Poets & Writers Blogs

Sapphire, Brian Turner, and Ai Among United States Artist Fellows

Last night United States Artists (USA) announced seven writers as 2009 winners of the organization's fifty-thousand-dollar fellowship award, given annually to a total of fifty artists nationwide. The fellows are poets Ai, Brian Turner, and Kevin Young; fiction writers Antonya Nelson, Sapphire—also known for her poetry—and Justin Torres; and graphic novelist Gilbert Hernandez. Playwright Nelo Cruz also received an award.

The recipients were selected from a pool of writers nominated by fellow artists, critics, scholars, and other literary professionals. Nominated writers then submitted applications, and a peer panel chose the winners. This year's panel in literature was comprised of Jeff Chang, Anne García-Romero, Major Jackson, Alan Michael Parker, and Robert Polito.

Garcia-Romero made reference to Federico García Lorca's theory of duende—the power of the unknown that drives the creation of new things—in a write-up about the nominees and recipients of this year's award. "These writers provide us with a stirring collection of texts that reflect the complexity of twenty-first century life in this country," she says. "Infused with duende, these 'newly created things' will also have the potential to change the shape of the way we live."

According to USA, the organization has granted artists ten million dollars since the awards' creation in 2006. A poll of the inaugural winners showed that the majority of the funds were used to develop new projects, finish a project, purchase supplies, or facilitate work-related travel. Fellows also used their grants to volunteer for an arts-related cause or present their work to the public.

In the video below, fellow Brian Turner recites the title poem for his multiple-award-winning debut collection, Here, Bullet (Alice James Books, 2005).

Asia Residency Award Offers Writers Time Abroad, One Thousand Dollars

The M Restaurant Group, China-based sponsor of the Shanghai International Literary Festival, is offering two three-month residencies in China and India to writers of any nationality working in English. One residency, in the bustling city of Shanghai, will take place before March 2011, and the India residency—located, by contrast, in a somewhat isolated area near the southern town of Pondicherry—will occur between November 2010 and February 2011. Both residents will receive one thousand dollars each in addition to airfare, lodging, and meals (or, in the case of the Shanghai resident, a stipend to cover meals). Poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers are all eligible.

The residents are encouraged to interact with their respective host communities by participating in at least two events—a workshop in a local school or a literary talk at a bookshop, for instance. The M group will assist writers in organizing their programming.

Details of how to apply are available on the literary festival Web site, but, in short, applicants should submit a project proposal, a personal statement, contact information for two references, and two writing samples totaling no more than five thousand words. An application and proof of residency are also required. All of the materials must be e-mailed to the M group contact, Cordelia Witton, by January 15. Residency recipients will be announced on March 5.

Judge Spotlight: Donald Revell for Poetry Prize

The Colorado Prize given by the Colorado Review, a fifteen-hundred-dollar award for a poetry collection that includes publication by the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University, will be judged in 2010 by the journal's poetry editor Donald Revell. The poet, who has published thirteen collections as well as translations from the French of Arthur Rimbaud and Guillaume Apollinaire, is himself the recipient of a book publication award. Early in Revell's career, From the Abandoned Cities (Harper & Row, 1983) was selected by C. K. Williams for the 1982 National Poetry Series.

Revell's other collections include Gaza of Winter (University of Georgia Press, 1988), Erasures (Wesleyan University Press, 1992), My Mojave (Alice James Books, 2003), Thief of Stings (Alice James Books, 2007), and most recently, Bitter Withy (Alice James Books, 2009). He has also published a book of prose on the life of writing, The Art of Attention: A Poet's Eye (Graywolf Press, 2007).

To enter the Colorado Prize competition, poets may submit manuscripts of 48 to 100 pages by January 14. An entry fee of twenty-five dollars includes a subscription to Colorado Review.

