Kiese Laymon Judges 2019 New Ohio Review Nonfiction Contest

April 12, 2019 § 1 Comment

mississippi-body2By 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 FairOxford 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.
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Madison Foltz is the New Ohio Review intern and David Wanczyk is editor of New Ohio Review.

On Polyester Maternity Dresses Posing as Essay Collections

October 18, 2018 § 4 Comments

dewittIt is easy to hate Amazon, but they do sell a lot of books for us, don’t they?

Well maybe not. DeWitt Henry,  founding editor of Ploughshares literary magazine, waited expectantly for his latest book to show up on the popular, monopolistic bookseller’s pages only to surf through two nights ago to encounter a rather peculiar surprise. He writes about it here:

For weeks I’ve been anticipating my launch on Amazon for SWEET MARJORAM: NOTES AND ESSAYS.  The release date was 10-15, and I kept checking obsessively, but only found my earlier title, SWEET DREAMS.  The night of 10-16, I typed in the product search, and there it was at last!

I called my wife away from CNN: “Hey, look at this!”

But when we clicked for the order page what came up was a large pic of the cover alongside ordering information for “Keaac Womens Chiffon Print Sleeveless Irregular Hem A Line Top Dress,” a maternity dress from China, available in “Small=China X-Large: Length:25.59″ (65cm), Bust:42.52″ (108cm); Medium=China 2X-Large: Length:25.98″ (66cm), Bust:44.09″ (112cm);” and other sizes that seemed nothing like the essay collection I have worked on for years.

Meanwhile the “real” book is available from www.MadHat-Press.com and I hope happy readers will spread the word and even leave reviews on Amazon.

The William Bradley Prize for the Essay

January 8, 2018 § 2 Comments

wmb

The first annual William Bradley Prize for the Essay competition ends on March 15, 2018

The William Bradley Prize for The Essay is dedicated to the memory of essayist and scholar, William Bradley and intended to honor his legacy and his commitment to the essay form–its literary history, dynamic present, and promising future. In addition to being a nonfiction scholar, William wrote essays about academic life, pop culture, family, and illness; and with particular heart and grace about his own long-term battles with cancer.

William wrote of his battle with cancer and the love he had for his wife Emily in December 2016 here on the Brevity blog, and authored the flash essay “Julio at Large,” a beautiful mediation on freedom and “shitty coal mining towns,” for Brevity magazine in 2010.

He was a passionate advocate for social justice, a caring friend to many writers, and supporter of disenfranchised populations.

The Normal School: a Literary Magazine, for which William was a regular contributor over the years, is proud to publish the winning essay each year in their fall issue.

Please limit your submission to 6,000 words or less, and submissions should be previously unpublished in print or online. Double space your essay and use a 12 pt. text font and 1-1.25 inch margins.

The William Bradley Prize is generously supported financially by an anonymous group of writers known as The Maiden Aunts of Literature.

The entry fee is $5 and the Winning Essay will receive a $250 honorarium. All proceeds from the contest will go to support the William Bradley Reading Series at Heidelberg University, founded by William’s wife and collaborator, Emily Isaacson. Emily has graciously agreed to serve as the Inaugural Judge of the 2018 Prize.

Submissions accepted here.

Gretel Ehrlich to Judge River Teeth Book Prize

July 12, 2017 § 1 Comment

7877The fine folks at River Teeth have just announced that acclaimed nonfiction writer Gretel Ehrlich will judge our 2017 book contest.

Gretel Ehrlich’s books have been translated into six different languages. Among her many publications are the essay collections The Solace of Open Spaces (1985) and Islands, the Universe, Home (1991), her memoir, A Match to the Heart (1994), and several books based on her travels. Her awards include: National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities grant, a Whiting Foundation Award, and many others.

The contest winner will receive $1,000 and have his or her manuscript published by The University of New Mexico Press.

Submissions will be accepted until October 15, 2017. All contestants will receive a one-year subscription to River Teeth. For more information on entering please see Contest Guidelines.

The Essay: Brave, Engaged, Inventive

April 21, 2017 § 2 Comments

ned-stuckey-french1-230x345Redivider, the journal of new art and literature out of Emerson College, is  accepting submissions for the 2017 Beacon Street Prize through the end of April. Redivider’s nonfiction editor, Paul Haney, recently interviewed this year’s nonfiction judge, Ned Stuckey-French, also known as “the most interesting man in the world, when it comes to discussing the essay.”

Stuckey-French touches on Montaigne, Bacon, Adorno, the lyric essay, Eula Biss, the 1980s essay renaissance, and his time spent living “a kind of double life as a janitor and undercover trade union organizer.”

Here’s an excerpt from the interview, but the smart thing to do would be to follow the link to read the whole thing:

Reading essays is kind of like going out to dinner in Manhattan or some other big city. There’s always a great family restaurant that introduces you to new décor and food and presentation and wine and service. In judging this contest I’m hoping for an unexpected dining experience.

I also like to think that my tastes are broad, democratic, and always expanding (though I’ve never been a big fan of anchovies). I like essays that use humor and research. I like essays that make me say, “Wow, I’ve felt that or sensed that, but never heard it put into words.” I like essays that are brave and engaged, essays that tackle big issues though they may go after those issues via a small, quiet, and personal opening. I like essays that are formally inventive but that don’t indulge in form for form’s sake, but use form instead to reveal something about a subject in such a way that when you’ve finished reading the essay, you think, “Of course, that’s the way to say that.” I like essays that are skeptical and unafraid of the contradictions of life. I like essays that recognize that history is sly and we don’t have the universe all figured out even as they try to figure things out. I like essays that describe the beauty of our world – be that beauty wild, natural and inhuman, or urban, constructed, and social.

Here’s the link to the full interview.

Under the Gum Tree Annual CNF Contest to be Judged by Kwame Dawes

April 7, 2017 § Leave a comment

From the folks at Under the Gum Tree:

kwame-dawesUnder 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.

New Ohio Review Seeks Lopatian Essays for Annual Contest, While Wondering What That Means . . .

March 9, 2017 § Leave a comment

mr lopate

Sir Lopate

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

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