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LGBT Cultural Pioneer Edmund White and Irish Novelist Edna O’Brien to be Honored for Lifetime Achievement

PEN America announced last week that it will honor author and LGBT cultural pioneer Edmund White with the annual PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.

White at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival courtesy of David Shankbone under CC BY 3.0

EDMUND WHITE  (b. 1940) is an American novelist, memoirist, and an essayist on literary and social topics. Much of his writing is on the theme of same-sex love. His books include The Joy of Gay Sex (1977) (written with Charles Silverstein, a writer, therapist, lecturer and gay activist), his trio of autobiographic novels, A Boy’s Own Story (1982), The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988) and The Farewell Symphony (1997), and his biography of Jean Genet. His website is HERE.  His Amazon page is HERE.

If you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to watch this video.

The 2018 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature will go to the extraordinarily prolific Irish novelist Edna O’Brien, whose acclaimed work broke down social and sexual barriers for women in Ireland and elsewhere.

Edna O’Brien at Hay Festival 2016 courtesy of Andrew Lih under CC BY-SA 3.0

EDNA O’BRIEN, DBE (b. 1930) is an Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short story writer. Philip Roth described her “the most gifted woman now writing in English”, while the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, cited her as “one of the great creative writers of her generation”.

O’Brien’s works often revolve around the inner feelings of women, and their problems in relating to men, and to society as a whole.Her first novel, The Country Girls, is often credited with breaking silence on sexual matters and social issues during a repressive period in Ireland following World War II.The book was banned, burned and denounced from the pulpit, and O’Brien left Ireland behind.

O’Brien  received the Irish PEN Award in 2001. Saints and Sinners won the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the world’s richest prize for a short story collection. Faber and Faber published her memoir, Country Girl, in 2012.  Her Faber & Faber author’s page is HERE. Her Amazon page is HERE.

If you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to watch this video.

PEN America will also honor:

  • poet Kamau Brathwaite with the PEN/ Voelcker Award,
  • translator Barbara Harshav with the PEN/ Manheim Medal for Translation, and
  • author Dave Kindred with the PEN/ ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing.

The PEN/ Laura Pels Foundation for Theater Awards will be conferred on playwrights:

  • Luis Alfaro for Master American Dramatist,
  • Sibyl Kempson for American Dramatist in Mid-Career, and
  • Mike Lew for Emerging American Playwright.

White, O’Brien, and PEN America’s other career achievement award winners will accept their prizes at the 2018 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, February 20, at the NYU Skirball Center near Washington Square Park. Featuring readings, performances, and edge-of-your-seat live announcements of the winners for the year’s prizes, this annual celebration of literature and free expression has become one the city’s premier literary events drawing the biggest names and the hottest new voices in literature. Special guests, finalists, and presenters in attendance will include:

  • Tanwi Nandini Islam
  • Yahdon Israel
  • Hari Kunzru
  • Victor LaValle
  • Colum McCann
  • Lynn Nottage
  • Philip Roth
  • Layli Long Soldier
  • Monique Truong
  • Kevin Young
  • David Zirin
    … and many more

Hosted by author, social activist, and political commentator
Sally Kohn

A full list of finalists for the 2018 PEN America Literary Awards is available HERE . All book award winners will be announced at the ceremony. Purchase tickets HERE. I understand that this is the first year tickets are being made available to the general public. Student tickets are discounted.

Compiled with thanks to PEN America, White’s website, Faber & Faber, Wikipedia and Amazon.

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.


How to Win Readers and Influence Booksellers, a word to the wise writer

Seen at my fave used-book store – B Street Books (San Mateo, CA) – a long time ago.

I once had a survival job* at a brick-and-mortar mega-bookstore. Authors would sometimes come in to see how their books were doing, where their books were displayed and so forth. Those of the narcissistic variety were sure to posture and try to throw their weight around. They would want to talk with the manager and a bookseller or two, hoping to get sales stats and to bully staff into recommending their books to customers. There was little trust. They were sure their publishers weren’t reporting sales honestly. This last, of course, would affect royalties. These writers were condescending as well as rude.

As you might imagine, strut-and-push strategies achieve nothing. Bookstore management and staff are forbidden to share sales data with anyone, including authors. Staff don’t have control over the placement of books in the store. That’s dictated by corporate, which has negotiated contractual agreements with publisher regarding book placement.

Having said that, it’s actually a good idea to go into bookstores and talk to staff. If it’s not a busy day, introduce yourself.  You might ask about their jobs, how they like them, what kind of books they read. Show some interest in booksellers. Remember the adage about honey vs. vinegar.

