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Prairie Schooner News

Sherman Alexie to be Featured Guest at the Launch Event for Our Winter Issue

Acclaimed author Sherman Alexie will be the featured author at the launch event of Prairie Schooner, the international literary journal based out of the University of Nebraska, as it celebrates the release of its Winter 2012 issue. Alexie guest edited a portfolio of poetry and prose by contemporary Native American authors in the issue. The event will take place in the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center at 7 p.m. on January 28 and 29, 2013.


The two-day event is free and open to the public. On the first evening, during which Alexie will not be in attendance, Prairie Schooner will host a screening of Smoke Signals, a film written and co-produced by Alexie. Smoke Signals won the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. On the second evening, Alexie will read from his creative work, which will be followed by an on-stage interview with Kwame Dawes, Prairie Schooner Editor-in-Chief, and a book signing.


Dawes says of the event, “Alexie represents one of a select group of writers whose fame is matched by their brilliance as writers. To have him visit UNL is simply exciting, and especially so for Prairie Schooner because of his role as guest editor for our special Native American portfolio issue.”


The launch event has been made possible through funding from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and Human Sciences, the Institute for Ethnic Studies, the Native American Studies program, and the English and History departments. It is a major feature of Prairie Schooner’s annual program of events, held each year to celebrate an internationally-themed winter issue.


Alexie’s most recent books are War Dances (Grove Press), stories and poems, and Face (Hanging Loose Press), a book of poems. He is the winner of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award, the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the 2001 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, and a Special Citation for the 1994 PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction.


Make sure to stay tuned to Prairie Schooner’s website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter for further announcements about the launch event for its Native American issue.


Bernardine Evaristo Announces the Brunel University African Poetry Prize

The Brunel University African Poetry Prize is a major new poetry prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa. The prize is sponsored by Brunel University and partnered by Commonwealth Writers, the Africa Centre UK, and the African Poetry Book Fund USA.

British-Nigerian writer, Bernardine Evaristo, who has initiated the prize, describes her reasons for a new prize exclusively devoted to African poetry:

"I have judged several prizes in the past few years, including chairing the Caine Prize for African Fiction in 2012, an award that has revitalised the fortunes of fiction from Africa since its inception in 1999. It became clear to me that poetry from the continent could also do with a prize to draw attention to it and to encourage a new generation of poets who might one day become an international presence. I am particularly interested in new voices who are exploring poetry that perhaps draws on the poets’ own cultural aesthetics – doing something original, something different. African poets are rarely published in Britain. I hope this prize will introduce exciting new poets to Britain’s poetry editors."

Prairie Schooner, one of the leading literary presses in the USA, having published continuously for eighty-five years, has committed to publishing some of the work of the winning poets of the Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Wasafiri, the leading British journal of international writing, will also publish the winner. Similar arrangements will be pursued with other major literary journals in the United Kingdom and the US.


The prize will be for ten poems by an African writer who has not yet had a full-length poetry book published. (Self-published books, chapbooks and pamphlets are exempt.)

The prize is open to poets who were born in Africa, or who are nationals of an African country, or whose parents are African.

Only poetry written in English is eligible. Translated poetry is accepted but a percentage of the prize will be awarded to the translator.

The prize opens for entries on October 26, 2012 and the winner will be announced in April 2013.

There will be a distinguished panel of judges including the poet Kwame Dawes and the academic Mpalive Msiska. There will also be an advisory committee. All to be announced.

In collaboration with the African Poetry Book Fund, the Brunel University African Poetry Prize will develop a series of poetry workshops and courses in Africa in its efforts to provide technical support for poets writing in Africa.

For more updates and additional information go to the Facebook page of the Prize or contact Bernardine Evaristo at Bernardine.Evaristo@brunel.ac.uk. Additional information about the Brunel University African Poetry Prize will be available at the website of the African Poetry Book Fund, http://africanpoetrybf.unl.edu/.

The African Poetry Book Fund

Bernardine Evaristo and the Ghanaian-Jamaican writer, editor and academic, Kwame Dawes, first worked together in 1995. When they discovered two months ago that they were both launching African poetry prizes, they decided to combine their efforts and resources. Kwame Dawes has just set up the African Poetry Book Fund, established at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Fund will incorporate the establishment of the new African Poetry Book Series, to be published by the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal, and the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. The fund will also incorporate the Brunel University African Poetry Prize. http://tinyurl.com/africanpoetrybookfund

Brunel University

Brunel University is a public research university located in London, winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2011 for Higher and Further Education. The university has seen phenomenal rises in the recent university ranking guides. In the first Times Higher Education guide to the top 100 universities founded in the last 50 years, Brunel is placed 1st in London, 6th in the UK, and 35th internationally. English and Creative Writing have been ranked in the top quartile of the Guardian University Guide 2013. www.brunel.ac.uk

