Poets & Writers Blogs

Storied Paris Bookstore Launches Novella Contest

Shakespeare and Company, the famously bohemian Paris bookstore established ninety-one years ago, recently announced its founding of a novella competition open exclusively to unpublished writers. Entries have not yet opened for the biennial award, which includes a prize of ten thousand euros (approximately twelve thousand dollars), but writers can stay tuned to this blog or the bookstore's Web site for the latest.

Guidelines will be posted on Shakespeare and Company's Web site on June 20, the final day of the annual literary festival based at the store, which has since 1951 made its home on Paris's Left Bank. What we already know about the rules: Manuscripts should be twenty-thousand to thirty-thousand words, there will be a fee to enter, and the deadline for the initial submission period will be December 1.

The contest announcement comes on the heels of the bookstore's launch of Paris Magazine, a new embodiment of the sporadically published journal created by the bookstore's owner, George Whitman. The nonagenarian American literary advocate performed his own act of reincarnation when he opened the current Shakespeare and Company ten years after Sylvia Beach's original store was shuttered during World War II. The first issue of the new magazine, edited by Fatema Ahmed, formerly of Granta, features works by international talent including stories by French-Senegalese author Marie NDiaye and emerging American fiction writer Jesse Ball, and a translation of Apollinaire by Whitman's friend Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Award Offered for North Carolina–Inspired Writing, Plus Other State Prizes

The North Carolina Humanities Council recently announced a call for submissions to its Linda Flowers Literary Award competition. A prize of five hundred dollars and a residency at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities will be awarded to a writer—state residency is not required—for a work of poetry or prose that relates to the people and cultures of North Carolina.

The award is given in honor of Linda Flowers, a member of the council who authored the nonfiction book Throwed Away: Failures of Progress in Eastern North Carolina (University of Tennessee Press, 1993), which draws on her personal experiences with economic travesties occurring in rural regions of her home state. "We want to celebrate excellence in the humanities achieved by people like her," the council says on its Web site, emphasizing that it will be seeking out writers "who not only identify with our state, but who explore the promises, the problems, the experiences, the meanings in lives that have been shaped by North Carolina and its many cultures."

The deadline for submissions is August 15. For more information about the award, writers can visit the Web site or e-mail the council.

Among other organizations offering state grants this summer is Literary Arts, based in Portland, Oregon, which supports the state's writers with fellowships of $2,500 (women writers whose work touches on themes of race, class, physical disability, or sexual orientation are also eligible for a special award). The deadline for submissions is June 25.

Maryland authors who have published or will publish a book in 2010 can submit titles for Towson University's Prize for Literature until June 15, and Washington State writers can enter their work for a grant from Seattle-based Artist Trust until June 25.

In the video below, North Carolina poet laureate Cathy Smith Bowers reads a poem from her most recent book, The Candle I Hold Up to See You (Iris Press, 2009), touching on the private, metaphorical language taught her by her mother.

 

Beatles Museum Looking for Lennon Poet

In preparation for a season of tribute to late Beatles front man John Lennon, who was born seventy years ago and died thirty years ago this fall, the Beatles Story museum in Liverpool, England, is hosting a poetry competition. Along with a performance poetry contest, the museum is inviting entries for an international "paper poet" competition of works touching on the life of Lennon.

While there's no cash prize, poems by the winner and finalists will be considered for publication in an anthology. The honorees will also be invited (though expenses aren't covered) to an awards ceremony in Liverpool on November 6, held in conjunction with the poetry slam.

U.K. poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy will judge the competition. "From his earliest lyrics, John Lennon displayed a poet's sensitivity to language," Duffy said of the musician who named among his influences James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, and Oscar Wilde and authored a whimsical book of verse and prose, In His Own Write. "I'm delighted to judge this competition, which honors a famous son of a wonderful city...vibrant with language and poetry."

Poems of up to forty lines can be submitted via e-mail, with entries closing on September 10. There is no entry fee, but writers may submit only once. More information about the contest is available on the Beatles Story Web site.

