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Announcing Our 2011 Chapbook Contest

May 2, 2011 1 comment

We’re pleased to announce qarrtsiluni’s third annual poetry chapbook contest. The judge is renowned poet Luisa Igloria and the deadline for submissions is June 15. The winner will be announced on September 1, and publication in print and online will follow in early fall. Since we use a print-on-demand service for the paper edition and make it available world-wide through Amazon, it will remain in print for years if not decades longer than most limited-edition poetry chapbooks.

Last year’s contest was a definite success, with 60 manuscripts submitted, 10 excellent chapbooks chosen for the shortlist, and a remarkable winning manuscript, Watermark, by Clayton Michaels, which received wide notice on the web, as well as being published in full in both print and online editions, and has been used as a textbook in creative writing classes. As in 2010, selected poems from the top ten 2011 chapbooks will be published here, and two runners-up will be chosen in addition to the winner.

GUIDELINES: Before submitting, please read carefully the complete details on the contest page; all manuscripts must meet the published guidelines. Judging will be anonymous, with chapbooks identified by a number only. Beth Adams, qarrtsiluni co-managing editor, will be the contest coordinator. If you have a question that is not answered by the guidelines, please direct your inquiry to her by email: qarrtsiluni.chapbook.2011 [at] gmail.com.

HELPFUL ADVICE: Although each year’s judging is subjective, entrants may wish to take a look at last year’s finalists and winner, and to read what Pamela Johnson Parker had to say about putting together her winning collection in 2009. An interview about the chapbook contest process, with qarrtsiluni editors Dave Bonta and Beth Adams, was published in November 2009 at Read Write Poem, and toward the end contains our advice for entrants.

We hope you will consider submitting your best work to us. Good luck to everyone!

Announcing the 2010 Chapbook Contest Winners!

July 1, 2010 5 comments

What a task! Cataloging, reading, considering, and choosing a shortlist and three top manuscripts from the sixty-six submitted — and then deciding which one was the very best. Our judge this year, Ken Lamberton, called it a challenge and a privilege, and said the overall quality of the manuscripts was “amazing.” Dave and I thank him and our 2010 first-round readers for taking on the extremely difficult job of deciding among such excellent work.

Choosing the poetry that speaks to us will always be, to some extent, subjective. Because our whole purpose here is to encourage written expression, experimentation, and creativity, we’ve always had a love/hate affair with contests. So in addition to celebrating with the winners, we congratulate all the poets, and reiterate Ken’s assessment that the quality of the work — as is so often the case at qarrtsiluni — was very high, and the choice clearly difficult.

In mid-August, we’ll begin online publication of one poem from each of the shortlisted manuscripts, and the winning chapbook in its entirety. The winner will also be published in a professionally designed paper edition, and available for sale.

THE WINNERS, with Ken Lamberton’s comments:

First Prize:
Watermark by Clayton T. Michaels

Above all the others, this author most impressed me with his/her powerful, vivid images and surprising twists in the language, a sophisticated and intelligent — but not intellectual — use of language that moved me emotionally. I could see a mind at work behind the choices of images, but it was my emotions that responded to the images. For example, in the last stanza of “melancholia is a collective noun,” the author writes: “And Saint Denis, of the lachrymose silences,/carries his head with him for all eternity,/artists never quite agreeing/where his halo should go.” This is a beautiful final stanza to a poem that begins with astonishing images like “grey wax in a bowl of water” and “mouth filled with pomegranate seeds/instead of teeth.”

It’s this kind of poetry that I find most gratifying; the kind that uses just the right salient concrete images to elicit an emotional response in me, though I may not necessarily understand why I have this response.

Furthermore, the surprising juxtaposition of many images gives the poetry (see “tantric” and “drylung” for example) a wonderfully controlled surreal and mesmerizing quality — which to me not only holds the manuscript together but raises it to a level above the other submissions.

Clayton T. Michaels is a teacher, poet and musician who currently resides in Granger, Indiana. He has been a featured poet at the online journal Anti-, and his poems have appeared in The Prism Review, Nerve Cowboy, >kill author, Makeout Creek, Slipstream and The Chiron Review, among others. He currently teaches composition, creative writing, and comic-book-related courses at Indiana University South Bend, and can be found online at his blog. This is the first time his work will appear in qarrtsiluni.

