G&A: The Contest Blog

Pacific Rim Voices Restructuring Kiriyama Prize

Around this time each year, Pacific Rim Voices, sponsor of the thirty-thousand-dollar Kiriyama Prizes, would announce the winners of the annual awards for books of fiction and nonfiction that encourage "greater understanding of and among the nations of the Pacific Rim and South Asia." But about six months ago the San Francisco-based nonprofit announced instead that the award program would be restructured. "While this process is under way, publishers are kindly asked not to submit further entries," the Web site states. "When a new time line and new rules are in place, entries will once again be welcome." So, we wait.

In the meantime, here's a list of the past winners of the prizes. Note that during the first three years of the prize, there was only one winner—in fiction or nonfiction.

2008
Fiction: Lloyd Jones for Mister Pip
Nonfiction: Julia Whitty for The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific

2007
Haruki Murakami for Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (translated by Phillip Gabriel and Jay Rubin)
Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin for Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time

2006
Luis Alberto Urrea for The Hummingbird's Daughter
Piers Vitebsky for The Reindeer People

2005
Nadeem Aslam for Maps for Lost Lovers
Suketu Mehta for Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

2004
Shan Sa for The Girl Who Played Go
Inga Clendinnen for Dancing With Strangers

2002
Rohinton Mistry for Family Matters
Pascap Khoo Thwe for From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey

2001
Patricia Grace for Dogside Story
Peter Hessler for River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

2000
Michael Ondaatje for Anil's Ghost
Michael David Kwan for Things That Must Not Be Forgotten: A Childhood in Wartime China

1999
Cheng Ch'ing-wen for Three-Legged Horse (various translators)
Andrew X. Pham for Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Journey through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

1998
Fiction: Ruth L. Ozeki for My Year of Meats

1997
Nonfiction: Patrick Smith for Japan: A Reinterpretation

1996
Fiction: Alan Brown for Audrey Hepburn's Neck

And, in case you're wondering which countries consitute the Pacific Rim, here's a map from the organization's Web site:

Pacific Rim countries

Fanny Howe, Ange Mlinko Win Big From the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, the Chicago-based publisher of Poetry magazine, announced today that Fanny Howe and Ange Mlinko are the recipients of two of its Pegasus Awards, a "family" of annual prizes sponsored by the organization. Howe was named winner of the 2009 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, worth a hundred thousand dollars, and Mlinko won the ten-thousand-dollar Randall Jarrell Award in Poetry Criticism. 

The Lilly Prize, named after the Poetry Foundation's best friend in the whole wide world, is given annually to a U.S. poet "whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition." Previous recipients include Adrienne Rich, Philip Levine, John Ashbery, Charles Wright, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lucille Clifton, and Gary Snyder. Howe, the author of thirteen books of poetry, recently published a memoir, The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation (Graywolf Press, 2009), in which she wrote, "Since early adolescence I have wanted to live the life of a poet."

In announcing the prize, Poetry editor Christian Wiman said, "Fanny Howe is a religious writer whose work makes you more alert and alive to the earth, an experimental writer who can break your heart."

Mlinko is the third recipient of the Randall Jarrell Award, which is awarded for "poetry criticism that is intelligent and learned as well as lively and enjoyable to read." She is the author of two books of poetry, Matinees (Zoland Books, 1999) and Starred Wire (Coffee House Press, 2005). The Poetry Foundation praised her criticism as "brilliantly wide-ranging" and "eclectic and astringent yet always lucid and generous." 

If you're unfamiliar with Howe, yet curious about the work of a poet who receives a cash prize with five zeroes attached to it, check out the video below, produced last year by the University of California Television and the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.

 

Entry Fees "in These Tough Economic Times"

We've all read about the commercial publishing houses, independent presses, magazines, writers conferences, book festivals, and other literary operations that are feeling the financial pressure these days. At the risk of writing another sentence that includes "in these tough economic times," a phrase that, at this point, makes the eyes of even the most jittery realist glaze over, we'd like to turn the discussion to writing contests—especially those that require entry fees.

