The Exorcist

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My father is a believer. He believes in the eternity of the soul, the temporariness of bodies. “You are a gardener,” he’d tell me, “and your life is a plot of dirt you’re renting.Your work is to grow the most beautiful garden you can.” That’s it? I’d ask. That’s it, he’d answer. My father believes in reincarnation, in his own visions, in Carlos Castaneda and Don Juan in the Mexican desert. My grandmother believed in Christmas, birthdays, and not knocking on people’s doors because it was rude so that made her a half-in, half-out Jehovah’s Witness. I considered Islam after reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X when I was twelve. My grandfather never mentioned God. My aunt hung rosaries from her bedposts when diabetes and lupus were gaining on her. Despite being as Dominican as plantains and salami, my uncle’s name is Moses Levy. I don’t know if he still wears it, but for many years a Star of David hung from his neck, invisible below the neckline of his shirts. My family didn’t have a unified and fixed spiritual or religious identity. Maybe that’s what made The Exorcist the most terrifying movie to me.

I considered rewatching The Exorcist to better explain what about the movie itself still scares me, but as I wrote this in the back apartment in the Kerouac House on an overcast day with that creepy-ass Spanish moss hanging off the trees and no yelling, car horns, or stereos to drown out the creaks of the house, I said fuck no. Demonic possessions, teleportation mishaps, child murderers burned alive by the PTA always happened in nice little neighborhoods like College Park. As a kid growing up in the late 80s and 90s in New York City scary movie scenarios were a relief. Poltergeists don’t go into the projects. There’s not enough real estate for a crazy caretaker. No killer sharks in the Bronx Zoo. We had drugs and crime, sure, but the ‘burbs had basements and houses with too many windows and doors that no one locked.

Other movies came close to The Exorcist, but The Fly was driven by human desire. Nightmare on Elm Street was creepy but campy. Amityville and Poltergeist made me lose sleep because the source of fear wasn’t a body, form, or face I could identify. A Freddy. A Jeff Goldblum. The people in supernatural horror films were terrorized by things they couldn’t see or explain with the worldview that kept them safe. Fear psychologically isolated people, creating the feeling that no one else could see this monster but them. It is terrifying to be alone with the truth. Even if other people glimpsed it or felt it, they could escape it or deny it, but these families in horror films could not. The Exorcist prompted more existential questions than the movies with boogeymen who attacked indiscriminately.

I asked myself some of those questions, growing up as an only child, raised by my grandparents. Playing monopoly by myself, paying myself rent for landing on Park Place, I wondered, why have I been singled out to suffer? If I have been chosen to endure torment, how will I get free? Is an end to my suffering even possible or am I doomed? These are fundamental, frightening questions we ask ourselves, God, and religion. Granted, maybe not at eleven years old, but my demons and poltergeists, the sources of my torment, seemed to be the circumstances of my life.

There’s a scene in The Exorcist where Father Damien asks, “why this girl?” Father Merrin answers, “the point is to make us despair; to see ourselves as…animal and ugly. To make us reject the possibility that God could love us.” To see the very worst of ourselves is horror. The possibility of hurt so deep, love cannot reach it, there, that is Hell.

The Exorcist raised the possibility that my family was wrong in their religious disorderliness. The pre-Conquest spirituality my dad believed true? Wrong. We lived in a cosmic version of Survivor and whatever god outwitted, outlasted, and outplayed was the right one. The Exorcist made a pretty good case for Catholicism’s version of things. Jehovah, Allah, Krishna. All wrong. We weren’t all worshipping the same being in the end. That’s what people who couldn’t handle the truth told themselves. Like a good child of the public school system, I was sure there was only one right answer and we got it wrong. What if the Devil wasn’t symbolic? What if God was unimaginatively and disappointingly literal? What if all those self-righteous, Bible thumpers I’d argued with for years were right and God is super Catholic. What if the essence of our world is unfair and the right god is a cruel, conservative one? What if choosing incorrectly, not being chosen, or casual devotion was enough to be eternally fucked? It wasn’t any demon or the Devil that scared me in The Exorcist. It was God.

