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Booth 11: Women Writers
From the Editor

In April of 2015, after announcing the ten shortlisted poems for that year’s Booth Poetry Prize, we received the following email:

From: J____
Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2015 6:23 PM
To: BOOTH
Subject: Re: Booth Poetry Contest

Eight of your ten finalists are women.  Is this gender bias or chance? 

I tried to keep my cool and wrote the following response: “We read the longlist of fifty poems without names, so none of us had any idea. But considering the deeply troubling reality of male-slanted writers and reviewers in American letters today (do you keep up with the annual VIDA count?), I am perfectly fine with our ratio.” My reply ended the correspondence with frustrated male writer, but it did not end my relationship to his inquiry.

*

Last spring I taught a course titled “Literary Editing & Publishing” in Butler’s MFA program. As part of the curriculum, I ask the students to register a four-issue subscription to the Journal of the Month’s classroom program. I select ahead of time the titles, and then the program ships out those issues every month. This time we read Conjunctions, The Gettysburg Review, A Public Space, and Prairie Schooner. I’m not making news by writing that literary magazines, generally speaking, continue to be a space where writers of some privilege meditate on their circumstances while writers of less privilege appear less often—and with different kinds of narratives. This is not true at all for A Public Space, and also not true for many sharp and thoughtful selections from any of the titles above. And frankly, the same can be said for Booth; the struggle to represent more diverse voices and broader experiences relies powerfully on the kinds of submissions we receive. But as a professor responsible for shaping and re-shaping the canon, I was reminded of the homogeneity of literary magazines while discussing the contemporary work in these issues.

*

When work submitted to Booth passes successfully through reading teams and goes up the ladder to our monthly roundtable, we remove the names for discussion and voting. Sometimes an author’s gender is seemingly apparent from the work and other times a complete mystery. Either way, when there’s twenty of us in a room debating, we don’t give it much truck. We are in dogged pursuit of the best material we can find to publish.

Once accepted, work appears on our website.[1] Roughly twice a year, we curate print issues from the material that we’ve published online. And we never develop print issues without keeping a running count of the female/male ratio. In our recent 450-page anniversary issue, Booth X, we included thirty-two female authors and thirty-eight male authors. In Booth 9, the ratio was 12/12. We believe in the VIDA count as a critical cultural barometer of whose voices find airtime, and until VIDA includes us in their pie charts, we will hold ourselves accountable to the notion there is a multiplicity of important and arresting voices in the world. We are committed to being as inclusive as possible.

*

We received work from around five-hundred poets during the prize gig mentioned above. Our poetry editor that year was Kaveh Akbar. He was an amazingly dedicated editor who sifted through submissions in a thoughtful manner and at an impressive rate. He brought us the fifty longlisted poems, sans author names, and three of us sat down to put some debate to the matter. I’m not proud to say that all three editors at the table were male, but I am proud to say that we have had an abundance of incredible, female editors both before and after that afternoon.[2] To the best of my memory, we never gave a second thought to the possible gender identities of the ten shortlisted poems. The final judge was Ellen Bryant Voigt; the Booth staff sat down with her a few weeks later, and she shared much wisdom about all ten poems before selecting Paula Brancato’s “The only time I ever cried at the gym.”

*

The idea for an issue of Booth dedicated to all women writers arrived while leading discussion of other lit mags in my editing course this past spring. And every time I looked at our list of recent acceptances and began to pull together a possible list of female authors, I’d stumble across so many amazing pieces we’d accepted by men who were, and still are, rightfully waiting to appear in print. And I’d get conflicted for a minute that we were asking these men to wait. But, you know, that concern quickly passed. American history is dominated by the patience of women, and the world of American publishing, a garden of so much culture and progressive thought, should have been leading this charge long ago. Furthermore, if you are a male writer and take umbrage that we would put together this issue, no matter how accomplished your work, I’d ask you to not submit to us in the future. I’m not suggesting we need to share the same politics for you to appear in Booth, but I am suggesting you should understand that our interest in publishing dynamic literature intersects with our interest in publishing the multiplicity of voices in the full breadth of our shared, contemporary experience.

