Announcing the Winners of the Hillary Gravendyk Prize!

Dear Readers,

It gives me great pleasure to announce the winners, runners-up, and finalists of the inaugural Hillary Gravendky Prize. We received many outstanding submissions for this open book competition, and thank you all for your patience and support of this new endeavor.

 

The winners of the inaugural Hillary Gravendyk Prize poetry book competition are:

Map of an Onion by Kenji Liu (Monterrey Park, CA), winner of the National prize

All Things Lose Thousands of Times by Angela Peñaredondo (Riverside, CA), winner of the Regional prize

 

Each winner receives a standard book publishing contract and publication of their book, a $1000 honorarium, and twenty complimentary copies. We look forward to bringing these books into the world in 2016.

 

About the winning manuscripts:

Kenji Liu’s illuminated Map of an Onion is a koan of deconstructions which interrogates within the fissures of difference those spaces within us and between us, as charged spaces of potential and becoming. A book-length question in a hard, graceful calligraphy, asking deeper, asking better, what does it mean to be a self, this Self, to “translate this search / between my family’s four languages,”—emergent, reassembled of ancient molecules and sculpted by all the forces of culture, history and bloodlight into a man? If “nations need a parable to reinvent themselves,” Kenji Liu’s Map of an Onion may be that parable.

—Chad Sweeney, from the judge’s statement

Elastic, dimensional, all-together convincing, Angela Peñaredondo’s debut All Things Lose Thousands of Times wields the language as a mountain wields a storm, in phrases that pivot, reverse, wander, tighten, leap and fall through geographies of the body, an inward archipelago of experience, individual and collective, all past and flooded, all future and on fire, bearing unflinching witness to courage, revelation and sexuality, to life and to the lives of women where “their mothers have turned into mangroves” and where “her father found us / as I knelt before her, knees / on church-cold tile.” A profoundly alert and loving book that sings and celebrates the cosmic interplay of forms. This is what poetry can do. I feel rescued by it.

—Chad Sweeney, from the judge’s statement

 

We are also thrilled to announce the following runners-up and finalists:

National Runners-Up:

City of Incandescent Lightbulbs by Matthew McBride (Machiasport, ME)

Superstition Freeway by Miles Waggener (Omaha, NE)

Regional Runners-Up:

Through Barricades: Ghosts by Vickie Vertiz (Monterey Park, CA)

Seeds Spent Plants Sow by Kiandra Jiminez (Moreno Valley, CA)

Finalists:

Now, Someday by Micah Chatterton (Riverside, CA)

Betrayed with Trees by James Ducat (Redlands, CA)

The Water in Which One Drowns Is Always an Ocean by Jeff Encke (Tukwila, WA)

Requiter by Kristen Hanlon (Alameda, CA)

Breaking Earth and Other Poems by Scott Hernandez (Riverside, CA)

Flooded Field by John Johnson (Petaluma, CA)

A Western by Genevieve Kaplan (R-LaVerne, CA)

Hole in the Horizon by David Madull (Oakland, CA)

Ornithology by Kevin McLellan (Cambridge, MA)

Why I Cannot Love Picasso by Devon Miller-Duggan (Newark, DE)

Storage Shed by Rich Murphy (Marblehead, MA)

Better Looking by David Oates (Portland, OR)

With Porcupine by Jacob Oet (Solon, OH)

Foul Hook by Sarah Pape (Chico, CA)

How to Disappear by Claudia Reder (Oxnard, CA)

What Magick May Not Alter by J.C. Reilly (Atlanta, GA)

The Scientific Method by Kim Roberts (Washington D.C.)

Lost on My Own Street by Tim Staley (Las Cruces, NM)

The Way a Wound Becomes a Scar by Emily Schulten (Key West, FL)

A Girl Could Disappear Like This by Deborah Schwartz (Jamaica Plain, MA)

Pocket Guide to Another Earth by Mike Smith (Cleveland, MS)

Tenderized Vows by Amy Jo Trier-Walker (Churubusco, IN)

The Auguries by Abigail Wender (New York, NY)

 

Thank you all for letting us share in your journey, and we hope you will consider submitting again next year!

