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Gregory Djanikian Scholars Program

Gregory Djanikian ScholarsThe Adroit Journal annually recognizes
six emerging student or non-student poets as
Gregory Djanikian Scholars.

Deadline: December 15, 2017
Eligibility: Anyone, student or non-student, who has NOT published a full-length collection of poetry
Entry Fee: $9
Award: $100 & portfolio publication in The Adroit Journal
Submit: Up to 6 poems, 10 page max
Guidelines: Simultaneous and previously published submissions acceptable if stated in cover letter. See details.
Questions: editors@theadroitjournal.org
Website: theadroitjournal.org

Gregory Djanikian was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and came to the United States when he was eight years old. He has published six poetry collections, the latest of which is Dear Gravity (CMU Press, 2014). His poetry appears in American Poetry ReviewBest American PoetryBoulevardPoetrySouthern Review, and TriQuarterly, among others. Until retiring, he was the longstanding Director of Creative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania, where he still teaches poetry workshops.

Greg’s insight and instruction has greatly enriched both the Adroit Journal as well as its staff of emerging writers. We’d like to recognize and encourage the gift of such support by offering it ourselves, to six writers in need of affirmation and support. In honor of Greg’s contribution to emerging student and non-student writers at Penn and around the world, we hope to recognize talent from around the world and open them to a long future in writing. 

ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIPS

We will be annually recognizing six emerging student or non-student poets as Gregory Djanikian Scholars. All emerging writers who have not published full-length collections are eligible (regardless of age, geographic location, or educational status), and are encouraged to submit.

Gregory Djanikian Scholars receive $100 and publication of their portfolios of poems in a future issue of the Adroit Journal. Finalists will be awarded copies of Greg’s latest collection, Dear Gravity, and a list of semifinalists determined by the editors will be released with results.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Submissions may include up to six poems (maximum of ten pages single-spaced). Simultaneous submissions, previously published submissions, and submissions recognized by outside organizations are accepted, provided that a) a full catalogue of publication history for enclosed poems is included in the submission and b) at least one poem in the submission remains unpublished. Submitters should reach out promptly via email (editors@theadroitjournal.org) if work acknowledged as unpublished in the cover letter is accepted elsewhere.

Writers are welcome to additionally submit enclosed work to the Adroit Prizes as well as through our general submission portal. However, each writer may not send more than one entry per year for the Gregory Djanikian Scholars designation.

As mentioned above, all emerging writers who have not published full-length collections are eligible (regardless of age, geographic location, or educational status), and Gregory Djanikian Scholars will receive $100 and publication in a future issue of the Adroit Journal. Additionally, finalists will be awarded copies of Greg’s latest collection, Dear Gravity, and a list of semifinalists determined by the editors will be released with results.

To accommodate this while offering free online issues, we have set a non-refundable submission fee of $9. If you require financial assistance, you may submit a fee waiver by downloading this form and following the instructions. Due to fee waivers’ processing time, fee waivers will only be accepted until one week before the deadline (postmarked).

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT.

Please direct any questions to editors@theadroitjournal.org

“Jersey Shorts” Student Fiction Contest

Jersy shorts student fiction contestA New Contest for Student Fiction

Eligibility: NJ Students Grades 9-12

Prize:

  • Governor’s Award
  • A special performance of their work read by professional actors.

Submission:

  • Students must submit two pieces of fiction.
  • Maximum 1500-word piece on any subject of their choosing
  • Maximum 750-word piece of “Flash Fiction” on the subject of the Annual Prompt (see below)

Prompt:

In the space of 750 words or less, give us the complete life of a character. The challenge here is to present to us an individual, unique and distinctive, while also giving us a sense of that person’s entire existence, whether that existence was in the service of others, or with a philosophy of utter selfishness, or with an impact no one could have foreseen. Maybe this character’s life presents a lesson for others to live by (or resist). Surprise us with details about this fictional life, keeping in mind that the most surprising details are the ones we embarrassingly admit are too, too true.

