Poets & Writers Blogs

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.

Same Contests, New Sponsors

Two writing competitions that had been administered by Eastern Washington University (EWU) Press in Spokane recently were shifted into the jurisdictions of two separate presses. The Blue Lynx Prize, given for a book of poetry, and the Spokane Prize for a short fiction collection are now housed at Lynx House Press and Willow Springs Books, respectively.

Lynx House Press, established in 1975 and for the past five years managed by EWU Press, is now going solo as a nonprofit outfit since the university elected to close its eponymous publisher. The school’s creative writing program will still have access to an in-house press, Willow Springs Books, a new publishing venture that serves as the lab for the program’s internship in literary editing.

Competition guidelines and the awards themselves haven’t changed, however. The prizes each offer two thousand dollars and publication of the winning manuscript. The deadline is approaching for the fiction award, which closes on April 1, and the poetry prize deadline is May 15.

In other contest news, Bellingham Review has extended the deadline for its poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction contests to April 1. 

Women's Fiction Prize Judge Laments "Misery Lit"

On the heels of the announcement of the Orange Prize longlist today, a bit of insight into the judging process of the annual award, given for a novel by a woman writer, was revealed by chair of judges Daisy Goodwin. The British television producer told the Independent she was put off by an abundance of nominated books written around an "issue," derivative of the popular genre she called the "misery memoir," several centering on themes of rape and child abuse.

"The pleasure of reading counts for something...I don't think editors think enough about this pleasure," Goodwin told the U.K. newspaper. "If I read another sensitive account of a woman coming to terms with bereavement, I was going to slit my wrists."

Goodwin counted as exceptions Roopa Farooki's The Way Things Look to Me, the story of an autistic teenager; Amy Sackville's The Still Point, whose protagonist suffers from depression; and Hilary Mantel's Booker prize–winning historical novel Wolf Hall—all of which made the longlist. Joining Goodwin in winnowing the pile of nominated titles are rabbi and author Julia Neuberger, novelist and critic Michèle Roberts, journalist Miranda Sawyer, and British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman.

Below is the list of semifinalists for the 2010 Orange Prize. The winner of the £30,000 (approximately $46,000) award will be announced on June 9.

Rosie Allison for The Very Thought of You (Alma Books)
Eleanor Catton for The Rehearsal (Granta)
Clare Clark for Savage Lands (Harvill Secker)
Amanda Craig for Hearts and Minds (Little, Brown)
Roopa Farooki for The Way Things Look to Me (Pan Books)
Rebecca Gowers for The Twisted Heart (Canongate)
M. J. Hyland for This is How (Canongate)
Sadie Jones for Small Wars (Chatto & Windus)
Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna (Faber & Faber)
Laila Lalami for Secret Son (Viking)
Andrea Levy for The Long Song (Headline Review)
Attica Locke for Black Water Rising (Serpent's Tail)
Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate)
Maria McCann for The Wilding (Faber & Faber)
Nadifa Mohamed for Black Mamba Boy (HarperCollins)
Lorrie Moore for A Gate at the Stairs (Faber & Faber)
Monique Roffey for The White Woman on the Green Bicycle (Simon & Schuster)
Amy Sackville for The Still Point (Portobello Books)
Kathryn Stockett for The Help (Fig Tree)
Sarah Waters for The Little Stranger (Virago)

In the video below, 2009 Orange Prize winner Marilyn Robinson discusses the complexity of father-son relationships, which she investigates in her winning third novel, Home.

Vestal McIntyre and Marilyn Hacker Among Lambda Finalists

The Lambda Literary Foundation announced its preliminary picks for the twenty-second annual Lambda Literary Awards. Eighty-two judges selected as finalists works of fiction, poetry, and memoir, as well as GLBT studies texts, anthologies, young adult literature, and books of drama, erotica, and genre fiction from a pool of 462 books—about 10 percent more than were nominated by publishers for last year's prizes.

The finalists are listed below by category. Winners will be named at a ceremony on May 27 at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Lesbian Poetry
Bird Eating Bird by Kristin Naca (HarperCollins)
Gospel by Samiya Bashir (Red Bone Press)
Names by Marilyn Hacker (W.W. Norton)
Stars of the Night Commute by Ana Božičević (Tarpaulin Sky Press)
Zero at the Bone by Stacie Cassarino (New Issues Poetry & Prose)

Gay Poetry
Breakfast with Thom Gunn by Randall Mann (University of Chicago Press)
The Brother Swimming Beneath Me by Brent Goodman (Black Lawrence Press)
The First Risk by Charles Jensen (Lethe Press)
Sweet Core Orchard by Benjamin S. Grossberg (University of Tampa Press)
What the Right Hand Knows by Tom Healy (Four Way Books)

Lesbian Debut Fiction
The Creamsickle by Rhiannon Argo (Spinsters Ink)
The Bigness of the World by Lori Ostlund (University of Georgia Press)
Land Beyond Maps by Maida Tilchen (Savvy Press)
More of This World or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson (HarperCollins)
Verge by Z Egloff (Bywater Books)

Gay Debut Fiction
Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal (Kensington Books)
God Says No by James Hannaham (McSweeneys)
Pop Salvation by Lance Reynald (HarperCollins)
Shaming the Devil: Collected Short Stories by G. Winston James (Top Pen Press)
Sugarless by James Magruder (University of Wisconsin Press)

