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Prairie Schooner News

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

Sherman Alexie to Edit Special Portfolio for Winter 2012 Issue of Prairie Schooner

Prairie Schooner is excited to announce that the amazing Sherman Alexie will guest-edit a Native American-themed portfolio of prose and poetry for Prairie Schooner’s Winter 2012 issue!

Alexie is a writer, poet, and filmmaker best known for his short-story collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. His work has been translated into a dozen languages, and his stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories 2004 and Pushcart Prize XXIX. The author of twenty-two books, he has won an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, a National Book Award, for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and the PEN/Faulkner Award, for War Dances, among many other honors. His film, Smoke Signals, won the 1998 Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award and Filmmakers’ Trophy.

According to Marianne Kunkel, Prairie Schooner’s Managing Editor, “I can’t think of a better way to follow our successful Winter 2011 Special Irish Issue than with a Native American-themed issue highlighting the best poems, stories, and creative essays by some of today’s most talented Native American authors. In the second installment in our new series of internationally-themed winter issues, we’re excited to showcase the creative work of authors whose roots are right here in Nebraska and elsewhere. And to have the phenomenal, multi-talented author Sherman Alexie select the work—it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Of course, all of us at Prairie Schooner are thrilled about this news! Check back for updates, including details regarding Winter 2012 issue launch events scheduled for early 2013.

Nikola Madzirov to Visit UNL April 18 & 19

Prairie Schooner and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln English Department are excited to welcome Macedonian poet and translator Nikola Madzirov as the Prairie Schooner Visiting Writer from April 18-19. Madzirov, according to the Tottenville Review, is “a first-rate poet who deserves worldwide attention,” and Der Spiegel says his poems “are similar in quality to the poems of the Nobel Prize winner Tomas Tranströmer. They are genuine and open.” Born in Strumica, Macedonia, to a family of Balkan Wars refugees, his award-winning poems have been translated into thirty languages. BOA Editions published his first selection of poetry in the US, Remnants of Another Age, in 2011. According to Professor Kwame Dawes, Editor-in-Chief of Prairie Schooner, “Few poets I know manage to contain in a few lines such lucid and unsettling images that never let us off the hook for an instance, as well Nikolai Madzirov.”

While visiting Lincoln, Madzirov will lecture on Balkan literature and translation in the Bailey Dudley Library of Andrews Hall at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18. This lecture is free and open to the public. On Thursday, April 19, at 10 a.m., Madzirov will be interviewed for Prairie Schooner’s Podcast series, Air Schooner, and he will conduct a one-hour translation workshop with UNL students and faculty in the afternoon. At 7:00 p.m. on Thursday evening, Madzirov will give a free, open-to-the-public feature reading at the Great Plains Art Museum (12th & Q Streets).

In the foreword to Madzirov’s Remnants of Another Age, poet and translator Carolyn Forché writes, “Madzirov calls himself ‘an involuntary descendant of refugees,’ referring to his family's flight from the Balkan Wars a century ago: his surname derives from mazir or majir, meaning ‘people without a home.’ The ideas of shelter and of homelessness, of nomadism, and spiritual transience serves as a palimpsest in these Remnants.” The recipient of many awards and fellowships, including the University of Iowa’s prestigious International Writing Program, Madzirov has been awarded numerous international literary prizes, such as the Hubert Burda European Poetry Award. Professor Dawes added, “He is a splendid poet whose reputation is growing rapidly and deservedly. Beyond that he is one of the gentlest and kindest people I know. Our students, faculty and community will be enjoying a tremendous presence during his visit. I am so pleased that we managed to get him here.”

Prairie Schooner Writing Prize Winners for 2012

Prairie Schooner is excited to announce the winners of our annual writing prizes! A total of $8,500 is spread over eighteen prizes for work published in our 2011 volume. Prairie Schooner is able to distribute these annual prizes thanks to generous supporters of the literary arts. The highest individual prize is worth $1,500, and there is no application process.

Gregory Blake Smith of Northfield, MN, won the Lawrence Foundation Award of $1,000 for his story “Punishment” from the Spring issue. His collection of short stories The Law of Miracles—from which “Punishment” is drawn—recently won the Juniper Prize and was published in the spring of 2011 by the University of Massachusetts Press. He is the Lloyd P. Johnson Norwest Professor of English and the Liberal Arts at Carleton College.

John Lane of Spartanburg, SC, received the $1,500 Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award for his essay “Sardis” published in the Spring issue. He teaches environmental studies at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. His latest books are Best of the Kudzu Telegraph and Circling Home. This prize is made possible by the generosity of poet, publisher, and philanthropist Glenna Luschei.

William Wall of Cork City, Ireland, won the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing of $1,000 for his novel excerpt in Prairie Schooner's Winter issue. He is the author of three poetry collections, one short fiction collection, and four novels, the most recent of which, This Is The Country, was nominated for the 2005 Man Booker Prize. His most recent poetry collection is Ghost Estate. The Faulkner Award is supported by charitable contributions to honor Virginia Faulkner, former editor-in-chief of the University of Nebraska Press and fiction editor at Prairie Schooner.

Patrick Toland of Northern Ireland was awarded the Edward Stanley Award of $1,000 for his three poems in the Winter issue. He is a director of social enterprise, a New Media Lecturer, and a freelance journalist. A recent graduate of the new MSt in Creative Writing at Oxford University, he was selected by Windows Publications as an emerging writer in 2009. His most recent publications have been in Swamp Magazine and Fortnight Magazine. Charitable contributions from the family of Edward Stanley, a member of the committee that founded Prairie Schooner in 1926, make this award possible.

Other winners include:

• The Bernice Slote Award of $500: Melodie Edwards of Laramie, WY, for her story “Bird Lady” published in the Summer issue.
• The Annual Prairie Schooner Strousse Award of $500: Todd James Pierce of Orcutt, CA, for his two poems from the Fall issue.
• The Jane Geske Award of $250: Nuala Ní Chonchúir of Galway, Ireland, for the story “Peach” from the Winter issue.
• The Hugh J. Luke Award of $250: Roxane Beth Johnson of San Francisco, CA, for her four poems in the Spring issue.

There were ten winners of the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Awards of $250 each. These awards are made possible through the generosity of Glenna Luschei.

Bethany Maile, of Eagle, ID, for the essay “Ladies’ Night in the Shooting Range” in the Fall issue
David Torrey Peters, of Evanston, IL, for the essay “God’s Entrepreneur” in the Spring issue
Wanling Su, of Plattsburgh, NY, for the poem “Night in the Boxer Rebellion” in the Fall issue
David Wagoner, of Lynnwood, WA, for three poems in the Fall issue
Helen Elaine Lee, of Arlington, MA, for the story “Alphabet” in the Spring issue
Sandra Bunting, of New Brunswick, Canada, for three poems in the Winter issue
Owen King, of New Paltz, NY, for the story “Home Brew” in the Summer issue
Mark Wisniewski, of Lake Peekskill, NY, for the poem “Easier” in the Fall issue
Desirée Alvarez, of New York, NY, for two poems in the Fall issue
Linda Pastan, of Potomac, MD, for three poems in the Fall issue

Congratulations to all of these wonderful writers! Prairie Schooner is fortunate and thankful to be able to reward many of our contributors with our annual Prairie Schooner writing prizes, made possible through the generosity of our supporters and the excellent writing of our contributors.