Poets & Writers Blogs

End of February Contest Roundup

As we head into the holiday weekend, consider submitting to these writing contests, all of which are open to poets, fiction writers, or nonfiction writers. Each contest offers a prize of at least $1,000 and publication and has a deadline of February 28.

Association of Writers & Writing Programs Award Series: Two prizes of $5,500 each and publication by a participating press are given annually for a poetry collection and a short story collection. In addition, two prizes of $2,500 each and publication by a participating press are given annually for a novel and a book of creative nonfiction. Entry fee: $30

Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Prize: A prize of €1,000 and publication in the Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a short short story. Entry fee: €14

Glimmer Train Press Fiction Open: A prize of $3,000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of the prize issue is given twice yearly for a short story. A second-place prize of $1,000 is also given. Entry fee: $21

Glimmer Train Press Very Short Fiction Award: A prize of $2,000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of the prize issue is given twice yearly for a short short story. Entry fee: $16

National Poetry Series Open Competition: Five prizes of $10,000 each and publication by participating trade, university, or small press publishers are given annually for poetry collections. Publishers include Beacon Press, Ecco, Milkweed Editions, Penguin Books, and University of Georgia Press. Entry fee: $35

Red Hen Press Women’s Prose Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Red Hen Press is given annually for a book of fiction or nonfiction by a woman. Entry fee: $25

Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Tupelo Press is given annually for a poetry chapbook. Entry fee: $25

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.

Memory, Lyric, and Line: Workshops for Kinship Elders

Nordette N. Adams received an MFA in poetry from the University of New Orleans. Her poetry has appeared in Rattle’s Poets Respond series, Unlikely Stories Mark V, Quaint Magazine, About Place Journal, Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, and included in social justice curricula. Her essays have been referenced in multiple books and journals and media outlets including HuffPost, Pajiba, SheKnows, NOLA.com, Slate, Vox, and the Washington Post.

Ms. Lodonia, a white-haired senior citizen, recites from memory a poem written by her mother. Ms. Charlotte comes with verses of a Halloween poem she’s penned and a meditation on her visit to India. Ms. Mary, Mr. Lloyd, and Ms. Quencell listen to lines of a ballad. Their faces brighten as they recall their youth, and Mr. Francis, who is blind, weighs every line, every lyric he hears. When he adeptly analyzes a verse, other workshop members nod in agreement. These were the participants who sat in my Friday workshop series last October and November at the Kinship Senior Center in New Orleans—most past seventy—some struggling to recapture memories, others with memories sharp as crystal.

My goal with the workshop series, sponsored by Poets & Writers, was to engage seniors with poems I believed they could access and explore. Too often people are afraid to discuss poems much less attempt to write them, so I opened the series with a bit of fun, a type of Name That Tune music game with selections from decades the seniors were likely to remember. I told them that song lyrics are the kissing cousin of poetry. After hearing part of a song, the seniors named it and at least one artist who had covered the song. The first person to answer scored a point. Three songs later, they discerned what the songs had in common and guessed, based on the song selections, the subjects of the poems we discussed that day.

The first week, songs were narratives about fathers, the next week mothers, and by the last week, songs of political protest. Often, after a few bars, one or two seniors would start singing along, sometimes with great gusto which led to laughter and the sharing of life stories. Then I would introduce them to poems with the same themes as the song selections by both well-known and locally-known poets. Participants might observe a poem’s form or lack of form. Did they hear rhyme or feel a rhythm? What was the speaker’s attitude toward the subject, and did the poem move them? Seniors offered profound insight into darker poems as well as witty takes on lighter poems. I asked them to write a few lines of their own on the theme of the day or to try writing something in a similar style, blues for example.

I hoped to plant a seed, to help them remember a former love of verse, or to discover a new love. I believe the workshop series succeeded in sparking an appreciation for poetry in its different shades and colors. The seniors were grateful for the sessions, and I am grateful to Poets & Writers for making the workshops possible for them, and for me.

