Poets & Writers Blogs

Perugia Press Prize for Women Poets

Submissions are currently open for the 2018 Perugia Press Prize, an award of $1,000 and publication by Perugia Press given annually for a first or second poetry collection by a woman.

Women poets, including transgender women and female-identified individuals, who have published no more than one full-length poetry collection in English are eligible. Hybrid forms, including collaborations and manuscripts incorporating visuals, will also be considered. Using the online submission manager, submit a manuscript of 45 to 85 pages along with a $27 entry fee by November 15. Submissions are also accepted via postal mail, at Perugia Press Prize, P.O. Box 60364, Florence, MA 01062.

Established in 1997, Perugia Press seeks to support and promote women’s voices in print. Visit the website to learn more about the press, and for complete contest guidelines.

Visit our Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more upcoming contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

November 1 Contest Deadlines: Fiction and Nonfiction

Have a short story, essay, or fiction manuscript ready to submit? Don’t miss out on these prose contests offering prizes of at least $1,000 and publication—all with a deadline of November 1.

Reed Magazine Gabriele Rico Challenge in Creative Nonfiction: A prize of $1,333 and publication in Reed Magazine is given annually for an essay. Entry fee: $15

Reed Magazine John Steinbeck Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Reed Magazine is given annually for a short story. Entry fee: $15

Briar Cliff Review Writing Contests: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Briar Cliff Review are given annually for a short story and an essay. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $20

Madison Review Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Madison Review is given annually for a short story. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $10

Fiction Collective Two Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,500 and publication by Fiction Collective Two is given annually for a short story collection, novella, novella collection, or novel. U.S. writers who have not previously published a book with Fiction Collective Two are eligible. Noy Holland will judge. Entry fee: $25

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

John Fox and Project Avary: Helping Teens Heal Through Poetry

John Fox is the author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making (TarcherPerigee, 1997) and Finding What You Didn’t Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making (TarcherPerigee, 1995), and his work is featured in the PBS documentary Healing Words: Poetry and Medicine. In 2005, he founded the Institute for Poetic Medicine and his chapbook, The Only Gift to Bring (Seasonings Press, 2015), is available through the institute. Fox blogs about his experience leading writing workshops for Project Avary, an organization in San Rafael, California offering long-term support, resources, guidance, and training for children with incarcerated parents.  

In the spring of 2016, Zach Whelan of Project Avary called the office of the Institute for Poetic Medicine to ask if I was available to bring poetry to the teens they served. This residency would occur during a mid-June, two-week summer camp.

Zach and I spoke for over an hour. I was impressed with three things: 1. The seasoned care the Project Avary staff holds for teens with a parent or parents in prison. 2. The solid and proven program Project Avary has built, which includes a commitment of ten years to a child from the age of eight through their teen years. 3. Zach’s openness to not only poetry writing, but my focus on poetry-as-healer.

By the end of our talk and in subsequent meetings, we agreed to collaborate in an ongoing, mutual process that would bring poetry into the lives of Avary participants.

I would learn about the acute challenges faced by these teens—their sense of loss and abandonment, the societal stigma attached to having a parent in prison, as well as their capacity for resilience and how much they could teach us. I needed to learn and understand that reality to better know what my optimum role could be in joining this team. This process helped me in the selection of relevant poems that could serve as catalysts for writing.

In turn, Avary would learn from me how poetry can make a direct impact on the teens and their ability to dive into their issues of concern. Through the durable capacity of a poem, using the tools of poem-making, and by the natural strength of a supportive community, we could create a safe and generative way to explore and express. This mutual, encompassing collaboration becomes particularly important because the time to nurture and tend to their creative voices does not end with our limited time together—it actually begins!

What I can report to you is that Project Avary has incorporated poetry writing workshops into the core of their curriculum.

The conclusion of my two-year summer camp residency (with forty new campers joining each year) included a two-hour evening program where all participants shared their poems (also songs, skits, magic tricks, etc.) with the entire community. Avary calls this “The Untalent Show” with the emphasis on making it an open invitation to everyone—especially those who might feel they have nothing worthy to offer.

