Poets & Writers Blogs

NPR's Second Three-minute Fiction Contest Closes Tonight

Due to the popularity of the first Three-Minute Fiction Contest, National Public Radio (NPR) is giving writers a second chance to submit their short short stories. This round of the contest, judged once again by writer and critic James Wood, asks writers to begin their pieces with the line "The nurse left work at five o'clock."

Stories must be no longer than six hundred words, and may be submitted via an e-mail form on the NPR Web site. The contest closes tonight at 11:59 PM. Favorite stories will be posted on the site, and the winning tale will be read by Wood on air.

Molly Reid, who teaches composition and literature at Colorado State University, won the inaugural contest earlier this summer for her story "Not That I Care," selected from over five thousand submissions. Along with Reid's winning work, the finalists' pieces can be viewed online at NPR's Three-Minute Fiction series page.

Upcoming Contests Looking for Your Single Knockout Piece

Until the end of September, nine literary journals are running competitions open for entries of individual poems, stories, and essays. Each will offer its winners publication and monetary prizes of five hundred dollars or more.

Here's a roundup of upcoming opportunities to submit your standout work. The type of work accepted is indicated beneath the prize name. 

August 31 
Glimmer Train Press
Very Short Fiction Award
Story
Prize is twelve hundred dollars and publication in Glimmer Train Stories

Margie
Editor’s Prize
Poem
Prize is one thousand dollars and publication in Margie: The American Journal of Poetry

September 1
American Literary Review
Literary Awards
Poem, story, essay
Prizes are one thousand dollars each and publication in the American Literary Review

September 8
13th Moon
Poetry and Fiction Contests
Poem and story
Prizes are one thousand dollars each and publication in 13th Moon: A Feminist Literary Magazine 

Bear Deluxe Magazine
Doug Fir Fiction Award
Story
Prize is one thousand dollars and publication in Bear Deluxe Magazine

September 10
Hunger Mountain
Creative Nonfiction Prize
Essay
Prize is one thousand dollars and publication on the Hunger Mountain Web site

September 15
Greensboro Review
Robert Watson Literary Prizes
Poem and story
Prizes are five hundred dollars each and publication in Greensboro Review

Literal Latté
Ames Essay Award
Essay
Prize is one thousand dollars and publication in Literal Latté

September 30 
Glimmer Train Press
Fiction Open
Story
Prize is two thousand dollars and publication in Glimmer Train Stories

Red Hen Press
Ruskin Art Club Poetry Award
Poem
Prize is one thousand dollars and publication in Los Angeles Review

NEA Fellowships Support Translation of Works in Eleven Languages

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced yesterday that it has awarded sixteen translators Literature Fellowships for Translation Projects to work on specific literary endeavors. Six fellows were awarded grants of $25,000, and ten will receive $12,500 to work on English translations of works in Croatian, Turkish, and Catalan, among other languages.

The fellowships for poetry went to Olga Broumas to support translations from the Greek of works by contemporary poet Kiki Dimoula, author of twelve volumes of verse; Eléna Rivera for a translation from the French of Bernard Noël’s collection The Rest of the Voyage; Richard Tillinghast for a translation from the Turkish of selected pieces by experimental poet Edip Cansever; and Russell Valentino for a translation from the Rovignese, a rare Istro-Venetian dialect, of Conversations with Filip the Seagull in this Corner of Paradise by Ligio Zanini, who died in 1993. Each translator will receive $12,500.

Fellows in fiction are Charlotte Mandell, who will be working on a translation from the French of the five-hundred-page, single-sentence novel Zone by Mathias Énard, published in 2008; Daniel Shapiro for a translation from the Spanish of the short story collection Missing Persons, Animals and Artists by contemporary Mexican writer Roberto Ransom; and Martha Tennent for a translation from the Catalan of approximately forty stories from the lesser-known collections of Mercè Rodoreda. They each will receive $25,000.

