Archive January 2020

Deadline Approaches for Prize in Southern Poetry

Submissions are open for the 5th annual Prize in Southern Poetry, sponsored by the Atlanta restaurant White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails. The award is given for a poem written by a Southern writer on a given theme. This year’s theme is “shared spirit.” The winner will receive a cash prize of $1,500 and their poem will be featured on the restaurant’s Valentine’s Day menu on February 14 and 15, 2020. 

Submit a poem of up to 40 lines by February 7. Writers who reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, or West Virginia and who have published no more than one book are eligible. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The winner of the competition will be announced on Valentine’s Day. The 2019 prize was awarded to Heather Elouej of Johnson City, Tennessee for her poem “Hindsight.”

Reach Out to Me

Many writers know me in New Orleans. I’ve served on literary boards and coordinated festival events, and now I am a Poets & Writers Literary Outreach Coordinator. So, what’s that? Through a grant from the Hearst Foundations, Poets & Writers launched a pilot initiative in 2019 called the United States of Writing in three cities: Detroit, Houston, and New Orleans. Each city has a literary outreach coordinator to help spread the word to writers about the resources Poets & Writers has to offer and to contribute to and strengthen our literary community.

Although my job is less than part-time, I am very busy trying to encourage writers to apply for Readings & Workshops mini-grants, which provide funds for literary events in New Orleans (as well as in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, Tucson, Washington, D.C., all of California, and New York State). I try to attend as many literary events around the city as possible. Sometimes I make myself known, other times I’m in the back enjoying the event quietly. When I can’t get to an event, I try to make sure I tweet about it on Twitter, @NOLApworg, or post events on P&W’s Literary Events Calendar.

I enjoy reporting about literary events in New Orleans to the P&W staff and to you all through this blog. One thing is for sure: Literary scenes are not one-size-fits-all. Regional culture influences local literary scenes in cities across the country. Detroit is not Houston. Houston is not New Orleans—and you know what? That’s a good thing! Every city contributes to the national literary landscape, and I am committed to working in a way that is authentic to New Orleans.

My job is also to find out what I don’t know. So if you have a question, an event, or a recommendation, or if you want to organize a gathering in New Orleans, let me know. I’m here for you, New Orleans.

Kelly Harris is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in New Orleans. Contact her at NOLA@pw.org or on Twitter, @NOLApworg.

Literary Community Outside the Box: Part Four

This month I have been featuring a variety of platforms that contribute to the literary community, including the work of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, and blogs and podcasts such as Icess Fernandez Rojas’s Dear Reader and Terrell Quillin’s Bootleg Like Jazz.

Today I want to shout-out the work of Mary Wimple and her workshop and reading series Words & Art. I’ve known Mary and her partner Chuck Wimple for more than ten years and have had the pleasure of seeing Mary kick major can as a poet performing her work all over town. Mary is soft-spoken, so when you get a chance to see her in action, it’s dynamite. Her energy carries over to Words & Art. The series is all about community and is accessible for any writer with a passion for the arts.

The format for these events is so inviting: Mary will host a writing workshop of sorts, really it’s an art appreciation field trip to a local gallery or museum. Participants will discuss the artwork, work on writing prompts, and discuss the effect of the art on the writing. From there, Mary will set up a future date for a reading that features poetry and prose pieces based on the artwork from the exhibit that was visited. Anyone interested in reading (even if you didn’t attend the workshop) just needs to check out the submission guidelines and submit work to Words & Art by the deadline to be considered. Selected readers will be notified about a week before the event and the public is invited to attend. I attended one of these events a while back and it is powerful work. If you love art and writing, then this is a space for you.

The next deadline for submissions is February 1 and the reading will be held on February 13 at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Chuck Wimple reads for the Words & Art reading series.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Literary Variety

As a Detroiter who lives in the world of poetry, I see an abundance of poetry workshops, open mics, and other events that come about regularly, and there are even more happening as we approach National Poetry Month in April. As I learn more about the poets in this city, I also learn more about where writers of other creative writing genres thrive. I want to take this opportunity to highlight two spaces—one that makes room specifically for storytellers and another that has been home to a variety of artists.

The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers was founded in 2012 by Satori Shakoor, and the monthly series features one of the oldest literary art forms: the oral tradition of storytelling. I find myself impressed each time I attend an event. From the smooth production to the storytellers that I am introduced to, I always know I will be served up a unique offering of creativity. I highly recommend their events for novice writers and seasoned writers alike. You can see their next event on February 14 at 8:00 PM at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. 

