May/June 2017

Our annual Writing Contests Issue features a close look at five awards programs with a focus on social justice, a special report on the future of arts funding under Trump, and nine authors on the life­­-changing support of NEA fellowships; plus an interview with Lidia Yuknavitch on her new dystopian novel, The Book of Joan; a close reading of the 1950 Pulitzer Prize jury letter about Gwendolyn Brooks; a Q&A with Parul Sehgal of the New York Times Book Review; Laura Maylene Walter on the writer’s quest for reassurance; agent advice; writing prompts; more than 100 contests with upcoming deadlines; and more. 

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Features

The Other Side of Burning

by Amy Gall
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In her new dystopian novel, The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch takes readers to a not-so-distant future, where the earth has been ravaged by war, a dictator has taken over, and humanity’s best hope for survival is a reimagined Joan of Arc. 

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Anatomy of a Pulitzer Prize Letter

by Major Jackson
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A close look at the letter recommending Gwendolyn Brooks as the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1950 reveals more than just the reigning aesthetics of that time.

Special Section

Contests With Vision: Prizes With a Focus on Social Justice

by Dana Isokawa
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While many literary contests honor work for its innovative or formal qualities, these five organizations sponsor prizes for literature that engages with social and political issues, helping to promote a more just and equitable world.

The Aha! Moment: Kendra Kopelke and Mary Azrael of Passager Books

by Michael Bourne
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As part of a continuing series, Kendra Kopelke and Mary Azrael, coeditors of Passager Books, discuss how a short, quiet poem by eighty-year-old poet Jean Connor came to win the Passager Poetry Prize in 2001.

News and Trends

Serial Fiction for the Digital Age

by Jonathan Vatner

Radish, an innovative serial-reading app, publishes works of fiction one chapter at a time. Users can read original stories and pay to unlock more plot, putting money in the pockets of the writers who contribute.

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Small Press Points: Twisted Road Publications

by Staff

Small Press Points highlights the innovation and can-do spirit of independent presses. This issue features the Tallahassee, Florida–based Twisted Road Publications, which champions authors overlooked by mainstream publishing and “books that depict the shadowy places where the disenfranchised dwell.”

Writers, Editors Resist

by Sarah M. Seltzer

After the election, writers and editors around the country responded by launching new publications as outlets for both literary excellence and impassioned social critique.

The Writers Studio at Thirty

by Christine Koubek

Since its inception in 1987, the Writers Studio has grown from a small workshop in the West Village of New York City to an indispensable literary institution offering online courses, programming for children, and readings, craft classes, and workshops in five cities in the United States and abroad.

The Practical Writer

The Literary Life

The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises

by Staff
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Compose a collaborative renga with a friend, inject surreal motifs into your fiction, and explore your relationship with a parent or child through the lens of one embarrassing memory—three prompts to keep your pen on the page this spring.

Tell Me I’m Good: The Writer’s Quest for Reassurance

by Laura Maylene Walter
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Six writing instructors offer strategies for allaying students’ anxieties, engaging critically with their work, and responsibly giving them what they most desire: praise.

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