More Information: wtnj.org/jersey-shorts

Deadline: December 1, 2017

NJ Youth Poet Laureate Contest

NJ Youth Poet LaureateEligibility: NJ students grade 9-12

Prize:
• Inclusion of five poems in the National Youth Poet Laureate Program Northeast Region Anthology
• Entry into the National Regional Contest, the winner of which receives a “book deal,” an anthology of their work.
• Consideration for the National Youth Poet Laureate Award
• A New Jersey Governor’s Award
• A special performance of the New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate winners.
• Additional opportunities to perform throughout the year as ambassadors of the NJ Youth Poet Laureate Program.

Submit:
• Works of poetry, rap, and spoken word.
• 5 poems, including a poem on the theme: “Mind Your Elders,” about senior citizens.

MORE INFORMATION:
• Creative Writing News: blogs.newarka.edu/creativewritingclass/
• Ms. James at tjames@newarka.edu
• Writers’ Theatre of New Jersey: wtnj.org/nj-youth-poet-laureate

Deadline: December 1, 2017

Princeton Poetry Prize

Princeton Poetry PrizeDeadline: November 27, 2017
Eligibility: High school juniors
Entry Fee: Free
Submit: Up to 3 poems
Awards:  1st Prize: $500; 2nd Prize: $250; 3rd Prize: $100.
Previous Winner: Gunsafe” by Joseph Felkers
Judge: Princeton University Creative Writing Faculty
Website:  arts.princeton.edu

Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize 

The contest recognizes outstanding work by student writers in the 11th grade. The jury consists of members of the Princeton University Creative Writing faculty such as Michael Dickman, Yiyun Li, Paul Muldoon, James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith, Susan Wheeler, and Monica Youn. Find guidelines here.

Online submissions are now being accepted for the 2018 contest — apply below. The application deadline is midnight EST on Monday, November 27, 2017.

A note for high school teachers:

Thank you for your interest in the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize. While we encourage the inclusion of poetry in the high school English curriculum, we ask you to please refrain from using the contest as an occasion to require all your students to submit a poem as a homework assignment. If you read the poems from the past student winners, you’ll see that they all carry a sense of urgency and necessity that is difficult to conjure when a student is obliged to submit a poem. Ideally, we hope motivated students will choose to enter the contest, and that they’ll come to see the writing and sharing of their poems as a joy rather than an obligation.

We’d also like to recommend the following poetry anthologies:

Poem-a-Day: 365 Poems for Every Occasion, edited by Tamar Brazis
20th Century Pleasures, edited by Robert Hass
The Best of the Best American Poetry, edited by Robert Pinsky

Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize

Patrica Grodd Poetry PrizeKenyon Review Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

Deadline: November 30
Eligibility: HS Sophomores & Juniors worldwide
Entry Fee: Free
Submit: ONE previously unpublished poem
Awards: Publication in Kenyon Review & full scholarship to Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop
Previous Winner: Poem by Eileen Huang
Judge: KR Editor at Large Natalie Shapero
Website: KenyonReview.org
Guidelines: kenyonreview.org/contests

ABOUT:

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors throughout the world. The contest winner receives a full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop. In addition, the winning poem and the poems of the two runners-up will be published in The Kenyon Review, one of the country’s most widely read literary magazines.Patricia Grodd Poetry PrizeThe contest is named in honor of Patricia Grodd in recognition of her generous support of The Kenyon Review and its programs, as well as her passionate commitment to education and deep love for poetry. The final judge of the contest is KR Editor at Large Natalie Shapero.

It’s Simple to Enter

    • Limit of one, previously unpublished poem per entrant (please do not simultaneously submit your contest entry to another magazine or contest.)
    • You must be a high school sophomore or junior to enter
    • Make sure your file is in ONE of the following formats:

-.PDF (Adobe Acrobat)
-.DOC or .DOCX (Microsoft Word)
-.RTF (Rich Text Format)
-.TXT (Microsoft Wordpad and Notepad, Apple TextEdit)

  • Submit your poem between November 1 and November 30, 2016 by pressing the “Submit Here” button on the website and uploading your file.
  • No entry fee; it’s 100% free!