Support for the Readings & Workshops Program in New Orleans is provided, in part, by a grant from the Hearst Foundations. Additional support comes from an endowment established with generous contributions from the Poets & Writers Board of Directors and others, and from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photos: (top) Nordette N. Adams (Credit: Nordette N. Adams). (bottom) Workshop participants with Nordette N. Adams.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines for Writers

Writers: The deadline approaches for several writing fellowships and contests. Each contest offers a prize of at least $1,000 and is open to poets, translators, or writers of fiction and nonfiction.

Salem State University’s Claire Keyes Poetry Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Soundings East is given annually for a group of poems. Sean Thomas Dougherty will judge. Entry fee: $10. Deadline: February 15.

New American Press Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by New American Press is given annually for a book of poetry. Sara Gelston will judge. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: February 15.

Hidden River Arts Willow Run Poetry Book Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Entry fee: $22. Deadline: February 15.

Ruminate’s William Van Dyke Short Story Prize: A prize of $1,500 and publication in Ruminate is given annually for a short story. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: February 15.

Cagibi Macaron Prize: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Cagibi will be given annually for a group of poems, a story, and an essay. Major Jackson will judge in poetry, Chantel Acevedo will judge in fiction, and Sheila Kohler will judge in nonfiction. Entry fee: $18. Deadline: February 15.

Furious Flower Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Obsidian, the literary journal of Illinois State University, is given annually for a group of poems that explore Black themes. A. Van Jordan will judge. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: February 10.

Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine: A prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,300) and publication in the Hippocrates Prize anthology and on the website is given annually for a poem on a medical theme. A prize of £1,000 is also given for a poem on a medical theme written by a health professional. Entry fee: $10. Deadline: February 14.

Center for Fiction’s New York City Emerging Writers Fellowship: Fellowships of $5,000 each, membership to the Center for Fiction in New York City, and access to writing space at the center are given annually to fiction writers living in New York City who have not yet published a book of fiction. Entry fee: None. Deadline: February 15.

Milkweed Editions Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry: A prize of $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions is given annually for a poetry collection by a poet currently residing in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Wisconsin. Entry fee: None. Deadline: February 15.

Academy of American Poets Ambroggio Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe is given annually for a book of poetry originally written in Spanish by a living writer and translated into English. The poet and translator will split the prize. Rosa Alcalá will judge. Entry fee: None. Deadline: February 15.

Sarabande Books Morton and McCarthy Prizes: Two prizes of $2,000 each and publication by Sarabande Books are given annually for collections of poetry and fiction. Each winner will also receive a two-week residency at the Blackacre State Nature Preserve and Historic Homestead in Louisville, Kentucky. Sarah Gorham and Jeffrey Skinner will judge both prizes. Entry fee: $29. Deadline: February 15.

Center for Documentary Studies Documentary Essay Prize: A prize of $3,000 is given biennially for an essay that demonstrates a “reliance on documentary methods, specifically immersive fieldwork, research, and interviewing conducted over periods of time.” The winning essay will be featured in the center’s print and digital publications and will also be placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts at the Rubenstein Library at Duke University. A panel of writers, editors, and documentary artists will judge. Entry fee: $50. Deadline: February 15.

Academy of American Poets Raiziss/de Palchi Fellowship: A fellowship of $25,000 and a five-week residency at the American Academy in Rome is given biennially to a U.S. translator for a work-in-progress of modern Italian poetry translated into English. Maria Frank, Giorgio Mobili, and Michael Palma will judge. Entry fee: None. Deadline: February 15.

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.

Latinx Poetry Series at Bronx Community College

Vincent Toro’s debut poetry collection, STEREO.ISLAND.MOSAIC. (Ahsahta Press, 2016), was awarded the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award and the Sawtooth Poetry Prize. He is a Poets House Emerging Poets Fellow, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Poetry, and winner of the Caribbean Writer’s Cecile de Jongh Literary Prize and Repertorio Español’s Nuestras Voces National Playwriting award. Toro is a professor at Bronx Community College, a contributing editor at Kweli Journal, a writing liaison for the Cooper Union’s Saturday Program, and participates in school programs for DreamYard and the Dodge Poetry Foundation.

When Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta and I started the Latinx Poetry Reading Series at Bronx Community College (BCC) back in 2016, our intention was to provide the students in our Latino Literature classes the opportunity to have direct contact with some of the writers they were studying. What began simply as a means of adding dimension to our curriculums quickly became so much more.

