Poets & Writers Blogs

Frank Bidart and Andrew Sean Greer Win 2018 Pulitzer Prizes

Today at Columbia University in New York City, the winners of the 102nd annual Pulitzer Prizes were announced. Seven prizes in letters are awarded annually for works of literature published in the previous year. Each winner receives $15,000.  

Frank Bidart won the prize in poetry for Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965–2016 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The finalists were Evie Shockley’s semiautomatic (Wesleyan University Press) and Patricia Smith’s Incendiary Art (TriQuarterly Books).

Andrew Sean Greer won the prize in fiction for his novel Less (Lee Boudreaux Books). The finalists were Elif Baufman’s The Idiot (Penguin Press) and Hernan Diaz’s In the Distance (Coffee House Press).

Caroline Fraser won the prize in biography for Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books). The finalists were John A. Farrell’s Richard Nixon: The Life (Doubleday) and the Kay Redfield Jamison’s Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character (Knopf)

Visit the Pulitzer Prize website for a complete list of winners and finalists in each of the twenty-one categories, including general nonfiction, journalism, history, drama, and music.

Hungarian-American newspaper publisher and journalist Joseph Pulitzer established the Pulitzer Prizes in 1911, and the first prize was awarded in 1917. The 2017 winners included poet Tyehimba Jess and fiction writer Colson Whitehead.

Read an interview with Frank Bidart from the May/June 2013 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, and listen to an excerpt of Andrew Sean Greer’s third novel, The Story of a Marriage.

(Photo: Frank Bidart; Credit: Webb Chappell)

Taylor Mali on Page Meets Stage

A four-time National Poetry Slam champion, Taylor Mali is one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam and is the author of two collections of poetry and a book of essays, What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012). He is the founding curator of Page Meets Stage, a monthly poetry series in New York City that pairs two poets to perform a conversation through their work.

How did Page Meets Stage begin? What was your inspiration?
The inspiration for the series actually started with Billy Collins. I’ve been a fan of his work for years and now consider him a mentor. In the early 1990s, I used to write him a fan letter every couple months or so, and every letter ended with an invitation for him to come read at a poetry slam series that I used to help curate at the Bowery Poetry Club. In 2005, after a decade of these letters, he finally agreed, and he had a wonderful time. I suggested that we arrange another reading with just the two of us and call it “Page vs. Stage.” He liked the idea, and somewhere along the way in planning the format for the night, we decided that it would be interesting if we went back and forth, poem for poem, perhaps having a conversation through our work.

The reading was a great success, in part I suspect, because of the unique format, which the audience loved. Since then, we’ve had several different pairings of poets, always with one representing a more performative style of poetry and the other, more literary. Currently, I work with Mahogany L. Browne, April Ranger, and MaryCae to produce the show once a month and we are still at the Bowery Poetry Club!

What have the challenges been to sustaining such a long-running program?
Promotion has always been the issue. There’s always something good to watch on TV, and people seem happy these days to sit in a comfy chair for a few hours with only their smart phones (I know because I’ve been that person). It’s an awful feeling when you craft a spectacular pairing—with two poets who don’t know each other but whose work blends together in just the right way—and then only two people show up for the show! We’ve had some wonderful pairings that were so poorly attended that I’ve been tempted to call it quits.

Has your mission or your vision for the organization changed over the years? What’s most important for you right now?
In the beginning, I was probably on a mission to garner more respect for spoken word poets. I wanted to show the world that spoken word poets are just as concerned with craft as the next poet; but they understand that how you read a poem is also important. In the thirteen years we’ve been around, the line between page and stage has been bent in some places and blurred in others. There are former slam poets who are finalists for the National Book Award like Danez Smith, university professors such as Patricia Smith and Jeff McDaniel, and even Pulitzer Prize winners and Guggenheim fellows such as Tyehimba Jess.

Furthermore, we’ve had about six poets who have done both sides of the pairing, stage the first time and page the second. So these days, we don’t care quite so much about labels. We just try to craft a great night for people to hear great poetry.

