Posts Categorized: Prizes

Interview with Half-K Prize Judge Dinty Moore

Only two weeks remain to submit to Indiana Review’s Half-K Prize Contest! But before you succumb to a series of massive panic attacks that leaves you sitting paralyzed in front of a blank Word document, take a second to gain some insight from this year’s judge, Dinty Moore.

Moore is the author of numerous books including the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize Winner Between Panic & Desire, and the editor of Brevity, an online magazine that accepts brief submissions of less than 750 words (sound familiar?).

He answered some of our questions about what makes a compressed story powerful and gripping—like a “cup of coffee five times stronger than the usual.”

Click here to read the entire interview with Moore!
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Interview with 1/2K Prize Winner: Lindsay Tigue

Michigan_central_station_from_ron_gross_2In selecting Lindsay Tigue’s piece “Michigan Central Station Has Been Closed Since 1988,” as the winner of the 2012 Half-K Prize, final judge Michael Martone had this to say:

I love trains, and I also adore ruins. I admire this piece for its content of irresistible decay and how its form replicates the unstoppable rot. This is a story that consumes itself, composts as it confounds. It is rich with stuff, with detail, with nominative junk. It names names, chock-a-block, only to have it all melt and fade away. There is no better drama in such a condensed and pressured space. To have a lump of coal transformed into diamond and then, beyond that rock, into the elemental idea of crystalline and holy loss.

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 Tigue to tell us more about her prizewinning piece, 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!)

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!

Firework

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”