“I did discover that if you’re interested in low wages, a bookstore ranks below retail clothing sales, except the hours are worse.” Sue Grafton, American novelist (detective stories)

Working in a mega-bookstore might sound romantic to a bibliophile, but it’s hard work. It’s pretty thankless and it’s not well-paid. It involves lifting and moving heavy boxes of books, pushing H-carts, dragging hand trucks, dealing with demanding customers and stressed managers. There are no civilized corner offices with windows. There are shabby lunchrooms and rushed-half-hour lunches, two ten-minute breaks. There are sore feet and aching backs. Our regional manager used to say that if you didn’t hurt at the end of a shift you weren’t doing your job.

Resetting the store after closing is not the sweet enchanted thing illustrated in the video below. It’s fast paced and onerous. Everyone is tired.  Some people will close the store late at night and have to be back early in the morning without having had enough sleep.

If you do visit bookstores, say “thank you” for all the hard work. Congratulate the booksellers on the store’s appearance. Drizzle a little honey. Booksellers will remember you as kind and be more inclined to read and recommend your books.

* a survival job is not a career position just something taken to pay the bills until more appropriate work is found

Note: If you are viewing this post from an email subscription, it’s likely you’ll have to link through to the site to play the video.

This post is dedicated to booksellers everywhere. 

© 2016, Jamie Dedes

SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Contests, Events and Other Information and News


Opportunity Knocks

RINKY DINK PRESS, Micropoetry for the People “is on a mission to get poetry back into the hands (and pockets) of the people – each of our single author collections can fit in your pocket, but we never sacrifice craft, and despite the tiny format, we refuse to sacrifice style.” $4 submission fee for book submission. Deadline: November 17.  Guidelines HERE.

THE CORTLAND REVIEW will consider poetry, prose, essays, translations and book reviews and will reopen for submissions in October. Check the site for updates.

DIRTY PAWS POETRY REVIEW is a fledgling with its first publication scheduled to debuted in December. The plan is biannual publication. The editors say they “want poetry unafraid of facing the truth and unashamed of having hope.” Submissions are open until November 15. Details HERE

FLARE literary journal is published by students in Flagler College [Florida] English Department and seeks poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and art from anywhere in the U.S.  It is published once a year in the fall.  In the spring the publication goes online as a zine. Deadline: October 15.  Submission guidelines are HERE.

BREATH & SHADOW, A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature has demographic restrictions (disability and age/21) and accepts poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Modest payment on publication. Submission guidelines HERE.

KALEIDOSCOPE of United Disabilities Service of Akron is “magazine creatively focuses on the experiences of disability through literature and the fine arts.” Considers feature articles, fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, book reviews, and visual art.  Modest payment on publication. Submission guidelines HERE.

THE BeZINE submissions for the October 2017 issue – themed Music – are open and the deadline is October 10thSend submissions to me at Publication is October 15th. Poetry, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos or essays), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration. Please check out a few issues first and the Intro/Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines. No demographic restrictions. We do not publish anything that promotes hate or violence.  The lead for the October issue is Sheffield poet and musician, John Anstie (My Poetry Library and 42).

CALLING ALL POETS, WRITERS, ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS: We need your most passionate work.

Heads-up on the November zine: The theme is Hunger, Poverty and Working-class Slavery. Deadline: November 10. 

CONSEQUENCE MAGAZINE, published once-a-year, is about to close its reading period.  End date: September 30. This magazine  – an independent not-for-profit – is devoted to women writing about the culture of war. Submit short stories, poetry, nonfiction, interviews, visual art, reviews, and translations. Modest payment. Demographic restrictions. Submisson guidelines HERE.

BACKBONE PRESS – “a small press with a big vision – is a venue for ethnic poets (African-American, Latino/a, Asian and others) invites “poetry, political, evocative, social, gritty … personal and poignant.” Both emerging and established poets are encouraged. Details HERE.


Opportunity Knocks

CONSEQUENCE MAGAZINE is currently accepting submissions for its 2017 Women [“and those identifying as women”] Writing War Award for fiction. $250 award. Entry fee: $10. Deadline October 1. Details HERE.

THE FAMILY NARRATIVE PROJECT invites submissions to its 2017 essay contest, themed “family” and defined broadly. 1,000 word limit. $10 entry fee. Cash prize $500. Deadline October 31, 2017. Details HERE.

THE SHARED DREAM CHAPBOOK CONTEST for immigrant poets sponsored by Backbone Press has a deadline of November 30th. No reading fee. Cash prize. Details HERE.