When a poem was read, there was a palpable quieting of a mostly young and happily raucous group at summer camp, which included dozens of young counselors and other staff. The people listening were less “audience” and more like family member, sensitive to their brothers and sisters, and cheering them on.

But what about the poetry? With their permission, I’m able to share some of the poetry by these young Project Avary participants.

LOVE

I didn’t want love.
Love is like dead tissue that won’t fall off.
I thought i didn’t need Love
but everyone wanted Love.
Did i need love.
What was the point of Love.
Did i want Love, did i need Love.
Would love make me happy.
The truth was i wanted love.
But would love want me.

—Monique Cook, age 13

UNTITLED

She was pure in a world not ready for her.
A rose born without thorns.
A body of water with no ripples.
A mirror with no cracks.
She was content in every sense of the word.
But she was born in a world with no intention
of keeping her that way.

—Malayah, age 16

TO ANGER

As you grip my mind
& sway my heart
spark dark flames
in the night of day
you keep notorious thoughts
tenaciously raising
barriers, levels
depleting every second
every month, every hour
contemplating my next act,
my next task & past actions;
forgetting present endeavors,
forgetting my loving nature,
forgetting the roots of my life,
forgetting me.

—Joseph Gladney, age 18

Support for this event was provided, in part, by Poets & Writers, thanks to a gift from Diana Raab. Additional support for Readings & Workshops in California is provided by the California Arts Council, a state agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and by the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photo: John Fox (Credit: Valerie Knight).

Poetry Contests Open Through Halloween

Poets, Halloween is a week from today, so between costume shopping and pumpkin carving, consider making some time to submit to the following contests with an October 31 deadline. Whether you’re sitting on a single poem, a chapbook, or a full-length collection, these contests each offer a prize of at least $1,000 and publication. Don’t be scared…

Single Poem:

North American Review James Hearst Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in North American Review is given annually for a poem. Eduardo C. Corral will judge. Entry fee: $20

Poetry Society of the United Kingdom National Poetry Competition: A prize of £5,000 (approximately $6,500) and publication on the Poetry Society of the United Kingdom website is given annually for a poem. A second-place prize of £2,000 (approximately $2,600) and a third-place prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,300) are also given. The winners will also be published in the Poetry Review and invited to read at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in Ledbury, England, in Spring 2018. Poets from any country are eligible. Hannah Lowe, Andrew McMillan, and Pascale Petit will judge. Entry fee: £6.50

Chapbook Contests:

Comstock Review Jessie Bryce Niles Poetry Chapbook Contest: A prize of $1,000, publication by the Comstock Writers Group, and 50 author copies is given biennially for a poetry chapbook. Kathleen Bryce Niles-Overton will judge. Entry fee: $30

Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Tupelo Press is given annually for a poetry chapbook. Major Jackson will judge. Entry fee: $25

Full-Length Contests:

American Poetry Review Honickman First Book Prize: A prize of $3,000 and publication by American Poetry Review is given annually for a debut poetry collection. The winning book will be distributed by Copper Canyon Press through Consortium. Gregory Pardlo will judge. Entry fee: $25

Elixir Press Poetry Awards: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Elixir Press is given annually for a poetry collection. A second-place prize of $1,000 and publication is also awarded. Kathleen Winter will judge. Entry fee: $30

Persea Books Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Persea Books is given annually for a debut poetry collection by a woman who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The winner also receives a six-week, all-expenses-paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy. Entry fee: $30

Truman State University Press T. S. Eliot Prize: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Truman State University Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Entry fee: $25

University of North Texas Press Vassar Miller Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by University of North Texas Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Rosanna Warren will judge. Entry fee: $25

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

Urban Word NYC’s Youth Board Meets Poets & Writers

Dora Palacios, a Latina poet born in Queens, New York, in 1999, has been writing since the seventh grade. Her drive to keep writing was inspired by her English teachers throughout high school. After graduating high school, Dora joined the Youth Leadership Board at Urban Word NYC. She aspires to become a better writer with the help of her mentors and people who surround her.