Ninety-six percent of the students at BCC are students of color. Sixty-three percent of that population is Latinx. A great many of these students are first or second generation immigrants. In contrast, the majority of the faculty is white, and outside of the Latino Literature classes, Latinx authors and texts are grossly underrepresented on class reading lists. This makes the school’s Latino Literature classes one of the few places in which they can find themselves, their own cultures and histories, represented in the curriculum.

The lack of access to writing by, for, and about Latinx people extends itself beyond the campus and into the Bronx. As of 2016 (when Barnes & Noble in Co-op City closed its doors), the Bronx, a territory with 1.5 million residents, has exactly zero bookstores. Even our college lacks a physical campus bookstore (it was closed during the 2017-2018 school year). The message to the students, and to the Bronx community at large, is that literature—both that which reflects their experience and any other kind—should not be considered important in their lives.

Nevertheless, our students cannot contain their excitement when they begin reading Latinx texts in their classes. In all my years as an educator, the Latino Literature classes at BCC are the only classes where the students regularly do not want to leave when time is up. Students who formerly claimed to never read anything that wasn’t assigned in a class suddenly ask me for further reading suggestions.

This enthusiasm is only amplified when we get them in a room with Latinx poets. At each of the BCC Latinx Poetry Series readings, I survey the audience to see how many of them are attending a poetry reading for the first time. As it stands, about ninety percent had never experienced a live poetry reading. Yet during these readings and the Q&A sessions that follow, they’re riveted. They keep the poets there long after the reading is over to take pictures with them, get books signed, and ask more questions. This year, after an hour, I had to drag the poets away from students so they could catch their train. Many students have asked where they can find more poetry readings afterwards.

Clearly, there is a need for these kinds of literary and cultural events at the school and in the Bronx. But because BCC has an underserved population of people of color in an underserved borough of people of color, there are no resources to support these events. It is only with the assistance of Poets & Writers that we are able to provide compensation for our guest poets. Now in its third year, the BCC Latinx Poetry Series has hosted some of the most exciting and important Latinx poets currently working in the United States. We have been visited by Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Nancy Mendez Booth, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Bonafide Rojas, Raquel Salas Rivera, Roberto Carlos Garcia, and BCC’s own Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta, who is a widely published author, associate professor in the English Department, and coorganizer of the reading series.

We are already in the early planning stages for next year’s reading. It is our hope that the series will be around for many years to come and that over time its audience will build, drawing in more members of the college and the public while helping to fulfill the need for greater support of Latinx literature in the Bronx and beyond.

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) Vincent Toro (Credit: David Flores). (bottom) BCC students with Vincent Toro, Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta, and guest poets Raquel Salas Rivera and Roberto Carlos Garcia .

Deadline Approaches for Veterans Writing Award

Submissions are open for a new writing contest for U.S. veterans and their families. The inaugural Veterans Writing Award, which is sponsored by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and Syracuse University Press, will be given for a debut novel or short story collection.

The contest, which will award the winning entrant a $1,000 cash prize and a publication contract with Syracuse University Press, is open to U.S. veterans and active duty personnel and their immediate family members. Manuscripts do not need to directly depict military experience; the judges are interested in “original voices and fresh perspectives that will expand and challenge readers’ understanding of the lives of veterans and their families.” Women veteran writers and veterans of color are encouraged to submit.

The deadline for the award is February 15. Submit a fiction manuscript of up to 90,000 words with a cover letter that details the branch of service of the entrant or their family member. There is no entry fee for submissions, which can be e-mailed to vwasubmissions@syr.edu or mailed to Syracuse University Press, 621 Skytop Road, Suite 110, Syracuse, NY 13244. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The Veterans Writing Award Advisory Board will select the finalists, and award-winning novelist, short story writer, Vietnam veteran, and former Syracuse University faculty member Tobias Wolff will choose the winner. The winning entry will be announced in September of 2019.

Submissions Open for Lambda’s Markowitz and Córdova Prizes

Lambda Literary is currently accepting submissions for the Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers and the Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction. The annual awards are given to LGBTQ poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers.