Bennington Young Writers Awards

Bennington Young Writers AwardsThe Bennington Young Writers Awards are offered annually by Bennington College—whose literary legacy includes seven Pulitzer Prize winners, three U.S. poet laureates, the youngest Man Booker Prize winner, a MacArthur “Genius,” countless New York Times bestsellers, and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.

DEADLINE: November 1.

WHO CAN SUBMIT: Students in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.

WHAT TO SUBMIT: Students may enter in ONE of the following categories: poetry (a group of three poems), fiction (a short story or one-act play), or nonfiction (a personal or academic essay). All entries must be original work and sponsored by a high school teacher. Short stories and nonfiction must be fewer than 1500 words.

JUDGES: Judges include Bennington College faculty and students.

AWARDS: First-place winners in each category are awarded a prize of $500; second-place winners receive $250. The annual competition runs from early September to November 1 with winning entries posted after April 15.

HOW TO SUBMIT: You may submit online or by mail (mailed entries must be accompanied by a submission form, available from your English teacher or by downloading here.) We welcome entries from international students—in order to submit online, please enter N/A in place of the CEEB code for your high school if it doesn’t have one.

DEADLINE: Submission deadline: November 1.

Last year, more than 2,300 students submitted poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to the Young Writers Awards competition. We congratulate all entrants on their extraordinary submissions, and are pleased to share past winning entries.

MORE INFORMATION: For more information about the Young Writers and other programs at Bennington College, please contact us by email at admissions@bennington.edu or phone at 800-833-6845. Visit the website to see past winners.

NJCTE HS Writing Contest

NJCTE HS Writing ContestNew Jersey Council of Teachers of English (NJCTE) 2018 High School Writing Contest

Deadline: December 16, 2017 at 11:59pm EST.
Eligibility: NJ Students Grades 0-12
Entry Fee: None
2018 Categories:
~Poetry (one poem, 50-line max.) –FREE CHOICE
~Short story (5-page max. double-spaced) – FREE CHOICE
~Personal essay* (5-page max., double-spaced) – RESPOND TO
Personal Essay Prompt: Awakenings (see below)
Awards: Gold, Silver & Bronze Medal Awards. Gold Medalists receive Governor’s Awards
Website: njcte.com/hs-writing-contest/

Personal Essay Writing Prompt: Awakenings

Write a personal essay or narrative about an experience of race, ethnicity, class, religion or gender enlightenment that was significant for you.

We would like you to steer away from general to more personal experiences and observations. For example, you may choose to write about particular toys that were or were not given to you because of your gender, the expectations of important individuals in your life, decisions about where to sit in the cafeteria or what classes to take, conflicts over what information to share or not share in school, decisions about where to go and if you should go to college; the possibilities are wide ranging.

This prompt may bring to your attention a preconception previously unnamed, but it may also enable you to speak about your strengths and joys, about what unites us instead of what divides us.

How to enter:

Visit our web-site at njcte.com and follow the instructions provided. You must be a New Jersey high school student to enter.

To Avoid Disqualification:

  1. Each student may submit a maximum of one entry in each category (i.e. only one poem, one short story and one essay).
  2. Each teacher may submit up to ten entries for their students in each genre. Surplus entries will be disqualified in order of submission date.
  3. The file submitted must be anonymous. Files with student name, school or class on them will be disqualified.

Awards:

  • Genre Winners (poetry, short story, personal essay): Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals.
  • Gold medalists are eligible for the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education (GAAE).
  • School/District Winners:
    Honorable Mention: Top scoring students
    From schools with qualifying entries from at least 10 different students sponsored by at least three different teachers
  • Certificates of Merit – Top scoring students
    From schools which submit qualifying entries from at least three different students

Winners will be notified on or after March 15, 2018. Questions: njctewritingcontest@outlook.com

Gold, silver, and bronze poets have read at the Dodge Poetry Festival in 2014 and 2016.

Winter Tangerine Writing Workshops

New York City Winter Writing WorkshopsWriting Workshops

Winter Tangerine Writing Workshops

Winter Tangerine is holding four-day intensive writing workshops at Poets House in the heart of New York City this Fall & Winter.

