Poets & Writers Blogs

Duy Doan Wins Yale Younger Prize

Yale University Press has announced that Duy Doan has won the 2017 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition for his debut collection, We Play a Game. Doan’s book will be published by Yale University Press in April 2018 as the 112th volume in the series. Doan will also receive a fellowship at the James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut.

“Wide-ranging in subject, Doan’s poems include boxing, tongue twisters, hedgehogs, Billy Holiday, soccer and, hardly least of all, a Vietnamese heritage that butts up against an American upbringing in ways at once comic, estranging, off-kiltering,” says judge Carl Phillips. “Doan negotiates the distance between surviving and thriving, and offers here his own form of meditation on, ultimately, childhood, history, culture—who we are, and how—refusing all along to romanticize any of it.”

Duy Doan is the director of the Favorite Poem Project, which celebrates the role of poetry in the lives of Americans. He received his MFA from Boston University, and is a Kundiman fellow. He lives in Boston.

The longest-running poetry prize in the United States, the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize is given for a debut poetry collection. Previous winners included Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, Jack Gilbert, Jean Valentine, and Robert Hass.

Christen Clifford Talks Experiments & Disorders at Dixon Place

Christen Clifford is a feminist performance artist, writer, and mother. She teaches at the New School and is a curator for the Experiments & Disorders literary series at Dixon Place. Her essay “Mother, Daughter, Moustache,” about gender and aging, was published in the bestselling anthology Women In Clothes and called “a standout essay” by Bookforum. Clifford has been published in Salon, Hyperallergic, the Brooklyn Rail, Smith Magazine, and has work forthcoming in WITCHES. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from the New School Writing Program, where she won the Nonfiction Award. She is the recipient of a NYFA Fellowship, a volunteer mentor with Girls Write Now, and lives in Queens and online @cd_clifford.

Dixon Place is one of New York’s oldest art spaces dedicated to creating new work. Since 1986, we have been a nonprofit institution committed to supporting the creative process by presenting original works of theatre, dance, music, puppetry, circus arts, and visual art at all stages of development. We hope to encourage diverse artists of all stripes and callings to take risks, generate new ideas, and consummate new practices.

Experiments & Disorders is Dixon’s longest continuously running literary series; Tom Cole and I have been curating it together for the last seven years. Each year we have six to eight readings, depending on budgets and scheduling. Usually, Experiments & Disorders is the second or third Tuesday of the month. Tom and I are committed to new work—we always find some writers through submissions, and we often like to pair a less experienced writer with a more experienced writer, though that doesn’t always happen. We love to pair works across genres, so that in one evening we might have fiction read by the author and a performance text read by actors, or a poet and an essayist.

I moved to New York in 1989 and I was terrified of Dixon Place, but I’d heard about it. It was in a loft on the Bowery and real artists did crazy art there. As a white Catholic girl from a working class family in Buffalo, I was too scared to go to Dixon Place! Ellie Covan started Dixon out of her apartment and now, thirty-one years later, it’s a gorgeous downstairs theatre fully accessible with an upstairs lounge and bar. At Dixon, I saw the hilarious Reno, lots of dance, Tom Murrin, and experienced the workshops of Taylor Mac. I think it’s kind of funny that I wound up as a curator at Dixon Place. 

It’s a home for experiments. I love all of the new work! Last month, we had Heidi Julavits and Leslie Jamison, and they both read work that they’d never read before. It was such an intimate gift.

Our upcoming events include Alex Borinsky and Marisa Crawford on April 18, Jenny Offill and Hafizah Geter on May 16, and Mary Gaitskill will be reading on July 18.

We are so grateful for the Poets & Writers grants that help support the writers that read at Dixon Place. This support means our writers get more money, and hopefully more respect, which we hope all leads to even more time to write.

I am healed by our poets and writers. That hour in the near dark at a reading, surrounded by language and humans, saves me and gives me hope.