What has been your most rewarding experience as a curator and organizer?
There have been a lot of great pairings and some fantastic ones coming up as well, but a couple of moments have stuck with me. I got to share the stage with Galway Kinnell before he died. Back then we also traded poems during readings so Galway read one of my poems, and I performed his poem “The Waking” from memory, which takes five minutes to recite and is probably the longest poem I’ve ever memorized.

I’d also been trying to get my friend Saul Williams to participate for years, and I finally got him to agree in 2014. I asked what his dream pairing would be, and he said, “Without a doubt, Carolyn Forché.” As luck would have it, I had just taken a workshop with Carolyn, so I was able to set it up. That’s a pairing I would never have concocted on my own, but it remains one of my favorites.

What’s next for the series?
I am hesitant to even mention this because it’s still months away, but two of my favorite poets, Ocean Vuong and Sharon Olds, are scheduled to read together on Sunday, October 28, which will be very exciting.

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 Frances Abbey Endowment, the Cowles Charitable Trust, and the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photos: (top) Billy Collins and Taylor Mali in 2005 for the inaugural reading of the series (Credit: Taylor Mali). (middle) Clint Smith and Elizabeth Acevedo (Credit: Taylor Mali). (bottom) Saul Williams and Carolyn Forché (Credit: Taylor Mali).

 

Danez Smith Wins Inaugural Four Quartets Prize

Poet Danez Smith has won the inaugural Four Quartets Prize for “summer, somewhere,” a sequence of poems from the collection Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017). Sponsored by the T. S. Eliot Foundation and Poetry Society of America, the new $20,000 award is given annually for a unified and complete sequence of poems published in the United States in the previous two years. Linda Gregerson, Ishion Hutchinson, and Jana Prikryl judged.

The finalists, who each received $1,000, were Geoffrey G. O’Brien for “Experience in Groups” from Experience in Groups (Wave Books, 2018), and Kathleen Peirce for Vault: a poem (New Michigan Press, 2017).

Actor Jeremy Irons announced the winner this afternoon at a ceremony at the National Arts Club in New York City. Of Smith’s work, the judges said: “‘Do you know what it’s like to live / on land who loves you back?’ In “summer, somewhere,” Danez Smith imagines just such a land for the black boys who have died by violence in our time: the violence of vigilantism, of police brutality, of stigmatized poverty and illness, of despair. From a bitter landscape, this unblinking sequence manages to wrest a celebration of black lives, fusing metaphor and emotion in a transformative whole.”

Don’t Call Us Dead, Smith’s second collection, was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award. Smith’s first collection, [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Smith has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation.

The Poetry Society of America, based in New York City, is dedicated to promoting poetry in American culture. The T. S. Eliot Foundation, based in London, is dedicated to celebrating poetry, literacy, and “all things Eliot.” The inaugural Four Quartets Prize celebrates the seventy-fifth anniversary of the U.S. publication of Eliot’s Four Quartets.

(Photo: Danez Smith; Credit: David Hong)

Between the Starshine and the Clay: Kamilah Aisha Moon at Spelman College

Sarah RudeWalker is a poet and an assistant professor of English at Spelman College specializing in Rhetoric and Composition. Her scholarship focuses on the literature of African American social movements, and she is currently finishing a book manuscript on the rhetoric and poetics of the Black Arts Movement during the 1960s and 1970s. Her creative and scholarly work has appeared in Pluck! The Affrilachian Journal of Arts & Culture, Callaloo, and Composition Studies.

With the renewed support of Poets & Writers this school year, the Department of English at Spelman College has been able to deepen our offerings to the Atlanta University Center (AUC) and West End communities in Atlanta by featuring readings and workshops with brilliant African American women poets. This March, poet Kamilah Aisha Moon kicked off what we call “Lit Week,” a week of events coordinated by Spelman College faculty member and noted poet Sharan Strange and Spelman literary scholar Dr. Michelle Hite. The events aim to highlight the possibilities for art and activism that spin out from the dedicated study of English.

