Nervous Ghost Press Prizes in Poetry and Prose Open for Submissions

The deadline is approaching for the 2021 Nervous Ghost Press Prizes for poetry and prose. Open to writers living in the United States, each award includes $1,000, publication by Nervous Ghost Press, ten author copies, and the opportunity to complete a reading tour in California. Through the press, the editors seek to “promote writing as a means of art and survival regardless of where someone is from, who they are, or what they write.”

Using only the online submission system, submit a manuscript for either contest with a $24 entry fee by January 31. Poetry manuscripts must be 48 to 128 pages. Fiction manuscripts must be 50,000 to 100,000 words. Michale Graves will judge in poetry and Debra Moore Muñoz will judge in fiction. All finalists will be considered for publication. In case of ongoing travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the reading tour may be replaced by a virtual tour. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Nervous Ghost Press was founded by writers Chad Lutz, Matthew Mejia, and Michael Nicholson and in 2019. The editors aim to publish “writing from the heart” and “strive to be a champion for positivity, growth, and lasting change.”

A Conversation With Rick Barot

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“I wonder if, you know, all of us poets are actually starting from that place—where elegy is the starting point for everything that we do,” says Rick Barot about the inspiration for his latest poetry collection, The Galleons (Milkweed Editions, 2020), in this conversation with Jane Wong, author of Overpour (Action Books, 2016), for Seattle Arts & Lectures. The Galleons was longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award in poetry.

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Jean Valentine Reading at Boston University

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“I am poling / my way into my life. / It seems / like another life,” reads the late poet Jean Valentine from her poem “La Chalupa, the Boat” in this 2010 video recorded at Boston University. Valentine is the author of fourteen poetry collections including Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965–2003, which won the National Book Award, and Break the Glass, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She died at the age of eighty-six on December 29, 2020.

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Necessary Evils

As 2020 fades and 2021 begins, I’m taking time to return to the poetry section of my bookshelf. I am happy to report that there are still more Detroit authors and books that I am eager to share with you. Today I’ll be highlighting Necessary Evils, a poetry collection by Aja Allante.

Necessary Evils is a self-published book that Allante put into the world at just eighteen years old in 2018. Allante describes the collection as “poems that express the idea that sometimes, bad things need to happen in order for progression and growth to occur.” She holds true to expressing this sentiment in poems such as “Father’s Day,” where the author openly confronts her feelings regarding her father and the impact of his actions on her life, yet still ends up wishing him a happy Father’s Day. This poem and “Stopwatch,” which includes the lines: “I am the house of horrors he sees in himself / in me / you can hear his soles tap dance / against the bottom of my stomach,” give readers a snapshot into the emotional tug of war family can sometimes present.

Allante launches into even more complex emotional battles, such as contemplating love, breakups, and the discovery of self. This young voice shows growth and maturity as the book goes on, even offering sound advice as exemplified in a letter to a younger version of herself: “Stop breaking through walls for people / who would not extend themselves / to open a door for you.” This poem seems to offer a way of looking ahead into the future for both Allante and the reader to reflect on.

Lastly, I can’t help but mention a poem that has become a favorite of mine as we move deeper into the COVID-19 pandemic titled “Homebody.” Though written years before, this poem perfectly conveys the lonely and sometimes cramped feeling of being stuck at home with others. “Windows turn into aching bones too stiff to open,” writes Allante. “Sneaking away in silence is impossible.”

I highly recommend this collection, and you can watch Allante read “Father’s Day” in this InsideOut Literary Arts video.

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

Dreaming Gold

In the introduction to an issue of Ploughshares edited by the late poet Jean Valentine, who died in December, she says: “My dreams were very important to me right in the beginning. I had a teacher in college who said ‘You could write from your dreams’ and that was like being given a bag full of gold.” Inspired by Valentine and her award-winning first collection, Dream Barker, write a poem that begins with an image from one of your dreams. Allow the internal logic of dreams to guide your lines.

The Illegitimate

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In this short film directed by Matthew Thompson, Galway-based artists Alice McDowell, Theophilus Ndlovu, and Benjamin Enow Oben perform “The Illegitimate” at Coole Park in County Galway, Ireland, the home of Lady Augusta Gregory. This film is part of a series commissioned by the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation in collaboration with Druid Theatre.

