Detroit’s Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series

Tuxedo Project resident fellow Rose Gorman has been working in conjunction with the Center for Detroit Arts and Culture at Marygrove College to help organize this year’s Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series. The series, which began in 1989, invites a nationally-known author to the campus for a lecture and reading that’s free and open to the public. There is also programming surrounding the event throughout the city that introduces Detroiters to the work of the featured author. Last year the series brought Elizabeth Acevado, a Dominican American poet and the author of The Poet X and With the Fire on High, to Detroit. I had the honor of sharing the stage with Acevado at Marygrove for the reading. Witnessing so many people there to hear Acevado’s words after weeks of diving into her work was moving to say the least.

On April 2, Roxane Gay will be featured and at the center of attention for this year’s event. Leading up to the date, numerous literary workshops, readings, and other activities will take place in the city to absorb Gay’s published works. According to Gorman, they are expecting to have programming happening every day of the week for the entire month of March! You will be able to find one-off events as well as weekly workshops encouraging participants to sit with a single text for more than one meeting. These will be hosted at locations such as the Room Project and Tuxedo Project.

Events begin this week and on Sunday, March 1 at ZAB Cultural Collective, a special five-week program will allow participants to enjoy a discussion group for Gay’s memoir, Hunger, that explores the text through the creation of visual art. These sessions will be led by Rose Gorman and artist Amanda Koss. “People can dive into emotions that they feel through color and shape,” says Gorman about the program. “The meaning is unique to the artist.” Read more about this program and register for events here.

Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Party Time: Sin Muros Festival

Last week we took a little break and I hope you enjoyed my list of things to check out. Beginning this week, I want to highlight the big events: conferences and festivals. As many of you know, we are gearing up for a massive conference, the annual AWP Conference & Bookfair, run by the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, taking place in San Antonio, Texas in March. Poets & Writers and the literary outreach coordinators—Justin, Kelly, and I—will be there so come say hello if you’re at AWP!

Keeping that in mind, I’d like to dedicate some time in this blog to celebrate the literary festivals and conferences that take place here in Houston, including Sin Muros, Comicpalooza, Fade to Black Play Festival, and Zine Fest Houston.

First up, Sin Muros! Now in its third year, Sin Muros: A Latinx Theater Festival is a community-led playwriting festival focused on Texas-based Latinx voices and stories. The festival is put on by Stages, a nonprofit organization and historic theater in Houston, and offers a ton of access to literary craft for emerging artists. In Spanish, sin muros means “without walls” and the festival embodies this theme through its events.

Stages works with community leaders—playwrights, dramatists, poets, and activists—to put together a four-day festival for the public with many free events. Two plays (which are a part of Stages’s regular season) serve as anchors to a series of play readings and poetry readings; a generative, writing workshop (any genre is welcome); a professional development workshop for theater teachers; a children’s play; a town hall meeting focusing on issues Latinx artists face; and a poetry tent filled with booksellers, local literary organizations, and poets. Stages works with several literary and performance organizations to put the festival together, including Tintero Projects, Gente de Teatro, and TEATRX. Some of the work is in English. Some of the work is in Spanish. All of the work is Tejano.

This year’s festival over this past weekend was a great success. Every year it gets larger and larger, and I can’t wait for the next one.

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

Submissions Open for Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes

Submissions are open for the third annual Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes. Launched in 2017, the prizes recognize publications that “actively nurture the writers who tell us, through their art, what is important.”. Three prizes will be given to print magazines and two to magazines publishing primarily online. Print publications can win up to $60,000, $30,000, and $15,000; digital publications can win up to $30,000 and $9,000. 

Across all categories, the award is dispensed over three years. Each magazine will receive an outright grant in the first year, followed by matching grants in the second and third years. The Whiting Foundation will also connect all recipients to expert advisors for consultation in matters such as fund-raising and marketing, and help organize meetings throughout the year for the winners to discuss shared challenges. 

This year the application for the prizes will include two rounds of review. Magazines are invited to submit a short-form application using the online portal by December 2. In February 2020 a limited number of applicants will be invited to complete an expanded application due in early April. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines and eligibility requirements

The Whiting Foundation hopes the financial and professional support offered by the grants will help the winners develop and achieve ambitious goals. Courtney Hodell, the foundation’s director of literary programs, notes the long-term results: “As the prize continues to mature, we see more clearly how critical these intrepid magazines are to developing and building healthy careers,” she says. “Supporting magazines benefits the entire literary landscape.” 

The 2019 print prizes went to the Common, American Short Fiction, and Black Warrior Review. The Margins and the Offing received the digital prizes. 

Founded in 1963, the Whiting Foundation believes in “identifying and empowering talented people as early as possible in their creative and intellectual development.” In addition to the Literary Magazine Prizes, every year the organization honors emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama with the Whiting Awards, and supports nonfiction writers completing works-in-progress with the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grants. 