 

The Judith A. Markowitz Award is open to emerging writers who identify as LGBTQ and have published one to two books of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Two winners will receive $1,000 each. Using the online application system, submit a writing sample of up to 10 pages of poetry or 20 pages of prose with a nomination statement (applicants may be self-nominated). There is no application fee.

The Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction is open to trans/gender nonconforming writers and lesbian/queer-identified women. The winner will receive $2,500. Writers must have published at least one book and should display a commitment to “nonfiction work that captures the depth and complexity of lesbian/queer life, culture and/or history.” Using the online application system, submit a writing sample of up to 20 pages from a published book, a sample or outline from a work-in-progress of no more than 10 pages, and a nomination statement (applicants may be self-nominated). There is no application fee.

The deadline for both awards is February 15. Jeanne Thornton and Mecca Jamilah Sullivan won last year’s Markowitz Award; Melissa Febos received the Jeanne Córdova Prize.

Lambda Literary Foundation, which is based in Los Angeles, has been a resource for LGBTQ writers across the country since 1987. The organization is dedicated to “nurturing and advocating for LGBTQ writers” and runs several programs, fellowships, and events. The Judith A. Markowitz Award was established in 2013, while the Jeanne Córdova Prize was established last year.

Read more about Lambda Literary in Jonathan Vatner’s article “Lambda Literary Looks to the Future” in the September/October 2018 issue of Poets & Writers.

If We Just Listen, We Can All Hear Ghosts

For over a decade, Poets & Writers has cosponsored creative writing workshops at Hillsides Education Center, a therapeutic residential and day school that offers individualized education for students with social-emotional, learning, and/or behavior challenges in Pasadena, California. Last fall, poet Douglas Manuel returned to Hillsides for a second time to work with teens. Manuel is currently a Middleton and Dornsife Fellow at the University of Southern California where he is pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing. He has served as the poetry editor for Gold Line Press, as well as one of the managing editors of Ricochet Editions. His poems have been featured on Poetry Foundation's website and have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, the Los Angeles Review, Superstition Review, Rhino, North American Review, the Chattahoochee Review, New Orleans Review, Crab Creek Review, and elsewhere. His first poetry collection, Testify (Red Hen Press, 2017), won the 2017 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for poetry. Below, Manuel reflects on his experience with one student who he calls C.

C is at least a full head taller than I am. His cropped blond hair looks even more yellow under the fluorescent lights of the library. I’ve mispronounced the word “thaumaturgic” while reading the class our example poem “canvas and mirror” by Evie Shockley. As soon as the word incorrectly leaves my mouth, C nearly yells to correct me and pronounce the word correctly. I thank him and keep it moving, trying not to smile and steal peeks at C following diligently along as we continue through the poem.

C is in the eleventh grade and is autistic. I’ve been told that he would rather come to my P&W–supported creative writing class than go to his other classes, so each week he comes to both of the Wednesday late morning sessions. Each time he returns for the second session he loudly greets me, and we shake up. All of the students at Hillsides mean so much to me, but I must admit that C is perhaps my favorite. Right now, as I think of his voice, my lips slip into a smile.

My last day with the students was on Halloween. I brought three Halloween poems for the students to imitate: William Shakespeare’s “Song of the Witches: ‘Double, double toil and trouble,’” Carl Sandburg’s “Theme in Yellow,” and Kiki Petrosino’s “Ghosts.” After reading through these poems together, I told the students to choose one poem to imitate. C chose “Ghosts” and asked if I would help him. So, I asked him what kind of ghosts haunt him. I told him that sometimes my dead mother stalks me and visits me when I need her. I asked him if he has any ghosts like that around. He began to tell me about how his favorite YouTube star McSkillet died, and revealed to me that sometimes McSkillet speaks to him in his dreams, and tells him it’s all right to be autistic and don’t mind when people make fun of him. I told C that everything he just told me would be perfect for a poem. He then looked directly at me and quickly began writing.

