April 12, 2019 § 1 Comment
By Madison Foltz and David Wanczyk,
We are thrilled to have award-winning memoirist Kiese Laymon as the judge of our 2019 New Ohio Review nonfiction contest. The deadline is April 15. The winner will receive $1000, and this year we are happy to announce that two dozen honorable mention pieces—spread across poetry, fiction, and nonfiction—will be published either in our print magazine or online at newohioreview.org. All entrants receive a one-year subscription.
In his frank, powerful new memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir, Laymon writes about his American experience, about pains both physical and cultural. And as the memoir’s title implies, much of the book deals with Laymon’s struggles with body image.
Martha Anne Toll writes in her review of Heavy for NPR, “Laymon intersperses stories of friends and girlfriends and teachers and books with a narrative about food—both its attraction and revulsion. His body is a character in this memoir, the body of a black man, objectified by the culture, threatened and threatening because of America’s long, ugly history of racial oppression.”
Laymon explores his childhood in Jackson, Mississippi, which was filled with violence, familial betrayal, and beatings, alongside his later expulsion from Millsaps College, a gambling addiction, his eventual graduation from Oberlin, and his battle against racism. Throughout his story, he also links his own writing and struggles to those of authors like Toni Cade Bambara and Richard Wright. Like their work, Heavy is intense, powerful, important. And it’s difficult to read at times. It’s not only the story of a black male body trying to find its place in America, but also the story of all the reasons why that place may never be found. Laymon, with a pulsing, melancholic, hurt-but-indomitable voice, highlights how personal demons and toxic behavior can form a maelstrom within us that can keep us from thriving. “The nation as it is currently constituted,” he writes, “has never dealt with a yesterday or tomorrow where we were radically honest, generous, and tender with each other.”
We are excited to work with Laymon because he is offering that kind of artistic reckoning.
A professor of creative writing and English at the University of Mississippi, Kiese Laymon has authored a full-length novel, Long Division, and a collection of essays titled How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. His reviews, essays, and stories have appeared in publications such as Vanity Fair, Oxford American, and LitHub, among others. His writing is characterized by razor-sharp observation and reverberant-colloquial eloquence that also exposes his deepest vulnerabilities. And Heavy is an example that pulls no punches.
Please submit your pulls-no-punches essay. Your radically honest memoir. Your generous, tender-funny hybrid form. Your unignorable short-short. Laymon, we think it’s fair to say, has been through plenty. We know he will be excited to see your story.
Madison Foltz is the New Ohio Review intern and David Wanczyk is editor of New Ohio Review.
April 7, 2017 § Leave a comment
From the folks at Under the Gum Tree:
Under the Gum Tree invites you to submit today to our annual creative nonfiction contest, judged by Kwame Dawes. Dawes is the author of dozens of books of poetry, essays, fiction, and criticism. His most recent nonfiction work is the essay collection he edited, When the Rewards Can Be So Great: Essays on Writing & the Writing Life, and his essays have appeared in numerous journals including Bomb Magazine, The London Review of Books, Granta, Essence, World Literature Today, and Double Take Magazine. He is Editor of Prairie Schooner and teaches at the University of Nebraska and the Pacific MFA Program. He is Director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival.
Contest submissions should respond to the theme of (dis)empowered (see full theme description at underthegumtree.com). Contest submissions are accepted March 30-June 30, 2017. Contest entries must be previously unpublished, submitted blind, and not exceed 5,000 words.
Winner and any honorable mention(s) will be announced in Fall 2017. One winner will receive a $500 cash prize, publication in our January 2018 issue, and a one-year subscription in 2018 to keep or gift. The winner also receives the option to guest-edit a section of a future issue of Under the Gum Tree; in this way, we desire to push the limits of our aesthetic and include more and more voices. Honorable mention(s) will be published and receive a one-year subscription to keep or gift, plus a mystery box of inspirational CNF goodies including books and UTGT schwag.
March 9, 2017 § Leave a comment
A guest post from New Ohio Review editor David Wanczyk:
Last year, I wrote a post for Brevity about what I seek in Creative Nonfiction as the editor of New Ohio Review. It was 605 words, but it could have been three: Intensity, Ambivalence, Nostalgia.