University of Baltimore

The MFA Reading Series brings renowned authors and poets to the University of Baltimore campus to share words and insights in an intimate setting with Creative Writing & Publishing Arts students. Q&A sessions following each reading allowing students to prod the experts for the information that matters most to them.

Accept Queries?: 
no
Writers Paid?: 
no
Readers can sell their books: 
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Event Types: 
Type of Venue: 

Ivy Bookshop

The Ivy Bookshop is an independent literary bookstore in Baltimore, Maryland. As a locally owned enterprise, the Ivy has a deep interest in promoting the community and its numerous educational and cultural institutions, and hosts author readings and events throughout the year.

Accept Queries?: 
no
Writers Paid?: 
no
Readers can sell their books: 
no
Event Types: 
Type of Venue: 

Literary Community Outside the Box: Part Four

This month I have been featuring a variety of platforms that contribute to the literary community, including the work of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, and blogs and podcasts such as Icess Fernandez Rojas’s Dear Reader and Terrell Quillin’s Bootleg Like Jazz.

Today I want to shout-out the work of Mary Wimple and her workshop and reading series Words & Art. I’ve known Mary and her partner Chuck Wimple for more than ten years and have had the pleasure of seeing Mary kick major can as a poet performing her work all over town. Mary is soft-spoken, so when you get a chance to see her in action, it’s dynamite. Her energy carries over to Words & Art. The series is all about community and is accessible for any writer with a passion for the arts.

The format for these events is so inviting: Mary will host a writing workshop of sorts, really it’s an art appreciation field trip to a local gallery or museum. Participants will discuss the artwork, work on writing prompts, and discuss the effect of the art on the writing. From there, Mary will set up a future date for a reading that features poetry and prose pieces based on the artwork from the exhibit that was visited. Anyone interested in reading (even if you didn’t attend the workshop) just needs to check out the submission guidelines and submit work to Words & Art by the deadline to be considered. Selected readers will be notified about a week before the event and the public is invited to attend. I attended one of these events a while back and it is powerful work. If you love art and writing, then this is a space for you.

The next deadline for submissions is February 1 and the reading will be held on February 13 at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Chuck Wimple reads for the Words & Art reading series.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Stockholm Writers Prize Accepting Submissions

Submissions are open for the inaugural Stockholm Writers Prize, which offers an emerging writer the “time, space, and inspiration to focus on social justice-themed creative writing.” Writers working in all genres and styles may apply, so long as their writing is “tied to a social justice issue.” The winner will receive a weeklong residency from May 21 to May 27 in Stockholm, Sweden, which includes accommodation, tuition to the Stockholm Writers Festival, a one-on-one meeting with an agent, and individual feedback from the contest judge. A $1,000 stipend is granted to help cover travel costs.

Using only the online submission system, submit a sample of creative writing in any genre of up to 1,5000 words and a personal statement of up to 1,000 words with a $25 entry fee by February 15. Writers who are currently unagented and who have not published a full-length work of creative writing are eligible. Visit the website for complete guidelines

The Stockholm Writers Prize is sponsored by the Stockholm Writers Festival, which was established as a nonprofit in 2017. The organization hosts an annual festival dedicated to “developing the skills and business knowhow essential to navigate the world of publishing, while fostering an ever-expanding community of international writers.”

Indie Bookstores in the HOU

Hey mi gente! This week I want to draw your attention to some indie bookstores here in Houston, the HOU.

Indie bookstores are independently operated as a small business and I am proud to say we have many in town that help build the literary fabric of the city. These spaces are important and special because they help bring authors into town and invite locals to see and hear new voices. Indie bookstores inform and build community with every reader that enters their doors.

Here are a few shops in town that I often frequent:

Brazos Bookstore is a solid space to find anything current and fresh, and the go-to spot for readings from local and national writers. They do an amazing job at keeping up with a special section for books by local writers.

Casa Ramirez is located in the heart of the Heights, in the Northside. Although it’s not technically a bookstore, Casa Ramirez Folkart Gallery has always served as a cultural pillar providing a space for community and art. Casa Ramirez houses folk art, pieces by local artists, Dia de los Muertos events, Mexican artisan work, and a large selection of books written by Latinx writers, from children’s books to short story anthologies. They also host poetry readings, author talks, and storytelling events.

Kaboom Books is a used bookstore in Woodland Heights just above Downtown Houston. I love this space because, although it focuses on used books, they have a great outside patio to host readings featuring writers with new work. Many local literary organizations have used the space for book launches and the shop owners are always all about it.

Murder By the Book is a beautiful, small shop that focuses on thriller, suspense, and mystery genres. They regularly host author readings and Akashic Books’ Houston Noir celebrated its launch party there this past May.

To find indie bookstores in your area, check out the Literary Places and Reading Venues databases.

Saeed Jones reads for a recent event at Brazos Bookstore.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

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. 

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