Tuesday, April 22, 2014

For the Love of Translations

I've had the pleasure of attending many literary events here in Berlin over the past couple of months, while meeting many wonderful people involved in the city's English-language literary community. For readers who love to read translations from other countries, here are two noteworthy publishers you should know about -- one a literary journal and one a press specializing in short-form translations.

Asymptote

Asymptote Senior Editor Florian Duijsens
and author Thomas Pletzinger
Launched in January 2011, Asymptote's April 2014 issue features English-language translations of: poems by Elke Erb, Yousef el Qedra, and Kim Ki-Taek; fiction by Antonio Ungar, Prabda Yoon, and Marianne Fritz; an non-fiction by Herta Müller, Jonathan Littell. Each issue includes special features such as interviews.

On 3 April 2014, here in Berlin, the online journal Asymptote celebrated its 3rd anniversary -- following similar celebrations in Boston, Zagreb, Philadelphia, and Shanghai. The Berlin event featured readings from contributors Shane Anderson, Katy Derbyshire, Eugene Ostashevsky, Thomas Pletzinger, and Brittani Sonnenberg, along with Q&A discussions of the difficulties and rewards of translation.

One of my favorite quotes of the night was from Thomas Pletzinger, whose novel, Bestattung eines Hundes, was translated into English by Ross Benjamin and published as Funeral for a Dog by W.W. Norton in 2011. Pletzinger, who himself works as a translator of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, said "The great thing about translation is that you get to write a book, but you don't have to go through the whole painful process of invention."

Readux Books

Launched in 2013, Readux Books publishes short works of literature, 32-64 pages in length, with a primary focus on texts translated into English. The press aims to release four books three times each year. So far, two series have been published -- the first in October 2013 and the second in February 2014.

Felicity Hoppe and Katy Derbyshire
The Series 2 launch event in Berlin featured readings and discussions with Philipp Schonthaler -- whose work, When the Heart Drowns in Its Own Blood, was translated by Readux founder Amanda DeMarco -- and Felicity Hoppe -- whose work, Picnic of the Virtues, was translated by Katy Derbyshire. A surprise treat of the evening was hearing Hoppe read from her German translation of Green Eggs and Ham -- Grünes Ei mit Speck. Other books published in Series 2 are The Lesson, by Cilla Nauman, translated by Saskia Vogel, and Flight, by Adrian Todd Zuniga.

Readux Books has recently partnered with Edit -- a literary magazine from Leipzig, which features new German writing -- to sponsor New German Fiction, a contest for young writers. Two winning entries by 30-and-under German writers will be published -- in English by Readux Books, and in German by Edit. The deadline for entries to the New German Fiction contest is 31 May 2014.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Online Poetry Workshop I - begins on May 5th!

I know many of you are writing a poem-a-day as part of National Poetry Month. When that's over, keep your muse productive throughout the month of May with the online poetry workshop I will be leading through The Writer's Center!

Online Poetry Workshop I

Days: 4 Mondays
Dates: 5/5/2014 - 5/26/2014
Location: Online
Level: All Levels
Genre(s): Poetry

Don’t just sit around waiting for the muse. For four weeks, this workshop will provide inspiration for generating new poems. Lessons will be posted weekly, featuring example poems and links to additional reading. Participants will share and comment on each other’s work and will receive individual feedback from the workshop leader.

For more information, or to register, click here!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ugly Duckling Presse -- LESUNG & GESPRÄCH -- in Berlin

On March 24, I had the pleasure of attending a reading at Literaturwerkstatt Berlin featuring Ugly Duckling Presse authors RobertFitterman and Eugene Ostashevsky.

More than 50 people packed the space at Literaturwerkstatt Berlin in Berlin’s Kulturbrauerei – a former brewery that is now a cultural center. The event was conducted primarily in the German language, with German translations of each poem read following the English version. Headsets with simultaneous translations into English were provided for attendees who did not speak German.

Fitterman read from his book-length poem No, Wait. Yep. Definitely Still Hate Myself, which “curates” phrases and text collected from social media posts and blogs, including lines such as:

now I’m lonely like a flute

and

loneliness is a God-shaped void
Ostashevsky and Seel

Ostashevsky read selections from his collection The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza, followed by selections from his chapbook The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of PI, Part I. Ostashevsky is in Berlin as a guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program, and is working on a full-length collection of poems based on the Pirate and his parrot.

