Ta-Nehisi Coates on Why He Writes

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“I just felt this deep need to express myself.... I had a strong desire to understand and to express that understanding.” In this CBS Sunday Morning interview, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about the purpose of his writing and how the music of Marvin Gaye influences the language in his work. Coates’s debut novel, The Water Dancer (One World, 2019), is featured in Page One in the September/October issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Summer’s final deadlines are upon us! Contests with a deadline of August 31 span poetry and prose, and include awards celebrating queer writers, writers over the age of 60, and writers living in upstate New York. Each offers a prize of at least $1,000.

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award: Two prizes of £1,000 (approximately $1,225) each and publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual are given annually for a poem and a short story. The winner in poetry also receives a membership to the Poetry Society in London, and the winner in short fiction receives a consultation with the literary agency Redhammer Management. Both winners receive a subscription to Granta and a selection of books from Bloodaxe Books and Vintage Books. Katy Guest, Oz Hardwick, Liz Jones, Teresa Palmiero, Martine Pierquin, and Steve Toase will judge. Entry fee: £12 (approximately $15) for a poem of up to 40 lines, or £18 (approximately $22) for a short story of up to 2,000 words.

Black Lawrence Press St. Lawrence Book Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Black Lawrence Press is given annually for a debut collection of poems or short stories. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Ex Ophidia Press Poetry Book Contest: A prize of $1,000, publication by Ex Ophidia Press, and 15 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Richard-Gabriel Rummonds will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Gemini Magazine Flash Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gemini Magazine is given annually for a short short story. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $6.

Grid Books Off the Grid Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Grid Books is given annually for a poetry collection by a writer over the age of 60. Jon Davis will judge. Entry fee: $25.

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 a writer who has not published a novel (writers who have published story collections are eligible). The winning story will also be sent to agents Victoria Cappello from the Bent Agency, Sarah Fuentes from Fletcher & Company, Andrea Morrison from Writers House, and Nat Sobel from Sobel Weber Associates. Tope Folarin will judge. Entry fee: $20.

Omnidawn Publishing Open Book Prize: A prize of $3,000, publication by Omnidawn Publishing, and 100 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Rachel Zucker will judge. Entry fee: $27.

Red Hen Press Quill Prose Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Red Hen Press is given annually for a short story collection, a novel, or an essay collection by a queer writer. Uzodinma Iweala will judge. Entry fee: $10.

University of New Orleans Press Publishing Lab Prize: A prize of $10,000 and publication by University of New Orleans Press is given annually for a short story collection or a novel. Entry fee: $28.

Utica College Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize: A prize of $2,000 is given annually for a poetry collection published in the previous year by a resident of upstate New York. The winner will also give a reading and teach a master class at Utica College in April 2020. Entry fee: none. 

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.

Leslie Jamison

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“I wanted to find a way to write about people that felt guided by a spirit of appreciation and empathy.” Leslie Jamison speaks about the ethical complexities involved in nonfiction writing at a 2017 talk at Claremont McKenna College. Jamison’s second essay collection, Make It Scream, Make It Burn (Little, Brown, 2019), is featured in Page One in the September/October issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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