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Current Issue


Supporting the Craft and Business of Excellent Writing
Volume 16, Number 3: April 2019
Editor: Erika Dreifus
Copyright (c) 2019 Erika Dreifus



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1. Editor’s Note: What’s New
2. Article/Lessons Learned
3. Featured Resource
4. Upcoming/Ongoing Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities (NO ENTRY OR APPLICATION FEES; CASH AWARDS)
5. Submission Alerts!!! (NO READING FEES; PAYING CALLS ONLY)
6. Blog Notes
7. Newsletter Matters

Greetings, Practicing Writers:

If you follow my Practicing Writing blog, you may have caught a big announcement that I shared there a few days ago:


I’m delighted to announce–at the outset of National Poetry Month, no less–that my debut poetry collection, BIRTHRIGHT, will be published by the Kelsay Books Aldrich Press imprint in the fall. (Exact date tbd: Right now, I can tell you that November looks to be the likely launch window.)

I’ll be telling you lots more about this in the months to come. For now, I’m just excited to share the news with you.

There’s a related announcement: Between the work that I’m going to be putting in for this book AND my return to the college teaching next semester (I’ll be teaching a brand-new course on 21st-century Jewish literature at Baruch College of The City University of New York), I’m unable to take on any additional freelance publicity work for 2019. I’ll be finishing up work for clients whose work I’ve already been telling you about (including the extraordinary poet you’ll be “meeting” in this issue’s feature article) and continuing with my newest client project, a fascinating biography/history publishing in August (more about that soon).


So that’s some of what I’m up to in my writing practice and other professional activities. I hope that you are finding similar engagement and fulfillment in yours.

All best,

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the past several months, I have had the distinct privilege of working with John Sibley Williams to help publicize his poetry collection AS ONE FIRE CONSUMES ANOTHER, which is being published April 2 by Orison Books as a winning manuscript in the Orison Poetry Prize competition. Impressively, John already has *another* manuscript forthcoming: SKIN MEMORY, which won The Backwaters Prize, will be published by University of Nebraska Press. It seemed to me that our April issue, coinciding with National Poetry Month, would be a propitious time for John to share some “lessons learned” with all of us.

A bit more about John: He is the author of two previous poetry collections: DISINHERITANCE and CONTROLLED HALLUCINATIONS. A *19-time* Pushcart nominee, he is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of THE INFLECTIONIST REVIEW and works as a literary agent. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and maintains an online home at http://JohnSibleyWilliams.com.

Please welcome John Sibley Williams!

On Publishing AS ONE FIRE CONSUMES ANOTHER: Lessons Learned

By John Sibley Williams

Of the many lessons I’ve learned in over two decades of writing and publishing poetry, perhaps the most essential (and hardest) is this: *a manuscript knows what it wants to be*. Every book breathes and has a life-force at least partially independent of the author. In other words, I’ve discovered that my own intentions for a manuscript matter less than the themes and flow that spring organically from it.

For example, I had not intended for my new collection AS ONE FIRE CONSUMES ANOTHER to focus so heavily on personal and collective guilt, privilege, and eventual agency. I had not intended self-interrogation. But when reading and revising these poems I noticed that thread. I listened to what the text was telling me and made it the spine from which all cultural, political, and historical explorations would branch.

Listening is key here. I listened to the text. I listened to my peers and to editorial critiques. Finally, I remembered to listen to myself.

Here are four lessons I learned from the process of preparing AS ONE FIRE CONSUMES ANOTHER (and the book that will follow it, SKIN MEMORY) for public eyes.

1. KILL YOUR DARLINGS. A poetry collection won’t be judged by its length but its connectivity and fluidity. Are there recurring themes and imagery? Does one poem lead into the next in a manner that makes for a smooth read? To accomplish this, a strong manuscript may not include all your strongest poems. In preparing FIRE, I ended up cutting over a dozen of my favorite pieces, many of which were published in major magazines. My initial version included these pieces because I was proud of them and wanted to present an impressive acknowledgments page. But after reading the manuscript a few times I realized that they interrupted the flow or felt inconsistent with the larger themes. So I “killed” them. I had to.

