As the summer winds down and we get deeper into August, some anxiously anticipate their first pumpkin spice latte or breaking our their sweaters. There are also a number of writers who are anxiously anticipating our 2020 contest results.

Sadly, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for these, as we are seriously behind schedule.

Typically, we shift all of our focus more towards manuscript reading once the previous year’s titles have been released. We still have two of those to wrap up — although they both seem very close! We are reading submissions, but substantially slower than we normally would be able to. Also, you would think that the last thing COVID-19 would impact is a small press — and you’d probably be right, if I wasn’t a teacher. The vast majority of my summer has been consumed with course design, adaptation, reinvention, coming up with back-up plans, and trying to keep on top of any changes that the university announces. In general, what is usually already a pretty intensive preparation for Fall has turned into something extremely fraught and many times more exhausting (and time consuming) than it has ever been before. This is in addition to just having a very difficult year personally with a lot of challenges with my health and the health of my family. (Also, my primary editing computer quit on me at the end of June. Is Mercury just, like, permanently stuck in retrograde now? Can someone look into this, please?)

In the messages I’ve received asking about the contest status, I’ve been estimating sometime in October. I am hopeful that this is possible. If anything changes in these unpredictable circumstances, I’ll be sure to keep folks in the loop. I’m a writer, and know how hard it is to wait for these things.

Thank you, as always, for your patience and your support of Paper Nautilus. Please know that, even in stressful times like these, I never lose sight of how lucky I am to get to do this.

We are so excited to announce the release of Chase Burke’s Lecture, a Debut Series Co-Winner and the fourth book to be released from our lineup selected from our 2019 contests. The book may be ordered here or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

This collection received the following praise:

“The characters in Chase Burke’s Lecture are aspirants and schemers, searching our omnipresent corporations and pop culture for whatever cracks might appear, anywhere one might escape into something more successful, heartfelt, or ultimately authentic. What a lucky journey to join in on, carried along in Burke’s smart and witty prose.”
Matt Bell, author of Scrapper
“Burke’s Lecture expects us to pay attention—whether in museums and libraries or in our own homes and workplaces—and to be receptive to the gift of human connection however it may appear. Novel pages turned into airplanes for passersby to find and feel ‘affected in some way,’ a letter written on a submarine ‘to a good friend,’ a shared cigarette with a co-worker after a serious disaster, a person waiting for their ‘brother to come home.’ So read these stories, this Lecture, and take notes: otherwise, like one tourist pleading desperately with our president, we are doomed to exist here having ‘never felt so lonely.’”
Molly Gaudry, author of We Take Me Apart and Desire: A Haunting
“The irrepressible Chase Burke has delivered this irresistible book, Lecture, a baker’s dozen of nattily disheveled short short fictions. I think of them as lithesome literary GIFs, frenetic yet graceful, starring a bevy of Buster Keatonion characters, dolled up in stoic animated deadpan as whole cabinets of sentient cookware and cutlery as well as showrooms of kitchen sinks swirl around Escheresque tableaus of pensive rumination—emphatic, empathetic, bemused, curious circumventions, undeniably understated. Chase chases heroically the chaotic chaos just under the placid surface of exact and exacting attention. Each and every static kinetic piece is another delicate pas de deux with locomotive, ready, set, stop and going all the way, while you, dear reader, are all the time hanging on, effortlessly and eagerly, to your slightly too small pork pie hat.”
Michael Martone, author of The Moon Over Wapakoneta and Brooding
We have two more titles to be released this season, and are looking forward to announcing them, as well as spending more time with the 400+ manuscripts we received for our 2020 contests.

We are so excited to announce the release of Conor McNamara’s When I Think of the Randolph Mountains, a Debut Series Co-Winner and the third book in our lineup selected from 2019’s contests to be released. The book may be ordered here, or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

This collection received the following praise:

Conor McNamara has written a powerful portrait of West Virginia, mountain roads, pipeline work, cold nights, loss and enduring hope. Beautiful and understated, When I Think of the Randolph Mountains is a masterful collection of stories that stay with you long into the night.

Vincent Chu, author of Like a Champion

 

In aching bursts of spare, understated prose, Conor McNamara captures the loneliness of working as a pipeliner in wintry West Virginia. When I Think of the Randolph Mountains is at once a moving portrait of a young man—heartsick, far from home, deep in debt—and a searing look at the brutal emotional and physical toll that simply staying out of poverty takes on American workers. Though rooted in the particulars of small towns like Burnsville and Buckhannon, the story taps powerfully into the anxiety of placelessness, its narrator in every sense disoriented, always at risk of losing traction. Yet he never misses an opportunity to name the people he meets as he follows the pipeline—Ms. Amanda, the Exxon station clerk; Yogi, owner of the Motel 79; Mike Workman, a land inspector from the gas company—and we sense that no matter where the work takes him next, his alertness to human connection will come with him.

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Madeleine is Sleeping and Ms. Hempel Chronicles

Conor McNamara is out there at work. He’s Studs Terkel and he’s the guy Studs Terkel is asking what the job is really like. He’s a poet and this is his American dream with a bloody nose. Come in close. He wants to tell you how to pass your drug test, how to swing a machete, how to be in love with the dirt and the grime and the rain and the unexpected sunshine bursting out from behind the dark clouds hanging over the piece of shit roadside motel that is tonight’s temporary home sweet home.

We have three more titles to be released this season, and are looking forward to announcing them, as well as spending more time with the 400+ manuscripts we received for our 2020 contests.

