“I write every day when I am in the middle of a novel. And I write intensely when I am in the middle of a short story or a poem. At all other times I blame myself for not writing.” —Amanda Michalopoulou, author of God's Wife
French photographer Thomas Jorion spent a decade taking shots of abandoned eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Italian mansions for his series Veduta. “At first I photographed them to keep a trace of the places before they disappeared,” says Jorion in an interview for My Modern Met. “And then I realized that there was a beauty, an aesthetic, that emerges with shapes, colors, and lights. I do not necessarily look for abandonment, but rather the patina of time.” Write a short story where your main character encounters a now forgotten, but once majestic, building. Explore the feelings that are stirred as a result of encountering this crumbling beauty. Is there a certain, sustained charm to be found in this remnant of the past, or is it overshadowed by the ephemeral aspect of this man-made structure?
The final fiction and nonfiction contests of 2019—and the first of 2020—are approaching their close. With deadlines from December 30 to January 2, these awards include a residency on the Oregon coast and fellowships at a California university; all feature a prize of $1,000 or more. Here’s to another year of literary opportunities, writers!
Ashland Creek Press Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature: A prize of $1,000 is given for an unpublished or published book of fiction or creative nonfiction that focuses on the environment, animal protection, ecology, or wildlife. The winner also receives a two-week residency at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, located on the central Oregon coast. Carol J. Adams will judge. All unpublished entries are considered for publication. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: $25.
Bayou Magazine Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and a subscription to Bayou Magazine are given annually for a poem and a short story. Deadline: January 1. Entry fee: $20.
Before Columbus Foundation American Book Awards: Awards are given annually for books published in the United States during the previous year to recognize “outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community.” Anyone, in addition to writers and publishers, may submit nominations for the awards. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: none.
Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Awards: Four prizes of $500 each are given annually for a poetry collection, a first novel, a book of fiction, and a book of nonfiction (including creative nonfiction) by an African American writer published in the United States in the previous year. The awards honor books that depict the “cultural, historical, and sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora.” Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: none.
Boulevard Short Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,500 and publication in Boulevard is given annually for a short story by a writer who has not published a nationally distributed book. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: $16, which includes a subscription to the magazine.
Cleveland Foundation Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards: Three to four prizes of $10,000 each are given annually for a poetry collection, a book of fiction, and a book of nonfiction (including creative nonfiction) published during the previous year that “contribute to our understanding of racism and appreciation of human diversity.” Rita Dove, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Joyce Carol Oates, Steven Pinker, and Simon Schama will judge. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: none.
Florida Review Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Florida Review is given annually for a chapbook of short fiction, short nonfiction, or graphic narrative. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: $25.
Lascaux Review Prize in Short Fiction: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Lascaux Review is given annually for a short story. The winner and finalists will also be published in the 2020 Lascaux Prize Anthology. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: $15.
Livingston Press Tartt Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000, publication by Livingston Press, and 100 author copies is given annually for a first collection of short stories by a U.S. citizen. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: none.
Mississippi Review Prizes in Fiction and Nonfiction: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Mississippi Review are given annually for a short story and an essay. Current or former University of Southern Mississippi students are ineligible. Deadline: January 1. Entry fee: $16, which includes a copy of the prize issue.
Neukom Institute for Computational Science: Two prizes of $5,000 each will be given annually for a debut book of speculative fiction and a book of speculative fiction published during the previous year. Winners must be able to receive the award at an event at Dartmouth College in fall 2020; all travel expenses will be covered. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: none.
New Rivers Press Many Voices Project Competition: Two prizes of $1,000 each, publication by New Rivers Press, and 15 author copies are given annually for a poetry collection and a book of fiction or creative nonfiction by an emerging writer. Writers who have not published more than two full-length books are eligible. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: $25.
North Carolina Writers’ Network Jacobs/Jones African American Literary Prize: A prize of $1,000 and possible publication in the Carolina Quarterly is given annually for a short story or an essay that “conveys the rich and varied existence of Black North Carolinians.” Black writers who live in North Carolina are eligible. Bridgette A. Lacy will judge. Deadline: January 2. Entry fee: $20.
Nowhere Magazine Travel Writing Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Nowhere Magazine is given twice yearly for a poem, a short story, or an essay that “possesses a powerful sense of place.” Porter Fox will judge. Unpublished and published pieces that have not already been chosen as a contest winner are eligible. Deadline: January 1. Entry fee: $25.
Press 53 Award for Short Fiction: A prize of $1,000, publication by Press 53, and 50 author copies is given annually for a story collection. Kevin Morgan Watson will judge. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: $30.
River Styx Micro-Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,500 and publication in River Styx is given annually for a short short story. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: $15, which includes a copy of the prize issue.
