Posts Categorized: Prizes

Interview with 1/2K Finalist: J. Bowers

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“And for a holy moment you are soaring…”

When our editors were reading through submissions to last year’s Half-K Prize, it was J. Bowers’ depiction of the “holy moment” that captured our editors’ attention and held it tight. In her “Two on a Horse” series, Bowers focuses on a fleeting physical experience – the Steeplechase ride at Coney Island around the turn of the century – and uses it to explore complex themes of gender and class without ever slowing the momentum of language and story.

The parameters of our annual Half-K Prize can be confusing and challenging because of its limited word count (500 words) and unlimited genre constraints (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, short-shorts, prose-poetry, flash-whatever). We asked Bowers to tell us more about her pieces that were finalists of the 2012 Half-K Prize, focusing particularly on her process of determining its length and form.

We hope this helps, all of you current and prospective Half-K authors!

(Click here to read more!)

Play It Till It Breaks

As a writer and especially as a student in an M.F.A. program I am often asked what it is that I write.  My answer will vary somewhat depending on the person asking and the context of our conversation but I always find that at the center of that perfectly reasonable question lies a demand to identify oneself through genre.  So the question becomes not just, what are you working on, but rather what are you?

As an undergraduate, I studied poetry and wrote a lot of short, spare, tightly enjambed poems.  These pieces were mostly bad but I was certain that they were poems and therefore I was a poet.

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After I left school and found an amazing writing community in Seattle through Bent Queer Writing Institute, I started to write stories and essays.  Complete, unenjambed sentences!  Those sentences were crammed full of sound and image but since they happily went all the way across the page I was certain that what I was writing was prose and that as a prose writer I should now set to work on writing my novel.

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I would not have owned it at the time but I had a pretty rigid view of genre.  I understood that my fiction could be memoir-based or my prose sentences could be rooted in poetic elements of sound and syntax.  But I felt ultimately that it was my job as a writer (and especially as a writer who wanted to be good) to commit to a specific genre and in doing so eliminate any problematic markers of other genres from the piece at hand.

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Lucky for me I ended up with a lot of smart friends and teachers who introduced me to work that did not easily fit into a single genre category.  I read Lydia Davis, Haryette Mullen, Maggie Nelson, Micah Ling, Michael Martone, Eve Alexandra, and Julio Cortezar.  This work was funny, smart, beautiful, and strange.  It shook my own creative sensibility, my idea of the good, genre-abiding writer. 

What I loved and continue to love about work that pushes the boundaries of genre, work that resides in in-between spaces, is the unruliness of it.  I believe that rowdiness comes not from disregarding form or genre but from inhabiting the space lineated by expectations so fully that the writer is able to push the form until it bends, blurs, or breaks.  It’s the same thing I love about a well-crafted sonnet and a mind-blowing drag performance.

When a piece of classical music like something by Bach is played on period instruments, the notes make use of the instrument to its full capability.  And so every time the piece is played there is the risk of rupture.  As a writer this is what I want to make and as an editor this is what I want to publish.

Speaking of publishing, we just opened submissions for our annual ½ K Prize and there’s been a bit of confusion about what genres we’re looking for in this contest.  And that’s because we’re not looking for a specific genre at all.  I love this contest precisely because it offers a home for pieces that are not easily categorized.  This is an opportunity for us to examine and showcase work outside the traditional boundaries of genre. 

There are a couple of great examples from last year’s contest up on our website now.  J. Bowers’ “Two on a Horse” could be called a series of historical fiction short-shorts.  Megan Moriarty’s “The Clowns Are Leaving Soon” skews more toward the genre of the prose poem.  But neither of my short descriptions here accurately encompasses the wild strangeness that Bowers and Moriarty welcome in these pieces.  So, in terms of genre we at the Indiana Review are inviting you to play whatever instrument you choose and if you play it till it breaks, all the better.

Dying to share your own thoughts on genre?  Have deep feelings about possessive apostrophe preferences?  Come at me in the comments.

 

 

Announcing the 2013 Poetry Prize Winner and Finalists!

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We could not be more excited to announce the winner (and finalists) of Indiana Review’s 2013 Poetry Prize! We received hundreds of submissions, which were read anonymously, and the final winner was selected by contest judge Nikky Finney.

2013 Indiana Review Poetry Prize Winner

“The Gun Joke”

Jamaal May

Runners-Up

“Jezebel Revisits the Book of Kings”

Jeanann Verlee

“A Meditation in Time of War”

Eric Weinstein

When asked to say a few words of the winning piece, “The Gun Joke,” Nikky Finney writes:

This poem’s acuity has much to do with the human truth it reveals, in a new way, a determined, nuanced, beautiful, uncompromising way. THE GUN JOKE’S highly thoughtful word choice and graceful line decisions, the subtle but sacred repetition it evokes about the subject itself, all of this and more is built into this winning poem. Last but not least, it is often the courage of the poet who opens his mouth and boldly speaks into the dumbed-down news of last week, saying with each stroke of his pencil: Wait! Slow Down! This is not old news. This is now. Won’t you pay attention? Courage counts.

 

The winning poem will appear in Indiana Review 35.2, due out in Winter 2013. You can order a single issue or a subscription here.

A huge congratulations to our winner and runners-up, and a million more thanks to the hundreds of writers who submitted and made this contest a success! We appreciated the chance to read such varied, surprising and often wonderful work.

Finalists:

Brandon Amico, “The Pope Does Not Reply to My Tweets”

Melissa Barrett, “If I Were the Moon, I Know Where I Would Fall Down”

Annie Christain, “The Sect Which Pulls the Sinews: I’ve Seen You Handle Cocoons”

Jennifer Givhan, “Karaoke Night at the Asylum”

Alysia Harris, “Moths on Loan”

Rachel Katz, “Quickening”

Nate Marshall, “Palindrome”

Emily Skaja, “Poem to Drag Behind Your Chariot, Ramona”

Eric Weinstein, “This Is a Recording”

2013 1/2 K Prize

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It’s summer in Bloomington, the undergraduates have fled, and Editor Katie Moulton and I are doing our best to keep things lively in the office while the rest of the staff is on break.

A couple of notes from our to-do list that we want to pass on to you:

Regular submissions are currently closed.  We will open the gates again on August 1. 

Any electronic or hard-copy submissions received between now and July 31 will be returned unread.

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I know, it is sad.

But wait!  No need to despair!

We will be accepting submissions for the annual Indiana Review ½ K Prize, judged by Dinty Moore, between June 1 and August 1, 2013.

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Yep.  We’re excited too!  Send us your very best 500-word previously unpublished pieces. Prose? Poetry? Prosetry? There are no rules, man! Well, except for these: 

You may submit 3 pieces per entry and you may also submit multiple entries. At $20 per entry, that’s a pretty sweet deal.  If you are submitting online, make sure to pay the entry fee after you have submitted your pieces. Note: You can pay now, but you won’t be able to submit until June 1.

When submitting online make sure to designate your entry as a submission to the 1/2 K Prize.  If you are paying the old-fashioned way please make checks out to Indiana University.

Full submission guidelines can be found here.

Stay tuned to the blog for more updates and summer shenanigans!

 

Don’t Be a Fool: Submit Before April 1st!

It’s no joke: 2012-2013 has brought us an unprecedented number of submissions. In order to give all these pieces the careful reading they deserve, we will be closing our submissions April 1st (which also happens to be the deadline for our 2013 Poetry Prize). Of course, we will reopen our submissions in the fall—stay tuned!

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