On the Radar – October Edition

NFA Grants for Latino Artists and Ensembles support the work of individual artists and ensembles in all disciplines. Open to Latino artists and ensembles in the United States.The NFA offers three grant categories for artists and ensembles: Project Grant, Master Artist Grant and the San Antonio Artist Project Grant. The San Antonio Artist Grant category is supported by the City of San Antonio Department for Culture and Creative Development and is only open to residents of San Antonio, Texas.” Deadline: October 13

TSR publishes work from established authors and newcomers, but only the best of the best.” Deadline: October 15

“The Sixth Annual StoryQuarterly Fiction Prize. The winner will receive $1000, and the winner, first runner-up and second runner-up will be published in StoryQuarterly 50.” Judge is Alexander Chee (who is warm and thoughtful and omg, have you read Queen of the Night?) Deadline: October 15

“Fellowships are six weeks in length and occur year-round. The Lighthouse Works provides fellows with housing, food, studio space, a $250 travel allowance and a stipend of $1,500 to defray the costs of shipping materials, the purchase of art supplies, and other expenses incurred in making artwork in a remote location; our belief is that no artist should have to spend money to accept the opportunity of a fellowship.” Deadline: October 15

I’m cofacilitating Get the Yes: Crafting Your Best Application for Residencies, Fellowships, Grants and Workshops along with Grace Jahng Lee at Bindercon. Whether you’re applying for a writing residency, fellowship, grant, scholarship, or workshop, the process can be anxiety-provoking. How do you even find out about these opportunities? How do you decide which to apply to? What does an artist statement include? Who will write your recommendation letters if you lack literary networks? What do you include in a writer’s CV if you have no/few publications? How do you select your best writing sample? What are strategies for dealing with multiple rejections? For residencies, additional nail-biting may emerge: How do you take time off from work and family obligations to disappear into the woods to write for weeks? How will you finance your residency if you still have rent/bills to pay while away? BinderCon takes place on October 29-30

Indiana Review. “General submissions & submissions to our Special Folio: Metallic Grit are now open until October 31st.

The London Magazine‘s Short Story Competition. The story that wins first-place will be published in a future issue of The London Magazine.” Deadline: October 31

“Applications will open on October 1 for A Public Space’s 2017 Emerging Writer Fellowships. Under this project, three emerging writers will be selected for six-month fellowships, which will include: mentorship from an established author who has previously contributed to A Public Space; publication in the magazine; contributor’s payment of $1,000; workspace in our Brooklyn offices (optional).” Deadline: November 1

 “Recommended Reading is Accepting Previously Published Stories. This fall, our weekly fiction magazine has two separate categories for submissions: previously published and original stories. For the two weeks in November, we’re asking writers to submit only stories that have been previously published elsewhere to be considered for a second life in Recommended Reading.” Deadline: November 15

“Celebrated novelist Dana Spiotta (Stone Arabia, Eat the Document) returns to the Center to talk about her latest book, the critically acclaimed Innocents and Others. Spiotta will be joined in conversation by the award-winning master of American fiction, George Saunders (Tenth of December). Saunder’s debut novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, will be published in February 2017.”
In Conversation: Dana Spiotta and George Saunders
Tuesday November 15, 2016
07:00 pm

“Every fall Pleiades Press holds a short prose contest (for fiction and nonfiction). We’re interested in reading collections short stories, flash fiction, essays, lyric essays, and any other forms of short prose you can think of. The winning manuscript will be  awarded $2000 and published by Pleiades Press.” Deadline: November 15

Witness seeks original fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photography that is innovative in its approach, broad-ranging in its concerns, and that dazzles us with its unique perspective.” Deadline: November 15

The Camargo Core Program consists of fellowship residencies of six to eleven weeks.” Deadline: November 24

The Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize awards $1,000 and publication in Mid-American Review. Judge is Charles Yu. Deadline: November 30

The 31st Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival is holding a fiction contest that will award $1,500, domestic airfare (up to $500) and French Quarter accommodations to attend the Festival in New Orleans, VIP All-Access Festival pass for the next Festival ($500 value), a public reading at a literary panel at the next Festival and publication in Louisiana Literature. Judge is Dorothy Allison. Deadline: November 30

Fish Publishing is holding a short story contest. The top ten stories will be published in the 2017 Fish Anthology. First prize is  €3,000 plus a 5 day Short Story Workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival. Deadline: November 30