Also given $12,500 awards in fiction were Ellen Elias-Bursac for a translation from the Croatian of the novel The Goldsmith's Gold by August Šenoa; Tina Kover for a translation from the French of Manette Salomon by brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, who wrote in the mid- to late-nineteenth century; and Tess Lewis for a translation from the German of Alois Hotschnig’s short story collection Die Kinder Beruhigte das Nicht (That Didn't Reassure the Children), published in Germany in 2006.

The nonfiction fellows are Brian Henry for a translation from the Slovenian of Ales Steger’s essay collection, Berlin; and Sandra Kingery for her translation from the Spanish of the memoir We Won the War by Esther Tusquets. Henry received $25,000 and Kingery received $12,500.

Eugene Ostashevsky received a $12,500 award for a translation from the Russian of a the philosopher Leonid Lipavsky’s Conversations, a portrayal of his talks with the OBERIU, a group of Russian avant-garde poets. Three playwrights, Diane Arnson Svarlien, Chantal Bilodeau, and Nahma Sandrow also received fellowships.

The fellowships, given annually by the NEA, have supported such projects as Natasha Wimmer’s translation of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction last year. The next application deadline is January 7, 2010.

Two of this year’s fellows, Lewis and Shapiro, also recently received three-thousand-dollar Translation Fund Grants from PEN American Center to support the translations mentioned above.

Poet and Professor Juliana Spahr Honored for Writing and Teaching

Folger Poetry, a program of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., announced yesterday that it will award Juliana Spahr its nineteenth annual O. B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize. She will receive the ten-thousand-dollar award and give a reading at the library on October 9.

The prize, named for poet, teacher, and former Folger director O. B. Hardison, is awarded to recognize poets' work as writers and their service as educators. Spahr, who teaches at Mills College in California, most recently published The Transformation (Atelos Press, 2007), a lyric memoir. Claudia Rankine and Joshua Weiner selected her for the honor.

Past winners of the poetry prize are:
2008 Mary Kinzie
2007 David Wojahn
2006 David Rivard
2005 Tony Hoagland
2004 Reginald Gibbons
2003 Cornelius Eady
2002 Ellen Bryant Voigt
2001 David St. John
2000 Rachel Hadas
1999 Alan Shapiro
1998 Heather McHugh
1997 Frank Bidart
1996 Jorie Graham
1995 E. Ethelbert Miller
1994 R. H. W. Dillard
1993 John Frederick Nims
1992 Cynthia MacDonald
1991 Brendan Galvin

Pacific Northwest Magazine Seeks Fiction With an Eye on Environment

A prize of one thousand dollars and publication in Bear Deluxe Magazine out of Portland, Oregon, is being offered for a short story that addresses the environment, sense of place, and the natural world. The magazine is published by Orlo, a nonprofit that supports creative arts that explore environmental issues.

The judge for this year’s prize will be Portland writer Jon Raymond, whose most recent book is the story collection Livability (Bloomsbury, 2009), two pieces from which have been adapted for film. The 2006 film Old Joy was based on the story of the same title, and "Train Choir" became the 2008 movie Wendy and Lucy. Raymond has also written and edited for locally-based literary magazine Tin House.

Writers may submit stories of up to 5,000 words by September 8. The contest charges a $15 entry fee, which includes a copy of the prize issue.

Last year’s winner, Justin Blessinger of Madison, South Dakota, had his story "Winter Count" published in the Summer 2009 issue of the magazine. The judge was Katherine Dunn, also a Portland resident and the author of Geek Love (Knopf, 1989).

Historical Research Residencies Offered to Creative Writers

In 2010, the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, will give at least four fellowships to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers who wish to explore American history before the twentieth century. The organization’s goal in providing the monthlong residencies, which include $1,100 and housing on the campus of the independent research library (or $1,600 without housing), is to "multiply and improve the ways in which an understanding of history is communicated to the American people."