We design our workshops for writers who want to challenge themselves and their work. We won’t teach you how to write: instead, we want to collectively build new lenses meant to create dynamic readings and writings. As a student, you’ll engage in daily writing activities, lesson-based writing prompts, & group discussions led by a team of enthusiastic advisors. Together, we will discuss identity & craft, and study a variety of writers, visual artists, and other creators. We favor playfulness over perfection, and we’ll encourage you to experiment with form and style: we want you to find what makes you electric.

Throughout the workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to peruse the Poets House’s 70,000 volumes of poetry, have lunch at the edge of the Hudson River, and work with an intimate group of writers committed to their craft. You’ll write every day & you will give and receive thoughtful feedback every day. The workshop will close out with a reading at Poets House, open to the public, with celebratory cake — and you will have the opportunity to read from the body of work you’ll have created during the workshop.

The workshop will also feature Guest Seminars by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib and other phenomenal writers. These seminars will include a short lecture based off a guided syllabus by the writers, a group-wide discussion, and a Q&A. Past Guest Seminars have included Kaveh Akbar, Fatimah Asghar, Richard Siken, and Danez Smith.

The first session will be from November 6th to the 9th. The second session will be from December 19 to the 22nd. The third session will be from February 21st to the 24th. Our workshops run from 11AM-5PM each day — we know that this means daytime-working writers will find it difficult to join this year, so we hope & plan to offer evening workshops next year. Tuition is $375, and we offer financial aid to those with need. There is no application fee. There is no age minimum or maximum, and no experience is necessary.

Applications close October 20th.

These workshops are made possible through Poets House’s Literary Partners Program.

National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing MonthNational Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants boot camp approach to creative writing. 

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

Success Stories

Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. See a full list of our published authors.

Pep Talks

Each year, authors offer mentorship to our participants through Pep Talks. The 2017 Pep Talks will offer inspiration from Roxane Gay, Kevin Kwan, Julie Murphy and Grant Faulkner among others.

2017 Forecast

Programs

Begun in 1999, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a nonprofit. In addition to National Novel Writing Month in November, its programs include Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and the “Now What?” MonthsSee more information about NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program.

National YoungArts

YoungArts Writing
Deadline: October 13, 2017 at 11:59pm EST (New York Time). No grace period of uploading of materials.
Eligibility: Ages 15-18, Grades 10 – 12 as of 12/1/17.  US citizens or permanent residents only.
Entry Fee:  $35 per category
Awards: See below
Categories: Visual, literary, design and performing arts categories include Cinematic Arts, Dance, Design Arts, Jazz, Music, Photography, Theater, Visual Arts, Voice, and Writing.  Writing  categories include Creative Nonfiction, Novel, Play or Script, Poetry, Short Story or Spoken Word. Visit: youngarts.org/disciplines for more information.
Writing Guidelines: youngarts.org/writing
Website: youngarts.org/

AWARDS:

  • Up to $10,000 monetary award (total awarded each year is over $500,000)
  • Exclusive eligibility for recognition as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts
  • Master classes with world-renowned artists
  • Access to scholarships, career opportunities and professional contacts

The National YoungArts Foundation identifies and nurtures the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts and assists them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development. YoungArts aspires to create a community of alumni that provides a lifetime of encouragement, opportunity and support.

The National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison. YoungArts’ signature program is an application-based award for emerging artists ages 15–18 or in grades 10–12 from across the United States. Selected from a pool of more than an average of 11,000 applications (in 2015, the organization received a record-breaking number of more than 12,000 applications), YoungArts Winners receive valuable support, including financial awards of up to $10,000, professional development and educational experiences working with renowned mentors—such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sarah Brightman, Plácido Domingo, Frank Gehry, Jeff Koons, Wynton Marsalis, Rebecca Walker and Carrie Mae Weems—and performance and exhibition opportunities at some of the nation’s leading cultural institutions.

PRESIDENTIAL SCHOLAR NOMINATIONS: Additionally, YoungArts Winners are eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students who exemplify academic and artistic excellence. U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts receive a Presidential Medal at the White House and perform and exhibit at the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian.

