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Published November 08, 2017

university of iowa press 2017 fiction winnersThe University of Iowa Press published the winners of the 2017 Iowa Short Fiction Award and the 2017 John Simmons Short Fiction Award last month.

Matthew Lansburgh’s Outside is the Ocean, winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award, was chosen by Andre Dubus III, who calls the linked collection “mesmerizing” as it “explores, among other things, the tenuous tie between mother and son, between the Old World and the New, between what was and what is.”

Winner of the John Simons Short Fiction Award, What Counts as Love by Marian Crotty, is “sensual, brave, and wonderfully evocative” as Crotty  examines“the seemingly tattered nature of love, taking us deeply into the varied lives of her characters and making us care for them all.” The nine stories follow people—most often young women—searching for human connection, their stories touching on themes of addiction, class, sexuality, and gender.

Stop by the University of Iowa Press website to learn more about the awards and winning titles.

Published November 07, 2017

October offered more treats than just candy this year. Readers, a handful of prize-winning books hit bookshelves last month, and if you haven’t already gotten your hands on them, now is your chance!

The grand finalist of the Vine Leaves Vignette Collection Award, The Walmart Book of the Dead by Lucy Biederman, draws inspiration from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. Biederman’s version includes shoplifters, grifters, drifters, and hustlers as they wander Walmart unknowingly consigned to their afterlives.

Stephanie Carpenter brought home the Press 53 Award for Short Fiction with Missing Persons. Selected by Press 53 Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Kevin Morgan Watson, the collection contains stories that are “diverse in setting, conflict, and style,” and it rose above over 230 other manuscripts to claim the prize.

Pleaides Press awards the Editors Prize for Poetry each spring. The 2016 winner, A Lesser Love by E. J. Koh, was published this month. “Love, war and recovered testimony from Korea’s unhealed border inform the formal and imaginative boundaries” within the debut collection, according to D. A. Powell’s advance praise. Learn more about the collection at the press’s website.

In Set to Music a Wildfire, Ruth Awad’s homage to her father “explores the violence of living, the guilt of surviving, the loneliness of faith, and the impossible task of belonging.” Winner of the Michael Waters Poetry Prize, Awad writes of family, country, and the Lebanese Civil War.

Be sure to stop by each press’s website listed above to learn more about the award-winning books published last month.

Published September 18, 2017

to whitey and the cracker jack hauntie blogSeptember is a busy month for award-winning book releases. Here is just a sampling of small press and university press titles readers can look for this month.

At the beginning of September, Southeast Missouri State University Press published the winner of the 2015 Nilsen Literary Prize for a First Novel: Pie Man by John Surowiecki. The debut novel is told through a series of reminiscences by the titular character’s family, friends, and teachers, and explores the story of a boy, Adam Olszewski, who on his seven birthday tries to leave his family house but can’t. Soon after, the boy believes the house is alive and an inseparable part of him. Pie Man is a vivid exploration of what it means to be normal.

A Brief Alphabet of Torture: Stories by Vi Khi Nao, winner of the FC2 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize, is also out this month. A Brief Alphabet of Torture is made of many modes and genres—poetry, essay fiction, drama—and almost constitutes a novel of a different kind. Each tale is a chapter that captures the concerns that pervade life.

In poetry, readers can pick up a copy of To Whitey & the Crackerjack by May Yang (Hauntie), winner of the 2016 Robert Dana Anhinga Prize, selected by Evie Schockley. Shockley says of her selection: “May Yang’s poetry pierces the silence in which the history of Hmong women has been blanketed, with indecorous wordplay, unruly rhymes, and evocative, unequivocal images. This book begins by naming names (America, global capitalism) and ends by revivifying the poetic epigram.”

Check out the publishers' websites to learn more about these newly-releaed, award-winning titles.

Published August 25, 2017
Alchemy for Cell Book CoverEntre Rios Press offers readers several new titles that will come with free audio download.Publisher Knox Gardner has been working closely with the book designer and audio producer. He tells me, "When I get the audio back from the studio, I am always startled to hear something new about the poems. I love it." Gardner says they will have audio on all of their books and these first three will be available for free download for all listeners (not password protected). Samples are currently available on their website or here on their SoundCloud station. Entre Rios is also working to include an interview/discussion with Maya Zeller and Carrie DeBacker as part of their audio download.

Flowers & Sky: Two Talks by Aaron Shurin
Mary's Dust poems by Melinda Mueller with music by Lori Goldston
Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts poetry and art by Maya Jewell Zeller and Carrie DeBacker
Published May 11, 2017

irradiated cities mariko nagaiLes Figues Press held their NOS Book Contest every year from 2011-2015, awarding $1,000 and publication to a writer of a poetry or prose manuscript, which includes lyric essays, hybrids, translations, and more.

