Prairie Schooner News
We're proud to announce Prairie Schooner’s six nominations for the Pushcart Prize. At the end of our 90th year of continuous publication, it’s momentous to reflect back on all the work we’ve been able to share with readers. We're proud to highlight these pieces from 2016:
Congratulations to our nominees! Click any of the titles above to read the piece in full. For more great poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews, subscribe to Prairie Schooner today.
Prairie Schooner is pleased to name E. M. Tran the winner of the 2016 Summer Nonfiction Contest, judged by Kiese Laymon, for her essay “Miss Saigon.” Tran will receive a prize of $250, and her essay will appear in the Spring 2017 edition of Prairie Schooner. E. M. Tran is a Vietnamese American fiction writer from New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her MFA from the University of Mississippi, and she is currently pursuing her PhD in Fiction at Ohio University. Her work is also forthcoming in Iron Horse Literary Review. Visit www.elizabethmtran.com.
Kiese Laymon, the judge of this year's prize, is a black southern writer best known for his essays and fiction. The author of two books, the essay collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and the Others in America and the novel Long Division, Laymon is currently an Associate Professor of English at Vassar College. Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, PEN Journal, the Oxford American, and Guernica. He is a currently a columnist at the Guardian, and two more books—a memoir, Heavy, and a second novel, And So On—are forthcoming from Scribner.
Laymon said of Tran's essay: “In way more ways than I'd like to admit, stories of survivorship necessitate multiple threads because no one earth is a survivor of just one trauma, villain or love. The essay, ‘Miss Saigon’ renders survivorship in its multifaceted, multigenerational, geographically varied wonder. In a contest filled some of the best essays I've read in the 21st century, no essay made as much use of the literal and emotional space as ‘Miss Saigon.’ It reminded me that stories of immigration are necessary stories lost and found, or performative longing and necessary shedding. It is absolutely amazing art.”
(photo credit John Levy)
Boyer Rickel's essay “Morgan: A Lyric” is this year's runner-up. Laymon called Rickel's essay "easily the most structurally creative of all the essays I read. The piece, in many ways, necessitates an innovative structure because of what it's doing with the body's shell, the body's insides, the body's invariable breaking. The piece is the literal story of life, love, misdirection and death. I felt it, heard what I shouldn't have heard, and will remember how the piece looked as it quaked for the rest of my writing life." Boyer Rickel's publications include two poetry collections, remanence (Parlor) and arreboles (Wesleyan), a memoir-in-essays, Taboo (Wisconsin), and a poetry chapbook, reliquary (Seven Kitchens). Recipient of poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Arizona Commission on the Arts, he taught in the University of Arizona creative writing program for twenty years. “Morgan: A Lyric” is the final section of a four-part sequence by the same title. The first part won the Tupelo Quarterly 2014 prose award; the second appeared in Guernica.
Editor Kwame Dawes said of the contest, now in its fifth year, “Each year, I become increasingly appreciative of Sara Fawn Montgomery, our Assistant Nonfiction Editor who initiated this exciting contest which has brought us such startling riches as the two writers we are celebrating here, and of course, our judge Kiese Laymon. Tran’s piece is engrossing and wholly engaging while being elegantly constructed and powerfully enlightening. And it is impossible to walk away from the rollicking formal play with time and idea in Rickel’s work without concluding, well, how else but this way can such a story be told? Our journal, and, by extension, our readers are wholly enriched by these wonderful new stories.”
Last year’s winner was Laura Elizabeth Woollet, whose essay “Working Girl” appeared in the Spring 2016 edition of Prairie Schooner. The previous year’s winner, Aurvi Sharma’s essay “Eleven Stories of Water and Stone” was recently listed as “notable” in Best American Essays 2016, and the previous year’s winner, Melissa Febos’s essay “Call My Name,” was also listed as a Best American notable in 2015. To read Assistant Nonfiction Editor Sarah Fawn Montgomery’s interview with judge Kiese Laymon, visit http://prairieschooner.unl.edu/blog/evil-and-joy-and-other-mushy-part-between-interview-kiese-laymon. To learn more about Prairie Schooner, the latest issues, and how to subscribe, visit http://prairieschooner.unl.edu.
The Fall 2016 issue of Prairie Schooner is now available and making its way into subscribers’ mailboxes. This new edition features essays, prose, and poetry from Mimi Schwartz, John Kinsella, and Tony Hoagland, among others.