YoungArts ALUMNI: YoungArts alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their fields include actresses Viola Davis, Anna Gunn, Zuzanna Szadkowski and Kerry Washington; Broadway stars Raúl Esparza, Billy Porter, Andrew Rannells and Tony Yazbeck; recording artists Josh Groban, Judith Hill and Chris Young; Metropolitan Opera star Eric Owens; musicians Terence Blanchard, Gerald Clayton and Jennifer Koh; choreographers Camille A. Brown and Desmond Richardson; visual artists Daniel Arsham and Hernan Bas; internationally acclaimed multimedia artist Doug Aitken; television writer, producer, and director Jenji Kohan; New York Times bestselling author Sam Lipsyte; and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Doug Blush

How to Submit: On-line application and submission of an audition or portfolio. NO references or academic transcripts are required. There is a $35 (non-refundable) application fee per category. Fee waivers are available. Applicants may submit in more than one discipline or category within a discipline. Please refer to the discipline and category guidelines for details.

Teen Ink National Essay Contest

Teen Ink Essay ContestIf you were Mayor of your town, what issue would you address and how?

Share your vision of the future of your community in this essay writing contest. A national online and monthly tabloid print magazine, TEEN INK has been written by and for teens since 1989.

Deadline: November 30
Eligibility: Ages 13 – 19
Prize: $500 & opportunity to interview congressional candidate David Kim.  2nd & 3rd Place: $100.
Submit: Submit essay of 1,000 words or less to the Teen Ink Opinion Section.
Topic: If you were Mayor of your town, what would you address and how?  2nd & 3rd Place: $100.
Note: Do not include last names or names of schools or towns.
Website: TeenInk.com
Guidelines: Teen Ink Essay Contest

Literal Latté Essay Award

Literal Latté Essay Award

Essay AwardDeadline: September 30
Eligibility: Previously unpublished essays
Entry Fee: $10 for 1 essay or $15 for 2 essays
Prize: $1,000
Submit: 10,000 word max, any topic.
Previous Winner: Lia Woodall
Website: literal-latte.com
Guidelines: literal-latte.com/contests/essay-awards

  • First Prize $1000
  • Second Prize $300
  • Third Prize $200

Literal Latte now accepts online submissions via Submittable. Click the button below to visit their Submittable page. See guidelines for cover page instructions.

Online Submissions – Click here.

Snail-Mail Submissions Mail to:

Literal Latté Awards
200 East 10th Street, Suite 240
New York, NY 10003
(212) 260-5532

Contact Us

Timothy Corsellis Poetry Prize

Poetry PrizeDeadline: Thursday, September 14, 2017
Entry Fee: None
Eligibility: Poets worldwide aged 14-25
Prize: Publication on Poetry Society website and £100 book tokens.
Submit: A response poem to one or more of the WWII poets mentioned below. Include a brief commentary explaining how your poem responds to the poet’s life or work.
Judge: Poet Wendy Cope
Website: http://ypn.poetrysociety.org.uk/
Guidelines: http://ypn.poetrysociety.org.uk/workshop/the-timothy-corsellis-prize-2017/

Timothy Corsellis Poetry Prize 2017

Timothy Corsellis was a young poet and pilot killed in 1941. The Prize was set up in his name, with the support of his family, to encourage more people to read the powerful but lesser-known poets of the Second World War.

The Timothy Corsellis Poetry Prize asks you to respond to the life and/or work of a small selection of Second World War poets, including Keith Douglas, Sidney Keyes, Alun Lewis, John Jarmain, Henry Reed, Anna Akhmatova, Gertrud Kolmar and Timothy Corsellis.

The site is also running a Young Critics Prize for short essays of 500-1,500 words exploring which three poets are most likely to be read in twenty years’ time, and why. If you’re looking for inspiration, why not read last year’s winning essay, ‘I wandered lonely as a war-poet: Locating the individual in the unimaginable’ by Henry Wong.

