Special Reminder: Deadline for Project Grants

We interrupt our regularly scheduled United States of Writing Blog content to remind writers in Detroit, Houston, and New Orleans that applications for Project Grants for BIPOC Writers are due this Wednesday, September 30!

Grants range from $250 to $750 and can be used to pay for costs related to coordinating online literary events in the genres of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. In addition, projects must take place between October 16 and December 31.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color;
  • be a resident of Detroit, Houston, or New Orleans, including the surrounding metro areas of each city;
  • be a published writer of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction, or have performance credits as a spoken word artist.

So for example, if you were a Black fiction writer living in Houston who wants to coordinate a fiction reading that will be live-streamed to the public, and you want to compensate yourself and other writers who will give readings for the event, you would be a great candidate for a project grant!

Of course, not all projects need to fit the mold above: We are also interested in supporting other literary projects that will engage the communities of these cities, such as workshops, panels, discussions, town halls, or Q&As.

Writers interested in applying can find the guidelines and link to the application form here.

We can’t wait to read your project ideas!

East Bay Booksellers

Formerly known as DIESEL, A Bookstore, the space has transformed into East Bay Booksellers. Still a neighborhood bookstore, the shop was created to provide a place for creating and maintaining community in an atmosphere that promotes the free, mutually-supportive exchange of ideas and experiences. With a wide selection of books and events, East Bay Booksellers is a cultural center that aims to support the literary community.

Accept Queries?: 
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East Bay Booksellers

Diesel Bookstore: Brentwood

Known for their fascinating selection of titles, stunning author events, enthusiastically diverse staff, and urban California aesthetic, DIESEL is the cutting-edge, high octane, community-radiating, independent neighborhood bookstore we all dream of hanging out in, getting imaginally turned on in, and literarily inspired by. DIESEL's Brentwood location hosts events including author visits, book launchings, book signings, and discussion groups.

Accept Queries?: 
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Upcoming Contest Deadlines

As the days grow shorter and colder, consider cozying up indoors and submitting to the last contests of the month. With deadlines of either September 28 or September 30, these awards include numerous opportunities to publish book-length work and two contests with no entry fees. All offer a prize of $1,000 or more.

Boulevard Nonfiction Contest for Emerging Writers: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Boulevard is given annually for an essay by a writer who has not published a full-length book in any genre with a nationally distributed press. The editors will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $16.

California State University in Fresno Philip Levine Prize for Poetry: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Anhinga Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Cathy Park Hong will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $25 ($28 for electronic submissions)

Coffee-House Poetry Troubadour International Poetry Prize: A prize of £2,000 (approximately $2,548) is given annually for a single poem. A second-place prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,274) is also given. Both winners receive publication on the Coffee-House Poetry website. Mona Arshi and Mark Doty will judge. Deadline: September 28. Entry fee: $7.

Dzanc Books Diverse Voices Prize: A prize of $3,000 and publication by Dzanc Books will be given for a novel, memoir, story or essay collection, or cross-genre work by a writer from a minority, underrepresented, or marginalized community. Chaya Bhuvaneswar, Charles Johnson, and Robert Lopez will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: none.

Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction: A prize of $5,000 and publication by Dzanc Books is given annually for a novel. Tina May Hall, Anne Valente, and Jessie van Eerden will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $25.

Dzanc Books Short Story Competition: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Dzanc Books is given annually for a story collection. The editors will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $25.

Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000, publication on the Ghost Story website and in the Ghost Story print anthology, 21st Century Ghost Stories, is given twice yearly for a short story with a supernatural or magic realism theme. The editors will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $20.

Hackney Literary Awards Novel Contest: A prize of $5,000 is given annually for an unpublished novel. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $30.

Lascaux Review Prize in Creative Nonfiction: A prize of $1,000 and publication on the Lascaux Review website is given annually for an essay. The winner and finalists will also be published in Volume 8 of the Lascaux Review. Previously published and unpublished essays are eligible. All entries will be considered for publication. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $15.

Red Hen Press Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Red Hen Press is given annually for a short story collection or a novel. Susan Straight will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $25.

University of Arkansas Press Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize: A prize of $5,000 and publication by University of Arkansas Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Patricia Smith will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $28.

University of Iowa Press Iowa Short Fiction Award: Two awards of publication by University of Iowa Press are given annually for first collections of short fiction. Writers who have not published a book of fiction are eligible. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: none.