2016 Arcadia Press Chapbook Prize. “A prize of $1,000 and twenty-five author copies is given annually for a chapbook of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.” Deadline: November 30

The Hudson Review publishes fiction, poetry, essays, book reviews; criticism of literature, art, theatre, dance, film, and music; and articles on contemporary cultural developments.” Deadline: November 30

Zyzzva. Deadline: November 30

“Published quarterly by The University of Georgia since 1947, The Georgia Review features an eclectic blend of essays, fiction, poetry, visual art, and book reviews.” Reading period re-opened August 16

American Short Fiction has published, and continues to seek, short fiction by some of the finest writers working in contemporary literature, whether they are established or new or lesser-known authors. In addition to its triannual print magazine, American Short Fiction also publishes stories (under 2000 words) online.” Year-round submissions
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Q&A in Latinidad – Fall 2016

I did a Q&A with editor Marcela Landres for her e-zine Latinidad about applying for residencies. Check it out and sign up for her zine.

“Do you avoid applying to residencies because the process is intimidating? Have you applied and don’t understand why you were rejected? Are you mystified as to how to find a good residency in the first place? Why, you wonder, should you bother attending residencies when you can just write at home? If any of the above applies to you, you need to buy and watch Glendaliz Camacho’s Applying For Writing Residencies Webinar. Watching the webinar is like having a cool, savvy friend give you step-by-step guidance, including: the best time of the year to apply; how to write your artist statement; and specific links to websites where you can research residencies. Worth every penny, this webinar will save you time and money in the long run.

To learn more, read the Q&A below with Glendaliz Camacho, creator of the Applying For Writing Residencies Webinar; to purchase the webinar, visit https://becomenzando.com/2016/04/09/applying-for-writing-residencies-webinar/.”

On the Radar – September Edition

I have abandoned my usual sense of time this month. These are deadlines in October, but also a list of who is starting to read again in the fall. Here goes:

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One Story is seeking literary fiction. Because of our format, we can only accept stories between 3,000 and 8,000 words.” Submission period begins: September 1

“Published quarterly, the Gettysburg Review considers unsolicited submissions of poetry, fiction, and essays, from September 1 through May 31 (postmark dates).” Submission period begins: September 1

New England Review is looking for “fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, translation, creative writing for the web site (NER Digital), cover art, and art for our website.” Submission period begins: September 1

“Since 1977 Willow Springs has published the finest in contemporary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as interviews with notable authors including Marilynne Robinson, Stuart Dybek, Aimee Bender, Robert Wrigley, Joyce Carol Oates, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Kim Addonizio, to name a few.” Submission period begins: September 1

Wallace Stegner Fellowship. “Unique among writing programs, Stanford offers ten two-year fellowships each year, five in fiction and five in poetry. All the fellows in each genre convene weekly in a 3-hour workshop with faculty. Fellows are regarded as working artists, intent upon practicing and perfecting their craft. The only requirements are workshop attendance and writing. The program offers no degree.” Application period opens: September 1

The Travel and Study Grant Program awards grants to emerging artists who create new work, rotating the eligible disciplines in alternating years. Funds support periods of travel for the purpose of study, exploration, and growth…The eligible disciplines for 2017 are music; theater; and visual arts. Applicants must be “generative” artists (e.g. composers or sound artists in music; playwrights, performance artists and directors of ensemble based theatre companies; and visual artists of all genres).” Guidelines for the 2017 Travel and Study Grant Program will be posted September 7

Fiction. “Staying under 5,000 words is encouraged, but we will read fiction manuscripts of any length.” Submission period begins: September 15

Kenyon Review. “We publish the best work we can find—this is the case for both KR and KROnline. The two are aesthetically distinct spaces.” Submission period begins: September 15

“The city’s largest free literary festival, the Brooklyn Book Festival is one of the country’s premier international book festivals, drawing tens of thousands each year to the global creative capital of Brooklyn, NYC. The 7-day festival launches with a week of city-wide Bookend Events, a Children’s Day celebrating childhood literature and finally Festival Day — a day-long literary extravaganza with more than 100 panel discussions and reading on 12-stages and a vibrant outdoor Literary Marketplace.” September 18 (with loads of events that whole week off-site)

