Lidia Yuknavitch Essay Contest

Established in 1984, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award introduces emerging writers to the New York City literary community. The prestigious award aims to provide promising writers a network for professional advancement. It has helped to launch the careers of Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees), Lidia Yuknavitch (The Book of Joan), Elaine Beale (Another Life Altogether), Sandra Beasley (Don't Kill the Birthday Girl), David Mura (Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei), Fae Myenne Ng (Bone), Mona Simpson (My Hollywood), and others. Since Poets & Writers began the Writers Exchange in 1984, ninety-one writers from thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have been selected to participate. The award is generously supported by Maureen Egen, a member of the Poets & Writers Board of Directors.

Poets & Writers has selected the state of Arkansas for the 2018 Writers Exchange Award. Porochista Khakpour will judge fiction submissions and Cheryl Boyce-Taylor will judge poetry submissions. Arkansan writers are invited to apply by January 8, 2018.

Read the Press Release.

Download the Guidelines and Application.

Maine Writers Joan Dempsey and Brian Evans-Jones Win 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award

Fiction writer Joan Dempsey and poet Brian Evans-Jones are the winners of the 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. The judges were Tania James for fiction and Cynthia Cruz for poetry. In October, Ms. Dempsey and Mr. Evans-Jones will travel to New York City, all expenses paid, to meet with editors, agents, publishers, and others in the literary community. In addition, they will each received a $500 honorarium and present a public reading in New York City, hosted by Poets & Writers. The winners are also invited  to participate in a one-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming.

Read the 2017 Press Release.

Read an excerpt from Joan Dempsey's manuscript, 2017 winner in fiction. (PDF)

Read an excerpt from Brian Evans-Jones's manuscript, 2017 winner in poetry. (PDF)


Joan Dempsey (left) and Brian Evans-Jones (right) are the winners of the 2017 Writers Exchange Award. (Credits: Greta Rybus, Micheal Powers.)

Past Winners 

  • Paige Ackerson-Kiely, Vermont
  • Constance Alexander, Kentucky
  • Nolde Alexius, Louisiana
  • Doug Anderson, Massachusetts
  • Kimo Armitage, Hawai‘i
  • Elaine Beale, California (*)
  • Sandra Beasley, Washington, D.C.
  • Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, California (*)
  • Sean Bernard, California (*)
  • Chana Bloch, California
  • Magda Bogin, New York
  • Anthony C. Brusate, Kentucky
  • B. J. Buckley, Montana
  • Claudia Burbank, New Jersey
  • John Caddy, Minnesota
  • John Campbell, Oregon
  • Karen Chamberlain, Utah
  • Bryn Chancellor, Alabama
  • Michael Chitwood, North Carolina
  • Sanda Moore Coleman, Kansas
  • Larry Colker, California (*)
  • Carolyn Coman, Massachusetts
  • Laura Joyce Davis, California (*)
  • Daniel Degnan, New Jersey
  • Janet Desaulniers, Illinois
  • Denise Duhamel, Pennsylvania
  • Kim Edwards, Ohio
  • John Engman, Minnesota
  • Blas Falconer, Tennessee
  • Roger Fanning, Washington
  • José Faus, Kansas
  • Sascha Feinstein, Indiana
  • Bryan Allen Fierro, Alaska
  • David Galef, Mississippi
  • Dorothy Gannon, Vermont
  • Elizabeth Graver, Massachusetts
  • Kate Green, Minnesota
  • Jean Hanson, Wyoming
  • Charlotte Holmes, Pennsylvania
  • Matthew Kailey, Colorado
  • Laura Kasischke, Michigan
  • Sue Monk Kidd, South Carolina
  • Miriam Kuznets, Texas
  • Mary La Chapelle, Minnesota
  • Robert Lacy, Minnesota
  • Dylan Landis, California (*)
  • Joseph Langdon, Nevada
  • Jeanne Leiby, Florida
  • Steven L'Italien, Arizona
  • Quitman Marshall, South Carolina
  • Deirdra McAfee, Virginia
  • Shena McAuliffe, Missouri
  • Jeanne McDonald, Tennessee
  • Mollye Miller, Maryland
  • Harry Moore, Alabama
  • Jim Moore, Minnesota
  • Lee Ann Mortenson, Utah
  • Delisa Mulkey, Georgia
  • David Mura, Minnesota
  • Patrick Murtagh, Montana
  • Rhonda Nelson, Florida
  • Fae Myenne Ng, California
  • Elizabeth Oness, Wisconsin
  • Jill Osier, Alaska
  • Craig Santos Perez, California (*)
  • David Peterman, Ohio
  • Paul Pfeiffer, Indiana
  • Rosemary Powers, Nevada
  • C. L. Rawlins, Wyoming
  • David Reynolds, Michigan
  • Brad Richard, Louisiana
  • Andrés Rodriguez, Missouri
  • Ruth Roston, Minnesota
  • Angela Rydell, Wisconsin
  • Diza Sauers, Arizona
  • Nancy Schoenberger, New York
  • Adam Schwartz, Maryland
  • Rebecca Seiferle, New Mexico
  • Barbara Selfridge, California
  • David Dean Shavit, Illinois
  • Pamela Shephard, New Mexico
  • Aleda Shirley, Mississippi
  • Mona Simpson, New York
  • Gregory Blake Smith, Minnesota
  • Matthew Stadler, Washington
  • Norman Stock, New York
  • Susan Straight, California
  • Craig Taylor, California
  • Willett Thomas, Washington, D.C.
  • Alicia Upano, Hawai‘i
  • Reetika Vaziriani, Virginia
  • Jane Wampler, Colorado
  • Lauren K. Watel, Georgia
  • David Weaver, North Carolina
  • Susan Welch, Minnesota
  • Allison Benis White, California (*)
  • Lidia Yuknavitch, Oregon