Support for the Readings & Workshops Program in New York City is provided, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, with additional support from the Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation, the Axe-Houghton Foundation, the A.K. Starr Charitable Trust, and Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photos: (top) Christen Clifford (Credit: Christen Clifford). (middle) Candace Williams (Credit: Christen Clifford). (bottom) Celeste Finn and Buzz Slutzky (Credit: Christen Clifford).

Windham-Campbell Prize Winners Announced

Yale University has announced the winners of the 2017 Windham-Campbell Prizes for Literature. Administered by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the annual awards are given to English-language writers from any country for an outstanding body of work or extraordinary promise. This marks the first year the prize, previously given in prose and drama, is also given in poetry; the award money has also increased from $150,000 to $165,000 for each winner.
          

The recipients in poetry are Ali Cobby Eckermann of Australia and Carolyn Forché of the United States; the winners in fiction are André Alexis of Canada and Erna Brodber of Jamaica; the winners in creative nonfiction are Maya Jasanoff of the United States and Ashleigh Young of New Zealand; and the recipients in drama are Marina Carr of Ireland and Ike Holter of the United States.

Established in 2013 by Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell, the Windham-Campbell Prizes highlight outstanding literary accomplishment and allow writers to focus on their work without financial concerns. The prizes are open to writers from anywhere in the world at all stages of their careers.

There is no application process for the prize; the awards are made by a group of nominators, a three-member jury in each category, and a nine-member selection committee. Past recipients include Hilton Als, Teju Cole, and Geoff Dyer.

The prizes will be conferred at an international literary festival at Yale in September. My Struggle author Karl Ove Knausgård will deliver a keynote address on the theme of “Why I Write.” All festival events are free and open to the public.

Visit the Windham-Campbell prize website for more information about the festival and this year’s prize-winners.

(Photos clockwise from top left: André Alexis, Erna Brodber, Marina Carr, Ashleigh Young, Carolyn Forché, Maya Jasanoff, Ike Holter, Ali Cobby Eckermann)

Upcoming Poetry Deadlines

Poets: Tomorrow marks a new month, which means a new set of contests with March deadlines await your verses. Whether you’re looking to submit a single poem or a full-length collection, the following contests offer awards of at least $1,000 and publication. The deadlines range from March 7 to March 17.

For opportunities to submit one or a few poems, the Pinch, the Belligham Review, and the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation each confer $1,000 for a single poem (or a group of poems for the Bellingham Review). For the Bellingham Review and the Pinch, submit up to three poems with a $20 entry fee by March 15. For the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation, submit up to three poems with a $10 entry fee by March 15.

Finishing up a chapbook? The Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Award offers $1,000, publication, and a book launch. Lawrence Raab will judge. Submit a manuscript of 20 to 36 pages with a $25 entry fee by March 15.

U.S. poets who have published at least one book of poetry are eligible for the Persea Books Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award. A prize of $1,000, publication, and up to $1,000 for travel expenses and promotional activities is given for a poetry collection. Using the online submission system, submit a manuscript of at least 40 pages with a $30 entry fee by March 7.

Open to both emerging and established poets living in the United States, the Beyond Baroque Books Pacific Coast Poetry Series confers a prize of $2,000 and publication. Submit a manuscript of 48 to 70 pages with a $5 entry fee by March 15.

Another contest for full-length manuscripts is the Word Works Washington Prize, which offers an award of $1,500 and publication to a U.S. or Canadian poet. Submit a manuscript of 48 to 80 pages with a $25 entry fee by March 15.

Prairie Schooner’s Poetry Book Prize offers $3,000 and publication by University of Nebraska Press for a full-length collection. Kwame Dawes will judge. Submit a poetry manuscript of at least 50 pages with a $25 entry fee by March 15.

Emerging black poets of African descent are eligible for Cave Canem Foundation’s Poetry Prize, which grants $1,000 and publication by University of Pittsburgh Press for a first book of poetry. Vievee Francis will judge. Using the online submission system, submit a manuscript of 48 to 75 pages with a $20 entry fee by March 17

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines, and visit our Grants & Awards Database and Submission Calendar for more poetry and prose contests with upcoming deadlines.