In the video below, the Beatles perform "I Am the Walrus," with lyrics by Lennon, who was purportedly inspired by Carroll's poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter" and perhaps even Joyce's Finnegan's Wake when writing the song.

Oaxaca Film Fest Presents Writing Contest

Fiction will mingle with film at the newly launched Oaxaca International Independent Film and Video Festival, which is offering writers a place in the competitive forum enjoyed by participating filmmakers. Writers can submit stories this summer, and the festival committee will select two winners—one writing in English, one in Spanish—to present their works at the festival, held from November 8 to 11 in the Mexican city of Oaxaca de Juárez (travel expenses are part of the award).

Each winner will receive a prize of fifteen hundred dollars, and the winning works also will be published in a commemorative book along with the stories of eight runners up—four in English, four in Spanish. An announcement of the honorees will be made on September 16.

The festival is limiting submissions to one thousand entries, and will accept stories via e-mail until July 31. An entry fee of ten dollars is required for stories submitted by June 10, and fifteen dollars thereafter. Complete guidelines and more information about the main event are available on the festival Web site.

One Story Fetes Nine Young Fiction Writers

On Friday, One Story journal founders Maribeth Batcha and Hannah Tinti playfully introduced into literary society nine writers whose first stories were published in the journal's pages. "Debutantes" Sam Allingham, Ramona Ausubel, Nell Casey, Amelia Kahaney, Cheston Knapp, Grant Munroe, Patrick Somerville, Cote Smith, and Arlaina Tibensky were escorted by some of literary fiction's biggest names before a crowd of readers, agents, editors, and fellow writers attending the journal's first Literary Debutante Ball. Jonathan Lethem, Michael Cunningham, Deb Olin Unferth, and Tinti herself were among the escorts, each of whom had played a mentoring role in the emerging writers' lives. 

Dan Chaon escorted Philadelphia writer Sam Allingham, whose fiction has appeared in One Story and An Other Magazine.

Michelle Latiolais and Ron Carlson escorted Ramona Ausubel, a graduate of the MFA program at the University of California in Irvine whose stories have appeared in journals including Slice, pax americana, and Green Mountains Review. The day before the event, she sold her story collection and her novel to Riverhead Books.

Tamara Jenkins escorted Nell Casey, the editor of Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression and An Uncertain Inheritance: Writers on Caring for Family, who is currently working on The Journals of Spalding Gray (forthcoming from Knopf in 2011).

Michael Cunningham escorted Amelia Kahaney, a writing teacher at Brooklyn College who also does some ghostwriting, and whose One Story story, "Fire Season," has been optioned for film.

Jim Shepard and Karen Shepard escorted Portland, Oregon, writer Cheston Knapp, who is also the managing editor of Tin House and director of the journal's Summer Writers Workshop.

Jonathan Lethem escorted Brooklyn story writer Grant Munroe, who has also written humor and essays for The Rumpus and McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

Hannah Tinti escorted Chicago author Patrick Somerville, author of the short story collection Trouble (Vintage, 2006) and the novel The Cradle (Little, Brown, 2009).

Deb Olin Unferth escorted Kansas writer Cote Smith, a recent graduate of University of Kansas's MFA program.

Victor LaValle escorted Arlaina Tibensky, the founder of the Pen Parentis literary salon in Manhattan whose young adult novel about a girl obsessed with Sylvia Plath is forthcoming in 2011 from Simon & Schuster's Pulse imprint.

In the video below, the debutantes make their way into the arena, a space in the Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn (home of the One Story offices), as comedian and writer John Hodgman makes introductions. 

Poetry in Animation Snags Moby Award

Last night Melville House celebrated its first Moby Awards, given by the New York City indie press for video book trailers —the low-budget, the beautiful, and the cringe-worthy all represented—made in the past twelve months. Top trailers in five categories earned a golden whale and perhaps a nudge on YouTube—in the book world, sometimes even promotion could use a little promotion. Small press poetry got a nod from the judges, with the award for Best Low Budget or Indie Book Trailer going to the understated, animated short for Kathryn Regina's poetry chapbook, I Am in the Air Right Now, published in a limited edition—now sold out— by Greying Ghost Press.