The Do’s and Don’ts of Submitting by Cati Porter

Most of you know me as the face of Inlandia. Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed for the My Awesome Empire radio broadcast. One of the things they asked was how did I get involved with Inlandia. I have Marion Mitchell-Wilson to thank, who invited me to coffee and the rest is history. Everyone who knows her knows that you can’t say no to Marion.

Marion and I met at an Inlandia event—I can’t even remember which, this was so long ago, but Inlandia was still housed at the Riverside Public Library, and Marion ran the organization from her post as Development Officer at the library, curating their arts and culture calendar. I was just a few years in to my own foray into arts & culture, having founded Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry, an online literary journal dedicated to poetry. The first Advisory Council meeting that I attended was in 2009, and shortly after that Inlandia broke from the library and formed its own independent nonprofit. I never envisioned then that I would someday be at the helm.

Marion had as one aspect of her vision for Inlandia, the preservation of the voices and stories of those that make this place home. In furthering that mission and vision, coupled with my own interest in writing and publishing, I have been working hard toward expanding Inlandia’s publications program. We have been slowly adding books to our catalog, both through Heyday and independently, and with the launch of the Hillary Gravendyk Prize, we hope to continue to bring books to the public for many years to come. It’s a slow process, though, one that requires patience as we gain speed.

Through Poemeleon first, and now through Inlandia, I’ve learned many things about publishing. It hasn’t been easy, and as a writer myself, it’s been challenging to follow my own advice sometimes, but years ago I found a very helpful list of “50 dos and don’ts”, which I’ve modified for my own use. For those of you looking for a publisher, or looking to submit work to Inlandia, try to keep these things in mind:

– Do read submissions guidelines carefully—it shows you respect the editor’s time, and that you take the submission process seriously.

– Don’t ask for feedback on your work, because, again, it shows you respect the editor’s time; if you want feedback, find a writers workshop to join or form your own.

– Do keep cover letters brief; don’t include anything personal other than your contact info, and don’t try to summarize what you are trying to do with the poems.

– Don’t include a bio that is a mile long—editors don’t need to see everywhere you’ve ever published; only include a handful of recognizable and recent credits, or don’t include any at all.

– Do spell check everything and proofread until you’re certain they are no typos, and don’t freak out if you find out later that there was a typo, because if the work is good, that can be fixed later; editors understand.

– Don’t center your poems or use any other weird formatting or font or use ALL CAPS unless you have a very strategic reason to do so.

– Do your research and submit only to journals that you’ve actually read and think might like your work.

– Don’t put the copyright symbol on your poems—copyright is inherent from the moment of creation. (And if someone is out to steal your work, the copyright symbol isn’t going to stop them.)

– Do submit to more than one press or journal at a time, as that ups the odds of the work getting picked. (Exception: if a press or journal specifically states no simultaneous submissions.)

And lastly:

– Don’t take rejection personally! There are so many reasons why an editor might pass something up. And if you get a personalized rejection, submit again—promptly!

Right now, Inlandia is gearing up to reopen submissions but we are not currently accepting full-length manuscripts. One of our goals is to provide services to authors—whether they are looking for a publisher, or want help publishing it themselves. All writing has an audience somewhere, it just takes patience, strategic submitting, and time.

But while you’re waiting, if you have individual prose or poetry selections, check out Inlandia’s online literary journal, Inlandia: A Literary Journey (www.InlandiaJournal.org). Or try these other So Cal presses and venues:

IE-centric Lit Journals:

PoetrIE/Tin Cannon

Wild Lemon Project

Pacific Review

Ghost Town

Crate

Mosaic

Muse

Shuf Poetry

See the Elephant

Presses:

Metaphysical Circus Press

Blue West Books

Jamii Publishing

Orange Monkey

Moon Tide

Spout Hill

Lucid Moose Lit

Cadence Collective

Sadie Girl Press

Arroyo Seco Press

For the Love of Words

Tebot Back

reVERB

Bank-Heavy Press

Kelsay Books

Aortic Books

Lummox Press

Locked Horn Press

I’m sure there are more presses out there—if you know of any, send me a link! Help me build a list of resources for Inlandia’s writers to include on our website.