Poets & Writers’ Seventh Annual Workshop Leaders Retreat in Los Angeles

Jamie Asaye FitzGerald, director of Poets & Writers’ California Office and Readings & Workshops (West) program, blogs about Poets & Writers’ seventh annual Workshop Leaders Retreat for writers who teach creative writing to underserved groups, held this past January at 826LA in Echo Park in Los Angeles.

At first we were scattered, sitting at separate tables. Then we joined together in a circle.

Frank Escamilla WLR LA 2017

The first writers to take their places were Sarah Rafael Garcia and Marilynn Montaño of Barrio Writers, a nonprofit reading and writing program that empowers teens through creative writing. Garcia and Montaño rented a car and drove from Santa Ana to Los Angeles, about an hour drive. Both have been recipients of Readings & Workshops (R&W) grants for their work with Santa Ana’s youth.

The next person to join the circle was Oshea Luja of Still Waters, a poet and teacher supported by the R&W program for facilitating creative writing workshops with elders via the organization EngAGE.

Soon to join our circle, all the way from Riverside, was Angela Peñaredondo, who took part in the R&W program’s Intergenerational Workshop Exchange as a workshop facilitator for veterans and their family members at the Filipino American Service Group.

Fifteen other writers—who collectively teach creative writing to the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, at-risk youth; veterans; elders; LGBTQ populations; the homeless and formerly homeless; and immigrants—soon took their places.

We gathered in the workshop space at 826LA in Echo Park for Poets & Writers’ Workshop Leaders Retreat, an annual half-day retreat where teaching artists share resources, best practices, and writing prompts, and write and break bread together. This past January marked our seventh retreat in Los Angeles. Last fall, we held our first retreat for teaching artists in the Bay Area.

In addition to expanding and solidifying the reach of the R&W program, these retreats enable us to further our support of teaching artists who work with underserved groups, to give them the opportunity to network with one another and strengthen their practices, and to honor them both as teachers and writers by spending time writing to each others’ prompts. “It can be isolating as a contractor and writer, so it is impactful to make such contact and connection with others doing similar work. It can inform my practice in a multitude of ways and offer personal support for this challenging work,” wrote one attendee.

This year’s retreat was enriched by a presentation from charismatic teaching artist Frank Escamilla, who works with at-risk youth and is outreach coordinator for Street Poets Inc. Escamilla linked his experiences growing up in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights with his current teaching practice. He recounted how having to share a room with five others taught him early about “being in community” and described how he could count the number of gangs he had to walk through to get to school. As a youth he felt called to start his own gang to gather people together, to protect each other. Later, he realized that his gifts could be used in better ways, which led him to become a poet, performer, and teaching artist—one who initiates young people into the healing practice of writing.

Escamilla shared with his fellow teaching artists some of the techniques he uses to reach this vulnerable population. He addressed questions like: How do you create a safe space within ten minutes? How do we search for the gift within these wounds? How do you deal with silence? How do you offer criticism? Attendees devoured Escamilla’s pearls of wisdom, asked questions, and shared their own methods. We talked about the Native American practice of Council in workshops, African traditions, and how words “can be like bullets or they can be like seeds.” We sat together and wrote from a prompt taken from Audre Lorde: “What do you need to say? [List as many things as necessary],” and shared our responses.

To close and release the circle, P&W program associate Brandi Spaethe read from an exquisite corpse written by the group during the retreat:

Our children will witness the power of our voice, and carry it on
Under their arms they will carry the future like origami, sharpening their tongues
Every breath a fire becoming movement

WLR LA 2017 Group

The Workshop Leaders Retreat is made possible by support from the California Arts Council, a state agency. We would like to thank 826LA for consistently giving this retreat a home and all the teaching artists past and present who have participated.