*

Finally, I’d like to dedicate this issue of Booth to the author of the April 2015 inquiry above, J_____. Without his email, Booth 11: Women Writers would probably not exist. Your legacy is greater than you know.   

                                                                             –Robert Stapleton, September 2017                                                                                                     

[1] In 2016, we published on our website work from twenty-three female authors and twenty-five male authors. In the first half of 2017, we have published work from seventeen female authors and nine male authors.

[2] Specifically, twelve of twenty-one Booth editor positions have been held by women since the poetry contest. In the interest of full disclosure, before this email arrived at headquarters, Booth’s female/male editor ratio was 17/16.

 


Booth’s 2015 Pushcart Prize Nominees

Bill Henderson and the Pushcart Prize committee ask for independent presses to nominate up to six published works every year for consideration in the annual Pushcart Prize anthology. We’re happy to announce that we have submitted for consideration the following titles:

Congrats and good luck to our nominees.

 ______________________________________________________

2015 Booth Poetry Prize
Final Judge: Ellen Bryant Voigt

Winner
“The Only Time I Ever Cried at the Gym” by Paula Brancato

Runner-up
“When I Open the Door a Boy Stands There” by Rachel Flynn

Shortlisted Poems
“The Only Time I Ever Cried at the Gym” by Paula Brancato
“The Daughter” by Shevaun Brannigan
“Go On Take Another Little Piece of My Heart” by Christopher Citro
“What’s Left” by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach
“When I Open the Door a Boy Stands There” by Rachel Flynn
“Finishing the Basement” by Hannah Loeb
“All Mistakes Were Once New” by Leslie Miller
“Worry” by Sam Sax
“Figure of a Woman Coming Out of a Wall” by Emily Skaja
“Oppenheimer Drive” by Joni Wallace

Details
1st Prize: $1,000 and publication.
Runner-up: $250 and publication.
All entries will be considered for publication.
All entrants will receive a copy of Booth 9, the Prize issue, in Fall 2015.
Deadline to enter is February 15, 2015.
Winner will be announced on April 15, 2015.
Entry fee is $10.

Final Judge
Ellen Bryant Voigt has published six books of poetry and a collection of craft essays. Her most recent book is Headwaters (W.W. Norton, 2013). Her poetry collection Shadow of Heaven (2002) was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Kyrie (1995) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Voigt has received grants from the NEA, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the Vermont Arts Council, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund. In 1976 she developed and directed the nation’s first low-residency program at Goddard College. Voigt has served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets since 2003. She resides in Cabot, Vermont.

Fine Print
Our Story Contest is compliant with the CLMP Contest Code of Ethics (see below). All rights revert to the author upon publication. Students and former students of Butler University and of this year’s judge may not enter. Butler University employees are ineligible as are close friends of the judge. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but you must withdraw your work from consideration if it becomes committed elsewhere. Further details on the reading and judging process are available upon request.

CLMP Contest Code of Ethics
“CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines — defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.”

_________________________________________________________________________

Booth’s 2013 Pushcart Prize Nominees

Bill Henderson and the Pushcart Prize committee ask for independent presses to nominate   up to six published works every year for consideration in the annual Pushcart Prize anthology. We’re happy to announce that we have submitted for consideration the following titles:

Congrats and good luck to our nominees.

_________________________________________________________________________

 

2013 Booth Story Prize
Final Judge: Roxane Gay

Winners
1st Prize: “Real Family” by Lenore Myka
2nd Prize: “Little Miss Bird-in-Hand” by Annie Bilancini

Shortlist
“Some Helpful Background for the Incoming Tenant” by Jacob Appel
“Their Own Resolution” by David Armstrong (story withdrawn by the author)
“Little Miss Bird-in-Hand” by Annie Bilancini
“Plush” by Jennifer Caloyeras
“Real Family” by Lenore Myka

Details
1st Prize: $1,000 and publication.
2nd Prize: $250 and publication.
All entries will be considered for publication.
All entrants will receive an annual subscription, including Booth Five and Booth Six, the Prize issue.
Winners will be announced on August 15, 2013.
Entry fee is $20.

