Ta-Nehisi Coates on Anti-Racist Books Being Banned

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“For most of American history, African American authors have not had the purchase on the American conscience that they have right now,” says Ta-Nehisi Coates about the rise of banning books with themes about race including his own memoir, Between the World and Me (One World, 2015), as well as Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be Antiracist (One World, 2019) and The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story (One World, 2021) by Nikole Hannah-Jones. “This is really about white children now being exposed to ideas that I think were previously segregated.”

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Now that summer is on the horizon, bring in the warm weather by submitting to contests with deadlines of May 30 or May 31. Prizes abound for fiction writers with six awards being offered for short story collections or novels; additionally, nine fellowships of $5,000 each, plus other perks, are available for emerging fiction writers living in New York City. All contests offer a cash prize of $1,000 or more and two do not require an entry fee. Good luck, writers!

Anhinga Press Prize for Poetry: A prize of $2,000, publication by Anhinga Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Erika Meitner will judge. Deadline: May 31. Entry fee: $25 ($28 for electronic submissions).

Autumn House Press Literary Prizes: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication by Autumn House Press are given annually for a poetry collection, a book of fiction, and a book of creative nonfiction. Each winner also receives a $1,500 travel and publicity grant. Carl Phillips will judge in poetry, Venita Blackburn will judge in fiction, and Lia Purpura will judge in nonfiction. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: May 31. Entry fee: $30. 

BOA Editions Short Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by BOA Editions is given annually for a short story collection. Peter Conners will judge. Deadline: May 31. Entry fee: $25.

Center for Fiction Susan Kamil Emerging Writer Fellowships: Nine fellowships of $5,000 each, a one-year membership to the Center for Fiction in New York City, and a year of access to the Writers Studio writing space at the center are given annually to fiction writers living in New York City who have not yet published a book of fiction. Winners also have the opportunity to meet with editors and agents who represent new writers. Applicants who on June 1, 2022, will be enrolled in a degree-granting program or are currently under contract with a publisher for a work of fiction are ineligible. Deadline: May 30. Entry fee: none.

Elixir Press Fiction Award: A prize of $2,000, publication by Elixir Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a short story collection or a novel. Anthony E. Varallo will judge. Deadline: May 31. Entry fee: $40.

Gival Press Novel Award: A prize of $3,000 and publication by Gival Press is given biennially for a novel. Deadline: May 30. Entry fee: $50.

Milkweed Editions Max Ritvo Poetry Prize: A prize of $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions is given annually for a debut poetry collection by a U.S. poet. Henri Cole will judge. Deadline: May 31. Entry fee: $25.

Southern Poetry Review Guy Owen Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Southern Poetry Review is given annually for a single poem. Deadline: May 31. Entry fee: $20 (which includes a subscription to Southern Poetry Review).

University of Georgia Press Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction: A prize of $1,000 and publication by University of Georgia Press is given annually for a collection of short fiction. Lori Ostlund will judge. Deadline: May 31. Entry fee: $30. 

Writer’s Center First Novel Prize: A prize of $3,000 is given annually for a first novel published in the previous calendar year. Deadline: May 31. 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.

Essential Labor

5.11.22

In “Can Motherhood Be a Mode of Rebellion?” an essay published in the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino writes about Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change (Harper Wave, 2022) by Angela Garbes, a book analyzing the state of caregiving in America, and reflects on the experience of hiring a nanny for “a job so crucial and difficult that it seems objectively holy.” This week think of a job that is often unappreciated or unacknowledged and write a story from the perspective of a character who works this job. How can you render their perspective through detailed observations of the world around them?

Writers Speak: Min Jin Lee With Claire Messud

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“I should share with you that I did not intend to be a fiction writer, I did not intend to write a historical novel…I did intend to always, however, tell the truth,” says Min Jin Lee about writing her novel Pachinko (Grand Central Publishing, 2017), which has been adapted into a television series, in this 2018 reading and conversation with Claire Messud at Harvard University.

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Tara M. Stringfellow on Memphis

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“It’s a story that traces three generations of a Southern Black family and one daughter’s discovery that she has the power to change her legacy.” In this video, Tara M. Stringfellow talks about her debut novel, Memphis (Dial Press, 2022), and her writing process, which involves listening to opera and jazz music. Memphis is featured in Page One in the May/June issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Achoo!