Major support for Readings & Workshops in California is provided by the James Irvine Foundation and the Hearst Foundations. Additional support comes from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photo one: Frank Escamilla of Street Poets, Inc. (Credit: Brandi M. Spaethe). Photo two: Attendees of the seventh annual Los Angeles Workshop Leaders Retreat (front, left to right): Jamie Asaye FitzGerald, Dorothy Randall Gray, Marilynn Montaño, Alejandra Castillo, T Sarmina, Jessica Wilson, Leilani Squire, Sarah Rafael García; (middle) Angela Thomson-Brenchley; (back, left to right) Angela Peñaredondo, liz gonzalez, Steven Reigns, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, A. K. Toney, Oshea Luja, Jesse Bliss, Frank Escamilla, Kristi Toney, and Juan Cardenas (Credit: Brandi M. Spaethe).

PEN Announces Literary Award Winners

PEN America has announced the winners of its annual literary awards. The 2017 awards will confer more than $300,000 to poets, fiction writers, nonfiction writers, translators, and playwrights.

Here are a few of this year’s winners:

Natalie Scenters-Zapico won the $5,000 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry for her poetry collection The Verging Cities (Colorado State University). Camille Dungy, Ada Limón, and Patrick Phillips judged.

Helen Oyeyemi won the $5,000 PEN Open Book Award for her story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (Riverhead). Ishmael Beah, Major Jackson, and Bich Minh Nguyen judged.

Matthew Desmond won the $10,000 PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction for Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown). Emily Anthes, Amy Ellis Nutt, Robin Marantz Henig, and Emma Marris judged.

Aleksandar Hemon won the $10,000 PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History for How Did You Get Here?: Tales of Displacement. Gaiutra Bahadur, Helen Epstein, and Dan Kennedy judged.

Simon Armitage won the $3,000 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for his translation from the Middle English of the Pearl Poet’s Pearl: A New Verse Translation (Liveright). Jennifer Grotz, Kyoo Lee, and Rowan Ricardo Phillips judged.

Tess Lewis won the $3,000 PEN Translation Prize for her translation from the German of Maja Haderlap’s novel Angel of Oblivion (Archipelago). Mara Faye Lethem, Jeremy Tiang, Elizabeth Lowe, Annie Tucker, and Dennis Washburn judged.

For a complete list of winners, visit the PEN website.

Winners of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay will be announced live at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on March 27 at the New School in New York City. Actor and comedian Aasif Mandvi will host this year’s ceremony.

Mall of America Launches Writer-in-Residence Contest

In celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary this year, Mall of America has launched a writer-in-residence contest. One U.S. poet, fiction writer, or creative nonfiction writer will spend five days in the Bloomington, Minnesota, mall, “deeply immersed in the Mall atmosphere while writing on-the-fly impressions in their own words.” The winner will receive a $2,500 honorarium, lodging for four nights in a hotel attached to the mall, and a $400 gift card for meals.

            

The mall’s goal for the contest is to “come away…with an evocative story about Mall of America that represents the contemporary guest experience after twenty-five years of evolution as a leading retail and entertainment establishment.” To apply, submit a pitch of up to 150 words describing how you would approach the project by March 10. “Would it be a personal story? A blow-by-blow account of your experiences? The Mall as seen through the eyes of a first-time tourist or a regular guest?” Twenty-five semifinalists will then be selected to expand on their pitches in an essay of 500 to 800 words. The winner will be selected by a group of “experienced writers and journalists.” Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Located fifteen minutes from downtown Minneapolis–St. Paul, the Mall of America is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, boasting 520 stores, 50 restaurants, and the nation’s largest indoor theme park.

Andrea Fingerson on Workshops With the Inlandia Institute

Andrea Fingerson is a writer and a teacher. She is currently in her tenth year of teaching for the Moreno Valley Unified School District. In 2014 she earned an MFA in Fiction from California State University, San Bernardino. She has written two novels, both of the Young Adult persuasion, and both inspired by her work as a teacher. Her current project is also inspired by her teaching career, but instead of focusing on the lives of students, is concerned with the challenges that teachers face. Fingerson can be found at her blog, in her classroom in Moreno Valley, and leading the Corona workshop for the Inlandia Institute.

What makes your workshops unique?
I’ve had the pleasure of working as a workshop leader for Inlandia over the past two and a half years. The mission of the Inlandia Institute is to recognize, support, and expand all forms of literary activity through community programs in Inland Southern California, and by the publication of books by writers who live or work in and/or write about Inland Southern California, thereby deepening people’s awareness, understanding, and appreciation for this unique, complex and creatively vibrant region.