One Man at a Women’s Club by David Stone

Over thirty women filled the luncheon tables of the Beaumont Women’s Club on Sixth Street when I arrived. “Would you help us with an extra table?” asked Ruth Jennings, the Program Secretary of the Club. Getting put to work, I immediately felt like I was at a family event where the men had all escaped to another room.

A few weeks earlier, Mrs. Jennings had written me a beautiful handwritten letter in response to my Inlandia Literary Journeys column, The Lost Art of Letter Writing. She had invited me to join Cati Porter, Executive Director of the Inlandia Institute, to discuss the work of Inlandia and share some of our poems. Written on gray cotton stationary, Mrs. Jenning’s formally formatted letter described her own remarkable personal letter collection, including letters written by relatives describing scenes of the American Civil War and the funeral parade of President Garfield in 1881.

Although in my childhood my grandmother Margaret Stone was a longstanding member of the Waverly Women’s Club in Pennsylvania, and my mother, a housekeeper, had been paid to wash the dishes for that group’s meetings, I had never been privileged to view the proceedings of any of their meetings.

When the women in Beaumont stood to start their meeting by saying the pledge to the American flag as I brought in the last of the extra chairs they had asked me to retrieve from the hall closet, I paused in the door and placed my hand over my heart, feeling like a kid in school. I quickly joined Cati Porter at our back table in time to listen to the women recite the Women’s Club Pledge as they held hands. At first I felt compelled to join the women in committing to virtue and service, but hearing my own lower voice, I fell silent and scanned the room. The youngest were middle-aged like myself. The oldest, Blanche B. Fries, sat directly in front of me. At a hundred years old, she told me she still teaches piano lessons to children. She has five students.

President Joan Marie Patsky, chairing the meeting from a podium at the front, encouraged members to pass a clear plastic jug and give “Pennies for Pines.” A thoughtful member told me of the Club’s service project, how they collect money to purchase property and to plant trees. I followed the example of most of the members and emptied my wallet of some green bills and not copper. A container for a fifty-fifty raffle soon followed. One lucky member takes home half the pot, and the Club earns the rest. They asked Cati to draw the ticket for the day. The winner shouted when she determined she held the winning ticket.

Cati and I filed to the back of the room to pick up one of the antique clear glass luncheon plates with a corner raised ring to stabilize a cup. Disappointingly, no matching glass cups were set out for this meeting. I have never dined with that form of dinnerware.

Stretched over several tables were finger sandwiches, deviled eggs, crudités, sweet breads, and fresh fruit. Back at the table, I pleasantly startled myself as I ate what I thought was a pitted natural olive, but turned out to be a homemade chocolate. I enjoyed the sweet treat just before I stood up to speak.

President Patsky introduced Cati and I to the members. Cati described the mission of the Inlandia Institute to promote literary activity in the Inland Empire region of California through writing workshops, readings, and the publishing of books through Heyday Books and more recently under the Institute’s own imprint. She announced the inaugural Hillary Gravendyk Poetry Book Prize. Cati read a poem from her book Seven Floors Up inspired by a sticker that came home with her son one day, “Caution Please Do Not Turn The Head Forcefully.”

Inspired by the fine penmanship in Ruth Jenning’s letter of invitation, I began my portion of the program with “If We Stop Teaching Cursive” and “Reading Time.”

Attempting to highlight the range of Inlandia publications, I read several of my poems from the 2013 Writing from Inlandia: “On Seeing the Cost of Time Change,” “Riding the Flexible Flyer,” and “A Dammed Life.” I displayed broadside prints for each of these poems with the block print illustrations I had created.

From Orangelandia: The Literature of Inland Citrus, I read “Wishing for a Ladder” and “Redlands Sunset.” From Inlandia: A Literary Journey, the official online literary journal of the Inlandia Institute, I read “Creosote,” and “A Rare Night Air.”

I closed with “Two Eggs,” “My Father’s Amputation on Tuesday,” and “My Top Drawer.”