The 2015 contest was judged by author and performance artist lê thi diem thúy, who chose Irradiated Cities by Mariko Nagai. She says of her selection:

This book, a sifting and circling, a calm and masterful layering of voices and vantage points, a slowly emerging portrait of four different Japanese cities and their inhabitants, resists any effort at arrivals or conclusions. By doing so, it shows us that while we may have an accumulation of facts for what happened on a particular day in a particular place, perhaps even the names and words and pictures of the people to whom catastrophe struck, and would not let go, it is within the dark sedimentation and the feather-light drift of history that we might glean what yet remains, and gives off light, to summon and trouble us still.
Nagai explores the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima. With lyrical fragments and black-and-white photographs, Nagai guides us through loss, silence, echo, devestation, and memory, creating a haunting piece of work.

Read through advance praise of the collection and order a copy for yourself at the Les Figues Press website.

Published May 10, 2017

from klail city to korea with love rolando hinojosaAt the end of April, Arte Publico Press released a two-volume collection from Rolando Hinojosa. From Klail City to Korea with Love contains Rites and Witnesses and Korean Love Songs from the Klail City Death Trip Series.

In Rites and Witnesses, the author “captures the complex relationships and unsettling power struggles in both civilian and military life.”

Korean Love Songs has long been out of print, first published in 1978. In this section, Hinojosa presents his only poetry book, capturing the horror of war through Klail City native Corporal Rafe Buenrostro’s recollections.

Rolando Hinojosa is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Casa de las Américas prize in 1976, the most prestigious prize in Latin America. Now readers can bring home two of his books in one collection, continuing the examination of life along the border.

Learn more about From Klail City to Korea with Love at the publisher’s website.

Published May 01, 2017

pen america best debut short stories 2017The PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers recognizes 12 emerging fiction writers for their debut story published online or in a literary magazine during the calendar year. The twelve winners each receive $2000 and are to be compilated in the inaugural anthology published by Catapult in August 2017.

This year’s winners were chosen by judges Kelly Link, Marie-Helene Bertino, and Nina McConigley, and together “they act as a compass for contemporary literature; they tell us where we’re going.” Each piece is introduced by the editor who originally published the story, providing editorial insight to aspiring writers and curious readers.

The 2017 winning writers include: Angela Ajayi, Amber Caron, Emily Chammah, Jim Cole, Crystal Hana Kim, Samuel Clare Knights, Katherine Magyarody, Grace Oluseyi, Laura Chow Reeve, Amy Sauber, Ruth Serven, and Ben Shattuck.

Learn more about the prize, the judges, the honorees, and the journals at the PEN America website, and pre-order your copy from the Catapult website.

Published April 27, 2017

no dictionary of a living tongue duriel harrisNightboat Books publishes the winners of the annual Nightboat Poetry Prize, the 2015 winner to be released next month: No Dictionary of a Living Tongue by Duriel E. Harris. Judge Kazim Ali says of the poetry collection:

No Dictionary of a Living Tongue is formidable in its explorations of art, citizenship, and life as a body amid the social, political, and electronic networks that define us, hold us together, bind us. [ . . . ] An elegant use of sound couples with a keen and roving intelligence and a fierce commitment to social justice to create a unique and powerful collection of poems.

Paging through the poetry collection, I was struck by the variety in forms, visually arresting before even reading the content. I was especially drawn to the fold-out poem “Danger, Live Feed” on pages 69-70, which warrants tearing out and framing (if the idea of tearing apart a book doesn’t make you cringe, that is).

Check out the Nighboat Books website for more insight into Harris’s No Dictionary of a Living Tongue, where you will also find a PDF preview and a link to order from SPD.

Published April 26, 2017

inside my pencil peter markus blogRecently chosen as a NewPages Editor’s Pick, Inside My Pencil by Peter Markus (Dzanc Books, March 2017) recounts poetry lessons taught to children in Detroit public schools. Markus, an award-winning writer and a writer-in-residence with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project of Detroit, sees the magic children hold inside their pencils and shares it with readers in this nonfiction book.

We start with Markus on his first day in the schools and then continue on to read his lessons on similes, metaphor, on the verb to be, the power of imagination. In prose that is poetic in itself, he brings us into the classroom and feeds us lines his students came up with in response. The creativity and imagination of the kids is a joy to read. In one chapter they define what beauty is, and in another, they turn love into metaphors, each line a beautiful display of the magic inside their pencils.

Inside my Pencil is available from the Dzanc Books website where readers can learn more.

Published April 05, 2017
hyong li 100 love notesIn 2015, on the anniversary of his wife's death as a result ovarian cancer, Hyong Yi wrote 100 love notes and, along with his two children, handed them out to random passers by on the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina. The three-line poems were written as conversational love notes between Hyong and his wife, reading "Beloved, follow me to the top of the mountain. Hold my hand; I’m afraid of falling. Don’t let me go.” and “I don’t need a test to tell me who to love. I believe in you and me. I do until death do us part.”

Friends encouraged Hyong to create a website to commemorate his commitment to his wife, and now The #100 Love Notes Project: A Love Story book has been published by Lorimer Press. This beautifully crafted collection features the work of 17 artists commissioned by Hyong Li to illustrate his 100 three-line poems.
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