Moon, currently an assistant professor of poetry and creative writing at Agnes Scott College, is a Pushcart Prize winner, Lambda Award finalist, and Cave Canem fellow with two published books of poetry: She Has a Name (Four Way Books, 2013) and Starshine & Clay (Four Way Books, 2017). The Poets & Writers–sponsored events with Moon on March 26 included a craft talk and workshop for student writers, and an evening reading for the community.

Moon spent the afternoon talking about craft, inviting students to consider the power of their creative work to “bear witness.” This power, she observed, depends on the writer’s ability to practice craft with attention and empathy. One of the worst things we can do to each other, she observed, is to render someone invisible, and writers, who purposely aim to be “mirrors of treachery and glory,” have the power to do just the opposite: to help us see each other, and especially to see the familiar in a very different way. Moon invited students to interrogate this potential in their own work by presenting her work with disarming vulnerability, sharing early drafts and asking students to critique the choices that led to the final versions of her poems.

The reading that evening was lovingly intimate and set up in Spelman style: Audience members entered to find Moon seated at a candlelit table and listened to a recording of the a capella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock as they waited for the reading to begin. Moon opened the reading by noting that although she was never a student at Spelman herself, she fondly remembers the AUC as social stomping grounds for her and her friends. The reading that followed was exemplary of what can happen when the work of a black woman poet is honored within a black women-centered space.

Moon read from Starshine & Clay, whose Lucille Clifton-honoring title is meant to cover a lot of ground—the world of the personal and the public, of the grief and love and joy that exists between the starshine and the clay. Reading her poem “The Emperor’s Deer,” which she first wrote for Michael Brown, she asked the audience to hear it as mourning for the recently murdered Stephon Clark. Reading from the book’s third section, the author asked the audience to acknowledge the ways that personal traumas and historical traumas are intricately connected, to recognize that both the joy and pain of the personal persist while a public trauma blazes and burns. “I never read these,” she admitted, smiling.

We at Spelman commit to continuing to make spaces like these that invite this kind of intimacy between author and audience, especially in ways that honor the work of black women writers. We hope that Kamilah Aisha Moon knows that she has a home here, “on this bridge between / starshine and clay.”

Support for Readings & Workshops in Atlanta 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.

Photos: (top) Kamilah Aisha Moon (Credit: Sarah RudeWalker). (bottom) Spelman College students with Moon (Credit: Sarah RudeWalker).

Deadline Approaches for Passages North Prose Contests

Submissions are currently open for Passages North’s biennial fiction and short-short contests. Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Passages North are given for a short story and a short-short story, prose poem, nonfiction piece, or hybrid work.

To submit to the Waasnode Short Fiction Prize, using the online submission system submit a story of up to 10,000 words with a $15 entry fee. To submit to the Neutrino Short-Short Prize, using the online submission system submit up to 1,000 words of prose with a $15 entry fee. Anne Valente will judge the fiction contest and T. Fleischmann will judge the short-short contest. The deadline for both contests is April 15. All entries are considered for publication.

The 2016 winner of the Waasnode Short Fiction Prize was Alex McElroy for “Responsible Fear;” The 2016 winner of the Neutrino Short-Short Prize was Jonathan Escoffery for “In Flux.”

Established in 1979, Passages North is an annual literary journal published at Northern Michigan University. The journal’s 2019 literary prizes will be given in poetry and nonfiction. Visit the website for more information.

Upcoming Poetry Deadlines

Poets! If you have a single poem or a full-length manuscript ready to submit, consider the following contests with upcoming deadlines, each of which offers a prize of at least $1,000 and publication.