One of my favorite parts about being a workshop leader is the opportunity to work with new writers, whether they are youth writers or adults, who have come to appreciate the joy that comes from the writing life. My latest workshop started fresh in January, and it was invigorating to see a new group of writers and to expand my community of colleagues. 

I strive to make my workshop a place where writers of all abilities, experience, and genres feel welcome. I love learning from them as I strive to share my knowledge and experience.

What’s the strangest question you’ve received from a student?
I am of the philosophy that there are no bad questions, but I have had some students show interest in publication earlier than I would recommend. Publication can be a long and arduous path, but it is worth it.

What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher?
It’s always the small things that are the most rewarding. A quiet student who finally feels comfortable enough to share their work out loud with the group. A youth writer whose work continues to progress as they learn the standard formatting for fiction that will allow their wonderfully creative stories to come to life. A new writer whose work is accepted for publication. And, most importantly, someone who is able to complete a project they’ve struggled with for months or longer.
   
What effect has this work had on your life and/or your art?
For me, the greatest benefit of working with Inlandia, and leading these workshops, comes from being an active participant in the writing community. Writing can be an isolating process. I find such workshops and local readings to be invigorating both personally and professionally.

What is the craziest thing that’s happened in one of your workshops?
I always chuckle when I think of the poor mother who brought her middle-school-age daughter, and writer, to the meeting right around Banned Books Week. The conversation included a few references (references only) to some of the more explicit reasons people want to ban books. I never saw the poor woman again, or her daughter, which is unfortunate because such topics rarely come up. My workshops are usually child-friendly.

I also had one sweet writer who always brought her dog to workshops with her. He was a cute little thing, and I always had to spend a few minutes with him, and his owner, after the workshop was over for the night.

Major support for Readings & Workshops in California is provided by the James Irvine Foundation and the Hearst Foundations. Additional support comes from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photo: Andrea Fingerson (Credit: Jace Martin).

Upcoming Deadlines for Prose Contests

Calling all fiction and creative nonfiction writers! It’s time to polish those stories and essays; today we are rounding up prose contests with a February 28 deadline. From competitions for a short short story to a full-length nonfiction work, we have your end-of-the-month prose deadlines covered. Each of the following contests offers a prize of $1,000 to $10,000 and publication.

If you have a short short story ready to go, submit to Fish Publishing’s Flash Fiction Prize, which awards €1,000 (approximately $1,060) and publication in the Fish Publishing anthology. Chris Stewart will judge. Submit a story of up to 300 words with a €14 (approximately $15) entry fee.

Looking for a place to submit your prose chapbook? Apply to the Florida Review Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award, given annually for a chapbook of short short fiction or nonfiction, short stories, essays, or graphic narrative. The winner receives  $1,000 and publication by Florida Review. Submit a manuscript of up to 45 pages with a $25 entry fee.

Emerging short fiction writers are eligible to submit to Glimmer Train Press’s Short Story Award for New Writers. A prize of $2,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 author copies is given three times a year for a short story by a writer whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation over 5,000. Using the online submission system, submit a story of 1,000 to 12,000 words with an $18 entry fee.

For women with a full-length prose manuscript, Red Hen Press’s annual Women’s Prose Prize confers $1,000 and publication for a book of fiction or nonfiction. Aimee Bender will judge. Using the online submission system, submit a story or essay collection, a novel, or a memoir of 45,000 to 80,000 words with a $25 entry fee.

The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing offers a hefty annual prize of $10,000 and publication for a debut full-length prose work by a first-generation American writer. This year’s prize will be given in nonfiction. Memoirs, essay collections, and works of narrative nonfiction by writers who have not published a work of nonfiction with a U.S. publisher are eligible. Anjali Singh, Ilan Stavans, and Héctor Tobar will judge. Using the online submission system, submit a full-length nonfiction manuscript or excerpt of at least 25,000 words with a cover letter and a curriculum vitae. And here’s the clincher: There is no entry fee.

