming-of-age story about a young girl’s affair with an older married man during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Graywolf Press will publish the novel in the United States on December 11.

The finalists were Esi Edugyan for Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail), Daisy Johnson for Everything Under (Jonathan Cape), Rachel Kushner for The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape), Richard Powers for The Overstory (William Heinemann), and Robin Robertson for The Long Take (Picador). The five finalists and Burns will each receive £2,500 ($3,300).

The Man Booker Prize is one of the most prestigious awards given for a book of fiction written in English. George Saunders won the prize last year for his novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, and Paul Beatty won in 2016 for his novel The Sellout. This year the prize, which is sponsored by the Man Group, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary by hosting a Golden Man Booker Prize, awarded to the best-ever Man Booker Prize–winner. Michael Ondaatje won for his novel The English Patient, which won the Booker Prize in 1992.

Read more on the Man Booker Prize website.

Photo credit: Ray Tang

National Book Award Finalists Announced

This morning the National Book Foundation announced the finalists for the 2018 National Book Awards. The annual awards are given for the best books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, translated literature, and young people’s literature published during the previous year. The finalists will each receive $1,000; the winners, who will be announced on November 14, will each receive $10,000.

The finalists in poetry:
Rae Armantrout for Wobble (Wesleyan University Press)
Terrance Hayes for American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Books)
Diana Khoi Nguyen for Ghost Of (Omnidawn Publishing)
Justin Phillip Reed for Indecency (Coffee House Press)
Jenny Xie for Eye Level (Graywolf Press)

The finalists in fiction:
Jamel Brinkley for A Lucky Man (Graywolf Press)
Lauren Groff for Florida (Riverhead Books)
Brandon Hobson for Where the Dead Sit Talking (Soho Press)
Rebecca Makkai for The Great Believers (Viking Books)
Sigrid Nunez for The Friend (Riverhead Books)

The finalists in nonfiction:
Colin G. CallowayThe Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation (Oxford University Press)
Victoria Johnson for American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic (Liveright)
Sarah Smarsh for Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth (Scribner)
Jeffrey C. Stewart for The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke (Oxford University Press)
Adam Winkler for We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights (Liveright)

The finalists in translated literature:
Négar Djavadi for Disoriental translated by Tina Kover (Europa Editions)
Hanne Ørstavik for Love translated by Martin Aitken (Archipelago Books)
Domenico Starnone for Trick translated by Jhumpa Lahiri (Europa Editions)
Yoko Tawada for The Emissary translated by Margaret Mitsutani (New Directions Publishing)
Olga Tokarczuk for Flights translated by Jennifer Croft (Riverhead Books)

The finalists in young people’s literature:
Elizabeth Acevedo for The Poet X (HarperTeen)
T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin for The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge (Candlewick Press)
Leslie Connor for The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (Katherine Tegen Books)
Christopher Paul Curtis for The Journey of Little Charlie (Scholastic Press)
Jarrett J. Krosoczka for Hey, Kiddo (Graphix)

Fiction finalist Brinkley was featured in the 2018 Poets & Writers First Fiction feature, and poetry finalist Hayes and fiction finalist Groff were both featured in Episode 20 of Ampersand: The Poets & Writers Podcast. Translation finalist Lahiri was featured in Episode 6 of Ampersand, and poetry finalist Xie and fiction finalist Makkai have both contributed to the Writers Recommend series.

Established in 1950, the National Book Awards are among the largest literary prizes given in the United States. The 2017 winners were Frank Bidart in poetry, Jesmyn Ward in fiction, Masha Gessen in nonfiction, and Robin Benway in young people’s literature.

Diaz, Keene, and Link win MacArthur “Genius” Grants

Poet Natalie Diaz, fiction and nonfiction writer John Keene, and fiction writer Kelly Link have received 2018 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships. They will each receive $625,000 over five years. The annual grants are given to “encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.”

This morning the MacArthur Foundation announced the full class of twenty-five fellows, which includes artists, musicians, scientists, scholars, social advocates, and more. “Working in diverse fields, from the arts and sciences to public health and civil liberties, these twenty-five MacArthur Fellows are solving long-standing scientific and mathematical problems, pushing art forms into new and emerging territories, and addressing the urgent needs of under-resourced communities,” says Cecilia Conrad, the managing director of the fellowship program. “Their exceptional creativity inspires hope in us all.”