Fellowship recipients may spend their time at the library researching any subject, with the objective of producing "imaginative, non-formulaic works dealing with pre-twentieth-century American history." The opportunity will also be offered to painters, sculptors, filmmakers, playwrights and other artists working on historical projects.

Writers should submit ten copies of a twenty-five-page manuscript, a resumé, and a five-page project proposal by October 5. Two references should also send letters of recommendation directly to the society. Complete guidelines are available on the organization's Web site.

Past fellows include poet Nicole Cooley (1999), who researched the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 for her collection The Afflicted Girls (Louisiana State University Press, 2004); fiction writer Amy Brill (2005), who worked on a novel set in the 1800s about a female astronomer in Nantucket; and creative nonfiction writer and novelist Ginger Strand (2006), who investigated the library’s collection of Niagara Falls–related writings, images, and miscellania for her book Inventing Niagara (Simon & Schuster, 2008).

McSweeney’s Author Wins Debut Novel Award from VCU

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has awarded Deb Olin Unferth the Cabell First Novelist Award for Vacation, published by McSweeney’s Books in 2008. She will receive five thousand dollars and an all-expenses-paid trip to Richmond to attend VCU’s First Novelist Festival in November.

Unferth has previously published a short story collection, Minor Robberies, one-third of the boxed set One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box (McSweeney's Books, 2007), which also includes How the Water Feels to the Fishes by Dave Eggers and Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape by Sarah Manguso.

Unferth’s debut novel was selected for the honor by previous prizewinners Travis Holland and Peter Orner, and Andrew Blossom, the editor of Makeout Creek magazine and the anthology Richmond Noir, forthcoming from Akashic Books in March 2010. Holland won the 2008 award for The Archivist’s Story (Dial Press, 2007), and Orner won in 2007 for The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo (Little, Brown, 2006).

This year's finalists were David Mura for Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire (Coffee House Press) and Jesmyn Ward for Where the Line Bleeds (Agate Bolden), recently nominated for a Legacy Award from the Hurston/Wright Foundation.

The annual award is named for prolific Richmond author and poet James Branch Cabell, known for his contributions to fantasy fiction, though he also wrote literary works. His debut novel, The Eagle’s Shadow—the first of fifty-two volumes of work—was published by Doubleday in 1904.

The next deadline for publishers to submit nominations is September 15, for books published in January through June of this year. The entry deadline for books released in July through December is January 15, 2010.

Lost Horse Press Names Winner of Poetry Book Prize

Lost Horse Press has announced the winner of the 2009 Idaho Prize for Poetry. Stephen Gibson of West Palm Beach was named the recipient of the one-thousand-dollar prize, which includes publication of his winning collection, Frescoes, by Lost Horse Press. Carolyne Wright judged.

Gibson’s most recent book of poetry is Masaccio’s Expulsion, published in 2008, which won MARGIE/IntuiT House Press’s Robert E. Lee and Ruth I. Wilson Poetry Book Award, judged by Andrew Hudgins. His debut collection, Rorschach Art, was published by Red Hen Press in 2001. Frescoes will be released in February of next year.

Two runners-up for the Idaho Prize were also named. They are John Brady for Thunder Shakes the Snake: The Poetry of Cheng Hui and Matthew Thorburn for Every Possible Blue.

The longlisted finalists are John Bensko for Fur Traders on the Missouri, Esther Lee for little lung damage, James McKean for We Are the Bus, Peter Munro for Animal Kingdom, Richard Robbins for Radioactive City, Catherine Staples for Still-Life Breathing, Joe Wilkins for Ragged Point Road, and Maya Jewell Zeller for Rust Fish.

The book prize is given annually in August, and the next deadline for manuscript submissions is May 15, 2010.

Travel Site Launches Contest for Place-based Essays

Travel Web site Trazzler and NYCgo, a New York City lifestyle site, are currently running a travel writing competition for a short-short essay on a personal oasis. One writer will win ten thousand dollars and a two-week trip to New York City to write about oases in the urban landscape for Trazzler. Four runners-up will receive five-hundred-dollar contracts to cover fifteen excursions. The deadline for 160-word entries, accepted online only, is August 17.

