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Published March 27, 2019

known by salt brazielIn January, Anhinga Press released the winner of their 2017 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry: Known by Salt by Tina Mozelle Braziel.

The annual prize awards $2000 to the winner, as well as publication and distribution of their winning manuscript. Submissions open in July.

Known by Salt was selected by C.G. Hanzlicek who says the collection: “is very much a book of celebrations. One arc of the book is the move from a life in a trailer park to a house that Tina and her husband build with their own hands, [ . . . ]. It also is a celebration of Alabama, [ . . . ]. Her observations are so keen [ . . . ] that they make me laugh out loud in my own celebration.”

Learn more at the publisher’s website, where you can also find a sample poem from the collection, “House Warming.”

Published March 20, 2019

luxury blue lace corfmanThis month, find Luxury, Blue Lace by S. Brook Corfman at Autumn House Press. Winner of the 2018 Rising Writer Contest, judge Richard Siken notes how Corfman “examines the ways that presentation and representation conflate and complicate. Expansive, generous, deeply considered, and highly lyric, this book, with its transformations and overlaps, astounds.”

Learn what others have to say about Luxury, Blue Lace as you pick up a copy at Autumn House Press’s website.

Published March 15, 2019

fall 2018 award winnersThere was a lot going on at the end of 2018, so maybe you missed out on some of the award-winning books published toward the tail end of the year. Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.

October saw the publication of Earthly Delights and Other Apocalypses by Jen Julian, winner of the 2018 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction. Judge Kevin Morgan Watson says the stories “range from straight-ahead fiction to sci-fi or dystopian, all with a strong sense of place with well-developed characters whose challenges draw the reader in.” Order copies and learn more at the Press 53 website.

In November, BkMk Press published Sweet Herbaceous Miracle by Berwyn Moore, winner of the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry. Selected by Enid Shomer, Moore’s third collection of poetry arrives “like good news, like spring flowers from the garden,” according to advance praise from George Bilgere. Find out more at the publisher’s website.

BkMk Press also released When We Were Someone Else by Rachel Groves, winner of the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction, selected by Hilma Wolitzer. Quirky characters in unlivable spaces occupy the stories in this collection. On the press’s website, find advance praise and links to reviews to learn more.

Another title out in November: The Good Echo by Shena McAuliffe, winner of the Black Lawrence Press 2017 Big Moose Prize. Readers can find an excerpt of the novel at the publisher’s website when they order their copies.

Wrapping up the month of November is UNMANNED by Jessica Rae Bergamino, winner of the 2017 Noemi Press Poetry Prize (with submissions currently open until May 1). UNMANNED features persona poems from the perspective of two Voyager Space probes as queer femmes exploring space. See what readers thought of the collection as you order your copies.

Published March 14, 2019

dark thing jonesPleaides Press annually hosts the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize, the winning writer receiving $3000 with the winning collection published by the press and distributed by Louisiana State University Press. Readers can find the winner of the 2018 prize published last month: dark // thing by Ashley M. Jones.

From the publisher’s website: “dark //  thing is a multi-faceted work that explores the darkness/otherness by which the world sees Black people. Ashley M. Jones stares directly into the face of the racism that allows people to be seen as dark things, as objects that can be killed/enslaved/oppressed/devalued.”

Jones challenges form with more experimental pieces worked in throughout the collection, and if readers still want more of Jones's award-winning work after checking out dark // thing, they can find her debut collection Magic City Gospel at Hub City Press which won silver in poetry from the Independent Publisher’s Book Awards.

Published August 22, 2018

early delights other apocalypses jen julianIf you’ve been itching to get your hands on copies of the 2018 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction winner, now you can. Readers may now preorder copies of Jen Julian’s Earthly Delights and Other Apocalypses which will ship early October and is available in both paperback and hardcover.

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Kevin Morgan Watson says the collection:

held my interest while taking me on a variety of journeys, both real and surreal, from a paleontologist who spontaneously crumbles to dust during a lecture, to siblings dealing with their hoarder-father’s estate. These stories ranged widely in theme and style, and after finishing one story I looked forward to where I would be taken in the next.

While you’re waiting on your signed copy of Earthly Delights and Other Apocalypses, you can stop by TriQuarterly’s website for a taste of Julian’s writing with “Attachment,” published this past July.

Published July 19, 2018

ken waldmanFrustrated with the current policital administration? You protest, rally, write letters, get yourself and others ready to vote...what more can you do? For poet and musician Ken Waldman (aka Alaska's Fiddling Poet), there's poetry. Sonnets to be exact, and a lot of them. With two volumes already completed and one more (at least) on the way, Waldman is taking this administration to task - and perhaps salvaging his own sanity as well as that of his readers - responding to the daily fodder by turning it to his muse for poetry.

Like many of us, in a stunned stupor the day after the election, Wednesday, November 9, 2016, Waldman writes that he was "processing Donald Trump's surprise victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and wrote, 'You make George W. seem a statesman--your opening trick,' which I turned into the first line and a half of a sonnet. A week later I wrote two more Donald Trump-inspired sonnets. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, another 68. That's 71 sonnets, a full-length collection. 41 were written in the voice of Donald Trump. The rest were addressed to him." The book's subtitle - The First 50 Days - speaks to the process many of us went through at the start.

Now in our second year of Trump's reign, Waldman continues to see us through with Trump Sonnets Volume 2: 33 Commentaries, 33 Dreams. "Half of this sequel's 66 poems is incisive commentary," writes Waldman,. "Half, dreams that I imagine Donald Trump might have, and those are in Trump's voice."

Both volumes, as well as Waldman's other books, are available through SPD Distribution or directly from Waldman. Visitors to his website can also view YouTube videos of Waldman reading the poems with a little bit of his iconic fiddling style thrown in.

Published February 27, 2018

bridled amy mengAvailable this month is the winner of the 2017 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry: Bridled by Amy Meng. Selected by Jaswinder Bolina, Bolina says of his selection:

Bridled is poetry as slow-burn opera. [ . . . ] The poems here offer, in reverse chronology, the story of a crumbling relationship between an unnamed speaker and her nameless ‘lover.’ In this telling, Bridled articulates a politics of self versus other, of body and gender, of loneliness and togetherness. It’s a collection you’re going to want to read from start to finish and then from finish to start.

A Kundiman Fellow and poetry editor at Bodega Magazine, this is Amy Meng’s first collection. Stop by the Pleaides Press website to learn more.

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.

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