The judges for both Prizes will be celebrated poet Wendy Cope; Professor Fran Brearton (for the War Poets Association), a leading authority on war poetry and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre in Belfast; Llewela Selfridge on behalf of the Imperial War Museum in London; and Judith Palmer, Director of The Poetry Society. Continue reading Timothy Corsellis Poetry Prize

Indie Bookstore Road Trip Reaches Loganberry Books

indie bookstore road trip Loganberry BooksOur cross country indie bookstore road trip brought us to the doorstep of the amazing Loganberry Books. What a surprise to step into this independently owned and operated shop to find its inviting spaces unfold like rooms in a dream. Just when you think this library-like bookstore of over 100,000 volumes could not be any larger, another archway appears, welcoming you a reading nook with a beckoning armchair.

indie bookstore road trip Loganberry BooksLocated in the historic Larchmere neighborhood of Cleveland, Loganberry Books has been offering new, used and rare books of all genres to readers and collectors for over 30 years. In addition, they offer a full schedule of events to the community including author signings, old time radio shows, discussion groups, open mics and book collecting forums facilitated by the bookstore’s founder, Harriet Logan.  Can’t remember the name of a book? Submit your mystery to the store’s “Stump the Bookseller” blog.

This year in honor of Women’s History Month, Loganberry made a powerful symbolic gesture by flipping every male-authored book in the fiction room so that its spine faced inward, leaving only the female authored titles visible. According to owner Harriet Logan, the result not only revealed the gender gap in publishing, but also brought more focus to works written by women.

My cohort Flannery James and I were gaga for Loganberry. You will be, too.

indie bookstore road trip Loganberry Books
Hushed classical music, sky-lit stacks and comfy chairs make this place hard to leave.

Continue reading Indie Bookstore Road Trip Reaches Loganberry Books

Mac’s Backs on Coventry Welcomes Indie Bookstore Adventure Seekers

Mac's BacksOur indie bookstore road trip brought us to Mac’s Backs Books on Coventry, a vibrant literary and community hub in the heart of Cleveland Heights. Co-owner Suzanne DeGaetano acquainted us with the shop, offered suggestions of books she loves, and asked us what we were currently reading. We felt instantly at home.

Mac’s Backs began in 1978 when Jim McSherry bought a used bookstore in Chagrin Falls. The store moved briefly to Kent, Ohio before returning to Chagrin Falls where it became a popular book exchange and soon needed to expand to a second location. The Cleveland Heights store managed by Suzanne DeGaetano was opened in 1982 and has since had 3 locations on Coventry Road.

Mac's Backs Elizabeth StroutMac’s began hosting poetry readings when poets Daniel Thompson and Dennis McDonnell needed a new venue for a reading series they sponsored.  The readings have taken place on the 2nd Wednesday each month since 1984. Recent poetry readings featured Chris Franke and Terry Provost.  The store offers a regular book club, (picks such as Elizabeth Strout and Audre Lorde), staff picks (such as Viet Thanh Nguyen, Jeanette Winterson and Mary Karr), and many signed books.

Mac's Backs Tommy's RestaurantFellow writers, you can count on Mac’s Backs to carry three excellent magazines, POETS & WRITERS, WRITER’S DIGEST and WORLD LITERATURE TODAY.

When you’ve had your fill of books, stroll to the adjacent Tommy’s Restaurant owned by Tommy Fello for excellent food and coffee. Continue reading Mac’s Backs on Coventry Welcomes Indie Bookstore Adventure Seekers

Bookstore Adventurers Discover Chicago’s Famous Indies

indie bookstores chicagoOur bookstore odyssey stopover in the Windy City brought us to Barbara’s Bookstore, a powerhouse indie with five locations in the Chicago area and one in Boston. Created over 50 years ago, Barbara’s offers a wide selection of fiction and nonfiction, including Chicago travel guides and history. Their excellent staff picks include SCIENCE IS CULTURE by Adam Bly, UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King, and GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD by a favorite author of mine, Michael Chabon. We visited the East Huron Street location downtown, and in honor of President Obama’s city, picked up one of his recommendations, THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu, consumed within 48 hours by my cohort Flannery James, who wholeheartedly seconds President Obama’s endorsement.

Chicago Indie BookstoresThe first Barbara’s Bookstore opened on Wells Street in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood in the early 1960’s. It was a large, shambling, literary bookstore with creaky wood floors and dust dating back to the early 1950’s. The closest thing they had to a computer was a plug-in cash register, pen and paper and a staff that knew every book in the store by heart.