The past Colorado Prize winners and judges are:
2008
Endi Bogue Hartigan for One Sun Storm
selected by Martha Ronk

2007
Craig Morgan Teicher for Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems
selected by Paul Hoover

2006
Jaswinder Bolina for Carrier Wave
selected by Lyn Hejinian

2005
Karen Garthe for Frayed escort
selected by Calvin Bedient

2004
Rusty Morrison for Whethering
selected by Forrest Gander

2003
G. C. Waldrep for Goldbeater's Skin
selected by Donald Revell

2002
Robin Ewing for Chemical Wedding
selected by Fanny Howe

2001
Geoffrey Nutter for A Summer Evening
selected by Jorie Graham

2000
Sally Keith for Design
selected by Allen Grossman

1999
Stephen Burt for Popular Music
selected by Jorie Graham

1998
Michael White for Palma Cathedral
selected by Mark Strand

1997
Catherine Webster for The Thicket Daybreak
selected by Jane Miller

1996
Bruce Beasley for Summer Mystagogia
selected by Charles Wright

1995
Dean Young for Strike Anywhere
selected by Charles Simic

In the video below, Revell reads from his translation of Rimbaud's Illuminations (Omnidawn Publishing, 2009). A second video from the reading is available on YouTube.

Translation Award Deadline Extended

The Academy of American Poets has extended the deadline for its Raiziss/de Palchi Book Award, a five-thousand-dollar award given for an English translation of a book of Italian poetry. Publishers may now submit books through January 30.

The judges for this year's prize are Jennifer Scappettone, a poet and professor of English at University of Chicago; Paolo Valesio, professor of Italian literature at Columbia University; and Lawrence Venuti, a professor of English who works in literary translation at Temple University.

The book prize alternates with a fellowship given to a translator of Italian poetry embarking on a specific project. Past winners of the awards (no winner was selected for the fellowship in 2009) are:

2008 Book Award
Patrick Barron
The Selected Poetry and Prose of Andrea Zanzotto

2007 Fellowship
Adria Bernardi
Small Talk by Rafaello Baldini

2006 Book Prize
John DuVal
Tales of Trilussa by Carlo Alberto Salustri

2005 Fellowship
Ann Snodgrass
Selected Poems of Vittorio Sereni

2004
Andrew Frisardi
The Selected Poems of Giuseppe Ungaretti

2003 Fellowship
Michael Palma
Selected Poems of Giovanni Raboni

2002 Book Prize
Stephen Sartarelli
Songbook: The Selected Poems of Umberto Saba

2001 Fellowship
Emanuel di Pasquale
Sharing a Trip: Selected Poems by Silvio Ramat

2000 Book Prize
John P. Welle and Ruth Feldman
Peasants Wake for Fellini's Casanova by Andrea Zanzotto

1999 Fellowship
Geoffrey Brock
Disaffections: Complete Poems 19301950 by Cesare Pavese

1998 Book Prize
Michael Palma
The Man I Pretend to Be: The Colloquies and Selected Poems of Guido Gozzano

1997 Fellowship
Anthony Molino
Esercizi di tiptologia by Valerio Magrelli

1996 Book Prize
W. S. Di Piero
This Strange Joy: Selected Poems of Sandro Penna 

This month, the Academy is also open to submissions to the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award for English translations, published in 2009, of books of poetry originally written in any language. The deadline is December 31.

PEN American Center and the French-American Foundation are also accepting entries to their respective translation book prizes. Publishers, agents, or translators may submit books published this year by December 14 for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, given for a poetry collection, and the PEN Translation Prize, given for a book of poetry or prose. The French-American Foundation awards two translation prizes for a book of fiction and a book of nonfiction (including creative nonfiction) originally in French; the deadline for translations published in 2009 is December 31.

For writers currently working on a translation project, the National Endowment for the Arts is open to applications for its translation fellowships of up to twenty five thousand dollars until January 7. Buona fortuna!

U.K. Short Story Prize Aims to Elevate the Profile of the Form

At a ceremony in London, the BBC announced the winner of the fourth annual National Short Story Award, a fifteen-thousand-pound prize (approximately $24,700) given for a single piece of short fiction by a U.K. writer. Kate Clanchy took the prize for "The Not-Dead and the Saved," which was selected from nearly seven hundred entries. Sara Maitland was honored as runner up, receiving three thousand pounds (approximately $4,900), for her story "Moss Witch."

The finalists were Naomi Alderman, winner of the 2006 Orange Award for New Writers, for "Other People's Gods"; Jane Rogers for "Hitting Trees With Sticks"; and Orange Prize winner Lionel Shriver for "Exchange Rates." All of the shortlisted stories were presented last week on BBC's Radio Four, where "the short story continues to hold its own," according to the BBC Web site. Podcasts of the readings are available on the site.

