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Published May 28, 2014
Only on their second issue of the revival of december, the editors publish the winners of their 2014 writing awards. The Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize was created "to recognize and honor the role played by Sherwin Jeffrey (S.J.) marks in establishing this magazine's poetry aesthetic, which endures today." Stephen Berg, founder of the American Poetry Review and close friend of Marks, served as the judge this year. "Berg made choices that Marks might easily have made himself. Both poems confront gritty realities of isolation and mortality, eschewing sentimentality while holding fast to notions of hope and determination."

Greg Jensen: "Anybody Mentions the Pope"

Honorable Mention
Dina Elenbogen: "A New Year"

Jack Anderson, David Clewell, Hannah Cohen, Michael Collins, Michelle Deatrick, Dina Elenbogen, Eric Greinek, Marcia Hurlow, Daisy Kincaid, Donald Levering, Moira Linehan, Colleen McElroy, Annette Opalczynski, Jill Osier, Frederick Pollack, Marcia Popp, Kathleen Tibetts, Kari Wergeland, Sarah Winn

The Curt Johnson Prose Awards in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction is named after Johnson who edited the magazine from 1962 until 2008. "He filled the magazine with the work of writers and artists he knew and those he'd never met, concentrating on work he felt deserved, even needed, to be heard." Mary Helen Stefaniak served as the fiction judge this year and "adhered to values almost identical to those Johnson espoused over the years." And William Kittridge judged the nonfiction, which both pieces he says are "studies in the ways we become emotionally isolated"

Fiction Winner
Jim Nichols: "Owls"

Fiction Honorable Mention
Michael Fertik: "Hunting in Nangarhar"

Creative Nonfiction Winner
Garet Lahvis: "NQR"

Creative Nonfiction Honorable Mention
Jenny McKeel: "Saigon"

Published May 27, 2014
The cover of the current issue of Dogwood is a still frame from a work-in-progress short, animated film by Nina Frenkel and Lyn Elliot: I Was a Teenage Girl, Apparently, the story of a woman who goes back in time to visit her teenage-self. In the back of the issue of Dogwood is a small interview with each of these featured artists:

Elliot, the writer, said that the collaboration is really helpful for her because she can still direct an animated film despite her "complete lack of drawing ability." She writes, "I like making very short films; many of my films are five minutes or shorter. SO it seemed to me that my writing and directing impulses could be well0suited to short animation, where virtually anything you can imagine can be made to happen onscreen."

Frenkel, the animator, says that they are using the "tradigital" style of animation; "it's a combination of traditional frame-by-frame animation drawing using a digital tool." This allows it to have "the looseness of the drawn style with the efficiency of the computer."

The project was funded by Kickstarter and should be completed by late summer. For more information about the project, visit their Kickstarter page.
Published May 28, 2014
Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their March Family Matters competition. This competition is held twice a year and is open to all writers for stories about family of all configurations. The next Family Matters competition will take place in September. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.

First place: Douglas W. Milliken [pictured], of Portland, ME, wins $1500 for “Blue of the World.” His story will be published in Issue 94 of Glimmer Train Stories.

Second place: Scott Gloden, of Chagrin Falls, OH, wins $500 for “What Is Louder.”

Third place: MK Hall, of Venice, CA, wins $300 for “Fortune & Riot.”

A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.

Deadline soon approaching for Short Story Award for New Writers: May 31. This competition is held quarterly and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation over 5000. No theme restrictions. Most submissions to this category run 1500-5000 words, but can go up to 12,000. First place prize is $1500. Second/third: $500/$300. Click here for complete guidelines.
Published May 27, 2014
The winners of the 12th Annual BrainStorm Poetry Contest have been announced and included in the Spring 2014 issue of Open Minds Quarterly. "The winning poems exhibit strength in imagery, attention to the sound of language, and left the readers with a sensation long after they were read." The honorable mentions include "an echo" by Sophie Soil, "As She Gently Brushed My Hair" by Sandy Jeffs, "With a huge love shattering my heart" by Georgina Paul, and "Medicated" by Sandy Jeffs. Here are the winners along with a sample of their poetry:

First Place
"Quebec City" by Ashley Laframboise

Sitting in your warm apartment, with
snow falling outside frosty windows, you
are wearing purple leg warmers over blue jeans, and green
slippers that used to be your grandmother's.
You are singing along to
French folk music I've never heard before, and lazily
sucking on an electronic cigarette that smells of

Second Place
"Airport, Heavy Water" by Tyler Gabrysh

Tiny moon shadows plop on my dash;
an orchestral pitter-patter
forming the dew we never see born

Maybe once this was enthralling;
now it's a swirl of overtaxed night
and dilated mourning.

