G&A: The Contest Blog

A String of Pearls: Who's Next?

The deadline for this year's Pearl Poetry Prize is July 15. The annual award, which offers a thousand dollars and publication by Pearl Editions, an independent press in Long Beach, California, is given for a full-length poetry collection. Below are the winners of the last ten contests. Who will judge Debra Marquart, herself a previous winner, pick this year?

2008: Alison Luterman's See How We Almost Fly, chosen by Gerald Locklin
2007: Lavonne J. Adams's Through the Glorieta Pass, chosen by David Hernandez
2006: Kevin Griffith's Denmark, Kangaroo, Orange, chosen by Denise Duhamel
2005: Ada Limón's This Big Fake World, chosen by Frank X. Gaspar
2004: Elizabeth Oakes's The Farmgirl Poems, chosen by Donna Hilbert
2003: Andrew Kaufman's Earth's Ends, chosen by Fred Voss
2002: Richard M. Berlin's How JFK Killed My Father, chosen by Lisa Glatt
2001: Micki Myer's Trigger Finger, chosen by Jim Daniels
2000: Debra Marquart's From the Sweetness, chosen by Dorianne Laux
1999: Robert Perchan's Fluid in Darkness, chosen by Ed Ochester

F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference to Honor Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez was recently named winner of the fourteenth annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Award. The prize, sponsored by the F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference, an annual day-long event held at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, honors the achievements of a "great American author." Alvarez, whose most recent book is the novel Return to Sender (Knopf, 2009), writes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and books for young readers. She will recieve the award at this year's conference on October 17.

Previous recipients of the award are William Styron, John Barth, Joyce Carol Oates, E. L. Doctorow, Norman Mailer, Ernest J. Gaines, John Updike, Edward Albee, Grace Paley, Pat Conroy, Jane Smiley, William Kennedy, and Elmore Leonard.

The conference was started in 1996 when the city of Rockville celebrated the centennial of the birth of Fitzgerald, who happens to be buried in the town at Saint Mary's Church. This year's event will feature panel discussions, workshops, and "publication conversations."

PSA Launches Second Annual Times Square Poetry Contest

Times Square may have been reduced to a pedestrian mall—or elevated to a walker's oasis, depending on your perspective—but it's a safe bet that it will always retain a certain poetic quality. The fine folks at the Poetry Society of America know this, and they've launched the second annual Bright Lights Big Verse contest to prove it.

Four winners will each receive a prize of $750 and a trip to New York City to read their winning poems at an event in Times Square. Until July 15, poets may submit poems of any length that celebrate Times Square and the qualities it represents: diversity, desire, dynamism, and the marriage of commerce and culture, according to the PSA and its cosponsor, the Times Square Alliance. Robert Casper, Brett Fletcher Lauer, and Alice Quinn will judge.

Check out the PSA Web site for complete guidelines and instructions for online submissions. And remember, any poem submitted must be suitable for public display, which, since we're talking about Times Square, home to the Naked Cowboy, is open to interpretation.


Six Caine Prize Finalists Await Winner Announcement

The shortlist for the 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing was announced last month, and for the six finalists, the waiting is almost over. The winner of the annual prize, which is worth ten thousand pounds (approximately sixteen thousand dollars), will be announced at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England, on July 6.

The following shortlist was selected from 122 entries from 12 African countries: 

Mamle Kabu (Ghana) for "The End of Skill" from Dreams, Miracles and Jazz (Picador Africa)
Parselelo Kantai (Kenya) for "You Wreck Her" from the St. Petersburg Review
Alistair Morgan (South Africa) for "Icebergs" from the Paris Review
EC Osondu (Nigeria) for "Waiting" from Guernica Magazine
Mukoma wa Ngugi (Kenya) for "How Kamau wa Mwangi Escaped Into Exile"  from Wasafiri

The prize is given for a short story written by an African writer and published in English. Last year's winner was South African writer Henrietta Rose-Innes for her short story "Poison" from Africa Pens (Spearhead). 


First Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize Goes to Indigo Moor

Late last year we told you about Cave Canem's announcement of the inaugural Cave Canem Northwestern Press Poetry Prize, a second book award for African American poets. Six months later, the nonprofit has announced the first winner of the prize: Indigo Moor for his book Through the Stonecutter's Window. John Keene, who, along with Reginald Gibbons and Parneshia Jones, judged the prize, wrote that Moor's poems "open a sustained and impressive dialogue with the visual arts, history, the natural world, and the poet's dreams and nightmares, while dancing poly-rhythmically across and down each page."

Moor's first poetry collection, Tap-Root, was published in 2006 by Main Street Rag as part of its Editor's Select Poetry Series. Northwestern University Press will publish Through the Stonecutter's Window in March 2010. 

In addition, two poets received honorable mention: Remica Bingham for "What We Ask of Flesh" and JoAnne McFarland for "Acid Rain." 