Barbara's Bookstore Michael Chabon Cixin Liu President Obama

 

 

 

 

 

 

The retail book industry has changed dramatically in the five decades since Barbara’s beginnings. Along the way, Barbara’s discovered they could coexist with the huge national chains and thrive by finding unique locations and creating personal, full-service stores where you don’t expect to find them.

The chain encompasses two types of stores. There are large, neighborhood stores, called Barbara’s Bookstore and the smaller, ‘niche’ stores in high traffic locations like airports and hospitals called Barbara’s Bestsellers.

Barbara’s has earned a reputation in Chicago for high-quality inventory and informed service. They love books. Twice they have been named by the Chicago Tribune as one of the 100 best things about the city. The alternative newspaper, Newcity, has recognized Barbara’s author event schedule as the best in Chicago.

Chicago is home to many excellent longstanding indie bookstores, including Women & Children First specializing in feminist, lesbian, gay and children’s literature, the Seminary Co-op specializing in academic books of literary and scholarly interest, 57th Street Books which offers general interest fiction and nonfiction and children’s books, and Unabridged Bookstore, which features fiction, poetry, travel, LGBTQ and children’s literature. We wish we could visit them all, but alas the road calls. Cleveland, here we come!

Chicago indie bookstores

Chicago Indie Bookstores

Chicago Indie Bookstores

Chicago Indie Bookstores

Indie Bookstore Travelers Bask in Prairie Lights

Praire Lights Flannery JamesWhen our indie bookstore cross-country odyssey brought us to the long awaited Prairie Lights in Iowa City, I thought I might not be able to extract my cohort Flannery James from her reading chair. Having attended the Iowa Young Writers Studio, she has deep affection for Prairie Lights, and who wouldn’t? This iconic bookstore features an ever-growing reading series, hosted both within the store and at a nearby theater. They attract bestselling authors on their book tours as well as the prestigious faculty of the Iowa Writers Workshop.

The deeply knowledgeable staff offers suggestions of must-reads as well ask  kids picks .  Book buyer Paul Ingram offers reading and book club suggestions at Paul’s Corner.  We purchased THE PAPER  MENAGERIE by Ken Liu.

Prairie Lights sprang to life in May 1978 as a small, intimate bookstore offering titles by the newer voices of Raymond Carver and Alice Munro and by established authors like Eudora Welty and George Orwell. As the staff and customers tended the books with care much like a garden, the store grew and blossomed. By 1982 Prairie Lights transplanted itself from South Linn St. to South Dubuque and has gradually spread to three and a half floors, the half being an 1100 square foot coffee house located in the same space that the local literary society met throughout the 1930’s, hosting writers Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, Sherwood Anderson, Langston Hughes, e e cummings and others. Today the Cafe features art installations, including works by Elizabeth Munger,   Matthew Foster, Kenneth Hall,  Thomas Agran, Sarah Bozaan and Heidi Zenisek. 

The bookstore’s strength of reputation lies in the reading series of local, national and international writers who have read their works which were broadcast live on stations WSUI and WOI and which was the only regular literary series of its kind. Upcoming events include visits from Paul Harding, Joe Brisben, Z.P. Dala, Benjamin Percy, Inara Verzemnieks  and Bernie Sanders.

Booklovers everywhere, consider Prairie Lights your mecca. For us, it was well worth the pilgrimage.

Prairie Lights

Indie Bookstore Sojourners Explore Bookworm of Omaha

Bookworm of Omaha
Photo by Ryan Soderlin. Reprinted with permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Our cross-country indie bookstore odyssey brought us to the Bookworm of Omaha, Nebraska, my old stomping grounds. An independent family business owned and managed by Phillip and Beth Black, the Bookworm has served Omaha for more than 30 years, and recently moved to a new brightly lit spacious location on 90th and Center Street.

Nancy Rips Bookworm of OmahaA full service bookstore, the Bookworm highlights local authors such as Bookworm employee Nancy Rips, who wrote several children’s books on Hanukkah.  Their dedicated staff, some of whom are prior bookstore owners themselves, know books inside and out. A delightful children’s section offers a rocking chair and weekly “Wiggle Worm Story Time” for children 5 and under.

