Archive September 2019

Where to Write in Detroit

As a writer, I know how quickly our own writing seems to age. It often feels difficult to generate new work. Communing with fellow creatives is sometimes the best way to put pen to paper. With that in mind, I want to highlight a couple spaces for writers that I have found in the area.

Riverwise is a community-based magazine focused on highlighting local activism and personal Detroit stories. Alexis Draper has been organizing the Riverwise Writing Workshop series, which are held all over the city allowing for more accessibility to folks seeking out classes. The workshops range from general creative writing techniques to focusing on discussions about social issues in our community. A recent workshop called “Uncomfortable Spaces” was offered for free at the Artists Inn and was led by local poets Kahn Santori Davidson and Natasha T. Miller.

The Detroit Writing Room is an up-and-coming venue that opened in June offering coworking and event space in downtown Detroit. They have writing coaches that anyone can schedule an appointment with for feedback and editing on business materials or literary work. Many of the writing coaches are local creatives and professionals, including Anna Clark and Ashley Calhoun, both of whom I highly recommend! 

There are so many organizations and spaces that I could mention, but here are just a few more: Bottom Line Coffee House is home to a number of workshops led by local writers and visual artists, and they have great coffee and pastries. The Room Project is a work space for women and nonbinary writers and artists, and this October and November they will be offering creative nonfiction workshops. InsideOut’s after-school program, Citywide Poets begins this October for any teens looking to develop their writing. 

I hope these are resources that you can use and share with fellow writers! 

Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

The slightly crisper air signals the beginning of fall, and along with this seasonal change come contests with a deadline of September 30 or October 1. These literary magazine and university press awards (including one with no entry fee!) all offer either book publication or a prize valued at $1,000 or more.

University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prizes: Five prizes of $1,000 each and publication by University of Massachusetts Press are given annually for a first poetry collection, a poetry collection, a short story collection, a novella or novel, and a book of creative nonfiction. The creative writing faculty at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $30.

Boulevard Nonfiction Contest for Emerging Writers: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Boulevard is given annually for an essay by a writer who has not published a full-length book in any genre with a nationally distributed press. The editors will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $16, which includes a subscription to Boulevard.

Cave Canem Foundation Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize: A prize valued at approximately $2,500 is given annually for a poetry chapbook by a Black poet. The winner will receive $500, publication by Jai-Alai Books, and a weeklong residency at the Writer’s Room at the Betsy Hotel in Miami, Florida, and will give a reading at the O, Miami Poetry Festival in April 2020. Danez Smith will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $12.

University of Arkansas Press Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize: A prize of $5,000 and publication by University of Arkansas Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Billy Collins will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $28.

University of Iowa Press Iowa Short Fiction Award: Two awards of publication by University of Iowa Press are given annually for first collections of short fiction. Writers who have not published a book of fiction are eligible. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: none.

American Literary Review Literary Awards: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in American Literary Review are given annually for a poem, a short story, and an essay. Deadline: October 1. Entry fee: $15. 

LitMag Anton Chekhov Award for Flash Fiction: A prize of $1,250 and publication in LitMag will be given annually for a piece of flash fiction. The winning story will also be reviewed by literary agency Sobel Weber Associates. Deadline: October 1. Entry fee: $16.

Southeast Missouri State University Press Mighty River Short Story Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Big Muddy, a literary journal published by Southeast Missouri State University Press, is given for a short story. The annual award will be discontinued after this year. Deadline: October 1. Entry fee: $20.

Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize: Three prizes of $5,000 each and publication in Missouri Review are given annually for a group of poems, a short story, and an essay. Deadline: October 1. Entry fee: $25, which includes a digital subscription to Missouri Review and a copy of the story collection A Faithful But Melancholy Account of Several Barbarities Lately Committed by last year's winner, Jason Brown.

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines, and check out the Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

 

Deadline Approaches for Carolyn Bush Award

The Wendy’s Subway Carolyn Bush Award is currently open for submissions. The award honors the life and work of Wendy’s Subway cofounder Carolyn Bush by providing support to an emerging female-identifying writer residing in New York City. It aims to foster “innovative, hybrid, and cross-genre work that contributes to expanding the discourses and practices of poetry.” Applicants submit an early-stage poetry or cross-genre manuscript; the winner will receive editorial support to complete the manuscript for publication with Wendy’s Subway. An honorarium of $1,000, a standard royalty contract, and twenty-five author copies accompany publication. The winner will also receive free enrollment in two workshops at Wendy’s Subway, two professional development consultations, and a one-year membership to the organization’s reading room.