2. SAVE YOUR DARLINGS: Even if a poem has been rejected by countless magazines and remains unpublished, it still may enhance the manuscript. Use your gut. Does that poem still harness the power to move you? Does it add a layer of meaning or a new perspective to your themes? Then keep it. For FIRE, I saved three poems from the cutting pile because, regardless of the critiques they received from editors, I could not imagine the collection without them.

3. KEEP DIFFERENT VERSIONS: Here, my experience with SKIN MEMORY may be most instructive. I spent three years tearing through seven full revisions of this manuscript before finding one that resonated in the way I needed it to. Ultimately, I still found two versions that equally resonated. One version broke my free verse and prose poems into separate sections while the other intermixed them. The first flowed differently from section to section while the second felt wild and erratic. These varied structures made for wholly disparate reading experiences. Instead of choosing between them, I submitted both versions to different contests to test the waters. In the end, Kwame Dawes chose the wilder SKIN MEMORY for the Backwaters Prize. If I had stuck only with my original version, it might still be seeking a publisher.

4. BE FLEXIBLE WITH EDITORIAL SUGGESTIONS: Although it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “this is my work, not yours,” once a publisher accepts a manuscript it is in fact their work too. They believe in the book’s potential and are committed to its success. They will likely spend countless hours and substantial monies on editing, design, and marketing your work. So we should listen to their suggestions. Such critiques are not meant to jeopardize a book’s integrity, but rather to fully realize its vision. Although FIRE won Orison’s annual contest, editor Luke Hankins still provided an extensive list of editorial ideas, many of which strengthened my poems. He also suggested a whole new title for the book. Why? Because he recognized the recurring themes and images in my book better than I had.

That said, it’s equally important to know when to stand your ground. Given literature’s subjective nature, everyone can read a poem differently and some editorial suggestions may unintentionally lead the poem astray. If you feel strongly about your current version, reject the proposed change. Editors expect some back-and-forth and some flat rejections of their ideas. It’s collaboration, after all. And in the end both you and the editor should be proud of every single line in your book.

Here’s some advice that I found in one of Hope Clark’s newsletters many months ago and am delighted to see that she has re-posted on her website. I think that it offers a number of excellent ideas to help you be your own publicist, whether you have a new book coming or you are working on that “p”-word (platform) more generally.


Deadline: April 30, 2019

“Anyone interested in registering for a Chautauqua Writers’ Center scholarship should first visit writers.chq.org to learn more about the program, then select ‘2019 Workshops and Writers-in-Residence’ at the bottom of that page to learn more about specific offerings. Winners of this scholarship will participate in 2-3 weeks of Monday-Friday workshops, supported by free dormitory housing (shared with one roommate), a free 21-meal plan for the week, and a steep gate pass discount. Winners are obligated to pay the combined cost of workshop tuition and a discounted gate pass, totaling $430-$615 depending on length of stay. (The typical total cost of tuition and a gate pass would normally approach $1000 for youth through age 25, $2000 for visitors over age 25.) Considering the additional value of housing/dining on the grounds, this scholarship covers multiple thousands of dollars of costs. Applicants must be contemplating their first visit to Chautauqua Institution and be at least 19 years old at the time they hope to arrive on the grounds. There are nine weeks of workshops, and each week features a poetry workshop and a prose workshop.” (Thanks to http://twitter.com/AlexandriaML for the lead on this one.)
Deadline: April 15, 2019

“This scholarship is designed to encourage the LatinX voice in poetry and the literary arts, both at The Frost Place and in the broader literary community. The winner will receive a full fellowship to attend the Conference on Poetry at The Frost Place, July 6 – 12, 2019, including tuition, room, board, and travel. The LatinX Scholarship at The Frost Place will be selected by a small panel of readers who are committed to furthering the LatinX voice in poetry. The winning recipient will be selected solely based on the merit of his/her work, and responses to the application questions. The candidate’s selection will not be determined based on gender, immigration status, or any other biases. The ideal applicant would self-identify as LatinX, would have a strong commitment to the [email protected] community, and be a minimum of 21 years of age.”
Deadline: April 15, 2019