Commonwealth Writers

Commonwealth Writers is a new cultural programme within the Commonwealth Foundation which develops, connects, and inspires writers. By awarding prizes and running on-the-ground activities, it works in partnership with international literary organisations, the wider cultural industries and civil society to help writers develop their craft in the fifty four countries of the Commonwealth. www.commonwealthwriters.org is a forum where members from anywhere in the world can exchange ideas and contribute to debates. www.commonwealthwriters.org

Bernardine Evaristo is the author of six books of fiction and verse fiction including Lara, The Emperor’s Babe and Blonde Roots. Her latest novel will be published by Penguin UK in Spring 2013. An editor and literary critic for the national newspapers, she teaches creative writing at Brunel University. As an advocate for poets of colour, she initiated the Free Verse report and The Complete Works mentoring schemes to develop poets of colour to publication in the UK - with Spread the Word writing agency. She has judged many leading literary awards and in 2012 she was Chair of both the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the Caine Prize for African Fiction. Winter 2012 she is Guest Editor of Poetry Review, Britain’s leading poetry journal. She has won several literary awards, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts and she was made an MBE in 2009. www.bevaristo.com

Kwame Dawes is an award winning poet, novelist, playwright, anthologist, musician and critic and the author of over thirty-five books, including sixteen books of poetry, the most recent being, Wheels, (Peepal Tree Press 2011). He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a faculty member of the Pacific MFA program in Oregon. His many awards include the Forward Poetry Prize, an Emmy for his reporting on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica, the Barnes and Nobles Writers for Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is Associate Poetry Editor of Peepal Tree Press and co-founder and Program Director of Calabash International Literary Festival. His collection Duppy Conqueror, New and Selected Poems will be published by Copper Canyon in 2013.

The 2012 Prairie Schooner Book Prize Winners: Xhenet Aliu and Orlando Ricardo Menes

Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has announced the winners for its annual awards for books of short fiction and poetry. Judges for poetry were Hilda Raz, Peggy Shumaker, and David St. John. The judges for fiction were Sherman Alexie and Colin Channer. The winners were chosen from more than 1,100 submissions from around the world.

The Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction for 2012 goes to Xhenet Aliu for her manuscript, Domesticated Wild Things. She will receive a $3,000 prize and publication by the University of Nebraska Press.

"There is a sophisticated brand of humor in Alieu's fiction—her stories in Domesticated Wild Things will make you laugh out loud but will not burden you with any sense of guilt that might come from laughing at people,” says Kwame Dawes, editor of Prairie Schooner. “Her affection for her beautifully rendered characters is contagious, making the humor affirming and humanizing. These are entertaining and insightful stories full of surprises and revelations. We are thrilled to publish what will be her debut collection."

Xhenet Aliu hails from Waterbury, Connecticut. Her fiction has appeared in journals such as Glimmer Train, Hobart, and The Barcelona Review, and she has received multiple scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and a grant from The Elizabeth George Foundation. A former secretary, waitress, entertainment journalist, and private investigator, she received her B.A. from Southern Connecticut State University and an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Currently, she lives in Athens, Georgia, after recent stints in Brooklyn, Montana, and Utah. She is of Albanian Muslim and Lithuanian Catholic descent.

“I remember when I was about 20 years old, before I'd ever submitted a story or even heard the term 'literary magazine,' picking up a copy of Prairie Schooner at my local Barnes & Noble and feeling awed that a forum of amazing contemporary writing like this existed,” says Aliu. "I'm even more awed now that my own collection will get to wear Prairie Schooner and the University of Nebraska Press on its cover. I couldn't imagine a better outfit for my book.”

The winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry for 2012 is Orlando Ricardo Menes for his manuscript, Fetish. He will receive a $3,000 prize and publication by the University of Nebraska Press.

"Menes is an accomplished poet who has managed to evolve a language that seems determined to encapsulate the broadest and most compelling notion of America that embraces both the northern and southern continents,” says Dawes. “His poems reveal a formal dexterity that is awe inspiring, and his poems are rich with delight and full fascination with the human experience. His is a bold and inventive imagination. Our readers, we believe, will share our enthusiasm for Fetish."

