Dreaming

10.28.20

“I dreamed a short story last night, even down to its name, which was ‘Sun and Moon,’” writes Katherine Mansfield on February 10, 1918, in Letters and Journals, about having dreamt one of her widely anthologized stories. “I got up at 6:30 and wrote a note or two because I knew it would fade.” The story, which features two children hanging around their house while a party is being prepared, reads without a set structure and follows modernist conventions using several narrative shifts. Inspired by Mansfield’s experience, keep a dream journal for the week, whether the dreams are your own or from friends. Use images, lines of dialogue, or narrative swerves from the dream and use them in a story. How does mining the surrealism of dreams change the conventional ways we tend to tell stories?

The Haunting of Bly Manor

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Looking for something eerie to watch? Might we suggest The Haunting of Bly Manor, a supernatural horror drama loosely based on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. The Netflix series created by Mike Flannagan stars Carla Gugino, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, T’Nia Miller, Victoria Pedretti, Kate Siegel, and Henry Thomas.

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Bryan Washington on Cooking Soondubu

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“Maybe meeting a new flavor is alchemy. Today you can’t stand it, tomorrow it’s all you can stand.” In this New Yorker video essay, Bryan Washington talks about frequenting Korean restaurants in Houston and learning how to cook soondubu, a Korean tofu stew, as a way to reconnect with his mother. Washington’s new book, Memorial (Riverhead Books, 2020), is featured in Page One in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

If November doesn’t already feel high stakes enough, consider submitting to some writing contests. With deadlines of either November 1 or November 2, these awards include opportunities to publish both individual stories and poems, as well as book-length works. All offer a prize of $1,000 or more.

Alice James Books Alice James Award: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Alice James Books is given annually for a poetry collection by a poet residing in the United States. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: November 2. Entry fee: $30.

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 (includes a copy of the magazine).

Fiction Collective Two Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize: A prize of $15,000 and publication by Fiction Collective Two, an imprint of University of Alabama Press, is given annually for a novel, short story collection, novella, or novella collection. U.S. writers who have published at least three books of fiction are eligible. Joyelle McSweeney will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $25.

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. Vi Khi Nao will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $25.

Gotham Book Prize: A prize of $50,000 will be given annually for a book of fiction or creative nonfiction about New York City or that takes place in New York City published in the current year. Anna Akbari, Ric Burns, Stephanie Danler, Christina Greer, Tom Healy, Mitchell Moss, Patricia Park, Melissa Rivero, Safiya Sinclair, and Dennis Walcott will judge. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: none.

Malahat Review Open Season Awards: Three prizes of CAD $2,000 (approximately $1,490) each and publication in Malahat Review are given annually for a poem or group of poems, a short story, and an essay. Rebecca Salazar will judge in poetry, Philip Huynh will judge in fiction, and Lishai Peel will judge in creative nonfiction. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $40 (includes subscription).

Nina Riggs Poetry Foundation Poetry Award: A prize of at least $1,000 will be given annually for a single poem that examines relationships, family, or domestic life that was published in a book or magazine in the last three years. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: none.

North American Review James Hearst Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in North American Review is given annually for a single poem. Maggie Smith will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $23 (includes an issue of North American Review).

Reed Magazine Edwin Markham Prize for Poetry: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Reed Magazine is given annually for a poem or group of poems. Matthea Harvey will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $20 (includes a copy of the prize issue).

Reed Magazine Gabriele Rico Challenge for Creative Nonfiction: A prize of $1,333 and publication in Reed Magazine is given annually for an essay. Suzanne Rico will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $20 (includes a copy of the magazine).

Reed Magazine John Steinbeck Award for Fiction: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Reed Magazine is given annually for a short story. Rita Bullwinkel will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: November 1. Entry fee: $20 (includes a copy of the prize issue).

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.

Nilsen Literary Prize

Southeast Missouri State University Press
Entry Fee: 
$25
Deadline: 
November 13, 2020
A prize of $2,000 and publication by Southeast Missouri State University Press is given annually for a novel, novella, or collection of linked stories by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. Submit a manuscript of any length with a $25 entry fee by November 13. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Sheila Heti’s First Time

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“I really was thinking like I have to work harder than any other writer in the world. I just wanted so badly to figure this out, to figure out how to write.” In this installment of the Paris Review’s “My First Time,” Sheila Heti discusses writing her first book, The Middle Stories (McSweeney’s, 2001), and how she came to write short stories after quitting theater school.

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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o at the African Literature Festival

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“In Kenya, we have many peoples who make up the Kenyan nation. Please note: I am not using the word tribe. I do not use the word tribe to describe anybody.” In this African Literature Festival video, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o speaks with hosts Samuel Ndogo and Mingqing Yuan about writing his first novel in verse, The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi (New Press, 2020), which is featured in Page One in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Beyond Desire

10.21.20

In The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot (Graywolf Books, 2007), Charles Baxter writes about the recurring theme in fictional works of disappointment even after satisfying a great achievement, stating examples such as Willa Cather’s My Mortal Enemy, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, where, for example, Lady Macbeth becomes unhappy and more paranoid after having been crowned queen. Baxter asks, “What if wishes and fantasies turn out in some cases to be more powerful than their real-life satisfactions?” Write a story where your character is driven by a single desire, but is unsatisfied and more conflicted after achieving their goal.

The Underground Railroad: Preamble

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Director Barry Jenkins has released a teaser trailer for the upcoming television adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning historical fiction novel, The Underground Railroad (Doubleday, 2016). The limited Amazon series stars Thuso Mbedu as Cora, a woman who escapes a plantation in Georgia and finds the Underground Railroad, an actual train system transporting runaways to the north.

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