“The Frost Place, a nonprofit center for poetry and the arts at Robert Frost’s old homestead in Franconia, NH, invites submissions to the first annual Gregory Pardlo Scholarship for Emerging African American Poets. This scholarship, which is funded by an anonymous donor, was named to honor Gregory Pardlo, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and faculty at The Frost Place 2015 Poetry Seminar. The winner will receive a full scholarship to attend the Poetry Seminar (August 4-10, 2019) at The Frost Place, including room and board (valued at approximately $1,550), and will give a featured reading at the Seminar.”
Deadline: May 1, 2019

“In order to help ensure that ALL writers have the opportunity to have their work seen, GASHER will be awarding two $500 scholarships to provide financial assistance to a writer submitting their first book throughout the year.” NB: This opportunity is limited to U.S. citizens. (Thanks to Entropy’s latest “Where to Submit” list, https://entropymag.org/category/where-to-submit, for the tip about this one.)
Deadline: April 15, 2019

HEKTOEN INTERNATIONAL, “a journal of medical humanities,” invites submissions for this competition, which awards $3000 to the winner and $800 to the runner up. “Topics might include art, history, literature, education, etc. as they relate to medicine. Essays should be under 1600 words.” Cautionary note: “Submission of an article implies consent to publish in Hektoen International. If accepted for publication, an article may be published at any time regardless of the outcome of the competition. If major edits are made, proofs will be sent to the authors before publication.”
Deadline: April 20, 2019

“All US Military Veterans are invited to submit original poetry to the 2019 Heroes’ Voices National Veterans Poetry Contest,” which is offered in cooperation with George Mason University. Contest seeks entries on the theme of “The Soldiers’ Journey”: “Poems about the experience of being in the armed services and/or being a veteran. Poems may be inspired by personal triumphs or tragedies, relationships, health, spiritual insights, community, family and social issues, affected by your service in the military.” Cash prizes will be awarded in the sums of $1,000 for first prize, $500 for second prize, $250 for third prize, and $100 for fourth prize.” Winning submissions and other selected poetry will be featured in public readings in San Francisco, California, and at George Mason University in Virginia. Cautionary note: “By submitting an entry to the Contest, you grant permission for Heroes’ Voices to publish or otherwise use your submission without compensation or any further notification.”
Deadline: April 30, 2019

“Five Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships in the amount of $25,800 each will be awarded to young poets in the U.S. through a national competition sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. Established in 1989 by the Indianapolis philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the fellowships are intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry.” Note that eligibility is limited to U.S. citizens or residents, at least 21 years of age and no older than 31 years of age as of April 30, 2019.
Deadline: May 1, 2019

“Each fall approximately 35 artists and 6 writers participate in the residency creating a community of engaged peers. At Ox-Bow, artists can enjoy 24-hour access to their studios, and an inspirational setting, free from the expectations of commercial and academic demands. Three studios are dedicated specifically to writers. The fall is also an ideal time to propose group or collaborative work….Please note, the fall residency is open to all artists not currently enrolled in a degree-seeking program.” Residencies may last for 2, 3, or 5 weeks. The application offers an option to apply for a residency stipend, explaining that “Ox-Bow is proud to offer these residencies free of charge. Stipends are meant to offset the costs of travel and materials.”
Deadline: April 19, 2019

“Created by the Missouri Humanities Council, the Warrior Arts Alliance, and Southeast Missouri State University Press, this series of anthologies preserves and shares military service perspectives of our soldiers and veterans of all conflicts and of their families. It is not only an outlet for artistic expression but also a document of the unique aspects of wartime in our nation’s history. Writing must be by veterans, military-service personnel, or their families. Include the connection in your short bio.” Contest confers $250 and publication for each of five categories: short fiction, poetry, interview with a warrior, essay, and photography.
Deadline: April 12, 2019