Don’t forget to visit the individual contest websites for complete guidelines, and check out our Grants & Awards Database and Submission Calendar for more poetry and prose contests with upcoming deadlines. Good luck, and happy writing!

Deadline Approaches for Emily Dickinson First Book Award

Submissions are currently open for the Poetry Foundation’s Emily Dickinson First Book Award. A prize of $10,000 and publication by Graywolf Press is given for a poetry collection by a U.S. writer of at least forty years of age who has not published a full-length book of poetry.

Using the online submission system, submit a manuscript of forty-eight to eighty pages with a biography that includes publication history by February 27. There is no entry fee. Visit the contest page for complete guidelines.

The Emily Dickinson First Book Award is an occasional contest that is not held annually. Previous winners include Hailey Leithauser, Brian Culhane, and Landis Everson. The winner of the 2017 award will be notified by April 30, and announced publicly at the Poetry Foundation’s Pegasus Awards ceremony in Chicago in June.

WEX Award Sparks Community, Deepens Commitment

Alicia Upano was born and raised in Hawai'i. She received a BA in journalism from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and an MFA from the graduate program in creative writing at San Diego State University. She worked for newspapers in Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley, and for a nonprofit documentary film organization in Oakland, California. Her creative work has appeared in the Asian American Literary Review. She currently works for the University of Hawai'i Press and lives on O'ahu.

Six years ago, I sat on a flight back to California from Hawai‘i, flipping through the inflight magazine. A photo captured my attention: Musicians in the 1970s gathered with string instruments on the Windward side of O‘ahu, in a town south of my elementary school. I left Hawai‘i for college a dozen years before, and what was once a mainland adventure had long been replaced by homesickness.

I built a fictional universe around this image and plodded through drafts as the characters emerged: a slack-key guitarist, his estranged wife, and their two grown children that witnessed the fallout. Through the course of 1969, secrets are revealed as their father’s health fails, and one loss threatens to replace another.

Most pages ended up in the trash those first years. Meanwhile, friends sold short fiction to literary magazines and attracted agents with books. I felt too slow, but in truth, thinking about publishing overwhelmed me when learning to write a novel felt hard enough.

Then I wrote the scene where the mother character decides to return to Hawai‘i and I understood that it was time for me, too. People told me this was a risky move—pricey housing and fewer work opportunities—but family and friends managed on the island, and I figured I could, too.

At home, the book started to take shape. A friend sent me news of the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award (WEX) and encouraged me to apply. When I sent my application at a Honolulu post office, I hoped for some recognition that the story was, finally, moving. That there was a little spark.

My writing is consumed with this fictional family and their complicated love for each other. It often felt like an insular universe, and I’m the only real one there, but winning the WEX Award changed that. I’m incredibly grateful to fiction judge Alexander Chee for finding promise in my work. In his comments, he wrote that my first chapter was “full of a love for the islands, the history, and the music and the people who make that place what it is,” and I got teary, because this is what I have been working to share.

This award also gave me a welcome crash course in publishing. When Poets & Writers asked who I wanted to meet, I poured through the acknowledgment pages of favorite books to learn about agents and editors. It was a particular treat to share with Maureen Egen, sponsor of the prize, how I’d fallen in love with the classic Gone with the Wind as a twelve-year-old in Kahalu‘u. It was my first adult book and I immediately picked up the sequel, Scarlett, edited by Egen.

In New York, I felt surrounded by people who love books, as I do. I share this award with poetry winner Kimo Armitage, an accomplished local writer. His friendship and good humor made me feel like I had a bit of home with me, and his own publishing experiences offer me valuable lessons as an emerging writer.

Before this award, my writing was largely private.  After the announcement, several people told me, “I didn’t even know you wrote,” or new acquaintances said, “I was wondering who won that.” What I discovered in New York is that every book needs a community of champions and advisors, both professional and personal, to thrive. This award invites me into a larger writing community, both on the island and away. Thanks to Poets & Writers, Maureen Egen, and Alexander Chee for making this possible.

The Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award is generously supported by Maureen Egen, a member of the Poets & Writers Board of Directors.

Photos: (top) Alicia Upano (Credit: Margarita Corporan). (middle) Alicia Upano and Alexander Chee (Credit: Kimo Armitage). (bottom) Elliot Figman, Kimo Armitage, Alicia Upano, and Bonnie Rose Marcus (Credit: Jessica Kashiwabara).

PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants Announced

PEN America has announced the recipients of the annual PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants. This year the judges awarded fifteen grants of $3,870 each to assist in the completion of translation projects spanning thirteen different languages. PEN also announced the winner of the inaugural $5,000 Grant for the English Translation of Italian Literature.

The 2017 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant recipients are:

Nick Admussen for his translation from the Chinese of Ya Shi’s poetry collection Floral Mutter
Polly Barton for her translation from the Japanese of Misumi Kubo’s novel Cowards Who Looked to the Sky
Elizabeth Bryer for her translation from the Spanish of Aleksandra Lun’s novel The Palimpsests
Vitaly Chernetsky for his translation from the Ukrainian of Sophia Andrukhovych’s novel Felix Austria
Iain Galbraith for his translation from the German of Raoul Schrott’s Selected Poems
Michelle Gil-Montero for her translation from the Spanish of Valerie Mejer Caso’s poetry collection Edinburgh Notebook
Sophie Hughes for her translation from the Spanish of Alia Trabucco Zerán’s debut novel, The Remainder
Elisabeth Jaquette for her translation from the Arabic of Rania Mamoun’s story collection Thirteen Months of Sunrise
Kira Josefsson for her translation from the Swedish of Pooneh Rohi’s novel The Arab
Adam Morris for his translation from the Portuguese of Beatriz’s Bracher novel I Didn’t Talk
Kaitlin Rees for her translation from the Vietnamese of Nhã Thuyên’s poetry collection A Parade
Dayla Rogers for her translation from the Turkish of Kemal Varol’s novel Wûf
Christopher Tamigi for his translation from the Italian of Mauro Covacich’s novel In Your Name
Manjushree Thapa for her translation from the Nepali of Indra Bahadur Rai’s novel There’s a Carnival Today
Joyce Zonana for her translation from the French of Tobie Nathan’s novel This Land That Is Like You

The recipient of the inaugural $5,000 PEN Grant for the English Translation of Italian Literature is Douglas Grant Heise, for his translation of Luigi Malerba’s novel, Ithaca Forever.

PEN’s prize advisory board selected the fifteen grantees from a pool of 224 applicants. For more information about the winners and the Translation Fund, which is now in its fourteenth year, visit PEN’s website.

Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday Through the Arts

Brenda Collins was raised, educated, and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She holds the position of Community Relations Chair at the Shambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
―Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island (Harcourt, Brace, 1955)

At the Shambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta, we create activities to support the primary focus of the Community Relations Committee—to bridge communities together for the purpose of creating a culture of kindness. We host events that foster cultural understanding through the arts and conversations about race relations, environmental issues, economic disparity, gender issues, the criminal justice system, sexual orientation, education, and more.

We decided there was no better way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday than through the arts. We were granted the opportunity with the support of Poets & Writers to honor this day, January 15, with poets, musicians, and performers from all walks of life. Featured poets and performers included Srimati Shahina Lakhani, Nnenne Onyicha-Clayton, Debra Hiers, Waqas Khwaja, BMichelle Tilman, A’nji Sarumi, Jennifer Denning, and the Atlanta Interplay Performers. The Interplay Performers used improvisational tools to express themselves in the moment. The poets read their own works, as well as the work of others revealing their own voices of wisdom.

This event included an open mic and a reflective conversation segment, which directly connected to the conversations the Shambhala Meditation Center hosts about issues that are important to the people of our city and our world. These topics include income disparity, a sustainable relationship with our environment, and improving our many broken systems (i.e. criminal justice, healthcare, education).