Oberon Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Oberon is given annually for a poem. Entry fee: $18. Deadline: April 10

Chautauqua Editors Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Chautauqua, the Chautauqua Institution’s literary journal, will be given annually for a poem, a short story, an essay, or a piece of flash fiction or nonfiction that captures the issue’s theme as well as the spirit of the Chautauqua Institution. The theme of the 2019 issue is “Moxie.” The editors will judge. Entry fee: $3. Deadline: April 15

Spoon River Poetry Review Editors’ Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Spoon River Poetry Review is given annually for a poem. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: April 15

New Ohio Review Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in New Ohio Review is given annually for a poem or group of poems. Kevin Prufer will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: April 15 

Press 53 Prime Number Magazine Poetry Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Prime Number Magazine is given annually for a poem. Terri Kirby Erickson will judge. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: April 15

Cave Canem Foundation Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Northwestern University Press is given biennially for a second book of poetry by an African American poet. Matthew Shendoa will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: April 16

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines, and check out the Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Short Story Essentials: Tapping Into the Power of Scene

Allison Alsup’s short fiction has been published in multiple journals and won multiple awards including those from A Room of Her Own Foundation, New Millennium Writings, Philadelphia Stories, and most recently, the Dana Awards. Her short story “Old Houses” appears in the 2014 O’Henry Prize Stories and has since been included in two textbooks from Bedford/St. Martin’s: Arguing About Literature: A Guide and Reader and Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Alsup received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, and is the recipient of artist residencies from the Aspen Writers Foundation and the Jentel Foundation. In 2017, she and several colleagues launched the New Orleans Writers Workshop, through which she currently teaches community-based creative writing workshops.

I’ve taught writing for most of my adult life, but community classes, particularly fiction workshops, occupy a special place in my heart. Unlike college classrooms or graduate programs, community classes cast a wide net, attracting a spectrum of writers of all ages, diverse backgrounds and experience. Suddenly a cross section of people that might not otherwise connect gather around a table with a single common purpose: to transform seething, raw images and words into comprehensible, moving stories. Here the CPA rubs shoulders with the waitress, the civil servant with the entrepreneur, only to find that when it comes to the vagaries of the human heart, they have more in common with one another than they might have otherwise thought.

Thanks to a recent grant from Poets & Writers’ Readings & Workshops program, I had the chance to witness firsthand the tremendous material such community classes can generate, even in a limited amount of time. Short Story Essentials met for three Monday evenings at a local public library in New Orleans. Though the class was aimed at adults, the library was designed for children. Despite low tables and tiny chairs, and thanks to a steady supply of ginger snaps and tea from head librarian Linda Gielac, we managed to tackle a pretty big idea when it comes to crafting story: how to write compelling scenes.

Each week, we talked a bit of shop and about technique, but the bulk of our time was spent in heavily guided exercises that began with pre-writing, specifically with take no prisoner questions centering on character, motivation, conflict, and stakes. Together these answers helped to clarify what can stymy even the most advanced of writers: a scene’s given function in the story’s overall arc. What followed was a sustained writing period that alternated between gentle nudging on my part about juggling details around setting, movement, interiority, backstory, and dialogue, and brief periods of silence during which participants scribbled at record speed.

Great scenes require both conceptual understanding as well as gusto. Between meetings, many writers used their time to their advantage, typing up rough drafts and revising with an eye towards clarifying choices on the page. Sessions were designed to be sequential with each week’s scene building upon the last. As a result, every writer left with a substantial chunk of story, and in some cases, a complete work.

It would be hard for me to exaggerate the importance such a series has on my own writing. I can think of little else that hones my own understanding of scene more than creating, from scratch, an exercise that leads writers from a given premise through its complication to its apex. Nor can I imagine greater inspiration than listening to the plethora of rich storylines that result: a hitherto loyal employee who, due to a chance mistake, ponders a life of embezzlement; a mother who must shatter her teenage daughter’s naïveté about a nefarious uncle; an immigrant cab driver who must confront his past war crimes. Thanks to Poets & Writers, these stories and more are well on their way.

Support for Readings & Workshops in New Orleans 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.

Photos: (top) Allison Alsup (Credit: Allison Alsup). (bottom) Sean Gremillion and Asha Buehler (Credit: Allison Aslup).

Deadline Approaches for Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize

Submissions are currently open for the 2018 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize. An award of $1,000 and publication by the University of Utah Press is given annually for a poetry collection. The winner will also receive an additional $500 in travel and lodging expenses to give a reading at the University of Utah. Kimiko Hahn will judge.