Established in memory of Harold U. Ribalow, “noted writer, editor and anthologist,” this prize “is an annual fiction award presented for an outstanding English-language work of fiction on a Jewish theme by an author deserving of further recognition.” Screening is currently underway for books published in 2018. “In addition to a formal announcement and a cash award, Hadassah Magazine will print an excerpt from or a major review of the winning book.”
Deadline: May 1, 2019

The winning essay will receive $100 plus regular payment. NB: In general, THE SUNLIGHT PRESS is interested in “the ways people turn toward light and hope, whether it is through the arts, culture, spirituality, or humor, and also how they respond to the darkness and navigate unknown spaces. Epiphanies are born from the ordinary and the extraordinary; whether it’s a reflection unfolding during a morning walk, after the loss of a loved one, or in the middle of unexpected laughter, we want to know about these moments.” Contest entries should adhere to regular word-count guidelines (750-1,000 words for essays).
Deadline: April 15, 2019

“Writing By Writers is pleased to offer fellowships to Esalen Writer’s Camp for emerging writers of color and members of the LGBTQIA+ community to amplify all voices that need to be heard. Fellowships cover the full cost of tuition, a shared room and all meals, but do not cover transportation.” NB: Camp takes place June 23-28, 2019.

NEW RIVERS PRESS has added a fee for its general submissions period this year. “However, in an attempt to not be prohibitive to our submitters, we will keep the first two weeks free of charge.” That two-week window will close on April 7. They seek “book-length manuscripts in any genre: stories, novels, memoirs, poems, experimental and hybrid forms.” More info: https://newriverspress.submittable.com/submit/118177/general-submissions-2019-no-fee.
ELECTRIC LITERATURE’S “Recommended Reading” category for general fiction (1,500 to 10,000 words) will be open for submissions April 1-April 7. Payment: $300. More information: https://electricliterature.submittable.com/submit.
April is a fee-free submissions month for SPLIT LIP, “a literary journal of voice-driven writing with a pop culture twist.” Pays: “Our web payment rate is $50 per author (payable via PayPal). Payment for print is $5 per page, minimum of $20, plus 2 contributor copies and a 1 year subscription.” More info: https://www.splitlipmagazine.com/submit.
April 8 is the deadline if you wish to send work for possible inclusion in NINTH LETTER’s online edition (theme: “Origins”). Pays: “Authors whose work is selected for this special feature will receive a small honorarium ($25 per poem, $75 per story or essay) and a complimentary 2-year subscription to NINTH LETTER).” Details: https://ninthletteronline.submittable.com/submit.
April 15 is the deadline for RATTLE’s call for work from African poets: “Our Fall 2019 issue will be dedicated to African poets. The poems may be written on any subject, in any style or length, but the poet must have been born in, or be a permanent resident of, an African country. The poems must be written in (or translated into) English. We’ve been receiving an increasing number of submissions from African poets over the last few years, and we’d like to honor the poetry that’s being written on the continent.” Pays: “Contributors in print receive $100/poem and a complimentary one-year subscription to the magazine. Online contributors receive $50/poem. All free submissions are automatically considered for the annual Neil Postman Award for Metaphor, a $1,000 prize judged by the editors.” More information: https://rattle.submittable.com/submit/34383/african-poets.
April 15 is also the deadline at MARY, which accepts “previously unpublished fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid genres. We like weird and risky and humming a little.” Pays: “All contributors receive a $30 payment.” Website: https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/mfa-in-creative-writing/mary-journal.
April 16 is the deadline for Philadelphia-based THE HEAD AND THE HAND’s Shockwire Chapbooks Series submissions. “SHOCKWIRE stories are snapshots of a time and place where expressions of curiosity, empathy, and acceptance shine a light on their absence in everyday life. We may not be lawmakers or world leaders, but we are storytellers with the power to contribute to a national conversation. We amplify our contribution by writing toward a deeper understanding of ourselves and one another and sharing that vision in the form of a chapbook….Please send works of literary and speculative short fiction and creative nonfiction between 3,000 and 8,000 words in length, and collections of between 5 and 10 poems. Accepted pieces will be published in our traveling chapbook vending machine and will be available for download on our site.” Payment: “Writers will be compensated for accepted pieces.” More info: https://www.theheadandthehand.com/submissions/.
If you want to send work to the Canadian literary journal FIDDLEHEAD during this submissions window, do so by April 30. Payment: “Pay is $60 CAD per published page, plus two complimentary copies of the issue with your work. Contributors may purchase additional copies of an issue at a discount.” Please visit https://thefiddlehead.ca/submit for more information.
The open reading period at SUTRA PRESS, “an independent micro-press that publishes chapbooks that serve to change our lives and wake us up,” also closes April 30. “We are happy to accept manuscripts from 12-32 pages.” Pays: “We offer a monetary prize of $200 per manuscript chosen to be published.” More info: http://sutrapress.com/submit/.
April 30 is also the deadline to send queries to HUB CITY PRESS, which “publishes books of literary fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, regional nonfiction, nature, and art. Hub City is a small press, publishing five to eight titles per year. In general, our publication schedule operates at least 12-18 months in advance of release.” They are looking for “new and extraordinary voices from the American South. Well-crafted, high-quality works by new and established authors. We are particularly interested in books with a strong sense of place. We believe strongly that the publishing industry needs to promote a more diverse range of experiences, and so have committed ourselves to spotlighting lesser-heard Southern voices including: people of color, gender diversity, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, as well as ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.” Check the guidelines for their definition of “the South” and other info: https://hubcity.submittable.com/submit.
And April 30 is similarly your deadline if you want to send work this go-round to TYPEHOUSE. “We are looking for submissions of poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction and visual art. Writing that grabs us conveys a unique perspective and honest insight into our world. We are especially interested in underrepresented voices of all kinds, and we want to see submissions from writers and artists of all races, sexualities, nationalities, religions, and genders, as well as disabled and neurodivergent creators. Genre fiction submissions are welcome, particularly speculative fiction.” Pays: $15/submitter (minimum, although they “hope to be able to top that.”) Guidelines: http://typehousemagazine.com/submissions/.
Opening April 1: submissions for SLICE’s Issue 26, with a theme of “Persistence.” Send fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Pays: “$250 for stories and essays, $75 for flash fiction pieces, and $75 for poems. Deadline: May 15, 2019. Guidelines: https://slicemagazine.org/submit/. UPDATE FROM SLICE: “*Please note, we will not be open for submissions April 1 – May 15. We’ve moved our submissions period to the dates above [October 1-December 1, 2019].”