Given the economic forecast, are you submitting to more contests with hopes of winning that cash prize? Or has the budget item labeled “entry fees” been cut as a result of the belt-tightening measures that almost all of us have had to take?

Post a comment below and tell us how the economy has affected your contest submissions. And if you need a little something to get you in the mood for budgetary consideration—as if any of us needs more of that—here's “Economic Equation,” a video poem by Michael Ricciardo that, although produced in 2001, still resonates.

 

Nine Poets, Eleven Fiction Writers Get Guggenheim Fellowships

From a pool of almost three thousand applicants, 180 artists, scientists, and scholars—including more than thirty writers—received some good news from Edward Hirsch yesterday. The president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced the recipients of the 2009 Guggenheim Fellowships, each worth around forty thousand dollars. 

The fellows in poetry are Saskia Hamilton, Joseph Harrison, Terrance Hayes, Lyn Hejinian, Laura Kasischke, Barbara Ras, Lisa Russ Spaar, Larissa Szporluk, and Daniel Tobin.

The fellows in fiction are Chris Abani, Chris Adrian, Stacey D'Erasmo, Ellen Feldman, John Haskell, Ken Kalfus, Marshall N. Klimasewiski, Richard Lange, Zachary Lazar, Fae Myenne Ng, and George Singleton.

The other creative arts categories were drama, biography, general nonfiction, photography, fine arts, film, music composition, choreography, and video and audio.

Since its establishment in 1925, the foundation has awarded more than $273 million to nearly 16,700 individuals, including poets W. H. Auden, Langson Hughes, and Derek Walcott and fiction writers Vladimir Nabokov, Philip Roth, and Eudora Welty.

Below are videos of three of the new fellows—Terrance Hayes, John Haskell, and Chris Abani—reading and discussing their work.

 

 

 

Ohio Native in the Running for Both Orange Prizes

The telecommunications company Orange, in partnership with Arts Council England, announced today the finalists for the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers, an annual prize given to a woman novelist or short story writer who has published only one book of fiction.

The finalists are Ann Weisgarber, an Ohio native who now splits her time between Sugar Land and Galveston, Texas, for The Personal History of Rachel DuPree (Macmillan New Writing, 2008); Nami Mun, who was born in Seoul, North Korea, and currently lives in Chicago, for Miles From Nowhere (Riverhead, 2009); and Francesca Kay, who grew up in Southeast Asia and India and now lives in Oxford, England, for An Equal Stillness (Weidenfeld and Nicolson). The winner, who will be announced on June 3, will receive a bursary, or scholarship, of £10,000 (approximately $14,645). Joanna Kavenna won last year for her novel Inglorious (Faber).

Weisgarber is also on the longlist for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, which was announced last month. The annual prize, also sponsored by Orange and given for the best novel by a woman writer, is worth £30,000 (nearly $44,000). Weisgarber joins Ellen Feldman (Scottsboro, Norton), Allegra Goodman (Intuition, Dial Press), Samantha Hunt (The Invention of Everything Else, Houghton Mifflin), Toni Morrison (A Mercy, Knopf), Gina Ochsner (The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight, Portobello), Marilynne Robinson (Home, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Preeta Samarasan (Evening Is the Whole Day, Houghton Mifflin), Curtis Sittenfeld (American Wife, Random House), Miriam Toews (The Flying Troutmans, Counterpoint), and ten others on the longlist, which will be winnowed down to a shortlist on April 21.

Below is a video from last year's ceremony, where Rose Tremain received the Orange Broadband Prize for her novel The Road Home. (Don't miss the classic awards ceremony music they piped into the room after the announcement.) 