Essentially, is there a conflict in the essay/memoir? Is there hard thinking and debate with oneself? And are there detail-rich descriptions that enliven a scene (potentially from 1986)?
I thought I’d been somewhat clever, laying out a writing schema that was not quite as general as a daily horoscope or as specific as an Ikea manual.
But it turns out that these three key concepts were only the product of cleverness inasmuch as they were basically cribbed from Phillip Lopate, one of my favorite writers, and New Ohio Review‘s 2017 Nonfiction Contest judge.
On intensity/conflict, he writes, “I was always waiting for life to become tragic, so that I would merely have to record it to become a powerful, universal writer,” and in that recognition of a desire for dramatic struggle, which he plays as partially naive, he reveals that it isn’t necessarily conflict that makes a good piece of nonfiction.
On ambivalence, he writes, “Personal essayists converse with the reader because they are already having dialogues and disputes with themselves,” and there he teaches me that self-debate helps us communicate; but at the same time, Lopate writes with absolute directness, refusing to dwell in any muddle. He’s not speaking from a place of ambivalence for the sake of it; the thing he’s chewing on is what’s important, not necessarily the mode of chewing.
On nostalgia, he writes, “One has to guard against the tendency to think of one’s youth as a time when the conversations were brighter, the friends truer, and the movies better.” With this, he would seem to pooh-pooh my suggestion that essayists should infuse their work with a sense of wonder about the past, and yet he consistently writes, in a lovely way, as though he were a documentary filmmaker of his own memory, even admitting that he occasionally felt like a cameraman when he was young: “I wanted life to have the economy and double meaning of art,” he admits. “But more often I simply felt torn by a harsh, banal pain that had no cinematic equivalent.”
Lopate’s work—searching, funny, and sometimes uncomfortable—stays in that space between artistry and banality, and because of that, we feel like we’re with a friend on his smartest day, a friend who, like us, doesn’t quite fit in.
“I believe in the aesthetically impure as an accurate reflection of reality,” he wrote in his book Getting Personal, and, as I look back at Lopate’s work I’m happy to go along with that idea, too. For this year.
Intensity, Ambivalence, and Nostalgia? Eh, maybe.
But for all you Scorpios and Tauri out there in the Brevity community, maybe we should shoot for an impure reflection of something true, first and foremost?
If this sounds intriguing, please send New Ohio Review and Phillip Lopate your brightest impurities, your canniest reflections, your things-that-don’t-fit.
Deadline: April 15th
Prize: $1000 and publication in NOR 22.
All submissions will be considered even if they don’t win, and the entry fee—$20—gets you a one-year subscription to the magazine. We’ve also got fiction and poetry contests, and we’re at https://newohioreview.submittable.com/submit
October 21, 2016 § Leave a comment
A prize of $1,008.15 and publication in Quarter After Eight is given annually for a prose poem, a short short story, or a micro-essay. Ander Monson will judge. Submit up to three pieces of no more than 500 words each with a $15 entry fee, which includes a subscription to Quarter After Eight, by November 15. All entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines.
Deadline: November 15, 2016
Entry Fee: $15
E-mail address: email@example.com
Quarter After Eight, Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest, Ohio University, 360 Ellis Hall, Athens, OH 45701.
May 3, 2016 § 1 Comment
From the good folks at Under the Gum Tree:
Under the Gum Tree invites you to submit today to our first creative nonfiction contest, judged by Brenda Miller! We are so pleased to have Brenda as our inaugural judge for many reasons, and especially because she is a past contributor to Under the Gum Tree. Brenda’s work has received six Pushcart Prizes. Her essays have been published in many journals, including Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction, The Sun, Brevity, The Georgia Review, and The Missouri Review. Visit Brenda online at brendamillerwriter.com.
Contest submissions should respond to the theme of (un)seen/(un)heard (see full theme description at underthegumtree.com). Contest submissions are accepted March 30-June 30, 2016. Contest entries must be previously unpublished, submitted blind, and not exceed 5,000 words. One winner will receive a modest $300 cash prize (and more, if submission fees permit!), publication in our January 2017 issue, and a one-year subscription to keep or gift.