Every week, in both of the sessions he attends, C tries my assignments and writes. He usually writes very short poems, so in the second session on Halloween, I challenged C to write a poem that filled a full page in his small notebook, which has the character Dory from Finding Nemo on its cover. C gladly accepted my challenge and began scribbling. I watched him as I walked around the room to help other students with the assignment. All of the focus in his body was applied to this assignment. He never looked up from his journal. I had never seen him write for this long without talking to me or other students.

At the end of the class, C shared his McSkillet poem. When he was finished, the whole class was silent because C had never written about anything so serious before, had never been so honest before, or shown how self-aware he was before. He had never revealed how much he hated being labeled autistic, or told the class how much he hated it when people made fun of him.

All of the students at Hillsides mean so much to me, but I must admit that C is perhaps my favorite.

Support for Readings & Workshops in California is provided by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional support comes from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photos: (top) Douglas Manuel (Credit: Stephanie Araiza). (bottom) Hillsides librarian Sherri Ginsberg with Douglas Manuel (Credit: Jamie FitzGerald).

January 31 Contest Roundup for Poets

Poets! Polish those poems and full-length manuscripts this weekend and consider submitting to the following contests, all with a deadline of January 31. Each contest offers a prize of at least $1,000:

New Millennium Awards: A prize of $1,000 and publication in New Millennium Writings is given twice yearly for a poem. Alexis Williams Carr and Don Williams will judge. Entry fee: $20.

Crazyhorse Literary Prize: A prize of $2,000 and publication in Crazyhorse is given annually for a poem. Erika Meitner will judge. Entry fee: $20.

Center for African American Poetry and Poetics’ Fellowship in Creative Writing: A two-year fellowship, including an annual stipend of $48,000 and health benefits, at the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) at the University of Pittsburgh will be given biennially to a poet. Poets with an MFA or PhD in creative writing who have not published more than one book and have knowledge of African American or African diasporic poetry and poetics are eligible. Entry fee: none.

Autumn House Press Rising Writer Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Autumn House Press is given annually for a debut poetry collection by a writer age 33 or younger. Stacey Waite will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund’s Individual Artist Grants for Women: Grants of up to $1,500 each are given to feminist poets who are citizens of the United States or Canada. Entry fee: $25.

Schaffner Press Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Schaffner Press is given annually for a poetry collection that “deals in some way with the subject of music and its influence.” Entry fee: $25.

Hurston/Wright Foundation’s Award for College Writers: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a poem by a Black college student. Entry fee: $25.

Iowa Review Awards: A prize of $1,500 and publication in Iowa Review is given annually for a group of poems. Kiki Petrosino will judge. Entry fee: $20.

Winter Anthology Writing Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Winter Anthology is given annually for a group of poems. Entry fee: $11.

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.

Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Awards Finalists Announced

Ten finalists have been selected for the 2019 Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Awards. The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award offers a prize of $100,000 to a mid-career poet, while the Kate Tufts Discovery Award offers a prize of $10,000 for a first book by an emerging poet. Both prizes are given for books published in the previous year.

This year’s finalists for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award are Tyree Daye for River Hymns (American Poetry Review Press), Diana Khoi Nguyen for Ghost Of (Omnidawn Publishing), Justin Phillip Reed for Indecency (Coffee House Press), Vanessa Angélica Villarreal for Beast Meridian (Noemi Press), and Javier Zamora for Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon Press).

The finalists for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award are CAConrad for While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books), Terrance Hayes for American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Books), Brenda Hillman for Extra Hidden Life, Among the Days (Wesleyan University Press), Dawn Lundy Martin for Good Stock Strange Blood (Coffee House Press), and Craig Santos Perez for from unincorporated territory [lukao] (Omnidawn).

Timothy Donnelly chaired the judging committee this year. Winners will be announced in February.

The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award was established in 1992 by Kate Tufts at Claremont Graduate University; the Kate Tufts Discovery Award followed in 1993. The awards are given to provide recognition, visibility and financial support to poets.

PEN America Announces Finalists for 2019 Literary Awards

This morning PEN America announced the finalists for its 2019 Literary Awards, which showcase the best books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translation published in the previous year. More than $370,000 in prize money will be awarded to the winning writers, who will be announced at a ceremony in New York City on February 26. This year more than 50 percent of the finalists are debut writers and authors published by small presses.

