Late Summer

9.14.21

As the days get shorter and colder in mid-September, the autumnal equinox and the official end of summer approach. Many poets find inspiration in this in-between zone when seasonal plants transition and the duties of a school year begin again. “Three Songs at the End of Summer” by Jane Kenyon, “Blackberry-Picking” by Seamus Heaney, and “Vespers” by Louise Glück are examples of poems that speak to late summer. Write a poem that celebrates this fleeting, yet evocative moment between seasons.

Kei Miller and Carolyn Forché

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In this virtual event from the 2020 Cúirt International Festival of Literature, Kei Miller and Carolyn Forché read their poems and discuss the exploration of place, hope, and community in their work with poet Jess Traynor. Miller’s second essay collection, Things I Have Withheld (Grove Press, 2021), is featured in Page One in the September/October issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Upcoming Contest Deadlines


Seize the back-to-school spirit—whether or not you have returned to a classroom this fall—and apply to literary grants and awards. Three of the opportunities below require no entry fee. All offer a cash prize of $1,000 or more and close on September 15 or September 17.

Cave Canem Foundation Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Jai-Alai Books is given annually for a poetry chapbook by a Black poet. The winner will also give a reading at the O, Miami Poetry Festival in April 2022. Lillian-Yvonne Bertram will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: None.

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Writing Fellowships: Fellowships of approximately $50,000 each are awarded annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers on the basis of exceptional creative ability. Citizens and permanent residents of the United States and Canada with a significant and appropriate record of publication are eligible. Deadline: September 17. Entry fee: None.

Literary Arts Oregon Literary Fellowships: Fellowships of $3,500 each are given annually to Oregon writers to initiate, develop, or complete literary projects in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. A Writer of Color Fellowship of $3,500 is also given. Deadline: September 17. Entry fee: None.

The Moth Nature Writing Prize: A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,191) and publication in the Moth will be given annually for a poem, story, or essay that features “an exploration of the writer’s relationship with the natural world.” The winner also receives a weeklong stay at the Circle of Misse artist’s retreat in Misse, France. Helen Macdonald will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: €15 (approximately $18).

University of Wisconsin Press Brittingham and Felix and Pollak Prizes: Two prizes of $1,500 each and publication by University of Wisconsin Press are given annually for poetry collections. Additional finalists will be published in the press’s Wisconsin Poetry series. Carmen Giménez Smith will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: $28.

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.

Brief but Spectacular: Tongo Eisen-Martin

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“To walk down the streets in the Bay Area is really to walk through a dystopia,” says San Francisco poet laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin about the rapid gentrification of his native city as he discusses how poetry serves as a tool for revolution in this installment of PBS NewsHour’s “Brief but Spectacular” series.

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Homeland

“My father was reading War and Peace when he gave me my name. / I was born near Easter, 1966, in Mississippi,” writes Natasha Trethewey in her poem “Miscegenation,” which begins with the story of her parents traveling to Ohio to marry in 1965 when interracial marriage was still illegal in Mississippi. The poem is a ghazal, a form that consists of couplets ending on the same word or phrase. Write a ghazal with your city of origin as the repeating word. Try, as Trethewey does, to weave together various subjects that speak to the time and place of your homeland.

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