Upcoming Contest Deadlines

November deadlines are approaching for contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, including the oldest annual literary award in America, the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Each of these contests has a deadline of November 15, and all but one offer a prize of $1,000 or more in addition to publication. 

Hidden River Arts Blue Mountain Novel Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Press is given annually for a novel. Hidden River Press staff will judge. Entry fee: $22.

Nightboat Books Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Nightboat Books, and twenty-five author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Kazim Ali, Stephen Motika, Lindsey Boldt, and Andrea Abi-Karam will judge. Entry fee: $28.

North American Review James Hearst Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in North American Review is given annually for a poem. All entries are considered for publication. Ilya Kaminsky will judge. Entry fee: $23, which includes a subscription to North American Review.

Perugia Press Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Perugia Press, and ten author copies is given annually for a first or second poetry collection by a woman. Entry fee: $27.

Pleiades Press Lena–Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Pleiades Press with distribution by Louisiana State University Press is given annually for a poetry collection by a U.S. poet. The winner also receives $1,000 for book tour expenses. Tiana Clark will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Pleiades Press Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Pleiades Press with distribution by Louisiana State University Press is given annually for a collection of short stories, short short stories, or essays. CJ Hauser will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Sonora Review Flash Prose Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Sonora Review is given annually for a work of short prose on a theme. This year’s theme is “Encounter.” Hybrid work is encouraged. Lucy Corin will judge. Entry fee: $15.

Sonora Review Nonfiction Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Sonora Review is given annually for a work of creative nonfiction on a theme. This year’s theme is “Encounter.” Hybrid work is encouraged. Rae Paris will judge. Entry fee: $15.

Southeast Missouri State University Press Nilsen Literary Award: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Southeast Missouri State University Press is given annually for a novel, novella, or collection of linked stories by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. Entry fee: $30.

TulipTree Publishing Genre Issue Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in TulipTree Review will be given annually for a story of genre fiction. Stories in the genres of mystery, crime, romance, science fiction, fantasy, noir, and western are eligible. Entry fee: $20.

Washington Writers Publishing House Poetry and Fiction Prizes: Two prizes of $1,000 each, publication by Washington Writers Publishing House, and 50 author copies are given annually for a poetry collection and a short story collection or novel. Writers who live in Washington, D.C., or in Maryland or Virginia within a 75-mile radius of the U.S. Capitol, are eligible. Entry fee: $25.

Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition: A prize of $3,000 and travel and lodging expenses for a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City is given annually for a short short story. The winner will also be featured in an article in Writer’s Digest. A second-place prize of $1,500 is also awarded. Early entry fee: $25 ($30 for entries made November 17 through December 16). 

Yale University Press Yale Series of Younger Poets: An award of publication by Yale University Press is given annually for a poetry collection by a poet who has not published a full-length book of poetry. Carl Phillips will judge. Entry fee: $25.

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.

Notes to A Tribe Called Quest


“It’s a book about a rap group, but, more particularly, a book that is examining how fandom seeps into our lives.” In this PBS NewHour video, Hanif Abdurraqib speaks with Amna Nawaz about his memoir, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest (University of Texas Press, 2019), and the ways in which music intertwines with identity and the poignant moments in our lives.

Mario Vargas Llosa


“The only counsel that is acceptable is to work! To work very hard until you discover the kind of writer that you want to be.” Nobel Prize–winning Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa dispenses advice to young and emerging writers in this Louisiana Channel interview with Christian Lund at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.

Flaws and All


“We deserve to have our wrongdoing represented as much as our heroism, because when we refuse wrongdoing as a possibility for a group of people, we refuse their humanity,” writes Carmen Maria Machado in her new memoir, In the Dream House (Graywolf Press, 2019), about the need to acknowledge the queer community as human beings who are multifaceted and morally complex. Think of someone who at some point has occupied a heroic role in your life and write an essay that attempts to represent all the dimensions of this person. What possibilities are you allowing for when you articulate a person’s flaws or mistakes instead of simply presenting the best version?

BRIO Grants Accepting Applications

Submissions are open for the 2020 Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) grants. Administered by the Bronx Council on the Arts, each $5,000 BRIO grant provides direct support to a Bronx artist who demonstrates “compelling vision and original voice” and “high level of skill.” Grants are available across four categories—literary, media, visual, and performing arts—and literary applicants may apply in disciplines including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and illustrated text. Winners are encouraged to organize a one-time public service activity known as an Artists for Community Enrichment (ACE) event within a year of receiving the award. These events are intended to offer artists additional visibility, while also fostering connections between the artists and their communities.  