Using only the online submission system, submit twenty pages of an early-stage poetry or cross-genre manuscript, a 500-word personal statement, and a $15 entry fee by September 30. Manuscripts may include visual art and illustrations. The winning entry will be announced in fall 2019 and published in spring 2021. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Wendy’s Subway is a non-profit reading room, writing space, and independent publisher located in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The Carolyn Bush Award is judged by an editorial committee composed of Wendy’s Subway staff: Harris Bauer, Corinne Butta, Adjua Greaves, Sanjana Iyer, Gabriel Kruis, Matt Longabucco, and Rachel Valinsky.

National Book Award Longlists Announced

Last week the National Book Foundation released the longlists for the 2019 National Book Awards. The awards are presented annually for the best books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, translated literature, and young people’s literature published between December 1 of the previous year and November 30 of the current year. Ten semifinalists have been nominated in each award category; the finalists, who will each receive a $1,000 prize, will be revealed on October 8. The winning authors will each receive $10,000 and will be announced at an awards ceremony in New York City on November 20.

The semifinalists in poetry:
Dan Beachy-Quick for Variations on Dawn and Dusk (Omnidawn Publishing)
Jericho Brown for The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press)
Toi Derricotte for “I”: New and Selected Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Camonghne Felix for Build Yourself a Boat (Haymarket Books)
Carmen Giménez Smith for Be Recorder (Graywolf Press)
Ilya Kaminsky for Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press)
Ariana Reines for A Sand Book (Tin House Books)
Mary Ruefle for Dunce (Wave Books)
Arthur Sze for Sight Lines (Copper Canyon Press)
Brian Teare for Doomstead Days (Nightboat Books)

The semifinalists in fiction:
Taffy Brodesser-Akner for Fleishman Is in Trouble (Random House)
Susan Choi for Trust Exercise (Henry Holt)
Kali Fajardo-Anstine for Sabrina & Corina: Stories (One World)
Marlon James for Black Leopard, Red Wolf (Riverhead Books)
Laila Lalami for The Other Americans (Pantheon Books)
Kimberly King Parsons for Black Light: Stories (Vintage)
Helen Phillips for The Need (Simon & Schuster)
Julia Phillips for Disappearing Earth (Knopf)
Ocean Vuong for On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press)
Colson Whitehead for The Nickel Boys (Doubleday)

The semifinalists in nonfiction:
Hanif Abdurraqib for Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest (University of Texas Press)
Sarah M. Broom for The Yellow House (Grove Press)
Tressie McMillan Cottom for Thick: And Other Essays (New Press)
Carolyn Forché for What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance (Penguin Press)
Greg Grandin for The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America (Metropolitan Books)
Patrick Radden Keefe for Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland (Doubleday)
Iliana Regan for Burn the Place: A Memoir (Agate Midway)
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor for Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (University of North Carolina Press)
David Treuer for The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present (Riverhead Books)
Albert Woodfox with Leslie George for Solitary (Grove Press)

The semifinalists in translated literature:
Naja Marie Aidt for When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back: Carl’s Book translated by Denise Newman (Coffee House Press)
Eliane Brum for The Collector of Leftover Souls: Field Notes on Brazil’s Everyday Insurrections translated by Diane Grosklaus Whitty (Graywolf Press)
Nona Fernández for Space Invaders translated by Natasha Wimmer (Graywolf Press)
Vigdis Hjorth for Will and Testament translated by Charlotte Barslund (Verso Fiction)
Khaled Khalifa for Death Is Hard Work translated by Leri Price (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
László Krasznahorkai for Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming translated by Ottilie Mulzet (New Directions)
Scholastique Mukasonga for The Barefoot Woman translated by Jordan Stump (Archipelago Books)
Yoko Ogawa for The Memory Police translated by Stephen Snyder (Pantheon Books)
Pajtim Statovci for Crossing translated by David Hackston (Pantheon Books)
Olga Tokarczuk for Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Riverhead Books)

The semifinalists in young people’s literature:
Kwame Alexander
and Kadir Nelson for The Undefeated (Versify)
Laurie Halse Anderson for Shout (Viking Books for Young Readers)
Akwaeke Emezi for Pet (Make Me a World)
Cynthia Kadohata for A Place to Belong (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
Jason Reynolds for Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks (Atheneum)
Randy Ribay for Patron Saints of Nothing (Kokila)
Laura Ruby for Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All (Balzer + Bray)
Martin W. Sandler for 1919: The Year That Changed America (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
Hal Schrieve for Out of Salem (Triangle Square)
Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw for Kiss Number 8 (First Second Books)

Hot Houston Part Two

¿Que dice mi gente? In my last report, I talked about what I experienced this summer since taking on the role of literary outreach coordinator in Houston.

In July, I got a healthy dose of poetry from the Public Poetry reading series. Public Poetry is a program run by local poet and founding director Fran Sanders. Their programs and projects aim to bring poetry to audiences all across this brilliant city.