Runners-Up:

itching, itching by Teresa Gilman

I was most impressed with this author’s use of imagistic language and nice turns of phrase. Some of my favorite lines include: “my chest/filled with caged starlings” and “her wilted dress moaning after him” and “receptive as a peach left out all afternoon.” Wonderful expressive language that carries emotional weight, which seems to be the theme of the manuscript. In fact, it’s this theme of relationships, love, and loss that holds the manuscript together. The chapbook holds some of the most vivid “love poems” I’ve ever read, my favorite being “The Moon-colored Flesh of Leaving.”

Alchemy and Atrophy by Tim Lockridge

This author came very close to having the winning chapbook. I was struck by the very first poem, “Something Unfolds in the Distance,” my favorite of the collection. The poem’s metaphors (“her voice is a nest of poppy seeds” and “your heart is a plastic bag and your desire a streetlight”) hold your attention as the poem’s line breaks drive the images line to line, stanza to stanza. And the author sustains this kind of writing throughout the manuscript, holding to interesting line breaks and vivid, fresh images. Some of the poems have amazing energy. The short lines in “The Inertia of Failure” really work — like a long, final exhale. Other poems — “Did You Know We Made Love Through the Worst of It?” — masterfully employ the natural rhythms of the language, in this case the poem feels like moving water. And I love the nature imagery which holds the manuscript together.

THE OTHER FINALISTS:

boygirlboygirl by Leslie Miller

Do Not Go Gentle by Jill McCabe Johnson

Dream Cabinet by Ann Fisher-Wirth

Evening Sun by Aline Soules

(E)vocation by Tiel Aisha Ansari

The Last Pub on Earth by Peter Murphy

The Narrative House by Janet McCann

Winter Horse by Nellie Hill

Bios of all the winners will be published with their selected poems in August. So stay tuned: we hope you’ll anticipate reading these poems as much as we look forward to publishing them.


 

Qarrtsiluni Chapbook Contest 2010

Final Judge: Ken Lamberton

First-round Readers: Teju Cole, Dale Favier, Brent Goodman,  Leslee Masten, Kristin McHenry, Tom Montag, Jean Morris, Pamela Johnson Parker, Susanna Rich, Carolee Sherwood, Peter Stephens, Jill Crammond Wickham.

Contest Coordination and Print Publication: Beth Adams

Qarrtsiluni Managing Editors: Dave Bonta and Beth Adams

THE PROCESS: Twelve first-round readers, all accomplished writers and many of them former guest editors of qarrtsiluni, read the submitted manuscripts in order to narrow the field to a shortlist. Each chapbook, identified only by title, was read by at least two readers. A shortlist of eleven anonymous manuscripts was then advanced to Ken Lamberton for his final decisions.

THE JUDGE: Ken Lamberton‘s first book, Wilderness and Razor Wire (Mercury House, 2000), won the 2002 John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing. He has published four books and more than a hundred articles and essays in places like the Los Angeles Times, Arizona Highways, the Gettysburg Review, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2000. In 2007, he won a Soros Justice Fellowship for his fourth book, Time of Grace: Thoughts on Nature, Family, and the Politics of Crime and Punishment (University of Arizona Press, 2007). Ken’s fifth book, Dry River: Stories of Life, Death, and Redemption on the Rio de Santa Cruz, will be published by the University of Arizona Press early next year. We’re happy to note that Dry River will contain some stories first published in qarrtsiluni! Ken holds degrees in biology and creative writing from the University of Arizona and lives with his wife in a 1890s stone cottage near Bisbee.

Chapbook Contest: We Have Winners!

August 1, 2009 5 comments

Announcing the finalists and winners of the First Annual Qarrtsiluni Chapbook Contest.

At the outset, let us say thank you: thank you to the poets who submitted fifty manuscripts of astounding variety and complexity to our contest, thank you to the first-round readers and to Dinty Moore, our 2009 judge for taking on the extremely difficult job of deciding among such excellent work. Choosing the poetry that speaks to us will always be, to some extent, subjective, and it’s not only possible but likely that a different set of judges would have come up with a different set of choices. Because of that subjectivity, and our own desire to encourage written expression, experimentation, and creativity, Dave and I have always had a love/hate affair with contests. So we want to congratulate and thank all the poets, and reiterate that the quality of the work – as is so often the case at qarrtsiluni – was very high, and the choice clearly difficult. We’ve learned a lot in doing this, and hope all of you will be thinking ahead to next year.