 

Dean Young, C. D. Wright Shortlisted for Lucrative Griffin Prize

Charged with picking finalists for the Griffin Poetry Prize, judges Saskia Hamilton, Dennis O'Driscoll, and Michael Redhill each read nearly five hundred books of poetry, including thirty-three translations, from thirty-two countries. Today the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, sponsor of the annual prize worth $100,000 Canadian (approximately $80,325), announced the results of all that reading: the Canadian and International shortlists.

The finalists in the International category are American poets C. D. Wright for Rising, Falling, Hovering (Copper Canyon Press) and Dean Young for Primitive Mentor (University of Pittsburgh Press), the late British poet Mick Imlah for The Lost Leader (Faber and Faber), and the Irish poet Derek Mahon for Life on Earth (Gallery Press).

The three Canadian finalists are Kevin Connolly for Revolver (House of Anansi Press), Jeramy Dodds for Crabwise to the Hounds (Coach House Books), and A. F. Moritz for The Sentinel (House of Anansi Press). 

The seven poets will be invited to read in Toronto at the MacMillan Theatre on June 2. The winners in each category will be announced on June 3. Each will receive $50,000 Canadian ($40,165).

It's worth noting that all but one of the publishers referenced above are independent presses. It's also worth noting that none of this year's finalists are being recognized for a collected, selected, or otherwise career-spanning book. Both of last year's winners had recently published such retrospectives: American poet John Ashbery for Notes From the Air: Selected Later Poems (Ecco) and Canadian poet Robin Blaser for The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser (University of California Press).

Below are brief video profiles of Ashbery and Blaser, including clips of readings, produced by the Griffin Trust:

 

 

From Nearly 900 Submissions, Six Winners Are Heading Abroad

Five weeks after the deadline for the 2009 SLS Unified Literary Contest, the sponsoring organization, Summer Literary Seminars, has announced that final judges Ann Lauterbach and Lynne Tillman have chosen winners from a pool of around nine hundred submissions. Program administrator Mike Spry described the contest in a press release as "one of our largest and most representative to date."

The first-place winners, fiction writer Caron A. Levis (for her story "Permission Slip") and poet Elizabeth Senja (for three poems), will receive airfaire, housing, and tuition to attend the Summer Literary Seminars program in either Lithuania or Kenya. Levis's story and Senja's poems will be published in Fence as well as participating literary journals in Canada, Russia, Lithuania, Kenya, and Italy.

The second-place winners, fiction writer Rachel Cantor ("Confessions of a Cerebral Lover") and poet Ravi Shankar, will receive full tuition; the third-placers, fiction writer Lisa Gornick (The Barberini Princess") and poet Michael C. Peterson, will receive partial tuition.

The winners were supposed to have the choice of attending Summer Literary Seminars in Italy, but that program has been rescheduled for 2010 due to the economy. Some interesting fine print at the bottom of the announcement page of the SLS Web site speaks to this sort of unexpected change:

"Please note that SLS programs, including those offered as a prize for this contest, may be subject to change or cancellation at any point, and without prior warning. If a winner has selected to attend a program that is cancelled or changed, they may elect to attend a future program instead or to receive a cash prize of US$1,500, prize in full. Summer Literary Seminars also reserves the right to substitute a cash prize of $1,500 for any prize offered, and at their sole discretion.

"All SLS programs, as described in its publications, brochures and on the website, may be subject to change or cancellation, without prior warning, and neither the Summer Literary Seminars and its employees, affiliates, or agents shall be responsible or liable for any expenses or losses that may be sustained because of these changes or cancellations."

 

Amy Hempel and Alistair McLeod Win PEN/Malamud Award

Alistair McLeod and Amy Hempel have been selected to receive the twenty-second annual PEN/Malamud Award, sponsored by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Given for a body of work that "demonstrates excellence in the art of short fiction," the five-thousand-dollar prize is split between a more established writer and "one at the beginning of a literary career."

