Poets & Writers Blogs

John Edgar Wideman Hosts Flash Fiction Contest on Lulu

Acclaimed novelist, memoirist, and short story writer John Edgar Wideman, who made news last month when he announced that his new book of short short stories would be released using the self-publishing outfit Lulu, recently launched a writing contest inspired by the collection, Briefs: Stories for the Palm of the Mind. The author, whose many honors include the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (which he won a history-making two times), a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, and the Rea Award for Excellence in the Short Story, is inviting entries of what he is calling "micro-stories" for possible inclusion in a special edition of his book.

Story entries should be no more than six hundred words, and should be submitted via e-mail to pr@lulu.com by May 1. Wideman will announce the winner, who will also receive a signed copy of the special edition including his or her story, on the Lulu blog on May 14.  

"The micro-fictions in my collection are about losing time, saving time, enduring time, fearing and escaping time," Wideman says in an essay that draws parallels between the short short form and the flow of a basketball game. He explains that the act of entering and soon after exiting a story—as if a time-out has been called in a game—allows the reader to "freeze, review, highlight the action. As if you can press a pause button and be released temporarily from the game’s intensity, from time." The complete essay is posted on the Lulu blog.

In the video below, actor Theron Cook reads the story "Bananas" from Briefs.

More Big Winner News: Eleanor Ross Taylor Wins Ruth Lilly Prize

Ninety-year-old poet Eleanor Ross Taylor is this year's recipient of the one-hundred-thousand-dollar Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, given by the Poetry Foundation to recognize lifetime achievement. Taylor, who lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, will be presented the award next month during the Poetry Foundation's Pegasus Awards ceremony at the Arts Club of Chicago.

The May issue of Poetry, published by the Poetry Foundation, will feature a portfolio of Taylor's poems, many of which were out of print before Captive Voices, a book of her selected poems, was published last year—a volume that was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her previous collections are Wilderness of Ladies (1960), Welcome Eumenides (1972), New and Selected Poems (1983), Days Going/Days Coming Back (1991), and Late Leisure (1999).

In an award citation, Poetry editor Christian Wiman noted the "spiritual largesse and…great inner liberty” of Taylor's poems. "We live in a time when poetic styles seem to become more antic and frantic by the day, and Taylor’s voice has been muted from the start," Wiman said. "Muted, not quiet." 

Previous winners of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize include Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, Gerald Stern, Yusef Komunyakaa, current U.S. poet laureate Kay Ryan, C. K. Williams, Lucille Clifton, and Fanny Howe.

Guggenheim Fellows Span the Genres, From Experimental Verse to Travel Memoir

Today the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation announced its 2010 U.S. and Canada fellows, including twenty-eight literary writers. The fellowship winners, who can only receive the award once, include J. Allyn Rosser, whose work takes on traditonal forms and experimental, and poet-documentarian Mark Nowak; recent Pulitzer Prize–winning debut novelist Paul Harding and David Rhodes, who published his latest novel, Driftless, in 2008 after thirty-three years without publication; and creative nonfiction writers Maggie Nelson, who has also published five poetry collections, and memoirist and travel writer Tom Bissell.

The poetry fellows are:
Joel Brouwer
Angie Estes
Kimiko Hahn
Barbara Hamby
Juan Felipe Herrera
Nathaniel Mackey
Mark Nowak
Patrick Phillips
J. Allyn Rosser
Richard Tillinghast

The fellows in fiction are:
Lorraine Adams
Ethan Canin
Anthony Doerr
Nell Freudenberger
Paul Harding
Victor LaValle
Colum McCann
Joseph O’Neill
David Rhodes
Christine Schutt
Salvatore Scibona
Monique Truong

The creative nonfiction fellows are:
Tom Bissell
Peter Godwin
Molly Haskell
Maggie Nelson
Peter Trachtenberg
Irene Vilar

The amount of each writer's grant varies, but the average given last year in literature was upwards of thirty-six thousand dollars. Midcareer North American writers who have "demonstrated exceptional creative ability in the arts" are invited to apply for the fellowships through September 15. 

Rae Armantrout Wins Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

The winners of the 2010 Pulitzer Prizes in Letters, which award ten thousand dollars to each winner, were announced today. Rae Armantrout won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her collection Versed (Wesleyan University Press), which the judges called "striking for its wit and linguistic inventiveness, offering poems that are often little thought-bombs detonating in the mind long after the first reading."