The $75,000 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award recognizes a book-length work in any genre. The 2019 finalists are Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah for Friday Black (Mariner Books), Ada Limón for The Carrying (Milkweed Editions), José Olivarez for Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Books), Richard Powers for The Overstory (Norton), and Tara Westover for Educated (Random House).

The finalists for the PEN/Hemingway Award, which includes $25,000 and a residency at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, are Akwaeke Emezi for Freshwater (Grove Press), Meghan Kenny for The Driest Season (Norton), Ling Ma for Severance (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Tommy Orange for There There (Knopf), and Nico Walker for Cherry (Knopf).

The PEN/Bingham Prize, which was previously awarded for a first book of fiction, will now be awarded for a debut story collection. The finalists for the $25,000 award are Chaya Bhuvaneswar for White Dancing Elephants (Dzanc Books), Jamel Brinkley for A Lucky Man (Graywolf Press), Helen DeWitt for Some Trick (New Directions), Akil Kumarasamy for Half Gods (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and Will Mackin for Bring Out the Dog (Random House).

The PEN Open Book Award, worth $5,000, will be conferred to an author of color for a book-length work of any genre. The finalists are Shauna Barbosa for Cape Verdean Blues (University of Pittsburgh Press), Tyrese Coleman for How to Sit: A Memoir in Stories and Essays (Mason Jar Press), Ángel García for Teeth Never Sleep (University of Arkansas Press), Nafissa Thompson-Spires for Heads of the Colored People (Atria), and Jenny Xie for Eye Level (Graywolf Press).

The PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay is given to a collection of essays that exemplify the form. The finalists for the $10,000 award are Jabari Asim for We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival (Picador), Alexander Chee for How to Write an Autobiographical Novel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Brian Phillips for Impossible Owls (FSG Originals), Zadie Smith for Feel Free (Penguin Press), and Michelle Tea for Against Memoir (Feminist Press).

Visit the website for a complete list of finalists, including those for PEN awards in nonfiction, biography, translation, poetry in translation, and literary science writing.

Established in 1963, the PEN America Literary Awards have honored hundreds of writers. Layli Long Soldier, Jenny Zhang, and Alexis Okeowo were among the 2018 winners.

Dominican Writers Association Presents Julian Randall and Gabriel Ramirez

Mariela Regalado is a relambia who loves to tell stories, specifically about her experiences as a Dominican American growing up between New York and Santiago, Dominican Republic. As director of college counseling at Brooklyn’s Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, she was named Hometown Hero in Education by the Daily News for her work with students in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Her writing has appeared in Remezcla, Fierce, La Galería Magazine, Harvard Latinx Law Review, St. Sucia, the Manhattan Times, and the Bronx Free Press.

On December 20 the Dominican Writers Association, with support from Poets & Writers’ Readings & Workshops program, hosted a crucial conversation centered on the idea that there are missing voices from the literary canon that deserve to be amplified. The decision to host the event at Word Up Community Bookshop, a multilingual, nonprofit community bookstore run by volunteers in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, was an easy one as they share many of the same values as the Dominican Writers Association, an organization created and run by writers of Dominican heritage in New York City that aims to support and foster the development of creative writers.

Writer and teacher JP Infante, who hosts a regular series at Word Up, led the conversation between poets Julian Randall and Gabriel Ramirez. The chairs were set up in a semicircle and the two guests sat in the center. Infante opened the conversation by introducing Julian Randall, a living queer Afro-Dominican poet from Chicago and MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Mississippi.

Randall’s debut poetry collection, Refuse (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), won the 2017 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. While browsing the shelves of new and used books before the event, I spoke briefly to Randall, who was wearing a burgundy T-shirt with white bold letters that spelled out the word REPARATIONS. I asked what reparations meant to him and he replied: “It means to me, a redress of grievances, a possibility for a new beginning.... There are certain ways in which we’ve been deprived; even of the ability to begin narratives where we would like to begin them. It means the ability to revise history.”

