Upcoming Contest Deadlines

With a new month swiftly approaching, the time is right to submit to these contests, all of which have a closing date of October 31 or November 1. These poetry, fiction, and nonfiction awards include opportunities to attend residencies in Italy and Oregon. Each offers a prize of $1,000 or more; one prize has an estimated value of over $6,000.

Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards: Three prizes of $1,000 each are given annually for works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The winners will also be invited to take part in a panel discussion at the annual Tucson Festival of Books and attend a workshop on the University of Arizona campus in March 2020. Deadline: October 31. Entry fee: $20.

Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award: A prize of $3,000, publication by Red Hen Press, and a four-week residency at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon, is given annually for a poetry collection. Allison Joseph will judge. Deadline: October 31. Entry fee: $25.

Poetry Society of the United Kingdom National Poetry Competition: A prize of £5,000 (approximately $6,430) and publication on the Poetry Society of the United Kingdom website is given annually for a poem. A second-place prize of £2,000 (approximately $2,570) and a third-place prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,290) are also given. The winners will also be published in Poetry Review and invited to read at festivals in the United Kingdom. Poems written in English by poets from any country are eligible. Mona Arshi, Helen Mort, and Maurice Riordan will judge. Deadline: October 31. Entry fee: $9. 

Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Award: A prize of $5,000, publication by Graywolf Press, and a six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy, is given annually for a poetry collection by a poet who has not published a book of poems in a standard edition. The winning book will also be distributed to 5,000 members of the Academy of American Poets. Harryette Mullen will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $35.

Briar Cliff Review Writing Contests: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Briar Cliff Review are given annually for a poem, a short story, and an essay. The editors will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $20, which includes a copy of the prize issue. 

Autumn House Press Poetry Chapbook Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Autumn House Press is given annually for a poetry chapbook. Gerry LaFemina will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $20. 

Fiction Collective Two Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,500 and publication by Fiction Collective Two is given annually for a novel, short story collection, novella, or novella collection. U.S. writers who have not previously published a book with Fiction Collective Two are eligible. Sarah Blackman will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $25.

Cutthroat Writing Awards: Three prizes of $1,200 each and publication in Cutthroat are given annually for a group of poems, a short story, and an essay. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $20.

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.

How We Fight for Our Lives

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“I wanted to encapsulate the experience I was having, and particularly the memories in terms of what they mean to me now, as someone who’s thirty-three years old.” At Unbound, a literary series copresented by BAM and Greenlight Bookstore, Saeed Jones talks about the drive that compelled him to write his debut memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives (Simon & Schuster, 2019), which is featured in Page One in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Grave Goods

10.24.19

Last week Science journal published a study with the DNA analyses of graves and found objects from prehistoric German households that demonstrates wealth disparities in inhabitants not previously seen. The findings include indications that under the same roof, there were family members who passed down inherited wealth, unrelated individuals not buried with wealth, and nonlocal women who maintained or married into wealth. Consider the beloved and functional items in your home and write a personal essay that examines how these objects express social complexity or class status. How might you be remembered based on your possessions?

Indie Bookstores in New Orleans

Who says bookstores are losing popularity? In New Orleans, independent bookstores continue to thrive, bringing in local and national writers for literary events and avid readers. Here are some of my favorite places to buy local.

The Community Book Center is, currently, the only Black-owned bookstore in New Orleans. Mama Jen and Mama Vera are the beloved owners. Known as the social hub of the Seventh Ward, be prepared to debate about the latest local and national issues while perusing and buying books. They keep it real here.

Blue Cypress Books is located on happening Oak Street. I always enjoy their window displays because I discover books I previously didn’t know existed. They buy, sell, and trade quality secondhand books, offer a large selection of children’s books, and host monthly book club meetings. It is definitely worth a stop inside.

Octavia Books is located uptown on Octavia Street. If you’re going for an author reading, get there early for a seat. For sure their calendar of events will have a writer you want to hear read. Octavia Books also cosponsors The Reading Life, a locally-produced literary radio show with host Susan Larson on WWNO Public Radio.

The Garden District Book Shop is located around the corner from the famous Commander’s Palace restaurant. Purchase a book and hang out in the beautiful atrium area of the historic “Rink” in the beautiful Garden District, or catch a reading with an author in the shop.

