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G&A: The Contest Blog

As the month of May winds down, the deadlines for several book contests in poetry and fiction are quickly approaching. Each prize compiled below offers at least $1,000 and publication of the winning manuscript.

For fiction writers, the BOA Editions Short Fiction Prize and the University of Georgia Press Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award both offer a prize of $1,000 and publication for a short story collection. Peter Conners will judge the BOA Short Fiction Prize, while Lee K. Abbott will judge the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award. The deadline for both contests is May 31.

Meanwhile, the Elixir Press Fiction Award offers $2,000 and publication for a short story collection or novel. The press’s editors will judge; the deadline is May 31. The annual Gival Press Novel Award offers publication and $3,000 for a novel; the judge is anonymous and the deadline is May 30.

On the poetry side, three contests—the Anhinga Press Anhinga–Robert Dana Prize for Poetry, the Backwaters Press Backwaters Prize, and the Oberlin College Press FIELD Poetry Prize—each offer publication of a full-length poetry manuscript. Evie Shockley will judge the $2,000 Anhinga­–Robert Dana Prize for Poetry; the deadline is May 30. Henri Cole will judge the $2,000 Backwaters Prize, and the editors of Oberlin College Press will judge the $1,000 FIELD Poetry Prize; the deadline for both contests is May 31.

For a look at more writing contests with upcoming deadlines, visit our Grants & Awards database and submission calendar. Full submission details, including eligibility guidelines, manuscript length requirements, and entry fees, are available on the contest websites.

Northwestern University Press (NUP) and the university’s Global Humanities Initiative have launched the $5,000 Global Humanities Translation Prize for a translation-in-progress of a non-Western literary or scholarly text. Northwestern University Press will publish the winning manuscript.

The sponsors hope the prize will help promote important texts in non-Western traditions and languages, humanistic scholarship in infrequently translated languages, and underrepresented and experimental literary voices. “The press’s partnership with the Global Humanities Initiative is part of our long tradition of bringing exceptional translations of important works to an English-speaking audience,” said NUP director Jane Bunker. “We expect that this award will bring a renewed measure of academic prestige to the craft of translation itself.”

The prize is one of the few awards in the United States that offers book publication of a translation-in-progress. “Most prizes are for works that are already published, leaving the onus on translators to fund themselves until the work is done and then with no firm path to a publisher,” says JD Wilson, NUP’s director of marketing and sales. “We’re extremely proud to be partnering with a program that will fund translation in process.”

Translators may submit up to 25 pages of the proposed translation along with the corresponding original text; a proposal that describes or summarizes the work to be translated; a curriculum vitae; a timeline for completion; contact information for three references; the rights status of the previously published work; and a list of any competing editions from other publishers. Submissions must be sent via e-mail to ghi@northwestern.edu by August 1. The winner will be expected to complete the manuscript nine months after the prize is awarded. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Established in 1893, Northwestern University Press is dedicated to publishing works of “scholarly and cultural value,” and has a long history of publishing translations of scholarly work, poetry, fiction, and drama. The Global Humanities Initiative, which was founded in Fall 2015, is committed to bringing much-needed attention to the “rich humanistic traditions of the non-West, but also to the relevance of those traditions for global development and public policy.”

A selection of translations published by Northwestern University Press.

South Korean author Han Kang has won the Man Booker International Prize for her novel The Vegetarian. The £50,000 prize, announced on Monday at a ceremony in London, will be split between the author and her translator, Deborah Smith. This is the first year that the prize was given for a single work of fiction, and was open to writers of any language whose books have been translated into English.

Han Kang beat out an impressive and diverse shortlist for the prize, which included Italian author Elena Ferrante for The Story of the Lost Child, the fourth and final volume of her Neapolitan Novels; José Eduardo Agualusa of Angola for A General Theory of Oblivion, which was written in Portuguese; Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk for A Strangeness in My Mind; Robert Seethaler of Austria for A Whole Life; and Yan Lianke of China for The Four Books.

The Vegetarian, Han’s first book to be translated into English, is a dark novel about a woman who stops eating meat and wants to become a tree. From the Man Booker International website: “Fraught, disturbing, and beautiful, The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.”

Han Kang is the author of two novels, The Vegetarian and Human Acts, both published in the UK by Portobello Books, in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Han was born in Gwangju, South Korea, and moved to Seoul at age ten. Her writing has won the Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today’s Young Artist Award, and the Korean Literature Novel Award. She currently teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.

British translator Deborah Smith began studying Korean in 2010. Her other translations include Kang’s second book, Human Acts, and Bae Suah’s The Essayist’s Desk and The Low Hills of Seoul. Smith recently founded Tilted Axis Press, a nonprofit publishing house focused on translations from Asia and Africa.

The Man Booker International Prize was created in 2005 to highlight “one writer's overall contribution to fiction on the world stage.” Until this year, the award was given biennially to a living author for a body of work published either originally in English or available widely in translation. The prize is now awarded annually for a single work of fiction, translated from any language into English and published in the UK.

Photo: Deborah Smith (left) and Han Kang (right) at the Man Booker International Prize ceremony in London. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Poetry Foundation announced today that Ed Roberson has won the 2016 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. The annual award of $100,000 honors the outstanding lifetime achievement of a living U.S. poet.