The Fall issue opens with an essay titled “13 Superstitions” by Denise Duhamel and Julie Marie Wade. The two have them have published many collaborative essays together and are both teach in the MFA program at Florida International University. Other essays included in in this edition are written by Matthew Shenoda, winner of the Arab American Book Award and the founding editor of the African Poetry Book Fun, and Michael Chaney, who currently has a forthcoming book from the University Press of Mississippi.
Fiction writers include Munib Khan with his story “Once Upon a Time on a Mountain Pass,” whose fiction has been shortlisted for the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Also featured is “Conceptual Art” by Brett Beach, a novelist and short story writer.
Among the featured poets are Rosebud Ben-Oni, a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship and is a CantoMundo Fellow and Blas Falconer, his third poetry collection is forthcoming in 2018. Haunting poems about the sharp pains of hunger, war, and loss come from Gail Newman, who was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany. Also appearing in this edition are poems by Anzhelina Polonskaya (translated by Andrew Wachtel), Christopher Solerno, and Rebecca Lehmann.
The cover, a gorgeous conglomeration of rectangles and squares, comprises two pieces by the artist Dominique Ellis. She received her MFA from the Tyler School of Art and is currently the gallery and retail coordinator at The Clay Studio where she is creating new ceramic works. To view more of her stunning work, visit her website here.
To discover more from these and other talented contributors, check out their work in our newest issue. To subscribe, or simply purchase the Fall 2016 issue of Prairie Schooner, visit http://prairieschooner.unl.edu/store.
by Danielle Pringle
Best American Essays 2016 (Mariner), edited by Jonathan Franzen, launched this week, including in its list of “notable” essays four pieces that appeared in Prairie Schooner. The annual anthology celebrates the best essays from the past year published by magazines, journals, and websites in the United States. Included with the essays selected for this collection, is a supplemental list of “notable” essays.
Lisa Fay Coutley’s “Why to Run Racks” appeared in our Winter 2015 issue, which was edited by Natalie Diaz. The beautifully crafted essay peeks into volatile family dynamics and considers the sport of shooting pool as a meditative practice. Read it on Coutley’s website here.
Porochista Khakpour’s whip-smart study of David Foster Wallace, Federer, and personal descent—whether physically losing an edge or being lost in one’s own mind—“Federer as Irreligious Experience,” highlights the downfalls of perfectionism. Her essay also appeared in our Winter 2015 issue. Read an excerpt of it on our website here.
Aurvi Sharma’s transporting “Eleven Stories of Water and Stone” won our 2014 nonfiction prize, judged by Judith Ortiz Cofer, and was published in our Spring 2015 issue. It also received our of our annual Glenna Luschei awards, which honor the best work published in Prairie Schooner in a given year. The essay takes the reader on a journey to the formation of the rock Sharma’s home in India rested upon, and through her childhood, seamlessly shifting from one to the other and examining greater implications of stone and water in India. Read an excerpt on our website here.
Emily Geminder’s “Coming To: A Lexicology of Fainting,” published in our Summer 2015 issue, was the 2014 nonfiction runner-up and also won a Glenna Luschei award. This braided lyric essay interrogates both personal and historical cultural perceptions of the haunting phenomenon of fainting. From Cambodia, to India, to the United States, Geminder offers glimpses of ghosts and specters. Read an excerpt of her essay here.
Once again, congratulations to all of the writers whose work was chosen to be in this year’s Best American Essays, and an extra shout out to those four “notables” whose essays appeared in our pages!
Danielle Pringle was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is currently pursuing an MA in creative writing with a secondary focus in Medieval & Renaissance studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is pleased to announce that our 2015 Book Prize Winners’ books are now available from the University of Nebraska Press and wherever books are sold.
Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair won the 2015 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, receiving $3000 and publication by the University of Nebraska Press. Called a “stunning debut collection” in a starred Publishers Weekly review and powered by the teeming intellect and ravishing lucidity of a young poet in full possession of her literary power” by poet Major Jackson, Cannibal was chosen by guest-judges David Baker and Hilda Raz with Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes. Safiya Sinclair was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and has published work in numerous journals and been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a 2016 Whiting Award. She is currently pursuing a PhD in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California, where she is a Dornsife Doctoral Fellow.