The winners in the other predetermined categories, with a few honorable add-ons, are:
Best Big Budget or Big House Book Trailer: The stunning stop-motion video—books transform before your eyes—for Going West by Maurice Gee, released by Faber and Faber in 1992

Best Cameo in a Book Trailer: Zach Galifinakis (the Brooklyn actor and comedian of Hangover fame) in the video for John Wray's novel Lowboy, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2009

Best Performance by an Author: Dennis Cass in the trailer for his memoir Head Case (HarperCollins, 2007)

Least Likely Trailer to Sell the Book: Sounds of Murder (Cozy Cat Press, 2010) by Patricia Rockwell

Bloodiest Book Trailer: Killer by Dave Zeltserman (Serpent's Tail, 2010)

Best Foreign Film Book Trailer: Etcetera and Otherwise: A Lurid Odyssey, by Canadian author Sean Stanley, illustrated by Kristi-Ly Green (Tightrope Books, 2008)

Most Annoying Music: New Year's At the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story by April Halprin Wayland (Dial, 2009)

Biggest Waste of Conglomerate Money: Level 26, billed as "the world's first digi-novel," by CSI: Crime Scene Investigation writer Anthony Zuiker (Dutton, 2009)

While there were no rules for book publication dates, the videos had to have been produced between April 2009 and April 2010.

Below is the trailer for Regina's chapbook.

Late Liverpudlian's 1970 Book Wins Lost Booker Prize

The late novelist J. G. Farrell was honored on Wednesday with the Lost Man Booker Prize, awarded for Troubles (Phoenix), which was published during a period in 1970 when changes in the prestigious prize's publication date guidelines rendered many books ineligible for entry. The prize, given just this once to recognize a book released during that time, is the second Booker for a work by Farrell, who won the 1973 award for the second novel in a trilogy that began with Troubles, The Siege of Krishnapur (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). Farrell died in 1979 in Ireland's Bantry Bay.

The winning book was selected by public vote by a majority— 38 percent—from a shortlist that included The Birds on The Trees (Virago Press) by Nina Bawden, The Bay of Noon (Virago Press) by Shirley Hazzard, Fire From Heaven (Arrow Books) by Mary Renault, The Driver's Seat (Penguin Classics) by Muriel Spark, The Vivisector (Vintage) by Nobel Prize–winner Patrick White. The semifinalists were determined by poet Tobias Hill, broadcaster Katie Derham, and journalist Rachel Cooke.

Troubles, which has not been out-of-print since its publication, was most recently published in a U.S. edition by New York Review Books Classics in 2002.

Australian Sonnet Collection Wins Major Prize

The winners of this year's New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Australia's thirty-one-year-old prize series, include two debut novelists, a decorated fiction writer, and an established poet attempting to fill a void in the library of her country.

Jordie Albiston, author of six books of poetry, won the thirty-thousand-dollar Kenneth Slessor Prize for poetry for her collection of sonnets, the sonnet according to 'm' (John Leonard Press), written as a response to a dearth of Australian poetry written in the form.  

''I was interested in applying the form to Australian language in particular," Albiston told the Australian newspaper the Age. "I wanted to contribute to the genre as an Australian.''

In fiction, two-time Booker Prize winner J. M. Coetzee won the forty-thousand-dollar Christina Stead Prize for his novel Summertime (Harvill Secker). Andrew Croome received the UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) Glenda Adams Award for first fiction for his novel set during the Cold War, Document Z (Allen & Unwin), and Cate Kennedy, author of the short story collection Dark Roots (Grove Press, 2008), won the People's Choice Award for her first novel, The World Beneath (Scribe).

Memoirist Abbas El-Zein won the fifteen-thousand-dollar Community Relations Commission Award for Leave to Remain (University of Queensland Press), his story of individuals and families affected by war. Screenwriter Jane Campion received honors as well for Bright Star, her 2009 film about Romantic poet John Keats.