Using the online submission system, submit an unpublishedmanuscript of 64 to 100 pages with a $25 entry fee by April 15. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Established in 2003 and sponsored by the University of Utah Press and University of Utah English department, the annual prize is named for the late Agha Shahid Ali, a celebrated poet and former University of Utah professor. Previous winners of the prize include Heather June Gibbons for Her Mouth as Souvenir, Susan McCabe for Descartes’ Nightmare, and Philip Schaefer for Bad Summon.

(Photo: Agha Shahid Ali)

Upcoming Poetry Deadlines

Happy Spring, poets! If you have a single poem or a full-length manuscript ready to submit, consider the following contests with upcoming deadlines, each of which offers a prize of at least $1,000 and publication.

Frost Farm Prize: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a poem written in metrical verse. The winner also receives a scholarship and honorarium to give a reading at the Frost Farm Poetry Conference in Derry, New Hampshire, in June. Melissa Balmain will judge. Entry fee: $6. Deadline: March 30.

Airlie Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Airlie Press will be given annually for a poetry collection. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: March 31.

Arts & Letters Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Arts & Letters is given annually for a group of poems. Alfred Corn will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: March 31.

Florida Review Editors’ Awards: A prize of $1,000 each and publication in Florida Review is given annually for a group of poems. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: March 31.

Fish Publishing Poetry Prize: A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,250) and publication in the Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a poem. The winner and 10 runners-up are also invited to give a reading at the West Cork Literary Festival in July. Ellen Bass will judge. Entry fee: $17. Deadline: March 31.

Winning Writers Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication on the Winning Writers website is given annually for a humorous poem. Jendi Reiter will judge. No entry fee. Deadline: April 1.

Gulf Coast Writing Contests: A prize of $1,500 and publication in Gulf Coast is given annually for a poem. Entry fee: $23. Deadline: April 1.

Southeast Missouri State University Press Cowles Poetry Book Prize: A prize of $2,000, publication by Southeast Missouri State University Press, and 30 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: April 1.

Zone 3 Press First Book Award for Poetry: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Zone 3 Press is given biennially for a debut poetry collection. Jennifer Givhan will judge. Entry fee: $20

Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,500, publication by Saturnalia Books, and 20 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Natalie Diaz will judge. Entry fee: $30. Deadline: April 1.

Poetry International Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Poetry International is given annually for a poem. Victoria Chang will judge. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: April 1.

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines, and check out the Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

El milagro secreto: Rodrigo Hasbún’s Spanish-Language Workshop in Houston

Brian Beard is a member of Writers in the Schools’ Outreach Committee and an ongoing member of Rodrigo Hasbún’s Spanish-language writing workshops at Literal, Latin American Voices. Beard’s writing appears in Bellevue Literary Review, the New Guard, Poetry East, Quiddity, Red Rock Review, Sixfold, Translation Review, and elsewhere. Beard took part in a P&W–supported Spanish-language workshop, El milagro secreto (The Secret Miracle), also led by Hasbún, at Houston’s Writespace writing center in November of 2017.

When María Quiroga moved from Mexico City to Houston in July 2017, she missed the writers group she’d left behind. She headed to the local library branch, looking for other writers, but couldn’t find any there. So when she learned that celebrated Bolivian author Rodrigo Hasbún, author of Affections (Simon & Schuster, 2017), would be offering a writing workshop in Spanish at Houston’s Writespace writing center, she jumped at the opportunity.

“It was such a warm and inviting community,” Quiroga says of the workshop, which included twelve writers from Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, Spain, Venezuela, and the United States.

When Hasbún moved to Houston in 2014, he found that although the city was home to a thriving literary scene and over a million Spanish speakers, writing workshops in Spanish were few and far between. Hasbún began to offer his own workshops to fill the gap.

“Writing is a solitary profession,” Hasbún says in an e-mail. “Sometimes you can get the impression that nobody is interested in the work you’re doing. When you are a writer living in a country where the language and the culture are foreign to you, this effect tends to be heightened. By offering encouragement, camaraderie, and a valuable sense of community, a writing workshop can make all the difference.”