One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist by Dustin M. Hoffman won the 2015 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, receiving $3000 and publication by the University of Nebraska Press. The collection, described by Matt Bell as “heartfelt and humorous and always keen to the ways our working lives serve to reveal our more personal hopes and dreams” and praised by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly memorable read, was selected chosen by guest-judges Elizabeth Nunez and Bernardine Evaristo with Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes. Dustin M. Hoffman spent ten years painting houses in Michigan before earning an MFA from Bowling Green State University and a PhD from Western Michigan University. His stories have recently appeared in numerous publications, and he is an assistant professor of creative writing at Winthrop University in South Carolina.
Both Sinclair and Hoffman will visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s campus this coming spring to for Prairie Schooner’s Annual Book Prize Reading and Celebration. Be sure to get your copy before then!
Danielle Pringle was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is currently pursuing an MA in creative writing with a secondary focus in Medieval & Renaissance studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has announced the winners of its annual book awards for poetry and short fiction. The winners were chosen from more than 1,200 submissions from around the world.
The Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction for 2016 goes to Venita Blackburn for her manuscript Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, chosen by guest-judges Jennine Capó Crucet and Helon Habila with Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes. She will receive a $3,000 prize and publication from the University of Nebraska Press. Blackburn’s stories appear or are forthcoming in American Short Fiction, the Georgia Review, Pleiades, Bat City Review, Nashville Review, Smoke Long Quarterly, Santa Monica Review, Faultline, Devil’s Lake Review, and Bellevue Literary Review, among many others. She was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship in 2014 and Pushcart prize nomination the same year. She is from Compton, California and earned her MFA from Arizona State University. She now lives and teaches in Phoenix.
The winner of the 2016 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry is Susan Gubernat for her manuscript The Zoo at Night, chosen by guest-judges Valzhyna Mort and Hilda Raz with Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes. She will receive a $3,000 prize and publication from the University of Nebraska Press. Gubernat is also the author of Flesh (Helicon Nine Editions, which won the Marianne Moore Prize, and a chapbook, Analog House (Finishing Line Press). As an opera librettist, her major work, Korczak’s Orphans (composer: Adam Silverman), has been performed in a number of venues and by various companies, including in the VOX New Composers Series of the New York City Opera and by the Opera Company of Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, Gargoyle, Michigan Quarterly, the Pinch, Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, Stand, and the Yalobusha Review, among others. Her awards and honors include residencies at the MacDowell, Millay, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo colonies, as well as artist’s fellowships from the states of New York and New Jersey. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Gubernat is a professor in the English Department at California State University, East Bay, where she co-founded and now advises the Arroyo Literary Review.
The competition, now in its fourteenth year, runs January 15 to March 15 annually. Submission details and a list of past winners are available online at http://prairieschooner.unl.edu/?q=book-prize/past-winners.
Founded in 1926, Prairie Schooner is a national literary quarterly published with the support of the English Department at UNL. It publishes fiction, poetry, essays and reviews by beginning, mid-career, and established writers.
Thanks to generous supporters of the literary arts, Prairie Schooner was able to award eighteen writing prizes totaling $8,500 for work published by established and emerging writers in 2015.
Laura Van Prooyen of San Antonio received the $1,500 Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award for her five poems published in the Fall 2015 issue. Her collection of poetry Our House Was on Fire received the Robert McGovern Memorial Prize and was published by Ashland Poetry Press in 2015. The Glenna Luschei Award is made possible by the generosity of poet, publisher, and philanthropist Glenna Luschei.
The $1,000 Lawrence Foundation Award for the best short story published in Prairie Schooner in 2015 was given to Ezra Olson of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, for his story “Marco Polo” from the Fall 2015 issue. This prize is made possible by the Lawrence Foundation of New York City and its director, Leonard S. Bernstein.
The $1,000 Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing was given to Lawrence Lenhart of Flagstaff, Arizona and his essay “The Well-Stocked and Gilded Cage: Psittaculture Nervosa” from the Summer 2015 issue. His collection of essays will be published by Outpost19 in August. The Faulkner Award is supported by charitable contributions to honor Virginia Faulkner, former editor-in-chief of the University of Nebraska Press and Prairie Schooner fiction editor.
The $1,000 Edward Stanley Award for poetry was given to Charif Shanahan for four poems in the Summer 2015 issue. His poetry collection Into Each Room We Enter Without Knowing will be published by Southern Illinois University Press in spring 2017. This award is made possible through charitable contributions from the family of Edward Stanley, a member of the committee that founded Prairie Schooner in 1926.