Poet Natalie Diaz teaches at Arizona State University and published the poetry collection When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon, 2012). “Diaz is a powerful new poetic voice, and she is broadening the venues for and reach of Indigenous perspectives through her teaching, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and language preservation efforts,” the MacArthur Foundation says in the award announcement.

Writer John Keene is the author of several books, including the story collection Counternarratives (New Directions, 2015) and the semi-autobiographical novel Annotations (New Directions, 1995). “Through innovations in language and form, he imbues with multifaceted subjectivities those who have been denied nuanced histories within the story of the Americas—primarily people of color and queer people—and exposes the social structures that confine, enslave, or destroy them,” writes the MacArthur Foundation.

Fiction writer Kelly Link “pushes the boundaries of literary fiction in works that combine the surreal and fantastical with the concerns and emotional realism of contemporary life.” Link has published four story collections, most recently Get in Trouble (Random House, 2015). Listen to Link read an excerpt from that collection here.

Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jesmyn Ward received MacArthur grants last year, and Claudia Rankine, Maggie Nelson, and Gene Luen Yang were among the writers who won grants in 2016. Fellows are recommended by external nominations, and then chosen by an anonymous selection committee; there is no application process. Between twenty and thirty fellows are selected each year.

For a complete list of this year’s recipients and more details about the fellowships, visit the MacArthur Foundation website.


Photos: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Deadline Approaches for Manchester Writing Competition

Submissions are currently open for Manchester Metropolitan University’s Poetry and Fiction Prizes. The annual £10,000 awards are given for a group of poems and a short story. The winners will also be invited to attend an award ceremony in Manchester, England, in November.

Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, Carol Ann Duffy, and Adam O'Riordan will judge in poetry; Niven Govinden, Livi Michael, Alison Moore, and Nicholas Royle will judge in fiction.

Using the online submission system, submit three to five poems totaling no more than 120 lines or a story of up to 2,500 words with a £17.50 entry fee by September 14. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy established the Manchester Writing Competition in 2008. The competition, which has awarded more than £155,000 to writers, is designed to “encourage and celebrate new writing across the globe.” Last year Romalyn Ante and Laura Webb split the poetry prize and Sakinah Hofler won the fiction prize.

Sonia Sanchez Receives Wallace Stevens Award

The Academy of American Poets has announced that Sonia Sanchez has received the 2018 Wallace Stevens Award, which is given annually to “recognize outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.” Sanchez will receive $100,000.

Sonia Sanchez is our peerless griot of American poetry,” says Terrance Hayes, a chancellor of the Academy. “There is no poet like her in the whole motley canon. There may have never been a more appropriate recipient of an award honoring poetic mastery and originality.” Sanchez, who was chosen by the chancellors of the Academy, has written more than a dozen poetry collections that address ideas of womanhood, black culture, and more. Her most recent collection is Morning Haiku (Beacon Press, 2010).

The Academy announced all of the winners of the 2018 American Poets Prizes today, including Sanchez. Martín Espada has won the $25,000 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which recognizes “distinguished poetic achievement” and includes a residency at the Eliot summer home in Gloucester, Massachusetts. “Martín Espada is a poet of musical richness, passion, high and low comedy, imagistic vibrance, wild metaphor, and storytelling skill, with a sense of history,” says chancellor Alicia Ostriker. “He is a celebrant of love and a persistent troubler of the waters. As a ‘people’s poet’ he has been called North America’s Neruda.”

Craig Morgan Teicher received the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for his collection The Trembling Answers (BOA Editions, 2017); the annual award is given for the best book of poetry published in the United States during the previous year. Laura Kasischke, Campbell McGrath, and Mary Szybist judged. “The Trembling Answers is a collection as ecstatic as it is solemn, and what this poetry shares with us about love, faith, doubt, and poetry itself is essential,” says Szybist.

Geffrey Davis has won the James Laughlin Award for his collection Night Angler (BOA Editions, 2019). The $5,000 award, which includes a weeklong residency at the Betsy Hotel in Miami, is given annually for a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year.

Raquel Salas Rivera won the $1,000 Ambroggio Prize for the collection x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación) (poems for the nation), and David Larsen won the $1,000 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award for his translation of Ibn Khālawayh’s Names of the Lion (Wave Books, 2017). Anthony Molino won the $10,000 Raiziss/De Palchi Book Prize for his translation of Paolo Febbraro’s The Diary of Kaspar Hauser (Negative Capability Press, 2017).

Read more about the winners on the Academy of American Poets website.



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