Novelist Dame Margaret Drabble, journalist Tom Sutcliffe, and singer Will Young were the judges.

For writers looking to submit to story competitions on this side of the pond, here's a rundown of this month's contests, all open for entries:
Crazyhorse
's Fiction Prize
Submit a story of up to 25 pages by December 15.

White Eagle Coffee Store Press's A. E. Coppard Prize
Submit a story of eight-thousand to fourteen-thousand words by December 15.

North Carolina Writers Network's Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize
Submit a story of up to twelve pages by December 20.

Boulevard's Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers
Submit a story of any length by December 31.

Glimmer Train Press's Fiction Open
Submit a story of two-thousand to twenty-thousand words by December 31.

Ruth Hindman Foundation's H. E. Francis Short Story Competition
Submit a story of up to five thousand words by December 31.

In the video below, the Radio Four recording of Kate Clanchy's story is excerpted: 

Lit Mag Holds Novella Contest

Carpe Articulum, a seven-year-old literary review that "embraces all of the peripheral literary arts, including nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, novellas, short fiction, scientific papers, interviews with accomplished writers, and even photography" has opened its contest for a novella. The winning work will be published in the magazine, and the writer will receive a prize of one thousand dollars.

Novellas of 26 to 150 pages are eligible for submission before January 7. A twenty-five dollar entry fee includes a three-month digital subscription to the journal.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, a poet and fiction writer, will be the judge. According to her Web site, the author of the novel The Palace of Illusions (Anchor, 2009) and the short story collection Arranged Marriage (Anchor, 1996) often writes on "women, immigration, the South Asian experience, history, myth, magic and celebrating diversity." She teaches writing at the University of Houston.

In the video below, Divakaruni talks about the risks she took in writing her novel The Mistress of Spices (Anchor, 1997).

Southern Writers Take Inaugural Poetry Series Prizes

Three poets have been selected as recipients of the first Poetry Series awards from Mississippi Review. They are Martha Greenwald of Louisville, Kentucky; Liana Quill of Falls Church, Virginia; and Christopher Salerno of Raleigh, North Carolina, who each received one thousand dollars, publication of their winning works by Mississippi Review, and one hundred author copies.

Dara Wier judged the competition, choosing Greenwald's Other Prohibited Items, Quill's Fifty Poems, and Salerno's Minimum Heroic for publication. Salerno is the author of one previous book, Whirligig (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing House, 2006). The Poetry Series books, to be released in January, will be debut collections for both Greenwald and Quill.

The award finalists were Jeannine Hall Gailey for her manuscript "The Robot Scientist's Daughter," Ian Ganassi for "mean numbers," Jonathan Musgrove for "A Hand in Place of a Hand," Jason Schneiderman for "Striking Surface," Andrew Sofer for "Wave," Liz Waldner for "Homeseeker's Paradise," and Theodore Worozbyt for "Tuesday Marriage Death."

A poem by finalist Jason Schneiderman is brought to life in the video below. 

Writer's Digest Extends Story Contest Deadline

Writer's Digest has announced that it will now accept entries for its Short Short Story Contest until December 10. The competition is accepting fiction entries of no more than fifteen hundred words, which can be submitted online or via postal mail. The winner will receive three thousand dollars, and the second-place finalist fifteen hundred dollars, and both of their winning stories will be published in the 10th Annual Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection.

Last year's winner was Lee Hubbard for his story "We Sat in the Darkness," and Richard Cass received the second-place nod for "A Fisherman's Wife." J. A. Konrath, Debby Mayne, and Gina Ochsner were the judges.

The 2009 honorees will be announced in the May/June 2010 issue of Writer's Digest after winners are notified in February.

Nathan Englander to Select a Short for Symphony Space Prize

The Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City has launched its annual Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize for a 750-word piece, this year on the theme of "Apartments and Neighbors." Nathan Englander will choose the winning story, which will be read in the Selected Shorts series at Symphony Space, a program featuring stage and screen actors performing literary fiction. The winner will also receive one thousand dollars and tickets to the staged reading of his or her story on April 7, 2010.

All stories must be titled, and a twenty-five dollar entry fee should accompany each submission. The deadline is January 29, 2010 (the organization emphasizes that this is not a postmark deadline, but that entries must be received by this date). The contest is also open to online entries. Additional submission information is available on the Selected Shorts Web site.

