The Writer’s Online Poetry Spotlight

OK, so I’m posting one more time before signing off for a few days. This just came in to my e-mailbox, and I wanted to spread the word.

“Poets are invited to submit a poem for The Writer‘s Online Poetry Spotlight. One poem per spotlight session will be selected for expert critique by several award-winning poets. Each session will be online for about one month. The critique will include suggestions as well as comments citing the poem’s strengths. Guest poets will address form, poetic devices, sound, sensory elements and style, and will offer purely constructive comments.”

You need not be a magazine subscriber to submit. Poets whose work is selected for critique will receive a one-year subscription to The Writer. The best Spotlight submission posted on the magazine’s Web site in 2006 will receive $100.

Submit one poem by March 1; the first poem and critiques will be posted in the “premium subscriber” forum area of the magazine’s Web site by April 1, 2006 (in time for National Poetry Month).

See the full announcement for more information and submission instructions.

Contest for North Carolina Poets–No Entry Fee

Attention, North Carolina poets! Information on the 2006 NC State Poetry Contest (sponsored by the NC State Creative Writing Program and the Brenda L. Smart Fund for Creative Writing) is now available.

The Brenda L. Smart Grand Prize for Poetry will award $500 and is open to all NC residents except tenured faculty in the UNC system, poets who have previously published a book, and previous winners. “Winner must be available to read the poem and receive the prize at the NC State Poetry Festival on Wednesday, March 29th.”

This year’s guest judge is Kathryn Stripling Byer, NC Poet Laureate.

Deadline for submission is March 1, 2006. There is no entry fee.

For more information, including submission instructions, click here.

February Newsletter Available

Our February newsletter went out to subscribers earlier this week. Archives are available only to subscribers, but the current issue has been republished here. Check it out (and remember subscriptions are absolutely free–subscribe at our web site).

By the way, I don’t know why the link to the CRWROPPS list below and within our links list is not working right now. I hope that will resolve soon.

Prizes for Student Writers

(This opportunity I learned about via CRWROPPS.)

Collision Literary Magazine, a publication of the University Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh, is accepting nonfiction, art, and photography for its next issue. “Send us your best personal essays and narratives, travel pieces, profiles, and poems. Or, send us your favorite art and photography.” The top three submissions will win cash awards: $150 (first prize); $100 (second prize); $50 (third prize). “All published writers will receive a copy of Collision’s Spring 2006 issue and an invitation to read at our April release party.”

There’s no submission fee. The only “major stipulation” is that writers must be current undergraduate or graduate students. Students need not be U.S. residents to submit.

For full information and submission instructions, click here.

Thumbs Up for Oprah

I don’t normally watch Oprah Winfrey’s television show. Nor do I usually tape it. In fact, I don’t even know how to set the VCR timer on the television I recently acquired. Though it’s a hand-me-down from its previous owners–my generous parents–it’s still much newer than my truly “old” television and includes ultra-modern “built-ins” for VHS cassettes and DVDs.

But knowing that James Frey would appear on yesterday’s show, I found a solution. I simply left the tape running while I was out. And last night, after I fast-forwarded through preliminary scenes from General Hospital (Oprah follows the soap on the ABC station here in Boston), I settled down to watch.

I didn’t take any comfort in Frey’s obvious suffering. But I was heartened and impressed by Oprah herself. It takes a lot of courage to apologize and to tell your critics that they are “absolutely right” (in this case, for criticizing her impassioned defense of Frey and his book during her now-famous call-in to the Larry King show). Which is what Oprah did.

And she did more. She explained exactly why she is “embarrassed” and upset, and she emphasized the responsibility of publishers (and authors) as they present nonfiction to the reading public. At the same time, she showed Frey compassion, acknowledging that she knew this wasn’t an easy time for him and saying she appreciated his presence on the show.

I also noted her comments about her next book club choice, Night. I’m glad she clarified the history of this choice–that it indeed preceded l’Affaire Frey. I’m one of those who had been a little skeptical about that, and I’m happy to learn that I was wrong. I agree with the commentator who noted the particular importance of yesterday’s show and its emphasis on the primacy of truth given the fact that Night is coming next.

There’s one (hopefully last) point I want to make. I’m not sure I’ve ever understood where people have come up with this idea (still floating around) that a memoir is by definition less “true” than, say, an autobiography.

Way back when I started learning about memoirs, I learned that what differentiated them was scope, not degree of veracity. A memoir examines a portion of a life, an aspect of a life. It doesn’t provide a birth-to-old age chronological account. But the account it provides is, theoretically at least, true to the best of the author’s recollection. It’s not “embellished” just to make the story “better,” meaning, of course “more marketable.”

I’m not entirely alone in my understanding of what defines a memoir. There’s a Brooklyn schoolteacher who’s telling her pupils the same thing: “a memoir is a piece of our personal history highlighting a real-life experience in a specific point in time.” So thumbs up for Mrs. Clarke, too.