Final Judge
Roxane Gay’s stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, Oxford American, NOON, Ninth Letter, Mid-American Review, Best Sex Writing 2012, and elsewhere. Her writing has also appeared or is forthcoming in The Wall Street Journal, Salon, Prairie Schooner, and the New York Times. Grove/Atlantic will release in 2014 her novel, An Untamed State, and Harper Perennial will release her essay collection, Bad Feminist. Gay is the co-editor of PANK and the essays editor for The Rumpus. She lives and teaches in the Midwest.

Fine Print
Our Story Contest is compliant with the CLMP Contest Code of Ethics (see below). All rights revert to the author upon publication. Students and former students of Butler University and of this year’s judge may not enter. Butler University employees are ineligible as are close friends of the judge. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but you must withdraw your work from consideration if it becomes committed elsewhere. Further details on the reading and judging process are available upon request.

CLMP Contest Code of Ethics
“CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines — defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.”


_________________________________________________________________

 

Booth’s 2012 Pushcart Prize Nominees

Bill Henderson and the Pushcart Prize committee ask for independent presses to nominate   up to six published works every year for consideration in the annual Pushcart Prize anthology. We’re happy to announce that we have submitted for consideration the following titles:

Congrats and good luck to our nominees._________________________________________________________

2012 Booth Poetry Prize
Final Judge: Linda Gregg

Winners
1st Prize: “How to Make a Beginning” by Aubrey Ryan
2nd Prize: “Bearing October” by Sarah Marcus
Honorable Mention: “Travelogue” by Claire Kiefer

Finalists
“Country Road” by George Amabile
“Distance and Order” by Dylan Carpenter
“Lion in the Limo” by Doug Paul Case
“To Know a Door” by Kate Rutledge Jaffe
“Travelogue” by Claire Kiefer
“May Support Life” by Alyse Knorr
“Bearing October” by Sarah Marcus
“How to Make a Beginning” by Aubrey Ryan
“Trout” by Emily Viggiano
“Flemish Giants” by Susan Yount

Details
-1st Prize: $500 and publication
-2nd Prize: $250 and publication
-All entries will be considered for publication.
-All entrants will receive a print copy of Booth Three, scheduled for release in March 2012.
-Winners will be announced on March 30, 2012.
-Entry fee is $10.

Final Judge
Linda Gregg’s awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Writer’s Award, an NEA grant, a Lannan Literary Foundation Fellowship, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and multiple Pushcart Prizes. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, the Atlantic Monthly, and Ploughshares, and her books include All of it Singing: New and Selected Poems, In the Middle DistanceThings and Flesh, AlmaChosen By The Lion, and The Sacraments of Desire. Ms. Gregg has taught at the University of Iowa, Columbia University, Princeton University, and the University of California at Berkeley.

Fine Print
Our Poetry Contest is compliant with the CLMP Contest Code of Ethics(see below). All rights revert to the author upon publication. Students and former students of Butler University and of this year’s judge may not enter. Butler University employees are ineligible as are close friends of the judge. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but you must withdraw your work from consideration if it becomes committed elsewhere. Details on the reading and judging process are available upon request.

CLMP Contest Code of Ethics
“CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines — defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.”

______________________________________________________________

2011 Chapter One Contest Winner
Richard Russo has selected Kevin Ducey’s Calamity’s Child as the winner of the Booth Chapter One Contest. “Ducey is a terrific writer who’s going to do great things,” Russo said. Russo went on to praise the humor and imagination in the opening twenty pages of Calamity’s Child, which will be published on our home page on May 6, 2011. Ducey will collect the $500 prize.

Kevin Ducey lives in Madison, Wisconsin. His book of poems, Rhinoceros, won the Honickman Award from the American Poetry Review in 2004. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Crazyhorse, Sonora Review, AGNI, Hotel Amerika, The Pinch (River City), Beloit Poetry Journal, and other places. He did his undergraduate work in English at the University of Colorado and received an MFA in Poetry at Notre Dame.

Finalists
Wild Kingdom by Stace Budzko
Calamity’s Child by Kevin Ducey
The Un-Game by Kathleen Founds
Amused by Allison Gehlhaus
Dwell Time by Arthur Plotnik