26th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize awards $5,000 Fiction, $5,000 Nonfiction and $5,000 Poetry. “Winners receive publication, invitation to a reception and reading in their honor and a cash prize.” Deadline: October 1

Twentieth Annual Zoetrope: All-Story Fiction Contest. “The three prizewinners and seven honorable mentions will be considered for representation by William Morris Endeavor; ICM; the Wylie Agency; Regal Literary; Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency; Markson Thoma Literary Agency; Inkwell Management; Sterling Lord Literistic; Aitken Alexander Associates; Barer Literary; the Gernert Company; and the Georges Borchardt Literary Agency.” Deadline: October 1

The Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference, provides Latino writers with access to published Latino authors as well as agents and editors who have a proven track record of publishing Latino books…The 5th Annual Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference, taking place at The New School in New York, will be a SPECIAL EDITION. This year the conference will offer writing master classes, only.” October 1

The Aura Estrada Short Story Contest. “The winning author will receive $1,500 and have his or her work published by Boston Review.” Deadline October 3

“Since its founding in 1992, Writers Omi at Ledig House has hosted hundreds of authors and translators, representing more than fifty countries. We welcome published writers and translators of every type of literature. International, cultural and creative exchange is a foundation of our mission, and a wide distribution of national background is an important part of our selection process. Guests may select a residency of one week to two months; about ten at a time gather to live and work in a rural setting overlooking the Catskill Mountains. Ledig House provides all meals, and each night a local chef prepares dinner. Daytime is reserved for writing and quiet activities, while evenings are more communal. A program of weekly visits bring guests from the New York publishing community.” Application deadline: October 20

Sexism in the Literary World. “In the literary world, as in broader society, gender inequality remains an ongoing problem, and the poor representation of women writers a contentious topic. Organizations such as VIDA highlight the imbalances in visibility between women and men in scores of online and print publications. Arguably, sexism and misogyny are central to this issue. This event brings together novelists Bonnie Nadzam and Porochista Khakpour, social change advocate and journalist Kavita Das, and Amy King of VIDA, to discuss sexism and harassment in the publishing industry and writing programs, and what can, and should, be done to improve the representation of women writers. The Center’s director Noreen Tomassi will moderate, and contribute her insight.”
October 25

Why I Leave “Pushcart Prize nominee” in my Bio

When a small journal nominated one of my stories in 2013, it was the first nod of anything besides publication. It felt good. It was a story I liked, one I still love, one a lot of people since have told me they loved. It’s the story I’ve tinkered on the least post-publication. One I felt I executed with every ounce of skill and heart I had, harmoniously, and to the max. The editor that nominated it treated it like a teacher would a student they really believed in.

One time, I was looking back on some childhood school photos with someone and they pointed out my penchant for colored socks. Like visible-under-the-hem, bright-ass socks. And it was a moment when you realize that something you did and thought little about or did and loved was incredibly dorky.

It’s like that in writing-as-career too. And I mean career in the blandest sense possible. You get your first piece accepted in some little journal and you’re ecstatic. Until something makes you aware of the hierarchy of journals. Then that little journal doesn’t seem worth mentioning anymore, even though it sure made you feel like a real fucking writer two seconds ago. The harder it is to get picked, the better it must be, right? If other people can have this too, it must be crap.

Somewhere between other writers’ snark (usually white, usually over-educated, and fond of hierarchies) making me aware that thousands of writers get nominated for Pushcarts, I came to the conclusion leaving it on my bio was incredibly dorky. Less than a month ago, I was at a writing conference/workshop where it was a joke in someone’s opening remarks. If you google Pushcart Prize, there are dozens of blog posts pointing out how much of a dork you are for believing your small accolade. I should’ve been embarrassed at leaving such a clear trail of newb-ness.

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A fruit vendor’s push cart, Cartagena, Colombia by Joe Ross

One day, the Pushcart nominee thing came up in conversation with a respected and lauded poet and teacher friend who keeps it on his bio along with “bigger” awards. “Everyone and their moms gets one of those,” was what I said. And in that way he has of putting your your shit in perspective with an economy of words (fucking poets!) he said, “My moms didn’t.”