(*) Winners of the California Writers Exchange, which was offered periodically from 2004 to 2013, with support from the James Irvine Foundation.

Read more about WEX Award Winners. (PDF) 

Read an essay by WEX winner José Faust. (PDF)

Watch a video of past winner Sandra Beasley speaking about the award.

Video

Part 2

 

Photo Credit: Andrew Kovalev (Yuknavitch)

Acclaimed authors Lidia Yuknavitch and Porochista Khakpour came together in conversation to talk about Yuknavitch's new novel, The Small Backs of Children.

 

About The Small Backs of Children

A masterful literary talent explores the treacherous, often violent borders between war and sex, love and art.

 

With the flash of a camera, one girl’s life is shattered, and a host of others altered forever. . .

 

In a war-torn village in Eastern Europe, an American photographer captures a heart-stopping image: a young girl flying toward the lens, fleeing a fiery explosion that has engulfed her home and family. The image wins acclaim and prizes, becoming an icon for millions—and a subject of obsession for one writer, the photographer’s best friend, who has suffered a devastating tragedy of her own.

 

As the writer plunges into a suicidal depression, her filmmaker husband enlists several friends, including a fearless bisexual poet and an ingenuous performance artist, to save her by rescuing the unknown girl and bringing her to the United States. And yet, as their plot unfolds, everything we know about the story comes into question: What does the writer really want? Who is controlling the action? And what will happen when these two worlds—east and west, real and virtual—collide?

 

A fierce, provocative, and deeply affecting novel of both ideas and action that blends the tight construction of Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending with the emotional power of Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Small Backs of Children is a major step forward from one of our most avidly watched writers.

 

Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water and the novel Dora: A Headcase. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Iowa Review, Mother Jones, Ms., The Sun, The Rumpus, PANK, Zyzzyva, Fiction International, and other literary publications. She teaches writing and literature in Portland, Oregon.

 

Porochista Khakpour's debut novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects, was named a New York Times Editor's Choice, one of the Chicago Tribune's Fall's Best and the 2007 California Book Award winner in the First Fiction category. Her honours include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, Ucross, and Yaddo. Her non-fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming in Harper's, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Spin, Slate and Salon, among many others. Khakpour currently teaches at Columbia University's MFA programme, Ford University and Wesleyan University. She lives in New York City.

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