Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

October 2016

Hera Naguib on "the violent essence of any creative activity"

The Sillerman First Book Prize is now open through December 1st. To celebrate, Book Prize Coordinator Katie Schmid Henson talks with emerging writers about the book publication process. This week, an interview with poet and Prairie Schooner contributor Hera Naguib on constructing her first book and the joys and difficulties of working in the Pakistani literary scene.

What are you working on right now?

I'm working on my first collection of poetry which deals loosely with the idea of personal origin. These poems are about family, myths, and my relationship with the city I live in, which is Lahore.

Describe the process of constructing your first manuscript. How are you conceiving of ordering the collection?

'You just need one person to fall in love deeply': An interview with fiction writer Nina McConigley

The Sillerman First Book Prize is now open through December 1st. To celebrate, Book Prize Coordinator Katie Schmid Henson talks with emerging writers about the book publication process. This week, fiction writer Nina McConigley discusses her PEN Open Award-winning short story collection, Cowboys and East Indians; the sometimes fraught road to publication for a short story collection; and a certain special Coors Light t-shirt.

How many books have you published, and where?

2016 Sillerman winner Safia Elhillo on honoring "a crooked sort of syntax"

The Sillerman First Book Prize is now open through December 1st. To celebrate, Book Prize Coordinator Katie Schmid Henson talks with emerging writers about the book publication process. This week, poet Safia Elhillo discusses her forthcoming award-winning book The January Children now available for pre-order!), what it was like to win the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, and her enduring love of her sometime muse, Abdelhalim Hafez.

Describe the process of making the manuscript. How did you conceive of the poems together?

"I thought what I survived deserved recognition": the poetry of Paul Tran

The Sillerman First Book Prize is now open through December 1st. To celebrate, Book Prize Coordinator Katie Schmid Henson talks with emerging writers about the book publication process. This week, poet Paul Tran discusses poetry's inextricable relationship with history, the examination of power in their work, and the process of constructing their first full-length manuscript.

What are you working on right now?

"Transformation, however limited that transformation may be": An Interview with Monica Youn

by Eric Farwell

Monica Youn is a poet interested in the intersection between the beauty we want in life, and the darkness that often serves as an invisible barrier for it. Youn’s background in law allows her to probe and navigate these gray areas gently, using an economy of language that both cuts to the heart of the matter and reveals nuanced layers of caution, lust, and desperation. Her latest collection, Blackacre, is a masterful effort that examines the similarities between land and the body, estates and flesh, public and personal. In many ways, the collection reads like an act of magic or acrobatics, as Youn shapes lines and establishes unique connections to delicately scrutinize her own struggle with having a child, and how that struggle connects to larger symptoms of life. Extremely self-aware and generous, Youn spoke with me by phone to walk through some of the decisions that went into crafting such a stunning work. - Eric Farwell