Opportunity Knocks: The Masters Review Anthology Prize; Writers Digest 88th Annual Writing Competiton

What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
You dreamed
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in you hand
Ah, what then?
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Complete Poems



MASTERS REVIEW ANTHOLOGY VIII is open for entries of fiction or nonfiction up to 7,000 words through March 31 for emerging writers who have not yet published a novel at time of submissions or whose work has had a circulation below 5,000 copies. Entry fee. Cash award, publication, and “exposure to literary agents.”  Details HERE.

WRITERS DIGEST 88TH ANNUAL WRITING COMPETITION has an early-bird entry deadline of May 6. Entry fee. Cash awards, publication, exposure to agents and editors, interview in Writers Digest Magazine, and paid trip to Writers Digest Annual Conference in New York City.

Categories

  • Inspirational/Spiritual
  • Memoirs/Personal Essay
  • Print or Online Article
  • Genre Short Story (Mystery, Romance, etc.)
  • Mainstream/Literary Short Story
  • Rhyming Poetry
  • Non-rhyming Poetry
  • Script (Stage Play or Television/Movie Script)
  • Children’s/Young Adult Fiction

Details HERE.


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Public Enemy and Possible Poet: Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie and Clyde)

Bonnie Parker (1910-1934)

“The country’s money simply declined by 38 percent”, explains Milner, author of The Lives and Times of Bonnie and Clyde. “Gaunt, dazed men roamed the city streets seeking jobs … Breadlines and soup kitchens became jammed. [In rural areas] foreclosures forced more than 38 percent of farmers from their lands [while simultaneously] a catastrophic drought struck the Great Plains … By the time Bonnie and Clyde became well-known, many had felt that the capitalistic system had been abused by big business and government officials … Now here were Bonnie and Clyde striking back.” Milner, E.R. The Lives and Times of Bonnie and Clyde.Southern Illinois University Press, 2003.



The Guardian recently ran a feature, ‘We donte want to hurt anney one’: Bonnie [Parker] and Clyde’s [Barrow] poetry revealed”Wow! Who knew? I certainly didn’t. The quote in the headline is allegedly Clyde’s work. He tried his hand, but it looks like Bonnie was the poet. For those who may not know these were Depression Era criminals in a day when the most notorious were labeled “Public Enemy” and these two certainly were, though they are often glamorized in media.

Apparently there’s a notebook in which the poems believed to be written by the couple are collected. It is up for auction by Barrow’s nephew.  (Find more details and photos of the notebook at Heritage Auctions. They’re also auctioning off photographs.)

A little further research – very little (but I was curious) – reveals that there are several poems popularly ascribed to Bonnie.  Here’s one:

The Story of Bonnie and Clyde

You’ve read the story of Jesse James
Of how he lived and died;
If you’re still in need
Of something to read,
Here’s the story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang,
I’m sure you all have read
How they rob and steal
And those who squeal
Are usually found dying or dead.

There’s lots of untruths to these write-ups;
They’re not so ruthless as that;
Their nature is raw;
They hate all the law
The stool pigeons, spotters, and rats.

They call them cold-blooded killers;
They say they are heartless and mean;
But I say this with pride,
That I once knew Clyde
When he was honest and upright and clean.

But the laws fooled around,
Kept taking him down
And locking him up in a cell,
Till he said to me,
‘I’ll never be free,
So I’ll meet a few of them in hell.’

The road was so dimly lighted;
There were no highway signs to guide;
But they made up their minds
If all roads were blind,
They wouldn’t give up till they died.

The road gets dimmer and dimmer;
Sometimes you can hardly see;
But it’s fight, man to man,
And do all you can,
For they know they can never be free.

From heart-break some people have suffered;
From weariness some people have died;
But take it all in all,
Our troubles are small
Till we get like Bonnie and Clyde.

If a policeman is killed in Dallas,
And they have no clue or guide;
If they can’t find a fiend,
They just wipe their slate clean
And hand it on Bonnie and Clyde.

There’s two crimes committed in America
Not accredited to the Barrow mob;
They had no hand
In the kidnap demand,
Nor the Kansas City depot job.

A newsboy once said to his buddy;
‘I wish old Clyde would get jumped;
In these awful hard times
We’d make a few dimes
If five or six cops would get bumped.’

The police haven’t got the report yet,
But Clyde called me up today;
He said, ‘Don’t start any fights
We aren’t working nights
We’re joining the NRA.’

From Irving to West Dallas viaduct
Is known as the Great Divide,
Where the women are kin,
And the men are men,
And they won’t ‘stool’ on Bonnie and Clyde.

If they try to act like citizens
And rent them a nice little flat,
About the third night
They’re invited to fight
By a sub-gun’s rat-tat-tat.

They don’t think they’re too tough or desperate,
They know that the law always wins;
They’ve been shot at before,
But they do not ignore
That death is the wages of sin.