Gabriel Ramirez is a queer Afro-Latinx poet, activist, youth mentor at Urban Word NYC, and MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Mississippi. The first question of the night was: “What is a poet? What is the function of a poet?” Ramirez replied: “What isn’t a poet? What is it to be a breathing archive?” Ramirez’s work is moving and inspiring with intergenerational moments weaved carefully into his writing. His outfit that evening, a black-and-white checkered suit belonging to his late grandfather adorned with gold accessories that were made in the Dominican Republic, also paid homage to his roots.

The intimate conversation between these poets was shared with a kind audience who embraced them like family. There was a shared connection and a feeling of being seen, validated through the words of poets and writers who demonstrated through their stories and pieces that we are not alone.

Attendees were able to chime in during the conversation and asked for clarification in the answers given by Randall and Ramirez, and some were even comfortable enough to share their own anecdotes. I was filled with solid encouragement that there is a space for Latinx writers. To close the event, both Randall and Ramirez delighted us with a reading of their respective works, bringing to life the challenges and struggles they have both experienced as queer Latinx writers.

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) Mariela Regalado (Credit: NYC Toledo). (bottom) Julian Randall and Gabriel Ramirez with JP Infante (Credit: NYC Toledo).

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalists Announced

This morning the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) announced the finalists for its 2018 awards. The awards are given annually for books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, criticism, autobiography, and biography published in the previous year.

The finalists in poetry are Terrance Hayes for American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Books), Ada Limón for The Carrying (Milkweed Editions), Erika Meitner for Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions), Diane Seuss for Still Life With Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywolf Press), and Adam Zagajewski for Asymmetry, translated by Clare Cavanagh (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

The finalists in fiction are Anna Burns for Milkman (Graywolf Press), Patrick Chamoiseau for Slave Old Man, translated by Linda Coverdale (New Press), Denis Johnson for The Largesse of the Sea Maiden (Random House), Rachel Kushner for The Mars Room (Scribner), and Luis Alberto Urrea for The House of Broken Angels (Little, Brown).

The finalists in autobiography are Richard Beard for The Day That Went Missing: A Family’s Story (Little, Brown), Nicole Chung for All You Can Ever Know (Catapult), Rigoberto González for What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth: A Memoir of Brotherhood (University of Wisconsin Press), Nora Krug for Belonging: A German Reckons With History and Home (Scribner), Nell Painter for Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over (Counterpoint), and Tara Westover for Educated (Random House).

The NBCC also announced that Tommy Orange has won the John Leonard Prize for his debut novel, There There (Knopf). The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing was awarded to editor, columnist, and NPR Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan, while Arte Público Press received the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Visit the NBCC website to read the full list of finalists, including those in the categories of general nonfiction, biography, and criticism.

Established in 1975, the National Book Critics Circle Awards are selected by the NBCC’s board of directors, composed of twenty-four editors and critics from leading print and online publications. Last year’s winners included poet Layli Long Soldier and novelist Joan Silber. The 2018 winners will be announced on March 14 at the New School in New York City.

Zócalo Public Square Poetry Prize Open for Submissions

Zócalo Public Square is open to submissions for its eighth annual Poetry Prize. The prize is awarded to a poem that “best evokes a connection to place.” The winner will receive $500 and a published interview with Zócalo.

Submissions are currently open; the deadline is February 4. To submit, send up to three poems to poetry@zocalopublicsquare.org. There is no entry fee. The editors will judge. For complete guidelines, visit the website.

The winner will be announced in March 2019. Previous winners include Charles Jensen for his poem “Tucson”; Matt Phillips for his poem “Crossing Coronado Bridge”; and Gillian Wegener for “The Old Mill Café.”

Established in Los Angeles in 2003, Zócalo Public Square is dedicated to connecting “people to ideas and to each other by examining essential questions in an accessible, broad-minded, and democratic spirit.”

2018 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Winner in Poetry: The Literary Community

Anushah Jiwani graduated summa cum laude from Hendrix College with a BA in English–Creative Writing and International Relations. She is the 2018 recipient of the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award (WEX) for poetry sponsored by Poets & Writers. She took honors in the 2017 Southern Literary Festival Competition and won third place in the statewide 2017 Jeannie Dolan Carter Collegiate Poetry Contest sponsored by the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas. Jiwani also won the Fourth Annual Short Fiction Contest sponsored by the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in 2017. Much of her writing centers on the duality of her Pakistani American identity and aims to provide a space for the immigrant voice.