On the first day of the workshop, as part of an exercise to inspire the members of the group to use details to create character, Hasbún showed a short film in which people at the top of a ten-meter diving platform decide, with varying degrees of angst, whether to jump or climb back down the ladder.

The act of writing, Hasbún suggested to the group, is akin to jumping off a diving platform. “When you write,” he says, “you have to throw yourself again and again into the void.”

Week after week, in the sessions that followed, the workshop members responded to the challenge, pushing themselves into new territory as they created short stories which they shared and workshopped with the group.

“In the wake of new political threats to many of our country’s Spanish speakers,” writes Writespace’s founder and director Elizabeth White-Olsen in an e-mail, “I felt it was important that we were doing something, even if it was small, to say to people who move to the United States from other countries, you are welcome here. We appreciate you and want you to find a home here.”

For many of the group members, it was the first time they had come into contact with other Spanish-speaking writers in Houston.

“I was surprised and delighted,” Quiroga says, “to find that the voices of the other writers, although they were in Spanish, were completely distinct from the voices of the writers I had become accustomed to in Mexico. Their life experiences, cultural contexts, and literary backgrounds were so varied that, encountering their stories, I felt as if I were discovering my language for the first time.”

In addition to being hosted and sponsored by Writespace and cosponsored by Poets & Writers, Hasbún’s workshop was also cosponsored by Arte Público Press and Tintero Projects.

Support for Readings & Workshops events in Houston 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.

Photo: Rodrigo Hasbún (Credit: Sergio Bastani).

Whiting Foundation Announces 2018 Award Winners

The Whiting Foundation announced the ten recipients of its $50,000 awards at a ceremony tonight in New York City. The annual awards are given to emerging writers of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and drama.

The winners are Rickey Laurentiis and Tommy Pico in poetry; Anne Boyer in poetry and nonfiction; Patty Yumi Cottrell, Brontez Purnell, and Weike Wang in fiction; Esmé Weijun Wang in nonfiction; and Nathan Alan Davis, Hansol Jung, and Antoinette Nwandu in drama.

“Year on year, we’re astounded by the fresh ways Whiting winners challenge form and stretch the capabilities of language, while scrutinizing what’s most urgent in the culture,” says Courtney Hodell, the Whiting Foundation’s director of writers’ programs. “The award is intended to give them the freedom to keep experimenting and growing.”

Established in 1985, the Whiting Awards have given more than $7.5 million to 330 writers since its inception. Previous winners include poets Tracy K. Smith and Jorie Graham, fiction writers Deborah Eisenberg and Denis Johnson, nonfiction writers Mary Karr and John Jeremiah Sullivan, and playwright Tony Kushner.

Photos clockwise from top left: Rickey Laurentiis, Tommy Pico, Anne Boyer, Patty Yumi Cottrell, Brontez Purnell, Antoinette Nwandu, Hansol Jung, Nathan Alan Davis, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Weike Wang.

Deadline Approaches for Open-Genre Book Prize

Submissions are currently open for the 2018 Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) Book Contest. A prize of $1,000 and publication by Les Figues Press will be given annually for a book of poetry or prose that “exceeds genre conventions.” Poet Simone White will judge.

Accepted entries include poetry collections, novellas, novels, story collections, essays, hybrid works, and translations. Using the online submission system, submit a manuscript of 64 to 250 pages with a $25 entry fee (which includes a book of choice from the Les Figues catalogue) by April 1.

An imprint of the Los Angeles Review of Books’s LARB Books, Les Figues Press publishes feminist poetry, prose, visual art, and translation. Previous winners of the NOS award include Mariko Nagai for Irradiated Cities and Adam Tipps Weinstein for Some Versions of the Ice. Visit the Les Figues website for more information.

Women Take Home All Six National Book Critics Circle Awards

Last night in New York City the winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards (NBCC) were announced. The winners in all six categories were women, including Layli Long Soldier in poetry for her collection, WHEREAS (Graywolf), Joan Silber in fiction for her novel Improvement (Counterpoint), and Xiaolu Guo in autobiography for her memoir, Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China (Grove).