PHILLIP LEVINE PRIZE IN POETRY hosted by Anhinga Press and co-sponsored by California State University, Fresno is an annual book contest open to poets who are not current or former CSU, Fresno students. Entry fee $25 U.S. Award: $2,000 and publication. Deadline: September 30. Details HERE.


  • Worcestershire Poet Laureate hosts a team of poets to join a project at Hanbury Hall. Annually the Droitwich Arts Network (DAN) work with the team at Hanbury Hall (National Trust) to offer local artists a space to exhibit and sell work in the Long Gallery. October 11 – 29. Details HERE. “In the past, poets have been invited to choose art to create a poem from. ‘Fragile Houses’ included two ekphrastic poems from this event in 2014. Other years have seen poets create videos, display poetry. The possibilities are endless.”
  • WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT, weekly by The Poet by Day, offers the opportunity to get to know other poets, share your work and get published here. The prompt is theme-based not form-based. All are welcome to join in no matter the stage of your writing career.
  • SEPTEMBER 30 IS 100,000 POETS FOR CHANGE (100TPC): Peace, sustainability and social justice are the themes set for global 100TPC by cofounders Michael Rothenburg and Terri Carrion when the event was first started in 2011. I think the number of events scheduled at various places around the world is around 600 for 2017. To find or organize an event in your area link to 100TPC global HERE. I’ve also been posting announcements from around the world on The Poet by Day Facebook Page as they come in but you will find the most comprehensive and up-to-date info at 100TPC.
  • THE BeZINE 100,000 POETS AND FRIENDS FOR CHANGE (100TPC) virtual event: In honor of 100TPC annual global event, at The BeZine we are dedicating our September efforts to the interconnections/intersections of social justice, sustainability and peace and how each of these effects the others. On September 30 we invite our poetry community – including other types of artists, our readers and friends – to share their work on theme. Directions for virtual participation with be provided that day on The BeZine blog. No stress. It’s easy. Israeli-American poet, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e)/ Play), is Master of Ceremonies (a tradition). Creatives and poetry and art lovers will be joining in from all over the world. You’ll love it.Guaranteed. It will run for at least 24 hours, making it convenient for you to organize your other activities around this event.


  • Poet Linda Ibbotson for her engaging interview of Antonia Alexandra Klimenko HERE.
  • Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor (e)/Play) for gifting us with a wonderful September issue of The BeZine
  • Eva Petropoylou Lianoy for the publication of her children’s book Adventures of Samurai Nonkasika available in Greece at
    Analogion – xylokastron, Adalakēs – xylokastron and other bookstores


YOUR SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS may be emailed to Please do so at least a week in advance.

If you would like me to consider reviewing your book, chapbook, magazine or film, here are some general guidelines:

  • nothing that foments hate or misunderstanding
  • nothing violent or encouraging of violence
  • English only, though Spanish is okay if accompanied by translation
  • though your book or other product doesn’t have to be available through Amazon for review here, it should be easy for readers to find through your site or other venues.


Often information is just that information – and not necessarily recommendation. I haven’t worked with all the publications featured in Sunday Announcements or elsewhere on this site. Awards and contests are often a means to generate income and publicity for the host organizations, some of which are more reputable than others. I am homebound due to disability and no longer attend events. Please be sure to verify information for yourself before submitting work, buying products, paying fees or attending events et al.

Affiliate Links Disclosure:
Some product links within posts are Amazon affiliate links. The Poet by Day is supported in part by these links. Your use of them costs you nothing and helps to keep this site running. When you click on an affiliate link (not all links are affiliate) and/or make a purchase I sometimes receive a small percentage of the purchase price. Thank you for your support.




A writer is so like a spider ….

On Facebook, there’s a video making its way around Facebook that gives us a view of a spider at work on his web. As I was watching it just now – fascinated, though spiders are not my most favorite creatures – I thought how like a writer this little guy is. He starts to spin his web without a thread in sight. In effect he spins on faith. It’s a faith very much like ours when we pick up a pen or sit down at the keyboard. Often we don’t know what the words will be, how the story will end, or what is the best cadence and flow for each subject we chose to address or the story we are inspired to tell through poetry or fiction. We proceed in the faith that the perfect word, the perfect ending, the perfect cadence will come to us. We have confidence (perhaps a shaky confidence at times, but confidence all the same) that our writerly thread will be there as needed.

Note: Given a message on this post received elsewhere, this is NOT about writer’s block, something I never had. In fact, if anything, this is the antidote to potential block.

If you are viewing this post from an email, you’ll likely have to link through to The Poet by Day to watch the video.

The spider collection is under CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Details on each photo are HERE.