Some day they’ll go down together;
And they’ll bury them side by side;
To few it’ll be grief
To the law a relief
But it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.

– Bonnie Parker
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“At approximately 9:15 a.m. on May 23, the posse, concealed in the bushes and almost ready to concede defeat, heard Barrow’s stolen Ford V8 approaching at a high speed. . . .  The lawmen opened fire, killing Barrow and Parker while shooting a combined total of about 130 rounds.  . . Barrow was killed instantly [but an officer reports hearing] Parker scream as she realized Barrow was dead before the shooting at her fully began. The officers emptied all their arms at the car. Any one of the many wounds suffered by Bonnie and Clyde would have been fatal.” Wikipedia
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All photographs in the post are in the public domain.
..

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Debut Writers and Women Writers Sweep Up the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards

“Don’t write about what you remember; write about what you are unable to forget.” Sandra Cisneros



Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah Wins Book of the Year PEN/Jean Stein Award With Largest Prize | Playwright Kenneth Lonergan Receives Debut PEN/Mike Nichols Award for Performance Writing | Sandra Cisneros Honored for Illustrious Career That Transcends Genres, Cultures, and Languages

Yesterday, PEN America announced the winners of the 2019 Literary Awards at a  ceremony where literary luminaries and publishing tastemakers celebrated emerging writers and paid homage to established voices. Debut authors and works by and about women prevailed in a year with a record number of submissions in the nation’s largest, most comprehensive literary awards program.

The worlds of Hollywood and literature converged with the debut of the PEN/ Mike Nichols Award for Performance Writing, conferred on film director, playwright, and screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan for his exemplary portfolio of work in 2018, including two Broadway stage productions that ran simultaneously:“The Waverly Gallery,” originally produced in 1999, which follows an aging leftist activist as she battles Alzheimer’s, and“Lobby Hero,” originally produced in 2002, which chronicles the story of personal ambitions amid a murder mystery. The award, established by PEN America and Saturday Night Live creator and director Lorne Michaels, highlights transformative works that enlighten and inspire audiences in the tradition of venerated film and theater director, producer, and comedian Mike Nichols, who passed away in 2014. Matthew Broderick, who presented the award to Lonergan, said: “I always saw Mike as a teacher, and I find myself feeling the same way about Kenny. It’s not every day you get to present an award named for a dear friend, to a best friend.”

Mexican-American Writer, Sandra Cisneros

Novelist, poet, and essayist Sandra Cisneros (one of my personal faves), author of The House on Mango Street, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, and many more beloved works, was lauded for a lifetime of extraordinary literary contribution and presented with the PEN/ Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. Judges Alexander Chee, Edwidge Danticat, and Valeria Luiselli noted her “formidable and awe-inspiring body of work, which includes fiction, memoir, and poetry,” adding that “it’s hard to imagine navigating our world today without her stories and her voice guiding us toward much needed reclamation and endurance.” Maria Hinojosa, presenting the award, recalled advice Cisneros had given her: “Don’t write about what you remember; write about what you are unable to forget.”

Cisneros dedicated her award to all those who have touched her life and shaped her as a writer: “Writers, poets, editors, truth tellers who offer light in the time of darkness; librarians and booksellers, patron saints in the age of distraction; the 6th grade teacher whose name I cannot remember, whose kindness I will not forget.”

In a shortlist dominated by debut writers, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah emerged as the winner of the PEN/ Jean Stein Award for book of the year, with the largest prize at  $75,000, for his short story collection Friday Black. Praised for its combination of “the real and surreal, the concrete and the mythological,” the judges lauded Adjei-Brenyah’s “cool control over his prose and dialogue while allowing his imagination to abandon constraints and conventions, exploring genetic enhancement, frenzied retail work, and soft friendships. At turns horrifying and funny, tender and savage, these stories stick with you, probing the American psyche and persistently asking more of us.” In his remarks, Adjei-Brenyah shared that: “In writing this book, I wanted these stories to be out in the world even if my name wasn’t associated with them. Maybe someone would feel seen, push a conversation that needed to happen… If we can imagine a world much worse than ours, we can collectively imagine one that is much better.”

Celebrating debut short story collections, the PEN/Bingham Prize was awarded to Will Mackin for Bring Out the Dog, portraying the devastation, absurdity, surrealism, and compassion in modern warfare, drawing from Mackin’s own experiences as a U.S. Navy veteran. Nafissa Thompson-Spires took home the PEN Open Book Award for Heads of the Colored People, her debut collection of short stories, a funny, sly, and devastating collection that examines the precariousness of black lives in the United States; and Imani Perry won the PEN/Bograd Weld Award for Biography for Looking For Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, an insightful, sharp, and empathetic exploration of the life of Hansberry—writer, cultural icon, and the first black female author to have a play performed on Broadway. Michelle Tea took home the prestigious PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essayfor the “singularly irresistible” voice of Against Memoir. Translator Martin Aitken won the PEN Translation Prize for his “luminous translation from the Norwegian of Hanne Ørstavik’s haunting novel Love, which follows the distant, orbiting lives of a mother and son like a telescope through one cold winter’s night.”