From Pakistan to Islam, from Europe to America, all forms of expression were heard and human emotions were experienced leaving us with hope and a sense of renewal. People were so inspired, they did not want to leave. They wanted to continue expressing themselves through poetry and other forms of art. The most memorable moment, for me, was when we all formed a circle for a unity prayer and improvisation session led by BMichelle Tilman.

I thank Poets & Writers for their support in making this project a success, bringing hope and inspiration to all of humanity.

Photo: Brenda Collins. Photo credit: Florence Lemon.

Support for Readings & Workshops events in Atlanta, Georgia is provided by an endowment established with generous contributions from the Poets & Writers Board of Directors and others. Additional support comes from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Submissions Open for the Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize

The deadline approaches for the Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize, sponsored by the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University and given for a group of poems. The winner will receive $2,000, and the runner-up will receive $1,000. Both winners will be invited to read at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in April, and will be provided with accommodations and a $500 honorarium.

Poets who have not published more than one poetry collection are eligible. Using the online submission system, submit three to five poems totaling no more than six pages by February 16 with a $20 entry fee. The winner will be notified in early March, and must attend the award ceremony on April 17 at James Madison University, where the award will be presented by Nora Brooks Blakely, Gwendolyn Brooks’s daughter.

Poet Patricia Smith will judge. She is the author of seven poetry collections, including the forthcoming Incendiary Art, which will be published by TriQuarterly Books in February.

The prize honors the centennial of poet Gwendolyn Brooks’s birth. Formally established in 2005 by Joanne V. Gabbin, the Furious Flower Poetry Center is the nation’s oldest academic center devoted to African American poetry, and works to cultivate, honor, and promote the voices of African American poets. The center hosts visiting poets; runs workshops, an annual poetry camp, panels, conferences, and seminars; and creates text and videos and other content on African American poetry.

Vievee Francis Wins Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Claremont Graduate University has announced the winners for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. One of the richest prizes for poetry in the United States, the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is given annually to a midcareer poet for a book published in the previous year. The $10,000 Kate Tufts Award is given for a debut poetry collection.

Vievee Francis, a poet “known for her explorations of racial identity, modernist poetics, and feminist legacies,” received the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Award for her collection Forest Primeval (Northwestern). The book employs an “anti-pastoral” approach to examine the violence and transcendence of nature and survival.

The Kingsley Tufts finalists were Tyehimba Jess’s Olio (Wave), Ada Limón’s Bright Dead Things (Milkweed), Jamaal May’s The Big Book of Exit Strategies (Alice James Books), and Patrick Rosal’s Brooklyn Antediluvian (Persea).

Philip B. Williams received the Kate Tufts Discovery Award for his collection, Thief in the Interior (Alice James), a book that presents a “perilous journey through a violent landscape in which race separates many from the American dream.” Williams is also featured in Poets & Writers Magazine’s twelfth annual roundup of debut poets.

The Kate Tufts finalists were Derrick Austin’s Trouble the Water (BOA), Rickey Laurentiis’s Boy With Thorn (University of Pittsburgh), Jordan Rice’s Constellarium (Orison), and Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky With Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon).

The judges for both prizes were Don Share, Elena Karina Byrne, Terrance Hayes, Meghan O’Rourke, and Brian Kim Stefans. Poetry magazine editor Don Share, this year’s judge committee chair, said Francis’s Forest Primeval is “an intense work, dark…Dantean…dreamlike in its visions…. Francis is reclaiming modernist and feminist legacies of poetry, and it takes great courage to do that.” 

In addition to Forest Primeval, which also won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry, Francis is the author of two previous poetry collections, Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University Press, 2006) and Horse in the Dark (Northwestern University Press, 2012). She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a Kresge Artist Fellowship. She is currently an associate professor of English at Dartmouth College and an associate editor for Callaloo.

This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Tufts Poetry Awards, which honor the memory of poet Kingsley Tufts. Previous winners of the Kingsley Tufts Award include Ross Gay, D. A. Powell, and Linda Gregerson. Past recipients of the Kate Tufts Award include Danez Smith, Yona Harvey, and Lucia Perillo. Francis and Williams will be honored at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles on April 20.