May/June 2013

Poets and Writers Magazine, May/June 2013

Our Writing Contests Issue features a look at the ever-expanding universe of book awards and literary prizes, including tips for successful entries as well as advice from agents and editors; a survey of the novella e-revolution and how digital tools are reviving the neglected form; a craft essay on writing with urgency; a profile of novelist Claire Messud; an interview with poet Frank Bidart; and much more.


The World Arranged: A Profile of Claire Messud

by Michael Washburn
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With her fourth novel, The Woman Upstairs, published in April of 2013 by Knopf, Claire Messud tests the ties of novelist, wife, teacher, and mother that define and bind many working writers.

Sufficient Density: An Interview With Frank Bidart

by William Giraldi

Frank Bidart says a poet must use language that embodies the immediacy and intensity the poet feels, which may explain why his ninth collection, Metaphysical Dog, is his most intimate book yet.

Writing Contests

The Winner’s Circle: What It Means to Win a Writing Contest Today

by Kevin Nance
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Contributing editor Kevin Nance provides a historical perspective on writing contests and examines their value today.

Winners on Winning: The Intangible Benefits of Coming Out on Top

by Staff
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Five writing-contest winners share the effect winning has had on their writing and their life.

Do Contests Matter? Agents and Editors Weigh In

by Staff
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Six editors and agents reveal how they perceive the importance of writing contests when considering whether to work with a writer. 

Follow the Guidelines: Advice From Contest Series Editors

by Staff
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Four writing contest series editors offer tips to writers about the best way to prepare their submissions for competition.  

The Aha! Moment: Flannery O'Connor Award Series Editor Nancy Zafris

by Michael Bourne
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Author and Flanner O'Connor Award series editor Nancy Zafris reveals the qualities that made Lori Ostlund’s award-winning manuscript stand out in the submission pile.

News and Trends

Literary MagNet

by Travis Kurowski

Literary MagNet chronicles the start-ups and closures, successes and failures, anniversaries and accolades, changes of editorship and special issues—in short, the news and trends—of literary magazines in America. This issue's MagNet features Mississippi Review, New Orleans Review, Booth, West Branch, and Pleiades. 

Where Freedom Grows

by Carrie Neill

The biennial Gift of Freedom Award, sponsored by the Placitas, New Mexico-based A Room of Her Own Foundation, transcends competition by acting as an agent for change in the lives of women writers.

Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin

by Staff

With so many good books being published every month, some literary titles worth exploring can get lost in the stacks. Page One offers the first lines of a dozen recently released books, including Sophie Cabot Black's The Exchange and Brian Kimberling's Snapper, as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.

Small Press Points

by Staff

Small Press Points highlights the innovation and can-do spirit of independent presses. This issue features Gazing Grain Press, an inclusive feminist press based in Fairfax, Virginia, that publishes one title each year as part of its annual poetry and hybrid-prose chapbook contest.

The Practical Writer

First: Bennett Sims’s A Questionable Shape

by Eryn Loeb
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With the publication of his deeply thoughtful, zombie-centric debut novel by indie press Two Dollar Radio, Bennett Sims is finally getting the living dead out of his system.

The Novella E-Revolution: Digital Tools Revive a Neglected Form

by Michael Bourne
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Several innovations in digital publishing provide new opportunities for publishers and writers who want to make their novellas available to a wide readership.

The Literary Life

Writing With Urgency: Propel Your Characters Forward

by Benjamin Percy
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Fiction writer Benjamin Percy offers five steps writers should follow to jack up the momentum in their short stories.