The Youth Leadership Board (YB) at Urban Word NYC focuses on bringing together young creative artists to express themselves and, through their work, send social, political, and personal messages into New York City’s communities. Urban Word NYC has received funding from the Readings & Workshops program since 2005, and our program director Shanelle Gabriel was interested in exposing the youth board to literary organizations in New York City. On August 15, the youth board met with some of the staff at Poets & Writers, including Readings & Workshops (East) director Bonnie Rose Marcus, Readings & Workshops (East) program assistant Ricardo Hernandez, Poets & Writers Magazine senior editor Melissa Faliveno, and senior online editor Jessica Kashiwabara.

The youth board had many questions that probably every writer has, but in particular we wanted to know: “How can I get my work published?” We learned that Poets & Writers, in addition to funding writers who participate in literary readings and conduct workshops through its Readings & Workshops program, has many resources for writers who are just beginning, as well seasoned and professional writers. The magazine’s July/August 2017 issue includes a special section on literary agents who are seeking writers and eager to read new work. Included in every issue, and on the website, is information about contests and awards with upcoming deadlines. Poets & Writers Magazine and pw.org will be your best friend when looking for resources!

After meeting with the staff at Poets & Writers, a few of us YB members were talking about publishers and publishing. We came to the conclusion that it is really worthwhile to submit your work to journals and contests. It can boost your mood, whether you receive feedback or not, and will get your work out to the public. It also motivates you to keep writing and attend workshops. If you ask me, trying to get your poem published in a magazine is just a step closer to winning first place!

As a young poet, I often lose focus and it becomes arduous to gain that drive back. Seeking motivation in the wrong places, I force myself to come up with a poem that I am not really satisfied with. In reality, the motivation I need is found in my everyday routine—waking up, waiting for the F train to arrive—or how I feel that day. For me, taking one simple action and trying to connect it to the other images around me helps to create a poem, like comparing a melancholy day to the flourishing blue sky.

Poets & Writers has inspired me to keep trying to get my poetry published, no matter how many times I lose my way on the path. Now that I have met with the encouraging staff at Poets & Writers, I don’t think it’ll be as difficult to stay motivated.

Thank you to our youth engagement coordinator Shannon Matesky, and our program director Shanelle Gabriel for reaching out to Poets & Writers. The youth board looks forward to working more with the organization! Thank you for having us!

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) Dora Palacios (Credit: Shannon Matesky). (bottom) Urban NYC Youth Leadership Board members with Poets & Writers staff.

George Saunders Wins Man Booker Prize

George Saunders has won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for his novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. He will receive £50,000 (approximately $66,000). The annual award is given for a novel published in the previous year in the United Kingdom.

‘The form and style of this utterly original novel, reveals a witty, intelligent, and deeply moving narrative,” says Lola Young, who chaired the judging panel. “This tale of the haunting and haunted souls in the afterlife of Abraham Lincoln’s young son paradoxically creates a vivid and lively evocation of the characters that populate this other world. Lincoln in the Bardo is both rooted in and plays with history, and explores the meaning and experience of empathy.” The 2017 judges were Lola Young, Lila Azam Zanganeh, Sarah Hall, Tom Phillips, and Colin Thubron.

The judges considered 144 submissions for this year’s prize. The finalists, who each received £2,500, were Paul Auster, Emily Fridlund, Mohsin Hamid, Fiona Mozley, and Ali Smith.

Saunders is the second American in a row to win the Man Booker Prize, an award once limited to books by authors from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Paul Beatty took the 2016 prize for his novel The Sellout.

Saunders is the author of four story collections, including his critically acclaimed 2013 collection, Tenth of December. Published by Random House last March, Lincoln in the Bardo is Saunders’s first novel.

To learn more about Saunders and his novel, read “The Emotional Realist Talks to Ghosts,” the cover story of the March/April 2017 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

 

2 Elizabeths Love & Romance Contest

Feeling amorous? Submissions are currently open for the 2017 2 Elizabeths Love & Romance Contest. An award of $1,000 and publication in the inaugural 2 Elizabeths Anthology will be given annually for a group of poems or a work of short fiction with romantic themes.