University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prizes: Five prizes of $1,000 each and publication by University of Massachusetts Press are given annually for a first poetry collection, a poetry collection, a short story collection, a novel, and a book of creative nonfiction. The creative writing faculty at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $30.

Winning Writers Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contests: Two prizes of $3,000 each and publication on the Winning Writers website are given annually for a poem in any style and a poem that either rhymes or is written in a traditional style. Jim DuBois and Soma Mei Sheng Frazier will judge. Deadline: September 30. Entry fee: $15.

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.



Brian Blanchfield’s Proxies: Essays Near Knowing (Nightboat Books, 2016) is an essay collection that experiments with memory. Each single-subject essay—on topics such as foot washing, dossiers, house-sitting, and Br’er Rabbit—is based on what the author has read and remembers (or misremembers) and was written without the internet or any kind of research. The book ends with “Corrections,” which fact-checks the claims in the essays, cataloguing Blanchfield’s errors and what his memory has altered. Write a series of flash essays on a variety of subjects that relies exclusively on your memory, then write a catalogue of corrections that fact-checks your claims. How does the experience of relying on your memory change your relationship to fact and truth?

Deadline Approaches for TulipTree Publishing Underdogs Story Contest

Submissions are open for the TulipTree Publishing Underdogs Story Contest. The editors seek work in any genre—fiction, nonfiction, or poetry—that responds to the “underdog” theme of the fall/winter issue of TulipTree Review. “It’s easy for the powerful, the strong, and even just the loud to get our attention, but we would argue it’s much more satisfying when the underdog lands in the spotlight for upsetting the odds.” The winning writer will receive $1,000 and publication in TulipTree Review.

To submit, e-mail a work of fiction or nonfiction of up to 10,000 words or a poem of any length with a $20 entry fee by September 23. There is no limit on the number of entries per writer, and entry fees may be submitted by PayPal or by mail. All entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

TulipTree Publishing was established in 2015 with the mission to “tell stories that need to be told.” In addition to printing a biannual literary journal, the organization also publishes an annual story anthology and a series of books dedicated to raising funds for various social causes.

Letter to Self


Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet (Norton, 1934), is a collection of letters written when he was twenty-seven and living and working with the artist Auguste Rodin in Paris. Rilke’s correspondence was with Franz Xavier Kappus, an aspiring nineteen-year-old poet seeking advice. Many scholars say that much of Rilke’s advice to the younger poet is advice he himself received from a more experienced Rodin when they worked together at different points of their career. Write a short series of letters addressed to your younger self. What experiences can you use to encourage your less experienced self?

Katrina Fifteenth Anniversary Virtual Reading

On August 26, I curated a virtual reading highlighting New Orleans writers to remember, as I said at the event, all the people, all the cultural places, all the businesses, all the family artifacts, all the schools, all the neighborhoods, and the ways of being that were lost physically and dismantled systematically by Hurricane Katrina. It is hard to believe, but August 29 marked the day the levees broke in New Orleans fifteen years ago.

To commemorate the occasion, Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy, Tom Piazza, Alison Pelegrin, José Torres Tama, Lolis Elie, and Asia Rainey read from their work and shared their experiences. Fourteen-year-old New Orleans saxophonist Akeel Salah Muhammad Haroon treated us with a performance to close the evening.

Readings & Workshops program coordinator Ricardo Hernandez, who helped with tech support, said of the event: “The featured readers were all incredible. I was especially moved to hear Lolis Elie read from “The Whys” and I looked up the piece so I could quote it accurately: ‘Some of us came back because we didn’t believe that the insurance company that we’d dutifully paid for decades would cheat us in our hour of gravest need. (If Dante Alighieri had endured the inferno of our flood, he would have kindled a special fire for insurance companies!)’”

Curating this event was fun but challenging, especially with the added pressure of doing this virtually and praying for no tech hiccups. Luckily it all worked out and our virtual audience was pleased. My goal was to highlight all the ways Hurricane Katrina impacted the city’s writers. It was hard to curate because so much is at stake with a reading that represents the loss and trauma of an entire city. I was happy that each writer brought a different voice and perspective to the reading.

Thank you to all of those who joined us on Facebook for the live event. If you missed the reading, you can watch it here. There is also a wonderful piece written by Joshua Barajas for PBS NewsHour about our event.

Writing about Katrina can be painful, but mostly it is a celebration of what makes New Orleans so special. As Saloy says in the PBS NewsHour piece, “We’re not just authors. We are the carriers of our culture.”

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


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