In the video below, debut author Croome talks about his experience writing his first novel.

Glimmer Train Wants Timeless Stories From New Voices

We recently asked the folks at Glimmer Train Stories, who hold twelve fiction contests a year, to let us know what they look for in a story submission. Here's what the editors—Portland, Oregon, sisters Linda Swanson-Davies and Susan Burmeister-Brown, who have also edited the essay anthologies Where Love Is Found and Mother Knows (both out from Simon & Schuster)—had to say about the kind of "well-crafted stories of substance" they hope to publish.

"Because Glimmer Train Stories is a print publication, and those seem to be becoming more scarce, it is important to us that the stories we publish capture some aspect of being human that will feel as meaningful in fifty years as it does now.

"From the beginning, Glimmer Train has welcomed the work of new writers, partly because publication opportunities are particularly rare for them, but also because it is really exciting to find, fall in love with, and publish great stories by new voices. It is one of the most fun things we do."

At the moment, entries are open for the Short Story Award for New Writers, which will award twelve hundred dollars and publication to a writer who has not published fiction in a journal with a circulation over five thousand. Next month Glimmer Train will accept submissions to its Fiction Open competition of stories ranging from two thousand to twenty thousand words. Contest guidelines and a glimpse of the magazine are available on the Glimmer Train Press Web site.

Prize for Short Story Writing Given to Author of "Cool Ferocity"

Mary Robison, author of four short story collections, has been named the latest winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story, given to recognize significant work the form. The prize, which was last awarded in 2008 to Amy Hempel, is typically given annually and carries an award of thirty
thousand dollars.

A native of Washington, D.C., who now teaches at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Robison was commended by judges Andrea Barrett, Hempel, and Jayne Anne Phillips for her stories' "lean, cool ferocity and their wry takes on people in pivotal moments." Her story collections are Days (Knopf, 1979), An Amateur’s Guide to the Night (Random House, 1983), Believe Them (Knopf, 1988), and Tell Me: Thirty Stories (Counterpoint, 2002), and Robison has also published five novels including Oh! (Knopf, 1981), Why Did I Ever (Counterpoint, 2001), and One D.O.A., One on the Way (Counterpoint, 2009).  

Previous winners of the Rea Award, founded in 1986 by writer and "passionate reader" Michael Rea, include Cynthia Ozick, Tobias Wolff, Eudora Welty, Andre Dubus, and Antonya Nelson.

Crazyhorse's Top Literary Quotes

"I write a little every day, without hope and without despair," said Danish author Isak Dinesen. Hers was one of twenty quotes by writers on writing selected by Crazyhorse from readers' nominations to grace the journal's Web site. Contest participants who submitted winning entries will receive a subscription to the magazine, which turned fifty this year.

Below are a few selections from the picks of the judges—the editorial interns—which will appear in a graphic on the journal's home page. Currently, the Web site is showcasing quotes from the latest issue, including works by winners of the Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize and the Crazyhorse Prize—Kary Wayson and Elizabeth Oness.

"If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up."—Hunter S. Thompson

"All I am is the trick of words writing themselves."
—Anne Sexton

"Write, damn you! What else are you good for?"
—James Joyce

"I could claim any number of high-flown reasons for writing, just as you can explain certain dogs behavior... But maybe, it’s that they’re dog, and that’s what dogs do."
—Amy Hempel

"Writing is finally a series of permissions you give yourself to be expressive in certain ways. To leap. To fly. To fail."
—Susan Sontag

Dublin Magazine Holds Flash Fiction Contest

As a response an observed increase in the popularity of the form, the Dublin Review of Books has launched a one-time flash fiction contest. The free, online magazine of book reviews and news will publish three short short stories selected by a DRB editor and Irish fiction writers James Ryan and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, and award the author of the winning work a prize of one thousand euros (approximately thirteen hundred dollars).

Writers from anywhere in the world working in English may enter up to three stories of no more than five hundred words each, either via the online form or e-mail, by June 1. A ten-euro entry fee (approximately thirteen dollars), which the DRB will accept through PayPal, is required.