Menes was born in Lima, Perú, to Cuban parents but has lived most of his life in the United States. Since 2000 he has taught at the University of Notre Dame where he now directs the creative writing program. In addition to Fetish, he is also the author of Furia (Milkweed) and Rumba atop the Stones (Peepal Tree). His poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including The Hudson Review, Callaloo, The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, Indiana Review, Image, and Shenandoah. Menes is editor of Renaming Ecstasy: Latino Writings on the Sacred (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe) and The Open Light: Poets from Notre Dame, 1991-2008 (University of Notre Dame Press). Besides his own poems, Menes has published translations of Spanish poetry, including My Heart Flooded with Water: Selected Poems by Alfonsina Storni (Latin American Literary Review Press). He is the recipient of a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The competition, in its tenth year, runs Jan. 15 to March 15 annually. Submission details and a list of past winners are available online at http://prairieschooner.unl.edu/?q=past-winners.

Founded in 1927, 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. For more information, visit http://prairieschooner.unl.edu.

Prairie Schooner to launch second edition of arts and literature series Fusion

Prairie Schooner, the University of Nebraska’s internationally-recognized literary magazine, is excited to announce its next release of the new arts and literature series Fusion. A fresh online series featuring collaborations between Prairie Schooner and interesting, innovative online literary entities and individuals from around the world, Fusion seeks to create dynamic alliances in literature and art. Fusion 1 featured a collaboration with Cordite Poetry Review focusing on work. Fusion 2 continues the themed trend by focusing on womb, while featuring a partnership with Batswana poets and artists.

Marianne Kunkel, managing editor of Prairie Schooner, will be co-curating Fusion 2 with TJ Dema, a Botswana-based poet who runs SAUTI an events, arts and performance management organization.

“Taking on such a decision-making role as curator of the upcoming Fusion was thrilling,” says Kunkel. “Prairie Schooner exceeded my expectations regarding the number of candid and eccentric womb-themed poems that appeared in its pages in the last eighty-six years. I’m extremely pleased with the online conversation that TJ Dema and I facilitated across continents and generations—a conversation not only about the womb but about women’s bodies as whole entities.”

The featured Batswana artist will be Sedrieng Olehile Mothibatsela. Kelly Manning, a graduate of the University of Nebraska, will be the featured Nebraska artist. Her exhibition record includes the multi-national juried North American Graduate Art Survey at the University of Minnesota.

Featured Batswana poets include the former Iowa fellow, Barolong Seboni; the 2011 international slam champion for the African poetry express slam held in Zimbabwe, Mandisa Mabuthoe; and the winner of a Farrago prize, Andreattah Chuma. All prize-winning poets have read their work in countries around the world.

In addition, Prairie Schooner features classic work from its archive, with poetry by Alicia Ostriker, Linda Hogan, Stephen Dunn, and Ruth Stone. Prairie Schooner has, over eighty-six years, managed to create a fascinating archive of American letters and the work featured in Fusion represents poems published in the last few decades by some of the most recognizable American poets and by gifted poets who are still lesser known.

Fusion is an opportunity to create dialog across geographical spaces and cultures through the sharing of art and writing. It represents an effort to create bridges and to do so by asking writers to think about the very things that connect distinguish them in different parts of the world.

The next Fusion will launch Nov. 1 and will be home-themed, collaborating with Balkan poets and curator Nikola Madzirov. View the Fusion archives at Prairie Schooner’s website featuring the art of Michelle Ussher and Watie White, as well as poems, audio, and interviews.

Dawes Announces African Poetry Book Fund

Kwame Dawes, Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, is excited to announce the establishment of the African Poetry Book Series. Beginning in January 2014, the imprint will publish four new titles by African poets each year. In addition the series will publish every few years an anthology representing African regions, themes, and ideas. Of the four books published annually, one will be a winner of the Sillerman African Poetry First Book Prize, and another will be a new and selected volume by a major African poet. The winner of the prize will also receive a $1000 cash prize and publication with the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal.

Ghanaian poet, Kofi Awoonor, has agreed to be the first major African poet to be part of the Series. His New and Selected poems with an introduction by fellow poet and scholar, Kofi Anyidoho will be published in 2014 by the African Poetry Book Series.

The Series has been made possible through seed funding from philanthropists, Laura and Robert F. X. Sillerman, whose generous contributions have facilitated the establishment of the African Poetry Book Fund. Mr. and Mrs. Sillerman have also welcomed the use of their name for the First Book Prize for African poets, the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, which will be part of the Series.

The African Poetry Book Series will be the major feature of the work of the African Poetry Book Fund, established this year under Dawes’ leadership through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Confirmed members of the Foundations Advisory Board include Laura Sillerman, Elizabeth Alexander, Sulaiman Adebowale, Russell Goings, Peter Rorvik, Ellah Allfrey, and Glenna Luschei.