Chigozie Obioma Bookworm of OmahaBooks in the queue to be discussed by the store’s In-house and external book clubs include The Trial by Franz Kafka, Cinder, volume #1 of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction by Christopher Janaway, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Into Oblivion by Arnaldur Indridason, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shatterly. We purchased a staff pick, THE FISHERMAN by Chigozie Obioma, a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.

We appreciate the Bookworm’s warm hospitality and wish them well in their sparkling new location. As a former Omaha resident, I’m delighted to see the Bookworm’s growth and success.

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Cross Country Indie Bookstore Road Trip Discovers Indigo Bridge Books

Indigo Bridge indie bookstore During our cross-country indie bookstore road trip, we happened upon Indigo Bridge Books located in the Creamery Building on P Street in Lincoln, Nebraska, a little bookstore with a mighty spirit. As the name suggests, the bookstore endeavors to help “bridge”  divisions of neighborhoods, social classes, political ambitions, religious beliefs, ethnicity, national borders, and even languages. In the Lincoln community, Indigo Bridge is a voice for tolerance, inclusion and positive regard for fellow human beings and the planet. Their dynamic book club offerings include themes such as human rights and graphic novels.

Indigo Bridge indie bookstore The staff at Indigo Bridge loves to put thoughtful books into your hands. Their recent picks include three of my favorites, AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS by Helen Oyeyemi and THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt. They also offer an eclectic assortment of zines and books by local authors. 

Indigo Bridge indie bookstoreA cozy reading area offers a living room like feeling with rustic wooden tables, a bookshelf and piano. A delightful children’s section is graced by a tree sculpture made of hand-dyed canvas and jute twine designed by artist Toby Thomas. More of Thomas’s work can be found at http://tobythomas.com/.

Having studied creative writing at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln years ago with the wonderful Marly Swick, I wish Indigo Bridge had been around back then. The warm, personable staff sent us on our way with delicious mocha lattes from the café (all coffee proceeds go to good local causes). Indigo Bridge, a haven for all those seeking wise words and open hearts, is a bookstore with a mission.

8 Days, 9 States, 12 Bookstores, 2,500 Miles: The Tattered Cover in Denver

indie bookstoreOur cross country bookstore odyssey landed us on the shores of the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. After losing each other among the multi-tiered landscape of this indie bookstore, each turn revealing yet another hidden alcove adorned with a wingback chair, antique fainting couch or rustic church pew, my daughter and I stumbled upon each other and simultaneously mouthed the same words, “I could live here!”

Tattered Cover indie bookstore staff picksOne of four Tattered Cover sites in Denver, the Colfax store resides in the historic Bonfils/Lowenstein Theater and retains the venue’s original charm, including travertine tiles, polished wood paneling and unique glass windows with cartouche designs. But the inviting ambiance of this place comes not only from its vaulted ceiling and vintage chandeliers. A distinct glow of warmth comes from the book-loving experts who work here, many of whom have been part of the Tattered Cover family for upwards of twenty years. Apparently we aren’t the only ones who, upon entering these doors, felt compelled to stay. These literary Sherpas stand ready and able to guide customers to their next reading adventure. Their book club  and staff picks, sprinkled throughout the store as well as showcased in a special section, are backed up with personalized notes on why you might love a particular read. Along with new titles, staff favorites include books that were published years or decades ago, including two of my favorites, THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brien and INTO THE WILD by Jon Krakauer. We purchased THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton at an excellent discount price.

Tattered Cover indie bookstore chairWhile we did not have time to visit all four locations in Denver, each has a reputation for expert staff and distinct flavor. Together, the venues host more than 500 events each year, including storytimes for kids (the children’s section was teeming) and readings by literary titans such as Amy Tan and Oliver Sacks. As if all this weren’t enough, baristas at the Tattered Cover Café are ready to cap off your visit with a selection of pastries, coffee and tea. We would have liked to set up camp among the old theater seats and reading lamps of this famous bookstore, but alas, the road calls. Tattered Cover, we shall return one day!