"Modern life can often feel like a trek through the desert," Trazzler says in its contest guidelines. "We want you to write about a place that not only satisfies your thirst for a change of scenery, but goes beyond this, breaking the spell of everyday existence and providing the ‘refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast’ that we all crave, especially in the summer." 

According to the guidelines, writers may have to employ some self-promotion to make it through the three-tiered selection process. Semifinalists’ pieces, chosen by editors and posted on Trazzler, will be voted on by the public. For writers among the semifinalists, Trazzler recommends publicizing the mini-essays using Twitter, social networking sites, and blogs. An editorial jury will then select the winner from the ten most popular pieces, and the prize announcement will be made during the week of September 21.

In order to enter, writers must sign up to be members of Trazzler using their Facebook accounts. A note to residents of Arizona: according to the official rules, this contest is void in the state.

Shortlist Announced for Fifty-thousand-dollar Fiction Prize

St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York, announced the shortlist for its new fifty-thousand-dollar literary award, given to honor a fourth book of fiction. The finalists are Chris Abani for his novella Song For Night (Akashic Books, 2007), Aleksandar Hemon for his short story collection Love and Obstacles (Riverhead Books, 2009), Jim Krusoe for his novel Girl Factory (Tin House Books, 2008), and Arthur Phillips for his novel The Song Is You (Random House, 2009).

The judges for the award are authors Michael Chabon, Heidi Julavits, Jonathan Lethem, Ben Marcus, and Ayelet Waldman. They selected the four finalists from a pool of just under forty submissions.

The winner will be announced on September 12 at a gala celebrating the Brooklyn Book Festival, which will be held the following day at Brooklyn Borough Hall, a few blocks from the St. Francis campus. A ceremony to honor the prize recipient, who will conduct a fiction workshop and give a reading at St. Francis, will be held at the college in the fall.

Genre-flexing Journal Announces Chapbook Winner, Upcoming Contest

DIAGRAM, an online magazine of text and art, has announced the winner of its 2009 Chapbook Contest, which was open to manuscripts of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and mixed-genre writing. Benjamin Mirov, a poet and editor of the online journal Pax Americana from New York City, won for his collection I Is to Vorticism. Mirov’s Ghost Machine was also a finalist for the one-thousand-dollar award, which includes publication by New Michigan Press.

The finalists are:
Lucy Anderton for The Sinister Juice (poetry)
Douglas Basford for Gull Hymns (poetry)
Franklin Bruno for All That Is Solid Melts in Your Mouth (poetry)
William Carty for Quarry (poetry)
Justin Dodd for An Extravagant Fever (poetry)
Patrick Ryan Frank for A Compact Guide to Modern Fears (poetry)
Loren Goodman for New Products (poetry)
Boris Jardine for Resistance (poetry)
Heather Kirn for Psalms of Unknowing (poetry)
Sara Levine for Misgivings (fiction)
JoAnna Novak for Something Real (fiction)
J. Robinson, for Strap On Aesthete (mixed genre)
Jennifer Tamayo for Keloid (mixed genre)
Mark Yakich for Pornocracies (poetry)
Jake Adam York for The Lamps Are Never Out (poetry)

The majority of entries fell into the category of poetry—ninety-five percent, according to DIAGRAM editor Ander Monson’s estimation—but the journal hopes to see more prose and multigenre chapbook submissions in the future, Monson said. The next deadline for the contest is April 30, 2010.

The journal is currently running its annual Hybrid Essay Contest for pieces that incorporate innovative textual and visual elements or writing in genres besides creative nonfiction. The winning work will be published in DIAGRAM and the writer or writers—essays by multiple authors are accepted—will receive one thousand dollars. Finalists’ pieces will also be considered for publication.