Using only the Bronx Council on the Arts Submittable system, submit a short bio, a headshot, a résumé, proof of Bronx residency, and a writing sample of ten to forty-five pages of poetry, prose, or illustrated text by December 16. All samples must represent work created within the last five years. Decisions will be announced in May 2020, and winners will be formally honored in a ceremony in June. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Launched in 1989, the BRIO program has offered grants to 481 artists, and distributed more than $1,500,000. Every year, the awards are judged anonymously by a panel of art professionals representing the different disciplines. In 2019, more than 40 artists received grants. 

Haunted Hotels and Cemeteries


Do you believe in ghosts? Browse through the New York Times’ list of haunted hotels and National Geographic’s photo gallery of cemeteries with “views to die for” and think back to a hotel stay or cemetery visit from your own past that might have been tinged with something eerie in the air. Write an essay that centers on this haunting experience. What kind of decorative adornments, distinctive architecture, or imposing weather might have contributed to the mood? Was the tone of the visit tempered by more practical considerations and activities, or did you deliberately revel in the phantasmic atmosphere?

Books About New Orleans

Every place has writers that reflect its culture. Literary place-making, I call it. If you want to know more about a place, you need to hear its stories. There are so many books to choose from, but here are just a few that celebrate New Orleans culture by writers who live, breathe, and love this city.

From a Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets (Runagate Press, 1998) edited by Kalamu ya Salaam. This anthology captures the diverse voices of New Orleans, celebrating the multi-ethnic tapestry of the city. Established and emerging writers of all ages are included in this extensive collection of poetry.

Monday Nights: Stories From the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans (University of New Orleans Press, 2016) edited by Fredrick Barton and Joanna Leake. The University of New Orleans MFA program in creative writing has produced some fantastic writers. The writers in this anthology took part in a Monday night workshop that has lasted over twenty-five years, where they met to share and discuss their work. Included are stories by graduates of the program, such as Rebecca Antoine, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, and Che Yeun, as well as faculty members, such as Fredrick Barton, Amanda Boyden, and M. O. Walsh.

N.O. Lit: 200 Years of New Orleans Literature (Lavender Ink, 2013) edited by Nancy Dixon. This book highlights the literature of New Orleans over the past two hundred years including prominent writers like Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams, but also historic writers like the poets of Les Cenelles, French Creoles of color who published the first anthology of African American literature in 1845. The book was made possible by grants from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation.

The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans (LSU Press, 2013) by Susan Larson. For years, Susan Larson was the book editor for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and now hosts WWNO’s public radio program The Reading Life. Susan shares her wealth of knowledge for local bookstores, historic landmarks, current literary festivals, and more.

Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2011) by Freddi Williams Evans. This book explores the history of the Sunday gatherings of enslaved Africans at Congo Square beginning in the eighteenth century. Included are stories and descriptions of the songs, dances, and musical instruments of these gatherings. Congo Square is often considered the birth place of American music and continues to be a prominent venue for music festivals and community gatherings.

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

Alex Dimitrov


“What is under the earth followed them home. / The branch broke. It broke by itself. It did break, James.” In this 2014 video, Alex Dimitrov reads his poem “Together and by Ourselves” at the Radar Reading Series in San Francisco. Dimitrov and Dorothea Lasky’s Astro Poets: Your Guides to the Zodiac, an astrological guide that expands upon their popular Twitter feed, is out this week from Flatiron Books.

Ink Well: The Podcast

This week I want to introduce you to Ink Well, a Houston-based podcast that I cohost which interviews established and emerging writers from across the United States. Presented by Tintero Projects and Inprint, the two organizations collaborate to make suggestions for writers to interview, Inprint provides the recording space and the producer, Tintero Projects founders Jasminne and yours truly cohost and interview guests, and ta-da, you get a podcast series, which is currently in its third year.

With the series, we hope to find ways to showcase international, national, and regional voices talking about the writing landscape. We especially want to feature writers of color and Southern voices from the Gulf Coast to offer them an opportunity to share their work and thoughts on writing.

Our inaugural episode welcomed poet Analicia Sotelo, whose debut poetry collection, Virgin, was selected by Ross Gay as the first winner of the Jake Adam York Prize. Since then guests have included Ching-In Chen, Rigoberto González, Daniel Peña, Samanta Schweblin, and Carmen Giménez Smith.

If you’re looking for something to occupy you on a long commute and want to hear brilliant voices talking about all things literary, give Ink Well a listen. I hope you’ll be introduced to some new inspiring voices.

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

Adrienne Brodeur


“The very act of reading is an empathetic act.” In this Aspen Institute video, Adrienne Brodeur talks about her writing process and reads from her debut memoir, Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), which is featured in Page One in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.


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