Third Place
"Waiting to be Found" by Aaron Simkin

The night the meaning dissolved, it was just for me the
heads turned in the cars as I ran from the neon green street signs
a doomed cipher roaming the barren Winnipeg winter night
a prisoner of the light,
bathing in a conspiracy of clues derived from the indelible public grain,
no movies on the marquee at Portage Place,
just question marks like silver lights clawing at the clouds,
Published May 21, 2014
The Spring 2014 issue of The Missouri Review features the winners of the 2013 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize:

Melissa Yancy: "Consider this Case"

Dave Zoby: "Cafe Misfit"

Kai Carlson-Wee: 5 poems

"Kai Carlson-Wee, focuses on the gritty, visceral details of growing up on the West Coast as two brothers scavenge grocery store Dumpsters, dead rats rot in an alley and a severed head is found in a playground," writes Speer Morgan in the foreword. "Carlson-Wee expands moments of growing up into a larger contemplation of the human condition, including our desire for transcendence despite our physical limitations and time's inevitable passing."
Published May 22, 2014
The two editors of Psychopomp literary magazine, Cole Bucciaglia and Sequoia Nagamtsu, posted a blog post revealing the whole submission process. They say that they both read every piece and try to get to it within 10 to 14 days, labeling each piece "no," "yes," or "maybe."

"For me, language is very important," writes Nagamatsu. "A close second is an awareness of form. A well-crafted submission that reads well (and sounds good) is going to be met with more sympathy on my end. Those stories, regardless of whether or not I’m interested in the subject matter, almost always get a closer read."

And Bucciaglia confirms that they both have similar tastes. "I think one of the ways in which we different is that I tend to favor stories that are a little sparer with their language," she writes. "We get a lot of very poetic and lyrical pieces, but I’m very wary of stories in which every line is painstakingly written to evoke heart-aching Beauty. I get more excited about fairy tale-esque stories that are economic with their language. I think shorter pieces tend to get away with sustained lyricism more, which is why we do take many short pieces."

To read more about the process as well as about the magazine itself, click here.
Published May 23, 2014
While in other parts of the country Spring may have come earlier, in Michigan, our trees have only just started to bloom. So in honor of our first real week of Spring and warmer weather, here's all the covers this week that are both striking and Spring-filled.

Concho River Review's Spring 2014 cover couldn't be more inviting. The photograph is by Danny Meyer.


The Aurorean's Spring/Summer 2014 issue features "Flowering Tree at Emily Dickinson's House" by Cynthia Brackett-Vincent.


So Exit 7's cover isn't quite the aesthetic as the other two, but nothing sounds better now than a nice bike ride. The art is Simple by Jeff Cohen, and his piece Berlin with Bicycle is on the back cover.

Published May 16, 2014
American Life in Poetry: Column 477

When a poem has a strong story to tell, the simplest and most direct language is often the best choice because the poet may not want literary effects to get in the way of the message. Here’s a good example of straightforward language used to maximum effectiveness by Jeanie Greensfelder, who lives in California.

Sixth Grade

We didn’t like each other,
but Lynn’s mother had died,
and my father had died.

Lynn’s father didn’t know how to talk to her,
my mother didn’t know how to talk to me,
and Lynn and I didn’t know how to talk either.

A secret game drew us close:
we took turns being the prisoner,
who stood, hands held behind her back,

while the captor, using an imaginary bow,
shot arrow after arrow after arrow
into the prisoner’s heart.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2012 by Jeanie Greensfelder from her most recent book of poems, Biting the Apple, published by Penciled In, 2012. Poem reprinted by permission of Jeanie Greensfelder and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
Published May 19, 2014
Inspired by April’s National Poetry Month and thanks to the StoryADay in May writing challenge, May has started to become identified with the short story. This is now the second year of an organized International Short Story Month. Visit Short Story Month website for ideas on how to celebrate this month as a writer, publisher, teacher, librarian, bookseller; resources for finding short stories to read; listing your own story sources. You can also find follow the #ShortReads hashtag on Twitter (started by publisher AAKnopf) and sign up for the mailing list to receive all the news about International Short Story Month. "And most of all, read a great story today."

Published May 19, 2014
In the latest issue of The Chattahoochee Review, Ron Cooper hosts a conversation with Paul Ruffin and Eric Miles Williamson about a possible movement called "'redneck noir,' composed of writers strewn across the country—from the Bible Belt to the Rust Belt, from the Appalachians to the Sierra Nevada—who are from poor backgrounds and proud to write about them." Cooper asks Williamson if he considers it a movement:

"It's never been a movement. This has nothing to do with a bunch of--what do you want to call us?—rednecks, white trash, working poor... None of us likes any of these terms." He explains how it has to do with the availability of higher education. At the end of WWII, people could afford to go to school under the GI Bill. "This is now ending, however," he says. "With the defunding of state colleges and universities, tuition is no longer affordable for working-class kids. If I were eighteen today, I'd have to stay a construction worker. ... The era, about fifty years, of the working-class novel, the working-class writer or artist of any sort, will be over when my generation dies."

It's an insightful and interesting interview, well worth the read whether you are into the genre (? movement?) or not.

Also in this issue are contest winners Jeremy Collins (nonfiction) and Alexander Weinsten (fiction) as well as work from Stephanie Powell Watts, Tori Malcangio, Michael Noll, Bipin Aurora, Jessica Piazza, Okla Elliot, and more.
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