The winner of the 2009 contest is Daniela Maristany for "Swimmers." Her winning story, read by actress Mary Stuart Masterson, aired in November on New York City's public radio station, WNYC—as well as a number of other National Public Radio stations across the country—as part of the station's partnership with Symphony Space, appearing alongside pieces by Amy Hempel and Edna O'Brien.

Mexican Poet Wins Cervantes Prize

The Cervantes Prize, considered the most prestigious honor among Spanish-language writers, was awarded this year to José Emilio Pacheco of Mexico. The seventy-year-old poet, fiction writer, and essayist received 125,000 euros (approximately $188,000).

Pacheco's works translated into English include City of Memory and Other Poems (City Lights, 1997),  translated by Cynthia Steele and David Lauer; Battles in the Desert and Other Stories (New Directions, 1987), translated by Katherine Silver; and Don’t Ask Me How the Time Goes By: Poems 1964−1968 (Columbia University Press, 1978), translated by Alastair Reid. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship and numerous awards for Spanish-language literature including the Mexican Literature Prize.

The Cervantes Prize, established in 1976 and given annually by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, has generally been awarded in alternating years to Spanish and Latin American writers. Among the previous recipients are Octavio Paz, Jorge Luis Borges, and Mario Vargas Llosa. 

Words From a Winner

As part of this blog’s mission to offer you the perspectives of writers who have found success in entering writing contests, we recently caught up with Tricia Springstubb, a fiction writer from Ohio whose name has lately come up as a winner of contests that we list in our Grants & Awards pages. This year Springstubb won the Howard Frank Mosher Short Story Award from Hunger Mountain (she also earned an honorable mention in their young adult writing competition) and the Iowa Review Award in fiction. “It's only very recently that my literary fairy godmother has begun to ROCK,” Springstubb told us, adding that she just found out that her story is among the top twenty-five entries in Glimmer Train’s September Fiction Open. We asked her to share a bit about her experiences as a competition entrant and winner.

How many contests do you estimate you have entered? How many did you enter before winning your first award?
I've probably entered less than ten contests. The Iowa Review Award came on my third or fourth try. The other ones have followed in succession.

What do you look for in a contest?
I try to enter contests where the judge is someone I recognize and respect. I know too well how subjective and even arbitrary these prizes are, so I like the idea that if I should actually win something, a person whose judgment I value made the choice.

How do you select a piece to submit to a competition?
This sounds moronic, but I tend to write long short stories.  So I try to pick one that most closely fits the contest's guidelines, so I have to cut as little as possible.

Do you have an organizational strategy for tracking award deadlines, submissions, and honors received?

I have a folder full of paper with journals and dates scribbled and circled and crossed out. But I plan to initiate a coherent filing system within this lifetime. Just recently a writer friend made me aware of your Grants & Awards Database and I now have it bookmarked. What a useful tool and generous service!

What is the most rewarding aspect of receiving an award? What award has been of the most value to you?

The affirmation of winning an award fires me up. Also, it's nice to no longer have to leave the “awards” section blank when I apply for fellowships or grants. And of course being published and read is always the main thing.

I had a recent weak-in-the-knees experience when Ann Patchett, who judged the Iowa Review Award, read here in Cleveland. Afterwards I spoke with her and she remembered the story and talked about it with me.  It was cool to be a member of her club, even if only for an afternoon.

What piece of advice do you have for writers looking to contests as a way to get their work into the world?

Awards can earn you some traction, but I don't know that I'd recommend them over just plain old submitting. Fifteen minutes of fame! And then you're back to work.

Booker Winner Up for Enjoyable Literature Prize

The shortlist for the 2009 Costa Book Awards, given for books published in the current year by writers living in the United Kingdom, was announced earlier today. Among the finalists are Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel and poet Ruth Padel, nominated for a collection centered on her great great grandfather, Charles Darwin. The prizes, formerly the Whitbread Literary Awards (they now take the name of their sponsor, a popular U.K. coffee chain), recognize the year's "most enjoyable books" in the categories of poetry, novel, and first novel.