The winner also receives the option to guest-edit the features section of a future issue of Under the Gum Tree; in this way, we desire to push the limits of our aesthetic and include more and more voices. Honorable mention(s) will be published and receive a one-year subscription to keep or gift, plus a mystery box of inspirational CNF goodies including books and UTGT schwag. We also hope to publish many finalists and other contest entries, so submit today!
Submissions are accepted via Submittable through underthegumtree.com. Multiple submissions are welcome, though only one manuscript is allowed per submission. Current Under the Gum Tree subscribers submit for free! General submissions bear a $20 reading fee and include a one-year digital subscription to the magazine; a year of the print edition is available for an additional fee. Under the Gum Tree subscribes to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics and provides complete and transparent contest guidelines and process overview at underthegumtree.com.
March 26, 2016 § 4 Comments
Brevity is excited to announce a contest for writing students in tandem with our special issue focused on experiences of race, racialization, and racism. We are looking for flash essays (750 words or fewer) that explore the lived experience of race, racialization, and racism, show the reader a new way to look at the familiar, or give voice to under-represented experiences. (Full guidelines and instructions for submitting outside of this student contest can be found here.)
For this first-ever student writing contest, we ask that writing program directors encourage students enrolled in their creative writing program to address our special issue theme and we invite each program to choose the best work (or two best entries if you have both undergraduate and graduate students) from among those submitted. The one or two finalists should be forwarded by the program director directly to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 15, 2016.
The winner, who will receive $200 and publication in Brevity, will be announced in September 2016.
Special Projects Editor
March 15, 2016 § 1 Comment
From the good folks at New Ohio Review:
We’re excited to read your inventive, explosive, irreverent, erudite, impish, expletive-laced (well, maybe not) essays and literary memoirs.
This year’s judge is Elena Passarello. The winner will receive $1000, and the essay will be published in September. Essays that aren’t selected will still be considered for publication.
The contest continues until April 15th, and you get a 1-year subscription to the journal as part of your $20 entry fee. Please check us out on submittable at https://newohioreview.submittable.com/submit .
Elena Passarello teaches courses on writing and reading the nonfiction essay. Her own essays discussing pop culture, music, the performing arts, and the natural world have appeared in Oxford American, Slate, Creative Nonfiction, Normal School, Ninth Letter, Iowa Review, and the music writing anthology Pop When the World Falls Apart (Duke University Press, 2012).
Her book Let Me Clear My Throat (Sarabande, 2012) won the gold IPPY medal for nonfiction and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. More essays are forthcoming in the anthologies After Montaigne (U. of Georgia Press, 2015) and I’ll Tell You Mine: 30 Years of Nonfiction from the University of Iowa (U. of Chicago Press, 2015), as well as in a collection of criticism and literary essays on cat videos, Cat is Art Spelled Wrong (Walker Art Center/ Coffeehouse Press, 2015).
A recipient of fellowships from Oregon State University’s Center for the Humanities, the MacDowell Colony, the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts, and the University of Iowa Museum of Art, she is currently developing her second book, a bestiary of celebrity animals.
November 17, 2015 § 2 Comments
From the editors at Redivider:
On November 15, Redivider opened submissions for our first annual Redivider Blurred Genre Contest: Flash Fiction, Flash Nonfiction, and Prose Poetry, and we couldn’t be more excited. Submissions are $6 each, $11 for two, $15 for three, and the $15 submission includes a complimentary, one-year digital subscription to our magazine. Each piece, no matter the genre, must come in at 750 words or fewer, and submissions close on December 31. Entrants may submit as many times as they’d like, to as many categories as they’d like. One winner from each of the three categories will win $250.
We have wonderful cast of judges, including Pamela Painter for flash fiction. Author of three story collections and winner of numerous awards, Pamela often works and teaches classes in “very short stories.” About her latest book, Wouldn’t You Like to Know, Alice Hoffman writes, “Pamela Painter has perfected the short short.”
Jerald Walker will judge flash nonfiction. A widely published and anthologized essayist, Jerald won the 2011 PEN New England Nonfiction Award for Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption.
John Skoyles, Ploughshares poetry editor and author of seven books, will field entries for prose poetry. He knows the turf, too, as his collection of prose hybrids, The Nut File, is forthcoming from Quale Press.