Presented in partnership with the City of Houston and the Houston Public Library, Public Poetry readings happen the first Saturday of every month at 2:00PM at four libraries a year, three consecutive months at each library. On July 6, I attended a beautiful reading featuring poets Calvin King, Autumn Hayes, Katherine Hoerth, and Melissa Studdard at the Bracewell Neighborhood Library on the south side of town.

In August, I got to take up some table space reppin’ Poets & Writers at the magazine launch for Defunkt Magazine. It was an honor and a pleasure to be on hand to catch the literary work and art at the launch for their first issue.

Defunkt describes itself as “a magazine which showcases compelling, accessible, and culturally relevant work—anything the mainstream is ignoring or marginalizing.” So far, I think they are living up to the name. They have rolling submissions and are currently accepting poetry and prose for their next issue. If you’re looking for more journals to submit to, check out the vetted and extensive Literary Magazines database.

Okay mi gente, check in next week and for all things September!

Lupe Mendez with Joshua Nguyen at the Defunkt Magazine launch event.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Mixing It Up

I have been speaking to numerous venue owners in Detroit about what it means to host a series in the city. Open mics allow for a variety of artists to take the stage while I have seen other shows and reading series offer a workshop afterwards. These are the shows that introduced me to the world of poetry. It’s been enlightening to explore all the different literary series offered in Detroit and to see how they impact audiences.

Recently I had a conversation with Dan Wickett, a local poet and event organizer, about hosting the Brain Candy series. The series showcases one poet, one prose writer, a musician, and a visual artist performing together at the local comic bookstore Green Brain Comics. When asked about how he chooses the artists and curates events, Wickett says that his hope is for audiences to find something unexpected to enjoy. “I’m exposing different art forms to those that show up to see a painter or a musician,” he says. “I’m also hoping to develop a community of artists that helps each other, supports each other’s events, and that finds hints of their own work in those around them.”

Brain Candy is presented by Green Brain Comics and the Emerging Writers Network, and has shows every third Monday of the month. For more information on events in your area, and to post your own, visit the Literary Events Calendar.

A reading for the Green Book Comics Brain Candy series.
 
Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Applications Open for Black Mountain Institute Shearing Fellowships

Applications are now open for the Black Mountain Institute Shearing Fellowships. Hosted at the institute’s home at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the fellowships each include a $20,000 stipend, free housing in downtown Las Vegas, work space at the institute’s campus offices, and eligibility for health care coverage. The upcoming fellowships will take place during the 2020–2021 academic year; candidates may apply for residencies of one or two semesters. While the fellowship has no formal teaching requirements, incoming fellows will be expected to maintain a regular in-office presence and to engage with the Black Mountain Institute literary community.

The fellowship is open to emerging and distinguished writers who have published at least one critically-acclaimed book of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Recent fellows include Hanif Abdurraqib, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Tayari Jones, Ahmed Naji, and Claire Vaye Watkins.

Using only the online application system, submit a one- to two-page cover letter, a ten-page writing sample, and a résumé or curriculum vitae by November 1. Finalists will be asked to submit copies of their books. There is no application fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute is “an international literary center dedicated to bringing writers and the literary imagination into the heart of public life.” Located within the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the institute is home to the Believer, a bimonthly magazine of literature, arts, and culture.

Photo: 2018–2019 fellow Claire Vaye Watkins

Hot Houston Part One

¿Que dice mi gente? I’m really excited to fill you in on what went on here in Houston this summer. We do a lot. Seriously.

I celebrated with the nonprofit organization Inprint as they formally announced the readers for the 2019/2020 season of their Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. This is one of the city’s dopest reading series—always a treat—and they do it up. This year to unveil their line-up they hosted a happy hour mixer for the public at the Night Heron, a slick little spot in town.

The season runs from September 16, 2019 through April 27, 2020 and features ten renowned authors, including Colson Whitehead, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Natalie Diaz. I plan to be in attendance and will bring you more on the series.

I also traveled back to my hometown of Galveston for Speak Up, Speak Out 2019, an annual regional youth poetry slam hosted by Iconoclast Artists. The daytime event kicked off the summer nicely. Al puro cien. I was invited to serve as a judge and witnessed a lively slam. Several teams from different parts of the state were on hand for the competition (shout-out to the slam team at César E. Chavez High School!). It is so refreshing to get a chance to see youth take the stage and show their poetic “teeth” in the literary world. This community is vibrant and I look forward to sharing more from Houston.