The finalists are, in poetry:
Clive James for Angels Over Elsinore (Picador Poetry)
Katharine Kilalea for One Eye’d Leigh (Carcanet)
Ruth Padel for Darwin: A Life in Poems (Chatto & Windus)
Christopher Reid for A Scattering (Arete Books)

In the novel:
Penelope Lively for Family Album (Fig Tree)
Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate)
Christopher Nicholson for The Elephant Keeper (Fourth Estate)
Colm Tóibίn for Brooklyn (Viking)

In first novel:
Rachel Heath for The Finest Type of English Womanhood (Hutchinson)
Peter Murphy for John the Revelator (Faber and Faber)
Raphael Selbourne for Beauty (Tindal Street Press)
Ali Shaw for The Girl with Glass Feet (Atlantic Books)

The winner in each category, announced on January 5, will receive five thousand pounds (approximately eight thousand dollars). A "Book of the Year" selected from among the works of the genre winners will be awarded twenty-five thousand pounds (approximately forty thousand dollars). The overall honoree will be revealed on January 26.

Journal Prizes Writers' Vocal Stylings

Missouri Review is offering a prize of fifteen hundred dollars for what it calls "voice-only literature"—a poem, story, or work of creative nonfiction recorded with no other sound but the author's voice reciting the work. The journal says in the award guidelines that the audio submissions "will be judged on literary merit and technical proficiency."

Entries, which should ideally "make creative use of recording technology as a means of furthering...literary craft" are limited to ten minutes. Writers are asked to record on a CD labeled with writer, producer, title, and duration of play, and to submit a twenty-four-dollar fee per entry (this also entitles entrants to a one-year subscription to the journal). The deadline is January 2, 2010.

The journal is also running a contest for a video documentary short, not to exceed ten minutes. The DVD recording may either present a nonfiction narrative, a documentary play, or an interview (on "any topic of interest to a general literary audience"). The prize is fifteen hundred dollars and a screening of the winning work at Columbia, Missouri's, True/False Film Festival.

Last year's voice-only literature winners, who received five hundred dollars each, are Douglas Collura in poetry for “Living the Life of the Great Buster Keaton" and Ann Rosenquist Fee in fiction for “Annunciation of the Baby Jesus One Block North of Riverfront Dr." Rachel Hanel won in creative nonfiction for "Smoke Rings." In 2007, Todd Boss won in poetry for “To Wind a Mechanical Toy”; Josh McDonald won in flash fiction for “Lost”; and Albert Haley won in creative nonfiction for “The Cough.” A list of the runners-up and the documentary honorees is on the Missouri Review Web site.

Poems, stories, and essays from a free audio issue of Missouri Review, published in 2007 and featuring work by writers such as Paul Guest and Stephen O'Connor, are available for download from the journal Web site.

In the video below, Boss, who wrote a story for Poets & Writers Magazine on how writers can build an audio platform, recites another of his poems titled "Constellations."

 

Microfiction for Microbrews

River Styx, the thirty-five-year-old literary and arts journal, is running its fourth annual short short story contest with a prize of fifteen hundred dollars and a case of Schlafly beer. The Saint Louis–based microbrewery is cosponsoring the competition, which invites fiction writers to submit up to three stories of no more than five hundred words each. The winning work will be published in River Styx.

The 2009 winner, selected from more than five hundred submissions, is Amina Gautier for her story "Minnow." The second- and third-place winners, respectively, are Rose Bunch for "Season" and Gerry Canavan for "When We're Gone." Honorable mentions went to Avni Vyas for "Cartography," Lisa Nikolidakis for "Misplaced,"
 Fred Venturini for "Punches," and 
Gary Leising for "Enter Fortinbras."

This year's deadline for entries is December 31, and all entrants will receive a one-year subscription to the journal.

Waldrop, McCann Take National Book Awards

At a benefit dinner in New York City tonight the winners of the sixtieth annual National Book Awards were announced. In poetry, Keith Waldrop won for his collection Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press), his fifteenth book of poems. Colum McCann won in fiction for his fifth novel Let the Great World Spin (Random House). They each received a ten-thousand-dollar prize.

Awards were also given in young adult literature, to Phillip Hoose for Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and nonfiction, to T. J. Stiles for his biography The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Knopf).

The winner of the best of the National Book Awards Fiction, given in celebration of the awards' anniversary, was The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor. The public was invited to vote on the standout of six fiction volumes, including books by Ralph Ellison and Eudora Welty, earlier this fall. O'Connor's collection received the majority of a reported ten thousand votes.

In the video below, McCann discusses his winning book.