While McLeod has undoubtedly established himself—the sixty-nine-year-old Canadian is the author of several acclaimed story collections, including Island: The Complete Stories (Norton, 2001), and the winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, among other prizes—the description of Hempel as an author at the beginning of her career is, perhaps, arguable. Her first story collection, Reasons to Live, was published by Knopf twenty-four years ago. Previous early-career PEN/Malamud Award winners include Nathan Englander, Nell Freudenberger, and Adam Haslett, each of whom had published only one book when they won.

Still, Hempel's distinctive stories, which are collected in five books, including The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel (Scribner, 2006), certainly warrant the honor. "It is thrilling to receive an award named for Bernard Malamud," Hempel was quoted as saying in a press release, "whose stories are as relevant now as they were when he wrote them, tough and beautiful and uncompromising but not didactic."

Below is a video produced by United States Artists, the organization that sponsors the fifty-thousand-dollar USA Fellowships, one of which was given to Hempel in 2006.

Junot Díaz and Mohsin Hamid Among IMPAC Finalists

Junot Díaz may be able to add the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award to the list of honors, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, that he's garnered for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead Books, 2007). Yesterday he was named one of eight finalists for the IMPAC Award, which is billed as the world's richest prize for a work of fiction published in English. It's worth a hundred thousand euros, or $132,000.

The other finalists are David Leavitt for The Indian Clerk, Jean Echenoz for Ravel (New Press), Mohsin Hamid for The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Harcourt), Travis Holland for The Archivist's Story (Dial), Roy Jacobsen for The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles (John Murray), Indra Sinha for Animal's People (Simon & Schuster), and Michael Thomas for Man Gone Down (Grove/Atlantic). 

The winner will be announced on June 11. Previous winners include Per Petterson for Out Stealing Horses (Graywolf, 2007) and Colm Toibin for The Master (Scribner, 2004).

In Chasing the Whale: A Profile of Junot Díaz, which appeared in the September/October 2007 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, Frank Bures writes about the eleven-year gap between the publication of the Latino author's debut story collection, Drown (Riverhead Books, 1996), and that of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. "The amount of despair it took me to finish that damn thing is so ironic," Díaz told Bures, "because that book is about anything but despair. In some ways, there is so much joy in that book, that it belies the difficulties of construction. That book almost killed me."

Below is a video of Díaz talking to Ramona Koval about the main character of the novel, Oscar Wao, at the Sydney Writers' Festival last May. Warning: It contains some strong language.

 

"The Secret" to Winning the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize

The deadline for the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, sponsored by the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University in Ohio, is about a month away. Anyone who's serious about winning the first book award, which offers two thousand dollars and publication by Kent State University Press, might look to a recently published anthology of poems by past winners for inspiration and guidance. 

The Next of Us Is About to Be Born: The Wick Poetry Series Anthology in Celebration of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Wick Poetry Center, edited by Maggie Anderson, was published earlier this month by Kent State University Press. It includes the work of fifty-five poets who have been published in the Wick Poetry Series. All books in the series are chosen through competitions—the largest being the Stan and Tom Wick prize. Past winners include Eve Alexandra (The Drowned Girl, selected by C. K. Williams in 2002), Ariana-Sophia M. Kartsonis (Intaglio, selected by Eleanor Wilner in 2005), and Djelloul Marbrook (Far From Algiers, selected by Toi Derricotte in 2007).

Would-be submitters who go looking in the new anthology for a secret to winning this year's prize may come away a little disappointed, though, because, as one might expect, it showcases a pretty eclectic group. "While the notes on contributors at the back of this book will tell you which competition the poets won and who selected the book, one thing is clear," Anderson writes in her editor's note. "Whatever their age or publication record at the time, all of these poets demonstrate the boldness, confidence, and originality that often characterizes the work of new writers."

The secret? Be bold, confident, and original.

The deadline for the prize, which carries a twenty-dollar entry fee, is May 1. Naomi Shihab Nye will judge.

 

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