Paul Harding received the prize in fiction for his debut novel Tinkers (Bellevue Literary Press). The fiction jury called his book "a powerful celebration of life in which a New England father and son, through suffering and joy, transcend their imprisoning lives and offer new ways of perceiving the world and mortality."

The finalists in poetry are Lucia Perillo for Inseminating the Elephant (Copper Canyon Press) and Angie Estes for Tryst (Oberlin College Press). Stephen Burt, Wesley McNair, and Maureen McLane judged. In fiction, runner-up honors went to Lydia Millet for Love in Infant Monkeys (Soft Skull Press) and Daniyal Mueenuddin for In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Norton). Charles Johnson, Laura Miller, and Rebecca Pepper Sinkler judged.

In other awards news, the Los Angeles community-building organization Liberty Hill announced today that it would award its 2010 Upton Sinclair Award to novelist Walter Mosley. The author will receive the award, given to recognize work that contributes to social change, at a gala dinner in Los Angeles on May 20.

Mosley is the author of novels including Fearless Jones (Little, Brown, 2001), Fortunate Son (Back Bay Books, 2007), and Diablerie (Bloomsbury USA, 2007), and the story collection Six Easy Pieces (Washington Square Press, 2003), part of his series of books centered on a character named Easy Rawlins. A new novel, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books in November.

Kafi Blumenfield, CEO of Liberty Hill, says that Mosley "has powerfully tackled such monumental events in Los Angeles like the Watts riots in his work and eloquently created an authentic picture of the social injustice being faced by African-Americans in our complicated city."

In the video below, Mosley talks about the responsibility of a writer with Chris Abani.

Residency Award Offers Reflection Time for Writers of the Natural World

The Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word at Oregon State University recently announced its Mount Saint Helens Field Residencies program for writers. The May 1 deadline is fast approaching for poets and prose writers whose work explores place and the natural world, and who are interested in writing "creative responses to the volcano and its varied landscapes."

Residents receive a stipend of one thousand dollars, a campsite at a meadow base camp—though writers must bring their own camping gear—located near Randle, Washington and the volcano; meals; and transportation around the residency site. The program, held from July 18 to 24, will take place at the same time as Mount Saint Helens Science Pulse, a conference of ecologists and field researchers who, in addition to doing their own fieldwork, will travel with writers on field trips and make time for more informal interactions.

The residency program is a companion to the Spring Creek Project's Long-Term Ecological Reflections program, which is rooted in tenets including, "That storytelling and poetry, observation and experiment, myth and mathematics are all authentic windows on the world."

Applications and more information about the residencies are available on the Spring Creek Project Web site

Book Trailer Contest for Indie Press Authors

ForeWord Reviews, a magazine and online resource for writers, publishers, and purveyors of literature, is holding a video contest for independent press books published in 2009 and 2010. The magazine is asking authors and publishers to enter book trailers of no more than three minutes each by the end of April.

The winning trailer, determined by public voting on the magazine's YouTube page, will receive an Apple iPad. Every eligible video submitted will be screened at Book Expo America, held in New York City in May, in the Indie Press Lounge.

For more about book trailers from our archive, check out Sarah Weinman's "Book Trailers: The Key to Successful Video Marketing" and "Five Successful Book Trailers."

Below is a video trailer for Ninni Holmqist's novel The Unit, translated by Marlaine Delargy and published by indie outfit Other Press in 2009.

Award Amount Doubled, Seven Poets Vie for Griffin Prize

The Griffin Poetry Prize, which for the past ten years has honored a Canadian and an international poet for a recent collection, has announced the shortlist for the 2010 award. This year, the total prize purse is two hundred thousand dollars, double the amount formerly awarded. Each of the two winners will receive seventy five thousand dollars, and the finalists will be awarded ten thousand dollars apiece.

The shortlisted international titles are:
Grain
(Picador) by John Glenday of Scotland
A Village Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Louise Glück of the United States
The Sun-fish (The Gallery Press) by Eilean Ni Chuilleanain of Ireland
Cold Spring in Winter (Arc Publications) translated from the French of Valerie Rouzeau by Susan Wicks of England

The shortlisted Canadian titles are:
The Certainty Dream (Coach House Books) by Kate Hall
Coal and Roses (The Porcupine's Quill ) by P. K. Page
Pigeon (House of Anansi Press) by Karen Solie

This year's judges, Anne Carson—the 2001 Canadian winner—Kathleen Jamie, and Carl Phillips selected the finalists from nearly four hundred entries from twelve countries, twelve of which were translations. The winners will be announced on June 3 after a reading in Toronto on the previous day.