What that did to me was two things. One, it snapped me out of a touch of the comemierdas I contracted from these writers. So because these writers who I deemed more knowledgeable about writing-as-career deemed it meh, I had to deem it meh too? Automatically? Without measuring for myself, against myself?

And Two, who was this “everyone” because he was right. Our moms were not getting Pushcart nominations. They were busy getting visa nominations (or not), work nominations, nominating what bills they could pay, and nominating what was for dinner. To put a finer point on it, as another teacher would later put it, “Herman Melville was not thinking about you when he was writing Moby Dick.” Perhaps thousands of American white writers have been nominated, but how many that look like me and come from where I come from? Your small potatoes can be someone’s whole meal.

That conversation, no longer than a minute or two, was a call to stop measuring myself against rulers not made for me. There’s no such thing as everyone or universal experience. And hey if your moms was getting Pushcart nominations and the like, that’s great, my daughter will be able to say that kind of thing, but I was wrong to hold you up as “everyone” when I knew different.

Now, this is not to say, we shouldn’t aim for larger, higher, more. This is also not to say that as you get more that some things won’t drop off to make room for other things, but dammit you be the one to decide what betterment means to you. You be the one to decide what is important on your bio and reflects your trajectory the best at that moment. I just submitted a piece to a prize and left it in. It’s followed by other things that say something about how I’ve been becoming a writer since that nomination, but it’s in there. And look, tomorrow, six months from now, years from now I could totally decide to drop it, but today it still has significance for me.

I loved those socks. My grandma bought them for me with retirement checks. She matched them to my scrunchies. And even though all my socks are black, white, and gray (like my soul!), I look back at the cheerful ankles of my youth with kindness and affection.

You like the socks? Wear the fucking socks.

On the Radar – August Edition

In the last month, I managed to squeeze in a few drastic life changes. I went to Portland for Tin House’s Summer Workshops and learned under the amazing Steve Almond. I wish someone with serious lyrical skill would turn his craft book “This Won’t Take But A Minute, Honey” into the 10 Crack Commandments a la Biggie. Cop that.

Four days after getting home, I got married.

A week after that, I flew to Minnesota for a residency at the Anderson Center, thanks to the generosity of The Jerome Foundation. That’s where I find myself now. Ten days in, I finally feel like I have some forward traction on a novel. Not like the nine days before this weren’t productive, but rereading, revising, editing, and organizing tend to not feel as productive as filling up a page with fresh words. Despite how necessary all that stuff is.

Anyhow, finally got a chance to ask myself what could possibly be next? How can I shape my 2017 to support my writing projects?

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“Submissions to the 2016 1/2K Prize are now OPEN until August 15th! Winner receives $1,000 and publication in Indiana Review. All entries are considered for publication.” Deadline: August 15

Steve Almond is teaching two workshops in the Bay Area:

Palo Alto:
Date: Saturday, August 20
Time: 9-Noon
Cost: $95
Location: Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, T2, Palo Alto, CA 94303
Format: Lecture, free write, feedback

SF:
Date: Sunday, August 21
Time: 9-Noon
Cost: $95
Location: South Van Ness SF 94110 (email stevealmondjoy [at] gmail.com for address)
Format: Lecture, free write, feedback

To reserve a seat, send payment by check or PayPal. If via Paypal, use the friends/family option and send to: sbalmond@earthlink.net.

Email stevealmondjoy [at] gmail.com if you have questions.

This is an interesting one for the right writer. Pretty disconnected, a stipend, no application fee, and quite an environment. “The National Parks Arts Foundation (NPAF) in association with Big Bend National Park of the National Park Service now offers a Residency in the river country of Texas, adjacent and across the river from two Mexican National Parks. This is one of the jewels of the Park Service: one of the largest, most remote, least visited and yet most austerely beautiful parks in the U.S.” Deadline: August 22

The Barthelme Prize for Short Prose is open to pieces of prose poetry, flash fiction, and micro-essays of 500 words or fewer. Established in 2008, the contest awards its winner $1,000 and publication in the journal. Two honorable mentions will receive $250, and all entries will be considered for paid publication on our website as Online Exclusives.” Deadline: August 31