Following the readings by Fitterman and Ostashevsky, Berlin author Daniela Seel moderated a lively Q&A session with the poets, focusing on the idea of “conceptual” or “avant-garde” poetry.  Posed the question as to which term they identified with, Fitterman embraced the term “avant-garde” for himself, while Ostashevsky noted he prefers to think of himself “as a poet who likes to play with language and who likes puns.”

Addressing the subject of plagiarism, Ostashevsky noted “Plagiarism wasn’t a big issue with the old avant-garde. Now, we have a lot of copyright issues.” Fitterman said “I try very hard to get arrested, but no one cares about poetry,” adding “the open source culture is free…that interests me.” In speaking about his book-length poem as more than just a collection of other people’s writing, Fitterman says “Everything I know as a poet…informs my choices. For me, [the poem] happens in the composing.” Ostashevsky said of Fitterman’s book “Your work contains all the lyrical poetry elements, it just deals with them in a different way.”

Seel then asked the authors about their experiences with Ugly Duckling Presse and Ostashevsky responded that “Ugly Duckling and other small presses like them are a gesture of economic selflessness.” Ostashevsky said that he appreciated the ability to work with the press to make the book look the way he wanted it to look, that he had a say in the production of it, as opposed to some of the more academic presses where the books have an identical look to them.

Speaking as someone who knows other Ugly Duckling Presse authors (Maureen Thorson and John Surowiecki), I was very pleased to see how active UDP is in Berlin. They exhibited their books at the Miss Read art book fair held in September 2013, and the press’s books are sold at St. George’sEnglish Bookshop in the city’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Contests for Already Published (Poetry) Books - Updated

Because this list still gets a lot of page views, I'm updating it with new links and new awards. If anyone knows of additional contests for already published books (or galleys), please post a comment and I will add to the list.

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Recent additions:  PEN New England Awards, PEN Center Book Awards, Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize, Housatonic Book Awards, Debut-litzer Prizes, and the UNT Rilke Prize

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BOOK AWARDS FOR POETRY BOOKS

Note: advice of most of these contests is to submit book as soon as possible during submission period.

ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards – poetry category
sponsor: ForeWord Magazine
cost to enter: $60, plus 2 copies of book
prize: publicity of being first, second or third place in category. Money only awarded to one best “fiction” and one best “non-fiction”
submission/entry by: publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: not specified
deadline: January 15
http://www.forewordmagazine.com/awards/

Levis Reading Prize (1st or 2nd book of poetry)
sponsor: Virginia Commonwealth University, Dept. of English
cost to enter: 1 copy of the book
prize: $1000 & expenses paid to give reading at VCU in Richmond
submission/entry by: author or publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: no vanity presses
deadline: January 15
http://www.has.vcu.edu/eng/resources/levis_prize/levis_prize.htm

The Eric Hoffer Award for Independent Books (includes poetry)
sponsor: The Eric Hoffer Project
cost to enter:  $50.00
grand prize for independent books: $1,500; other awards & distinctions given as well, including the da Vinci eye award
submission/entry by: publisher, author or others
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: January 21
http://www.hofferaward.com/

The Balcones Poetry Prize
sponsor: Austin Community College
cost to enter: 3 copies of book plus $20 nomination fee
prize: $1,000
submission/entry by: publisher, author or others
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: January 31
http://acccreativewriting.com/category/balcones_poetry_prize/

Paterson Poetry Prize
sponsor: The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College
cost to enter: 3 copies of book
prize: $1,000
submission/entry by: publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: minimum press run of 500 copies
deadline: February 1
http://www.pccc.cc.nj.us/poetry/Prize/2005/2006_Paterson_Poetry_P.html

Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry
sponsor: Southern Illinois Univ. Carbondale & GRASSROOTS
cost to enter: $15.00 plus one copy of book
prize: $1,000 & reading at Devil’s Kitchen Fall Literary Festival
submission/entry by: publisher or author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: no vanity press or self-published books
deadline: February 1
http://grassroots.siu.edu/dkawards.html