Lesbian Fiction
Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon (HarperCollins)
A Field Guide to Deception by Jill Malone (Bywater Books)
Forgetting the Alamo, Or, Blood Memory by Emma Pérez (University of Texas Press)
Risk by Elena Dykewomon (Bywater Books)
This One’s Going to Last Forever by Nairne Holtz (Insomniac Press)

Gay Fiction
Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre (HarperCollins)
The River in Winter by Matt Dean (Queen's English Productions)
Said and Done by James Morrison (Black Lawrence Press)
Salvation Army by Abdellah Taia (Semiotext(e))
Silverlake by Peter Gadol (Tyrus Books)

Lesbian Memoir and Biography
Called Back: My Reply to Cancer, My Return to Life by Mary Cappello (Alyson Books)
Mean Little Deaf Queer by Terry Galloway (Beacon Press)
My Red Blood: A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Onto the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement by Alix Dobkin (Alyson Books)
Likewise: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag by Ariel Schrag (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone Fireside)
The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar (St. Martin’s Press)

Gay Memoir and Biography
Ardent Spirits: Leaving Home, Coming Back by Reynolds Price (Scribner Books)
City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960’s and 70’s by Edmund White (Bloomsbury USA)
Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division by Jon Ginoli (Cleis Press)
Once You Go Back by Douglas A. Martin (Seven Stories Press)
The Pure Lover: A Memoir of Grief by David Plante (Beacon Press)

Transgender Literature
Bharat Jiva, a poetry collection by Kari Edwards (Litmus Press)
Lynnee Breedlove’s One Freak Show, a humor collection by Lynn Breedlove (Manic D Press)
The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, an essay collection by S Bear Bergman (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Transmigration, a poetry collection by Joy Ladin (Sheep Meadow Press)
Troglodyte Rose, an illustrated science fiction book by Adam Lowe (Cadaverine Publications)

Fourteen Titles From Around the World Take Home Awards

A host of literary honors were announced at the close of last week, including the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award, two world-spanning book prizes, and an award for Canadian fiction.

Last Thursday, Rae Armantrout took the NBCC prize in poetry for Versed (Wesleyan University Press), and Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel won for her novel Wolf Hall (Holt). Diana Athill's Somewhere Towards the End (Norton) won the prize in autobiography.

The international literature resource Three Percent, housed at the University of Rochester, awarded its Best Translated Book Award last week at Idlewild Books in New York City. The winner in poetry was Elena Fanailova's The Russian Version (Ugly Duckling Presse), translated from the Russian by Genya Turovskaya and Stephanie Sandle. Gail Hareven's The Confessions of Noa Weber (Melville House), translated from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu, won in fiction. Three Percent gives the award to honor international books of poetry and fiction published in the United States during the previous year.

After a week of debates broadcast by Canada's Radio One, Montreal author Nicolas Dickner's novel Nikolski beat out four other titles to win the Canadian Broadcasting Company's Canada Reads competition. His book, translated from the French by Lazer Lederhendler, will be released in a U.S. trade paperback edition in May by Trumpeter Books.

Eight writers from nations of the British Commonwealth received regional book awards from the Commonwealth Foundation. The four regions represented are Africa, the Carribean and Canada, South Asia and Europe, and Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The winners for debut books are Adaobi Tricia Nwaubeni of Nigeria for I Do Not Come to You by Chance (Hyperion); Shandi Mitchell of Canada for Under This Unbroken Sky (Harper); Daniyal Mueenuddin from Pakistan for In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Norton); and Glenda Guest from Australia for Siddon Rock (Random House). Marié Heese of South Africa won Best Book for The Double Crown (Human & Rousseau); Michael Crummey of Canada won for Galore (Doubleday Canada); Rana Dasgupta of the United Kingdom won for Solo (Fourth Estate); and Albert Wendt of Samoa won for The Adventures of Vela (Huia). The winning debut titles from this round will go on to compete for a five-thousand-pound prize, and the "Best Book" honorees have the opportunity to win a ten-thousand-pound award, announced on April 12.

AAWW Sponsors Story Prize for Asian American Writers

The Asian American Writers' Workshop (AAWW) in New York City is teaming up with San Francisco–based Hyphen magazine to present a short story contest for writers of Asian descent. Fiction writers living in the United States and Canada are eligible for the one-thousand-dollar prize, which also includes publication in Hyphen, a nonprofit news and culture magazine that seeks to "go beyond celebrity interviews and essays about discovering our roots, which we found a long time ago, thank-you-very-much" and offer "a more complex representation of Asian America."

The contest winner will also receive one-year of membership in the AAWW. The AAWW's members are offered discounts on event fees and books, a vote in the Members' Choice Workshop Award given annually to published writers, and access to other opportunities, including fellowships.

Writers may enter their stories, novellas, or novel excerpts that could be published as stand-alone pieces by March 31. Since its launch in 2007, the contest has reportedly received about two hundred entries per year. More details are on the Hyphen Web site.

In the video below, inaugural Asian American Short Story Prize winner Preeta Samarasan reads from her debut novel, Evening is the Whole Day.