The Scarab Club is neatly tucked between the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Wright Museum in Midtown Detroit. The over one hundred-year-old building is home to visual arts in the form of paintings, tapestries, and mosaics built directly into its walls. You can also enjoy the visual, literary, and performing arts of local artists through their eclectic programming. Recent events have featured poet Naomi Long Madgett, comics artist and journalist Laura Kenins, and author and editor Maya Schenwar. The exhibitions and events of this historic space are always inspiring.

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

As the end of the month approaches, consider submitting fiction, poetry, or nonfiction to one of the following contests. Each has a deadline of January 30 or January 31, and all but one offer a prize of $1,000 or more.

Austin Community College Balcones Prizes: Two prizes of $1,500 each are given annually for a poetry collection and a book of fiction published during the previous year. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25 for poetry, $30 for fiction. 

Autumn House Press Rising Writer Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Autumn House Press is given annually for a debut poetry collection by a writer age 33 or younger. Yona Harvey will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25.

Bauhan Publishing Monadnock Essay Collection Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Bauhan Publishing, and 50 author copies is given annually for an essay collection. Áine Greaney will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25.

Black Lawrence Press Big Moose Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Black Lawrence Press, and 10 author copies is given annually for a novel. The editors will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25.

Caine Prize for African Writing: A prize of £10,000 (approximately $12,600) is given annually for a previously published short story by an African writer. Shortlisted candidates will receive £500 (approximately $550). The winner and shortlisted writers will be invited to participate in workshops in Africa and London. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: none.  

Chattahoochee Review Lamar York Prizes: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Chattahoochee Review are given annually for a short story and an essay. Anthony Varallo will judge in fiction and Alice Bolin will judge in nonfiction. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $18.

Crazyhorse Literary Prizes: Three prizes of $2,000 each and publication in Crazyhorse are given annually for a poem, a short story, and an essay. Cyrus Cassells will judge in poetry, Jamel Brinkley will judge in fiction, and Sue William Silverman will judge in nonfiction. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $20 (subscription included). 

Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize: A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,100) and publication in the Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a short memoir. David Shields will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: €17 (approximately $19) for online entries or €19 (approximately $21) for postal entries.

Iowa Review Iowa Review Awards: Three prizes of $1,500 each and publication in Iowa Review are given annually for works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Stephanie Burt will judge in poetry, Lan Samantha Chang will judge in fiction, and Leslie Jamison will judge in nonfiction. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $20.

Little Tokyo Historical Society Short Story Contest: A prize of $500 and publication in Rafu Shimpo and on the Discover Nikkei website is given annually for a short story that takes place in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: none. 

Masters Review Short Story Award for New Writers: A prize of $3,000 and publication in Masters Review is given twice yearly for a short story by an emerging writer. The winning story will also be reviewed by a select group of literary agents. Kimberly King Parsons will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $20.

Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Individual Artist Grants for Women: Grants of up to $1,500 each are given in alternating years to feminist poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers who are citizens of the United States or Canada. The current round of grants will be awarded to fiction writers and mixed genre writers working in text and image. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25.

New Millennium Writings New Millennium Awards: Four prizes of $1,000 each and publication in New Millennium Writings are given twice yearly for a poem, a short story, a work of flash fiction, and a work of creative nonfiction. Alexis Williams Carr and Don Williams will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $20. 

North Carolina Writers’ Network (NCWN) Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a short story. The winning story will also be considered for publication in Thomas Wolfe Review. Randall Kenan will judge. Deadline: January 30. Entry fee: $25 ($15 for NCWN members).

Regal House Publishing Terry J. Cox Poetry Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Regal House Publishing will be given annually for a poetry collection. Peter Schmitt and the editors will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25.

Schaffner Press Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Schaffner Press is given annually for a poetry collection, a novel, a short story collection, an essay collection, or a memoir that “deals in some way with the subject of music and its influence.” Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25.

Stanford Libraries William Saroyan International Prize for Writing: Two prizes of $5,000 each are given biennially for books of fiction and nonfiction. The awards, cosponsored by the Stanford Libraries and the William Saroyan Foundation, are “intended to encourage new or emerging writers and honor the Saroyan legacy of originality, vitality, and stylistic innovation.” Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $50.

Winter Anthology Writing Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Winter Anthology is given annually for a group of poems, a story, or an essay. All entries are considered for publication. Sarah Gridley will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $10. 

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.

Before Beads, Catch These Reads

There’s nothing like living in New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras. You’ll see the wacky, the tacky, and everything in between. The school band around the corner from my house practices their songs and steps for one of the many parades happening during the season. As students make the block, neighbors and I often rush out the door to catch a glimpse of them polishing their moves and sound. If you haven’t been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras season, what are you waiting for?