The $500 Bernice Slote Award for the best work by a beginning writer was given to Dima Alzayat for the story “In the Land of Kan’an” from the Fall 2015 issue. She is a freelance journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Flaunt, and the Skinny. The Slote Award is supported by the estate of Bernice Slote, Prairie Schooner editor from 1963 through 1980.
The $500 Annual Prairie Schooner Strousse Award for the best poem or group of poems was given to Aracelis Girmay of New York for four poems in the Fall 2015 issue. Her previous work includes the collage-based picture book changing, changing and poetry collections Teeth and Kingdom Animalia. The Strousse Award is given in honor of Flora Strousse.
The $250 Hugh J. Luke Award was given to Natalie Diaz for her essay “A Body of Athletics” in the special Winter 2015 sports issue, of which Diaz was guest editor. She currently spends time in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she works to revitalize the Mojave language. The Hugh J. Luke Award was established in memory of Prairie Schooner’s editor from 1980 through 1987.
The $250 Jane Geske Award was given to Sarah Cornwell of Los Angeles for her story “Mr. Legs” from the Spring 2015 issue. Her debut novel, What I Had Before I Had You was published in 2014, and her stories have appeared in the 2013 Pushcart Prize anthology and Missouri Review, among others. The award is given by Norman Geske in honor of his wife, Jane Geske, a lifelong support of Nebraska’s literary arts.
Ten writers received annual Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Awards for $250 each. These awards are made possible through the generosity of Glenna Luschei.
Martha Collins, of Cambridge, MA, for her five poems in the summer issue.
Tyree Daye, of Raleigh, NC, for three poems in the fall issue.
Emily Geminder, of Kansas City, MO, for her essay “Coming To: A Lexicology of Fainting” in the summer issue.
Gregory Pardlo, of Brooklyn, NY, for his essay “Cartography” in the fall issue.
Adrienne Celt, of Tucson, AZ, for the story “The Girls They Burned” in the summer issue.
Matthew Dickman, of Portland, OR, for his poem “Can We Have Our Ball Back” in the winter issue.
Eileen Myles, of Brooklyn, NY, for the poem “Joseph Father of Wales” in the winter issue.
Sujata Shekar, of New York, NY, for the story “Throw Away Nothing” in the fall issue.
Aurvi Sharma, of New York, NY, for the essay “Eleven Stories of Water and Stone” in the spring issue.
Safiya Sinclair, of Los Angeles, CA, for four poems in the summer issue.
Prairie Schooner is published with support from the University of Nebraska Press, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln English Department and its creative writing program, and the Glenna Luschei Endowed Editorship and Fund for Excellence at Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska Foundation. Subscriptions may be ordered by visiting http://prairieschooner.unl.edu. You can also follow Prairie Schooner on Twitter and Facebook.
The Spring 2016 issue of Prairie Schooner is now available! It’s an important one because it begins Prairie Schooner’s ninetieth year of publication. The first issue was released in early 1927, and the magazine has been going strong ever since, making us on of the ten oldest literary journals in continuous publication in America.
This issue begins with the annual awards announcement for work published in the last volume. This includes Lawrence Foundation Award-winner Ezra Olson and his story “Marco Polo” (Fall 2015) and Charif Shanahan winning the Edward Stanley Award for four poems in the Summer 2015 issue. Natalie Diaz, guest-editor of the Winter 2015 sports issue, received the Hugh J. Luke Award for her essay “A Body of Athletics.” In total, eighteen authors representing all four issues are recognized across the genres of poetry fiction, and creative nonfiction. The awards, given annually to some of the best work published in the preceding year, total more than $8000 dollars.
The Spring 2016 cover, a minimalist yet striking digital print on Japanese paper by Dutch-born and Lincoln-based artist Trudie Teijink, is titled “Breeze Play.” Her work explores “the conflict between our everyday activities, and the fleetingness of our existence,” which can easily be seen in the clothes hanging to dry against an empty background.
This issue features several particularly timely works. “The Maldives” by Cuban-born Achy Obejas concerns a woman able to leave her cramped life in Cuba thanks to her father securing a visa through US asylum laws. Margaret Randall’s “When Justice Felt Like Home” harkens back to an older Cuba, one that is still “indelibly embossed” on the Royal Palms and Sierra Maestra of the island. Reading these works just after President Obama visited Cuba in March sparks a new desire for this old Cuba to find a way to live in the present world.