San José State University Steinbeck Fellowships in Creative Writing: Yearlong residencies at San José State University in San José, California, which include a stipend of $15,000 each, are given annually to fiction writers and creative nonfiction writers. The fellows will give one public reading each semester and must live in the San José area during the academic year. Deadline: January 2. Entry fee: none.
Three Percent Best Translated Book Awards: Two awards of $10,000 each are given annually for a poetry collection and a short story collection or novel translated into English for the first time and published in the previous year. The winning author will receive $5,000; the translator or translators will receive $5,000. Nancy Naomi Carlson, Patricia Lockwood, Aditi Machado, Laura Marris, and Brandon Shimoda will judge in poetry; Elisa Wouk Almino, Pierce Alquist, Hailey Dezort, Louisa Ermelino, Hal Hlavinka, Keaton Patterson, Christopher Phipps, Lesley Rains, and Justin Walls will judge in fiction. Deadline: December 31. Entry fee: none.
Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award: A prize of $5,000 is given annually for a first novel published during the previous year. The winner and two additional guest panelists (usually the winner’s agent and editor) will also receive lodging and travel expenses to attend the First Novelist Award Night at Virginia Commonwealth University in fall 2020. A committee of novelists and critics will judge. Deadline: December 30. Entry fee: none.
The Kundiman Asian American Workshop Retreat will be held from June 24 to June 28 at Fordham University's Rose Hill campus in the Bronx in New York City. The retreat features poetry and fiction workshops, one-on-one mentoring, manuscript consultations, and a public reading. Faculty includes poets Jenny Boully, Philip Metres, and Matthew Olzmann; and fiction writers Nayomi Munaweera, Madeleine Thien, and Vu Tran. Tuition, which includes lodging and meals, is $375. Financial aid is available.
Kundiman Asian American Workshop Retreat, 229 West 109th Street, Suite 22, New York, NY 10025.
The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow offers residencies of one week to three months year-round to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers at a former bed-and-breakfast in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in the heart of the Ozarks. Residents are provided with a private room, work space, and meals. The cost of the residency is $85 per day. An additional $25 flat-rate cleaning fee is charged. Submit a writing sample of up to 10 pages, a one-page project description, and two letters of reference with a $35 application fee. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, 515 Spring Street, Eureka Springs, AR, 72632. (479) 253-7444. Linda Caldwell, Director.
Studio Faire offers one- to four-week residencies between March and October, to poets, fiction writers, creative nonfiction writers, and translators at a small mansion in Nérac, France. The residency accommodates three residents at a time with a private work space and bedroom, shared bathrooms, and a shared kitchen and dining room, as well as a large walled garden and wild park with fruit trees. The space is a ten-minute walk to shops, cafes, and bars, as well as a weekly market, library, theatre, music hall, cinema, and the Château de Nérac castle and the Baïse river.
Studio Faire, 58 Avenue Georges, Clemenceau, 47600, Nérac, France. Julia Douglas, Cofounder and Residency Coordinator.
If you’re looking for more community and a spirited festival, you should look into Saints and Sinners. Founded in 2003, the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival highlights LGBTQ writers and publishers from the United States and beyond. The three-day event features panel discussions, workshops, and readings and is held each spring in the French Quarter at the Hotel Monteleone—an official literary landmark that has welcomed William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams to its rooms.
The 2020 festival is set for March 27–29 and will feature poet Savannah Sipple, fiction writer Leona Beasley, historian Frank Perez, and many others. Registration is open now with day passes and student rates available.
Saints and Sinners is a project of the Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival, which I’ve attended several times in the past. The two festivals overlap so it’s possible to attend events from both. Last year, Saints and Sinners kicked off the festival with the return of their open mic slam and first-ever Drag Queen show. And to conclude the event, there are Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame awards given to those who best embody the mission of the festival.
My poet friend Brad Richard has attended the festival and speaks highly of it: “The Saints and Sinners Festival is a wonderful community within the larger community of the Tennessee Williams Festival. I’ve met writers I’ve always wanted to meet and discovered new ones, and found a publisher, Sibling Rivalry Press, for my third book, Butcher’s Sugar.”
Although I haven’t had the chance to attend Saints and Sinners yet, I look forward to supporting the festival and attendees in the coming year.Kelly Harris is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in New Orleans. Contact her at NOLA@pw.org or on Twitter, @NOLApworg.
In anticipation of Zadie Smith’s first short story collection, Grand Union (Penguin Press, 2019), an interview with the author was published in September in Marie Claire. When asked about whether living in the United States and England affects her writing, Smith responded, “I think of myself as somebody not at home, I suppose. Not at home anywhere, not at home ever. But I think of that as a definition of a writer: somebody not at home, not comfortable in themselves in their supposed lives.” Write the opening line of a short story from the perspective of a character who is experiencing a feeling of not belonging. How do you convey this sentiment in one sentence? If this first sentence inspires more, continue on with the story.