With cool spring weather comes allergy season, the time of year many become suffused with itchy eyes, runny noses, and relentless sneezing. This common ailment is exasperated by the rainy season and blowing winds that spread pollen, and global warming is creating an even longer pollen season, according to many published studies. Write a story in which a protagonist struggles with allergies in springtime. How will this detail carry importance in the plot’s development? For inspiration, read Anton Chekhov’s short story “The Death of a Government Clerk,” which begins with the protagonist sneezing.

Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir

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“It’s not as though I want to change the past. It’s really trying to understand how these things come together to bring you where you are.” Amy Tan speaks about her creative process in this video from PBS and American Masters previewing her documentary Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir directed by James Redford.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Bring in the new month by applying to contests with a deadline of May 15! These awards include opportunities for poets of Asian heritage; women, transgender, and gender-nonconforming writers whose work advances social change; and novelists writing debut books set in the American South. Plus, don’t miss the chance to win a residency in Miami Beach, Florida, or Naples, New York. All contests offer a cash prize of $1,000 or more and two are free of cost to submit.

Academy of American Poets James Laughlin Award: A prize of $5,000 is given annually for a second book of poetry by a living poet to be published in the coming calendar year. The winner also receives an all-expenses paid weeklong residency at the Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. Copies of the winning book are distributed to members of the Academy of American Poets. Aracelis Girmay, Solmaz Sharif, and Mai Der Vang will judge. Entry fee: None.

Academy of American Poets Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize: A prize of $25,000 is given annually for a poetry collection by a living poet published in the United States during the previous year. The winner also receives an all-expenses paid 10-day residency at the Glen Hollow cottage in Naples, New York. Copies of the winning book are distributed to members of the Academy of American Poets. Entry fee: $75.

American Poetry Review Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in American Poetry Review is given annually for a single poem by a poet under the age of 40. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $15 (which includes a copy of the prize issue).

Crook’s Corner Book Prize Foundation Book Prize: A prize of $5,000 is given annually for a debut novel set in the American South. The author may live anywhere, but eligible novels must be set primarily in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, or Washington, D.C. Self-published books are eligible, but books available only as e-books are not. Ben Fountain will judge. Entry fee: $35.

Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize: A prize of $1,500 and publication by Gaudy Boy, an imprint of the New York City–based literary nonprofit Singapore Unbound, is given annually for a poetry collection by an Asian writer. Yeow Kai Chai will judge. Entry fee: $10.

Leeway Foundation Transformation Awards: Awards of $15,000 each are given annually to women, transgender, or otherwise gender-nonconforming poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers in the Philadelphia area who have been creating art for social change for five or more years. Writers who have lived for at least two years in Bucks, Camden, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, or Philadelphia counties, who are at least 18 years of age, and who are not full-time students in a degree-granting arts program are eligible. Entry fee: None.

Lost Horse Press Idaho Prize for Poetry: A prize of $1,000, publication by Lost Horse Press, and 20 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection by a U.S. poet. Dzvinia Orlowsky will judge. Entry fee: $28.

McGill University Montreal International Poetry Prize: A prize of $20,000 Canadian (approximately $15,728) and publication in the 2022 Montreal Poetry Prize Anthology is given biennially for a poem. Lorna Goodison will judge and Cameron Awkward-Rich, Heather Christle, Nabina Das, Liz Howard, Joanne Limburg, Conor O’Callaghan, Tanure Ojaide, Michael Prior, Medrie Purdham, Mark Tredinnick, and Rhian Williams will serve as jurors. Entry fee: $25 Canadian (approximately $20).

Pittsburg State University Cow Creek Chapbook Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Pittsburg State University, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry chapbook. Chen Chen will judge. Entry fee: $15.  

Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest: Three prizes of $2,000 each and publication in Ploughshares are given annually for a poem or group of poems, a short story, and an essay. Each winner also receives a consultation with the literary agency Aevitas Creative Management. Writers who have not published a book or a chapbook with a print run over 300 are eligible. Chen Chen will judge in poetry, Amelia Gray will judge in fiction, and Danielle Geller will judge in nonfiction. Entry fee: $24 (which includes a subscription to Ploughshares). 

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.

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