So what kind of work is the journal seeking? "We still don't know exactly what we mean by hybrid, and we would certainly prefer to leave definitions up to you. We don't like them," say the submission guidelines on the journal’s Web site. "We're looking for essays that are in some way outside the traditional boundaries of the genre. The lyric essay is a great example of a hybrid form: an essay that is essay but also poem. So we're looking for fusion of one sort or another. In particular we'd like to see work with greater visual components, or perhaps audio, or something that will amaze and beguile us."

Hybrid writers can submit essays of ten thousand words or fewer with a fifteen dollar entry fee, either using DIAGRAM’s electronic submission system or via mail, by October 31. Ander Monson and Nicole Walker will judge.

Bellwether Prize Will Publish Emerging Novelist Writing on Social Change

Entries will soon be accepted for the 2010 Bellwether Prize, given biennially for a novel whose content "addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships." The winner will receive $25,000, courtesy of sponsor Barbara Kingsolver, author of the novels The Bean Trees (HarperCollins, 1988) and The Poisonwood Bible (HarperCollins, 1999), among others. Editor Kathy Pories of Algonquin Books will negotiate a publication contract and edit the winning manuscript.

"Fiction has a unique capacity to bring difficult issues to a broad readership on a personal level, creating empathy in a reader’s heart for the theoretical stranger," Kingsolver says in a statement on the prize Web site. "Throughout history, every movement toward a more peaceful and humane world has begun with those who imagined the possibilities. The Bellwether Prize seeks to support the imagination of humane possibilities."

Writers who are U.S. citizens may submit a manuscript of eighty thousand words or more, along with a curriculum vitae and a twenty-five-dollar entry fee, between September 1 and October 2. The contest is open to emerging writers who have some previous publication credits, but have not published a book that sold more than ten thousand copies.

The previous prizewinners are:
2008 Heidi Durrow for The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (forthcoming from Algonquin Books)

2006 Hillary Jordan for Mudbound (Algonquin Books, 2008)

2004 Marjorie Kowalski Cole for Correcting the Landscape (HarperCollins, 2005)

2002 Gayle Brandeis for The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins, 2003)

2000 Donna Gershten for Kissing The Virgin's Mouth (HarperCollins, 2001)

A Busy Summer for Bread Loaf’s Bakeless Winners

This summer is a significant season for the 2008 winners of the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prizes sponsored by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. By this time next week, poet Leslie Harrison, fiction writer Skip Horack, and creative nonfiction writer Vicki Forman will all have seen their debut books hit bookstores (Harrison’s and Forman’s were published in July, and Horack’s goes on sale next Wednesday), and will be gathered at the twelve-day conference, which they will attend on fellowship.

Harrison won the Bakeless Prize in poetry for her collection Displacement, which she calls a "project book" with a distinct narrative arc. Eavan Boland was the judge. Skip Horack won in fiction for The Southern Cross, chosen by Antonya Nelson, a collection comprised of sixteen stories set in the Gulf Coast shortly before and after Hurricane Katrina. Forman received the prize in creative nonfiction, judged by Tom Bissell, for her memoir This Lovely Life, centered on her experiences as a mother of a special needs child. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is the publisher for the 2008 winners’ books. (Graywolf Press will publish the 2009 winners.)

In the midst of this celebratory time, Poets & Writers Magazine caught up with the winners to get their views on receiving the award and publishing a first book.

What was the most difficult aspect of bringing your debut book into the world, and the most fulfilling?

Skip Horack: Well, it’s pretty tough these days to get a short story collection published. So, other than getting the words down on the page, I suppose the most difficult aspect of putting my book together was keeping the faith. That said, I suppose that’s also what makes seeing the book in print most fulfilling, as nothing that comes too easily can be all that satisfying. Also, having the manuscript chosen by someone as talented as Antonya Nelson was incredibly touching.