Library of Virginia Literary Awards (VA writer)
sponsor: Library of Virginia
cost to enter: 4 copies of the book
prize: $1,000
submission/entry by: publisher or author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: February 5
http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/litawards/index.htm

Milton Kessler Poetry Book Award (book in previous calendar year)
sponsor: Binghamton University
cost to enter: 3 copies, plus entry form
prize: $1,000
submission/entry by: publisher or author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: minimum press run of 500 copies
deadline: March 1
http://www2.binghamton.edu/english/creative-writing/binghamton-center-for-writers/binghamton-book-awards/kessler-poetry-awards.html

Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY)
sponsor: Jenkins Group Publishing Services
cost to enter: $75/title/category (early entry), plus a copy of the book
prize: Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals in each of 72 categories
submission/entry by: author or publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: March 15
http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipland/ipawards.php

Grub Street Book Prize (for a 2nd, 3rd or beyond book)
sponsor: Grub Street, Inc.
cost to enter: copy of book, CV, synopsis of proposed craft class, $10 fee
prize: $1000, reading/book party in Boston, all-expenses paid trip to Muse and the Marketplace conference to lead a craft class for Grub Street members.
submission/entry by: author or press
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: March 15
http://www.grubstreet.org/index.php?id=24#bookprize

Debut-litzer Prizes (for a first work of fiction or poetry)
sponsor: Late-Night Library
cost to enter: 2 copies of book plus $25 application fee
prize: $1000 plus featured appearance on Late Night Conversation; winning books will be discussed on Late Night Debut.
submission/entry by: author, agent, publicist, or publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: published in North America in English
deadline: April 30

Brockman-Campbell Book Award (poetry book by NC-born or NC-resident poet)
sponsor: North Carolina Poetry Society
cost to enter: 1 copy of book, bio, $10 for non-members, free for members
prize: $200 plus invitation to read at fall meeting of NCPS
submission/entry by: author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: May 1
http://www.ncpoetrysociety.org/bcaward/

James Laughlin Award (2nd book)
sponsor: Academy of American Poets
cost to enter: 4 copies of the manuscript
prize: $5,000
submission/entry by: publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: published by a press with at least 4 previous books of poetry
deadline: May 15
http://www.poets.org

Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize
sponsor: American Academy of Poets
cost to enter: $25 & four copies
prize: $25,000
submission/entry by: author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: minimum press run of 500; self-published not eligible
deadline: January 1-May 15
http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/108

Oscar Arnold Young Contest for the Book (NC resident or former resident)
sponsor: Poetry Council of North Carolina
cost to enter: 2 copies of book plus $10 entry fee
prize: 1st Place: $100 plus trophy w/name engraved to keep for one year; 2nd Place: $50
submission/entry by: author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: May 22
http://poetrycouncilofnc.wordpress.com/

Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award (not only poetry books) (must reside in greater Kansas City area – Jackson, Cass, Clay, Lafayette and Platte counties in Missouri; or Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties in Kansas)
sponsors: American Association of University Women-Kansas City Branch and the Kansas City Public Library
cost to enter: 2 copies of book
prize: $500 check, certificate of recognition, and listing on the library’s website
submission/entry by: anyone
POD or self-publishing restrictions: No text books, guide books, or how-to manuals. Previous winners not eligible.
deadline: June 1

National Book Award
sponsor: National Book Foundation
cost to enter: $100
prize: $10,000 top prize for poetry book; $1000 to each finalist
submission/entry by: publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: self-published is okay only if the "author/publisher also publishes titles by other authors"
deadline: June 14
http://www.nationalbook.org

Pulitzer Prize
sponsor: Pulitzer
cost to enter: $50.00
prize: $10,000
submission/entry by: author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadlines: June 14 (for books pub’d 1/1-6/15); Oct 15 (for books pub’d 6/15-12/31)
http://www.pulitzer.org

Housatonic Book Awards (for five categories, including poetry)
sponsor: Western Connecticut State University MFA program, in conjunction with the MFA Alumni Writers’ Cooperative
cost to enter: $25 plus a copy of the book and a completed entry form
prize: $1,000 for appearance at MFA residency in January, plus $500 travel stipend and hotel stay
submission/entry by: publisher, author, agent, or legal representative of author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: June 15