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

Margaret Renkl

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“I was writing just about the experience of grief and life amidst dying...then I wanted to tell stories that made my parents alive, that brought them back to life and made it clear why this was such a loss.” In this A Word on Words interview, Margaret Renkl talks about her debut essay collection, Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss (Milkweed Editions, 2019), which is featured in “5 Over 50” in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

October’s final deadlines include contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction awarding publication to the winning book or chapbook. Each of these contests has a deadline of October 31 and offers a prize of $1,000 or more in addition to publication. Good luck, writers!

American Poetry Review Honickman First Book Prize: A prize of $3,000 and publication by American Poetry Review is given annually for a first poetry collection. The winning book is distributed by Copper Canyon Press through Consortium. Li-Young Lee will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Cloudbank Books Vern Rutsala Book Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Cloudbank Books is given annually for a collection of poetry, flash fiction, or a combination of the two. Holly Karapetkova will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Comstock Review Jessie Bryce Niles Poetry Chapbook Contest: A prize of $1,000, publication by the Comstock Writers Group, and 50 author copies is given biennially for a poetry chapbook. Kathleen Bryce Niles-Overton will judge. Entry fee: $30.

Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Finishing Line Press is given annually for a poetry chapbook. All entries are considered for publication. Entry fee: $15.

Indiana Review Blue Light Books Prize: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Indiana University Press is given in alternating years for a collection of poetry or a collection of short fiction. The 2020 prize will be awarded in short fiction. The winner will also receive travel expenses to read at the 2020 Blue Light Reading in Bloomington, Indiana. Entry fee: $20.

Omnidawn Publishing Fabulist Fiction Chapbook Contest: A prize of $1,000, publication by Omnidawn Publishing, and 100 author copies is given annually for a work of fabulist fiction. Kellie Wells will judge. Entry fee: $18.

River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by University of New Mexico Press is given annually for a book of creative nonfiction. Bret Lott will judge. Entry fee: $27.

Persea Books: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Persea Books is given annually for a first poetry collection by a woman who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The winner also receives a six-week, all-expenses-paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy. Entry fee: $30.

Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Tupelo Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry chapbook. 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.

Earworm

10.17.19

“John Bonham was the coolest member of Led Zeppelin and getting hit in the auricle region with a wrench thrown by his apparition would be a damn honor,” writes Timothy Cahill in “Five Things I’d Rather Get Hit With Than Have to Hear Led Zeppelin’s ‘All My Love’” on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Think of a song that’s gotten stuck in your head, an especially irritating earworm that was just the wrong thing at the wrong time. Write a humorous personal essay about the song and the havoc it wreaked on your life, perhaps using satire or exaggeration for comedic purposes. Does the song have a pop cultural context? Was there a time when you enjoyed it? If so, what changed your outlook?

Writers for Families Together

This past September, the Writers for Migrant Justice campaign readings focused on raising funds for detained and formerly detained migrants on a national level. Here in Houston, we want to continue this effort on a local level. On October 3 the Houston Writers Coalition organized a second reading, Writers for Families Together. The goal was to raise money for two local organizations—Familias Immigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha (FIEL) and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)—which both aid immigrant families facing human rights violations at the Texas–Mexico border.

There were over seventy people in attendance at the reading, which was held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in the Museum District. It was a blessed evening as we got to hear from over thirty writers—including poet and teacher Natasha Carrizosa, translator and former Houston poet laureate Robin Davidson, slam poet Loyce Gayo, novelist Daniel Peña, and myself—reading in English and Spanish. It was a truly beautiful night and we hope to continue efforts to support and aid immigrant families in our community.

The flyer for the Writers for Families Together Houston reading.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Lunch Hour Footnotes

10.10.19

“At almost one o’clock I entered the lobby of the building where I worked and turned toward the escalators, carrying a black Penguin paperback and a small white CVS bag, its receipt stapled over the top.” The entirety of Nicholson Baker’s debut novel, Mezzanine (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1986), takes place during a ride up an office escalator during a lunch break. Baker inserts extensive footnotes on ordinary phenomena such as shoelaces, milk cartons, perforated paper, plastic straws, paper towel dispensers, and the contents of his lunch into the story. Write a personal essay that uses footnotes to delve into the details of an hour in your daily routine. Incorporate minutiae about your physical movements and observations of mundane objects to express the significance of your everyday experience.

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