G&A: The Contest Blog

Cave Canem's New Book Award

Scan any listing of contests open to poets and you'll likely find a whole bunch given for first books. The Walt Whitman, the Honickman, the A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize, the Cave Canem Poetry Prize—the list goes on. And that's great: Debut poets need all the help they can get. (Check out our Pass-Along Poems chapbook.) But far fewer awards are given specifically for second collections. The James Laughlin Award and the Barnard Women Poets Prize are among the standouts, but once you've published your first book, the number of contests to which you may submit your manuscript plummets. Well, now we can add one.

Earlier this month Cave Canem, the literary nonprofit founded in 1996 by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, announced the inaugural Cave Canem Northwestern Press Poetry Prize, a second book award for African American poets, that will further the nonprofit's commitment to "cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets."

The annual award was created through the partnership of the Cave Canem Foundation and Northwestern University Press. The winner will receive a thousand dollars, publication by Northwestern University Press, fifteen copies of the published book, and a reading. African American poets who have had one full-length book of poetry published by a professional press are elegible. (Chapbooks and self-published works do not qualify.)

Judges of the inaugural prize will be Reginald Gibbons, Parneshia Jones, and John Keene. The reading period begins January 1, 2009. The deadline is March 1. Guidelines are available at the Cave Canem Web site. Poets may also e-mail Camille Rankine for more information.


Welcome to Our New Blog

For the past twenty years, Poets & Writers Magazine has delivered a reliable, comprehensive guide to writing contests through the print version of our Grants & Awards section. This year we launched a Grants & Awards database that users can search with ease, and now, we introduce G&A: The Contest Blog.

G&A is the place to visit for weekly posts about the awards we include in our magazine and database. Here we’ll announce new awards that didn’t make it into our pages, changes to upcoming deadlines, news of awards that have been suspended, interviews with frequent winners, plus many more behind-the-scenes glimpses into how the writing contest process works—and, sometimes, doesn’t work—all in an effort to help you discern which awards have the most value to you and your writing.

We thought we’d begin with a look back at the literary statistics of the past year to get a sense of the writing contest environment. In 2008, based on the information included in our Grants & Awards section, $11,337,228 was award to a total of 1,012 poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Of those, 562 were women and 450 were men. To add a little perspective, in 2002, $6,757,101 was awarded to 904 writers, 494 of whom were women, and 410 of whom were men. That’s an increase of over $4 million over six years!

Let’s hope the new year brings more rewards for writers. Check back next week, and every week going forward, for another dispatch from the world of literary competitions. And post a comment letting us know what you’d like to hear about in this blog.


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