In the video below, the late P. K. Page, who was also shortlisted for the 2003 award, reads from her collection Planet Earth. In 2001 this poem, also titled "Planet Earth," was read simultaneously in several locations around the globe to celebrate the United Nations International Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations.

Tweet If You Heart National Poetry Month

The Seattle Times is celebrating National Poetry Month with a Twitter poetry contest. The newspaper is inviting tweets of 140-character verse—haiku, epigram, senryu, sonnet, or "what-have-you," so long as it's "suitable for a family newspaper." At the end of April, the editors will select their favorites and publish them in the Times.

Poets should post their works using their own Twitter accounts, after the tag "#STpoem." Examples are available on the Times Web site and on the contest's Twitter feed.

Do you know of a poetry contest being held in recognition of National Poetry Month? If so, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at editor@pw.org.

In the video below, actor and writer Stephen Fry talks about the poetic appeal of the tweet as it relates to Robert Graves's "telegram test."

Asian American Story Prize Extends Deadline

Hyphen magazine and the Asian American Writers' Workshop are keeping their short story contest open for two additional weeks. Asian American writers living in the United States and Canada now have until April 12 to submit stories of up to six thousand words.

The prize judges will be Alexander Chee, author of the novel Edinburgh (Picador, 2002), and Jaed Coffin, author of the memoir A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants (Da Capo, 2008). Whiting Writers' Award–winner Chee's second novel, The Queen of the Night, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Coffin, who has also spent time as a lobsterman, a sea kayak guide, and a Buddhist monk, is at work on a novel titled "Roughhouse Friday" informed by his year as a boxer in the Alaskan barroom circuit.

More information is available on the Hyphen Web site.

In the video below, Coffin reads from his memoir.

Inaugural Ted Hughes Prize Awarded to Nature Poet

Yesterday U.K. poet and gardener Alice Oswald received the first Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for her collection Weeds and Wildflowers (Faber and Faber). Last July British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy launched the new award, which comes with a five-thousand-pound prize (approximately $7,500) funded with her laureate stipend. The prize will be given annually to a living U.K. poet throughout the remainder of Duffy's ten-year term.

On this side of the pond, a cast of literary honorees was announced earlier this week by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. New Jersey poet Gerald Stern won the academy's Award of Merit Medal for Poetry, a ten-thousand-dollar prize that honors a writer's oeuvre. Tim O'Brien, author of the story collection The Things They Carried (Houghton Mifflin, 1990), won the twenty-thousand-dollar Katherine Anne Porter Award for lifetime achievement.

Daniyal Mueenuddin, who recently won the Story Prize, was recognized for his debut collection, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Norton), with the ten-thousand-dollar Rosenthal Family Foundation Award. Debut author Josh Weil won the five-thousand-dollar Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction for his novella collection, The New Valley (Grove Press).

The academy gave $7,500 Academy Awards in Literature to poets Peter Cole, Peter Everwine, and Bruce Smith; fiction writer Steve Erickson; and translator Natasha Wimmer, who has lately received attention for her translation of 2666 and other works by Roberto Bolaño. Playwright Jean Young Lee and biographer Blake Bailey also received the prize.

British fiction writer Dan Rhodes won the E. M. Forster Award, which offers a young writer twenty thousand dollars to fund a stay in the United States, and American writers Jay Hopler, a Salt Lake City poet, and Heather McGowan, a novelist living in New York City, each received a fellowship that offers a one-year residency at the American Academy in Rome.

Poet and art critic Peter Schjeldahl was honored by the academy for the style of his prose, which has appeared in cultural forums such as the New Yorker as well as in several books, with the ten-thousand-dollar Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award.

In the video below, Hughes Award winner Alice Oswald and shortlisted poet Paul Farley join an assembly of other poets in reciting Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky," which, incidentally, Hughes included in his poetry anthology The Rattle Bag (Faber and Faber, 1982), coedited by Seamus Heaney.

Jamaica Kincaid Honored for 1985 Novel

The Center for Fiction in New York City announced yesterday that Jamaica Kincaid has won the 2010 Clifton Fadiman Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Kincaid's 1985 novel Annie John (Hill and Wang), the story of a young girl growing up in the author's native Antigua, was selected by Pulitzer Prize–winner Jane Smiley, as the recipient of the five-thousand-dollar award, which honors books published at least ten years ago that are "deserving of rediscovery and a wider readership."