The 2019/2020 Margarett Root Brown Reading Series poster.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Citywide Poets at ArtBlock

Last week I helped organize InsideOut’s annual Citywide Poets orientation, which preps the writing mentors who will lead after-school sessions in local high schools and community centers in Detroit from October through May. This year the program is bringing together eighteen writers to participate as mentors, including Nadine Marshall, Jassmine Parks, Brittany Rogers, and Devin Samuels.

In addition to our growing numbers, what made this year’s orientation awesome was the place where we gathered, a new community arts center in the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood called ArtBlock. This space offers an outstanding first impression with its colorful mural on the north wall of the building. Inside the building, there are three separate mural-covered rooms fit for anything from readings to workshops to parties. ArtBlock is available for community groups and local nonprofits to use free of charge, which was a great help to InsideOut. I look forward to this year’s Citywide Poets programming and to seeing future events at ArtBlock.

ArtBlock mural by artist Fel3000ft. (Credit: Justin Rogers)
 
Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Submissions Open for Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes

Submissions are open for the third annual Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes. Launched in 2017, the prizes recognize publications that “actively nurture the writers who tell us, through their art, what is important.”. Three prizes will be given to print magazines and two to magazines publishing primarily online. Print publications can win up to $60,000, $30,000, and $15,000; digital publications can win up to $30,000 and $9,000. 

Across all categories, the award is dispensed over three years. Each magazine will receive an outright grant in the first year, followed by matching grants in the second and third years. The Whiting Foundation will also connect all recipients to expert advisors for consultation in matters such as fund-raising and marketing, and help organize meetings throughout the year for the winners to discuss shared challenges. 

This year the application for the prizes will include two rounds of review. Magazines are invited to submit a short-form application using the online portal by December 2. In February 2020 a limited number of applicants will be invited to complete an expanded application due in early April. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines and eligibility requirements

The Whiting Foundation hopes the financial and professional support offered by the grants will help the winners develop and achieve ambitious goals. Courtney Hodell, the foundation’s director of literary programs, notes the long-term results: “As the prize continues to mature, we see more clearly how critical these intrepid magazines are to developing and building healthy careers,” she says. “Supporting magazines benefits the entire literary landscape.” 

The 2019 print prizes went to the Common, American Short Fiction, and Black Warrior Review. The Margins and the Offing received the digital prizes. 

Founded in 1963, the Whiting Foundation believes in “identifying and empowering talented people as early as possible in their creative and intellectual development.” In addition to the Literary Magazine Prizes, every year the organization honors emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama with the Whiting Awards, and supports nonfiction writers completing works-in-progress with the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grants. 

¡Saludos Desde Houston!

Hola mi gente, my name is Lupe Mendez and I am an educator, writer, and activist originally from Galveston, Texas. I am the founder and current director of Tintero Projects, a grassroots organization that helps provide opportunities for Latinx writers and other writers of color along the Texas Gulf Coast. I received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and have been a part of the Houston literary scene for more than twenty years. You can check out my Poets & Writers Directory profile for more about my writing.

As the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston, I am excited to provide information to local literary organizations and writers about the resources P&W offers—from applications for mini-grants through the Readings & Workshops program to free online resources such as the Literary Events Calendar.

I also have the opportunity to speak about the brilliant writing scene represented in the fourth largest city in the United States. Houston is a powerhouse with exciting open mic events (Notsouh, the First Friday reading series), an active slam scene (Houston VIP, Write About Now), and excellent literary organizations and writing programs (Inprint, Nuestra Palabra, University of Houston).

I look forward to reporting on what’s happening out in Houston. Nos vemos pronto.

Lupe Mendez.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

The Slam at the Cube

LaShaun “Phoenix” Kotaran is a longtime figure in the slam community and has recently been chosen to host a new poetry slam series in Detroit. It is exciting to see poetry back in a venue that hasn’t had a poetry event in over ten years—Detroit Symphony Orchestra. This immaculate building offers a dynamic recital hall known as the Cube for performances.

I had a chance to speak to Phoenix about adding this new gig to her extensive hosting career. While Phoenix is excited about the opportunity, she feels that the literary offerings in the city have shrunken, especially since the city’s bankruptcy. “It’s been tough to partner with venues in downtown Detroit and Cass Corridor,” Phoenix says. However, the new slam series at the Cube brings hope of fresh growth. “Detroit Symphony Orchestra is very Detroit, very white and blue collar. It is Detroit grit. This is the perfect space to cultivate culture,” she says.

The first Cube Poetry Slam went down last month and featured incredible local poets and an acoustic set by singer and songwriter Peter Collins who made his Detroit debut. This fall, the series continues with an all-female lineup. I will be watching this series very closely and reporting about it in the near future!

LaShaun “Phoenix” Kotaran and poets read at the Cube. (Credit: Justin Rogers)
 
Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.