“In both language and in life (his studies have taken him to Alaska, South America, Africa and Bermuda), Ed Roberson is an explorer,” says Poetry magazine editor Don Share. “Working at a healthy remove from the precincts of professional critics and tastemakers, but admired deeply by them, Roberson’s ten books of poetry take readers, as they have taken the poet himself, to every corner of the vivid labyrinth of life.”

Based in Chicago, Roberson has written several poetry collections, most recently To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan University Press, 2010). His experimental poetry is influenced by visual art, spirituals and the blues, as well as his extensive travels: Roberson has climbed mountains in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Andes, explored the upper Amazon jungle, and motorcycled across the United States, amongst many other travels. He has received the Lila Wallace Writers’ Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Award, and the 2016 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.

Established in 1986 by Ruth Lilly and sponsored by the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation, the Ruth Lilly Prize is one of the most prestigious American poetry awards and among the largest literary honors for English language works. Adrienne Rich won the inaugural award, and recent winners have included Alice Notley, Nathaniel Mackey, and Marie Ponsot.

At the Poetry Foundation website, listen to an audio recording of Ed Roberson discussing his work.

Photo credit: Anya Schultz for the Daily Californian.

Submissions are currently open for the Little Bird Writing Prize,  given each spring for a short story. The winner will receive an award of $1,000 and publication in the annual short fiction anthology Little Bird Stories. A first and second runner-up will each receive $250, as well as publication in the anthology. Writer Lisa Moore will judge.
A bonus prize of free admission to contest founder Sarah Selecky’s Story Intensive, an online creating writing class featuring guest lectures from Margaret Atwood and George Saunders, will also be awarded to one entrant, chosen at random.

Using the online submission system, submit a story of up to 2,500 words and a $25 application fee, which includes a subscription to Little Bird Stories, by May 27. The story must incorporate one of the daily writing prompts or “story dares” featured on the contest website. For example, the 2015 winning story, “Paradise,” by Neil Smith, used this prompt: “Write a scene that uses layers and layers of clichés intentionally.”

Now in its sixth year, the Little Bird Story Contest was founded by fiction writer and writing instructor Sarah Selecky to support “innovative and emerging fiction writers.” In addition to daily writing prompts and the Story Intensive, Selecky also offers an online fiction workshop, revision tutorials, and homework for writers. She publishes Little Bird Stories each year; a percentage of each subscription goes to the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. For more information, visit the website or e-mail Selecky at support@sarahselecky.com.

Submissions are currently open for the BOMB magazine poetry prize, which is given biennially for a group of poems. The winner will receive $1,000 and publication in BOMB magazine. Bhanu Kapil will judge.

Using the online submission manager, submit up to five poems totaling no more than 10 pages and a $20 reading fee, which includes a one-year subscription to BOMB, by May 15. Simultaneous submissions are accepted. The winner will be announced on July 31. For questions, e-mail firstproof@bombsite.com.

Bhanu Kapil is the author of five full-length hybrid works of poetry and prose, including Schizophrene (2011) and Ban en Banlieue (2015). She teaches writing at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and at Goddard College’s low-residency MFA program.

Founded in 1981, BOMB is an independent nonprofit magazine that publishes conversations between artists of various disciplines; original works of fiction and poetry; novel excerpts; and first-time translations into English. The magazine also sponsors a fiction prize, which is given in alternating years. Previous winners of BOMB’s poetry contest include Daniel Poppick, Steve Dickison, Amanda Auchter, J. R. Thelin and Matthew Reeck. 

The Dungannon Foundation announced yesterday that Andrea Barrett is the winner of the 2015 Rea Award for the Short Story, which honors a U.S. or Canadian writer who has made a “significant contribution to the discipline of the short story as an art form.” Barrett will receive $30,000.

“Andrea Barrett has continually enlarged the geography of her imagination, and her lucky readers have been the beneficiaries of those explorations, experiencing, as her characters so often do, the way our own small pasts bear on our own small present,” wrote judges T. C. Boyle, Bill Henderson, and Karen Shepard in a press release. “Barrett offers us the news from other worlds as a way to understand our own…. And she accomplishes those broad thematic implications with a precise and quietly intelligent style that surprises and disturbs and gratifies. That deceptive formal modesty keeps our focus on the world at the fiction’s heart and produces testimonies designed to celebrate the attested rather than the attester. The result has been a body of stories that like all great fiction expands our knowledge, brings us more fully into contact with the suffering of others, and supplies intense and gorgeous pleasure.”

Barrett is the author of six novels and three story collections, most recently Archangel (Norton, 2013). Her 1996 collection, Ship Fever, won the National Book Award, and her 2002 collection, Servants of the Map, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She teaches at Williams College and in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College, and is particularly known for her historical fiction, the intertwining of characters across books, and her interest and use of science in her work.

Established in 1986 by writer Michael M. Rea, the Rea Award has been given in recent years to T. C. Boyle, Elizabeth Spencer, Richard Bausch, and Charles Baxter. Rea established the award to “foster a literary cause, to ennoble the [short story] form, to give it prestige.” The Washington, Connecticut–based Dungannon Foundation—also founded by Rea—also sponsors the Rea Visiting Writers and Rea Visiting Lectures series at the University of Virginia, as well as the Selected Shorts program at Symphony Space in New York City.

Listen to Barrett's 2013 interview with Studio 360, produced by PRI and WNYC Radio.

Photo Credit: Barry Goldstein

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