Vicki Forman: Before winning the prize, the book had been subject to more than a few difficult rejections. As with all heartbreaking rejections, many cited the impressive language, craft and storytelling, but concluded that the story itself might be too painful for most readers. I knew the story was tough, but from my perspective, I felt there was a kind of complexity and depth to the story that carried the reader beyond the painful elements. When Tom Bissell chose the book, my sense was that it was, in fact, the story that pulled him in and carried him along, partly because it was tough but primarily because it was also complex.

What has been the most positive result of having won the Bakeless Prize?

Leslie Harrison: Well, there is the obvious positive result, which is that I have a book! Beyond that, there is a weird intangible quality to having won. Before your book gets taken, you—if you are like me—think about it a lot. You want it to happen. You wish and hope and send the manuscript out. You pay the contest fees and the postage. Then it did happen and I was really excited. Just beside myself with joy. And disbelief. I tried to convince Michael Collier [Bread Loaf Writers' Conference director and poetry editor of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt] that he should call me up every day for awhile and reassure me that it was true. He—very politely—declined, but did send, almost instantly, a letter confirming that the book had indeed won, so I could refer to that when in doubt.

But I still had to go to work and do laundry and shovel snow, and then I got that itch that means a new poem is bubbling away somewhere, and I realized that almost nothing had changed about my life. Winning was not going to make me thinner, better looking, smarter, more talented, or—given that I am a poet—substantially richer. But that one change, it was pretty remarkable. It was a huge vote of confidence in the work: a poet whose work I admire saying, "yes," a legendary publishing house saying, "yes," a storied writing conference also saying, "yes—we believe in this project." And because all those people believe in the book, the poems have the chance to find for themselves an audience—people to whom they will speak, and maybe even matter.

How has the process of writing and publishing the first book informed your approach to working on subsequent projects?

Horack: I feel like, to have any real chance of winning most contests, you typically have to submit a polished, compelling, and—almost—fully realized manuscript. However, outside of the contest world, I think many fiction writers approach editors and agents too early in the process, before their work is truly ready to be pitched, and thus they never really give their own manuscript a chance to be well-received. So I suppose this experience has taught me to "work up" every writing project like it is going to be submitted to the judge of a contest—and indeed, for all intents and purposes, that’s exactly what’s going to happen, whether that "judge" be an agent, an editor, or Antonya Nelson.

Of course, I think there are also many writers who hold on to their work for way too long, so it's important to strike the right balance.

Forman: To me, getting a first book published is like cracking a code. Until this work was in print, I wasn't sure I'd be able to continue writing about my son, which meant writing about disability, the way it's perceived and its daily realities. I knew I still had stories to tell in this regard, but I didn't know if those stories would ever reach an audience. Now that the book is published, I've given myself more permission to continue with those threads, and see where they take me.

Do you have a piece of advice for writers preparing to submit book manuscripts for publication, particularly those looking to enter a first book competition as you did?

Harrison: I would say that you need to believe in your work enough to send it out. Be as honest as you can about making sure your manuscript is your best work and is the best you can do and then try not to think about it while it is out in the world. Write good poems. Give the craft everything you have and then keep trying. Read everything you can. Don't panic. Keep writing.

Forman: Aside from the usual advice—put your best foot forward, do your research, follow the rules and be absolutely professional in your approach—I would also say it's very important to discharge any preconceptions or imaginings you might have about the prize, your odds at winning, or the mechanics of the process. I sent the manuscript and promptly let it go from my mind.  The worst thing a writer can do is sit around waiting to hear results. It's utterly disastrous for your writing and your day. 

Horack: Again, I think it is very important that the manuscript be quite polished, as I assume “overall readiness to be published in the near future” is an important factor in many book competitions. Also, in putting my book together, I made it my goal to get at least half of the stories accepted by various literary journals. I think that was a good strategy, as it helped ensure that a large portion of the manuscript had already been vetted, to some extent. So take advantage of all the hardworking and brilliant people working at the hundreds of literary journals out there. Finally, remember that you have to play to win. So much of being a writer is learning not to be afraid of rejection. I wish I could say that the Bakeless was the first competition I ever entered, but that’s very, very far from the truth.