Similarly, Joannie Stangeland’s “Poem to Chibok, Nigeria” – written to the mothers of the girls abducted from their school in 2014 by terrorist organization Boko Haram – is especially affecting to read just after the two-year anniversary of the kidnapping. Also featured in the Spring 2016 issue are Elise Juska’s “The English Teacher,” about a woman who discovers that a former student has committed a terrible crime; Michael Fulop’s poem about an unusual musical family; and four book reviews that close out the issue.
In this issue, Prairie Schooner continues its dedication to publishing diverse voices with varying experiences from around the world. To discover these and other great contributors, check out our newest issue. To subscribe or simply purchase the Spring 2016 issue, visit http://prairieschooner.unl.edu/store.
The Winter 2015 edition of Prairie Schooner is now available and arriving in subscribers’ mailboxes. This sports-themed issue, guest-edited by poet Natalie Diaz, features poetry, fiction, and essays from Sherman Alexie, Eileen Myles, Porochista Khakpour, Meghan O’Rourke, Afaa Weaver, Danez Smith, Chip Livingston, Ada Limon, Terrance Hayes, and more.
In the essay that opens the issue, Diaz writes, “Before every basketball game, from rec league to high school, my mother told me, Knock ‘em dead. She never said, Good luck.” From here, the issue unfolds in energetic and varied voices, examining sports in all their pain and glory, the competition, self-discipline, violence, and victory.
Diaz has assembled a stunningly diverse and talented range of contributors for this issue. Featured poet Sherman Alexie is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned, as well as First Indian on the Moon and The Summer of Black Widows. He is also the author of numerous works of fiction and served as editor for Best American Poetry 2015. Russian poet Vera Pavlova’s poem “Russian Sport” also appears, in a translation by Valzhyna Mort with Ilya Kaminsky. Other featured poets include Danez Smith, winner of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award, Terrance Hayes, winner of the 2010 National Book Award, Jon Davis, director of the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, L. Lamar Wilson, whose work has appeared in Rattle and Muzzle, and Kamilah Aisha Moon, whose recent work has appeared in the Awl and Chapter Sixteen.
Prose writers in the issue include Carmiel Banasky, whose novel The Suicide of Bishop Claire debuted in September of this year. Also featured is “SkateTown USSR,” by Amber Dermont, author of Damage Control, The Starboard Sea, and A Splendid Wife. Nonfiction authors appearing in this edition include Meghan O’Rourke, author of The Long Goodbye, and Porochista Khakpour, author of The Last Illusion.
To discover more from our talented contributors, check out their work in the newest issue. To learn more about Prairie Schooner and how to subscribe, visit http://prairieschooner.unl.edu.
The African Poetry Book Fund, in partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries and Prairie Schooner, has sent its second shipment of nearly 1750 books and journals to its five partner poetry libraries in Africa. Each of the five reading libraries, located within existing community and arts centers in the Gambia, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda, will receive around 350 books each in this donation. As the collaboration enters its second year, this latest shipment shows the continued strength of the initiative.
The libraries, launched in 2014 in partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, are staffed mostly by volunteers and provide spaces for reading poetry and cultivating venues for African poets and readers within larger communities.
The African Poetry library in Uganda is housed in the 32° East Ugandan Arts Trust resource center in Kampala, which has hosted a number of recent local events. “This year, we have engaged the library in a few events,” said library volunteer Beverley Nambozo, a poet, literary activist, and founder of the Babishai Niwe (BN) Poetry Foundation and prize. “One of them was a reading held in February, organized by the BN Poetry Foundation. The other was a schools’ outreach program held in October and organized by the Kampala-based Tontoma Poetry Session. The students from neighboring schools were able to tour and skim the library, picking interests for after-school hours.”
Kadija George, a literary activist, writer, and editor of Sable LitMag, is a volunteer coordinator at the Poetry Library in the Gambia, which is housed in the National Centre for Arts and Culture’s office in Fajara. George spoke for the enthusiasm of the library’s patrons, saying, "The users of the library are simply overwhelmed at the generosity of the African Poetry Book Fund in providing such a gift to the people of The Gambia."
The APBF is grateful to the many sponsors, including over thirty literary presses, organizations, and individuals, that donated poetry books and journals to the libraries.
The APBF will begin receiving and cataloging donations for its third shipment in Spring 2016, for a Fall 2016 shipment. Interested presses, publishers, and arts organizations may contact Managing Editor Ashley Strosnider at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
More information about the African Poetry Library Initiative, as well as a complete list of participating organizations and individuals and the APBF’s other projects, can be found on the APBF website.