Okey-Panky is open for submissions, until August 31 or until we hit our cap. We accept prose and poetry manuscripts of under 1500 words, and comics. Contributors are paid $100, and there is no submission fee.” Deadline: August 31

Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open: Open to all subjects, all themes, and all writers. Most entries run from 3,000 to 6,000 words, but any lengths from 3,000 to 20,000 words are welcome. 1st place: $3,000. The Very Short Fiction Award is open to all writers. Any story that has not appeared in a print publication is welcome. Word count range: 300 – 3000.” Deadline: August 31

“As a feminist press, Shade Mountain is committed to publishing literature by women, especially women from marginalized/underrepresented communities. We seek literary fiction that’s politically engaged, that challenges the status quo and gender/class/race privilege.” They are currently “seeking novel manuscripts by African American women. Any topic, any style, preferably literary rather than genre.” They published this wonderful anthology that includes one of my own stories. Rosalie is a real champion for her authors and an eagle eye editor. Deadline: September 1

Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts offers up to sixty juried residencies per year to working visual artists, writers, composers, and interdisciplinary artists from across the country and around the world…Residencies are available for 2 to 8 weeks stays. Each resident receives a $100 stipend per week, free housing, and a separate studio. The Center can house up to five artists of various disciplines at any given time.” I stayed for a 2 week residency in April 2015 and would love to return for longer. I count two of the artists I met there as friends now as well so I can’t recommend it enough. Deadline: September 1

“Supported in 2017 and 2018 by the Jerome Foundation, the Lanesboro Artist Residency Program awards two to three residencies per year and allows artists to benefit from studio space, ample time to create, and an entire rural community and its myriad assets as a catalytic vehicle for engagement and artistic experimentation.” I was just the resident artist in February and it came at a critical time for me, when I was leaving a 9-to-5 and switching to writing and self-employment full-time. The community is surprisingly creatively active for its size, super welcoming, and the residency was generous in funding. Apply. Deadline: September 1

Brush Creek Foundation for The Arts is a non-profit organization offering time and space for artistic exploration to visual artists, writers, musicians and composers from all backgrounds, level of expertise, media and genres.” I’ve heard very good things about Brush Creek from peers. Deadline: September 1

The Jentel Artist Residency Program offers dedicated individuals a supportive environment in which to further their creative development.” This was the first residency I was accepted to in 2014. I’d been to VONA  for the second time, had lost a boyfriend to suicide. I was full of ideas and processing trauma. I started the draft of a short story that was published earlier this year, wrote a 10-page essay I trashed, and started drafting notes for a novel I’m writing now. I needed the time more than I knew and watching the artists at work there shifted something in the way I regarded myself as a writer and approached writing as work. Deadline: September 1

Nine-Week Writing Our Lives Personal Essay Workshop. “This class is designed for people who are new or fairly new to the personal essay/memoir and know they want to take on the challenge. Perhaps you are interested in writing a memoir and want to get your feet wet in essay. As a memoir writer myself, I can tell you that the personal essay is the micro of the macro that is memoir. Maybe you’re a seasoned writer who wants to brush up on the essentials. There’s room for you too! Legend has it that Alvin Ailey used to take a basics dance class periodically even after he created his now renowned dance school, “to remind myself,” he said. In the class we will dig into the fundamentals of writing personal essays: how to decide on a topic, how to start, how to read essays like writers (because reading like a writer and reading like a reader are not the same thing), how to build well-developed characters, how to write dialogue, etc. We will be reading essays (lots of them) and dissecting them, analyzing why the author made the decision(s) he/she made. We’ll also be doing tons of writing, including a 1250 word essay as a final project. What I’m saying is you must be willing and able to do the work. The writing life you envision requires it.” Free one-day class: September 10. Workshop begins: September 17

Slice’s sixth annual writers’ conference will draw more than 130+ agents, authors, editors, and publishing pros. Our panels and workshops will cover topics from the craft of writing (plotting, dialogue, characterization, poetry, and more) to the business of writing (pitch letters, landing a book deal, and beyond). Top editors, agents, and authors will discuss crucial steps to help launch a writer’s career. But a book deal is just the beginning of a writer’s professional journey. We invite leading professionals to offer trade secrets about how they transform a great story into a bestselling book (and what writers can do to help them get there).” September 10-11

