Each year the TU-based Nimrod International Journal of Poetry and Prose puts out a call for entries for its annual awards issue. This year, 1,279 submissions entered the contest. In addition to being published in the awards issue of Nimrod, first-place winners receive $2,000 and second-place winners receive $1,000. Winners are awarded in both short fiction and poetry categories.
This Saturday, October 18, Nimrod hosts its annual conference. Well-established authors and teachers participate in the conference that includes a panel discussion, classes about writing poetry, fiction and other topics, and one-on-one editing workshops. Attendees can have their work critiqued by professional writers who have built their careers in the literature field. Winners from Nimrod's writing contest aide with instruction of writing classes.
This year marks the 30th anniversary for the awards issue and 52 years since the creation of Nimrod International Journal. Editor-in-Chief Francine Ringold has been with Nimrod for just over 40 of those 52 years.
"Our mission is discovery," Ringold told UTW. "When someone wins our prize, the literary world takes note."
According to Ringold, a winner from years past, Gina Ochsner, went on to have stories published in The New Yorker as well as a collection of short stories published as a book the same year she won the Nimrod award.
"And that's typical," Ringold explained. "[Writers] want to publish with us because they get recognition elsewhere. It's a stepping stone and that's our mission. It's very simple: discovery and the promotion of good writing."
The selection process for the winner entails about 40 or so members of Nimrod's editorial board reading through all the entries that come in, gradually narrowing the selection. Then 20 fiction and 20 poetry finalists are chosen and sent to the two guest judges for each category. This year Anthony Doerr is the judge for fiction and Mark Doty is the judge for poetry. Doerr is the author of three books that have appeared on the New York Times "Notable Book list." He has also had a book selected as a book of the year in the Washington Post. Mark Doty also has an extensive resume including the eight published books of poetry. One of which, Dog Years, was a New York Times Best-Seller.
The theme and title for this year's conference and issue is "Making Tracks: Escape or Journey." "That's what we all really want to do, is not only make tracks but leave tracks," Ringold explained.
In the introduction to this year's awards issue of Nimrod, Ringold writes "a journey is not just a trip (though we may trip several times along the way). It is not merely running away from but running the distance --no matter the emotional or physical pain demanded."
The day of the conference is broken into four main activity sections starting at 10am with a panel discussion of this year's "Making Tracks" theme. Judges Doerr and Doty partake in the discussion as well as the finalists for the fiction and poetry prizes and other writers and teachers presenting workshops at the conference.
After the panel discussion, conference attendees can select the class they wish to take during the one hour and 15 minute morning sessions. Doerr teaches a fiction class with Stephanie Soileau, the second-place winner in the fiction category. Former Nimrod poetry winner Sue Ellen Thompson teaches one of the morning session's poetry classes with this year's first place winner, Elyse Fenton.
One-on-one editing meetings are offered during both the morning and afternoon sessions for those who pre-submitted their work by October 14.
Following an hour and a half lunch break and selected readings by the judges, the afternoon classes begin.
A new class offered at this year's conference is "Writing for Children." Ringold said they have wanted to do a class like this for some time. Children's author, Ann McGovern, submitted a few poems to potentially be published by Nimrod although she was relatively new to the world of poetry. While she did not win a prize, she was selected as a runner-up to be published in the awards issue. The editors contacted McGovern to tell her she had been selected for publication and asked her for a bio to include with the poems.
"Some people brag for six pages. She had on [her bio] 'I've also published 51 children's books, one of which is Stone Soup.' Well, every kid has read Stone Soup!" Ringold exclaimed.
The invitation was now a no-brainer. Ringold asked McGovern if she would teach a class on writing for children at the conference, to which she happily agreed.
Following the final one-on-one editing sessions and another set of readings by the judges, everything will wrap up at 4pm.
Late registration runs from 9:30-10am the day of the conference, although early enrollment is strongly encouraged. Cost for registration is $50 which includes lunch. The conference is open to all ages. Scholarships are available. Email email@example.com, or call 631-3080 for more information.
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