In May of 2018, I found out that I was the recipient of Poets & Writers’ Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award for poetry. In addition to a generous honorarium and a reading, Joshua Idaszak, the winner for fiction, and I would get the chance to meet with editors, authors, and publishers in New York City. Bonnie Rose Marcus worked tirelessly to arrange meetings, and welcomed us with open arms in November.

What I learned: editors, publishers, literary agents—they’re all just ordinary people. They want to know about you, and it’s as easy as one simple conversation. This prize creates the opportunity for that conversation to happen, with generous support from the team at Poets & Writers.

Through these conversations, many things became clear: internal relationships mattered, there would be little money in poetry, literary agents wanted novels over short stories, small presses are dedicated to their authors, and within all this business, community around writing was a precious thing.

Among others, I chose to meet with Paolo Javier, who works tirelessly to create community and accessibility around writing at Poets House, and Sarah Gambito, cofounder of Kundiman, who is seeking holistic points of entry and multidisciplinary forms for audience engagement.

These poets have been motivated by lack of opportunity or equity in the writing world, and are trying to create honest spaces for established and growing writers. We talked about embracing rejections, finding the right MFA programs, expanding community programs, the discipline required for publishing one’s work, and our love for literature.

As a writer, I learned an incredible amount about the inner workings of the literary world through this trip. But what was more significant, personally, was being able to connect with other writers of color who shared their experiences about navigating and succeeding in this sphere.

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

Photo: (left to right) Joshua Idaszak, 2018 WEX poetry judge Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Anushah Jiwani, R&W (east) director Bonnie Rose Marcus, R&W fellow Arriel Vinson, and R&W program assistant Ricardo Hernandez (Credit: Christian Rodriguez).

Upcoming Prose Contest Deadlines for Writers

Looking to work on submissions over the weekend? The contests listed below have deadlines through January 15 and are open to writers of fiction and nonfiction:

Australian Book Review’s Calibre Essay Prize: A prize of AUD $5,000 (approximately $3,600) is given annually for an essay. A second-place prize of AUD $2,500 (approximately $1,800) is also given. The winners will be published in Australian Book Review. J. M. Coetzee, Anna Funder, and Peter Rose will judge. Entry fee: $18. Deadline: January 14.

Ellen Meloy Fund’s Desert Writers Award: A prize of $5,000 is given annually to enable a creative nonfiction writer “whose work reflects the spirit and passions for the desert embodied in Ellen Meloy’s writing” to spend creative time in a desert environment. Entry fee: None. Deadline: January 15.

BkMk Press’s Chandra Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by BkMk Press is given annually for a short story collection. Entry fee: $30. Deadline: January 15.

University of Texas in Austin’s Dobie Paisano Fellowships: Two residencies, cosponsored by the Texas Institute of Letters, at a rural retreat west of Austin are given annually to writers who are native Texans, who have lived in Texas for at least three years, or who have published significant work with a Texas subject. The six-month Jesse H. Jones Writing Fellowship is given to a writer in any stage of his or her career and includes a grant of $18,000. The four-month Ralph A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship is given to a writer who has demonstrated “publishing and critical success” and includes a grant of $25,000. Entry fee: $20; $30 to enter both competitions. Deadline: January 15.

PRISM’s Jacob Zilber Prize for Short Fiction: A prize of $1,500 CAD (approximately $1,130) and publication in PRISM is given annually for a short story. Entry fee: $40. Deadline: January 15.

Literal Latté’s K. Margaret Grossman Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Literal Latté is given annually for a short story. Entry fee: $10. Deadline: January 15.

Third Coast’s Fiction Contest: An award of $1,000 and publication in Third Coast is given annually for a short story. Deborah Reed will judge. Entry fee: $18. Deadline: January 15.

Visit the contest websites for complete submission details, including eligibility guidelines and length requirements. For a look at more writing contests with upcoming deadlines, visit our Grants & Awards database and submission calendar.