Using the online submission system, submit 3 to 10 pages of poetry or 1,000 to 6,000 words of short fiction with a $22.50 entry fee by November 1. All entries are considered for publication. The editors will judge.

2 Elizabeths is a mother-daughter-run online literary magazine that publishes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry, as well as interviews, writing prompts, and other practical writing resources for writers.

Visit the contest website for more information, and check out our Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more upcoming contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Whiting Foundation Announces Creative Nonfiction Grant Recipients

The Whiting Foundation has announced the recipients of the 2017 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grants, given annually to up to eight writers in the process of completing a book of creative nonfiction. The writers will each receive $40,000.

The grantees are:

Michael Brenson for David Smith and the Transformation of American Sculpture, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Philip Gourevitch for You Hide That You Hate Me and I Hide That I Know, forthcoming from Penguin Press

Pacifique Irankunda for The Time of Stories, forthcoming from Random House

Seth Kantner for A Thousand Trails Home, forthcoming from Mountaineers Books

Jay Kirk for Avoid the Day, forthcoming from Harper Perennial

Meghan O’Rourke for What’s Wrong With Me? The Mysteries of Chronic Illness, forthcoming from Riverhead Books

George Packer for Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, forthcoming from Knopf

Julie Phillips for The Baby on the Fire Escape, forthcoming from Norton

The winners were selected from a list of fifteen finalists by an anonymous judging panel. Now in its second year, the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant “fosters original, ambitious projects that bring writing to the highest possible standard.” The applicants must have a publishing contract and be at least two years into their project. The next round of applications will open in Spring 2018.

For more than forty years, the Whiting Foundation has supported literature and the humanities through its various programs, including its annual awards for emerging writers and the new Whiting Literary Magazines Prizes, which honor literary journals. Visit the website for more information.

(Photos: Top row, from left: Michael Brenson, Philip Gourevitch, Pacifique Irankunda, Seth Kantner; Bottom row, from left: Jay Kirk, Meghan O'Rourke, George Packer, Julie Phillips)

New $10,000 Story Collection Prize

Spartanburg, South Carolina–based Hub City Press has announced the C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize, a new award of $10,000 and publication for a debut story collection by a writer residing in the American South. Acclaimed short story writer Lee K. Abbott will judge the inaugural contest.

Fiction writers living in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, or West Virginia who have not yet published a book are eligible to apply. Submit a manuscript of 140 to 220 pages with a $25 entry fee by January 1, 2018. The winning book will be published in Spring 2019.

Betsy Teter, Hub City’s founder and publisher, notes that the new prize is “one of the most substantial short story prizes in North America,” and is named to honor fiction editor C. Michael Curtis, who “has been a great friend to Hub City Press over the years.” Curtis has edited notable American short story writers including Tobias Wolff, Joyce Carol Oates, and Anne Beattie.

Established in 1995, Hub City Press is dedicated to publishing works by emerging and established authors from the American South. Visit the website for more information.

Kazuo Ishiguro Wins 2017 Nobel Prize

English novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, has won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Swedish Academy made the announcement today in Stockholm, remarking that Ishiguro, sixty-two, “in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”

 

“If you mix Jane Austen and Franz Kafka, then you have Kazuo Ishiguro in a nutshell—but you have to add a little bit of Marcel Proust into the mix,” said Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, which presents the award. “He is a writer of great integrity, who doesn’t look to the side. He has developed an aesthetic universe all his own. He is exploring what you have to forget in order to survive in the first place as an individual or as a society.” 

Born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, Ishiguro moved with his family to England in 1960. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kent in 1978 and a master’s from the University of East Anglia’s creative writing program in 1980. He is the author of seven novels, beginning with A Pale View of Hills (1982), and is perhaps most well known for The Remains of the Day, which won the prestigious Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989 and was made into Academy Award–nominated film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. The novel, told from the perspective of an English butler in the years leading up to World War II, deals with ideas of loyalty, love, repression, and loss.