 

We also asked the winners what they were anticipating about the attending the storied conference, now in its eighty-fourth year. One thing all of them said that they were geared up to do: commune with talented writers, including one another. "I think writers spend so much time fretting that it’s nice to take a moment every now and then to relax and acknowledge that you’re doing something you love, and that you’re doing it voluntarily," said Horack. "So, I suppose my main goal is to go and meet some wonderful people, learn a lot about writing and teaching, and say a truckload of thank-yous, then head back home with my batteries recharged, ready to put my head back down and write."

Manuscript entries for next year’s Bakeless Prizes will be accepted from September 15 to November 1, and the winners will be announced in spring 2010. The 2009 winners are Nick Lantz of Madison, Wisconsin, for his poetry collection We Don’t Know We Don’t Know; Belle Boggs of Washington, D.C., for her novel, Mattaponi Queen; and Kim Dana Kupperman of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for her essay collection, I Just Lately Started Buying Wings. Their books will be published in 2010.

Multigenre Writers Win Ciardi/Chandra Prizes From BkMk Press

Megan Harlan and Mariko Nagai, both of them writers of poetry and fiction, have won 2009 book publication prizes from the University of Missouri's BkMk Press. Harlan, who lives in Berkeley, California, won the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry for her debut collection, Mapmaking, selected by Sidney Wade. Jonis Agee chose Nagai’s first story collection, Georgic, as winner of the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction. Each winner received one thousand dollars, and their books will be published by BkMk Press next year.

Harlan’s poems and stories have appeared in AGNI Online, Meridian, Prairie Schooner, and Sycamore Review, among other journals. She has also written essays about her travels to global destinations such as the Orkney Islands of Scotland and the oases of Tunisia for the New York Times.

Nagai, who lives in Tokyo and teaches at Temple University’s Japan campus, has previously published a poetry collection, Histories of Bodies, which won the 2005 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award and was released by Red Hen Press in 2007. She has also received Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and fiction, and translates Japanese literature.

The deadline for the 2010 book prizes is January 15. The contests are open to poetry manuscripts of 50 to 110 pages and short fiction manuscripts of 125 to 300 pages, and writers should submit an entry fee of twenty-five dollars along with each submission.

Deadlines Coming Up for Three Essay Competitions

For creative nonfiction writers looking to submit work before the summer’s end, three publications have essay contests underway. Literal Latté, an online journal that publishes a yearly anthology, is accepting entries for its Ames Essay Award until September 15, and the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Hunger Mountain, a print and online arts magazine published by Vermont College of Fine Arts, is open until September 10. Each awards offers a one-thousand-dollar prize and publication of the winning work.

Real Simple magazine, whose award we covered on this blog in May, is also looking for personal essays. Its Life Lessons Essay Contest, which will award three thousand dollars and publication in the national magazine, closes on September 7.

The winner of last year’s Ames Essay Award is Margi Fox of Bellingham, Washington, for "God of Books," which is available on the Literal Latté Web site. The journal’s editors judged.

Diane Glancy of Shawnee Mission, Kansas, won Hunger Mountain’s 2008 Creative Nonfiction Prize, judged by Nick Flynn, for her essay "Discourses on Paper Dolls."  The finalists were Judy Copeland of Pomona, New Jersey, for "Louisville, 1953" and Kali Meister of Knoxville, Tennessee, for "Seven Vignettes About Rats." This year's contest will be judged by Robin Hemley.

Aldra Robinson of Los Angeles won the 2008 Life Lessons Essay Contest for "A Witness to Grace,"  which was selected by editors of Real Simple. Her piece responded to the question, "What was the most important day of your life?" This year's competition asks writers, "When did you realize that you had become a grown-up?"