“What I have been thinking about, lately, is bewilderment as a way of entering the day as much as the work. Bewilderment as a poetics and an ethics,” writes Fanny Howe in “Bewilderment,” excerpted from a talk and published in the online journal How2 in 1999. Howe uses bewilderment as a way of understanding how the poem expresses the ineffable, claiming that it is “more than an attitude—but an actual approach, a way—to resolve the unresolvable.” Write a series of scenes in a personal essay that illustrate a time in your life when you were bewildered. How can one learn from the feeling of being perplexed or confused?

Agents & Editors: The Complete Series

Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Michael Szczerban, and M. Allen Cunningham

This series of interviews with nearly forty book editors, publishers, and agents offers a unique look at the past, present, and future of the book industry and what writers can do to thrive in today’s publishing world.  

Resisting Epiphany

In Randon Billings Noble’s Literary Hub essay “How to Render Epiphanies in Nonfiction Without Getting Didactic,” she writes about resisting the need to prove a thesis in a work of nonfiction. “An essay can also muse, warn, wonder, wander, teach, play, lilt, explore, or, in the words of Jane Alison, meander, spiral, explode.” Write an essay that resists reaching a conclusion or a lesson and instead reflects on the details of an experience. How can the details of a seemingly simple scene provide readers as much of an impact as a more traditional conclusion?

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

It is fitting that during the most romantic month of the year, contest opportunities abound for poets! With deadlines of either February 14 or February 15, these awards include opportunities for both English language poetry and poetry in translation. There are also two contests for prose writers. All offer a cash prize of $1,000 or more.

Academy of American Poets Ambroggio Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by University of Arizona Press is given annually for a book of poetry originally written in Spanish by a living writer and translated into English. The poet and translator will split the prize. Rigoberto González will judge. Deadline: February 15. Entry fee: none.

Academy of American Poets Harold Morton Landon Translation Award: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a book of poetry translated from any language into English and published in the United States during the previous year. Indran Amirthanayagam will judge. Deadline: February 15. Entry fee: none.

Academy of American Poets Raiziss/De Palchi Fellowship: A fellowship of $25,000 is given biennially for the translation into English of a work of modern Italian poetry. Moira Egan, Rebecca Falkoff, and Graziella Sidoli will judge. Deadline: February 15. Entry fee: none.

Arrowsmith Press Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry: A prize of $1,000 will be given annually for a poetry collection published in English by a writer who is not a resident of the United States. The winner will also receive an invitation to read at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre in Boston; a one-week residency at poet Derek Walcott’s home in St. Lucia or in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, in conjunction with the annual Walcott Festival; and the publication of a limited-edition broadside of their work by Arrowsmith Press. Poets who are living in the United States as green card holders are eligible. Poets whose work appears in translation into English are also eligible. Major Jackson will judge. Deadline: February 15. Entry fee: $20.

Hippocrates Prizes for Poetry and Medicine: A prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,260) and publication in the Hippocrates Prize anthology and on the Hippocrates website is given annually for a single poem on a medical theme. A prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,260) and publication in the Hippocrates Prize anthology and on the website is also given for a single poem on a medical theme written by a health professional. Anne Barnard, Keki N. Daruwalla, Anna Jackson, and Neena Modi will judge. Deadline: February 14. Entry fee: $10 ($15 for postal submissions).

Milkweed Editions Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry: A prize of $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions is given annually for a poetry collection by a poet currently residing in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Wisconsin. Deadline: February 15. Entry fee: none.

Sarabande Books Morton and McCarthy Prizes: Two prizes of $2,000 each and publication by Sarabande Books are given annually for collections of poetry and fiction. Victoria Chang will judge in poetry and Danielle Evans will judge in fiction. Deadline: February 15. Entry fee: $29.

Salem State University Claire Keyes Poetry Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Soundings East is given annually for a group of poems. Afaa Michael Weaver will judge. Deadline: February 15. Entry fee: $10 (or $15 to receive a copy of the magazine).

Syracuse University Press Veterans Writing Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Syracuse University Press is given biennially for a novel or short story collection by a U.S. veteran, active duty personnel in any branch of the U.S. military, or the immediate family member of a veteran or active duty personnel. Phil Klay will judge. Deadline: February 15. 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.

Honoring the Storytelling Tradition


In honor of Black History Month, the folks at Open Road Media put together this collection of interviews in which authors such as Henry Louis Gates Jr., Virginia Hamilton, Alice Walker, and others discuss the significance of storytelling as part of African American culture.

Pillow Book

“The process of writing prose can intimidate even the most seasoned poets,” writes Khadijah Queen in the latest installment of Craft Capsules. “Using the zuihitsu form provided just the open space I needed.” In the essay, Queen argues that having a form as flexible as the zuihitsu, a Japanese form of hybrid poem-essay invented by Sei Shōnagon in the eleventh century, allows for lyricism to be maintained across a longer prose piece, in which patterns of image and sound can keep a narrative going. Write an essay inspired by the zuihitsu form, beginning with a simple observation and building that image with textures of rich poetic fragments.

Ohio State University

MFA Program
Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
Columbus, OH
Application Deadline: 
Mon, 12/07/2020
Application Fee: 
Affiliated Publications/Publishers: 

A Celebration of Audre Lorde


“Lorde is a towering figure in the world of letters,” says Roxane Gay in this 92Y virtual event celebrating the publication of The Selected Works of Audre Lorde (Norton, 2020), which Gay edited. Joining Gay to discuss and read Lorde’s poetry and prose are Mahogany L. Browne, Saeed Jones, and Porsha Olayiwola.


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