“Ishiguro’s writings are marked by a carefully restrained mode of expression, independent of whatever events are taking place,” the prize committee said in a statement. “At the same time, his more recent fiction contains fantastic features.”

Of his 2005 novel Never Let Me Gowhich won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was also adapted into film—the prize committee remarked that Ishiguro had introduced “a cold undercurrent of science fiction into his work.” His most recent novel, The Buried Giant (Random House, 2015), was praised by the committee for its exploration of “how memory relates to oblivion, history to the present, and fantasy to reality.” Ishiguro has also published a story collection, Nocturnes, and four screenplays.

Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature, given for an author’s body of work, has been awarded 109 times to 113 writers. In a controversial decision, last year’s prize was awarded to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Other recent winners include Belarusian journalist and nonfiction writer Svetlana Alexievich in 2015, French novelist Patrick Modiano in 2014, and Canadian short story writer Alice Munro in 2013.

 

 

 

The Second Annual Jackie Robinson Poetry Day

James Browning Kepple is a poet, the founder of Underground Books, and president of the New York Browning Society. Each year he helps judge the New York Browning Society’s New York City High School Poetry Contest, which invites over one hundred and twenty public, parochial, and private schools in the New York City area to participate. A resident of Harlem for ten years, he has been a contributor and performer at the Harlem Arts Festival, the Harlem Book Fair, and the New York City Poetry Festival.

Harlem has a deep history of jazz, poetry, social movements, and revolutions. Witnessing its boundaries and definitions encroached upon by the movement of time and gentrification, I wanted to create a link to its illustrious past, as well as a roadway to the future, through the arts, to help secure Harlem’s history in the hearts of its people. It was this sentiment that brought together the first successful Jackie Robinson Poetry Day at the Jackie Robinson Park’s bandshell in Central Harlem last fall. This year we aimed to recreate that success with the support of Poets & Writers.

Underground Books collaborated with various writers and artists in the community to make the day possible. Poet and social activist Bob McNeil hosted the day’s events with brilliant effect. His thorough and deliberate baritone—made even more powerful by the resounding acoustic echo of the bandshell—could be heard from streets over as he brought together the audience, performers, and passersby. Maksym Kurganskyy donated his time to film and edit the event.

Performances included Jana Astanov, Eartha Watts-Hicks, Marc W. Polite, as well as featured readings by Gregg Dotoli, Olena Jennings, Robert Kramer, and Bob McNeil. Guitarist Edgar Alan provided music throughout, and a Facebook live stream video shared the day’s events with those who could not attend. The winner of this year’s Gregg Dotoli Poetry Prize, local blogger and writer Marc W. Polite, performed a moving rendition of his winning poem, “Poetic Ruminations of Mr. Born Nice.”

Children who attended were invited to participate in the Harlem Renaissance Chapbook creation station, sponsored by Underground Books. They had an opportunity to learn how to make their own poetry chapbooks by selecting works from Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jean Toomer, Countee Cullen, Federico García Lorca, Alice Dunbar Nelson, and many others. These young members of the community were able to walk home with their own personalized book of Harlem Renaissance Poetry.

As the show drew to a close, Bob McNeil brought each performer up to create an original piece of spoken word poetry by knitting together one line from each person based upon the last letter of the person before them, which created a flowing new poem straight from the minds of the performers on stage.

Underground Books looks forward to continuing to broaden and strengthen the vision of Jackie Robinson Poetry Day—to bring the community and help highlight Harlem’s literary past—and contribute to its bright new future with the support of organizations like Poets & 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.

Photo: Performers of the second annual Jackie Robinson Poetry Day (Credit: Maksym Kurganskyy).

Upcoming Deadline: Moon City Short Fiction Award

Submissions are currently open for the 2018 Moon City Short Fiction Award. A prize of $1,000 and publication by Moon City Press is given annually for a collection of short fiction.

Using the online submission system, submit a manuscript of 30,000 to 65,000 words with a $25 entry fee by October 1. Entries may include short stories, flash fiction, or novellas. The editors will judge.

Past winners of the award include Kim Magowan for Undoing, Michelle Ross for There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You, Laura Hendrix Ezell for A Record of Our Debts, and Cate McGowan for True Places Never Are.