THE PROCESS: Eight first-round readers, all of whom are former guest editors of qarrtsiluni, read the fifty submitted manuscripts in order to narrow the field to a shortlist of no more than ten. Each chapbook, identified only by title, was read by at least two readers. A shortlist of ten anonymous manuscripts was then forwarded to Dinty Moore for his final decisions.

On September 1st, we’ll begin online publication of one poem from each of the shortlisted manuscripts, and the winning chapbook in its entirety. The winner will also be published in a professionally designed paper edition, and available for sale.

THE SHORTLIST:

Paper Covers Rock, Chella Courington
Calamity Jane, Diane Gage
The Three, Richard Garcia
Wavelengths, Dick Jones
Prison Terms, Diane Kendig
Influence of Two Moons, Kit Loney
The Goatfish Alphabet, Kristen McHenry
A Walk Through the Memory Palace, Pamela Johnson Parker
ashes, ashes, Susanna Rich
And Not As She Was, Jeneva Stone

THE WINNERS, with Dinty Moore’s comments:

First Prize:
A Walk Through the Memory Palace, by Pamela Johnson Parker

The language is textured, clear, and sometimes disquieting, the images both sensory and sensual, and each line crafted with painstaking care. Whether writing about rich gardens, sagging breasts, or the ink of a tattoo, this poet sees through the obvious to something radiant on the other side, painting a startling portrait of an intimate world. Not a wasted word here: the nouns are like gemstones.

Pamela Johnson Parker is a medical editor and adjunct professor in creative writing and poetry.  Her poems, flash fiction, and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming in qarrtsiluni,  The Binnacle, The Other Journal, New Madrid, Pebble Lake Review, Holly Rose Review, 6 Sentences, Mipoesis, Muscadine Lines, A Journal of the South, and Anti-.  She is also the featured poet in the April 2009 Broadsided series of poetry and art.  A graduate of the MFA program at Murray State University, Parker lives in western Kentucky.

Pamela has had three poems published in qarrtsiluni previously.

Runners-Up:

Paper Covers Rock, by Chella Courington

Crisp narrative lines filled with energy, indignation, and fierce beauty. The images can take your breath away, and the title poem is one I’ll never forget.

With a Ph.D. in British and American Literature and an M.F.A. in Poetry, Chella Courington teaches writing and literature at Santa Barbara City College. Having moved west with a fiction writer and two cats in 2002, she finds that California provides her imaginative space. Her recent poetry appears in Mademoiselle’s Fingertips, Permafrost, wicked alice, Iguana Review, and The New Verse News. Her first chapbook, entitled Southern Girl Gone Wrong, was published in 2004. She’s new to the pages of qarrtsiluni.

The Goatfish Alphabet, by Kristen McHenry

All manner of creatures combine in exuberant lines full of foxfire and jellyfish, rock-teeth and tongue-muzzle, Miss America, St. Clare of Assisi, and our frailest secrets disclosed. These are lovely poems.

Kristen McHenry is a resident of Seattle, Washington and is a poet and freelance writer by night, and health outreach worker by day. Among other publications, her work has been seen in Wanderings, Trellis Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, Tiferet, Sybil’s Garage, and several anthologies, including Meanderings and Flowers Bloom in the Moonlight. She is currently a finalist in the national competition “Project Verse”. She is the creator and facilitator of the Poet’s Cafe, a weekly poetry workshop for homeless teens at the New Horizons drop-in center in downtown Seattle.

Kristen lives in the Ballard neighborhood with two cats, two firebellied toads, and one husband. She loves to sing, but only in the car with all of the windows rolled up.

This will also be Kristen’s first publication in qarrtsiluni.

 

So there you have it. Stay tuned: we hope you’ll anticipate reading these poems in September as much as we look forward to publishing them.


 

Qarrtsiluni Chapbook Contest 2009

Final Judge: Dinty Moore

First-round Readers: Ivy Alvarez, Rachel Barenblat, Dale Favier, Brent Goodman, Tom Montag, Anonymous, Peter Stephens, Carey Wallace

Contest Coordination and Print Publication: Beth Adams

Qarrtsiluni Managing Editors: Dave Bonta and Beth Adams