Under the auspices of the fund, one of its key facets will be the establishment of an additional prize for poetry, the Brunel University African Poetry Prize awarded for a selection of poems by an African poet. Spearheaded by poet and novelist, Bernardine Evaristo, the Brunel University African Poetry Prize will offer a cash award for the winning entries and publication in key international literary journals. Evaristo will also serve on the Editorial Board of the Series.

A collaborative venture, the African Poetry Book Fund will oversee the publication of the series which will be co-published by the University of Nebraska Press in the US and Amalion Press in Senegal, led by publisher, Sulaiman Adebowale. Prairie Schooner will be a key partner in this project offering administrative support and the management of the annual First Book Prize. Open Road Media, a dynamic digital publisher and multimedia company led by publishing powerhouse, Jane Friedman, will be handling the digital and e-book side of the African Poetry Book Series. Finally, Blue Flower Arts, a leading arts booking agency for some of the best contemporary writers, has offered to represent the series and its authors.

The African Poetry Fund will, through the Series and other projects, promote the writing and publication of African poetry through an international complex of additional collaborations and partnerships. The fund and its partners will offer support for seminars, workshops and other publishing opportunities for African poets.

Six gifted and internationally regarded poets will serve as the editorial board for the series. Ghanaian-born poet, Kwame Dawes will serve as the Series editor, soliciting new writing and also welcoming unsolicited submissions for consideration for the series. Also serving on the editorial board are: the South African poet Gabeba Baderoon, the American novelist John Keene, the Nigerian poet and novelist Chris Abani, the Egyptian-American poet Matthew Shenoda, and Bernardine Evaristo, award-winning novelist and poet from the UK.

Make sure to stay tuned to Prairie Schooner’s website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter for further projects of this enterprising Series.

Prairie Schooner to be Available on Kindle

Following recent online efforts such as the launch of the podcast series Air Schooner and the cross-cultural e-zine Fusion, the University of Nebraska’s internationally-recognized literary journal, Prairie Schooner, will continue its innovative trend this June by making its print issues available on Amazon Kindle starting with its Summer 2012 issue.

This transition to Kindle puts Prairie Schooner in company with top literary magazines, such as The Atlantic and The New Yorker, that are available in an electronic format. A current issue of Prairie Schooner on Kindle will cost $6.99. (A current print issue costs $9.)

Under the direction of Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes, a recently-appointed Guggenheim Fellow, the spectacular Summer 2012 issue features some of the biggest names in contemporary literature, including poetry by Sharon Olds, John Kinsella, Robert Gibb, and Maxine Kumin, as well as fiction from Nancy Welch and the late Gerry Shapiro.

Marianne Kunkel, Managing Editor of the journal, says, “Debuting Prairie Schooner on Kindle does not signal a move away from offering our journal in hard copy; instead, we see the digital version of PS as an exciting supplement to our print tradition, which dates back more than 85 years.”

As more and more people prefer reading on e-readers, the Schooner will continue to offer its journal to readers and subscribers in a user-friendly format. Visit the Prairie Schooner website for a link to buy the Kindle issue on Amazon, or download the issue to your mobile device via the Kindle app.

Redd Named Publicity Associate

The esteemed literary magazine, Prairie Schooner, is pleased to announce the hiring of James Redd as its new Publicity Associate! The position of Publicity Associate was recently created to promote the journal’s exciting new projects, such as the 2012 Creative Nonfiction Contest judged by Steven Church, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Prairie Schooner’s Glenna Luschei Endowed Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes says of Redd, “It is our good fortune to find someone who is a gifted writer, a talented and experienced musician, a savvy and witty thinker, and a man with an impressive work ethic. James Redd is a fantastic addition to our team.”

Holding an M.A. with an emphasis in creative writing from Mississippi State University and currently a third-year Ph.D. student in fiction at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Redd takes over as Publicity Associate after a two-year tenure as an editorial assistant at the Schooner. His expertise in the promotion of musical acts, including touring, album production and publicity, will serve him well in the position.

Recently, Redd has served Prairie Schooner in innovative capacities, as he was invited to read, in his authentic Southern accent, Eudora Welty’s “The Whistle” for its digital project, and he was enlisted to write and present an ekphrastic song in response to Greg Hrbek’s book-prize-winning collection of short stories, Destroy All Monsters. In addition to his experience with PS, he served as an editor for the Jabberwock Review and Illuminations.

His writing was nominated for inclusion in Best New American Voices 2009, and he won Second place in the Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner award for the short story. His story "Visiting" is published in the Fall 2011 issue of Fifth Wednesday. Read the Winter 2011 issue of Parting Gifts to enjoy more of his work. He has just completed a book-length collection of poetry entitled A Man of God’s Own Heart and is writing a novel called Revival!

