A prize of $1,000 and publication by Red Hen Press is given annually for a book of fiction or nonfiction by a woman. Martha Cooley will judge. Using only the online submission system, submit a story or essay collection, a novel, or a memoir of 45,000 to 80,000 words with a $25 entry fee by February 28. Visit the website for complete guidelines.
Two prizes of $5,000 each are given biennially for books of fiction and nonfiction. The awards, cosponsored by the Stanford Libraries and the William Saroyan Foundation, are “intended to encourage new or emerging writers and honor the Saroyan legacy of originality, vitality, and stylistic innovation.” Writers who have published four books or more are ineligible. Submit five copies of a fiction or nonfiction book published between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2019, with a $50 entry fee by January 31. Visit the website for the required entry form and complete guidelines.
A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,100) and publication in the Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a short memoir. David Shields will judge. Submit a memoir of up to 4,000 words with a €17 (approximately $19) entry fee for online entries or €19 (approximately $21) for postal entries by January 31. Visit the website for complete guidelines.
“We need to grab the words that have possibility in them and begin using them anew,” writes John Freeman in the prologue to Dictionary of the Undoing (MCD x FSG Originals, 2019). Freeman selects terms from A to Z, from “Agitate,” “Body,” “Citizen,” and “Decency” all the way to “You” and “Zygote,” and writes entries that reclaim, redefine, and expand the definitions of the words to “build a lexicon of engagement and meaning.” Write a lyric essay that borrows this idea, selecting words related to current events of particular importance to you and providing personalized definitions in the form of brief exploratory passages. Reflect on your own experiences, the community around you, and what the future may hold.
Submissions are currently open for Columbia Journal’s 2019 Winter Contest, which features awards for poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. One winner in each genre will receive a $1,000 cash prize and publication in Columbia Journal in spring 2020. At least two runners-up will also be selected and announced for each category.
Using only the online submission system, submit a cover letter and up to five poems totaling no more than five pages or a piece of prose of up to 5,000 words with a $15 entry fee by December 15. Ruth Madievsky, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Ada Calhoun will judge for poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, respectively. Visit the website for complete guidelines.
Founded in 1977, Columbia Journal is edited by students in the Columbia University School of the Arts MFA program. The journal, which publishes a print edition every spring and online content throughout the year, seeks to “showcase the best poetry, nonfiction, fiction, translation, and visual art.” Previous issues have featured Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, and Sharon Olds, among others.
Lia Greenwell is a poet and essayist currently living in Detroit. We work together at InsideOut where Lia is the operations coordinator. Recently I was able to speak with Lia, who offered fresh insight on how Southeast Michigan has influenced her writing.
Originally from Adrian, Michigan, Lia first discovered the magic of writing in The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, which she describes as full of “colorful, lyrical prose.” Although the novel was assigned for school, it felt different from the other books she had been reading. “I had never seen language used like that before, especially in something that I was reading for school. Cisneros’s prose took away the idea that books all had to look and feel the same.”
Although Lia began writing as a poet, she says, “poetry felt like I had to fit my writing into too small of a format—it felt strict. Prose allowed my writing to be weird.” I personally found this very relatable as someone who started out writing (very bad) fan fiction, and thought my path in writing would be confined to novels. Much like Lia, the discovery of a new genre (for me it was poetry) allowed me to go in new directions.
Lia is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina and worked with youth writers through the Girls Write Now program in New York City. When asked about how leaving and returning to Michigan has affected her as a writer, Lia says, “I had to leave and come back to see what the landscape meant to me.” Lia has lived in Detroit for over three years, but still feels like a newcomer and enjoys discovering local venues and writers. “I think of places like Room Project. I feel like there is always something new being revealed there.”
I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with Lia and discuss the long-term transitions that a writer goes through to find their niche and community. It was encouraging and made me think of how writers often feel isolated on the journey to find their place in the literary world. In Detroit, there is a home for writers.Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.
This autumn, as you travel to see family, engage in outdoor activities, or plan gifts and meals, pay special attention to the sounds of the season. In “Seeking Silence on a California Road Trip,” National Geographic Traveler editor in chief George W. Stone writes about tracking the sounds he encounters on a summer journey made by airplanes, birds and insects, air conditioners, sand dunes, and crashing waves. “I set out on a 500-mile sound quest that took me from the drumbeat of civilization to nearly noiseless realms. I did not turn on the radio, though occasionally I sang a song that came to mind. I barely spoke; instead I tried to hear whatever came my way.” Jot down notes as you go about your day, then write a personal essay that explores the season’s soundscape. What harmonies do you find between the moments of sound—or noise—and silence?
The last deadlines of November are approaching for contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Each of these contests has a deadline of November 30, and all but one offer a prize of $1,000 or more.
Beloit Poetry Journal Chad Walsh Chapbook Series: A prize of $1,000, publication by Beloit Poetry Journal, and 50 author copies is given annually for a poetry chapbook. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $20.
BOA Editions A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by BOA Editions is given annually for a first book of poetry by a U.S. resident. Richard Blanco will judge. Entry fee: $25.
Brunel University London International African Poetry Prize: A prize of £3,000 (approximately $3,668) is given annually for a group of poems by a poet who was born in Africa, is a national of an African country, or whose parents are African. Poets who have not yet published a full-length collection are eligible. Entry fee: none.
Burnside Review Press Book Award: A prize of $1,000, publication by Burnside Review Press, and 10 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Darcie Dennigan will judge. Entry fee: $25, which includes one title from the press’s catalogue.
Cider Press Review Book Award: A prize of $1,500, publication by Cider Press Review, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Lesley Wheeler will judge. Entry fee: $26.
Dappled Things J. F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction: A prize of $500 and publication in Dappled Things is given annually for a short story. The editors will judge. Entry fee: none.
Fish Publishing Fish Short Story Prize: A prize of €3,000 (approximately $3,330) and publication in the annual Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a short story. The winner will also be invited to attend a five-day short story workshop and read at the West Cork Literary Festival in July 2020. Colum McCann will judge. Entry fee: €20 (approximately $22) for online submissions or €22 (approximately $24) for submissions by mail.
Munster Literature Center Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize: A prize of €2,000 (approximately $2,219), publication in Southword, and a weeklong residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, is given annually for a single poem. Kim Addonizio will judge. Entry fee: €7 (approximately $8) for the submission of a single poem or €30 (approximately $33) for the submission of five poems.
Narrative Fall Story Contest: A prize of $2,500 and publication in Narrative is given annually for a short story, a short short story, an essay, or an excerpt from a longer work of prose. A second-place prize of $1,000 and publication in Narrative is also awarded. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $27.
Poetry International C. P. Cavafy Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Poetry International is given annually for a single poem. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $15.
Quarter After Eight Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest: A prize of $1,008.15 and publication in Quarter After Eight is given annually for a prose poem, a short short story, or a micro-essay. Thisbe Nissen will judge. Entry fee: $15.
University of North Texas Rilke Prize: A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a poetry collection published in the previous year by a mid-career poet. U.S. poets who have published at least two previous poetry collections are eligible. The poetry faculty of the University of North Texas will judge. Entry fee: none.
White Pine Press Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by White Pine Press is given annually for a poetry collection by a U.S. citizen. Entry fee: $20.