The poetry finalists were Nuar Alsadir’s Fourth Person Singular (Oxford University Press), James Longenbach’s Earthling (W.W. Norton), Frank Ormsby’s The Darkness of Snow (Wake Forest University Press), and Ana Ristović’s Directions for Use, translated from the Serbian by Steven Teref and Maja Teref (Zephyr Press).

The finalists in fiction were Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (Riverhead), Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (Knopf), and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing (Scribner).

The finalists in autobiography were Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir (Abrams), Roxane Gay’s Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (Harper), Henry Marsh’s Admissions: Life as a Brain Surgeon (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martins), and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s The Girl From the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia, translated from the Russian by Anna Summers (Penguin).

Additionally, fiction writer Carmen Maria Machado won the John Leonard Prize for her story collection, Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf); fiction writer and critic Charles Finch received the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing; and creative nonfiction writer John McPhee received the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

Established in 1974, the National Book Critics Circle Awards, which are among the most prestigious prizes for literature, are given annually for books published in the previous year. A board of twenty-four working magazine and newspaper critics and editors nominates and selects the winners each year. Visit the NBCC website for a complete list of winners and finalists.

(Photos from left: Layli Long Soldier, Joan Silber, Xiaolu Guo)

Deadline Approaches for Chautauqua’s New Prose Prize

Submissions are currently open for the inaugural Chautauqua Janus Prize. An award of $2,500 and publication in Chautauqua will be given annually for a short story or essay by an emerging writer. The winner will also be invited to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, New York, this summer. Kazim Ali will judge.

Named for the Roman god Janus, who looks to both future and past, the new prize honors writing “with a command of craft that renovates our understandings of both” and seeks formally inventive works “that upset and reorder literary conventions, historical narratives, and readers’ imaginations.”

Using the online submission system, submit up to 15,000 words of fiction or nonfiction with a $20 entry fee by March 31. Writers who have not yet published a full-length collection are eligible. Stories and essays must either be unpublished, forthcoming this year, or published no earlier than April 2017.

The Chautauqua Institution sponsors interdisciplinary art and educational programs, events, awards, and residencies throughout the year. In addition to the Janus Prize, the institution awards the annual Chautauqua Prize and Editors Prize for writers. Visit the website for more information.

Photo: Kazim Ali (Credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones)

Upcoming Fiction and Nonfiction Deadlines

Fiction and creative nonfiction writers, polish up your stories, novels, and essays! The deadlines are approaching for the following contests, each of which offers a prize of at least $1,000 and publication.

Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Fourth Genre is given annually for an essay. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: March 20.

New South Writing Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in New South is given annually for a story or essay. Alissa Nutting will judge. Entry fee: $15 (includes a one-year subscription). Deadline: March 21.

Enizagam Literary Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Enizagam is given annually for a short story. Rachel Khong will judge. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: March 23.

Cleveland State University Poetry Center Essay Collection Competition: A prize of $1,000 and publication by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center is given annually for an essay collection. Brian Blanchfield will judge. Entry fee: $28. Deadline: March 31.

Bosque Press Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in bosque is given annually for a short story or a novel excerpt by a writer over the age of 40. Timothy Schaffert will judge. Entry fee: $22. Deadline: March 31.

Lascaux Review Flash Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Lascaux Review is given annually for a work of flash fiction. Entry fee: $10. Deadline: March 31.

Narrative Winter Story Contest: A prize of $2,500 and publication in Narrative is given annually for a short story, a short short story, an essay, or an excerpt from a longer work of fiction or creative nonfiction. A second-place prize of $1,000 is also awarded. Entry fee: $26. Deadline: March 31.

Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gemini Magazine is given annually for a short story. Entry fee: $7. Deadline: March 31.

Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Prose Prize: A prize valued at $1,600 will be given annually to a fiction writer to attend a weeklong seminar at the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Summer Conference in June. Robert James Russell will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: March 31.

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines, and check out Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.