The purpose of this contest is to explore, nurture, and celebrate the porous genre boundaries within and between flash prose and prose poetry. These hybrid genres seem to present as many similarities as they do differences. While fiction and nonfiction are often difficult to tell apart–both leaning on reality and imagination–their flash forms also demand attention to the immediacy and lyricism so often found in poetry. Meanwhile, poetry distills reality, imagination, immediacy, lyricism, and more, but written as prose, it sidesteps many of its own formal distinctions. Still, the only definitive similarity between these three genres resides in their form: the phrase, the clause, the sentence, the paragraph. Beyond that, things get slippery.
Subverting expectations. Transgressing boundaries. Challenging norms. Works of flash prose and prose poetry flout conventions of length, line breaks, and genre. Some minimize and some undermine. Some climax and some abscond. Some ache and some reveal. Relying on the tension and elasticity of language to hold their parts together, they de-privilege the ponderous ruminations and rigid strictures of the leisure class; they start late and finish early; they force their readers to ask, what is this?
To approach an answer to what this is, let’s ask around:
Brevity editor Dinty W. Moore, in his introduction to The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction, is reticent to pin down the flash nonfiction genre. Strictly defining art forms, he writes, “is ultimately a fruitless exercise,” so he resorts to metaphor. There’s a fire in forest, Moore says, and if the traditional essayist wanders toward it from the edge of the woods, the flash writer parachutes in and “starts the reader right at that spot, at the edge of the fire, or as close as one can get without touching the actual flame.”
So flash nonfiction burns, glows, radiates heat. Do the others?
Writing about flash fiction, Redivider contributor and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler articulates a similar burning core. In “A Short Short Theory,” appearing in Rose Metal Press’ fiction counterpart to their nonfiction guide, Butler writes, “To be brief, it is a short short story and not a prose poem because it has at its center a character who yearns.” To Butler, a character’s yearning can drive the genre distinction.
But what about prose poetry? Should we expect it to burn, to yearn?
At poets.org, our friends at the Academy of American Poets opt for simplicity in their terms. “Though the name of the form may appear to be a contradiction,” they write, “the prose poem essentially appears as prose, but reads like poetry.” So a prose poem is simply a poem in prose’s clothing, characterized by “techniques common to poetry, such as fragmentation, compression, repetition, and rhyme.” There seems here no exclusion of characters yearning or parachutes for that matter, just as neither Moore nor Butler dismiss poetic technique in the prose of their home genres.
So how can we tell what a brief, short, flashy, poetic piece of prose is?
What if a piece simply is what it says it is? What if the only true distinction between flash fiction, flash nonfiction, and prose poetry is that the pieces refer to themselves as such things? But then, each stems from its parent genre, even though flash nonfiction is as far from an essay as the spark from the fire; flash fiction from the short story as the tree from the forest; prose poetry from traditional poetry as the fire jumper from her family. These forms flicker and overlap, leaving a flash in our vision, a crackle in our ears, a whiff of toasted tree sap in the air.
But wait!, you say. We-who-read-literature inherently know the difference between poetry and prose, between fiction and non. Or do we? Can we? Should we? These are the questions we at Redivider, through our Blurred Genre Contest, seek not to answer, but to explore.
We look forward to reading your work, and to nurturing these slippery and subversive literary genres for years to come.
For questions or comments, email us at email@example.com.
Good luck, and happy writing!
September 28, 2015 § 1 Comment
Judges include Essay Press authors Dan Beachy-Quick, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Amaranth Borsuk, Julie Carr, Mina Pam Dick, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Joe Harrington, Lily Hoang, Krystal Languell, David Lazar, Shane McCrae and Jessica Smith.
Each of these 12 judges will select one digital chapbook for 2016 publication. Each judge will write an introduction to his/her selected work. Essay Press will then release a new winning chapbook each month in 2016.
The Press particularly welcomes “manuscripts that extend or challenge the formal possibilities of prose, including but not limited to: lyric essays and prose poems or poetics; experimental biography and autobiography; innovative approaches to journalism, experimental historiography, criticism, scholarship and philosophy. Simultaneous submissions, multiple submissions, collaborative manuscripts, digital and hybridized text/art manuscripts are all encouraged.”
The ideal manuscript will run roughly 30 to 50 pages, though no manuscript will be denied consideration on account of being too short or too long. The reading fee is $8.
For guidelines, visit essaypress.org.