Reminder: The newsletter is published just once each month, but there’s *always* something new at our Practicing Writing blog: fresh market news, current contest and job listings, links to writing-related articles, newly-discovered craft and business resources, and so much more. Regular blog features include:

–Monday Markets for Writers
–Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer (formerly “Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress”)
–Friday Finds for Writers
–Sunday Sentence

Please visit, and comment! http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writing/.

And for those of you practicing writers who are interested in matters of specifically Jewish cultural interest, please also visit My Machberet (http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/my-machberet). For the curious, “machberet” is the Hebrew word for “notebook”.

Information contained in THE PRACTICING WRITER is collected from many sources, with the purpose of providing general references. It is researched to the best of our ability but readers should verify information when necessary and appropriate. THE PRACTICING WRITER and its editor/publisher disclaim any liability for the use of information contained within. Thank you for subscribing.
For updates and additional opportunity listings between newsletters, please check in with our “Practicing Writing” blog, http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writing.
ABOUT THE EDITOR: Based in New York City, Erika Dreifus is a freelance writer and book publicist whose own next book, BIRTHRIGHT, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. She is also the author of QUIET AMERICANS: STORIES, which is an American Library Association Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. She has taught for Harvard University, the Cambridge (Mass.) Center for Adult Education, and the low-residency MFA programs in creative writing at Lesley University, the Northwest Institute for Literary Arts, and Oklahoma City University. Please visit http://www.erikadreifus.com to learn more about Erika’s work.
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