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Writing Contest

Winter Anthology
Entry Fee: 
$11
Deadline: 
February 10, 2021
A prize of $1,000 and publication in Winter Anthology is given annually for a group of poems, a story, or an essay. Both unpublished and previously published work is eligible. Ange Mlinko will judge. Using only the online submission system, submit poetry or prose of any length, including full manuscripts, with an $11 entry fee by February 10. Finalists are also considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Poetry in the Age of Technology With Tracy K. Smith

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“One of the women greeted me. / I love you, she said. She didn’t / Know me, but I believed her, / And a terrible new ache / Rolled over in my chest,” reads Tracy K. Smith from her poem “Wade in the Water” in this 2018 Library of Congress event with Ron Charles, book critic of the Washington Post. Smith is featured in a profile by Renée H. Shea in the March/April 2015 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Resolving to carve out more time for your creative practice in 2021? Ring in the new year by submitting to writing contests. With deadlines of either January 14 or January 15, these awards include two residencies earmarked for Texas writers, as well as an opportunity for a nonfiction writer to spend creative time in a desert environment. All offer a cash prize of $500 or more.

Asheville Poetry Review William Matthews Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Asheville Poetry Review is given annually for a single poem. The winner is also invited to give a reading at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina. Quincy Troupe will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: January 15. Entry fee: $20.

Australian Book Review Calibre Essay Prize: A prize of $5,000 AUD (approximately $3,807) is given annually for an essay. A second-place prize of $2,500 AUD (approximately $1,903) will also be given. The winners will be published in Australian Book Review. Sheila Fitzpatrick, Billy Griffiths, and Peter Rose will judge. Deadline: January 15. Entry fee: $25 AUD (approximately $19).

Autumn House Press Rising Writer Prizes: Two prizes of $500 each and publication by Autumn House Press will be given annually for a debut poetry collection and a debut book of fiction by writers who are 36 years old or younger. The winners will each also receive a $500 grant for travel and book promotion. Matthew Dickman will judge in poetry and Maryse Meijer will judge in fiction. All finalists will be considered for publication. Deadline: January 15. Entry fee: $25.

Burnside Review Press Book Award: A prize of $1,000, publication by Burnside Review Press, and 10 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Jennifer Chang will judge. Deadline: January 15. Entry fee: $25 (includes one title from the press’s catalogue).

Colorado Review Colorado Prize for Poetry: A prize of $2,000 and publication by the Center for Literary Publishing is given annually for a poetry collection. Sherwin Bitsui will judge. Deadline: January 14. Entry fee: $28 (includes subscription).

Ellen Meloy Fund Desert Writers Award: A prize of $5,000 is given annually to enable a creative nonfiction writer “whose work reflects the spirit and passions for the desert embodied in Ellen Meloy’s writing” to spend creative time in a desert environment. Deadline: January 15. Entry fee: $15.

French-American Foundation Translation Prizes: Two prizes of $10,000 each are given annually for translations from French into English of a book of fiction and a book of nonfiction (including creative nonfiction) published during the previous year. A jury of translators and literary professionals will judge. Deadline: January 15. Entry fee: none.

New American Press Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,500, publication by New American Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Quan Barry will judge. Deadline: January 15. Entry fee: $20.

North Carolina Writers’ Network Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for an essay “that is outside the realm of conventional journalism and has relevance to North Carolinians.” The winning essay will also be considered for publication in Ecotone. Destiny O. Birdsong will judge. Deadline: January 15. Entry fee: $12 ($10 for NCWN members).

Poetry Society of Virginia North American Book Award: A prize of $1,000 will be given annually for a book of poetry published during the previous year. The winner will be invited to read at the spring festival of Poetry Society of Virginia in May 2021. Self-published books and books that have previously received any other awards are ineligible. Luisa Igloria will judge. Deadline: January 15. Entry fee: $35 ($25 for Poetry Society of Virginia members).

University of Texas Dobie Paisano Fellowships: Two residencies, cosponsored by the Texas Institute of Letters, at a rural retreat west of Austin are given annually to writers who are native Texans, who have lived in Texas for at least three years, or who have published significant work with a Texas subject. The six-month Jesse H. Jones Writing Fellowship is given to a writer in any stage of their career and includes a grant of $18,000. The four-month Ralph A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship is given to a writer who has demonstrated “publishing and critical success” and includes a grant of $24,000. Deadline: January 15. Entry fee: $20 ($30 to enter both competitions).

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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