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

 

Traversing California on the Rural Libraries Tour

The Rural Libraries Tour is a result of a seventeen-year partnership between Poets & Writers’ Readings & Workshops program and the California Center for the Book (CalBook), which sends writers into rural and underserved areas of California to teach creative writing workshops in libraries or at venues promoted by the libraries. Some workshops are bilingual (English and Spanish), some reach teens, and most reach all ages and types of people. As the eighteenth year of programming approaches, the participating writing instructors reflect on their experiences teaching these workshops.

Olga García Echeverría

My visits to libraries in rural areas of Southern California are always a special treat for me as both an educator and an artist. In my regular teaching job, I am used to working with students for an extended period of time. With the Rural Libraries Tour, I am often entering completely new spaces with people I will probably never see again. Yet, in every single workshop that I have conducted during the past nine years, I have felt very much at home. I believe this is because the love of words and the desire to create binds us, regardless of where we are and if we will meet again. The potential for meaningful connections via words and art (even in a short amount of time) is always possible.

My poetic spirit is nourished in amazing ways each time. We don’t just read and write, we share intimate parts of ourselves and, collectively, we create. It’s amazing how often participants linger past the workshop to express how much they enjoyed being able to tap into themselves and write something that surprises them. There is a glow about them that is familiar; I know that feeling of having created something and feeling empowered or proud. These workshops—they’re a dynamic exchange of creative energy and they always reaffirm my love of poetry and community.

Tim Z. Hernandez

I’ve driven the road to Hollister, California numerous times over the past several seasons that I’ve participated in the Rural Libraries Tour, but this time was special. After having just released my book, All They Will Call You (University of Arizona Press, 2017), based on the famous 1948 plane crash that killed twenty-eight Mexican migrant workers, I knew I was returning to a community that not only knew the realities of migrant life very well, but more than that, Hollister is positioned on the western slope of the very canyon that the plane crashed down on—Los Gatos Canyon.

I was visiting with students, most of whom had come from migrant farm working families. They had never heard of this story before, but felt an immediate connection to it. They were rapt, and we conversed and shared stories for what seemed like hours. The most beautiful part came in the final minutes when students began asking if one of the passengers on the plane was named Rodriguez. And then another asked about the name Martinez. Another still wanted to know if there was a Ruiz who was killed. They were each going to go home and share this story with their parents. Perhaps they too were related. This is the power of stories, I nodded to myself. I never know what exchange will impact the people I get to work with, as well as myself. But always, I leave feeling grateful.

Susan Wooldridge

I’m happiest when people of all ages and ethnicities appear at workshops. Including the California border towns of Imperial and Crescent City, I’ve visited small libraries tucked in Markleesville, Placerville, Alturas, Yreka, Etna, and Weaverville (in the Trinity Alps), Susanville and Quincy where, always, surprisingly gifted youngsters, teens, and adults appear with their pens and their souls waiting for expression. Most recently, twenty people gathered on round tables at the Shasta Library in Redding.

Our workshops together have welcomed me into the heartland of California as part of a larger mission: to bring love of language to small-town California. I’ve been heartened and changed as part of our years-long, far-and-wide endeavor. I feel delight and honor and, hey, almost “credible!” I feel held and loved by the support and camaraderie (not to mention pay!) provided by Poets & Writers and the California Center for the Book. These years of sessions nourish and transform my own writing. My (almost finished!) book about land and language includes many chapters about experiences and revelations in small libraries—“Damien’s Waterfalls” (South Lake Tahoe), “Sublime Limes” (Colusa), and “Cesar Stealing Words” (Williams), to name a few. Our rural libraries outreach adds a wildly colorful dimension to my writing and life.

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.

Photo 1: Olga García Echeverría (Credit: Maritza Alvarez). Photo 2: Tim Z. Hernandez (Credit: Tim Z. Hernandez). Photo 3: Susan Wooldridge (Credit: Shannon Iris).