IPPY Awards Honor Indie Presses and Authors

In case you missed it, last month Independent Publisher announced the winners of the 2009 “IPPY” Awards, honoring the year’s best independently published books. There were more than four thousand entries in eighty-five national and regional categories. Here are a few of the recent winners:

Poetry: The Baseball Field at Night (Lost Horse Press) by Patricia Goedicke and or words to that effect (openDmusic) by Dave Tutin

Literary Fiction: Adam the King (Other Press) by Jeffrey Lewis

Short Story Fiction: The Cult of Quick Repair (Coteau Books) by Dede Crane

Essay/Creative Nonfiction: An Enemy of the People: The Unending Battle Against Conventional Wisdom (Doukathsan Press) by Lawrence R. Velvel

The annual awards are intended to bring increased recognition to books published in the past year by independent and university presses as well as self-published titles. The awards program was launched in 1996 and is open to all members of the independent publishing industry.


Blogger Compiles List of Winningest Novels

C. Max Magee, a contributor to Poets & Writers Magazine who writes about books at themillions.com, recently updated his ranking of prizewinning novels based on the number of prizes a book has won and the number of times it has been named a finalist or appeared on a shortlist. Taking into account six major prizes—the Booker, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Costa Book Award—Magee concluded that Edward P. Jones's The Known World, is the most celebrated novel of the last fifteen years. The 2003 novel won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the IMPAC, and the Pulitzer Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Coming in at a close second is Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. For the complete list and a note on Magee's methodology, visit his blog.

Below is a video of Jones's keynote address at the 2007 PEN/Hemingway Awards ceremony.


NYFA Gives Grants to Eighteen New York Poets, Fourteen Nonfiction Writers

A recent survey conducted by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) suggests that half of the artists living in New York State make less than twenty-five thousand dollars per year. Whether or not any of the 134 individuals who were recently awarded NYFA's annual fellowship grants fall into that category is unknown, but all of them will no doubt benefit from the unrestricted grants worth seven thousand dollars each.

The grants were given in eight categories, including film, digital/electronic arts, and interdisciplinary work. The fellows in poetry are E. J. Antonio, Edmund Berrigan, Tina Chang, Monica de la Torre, LaTasha Diggs, Marcella Durand, Alan Gilbert, Jennifer Hayashida, Lisa Jarnot, Mara Jebsen, Suji Kim, Anna Moschovakis, Willie Perdomo, Julie Sheehan, Patricia Smith, Sue Song, Paige Taggart, and Anne Tardos.

The fellows in nonfiction literature are Jo Ann Beard, Allison Cobb, Sarah Dohrmann, Ellen Graf, Sabine Heinlein, Hettie Jones, Jessica Lamb-Shapiro, Andrew Postman, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Phillip Robertson, Gabrielle Selz, Ginger Strand, Rene Vasicek, and Eben Wood.

Fellowships are awarded to writers and artists at all career levels and are intended to give them the means to continue making work despite financial restraints.

Debut Author From Boston Wins World's Richest Literary Prize

A debut novelist who was born and raised in Boston and lives in New York has been chosen from nearly 150 nominees from 41 countries as winner of this year's IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Michael Thomas won the prize—worth 100,000 euros, or nearly 140,000 dollars—for his first novel, Man Gone Down (Grove, 2007). He beat eight semifinalists, including Junot Díaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), and David Leavitt (The Indian Clerk).

This year, as has been the case so many times in the past, readers from every corner of the world have uncovered wonderful novels that otherwise may never have grasped public attention," Dublin mayor Éibhlin Byrne said yesterday. 

Previous winners of the award, given annually since 1996 for a single work of fiction published in English, include Colm Tóibín for The Master and Edward P. Jones for The Known World. Rawi Hage won last year for his debut novel, De Niro's Game.

Care to Kick Back in Frost's Old Farmhouse?

Looking for a place to write during the summer? Sure, you could hole up in your home office or sweet-talk the barista at your local coffee bar and claim the corner table as your own. But if you want a truly unique writing spot, consider Frost Place, the nonprofit educational center for poetry and the arts based at Robert Frost’s old homestead in Franconia, New Hampshire. July 3 is the deadline for next year's Resident Poet Award. The prize of two thousand dollars and a two-month residency at Frost's old farmhouse is given annually to a poet who has published at least one poetry collection. 

This year's winner is Poets & Writers Magazine contributing editor Rigoberto González, who will be arriving in Franconia in early July and spend two months in the house where Frost and his family lived full-time from 1915 to 1920 and spent nineteen summers. The Frost Place has been awarding the residency for the past tweny-two years. Previous winners include Katha Pollitt, Robert Hass, William Matthews, Mary Jo Salter, Denis Johnson, Sherod Santos, Pattiann Rogers, Stanley Plumly, Jeffrey Skinner, B. H. Fairchild, Major Jackson, and Laura Kasischke.


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