The members asked Cati and I numerous questions about Inlandia and the topics brought up in my poems. They also spent several minutes in animated discussion of Timothy Green’s Inlandia Literary Journeys column “Poe and Poetic Discovery.”

More than thirty years after my mother had shooed me out of the kitchen at the Waverly Community House and told me a Women’s Club meeting was no place for a boy, I decided it was a great place for a man to visit.

On Waiting for an Acceptance by Cati Porter

This week I opened my email to find an acceptance for my poetry collection, “My Skies of Small Horses.” This is the moment that so many people wait for—sometimes briefly, sometimes forever. The acceptance is from a press—WordTech Editions—that I have long admired from a distance as I’ve watched other friends like Judy Kronenfeld publish with them. But the road to book publication is often a winding one, and mine is no exception.

This particular book began as my thesis for my MFA in Poetry from Antioch University Los Angeles. I had high hopes when I began submitting my manuscript soon after graduation. After all, I had found a publisher for my first poetry collection, “Seven Floors Up” (Mayapple Press, 2008) before I even entered the program. Now, with credentials, shouldn’t it be easier? But only after five years of trying am I finally going to see it in print.

Over those five years, I submitted my book over forty different times—sometimes to the same contest year after year, other times to presses whose aesthetics I thought matched my own, changing it slightly each time, adding and subtracting poems based on editorial comments, feedback from other writers, or just a gut sense of what works best. I tried on different titles for the book, different section titles, reordering the poems, trying to find the book’s most perfect form.

What I discovered? It’s easy to second guess your first impulse, and it’s equally easy to overlook flaws that other readers might see because you’re too close to the work. It’s taken countless critiques and rejections to get my manuscript to where it is now. And there is always the issue that good poetry is almost entirely subjective. Was it fine the first time out? Could it still be improved? Maybe, and probably!

As those five years dragged on, I kept coming back to the question, how was waiting for a publisher better than publishing it on my own? There is no one right answer. Seeing my work rejected was often painful, but publishing it too soon would have been equally so.

Waiting for a publisher, for me, meant that I spent a lot more time with the poems and made changes to the overall manuscript, that I otherwise may not have if I had gone straight to self-publishing. I could have saved time and money and had a book in print five years ago, but what I have to show for those five years, having waited, is an honorable mention, four semi-finalist nods, and one finalist—so, a little closer every time, and more time to submit work to journals, which is like vetting the poems—knowing that someone else finds value in and appreciates the work validates all the hours spent.

Self-publishing can be a viable option for those who can’t or don’t want to wait, or who, like me, have waited to no avail and have grown tired of waiting. The most important thing to consider is whether or not you have examined all of the options and revised the book to some form of finished that you feel good about.

Before the acceptance last week, I had in fact given some thought to self-publishing. There is something appealing about being able to control the overall aesthetic experience of the book, and most publishers are not willing to allow you to micromanage the process. But for me, waiting has meant that I now will have the support of an independent press whose experience outweighs my own.

As an editor and publisher as well as a writer, I’ve seen the system work from both sides, and am hopefully the wiser for it. Which is why it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to create new publishing opportunities, in order to bring more writing into the world.

In my time with Inlandia, we have expanded our imprint from books published solely through our publishing partner Heyday to adding independently published Inlandia Imprint books. I am grateful to have a great Publications Committee and volunteers who help select and prepare works for publication, and who have helped to shape the vision for publishing with Inlandia.

With the success of our first book of poetry—Vital Signs by Juan Delgado and Tom McGovern, and because of this expansion, coupled with my own love for poetry, I am beyond thrilled to announce that we are launching a poetry book competition.

The Hillary Gravendyk Prize is a poetry book competition with two winners—one drawn from a national pool and one from a regional (i.e. based in Inland Southern California). Each will have it’s own $1000 prize and book contract. Chad Sweeney, poet and faculty member at Cal State San Bernardino, will judge the inaugural contest.

The submissions window opens February 1 and will close April 30, at the end of National Poetry Month. For guidelines, please visit: http://inlandiajournal.org.