Applications Open for BuzzFeed’s Emerging Writers Fellowship

BuzzFeed has opened applications for its third annual Emerging Writers Fellowship. The fellowship awards three nonfiction writers a stipend of $14,000 and career mentorship from BuzzFeed News’s senior editorial staff. Beginning in March 2018, the fellows will spend four months in BuzzFeed’s New York City office and focus on writing cultural reportage and personal essays. Applications are open until December 4.

Launched in 2015 by Saeed Jones, the fellowship’s mission is to expand the media landscape and empower emerging writers, particularly those who are “traditionally locked out” of media opportunities. “Investing in diversity and emerging voices doesn’t just have to be a conversation on panels and roundtables; it can be a reality,” Jones said in an interview with Poets & Writers Magazine last year.

With the third round of applications opening today, BuzzFeed’s new executive editor of culture, Karolina Waclawiak, spoke with Poets & Writers Magazine about the 2018 program, advice for applicants, and the value of nurturing writers beyond the fellowship’s conclusion.

Will there be any changes to the 2018 fellowship program?

There are two major changes to the upcoming program: We are accepting three fellows instead of four, and we are increasing the stipend amount from $10,000 to $14,000. These changes ensure that our fellows receive as much personal attention as possible, as well as financial viability for living in New York City for the program’s duration.

What can fellows expect during a typical week in the program?

The fellows will pitch, write, and edit original pieces on a broad range of cultural coverage, which will be published on BuzzFeed. In addition, each week we bring in an industry professional to meet with the fellows, including staff writers from other publications, book and magazine editors, and agents. These meetings have proven to be very beneficial; last year all four fellows left the program with an agent!

Who would be considered an ideal applicant?

We encourage writers with a strong desire to create an impact on cultural conversations to apply. All experience levels are welcome—don’t be deterred if you don’t have a lot of clips. Over the past two years the fellows entered the program with varying levels of experience, and all grew as writers and professionals. This is a great opportunity and a rigorous program if your goal is to become a staff writer at a major publication, or even if you just want to elevate your platform and be seen in this industry of so many writers. On a practical note, I suggest reading the work of previous fellows before applying.

After two successful years completed, what have you noticed about this fellowship that sets it apart from similar programs?

We make a point to provide support and guidance for these writers beyond the conclusion of the fellowship. Whether they need help getting into residencies—for example, two of our fellows from last year were accepted to Breadloaf—or want assistance growing their network of other writers, editors, and publishers, we care about building sustainable careers for these important voices. The mentorship doesn’t end when the program ends.

To apply, using BuzzFeed’s online application form submit a resume or CV, 3 to 5 examples of your essays or articles, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation by December 4. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Photo: Karolina Waclawiak Credit: Eric Burg

Prose Contests With Upcoming Deadlines

Fiction and nonfiction writers: consider taking a chance and submitting your story, essay, or prose manuscript to a writing contest. Below is a list of contests with deadlines in the second half of September. Each contest offers a first-place prize of at least $1,000.

Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication on the Ghost Story website is given twice yearly for a short story with a supernatural or magic realism theme. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $20

Hackney Literary Awards Novel Contest: A prize of $5,000 is given annually for an unpublished novel. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $30

Literal Latté Essay Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Literal Latté is given annually for a personal essay. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $10

Manchester Metropolitan University Fiction Prize: A prize of £10,000 is given annually for a short story. The winner will be invited to attend an award ceremony in Manchester, England, in November. Bonnie Greer, Angela Readman, and Nicholas Royle will judge. Deadline: September 29. Entry fee: $23

Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards: A prize of $1,000 and publication in the annual anthology The Best Travel Writing and on the Travelers Tales’ website is given annually for a travel essay. Writers from Arizona and Vermont are eligible for publication, but not the cash prize. Deadline: September 21. Entry Fee: $25

University of Iowa Press Iowa Short Fiction Award: Two awards of publication by University of Iowa Press are given annually for first collections of short fiction. Writers who have not published a book of fiction are eligible. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: 0

University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prizes: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication by University of Massachusetts Press are given annually for a short story collection and a novel. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $30

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines and submission details. Check out our Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more upcoming contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.