8-week Creative Nonfiction Workshop “Through group discussion of student work, plus that of published authors, writers in this workshop will examine the art and craft of creative nonfiction. The focus will be on learning to understand and use a full range of literary techniques in order to tell a truly compelling nonfiction story. Topics such as the use of dialogue, the creation of scene, attention to style and how to craft structure from true events will be discussed. Participants will also spend time talking about the particular responsibilities that come with writing creative nonfiction. This workshop is open to writers working on memoir, personal essays or in-depth journalism.” My good friend Jennifer Baker is teaching this workshop and I cannot say enough great things about her. Tireless advocate of literature, keen reader and critic, talented writer, eagle-eyed editor, and baker of some of the most addictive treat you’ve ever had. Go take her class. Begins: September 12

Key West Literary Seminar. “The Marianne Russo Award, the Scotti Merrill Memorial Award, and the Cecelia Joyce Johnson Award recognize and support writers who possess exceptional talent and demonstrate potential for lasting literary careers. Each award is tailored to a particular literary form. The Merrill Award recognizes a poet, while fiction writers may apply for either the Johnson Award (for a short story) or the Russo Award (for a novel-in-progress). Winners receive full tuition support for our January Seminar and Workshop Program, round-trip airfare, lodging, a $500 honorarium, and the opportunity to appear on stage during the Seminar.” Deadline: September 12

The MacDowell Colony provides time, space, and an inspiring environment to artists of exceptional talent. A MacDowell Fellowship, or residency, consists of exclusive use of a studio, accommodations, and three prepared meals a day for up to eight weeks. There are no residency fees.” The holy grail of residencies. Deadline: September 15

“Literary journal SmokeLong Quarterly is inviting applications from new and emerging flash fiction writers for the 2017 Kathy Fish Fellowship.” Deadline: September 15

I so wish I were home to catch this: BBF: Gender in Science Fiction and Fantasy. “This event brings together celebrated voices from science fiction and fantasy whose work explores gender constructs and/or notions of sexuality, to talk about the current state and representation of these themes in the field. Multi-award winner Catherynne M. Valente (The Labyrinth (2004),Deathless (2011), Radiance (2015)) joins Seth Dickinson(The Traitor Baru Cormorant, 2014), 2015 Nebula Award-winner Alyssa Wong, and Whiting Award-winner Alice Sola Kim.” September 18

“This residency offers up to ten artists a five week period to live and work at the Château de La Napoule.” Deadline: September 19

The Manchester Fiction Prize awards “£10,000 prize for the best short story of up to 2,500 words. Open internationally to new and established writers aged 16 or over (no upper age limit).” Deadline: September 23

The Siena Art Institute’s Summer Residency Program awards accomplished professional artists & writers the opportunity to stay for a month in the beautiful historic city of Siena, in the heart of Tuscany, Italy. The month-long Summer Residency Program grants resident artists a studio space at the Siena Art Institute & a private 1-bedroom apartment in the historic city center of Siena, as well as flight compensation for getting to and from Italy.” Deadline: September 30

Soho Press is “open to unsolicited submissions for our literary list. Please familiarize yourself with the types of books we publish in the literary imprint “Soho Press” before submitting. In general, we are interested in bold voices and original ways of seeing the world.”

For the past ten years, I’ve walked past the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and wondered why it was empty. How could it be that his home wasn’t preserved as a space for poets, a space to honor his legacy? I’d pass the brownstone, shake my head, and say, “Someone should do something.” I have stopped saying, “Someone should do something” and decided that someone is me.

I, Too, Arts Collective is a non-profit organization committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts. Our first major project is to provide a space for emerging and established artists in Harlem to create, connect, and showcase work. Our goal is to lease and renovate the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived in Harlem as a way to not only preserve his legacy but also to build on it and impact young poets and artists.” Donate

 

On the Radar – June Edition

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“Submissions for the Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman are NOW OPEN through June 15, 2016. The Bakwin Award honors full-length prose work (novel, short story collection, or memoir) by an author who is a woman. The winner will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the winning book will be published by Carolina Wren Press.” Judge is Tayari Jones. Submission deadline: June 15

