Archive January 2017

Deadline Approaches for Zócalo Public Square Poetry Prize

The deadline approaches for the sixth annual Zócalo Public Square Poetry Prize, given for a poem that evokes a connection to place. The winner will receive $500 and publication on the Zócalo Public Square website.

Submit up to three poems of any length via e-mail to by Friday, February 3. There is no entry fee. The editors will judge. “Place may be interpreted by the poet as a place of historical, cultural, political, or personal importance,” write the editors. “It may be a literal, imaginary, or metaphorical landscape.” Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The winner will be announced in March. In 2016, 443 poets entered the prize. Interviews with recent winners and their winning poems can be read on the Zócalo website. Recent winners include Matt Phillips for his poem “Crossing Coronado Bridge” about the bridge that connects San Diego to Coronado Island; Gillian Wegener for her poem about a small town, “The Old Mill Café;” and Amy Glynn for her poem “Shoreline.”

Established in 2003, Zócalo Public Square publishes news, essays, and creative writing. The journal is based in Los Angeles.

New American Poetry Prize Open for Submissions

The deadline approaches for the 2017 New American Poetry Prize, given annually for a poetry collection. The winner receives $1,000 and publication by New American Press. Jesse Lee Kercheval will judge.

Using the online submission system, submit a manuscript of at least 48 pages with a $22.50 entry fee by January 31. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Judge Jesse Lee Kercheval is the author of fifteen books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her most recent book is the poetry collection Extranjera/Stranger (Editorial Yaugarú, 2015), written in both Spanish and English. Kercheval is also a translator, and specializes in Uruguayan poetry. She teaches in the University of Wisconsin’s MFA Program, and spends part of each year in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Previous winners of the New American Poetry Prize include Christopher Cokinos for The Underneath, Brittney Scott for The Derelict Daughter, and Arne Weingart for Levitation for Agnostics. New American Press publishes three to five full-length books each year, including the winners of its annual poetry and fiction prizes. The press also publishes the literary journal MAYDAY Magazine, and recently released two anthologies of poetry and fiction by Midwestern writers.

Deadline Approaches for Autumn House Press Contest

Submissions are open for the 2017 Autumn House Press Rising Writer Contest, given annually for a debut poetry collection by a poet who is thirty-three years old or younger. The winner will receive $1,000 and publication by Autumn House Press. Ada Limón will judge.

Using the online submission system, submit a poetry manuscript of 50 to 80 pages with a $25 entry fee by Tuesday, January 31. All entries will be considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Judge Ada Limón is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015), which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award. Her first collection, Lucky Wreck, was published by Autumn House Press in 2006 as the winner of the press’s poetry prize.

Established in 1998, Pittsburgh-based Autumn House Press publishes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The press has published authors such as poets Danusha Laméris, Ed Ochester, Martha Rhodes, and Gerald Stern; fiction writers Sarah Gerkensmeyer and Matthew Pitt; and nonfiction writers Jill Kandel and Sheryl St. Germain.

Finalists Announced for 2017 PEN Awards

PEN America announced on Wednesday the finalists for the 2017 PEN Awards. The annual awards are given for books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translation published in the previous year. This year PEN America will award nearly $315,000 to writers, including the inaugural $75,000 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, given for a “book of extraordinary originality and lasting influence.”

The finalists are:

PEN/Jean Stein Book Award: A prize of $75,000 given annually to recognize a book-length work in any genre for its originality, merit, and impact.

Known and Strange Things (Random House) by Teju Cole   
Olio (Wave Books) by Tyehimba Jess
The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between (Random House), Hisham Matar
Dark Money (Doubleday) by Jane Mayer
The Underground Railroad (Doubleday) by Colson Whitehead

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction: A prize of $25,000 given annually to an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in the previous year—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise of a second work of literary fiction.

Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky) by Rion Amilcar Scott
We Show What We Have Learned (Lookout Books) by Clare Beams
The Mothers (Riverhead Books) by Brit Bennett
Homegoing (Knopf) by Yaa Gyasi
Hurt People (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) by Cote Smith

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay: A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a book of essays published in the previous year that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood (Graywolf Press) by Belle Boggs
Known and Strange Things (Random House) by Teju Cole
A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and The Mind (Simon & Schuster) by Siri Hustvedt
The Girls in My Town (University of New Mexico Press) by Angela Morales
Becoming Earth (Red Hen Press) by Eva Saulitis

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction: A prize of $10,000 is given biennially to an author of a distinguished book of general nonfiction published in the previous two years, possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective and illuminating important contemporary issues.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown) by Matthew Desmond
The Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (Norton) by Patrick Phillips
Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury Press) by Sam Quinones
Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran (Riverhead Books) by Laura Secor
Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship (Doubleday), Anjan Sundaram

PEN Open Book Award: A prize of $5,000 is given annually for an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in the previous year.

The Book of Memory (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) by Petina Gappah
The Big Book of Exit Strategies (Alice James Books) by Jamaal May
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (Riverhead Books) by Helen Oyeyemi
Look (Graywolf Press) by Solmaz Sharif
Blackacre (Graywolf Press) by Monica Youn

Visit the website for a complete list of finalists, including those for the PEN Awards in biography, translation, poetry in translation, and literary sports writing. The winners of the 2017 awards will be announced on February 22 in New York City.

Established in 1963, the PEN America Literary Awards have honored hundreds of writers including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Richard Blanco, Katherine Boo, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Cynthia Ozick, Marilynne Robinson, and Claudia Rankine.


Finalists for Story Prize Announced

The finalists for the 2016 Story Prize have been announced. The annual prize is given for a story collection published in the previous year. The winner receives $20,000 and the finalists each receive $5,000.

The finalists for this year’s prize are Rick Bass for For a Little While (Little, Brown), Anna Noyes for Goodnight, Beautiful Women (Grove Press), and Helen Maryles Shankman for They Were Like Family to Me (Scribner). Prize founders Larry Dark and Julie Lindsey selected the finalists from 106 submissions; Harold Augenbraum, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, and Daniel Goldin will choose the winner.

“These three books stood out from a large and varied field, each offering skillful storytelling, beautifully detailed language, and a whole greater than its parts,” said Dark. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in New York City on March 8.

Established in 2004, the Story Prize is one of the largest prizes given for a story collection. Recent winners include George Saunders for Tenth of December, Elizabeth McCracken for Thunderstruck, and Adam Johnson for Fortune Smiles.

Finalists for Tufts Poetry Awards Announced

Claremont Graduate University has announced the finalists for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Both awards are given for poetry collections published in the previous year; the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is given to a midcareer poet and the $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award is given for a debut poetry collection.

The finalists for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award are Vievee Francis for Forest Primeval (Northwestern University Press), Tyehimba Jess for Olio (Wave Books), Ada Limón for Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions), Jamaal May for The Big Book of Exit Strategies (Alice James Books), and Patrick Rosal for Brooklyn Antediluvian (Persea Books).

The finalists for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award are Derrick Austin for Trouble the Water (BOA Editions), Rickey Laurentiis for Boy With Thorn (University of Pittsburgh Press), Jordan Rice for Constellarium (Orison Books), Ocean Vuong for Night Sky With Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press), and Phillip B. Williams for Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books).

“Poetry has the power to remind us of what is truly significant, worthy, and lasting in our culture,” said Lori Anne Ferrell, the director of the Tufts Poetry Awards. “This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards at Claremont Graduate University, and once again we honor the careers of talented poets, both new and midcareer, who are finalists for these distinguished awards. Their voices—diverse, compassionate, challenging—represent America at its best.”

The judges for both prizes are Don Share, Elena Karina Byrne, Terrance Hayes, Meghan O’Rourke, and Brian Kim Stefans. The winners will be announced in February and honored at a ceremony in April in Los Angeles.

Established in the early 1990s, the Tufts Poetry Awards honor the memory of Kingsley Tufts. Recent winners of the Kingsley Tufts Award include Ross Gay, Angie Estes, and Afaa Michael Weaver. Recent winners of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award include Danez Smith, Brandon Som, and Yona Harvey.

Photos (clockwise from top left): Francis, Jess, Limón, Rosal, May.