Before you catch those beads, catch these reads and prepare yourself for all that is Mardi Gras. And if you can’t make it to the streets in February, these books can offer you a true taste of the celebration. As it’s often said in New Orleans, “laissez les bon temps rouler” or “let the good times roll!”

Cherchez la Femme: New Orleans Women (University Press of Mississippi, 2019) by Cheryl Gerber. Cherchez la femme is a French phrase which literally means “look for the woman.” This book, which was just released in time for this year’s Mardi Gras, captures the essence of what it means to be a woman in New Orleans culture. There are amazing photos and essays written by women about women including musicians and second-liners, and local favorites like Leah Chase and Irma Thomas.

New Orleans Carnival Krewes: The History, Spirit & Secrets of Mardi Gras (The History Press, 2014) by Jennifer Atkins. Can you say pomp and circumstance? New Orleans does it better than any other American city. Balls. Gowns. Masks. Parades. Parties. Learn about the traditions and history of the carnival krewes behind the celebrations with this book.

Lords of Misrule: Mardi Gras and the Politics of Race in New Orleans (University Press of Mississippi, 1997) by James Gill. If you want some tea on Mardi Gras, this is a good start. There are no traditions without politics. Read about the history, codes, and racism intertwined with Mardi Gras. Find out what’s really behind some of those masks.

From the Kingdom of Kongo to Congo Square: Kongo Dances and the Origins of the Mardi Gras Indians (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2017) by Jeroen Dewulf. This is my favorite book on this list and traces the history of Black Indian masking to its African roots. This is a must-read that explores the connection between Black Indians in New Orleans and Native American culture.

Kelly Harris is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in New Orleans. Contact her at NOLA@pw.org or on Twitter, @NOLApworg.

Literary Community Outside the Box: Part Three

This week I want to spotlight the amazing work done by the podcast Bootleg Like Jazz. It’s funny because everyone seems to have ties to Nuestra Palabra—Icess Fernandez Rojas, featured in last week’s post, is a member of the group as am I, and the creator of Bootleg Like Jazz, Terrell Quillin, better known as Q, is the Nuestra Palabra Radio Show’s producer! I have been following the work of Bootleg Like Jazz, aka #bllj, and I love the format and energy behind the podcasting. It’s an interview style format where Q focuses on the Black Diaspora, Afro-Latinidad, and Latinx culture. #bllj covers the arts, music, travel, and books.

I was lucky enough to be tapped for an interview and it was great experience. Q asks all the important questions with a great balance of information about who the artists are and what’s behind the work they are creating. Q has interviewed local writers like Deborah D.E.E.P Mouton and Leslie Contreras Schwartz, Houston’s former and current poets laureate, respectively, and writers outside of Houston like Roberto Carlos Garcia, a New York City poet and author of the collection black / Maybe (Willow Books, 2018).

The podcast started last year and puts out episodes every month. If you are looking for a fresh take on the literary world, then look no further than Bootleg Like Jazz.

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

Detroit Writers Circle 2020

Looking ahead to what to expect from me in 2020, I am excited to continue offering installments of the Detroit Writers Circle (DWC), a gathering of literary minds with an aim to build community. Each gathering includes an information session and discussion, and ends with a writing workshop and informal open mic. The first DWC was held last August at Tuxedo Project, and was followed by a second gathering at ArtBlock in October. Both were welcomed opportunities to bring people together and produced strong conversations about what a sustainable literary event circuit would look like in Detroit.

Local writer Cheryl L. attended the first DWC and informed us of a hashtag she began on Facebook to help find literary events in Detroit: #2019StandingRoomOnly. This year look out for #2020StandingRoomOnly for future events. Cheryl was passionate about the literary talent in the city and impressed with their ability to completely pack Detroit’s poetry venues. Adding this hashtag when posting upcoming events has made finding new events far easier. As I mentioned in my last post, word of mouth and social media are the primary means for circulating information about literary events—especially poetry events—in Detroit. This simple hashtag has already led me to numerous events.

The opportunity to learn more about what is happening in the city through conversation is absolutely my favorite part of the Detroit Writers Circle. Our first gathering of the year will be held at Pages Bookshop on February 8, from 3:00 PM to 5:30 PM. We will have a featured performing artist, LaShaun Phoenix Moore, joining us! For more information, RSVP on our Facebook event page or reach out to me at Detroit@pw.org.

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

Stockholm Writers Prize Accepting Submissions

Submissions are open for the inaugural Stockholm Writers Prize, which offers an emerging writer the “time, space, and inspiration to focus on social justice-themed creative writing.” Writers working in all genres and styles may apply, so long as their writing is “tied to a social justice issue.” The winner will receive a weeklong residency from May 21 to May 27 in Stockholm, Sweden, which includes accommodation, tuition to the Stockholm Writers Festival, a one-on-one meeting with an agent, and individual feedback from the contest judge. A $1,000 stipend is granted to help cover travel costs.