Please join us in welcoming James Redd as Prairie Schooner’s new Publicity Associate.

2012 Nebraska Summer Writers Conference

Every summer since 2001, the Nebraska Summer Writers Conference has brought to Lincoln some of the nation’s most acclaimed authors. The conference offers weekend and a week-long curriculum, as well as a number of events free and open to the public. This year they are spotlighting successful graduates of UNL’s creative writing PhD program: Lee Martin, emily danforth, and Dave Madden, as well as former Nebraskans Carleen Brice, Terese Svoboda, and Meghan Daum, all having achieved national success as authors.

In addition to the workshops, the Conference features an evening with Terese Svoboda, translator of Cleaned the Crocodile's Teeth: Nuer Song, celebrating Nebraskan-Nuer culture; Guggenheim-winning poet Kwame Dawes discussing his new appointment with the Prairie Schooner literary journal; and many other readings, discussions, and panels.

The faculty includes:
Lee Martin (Pulitzer Prize finalist for the novel The Bright Forever);
Carleen Brice (whose novel Orange Mint and Honey was made into the NAACP Image Award-winning film Sins of the Mother);
Terese Svoboda (poet, novelist, filmmaker and native Nebraskan);
emily m. danforth (author of the acclaimed YA novel The Miseducation of Cameron Post);
Meghan Daum (author of the memoir Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House; columnist for the LA Times; has contributed to This American Life, the New Yorker, Vogue, Travel and Leisure, and many more publications and broadcasts);
… as well as poets Stacey Waite, Aracelis Girmay, and Kwame Dawes; nonfiction writer Dave Madden; and fiction writer/poet/memoirist Michelle Tea.

The Nebraska Summer Writers Conference is part of the creative writing program of UNL’s English Department, in the College of Arts and Sciences.

WHEN: June 9-15, 2012
WHERE: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, city campus
WHAT: Creative writing workshops (registration required); also free/open readings & panel discussions (no registration required); faculty includes renowned authors, novelists, poets.
WEB: See website for schedule, online registration, more info about sessions, and faculty bios: http://nebraskawriters.unl.edu MEDIA CONTACT: Timothy Schaffert (tschaffert2@unl.edu) or Sarah Chavez (nswc@unl.edu); 402-472-3067

Dawes to Address UNL Postgraduates

Kwame Dawes, professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at UNL, will address the Friday, May 4 postgraduate ceremony (3 p.m., Bob Devaney Sports Center) as part of commencement weekend on campus. All ceremonies are free and open to the public.

For more information, see here.

Editor Kwame Dawes Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Kwame Dawes, professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has received a prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He is among 181 scholars, artists and scientists in the United States and Canada who were selected for the honor from nearly 3,000 applicants.

The fellowship will support his work on the poem cycle, "August: A Quintet," based on the work of August Wilson, an American playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner whose work illustrated the African-American experience in the 20th century.

Dawes called the award a tremendous honor, adding that he's grateful to all the writers who wrote in support of his selection.

"I have long regarded the Guggenheim Fellowship as a clear indication of the quality and significance of the work of American artists and artists from around the world. I waited until I thought I had a fit project before applying, and I am glad I did," he said.

He's especially grateful because the fellowship acknowledges the importance of the work it will support, he said.

Dawes joined the UNL faculty as a Chancellor's Professor in 2011 and took the helm of Prairie Schooner, UNL's quarterly literary magazine that for the past 85 years has published the fiction, poetry, essays and reviews of talented writers of all levels. He is the author of 16 poetry collections, three works of fiction, and several anthologies, produced plays, and books of literary criticism and aesthetics, not counting forthcoming works. His long list of accomplishments includes a 2009 Emmy Award for a multimedia documentary project on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica.

Guggenheim Fellows are appointed based on distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment. What distinguishes the Guggenheim Fellowship program from others is the wide range in interest, age, geography and institutions of those it selects. The 2012 fellows come from 54 disciplines and 77 different academic institutions.

Since its establishment in 1925, the foundation has granted fellowships to more than 17,300 individuals. Scores of Nobel, Pulitzer and other prizewinners appear on the rolls of the Foundation's fellows. Among them are Ansel Adams, Aaron Copland, Langston Hughes, Henry Kissinger, Vladimir Nabokov, Isamu Noguchi, Linus Pauling, Paul Samuelson, Martha Graham, Philip Roth, Derek Walcott, James Watson and Eudora Welty. The last UNL scholar to win a Guggenheim Fellowship was chemist Xiao Cheng Zeng in 2004.

Dawes will join other 2012 fellows at a reception next month in New York to accept his award.

-Jean Ortiz Jones