“Rather than a traditional celebration of achievement, PEN America’s juried awards probe the depths of the contemporary canon to identify and elevate essential voices and bring them to the widest possible audience,” said PEN America Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel. “The PEN America Literary Awards are set apart by the alchemy of venerated names among the ranks of both winners and judges, and the bracing new talents whose careers are rocket-boosted by gaining recognition just as they burst on the scene.”

Katherine Seligman won the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for her manuscript If You Knew, an urban noir exploring issues of homelessness and community in rapidly gentrifying San Francisco. In addition to a prize of $25,000, Seligman will receive a publishing contract with Algonquin Books.

Lifetime achievement and career awards were conferred upon authors, journalists, editors, playwrights, and poets. Jackie “Mac” MacMullan was awarded the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing, in recognition of the literary quality of her sportswriting, her exemplary use of the oral history form, and her many years as a newspaper columnist; she is also the first woman to receive this award. Larissa FastHorse received thePEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award in recognition of her exemplary and prolific output in a little over a decade that examines modern families, histories, languages, cultures, and communities. The Apogee literary journal’s Alexandra Watson won the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Editing for her exemplary stewardship of the publication, and for foregrounding writers of color and engaging with issues of race, gender, and class through the “Alternate Canon” series. Celebrating great promise in an early career poet, thePEN/Osterweil Award for Poetry was conferred upon Jonah Mixon-Webster for the high literary character of his debut collection, Stereo(TYPE), which explores the intersection of space and body, race and region, and sexuality and class; and wrestles with the ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan.

In closing the ceremony, PEN America President Jennifer Egan reminded the audience that “the daring works we celebrate today are a testament to the freedom we have to write them.”

The sold-out ceremony was studded with musical, poetic, and dramatic performances, and riveting, live announcements of each winner. The evening included performances by Sweet Megg & Wayfarers, a dramatic rendition of FastHorse’s Urban Rez and What Would Crazy Horse Do by Jake Hart and Sera-Lys McArthur, and a moving tribute to literary icons lost in 2018. Comedian, filmmaker, and Ceremony host Hari Kondabolu brought roaring laughs, and sent the audience home with sound advice: “please get home safe: no reading and driving!”

All of the winners of the 2019 Literary Awards can be found HERE.

Photographs from the Literary Awards Ceremony will be available here. The video will be available on pen.org.

For over 50 years, the PEN America Literary Awards have honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature, bestowing 20 distinct awards across genres from fiction and drama to sports and science writing, with cash prizes totaling more than $370,000 to writers and translators. This annual fête of literary excellence has become one of the defining literary events of the year.

This post is courtesy of PEN America. Photo credits: Sandra Cisneros courtesy of ksm36 under CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Nafissa Thompson-Spires courtesy of her publisher via her Amazon page.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. pen.org


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Another Kind of Beauty, a poem … and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

Big Sur, Northern California

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry, The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry [recommended]



they’re paralyzed on the Atlantic seaboard under
the weight of snow drifts, the detritus of blizzards;
stark bare branches of oak, elm and maple
etch dark veins into an icy-gray cast-over sky

on the West Coast we’re breaking out magnolias
and blades of tender young grass are unfurling;
the near-sping temps us to wrap ourselves
in its perfumed and congenial blessing

along the stretch of Big Sur the sea strikes stone
and the air explodes, bright and wet with spume,
the green patinated-brine salts our mouths;
above us cloud turrets mimic white-capped waves

standing here, consumed by this seeming infinity,
our hands and eyes and mind conspire
to imitate nature in the most apt way, using
our sketch pad, pen and colored pencils

a quick wingless flight into that dancing sea and
we surface with visions grasped tight in our fists,
our eyes are blinded by a palette of colors, our
pencils bear witness to the gift of another morning,
another kind of beauty; undulating, animated
and so unlike the silent white majesty of snow

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved;  photograph of Big Sur 2008 courtesy of Diff under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Despite all the rocky news about climate change, deforestation and other environmental tragedies, nature in her many aspects speaks to us of joyful things. How does nature inspire joy in you, inspire your creativity and perhaps even your sense of peace.  Tell us in your own poem or poems.

Share your poem/s on theme in the comments section below or leave a link to it/them. All poems on theme will be published on the first Tuesday following this post.

 No poems submitted through email or Facebook will be published. 

IF this is your first time joining us for The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-). These are partnered with your poem/s on first publication.

PLEASE send the bio ONLY if you are with us on this for the first time AND only if you have posted a poem (or a link to one of yours) on theme in the comments section below.  

Deadline:  Monday, March 4 by 8 pm Pacific Standard Time.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you. This is a discerning non-judgemental place to connect.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


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