Towson University Prize for Literature (for book by Maryland authors)
sponsor: Towson University
cost to enter: copy of the book
prize: $1,000
submission/entry by: author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: no self-published books
deadline: June 30 (submit nomination during June)
http://www.towson.edu/english/7.1%20Towson%20Prize%20for%20Literature/index.asp

Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award (1st books)
sponsor: Great Lakes Colleges Association
cost to enter: four copies of the book
prize: All expenses paid trips to several of the GLCA colleges, each of which pays an honorarium of $500
submission/entry by: publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: no self-published
deadline: July 25
http://www.glca.org

PEN New England Awards (poetry is one of several categories for New England-based writers)
sponsor: PEN New England
cost to enter: n/a
prize: n/a
submission/entry by: publisher, author, agent, or publicist
POD or self-publishing restrictions: n/a
deadline: Guidelines will be posted in August/September 2014

Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize (for book of poems by an Upstate New York poet)
sponsor: Utica College
cost to enter: entry form, CV, plus two copies of the book
prize: $2000, reading at Utica College, meeting with students in master class
submission/entry by: publisher or author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: no self-published or vanity press
deadline: August 31

Kate Tufts Discovery Award (for a 1st book)
sponsor: Claremont Graduate University
cost to enter: 5 copies of the book
prize: $10,000
submission/entry by: author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: September 15
http://www.cgu.edu/tufts/

Kingsley Tufts Award
sponsor: Claremont Graduate University
cost to enter: 8 copies of the book
prize: $100,000 and 1-week residency at Claremont
submission/entry by: author, publisher, or agent/rep
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: September 15
http://www.cgu.edu/tufts/

Drake University Emerging Writer Award (1st books, 2013 is novels; check future for poetry)
sponsor: Drake University Writers & Critics Series
cost to enter: $15 plus a copy of the book, cover letter
prize: $1000 plus travel and lodging for a reading at the University
submission/entry by: author or publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: no vanity presses or self-published books
deadline: November 15
http://artsci.drake.edu/english/WritersandCritics
Send to: Drake University Emerging Writer Award,  c/o Nancy Reincke, Writers and Critics Series,  English Department, Howard Hall,  Drake University,  2507 University Ave,  Des Moines, IA 50311
email: nancy.reincke@drake.edu


UNT Rilke Prize (for a mid-career poet with at least two previous books of poetry)
sponsor: University of North Texas
cost to enter: two copies of book and completed entry form
prize: $10,000 plus travel expenses for trip to Texas to give readings at UNT and at The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture
submission/entry by: author or publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: no self-published books
deadline: November 30
 
Lambda Literary Awards (LBGT content relevance, not based on orientation of writer)
sponsor: Lambda Literary
cost to enter: $35 plus a copy of the book
prize: award and ceremony
submission/entry by: author or publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: December 1
http://www.lambdaliterary.org/awards/

National Book Critics Circle Award
sponsor: National Book Critics Circle
cost to enter: 1 copy of book to a board member, if they're interested, they will request one for each board member
prize: fabulous publicity, awards ceremony in NYC
submission/entry by: publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: no self-published
deadline: December 1
http://www.bookcritics.org

Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing
sponsor: Morehead State University
cost to enter: five copies of a book
prize: $1000
submission/entry by: publisher or author
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: December 1
http://www.moreheadstate.edu/content_template.aspx?id=4944

Pushcart Prize (for individual poems from published poetry collections)
sponsor: Pushcart Prize
cost to enter: none (up to six entries from a single publisher)
prize: publication in annual Pushcart Prize anthology
submission/entry by: publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: December 1
http://www.pushcartprize.com

Norma Farber First Book Award (for a first book)
sponsor: Poetry Society of America
cost to enter: $20
prize: $500
submission/entry by: publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: "standard edition"; no self-published
deadline: December 22
http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa/awards/annual/individual/

William Carlos Williams Award
sponsor: Poetry Society of America
cost to enter: $20
prize: purchase prize between $500-$1000
submission/entry by: publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: "standard edition"; no self-published
deadline: December 22
http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa/awards/annual/individual/