Previous Fadiman winners include Lore Segal for Other People's Houses, selected by Cynthia Ozick; Robert Coover for Pricksongs and Descants, selected by T. C. Boyle; and James Purdy for Eustace Chisholm and the Works, selected by Jonathan Franzen.

Smiley will present the award to Kincaid on April 14 at the Center for Fiction. Tickets for the event are fifteen dollars, and can be purchased on the center's Web site.

Chicago Lit Mag Holds Sedaris-Inspired Essay Competition

There are two days remaining to submit essays for a competition that will award four writers tickets to a performance by essayist David Sedaris in Chicago. Cooler by the Lake, the online magazine of StoryStudio Chicago writing and arts center, will accept entries of "funny, humorous, poignant" essays through Friday.

The winners each will receive two tickets to Sedaris's show on April 17 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, and their essays will be published in Cooler by the Lake. StoryStudio will notify winners, who will be responsible for their own travel and lodging, by April 2.

In the recording below, originally broadcast on Chicago Public Radio's This American Life, the author of essay collections Me Talk Pretty One Day (Little, Brown, 2000) and When You Are Engulfed in Flames (Little, Brown, 2008), among others, tells a story from his childhood.

Book Contest Looks for Writing That Cuts to the Gut

Black Lawrence Press, publisher of contemporary literature and an imprint of nonprofit press Dzanc Books, is winding down its submissions period for the annual Hudson Prize. The competition is open to collections of both poetry and short stories, but no matter its genre, the work, according to executive editor Diane Goettel, should aim to rock readers on a visceral level.

Goettel responded to our question about what the editors, who will serve as judges, will be looking for in a manuscript by recalling one blurber's reaction to the book of a former prizewinner—Jason Tandon. Tandon won the press's debut book prize, the St. Lawrence Book Award, in 2006. "In his blurb for Give Over the Heckler and Everyone Gets Hurt, Todd Zuniga said that Tandon's poems caused him to ache—'an "I'm-happy-to-be-alive" ache, an "I'm-glad-writing-like-this-exists" ache.' That's what we are looking for in submissions to The Hudson Prize: writing that makes us ache."

The winning manuscript will be published by Black Lawrence Press, and the winner will receive one thousand dollars. Entries may be of any length, and should be sent via e-mail by March 31. More information about this and other competitions going on now is available in our Grants & Awards database.

To read a poem from Tandon's winning collection, visit the online archives of Opium Magazine, of which Zuniga is editor.

Alexie Wins Thirtieth PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Earlier today Sherman Alexie was named winner of the fifteen-thousand-dollar PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his "structurally inventive" short story collection War Dances (Grove Press). Judges Rilla Askew, Kyoko Mori, and Al Young selected Alexie's book, which interweaves poetry with prose, from among roughly 350 novels and short story collections nominated by publishers.

Also receiving honors are finalists Barbara Kingsolver, nominated for her novel The Lacuna (Harper); Lorraine M. Lopez, for Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories (BkMk Press); Lorrie Moore, for her novel A Gate at the Stairs (Knopf); and Colson Whitehead, for his novel Sag Harbor (Doubleday), each of whom will be awarded five thousand dollars. The honorees will all be celebrated at the thirtieth anniversary award ceremony on May 8 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., where the PEN/Faulkner Foundation is based.

Alexie, the first Native American to win the prize, joins a roster of award alumni that includes Kate Christensen, Ha Jin, Joyce Carol Oates, Joseph O'Neill, Ann Patchett, Annie Proulx, Marilynne Robinson, Philip Roth, and John Updike.

 

No-Fee Contest Offers Writers Secretarial Services

Writer's Relief, a New Jersey–based company that provides submission services to writers, has announced the first of what will be annual scholarships to poets, fiction writers, and essayists. The Peter K. Hixson Scholarship will award three writers an A La Carte Plus package, a service that includes a vetted list of markets, as well as preparation of cover and query letters for writers to send to specific literary magazine editors and agents.

According to the Writer's Relief Web site, the service has assisted writers in placing work in journals including Zone 3, Chautauqua, Rio Grande Review, the MacGuffin, and Willard and Maple. The company values each Hixson scholarship at five hundred dollars.

The award is given in honor of the late Peter K. Hixson, a poet, fiction writer, choreographer, and speech-language pathologist who used the service. Excerpts of Hixson's work are posted online.

Writers may submit a sample in one category—poetry, short prose, or novel—via an online form. There is no fee to enter. More information about the award is available on the scholarship contest page.