Hedgebrook 2016 Screenwriters Lab. “Hedgebrook’s Screenwriters Lab supports five screenwriters in developing their projects over a weeklong residency, with two mentors from the film industry, at our retreat on Whidbey Island, Washington.” Application deadline: June 16

Online Class: Become Your Own Best Editor.“Our popular editing course offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the editorial process. You’ll learn to bring the same sharp editorial eye to your own work that the editors of One Story bring to each issue. Daily online lessons will guide you through a case study of a One Story debut, issue #188, “The Remains” by Laura Spence-Ash. You’ll follow the story from first draft to publication—studying actual marked-up manuscripts—as the author and editors work together to make the story the best it can be.” June 22nd – 28th

“Register for AAWW’s third Publishing Conference on Saturday, June 25th and you’ll hear from veteran authors, agents and editors from The New Yorker, Penguin Random House, Grove Atlantic, Vice, Buzzfeed, Bomb, and Catapult.”

It went so well last month, I’m teaching Write It Better again. “David Sedaris said that good short stories, “take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized now and uneasy with the fit.” How do they do this? Through a combination of readings, discussion, exercises, and critique this class will cover the elements in short fiction that – when done well – make for a great short story. We’ll discuss characters, plot, setting, dialogue, rewriting, and editing.” Begins June 28

1913 Press is accepting submissions for a prose book to publish. Judge is Maggie Nelson. Deadline: June 30

“The BLR Prizes award outstanding writing related to themes of health, healing, illness, the mind, and the body. First prize is $1,000 (in each genre) and publication in the Spring 2017 issue of BLR. Honorable mention winners will receive $250 and publication in the Spring 2017 issue of BLR.” Submission deadline: July 1

The Winter Tangerine Awards. Judges are Chris Abani for prose, Aracelis Girmay for poetry. Submission deadline: July 1

StoryQuarterly is looking for fiction for its Winter 2017 issue. Submission deadline: July 10. 

Fairy Tale Review is thrilled to announce our third annual contest, with awards for poetry and prose—Kelly Link will serve as our judge for prose, and Traci Brimhall will judge poetry. The selected winners of the prose and poetry contests will each receive $1,000 and publication in The Translucent Issue, which will be released in 2017.” Submission deadine: July 15

This is one of the most nurturing residencies I’ve ever been to. Apply! “Six writers are in residence at a time, each housed in a handcrafted cottage. They spend their days in solitude – writing, reading, taking walks in the woods on the property or on nearby Double Bluff beach. In the evenings, they gather in the farmhouse kitchen to share a home-cooked gourmet meal, their work, their process and their stories. The Writers in Residence Program is Hedgebrook’s core program, supporting the fully-funded residencies of approximately 40 writers at the retreat each year.” Application deadline: July 26

Virginia Quarterly Review reads unsolicited fiction, poetry, and nonfiction submissions from July 1-31

“Feminist Press has partnered with TAYO Literary Magazine to launch a contest seeking the best debut books by women and nonbinary writers of color. First time authors, submit your complete manuscript, either fiction, including novels and short story collections, or narrative memoir, of 50,000 to 80,000 words, and you could receive $5,000 and a publishing contract from the Feminist Press!” Submission deadline: July 31

Gimmick Press is “currently accepting chapbook length (30-50 pages) submissions of pro-wrestling themed poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and black & white comics and/or illustrations. From the submissions received, we will choose three chapbooks, to be published together in one collection. The creators of each of the three chosen chapbooks will receive payment of $250 and 10 copies of the completed collection.” Submission deadline: July 31

Willapa Bay AIR offers “month-long, self-directed residencies to emerging and established artists, writers, scholars, singer/songwriters, and musical composers. The Residency provides lodging, meals, and work space, at no cost, to six residents each month from March 1 through September 30 of the year.” Application due July 31

“On the Island of Itaparica the Sacatar Foundation operates the Instituto Sacatar, an oceanside historic estate where creative individuals working in all disciplines may apply for eight-week residency fellowships. These residency fellowships provide unstructured time and space for selected Fellows to develop new work in the vibrant context of Bahia, Brazil. Selected through a competitive process open to all, each Sacatar Fellow receives airfare, studio, room and board, as well as logistical support during his/her stay.” Application due July 31