Judge James Ryan is the author of novels South of the Border (Lilliput Press, 2008), Seeds of Doubt (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001), and Home from England (Phoenix House, 1995). To read a short story by Ryan, check out issue seven of the Dublin Review (no relation to DRB).

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, who has studied medieval literature and oral tradition and has a doctorate in Irish folklore, has published short story collections including The Pale Gold of Alaska (Blackstaff Press, 2000) and Blood and Water (Attic Press, 1988), and the novel The Dancers Dancing (Blackstaff Press, 1999), which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

Also holding short short story contests this spring are the Bridport Arts Centre in England and New Millennium Writings in the United States, both with deadlines in June.

Text Message Journal Wins Innovator Prize

The National Book Foundation (NBF) announced today that among the winners of its Innovations in Reading Prizes is Cellpoems, a poetry journal distributed via text message. The journal, which accepts submissions online and, naturally, via text message, will receive a twenty-five-hundred-dollar grant to continue, in the words of NBF's director of programs Leslie Shipman, "using technology in a surprising and innovative way to make poetry a part of people’s daily lives."

Details on how to submit and how to receive the journal—which readers can also follow on Twitter—are available on the Cellpoems Web site.

Other 2010 Innovations in Reading winners are 826 Valencia, the San Francisco branch of 826 National's network of nonprofit literary centers; Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop for teenage boys incarcerated in Washington, D.C.; Mount Olive Baptist Church in rural South Carolina, which established a community children's library; and United Through Reading, a program assists parents who are separated from their children in creating DVD recordings of storybook readings.

Book Blog Launches Contest to Revamp Alger

Mediabistro's book blog, GalleyCat, has commenced its World's Longest Literary Remix contest, which invites a preregistered group of writers to recompose one page each of a work by nineteenth-century novelist Horatio Alger, famous for his copious rags-to-riches narratives. For interested parties who aren't on the roster to submit rewrites of Alger's "badly-written, meandering, and oversimplified public domain parable" Joe's Luck, or Always Wide Awake, GalleyCat is still taking names for a waiting list via e-mail

The rewritten pages, from which three winning entries will be randomly selected, are due on June 7. Prizes include printed copies of the remixed novel, courtesy of Scribd and Blurb; a selection of books from Quirk Books, publishers of twisted literary titles such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Android Karenina; and the first four issues of Electric Literature, a quarterly online and POD journal. The digital book version of the Joe's Luck remix will be available to the public for free.

GalleyCat has plans to run similar contests in the future with other public domain books—and the waitlisted writers from this first contest will be among the first to be invited in the next round. More information is posted on GalleyCat.

Barbara Kingsolver's Debut Novel Prize Awarded to Tucson Writer

The winner of the twenty-five-thousand-dollar Bellwether Prize for an unpublished novel manuscript has been announced. Barbara Kingsolver—author of novels including The Bean Trees (Harper & Row, 1988) and The Lacuna (Harper, 2009) and the locavore memoir Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (HarperCollins, 2007)—has selected the manuscript "Running the Rift" by Naomi Benaron of Tucson as the recipient of the biennial award, which includes publication by Algonquin Books. Also judging were inaugural Bellwether winner Donna Gershten and Algonquin editor Kathy Pories.

Benaron's novel, according to Kingsolver, "engages the reader with complex political questions about ethnic animosity in Rwanda and so many other issues relevant to North American readers." The prize, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, is given to recognize a first work of literary fiction that speaks to social justice issues.

"In my writing," Benaron said in a press release, "what has always mattered most is to carry the human consequences of injustice to the reader’s heart and thus in some small way, bring healing." The author, whose pursuits beyond writing include orthopedic massage, seismology, and the Ironman Triathlon, also works with African refugees in her community and women writers in Afghanistan, through the Afghan Women's Writing Project online. 

The 2008 Bellwether Prize–winning novel, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow, was released last month, and the next competition will open in 2011.