American Book Awards
sponsor: Before Columbus Foundation
cost to enter: two copies of the book
prize: 10 to 18 awards
submission/entry by: anyone
POD or self-publishing restrictions: none
deadline: December 31
http://www.beforecolumbusfoundation.com/

Griffin Poetry Prize
sponsor: Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry
cost to enter: four copies of a book
prize: $65,000 (Canadian); $63,250 (American)
submission/entry by: publisher
POD or self-publishing restrictions: no self-published
deadline: December 31
http://www.griffinpoetryprize.com

Julie Suk Prize for Best Poetry Book
sponsor: Jacar Press
cost to enter: two copies of book, plus $10 reading fee
prize: $500, and invitation to North Carolina for a reading and workshop
submission/entry by: anyone
POD or self-publishing restrictions: independent, non-major presses only
deadline: December 31
http://www.jacarpress.com/submit/

PEN Center Book Awards (poetry is one of several categories, writers west of the Mississippi River)
sponsor: PEN Center USA
cost to enter: 4 copies of book, plus $35 fee, plus application form
prize: $1000, one-year membership in PEN Center USA, invitation to annual Literary Awards Festival
submission/entry by: authors, publishers, agents, or publicists
POD or self-publishing restrictions: no POD or self-published books
deadline: December 31


Monday, March 10, 2014

Two weeks until "The Art of Revision" online workshop!

THE ART OF REVISION (an online poetry workshop)
4 Mondays, beginning 24 March 2014
Led by Bernadette Geyer, via The Writer's Center
All Levels
$195.00 (TWC members receive a discount)

Poets often have folders full of poem drafts they've abandoned because, while they believe the draft has promise, they can't seem to figure out how to move the draft in the right direction. In this workshop, we will explore ways to "rethink" stubborn drafts in order to breathe new life into them and ultimately -- as Samuel Taylor Coleridge said -- put "the best words in the best order." For more details, and to register, click here.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Wandertag - 6 March

Peter & I try to schedule a regular "Wandertag" for ourselves every couple of weeks. "Wandertag" is the word our daughter's school uses for field trip days. Literally translated, it means "wandering day". I love that term.

Today, we had the opportunity to check out part of the U-Bahn line being built right under Unter den Linden, the main street that passes through the heart of Berlin. If you come to Berlin anytime soon, you will see the massive construction project cluttering up Unter den Linden and pretty much causing a traffic nightmare for tour buses or taxis that have to pass through the area.

The U55 has a troubled financial history, dating back to the start of work on it in the 1990s when the German capital moved to Berlin from Bonn and many government buildings went up in the area of the Reichstag, where there was little public transportation. After many economic fits and starts construction of the short line was completed in 2009. There are only three stations open on the line so far: Brandenburger Tor, Bundestag, and Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Eventually, the line will be extended so that passengers can travel from the Berlin Hauptbahnhof straight through the heart of Berlin Mitte to Alexanderplatz, and vice versa, without having to transfer around so much.

As Peter & I were walking, we noticed the entrance to the Brandenburger Tor station and, having heard so much about how modern it is, we decided to go see what the newer ones look like. When you get down to the platform, everything still seems so shiny & new it's a little disconcerting. It even still has that "new train station smell" to it. Not a spot of graffiti or plastered sign in sight. This Wikipedia article notes groundwater problems that delayed the opening of the Brandenburger Tor station, and those problems seem to have continued as there are some patches of plaster with visible signs of water damage.

The line is expected to be completed by 2017.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

This Blog Post Probably Could Have Become an Article or Essay

I haven't been blogging much lately, but I have a very good reason: every topic I seem to think to blog about has been more suited to be written as an article or essay to pitch to a magazine.

I wrote on a similar subject a few years ago for the Los Angeles Review's blog.

Don't let your social media posts trump your true potential as a writer! If a thought occurs to you, don't just rush to Tweet it. Can it be developed into a poem? an essay? a short story? a novel? Don't waste your ideas on a fleeting, ephemeral status update.

Or, worse yet, don't give away that idea to someone who may take it to the necessary next step and leave you with nothing but 140-characters in the Twitter firehose.