Using only the online submission system, submit a sample of creative writing in any genre of up to 1,5000 words and a personal statement of up to 1,000 words with a $25 entry fee by February 15. Writers who are currently unagented and who have not published a full-length work of creative writing are eligible. Visit the website for complete guidelines

The Stockholm Writers Prize is sponsored by the Stockholm Writers Festival, which was established as a nonprofit in 2017. The organization hosts an annual festival dedicated to “developing the skills and business knowhow essential to navigate the world of publishing, while fostering an ever-expanding community of international writers.”

Deadline Approaches for Macaron Prize

Submissions are open for the 2020 Macaron Prize. Sponsored by the literary magazine Cagibi, the annual contest awards four prizes of $1,000 and publication in the magazine’s annual print issue. Nick Flynn, Andre Dubus III, Jill Bialosky, and Emily Flake will judge in the categories of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and cartoon respectively. 

Using only the online submission system, submit up to three poems, a short story or an essay of up to 4,000 words, or a single-panel cartoon or a comic of up to 12 pages with a $20 entry fee by January 20. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Cagibi was founded in 2017 by editors Sylvia Bertrand and Christopher X. Shade. Titled after a French word connoting a storeroom or cubby hole, the journal aims to offer a “shelter, no matter how tiny, that allows for big imaginings to take shape.” Cagibi publishes quarterly issues online, as well as a print annual that anthologizes those issues. It particularly seeks international literature, translation, and poetry and prose “in which character conflict, ultimately story, is tied to place.”

One Book Can Change a City

One Book One New Orleans is a campaign for literacy and community where New Orleans residents share the experience of reading the same book at the same time. The city has many great writers but its adult illiteracy rates are troubling. I had an opportunity to speak with One Book One New Orleans’s executive director Megan Holt and ask a few questions about the organization’s mission and how reading books together can build community. Megan and I have worked together at the Words & Music Festival for the last two years but most importantly, we are friends that share a love for motherhood and literacy.

Can you tell us a little bit about the mission of One Book One New Orleans?
One Book One New Orleans selects one book each year for New Orleans residents to read. We make an extra effort to ensure that our selected book is accessible to all adults. Through a network of community partners, we get the book, as well as a curriculum for the book, into adult education classes, adult ESL classes, HiSET classes, educational programs in juvenile justice centers, and prisons. We also arrange for the book to be recorded and broadcast for the blind community. Finally, we host a series of free, family-friendly events inspired by the book.

Why is it so important to get the whole city of New Orleans reading?
Often it feels that New Orleans is a city divided—by education level, by socioeconomic class, by neighborhood, by race. Bringing people from different walks of life together through a shared reading experience can be the first step to realizing that we have more in common with one another than we thought.

How can reading as a city transform New Orleans?
Increased adult literacy is linked to lower poverty rates, lower crime rates, lower domestic violence rates, better chances of securing a job that pays a living wage, better health care outcomes, and increased participation in the democratic process. These effects then get passed on to the next generation. While it would be overly simplistic to say that reading together as a city is a magic cure-all for some of the struggles our city faces, coming together certainly can serve as a catalyst for change.

What are some of the books the city has read together in the past?
Our first book in 2004 was A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. The last few years we’ve included titles such as Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong, Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, and Counting Descent by Clint Smith.

What’s the book for 2020?
New Orleans Griot: The Tom Dent Reader
edited by Kalamu ya Salaam.

One Book One New Orleans executive director Megan Holt. (Credit: Paula Burch-Celentano)
 
Kelly Harris is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in New Orleans. Contact her at NOLA@pw.org or on Twitter, @NOLApworg.

Literary Community Outside the Box: Part Two

Last week, I highlighted the work of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, and their long-running radio show. Today, I want to spotlight local writer Icess Fernandez Rojas, a member of Nuestra Palabra. Rojas is a masterful writer and blogger who focuses her efforts on all things fiction, in particular mystery and noir. A former journalist, she is a graduate of Goddard College’s MFA program and currently teaches in the English Department at Lone Star College-Kingwood.

Over ten years ago, Rojas created the blog Dear Reader, where she offers tips to fellow writers and welcomes them into her writing life. Recently, she expanded her blog into a weekly podcast of the same name. The podcast, hosted by Rojas, focuses on mental health and the writing life and acts as a guide to “help you write your best life.” Take some time, folks, to read and listen to what Rojas puts out. She is an unsung hero in our writing community.

Dear Reader: Mental Health and the Writing Life, a podcast hosted by Icess Fernandez Rojas.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.