We are so excited to announce the release of Maya Salameh’s rooh, a Vella Chapbook Co-Winner and the second book in our lineup selected from 2019’s contests to be released. The book may be ordered here, or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

These poems received the following praise:

“Maya Salameh’s rooh deftly works the familiar into the defamiliarized, in poems crackling with exuberant fluency. I read these poems and language feels boundless, looking feels boundless, form feels boundless. I read these poems and feel the possibilities of poetry stretching, evolving, breaking open to make room for the true refreshment that is Maya Salameh’s voice—its mischief, its enormous eyes.”
Safia Elhillo

We have four more titles that my interns and I are preparing for production, and we can’t wait to have them ready for the world.

And if you have a manuscript of your own, keep in mind that we’re open for chapbook submissions in poetry, fiction, literary non-fiction, and anything in between until April 20th. We know this is a challenging time for almost everyone — especially emotionally, but also financially for a lot of folks. If you need a submission fee waiver, don’t be afraid to reach out.
Wishing everyone wellness and comfort.

We are so excited to announce the release of Sarah Cooper’s Permanent Marker, a Debut Series Co-Winner and the first of our manuscripts selected in 2019’s contests to be released. The book may be ordered here, or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

These poems received the following praise:

Sarah Cooper’s Permanent Marker is a stunning elegiac sequence for a brother and the family he’s left behind.  But the chapbook is also about living through tremendous pain with grace and generosity, honest anger, and empathy. The poems are elegant in their imagery, evocative in their details, and artistic in their narrative focus.  Sarah Cooper is a superb poet of witness. Denise Duhamel 

Put simply: Sarah Cooper’s Permanent Marker enchants us. In “Grandma’s House,” we find the young Cooper siblings playing Ouija in the basement, casting spells with pebbles and bird feathers, hypnotized by the “oranges and pinks and blues of the jams glistening on shelves.” Such youth can’t be preserved. And though Cooper’s poems make this gut-wrenchingly clear in narrating the loss of that brother from the cellar, all the mystery of youth — that strange potion of great joy and deep sadness — is carried into these poems like a talisman. Like the BB left in the sister’s chest, forgotten, until years later she steps from the shower, runs her wet fingers over the lump, “and remembered your face / in shock as you realized you had shot me.” D. Gilson

Sarah Cooper’s Permanent Marker is about the ways we are marked by loss and all the forms that loss may take. The ephemeral smell of her brother’s cologne. His number and birthday, which she refuses to remove from her phone. Her brother’s baby teeth, which her father keeps in an Aleve bottle, suggesting the links this book traces between memory and pain. This is not a book about PTSD or addiction or brothers and sisters. It is about the collateral damage, the reverberating impact of loss on those left behind. Ed Madden

We have five more titles that my interns and I are preparing for production, and we can’t wait to have them ready for the world. And if you have a manuscript of your own, keep in mind that we’re open for chapbook submissions in poetry, fiction, literary non-fiction, and anything in between until April 20th!

Our annual chapbook contests are open this year from January 20th – April 20th, 2020. This will be our 9th year (!) of running an annual contest, and I had to count each year slowly on my hands a few times before I really believed it. We have published 34 titles during that time, six of which are forthcoming in the next few months. Be on the lookout for release announcements for some really amazing books in the next few months.

As in years past, the Vella Contest is open to all; the Debut Series is open only to writers who have yet to publish a book or chapbook (and for our purposes, this also includes if you’ve signed a publication contract but the book is not released yet).You can also go right to our Submittable, which should give you all the information you need once the contests go live on Monday.

This Spring, I’m lucky to have four wonderful interns to help with running the press. I’ll be gradually getting a little about them posted under our Staff tab.

As always, I am so grateful I get to do this. I’m excited to see what amazing work we’ll get to read this year!

We are so excited to announce the release of Kimiko Hahn’s Brittle Process, a prose poetry collection inspired by terminology found in a psychology reference dictionary. You can purchase a copy here, or under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up.

Adam Boretz has described Hahn’s work, in her previous collection, Brain Fever, as “relentless formal experimentation.” Indeed, when I was in college and read Hahn’s poetry for the very first time, it opened my eyes to the different ways a poem could be and what it could do. When Hahn and I met at an event earlier this year and talked at length about our commitment to the chapbook as a serious and important literary vehicle, I knew we had to work together on this project.

We received nearly 150 submissions this year, making our selection incredibly tough. These decisions are difficult every year, and if we had unlimited resources, we would have accepted several more. Please join me in congratulating the writers below!

This year’s winners are:

Rooh – Maya Salameh
And the Whale – Sonya Vatomsky

Our Finalists include:

Beast-Mother – Sayuri Ayers
On Boxes (And Putting Poems In Them) – Jesica Carson Davis
The Centrifuge Brain Project – Ting Gou
Present Imperfect: Essays – Ona Gritz
Rappaccini’s Garden – Jules Jacob and Sonya Johanson
Whore of Blue – Siham Karami
sacraments – Kimberly Kemler
Something Like Surrender – Heather Lang-Cassera
The Sound of Her Voice – Veronica Montes
Our Lady of Impermanence – Megan Neville
Hitting an All-Time Low – Sarah Nichols
Homer Saw a Wine-Dark Sea – Victoria Nordlund
One Body May Act upon Another at a Distance – Lynda Sexson
Mortar: Montage of a Teaching Life Into Labels More – Christine Taylor
A Long Shoot Sweeping – Mary-Sherman Willis

And there are many more manuscripts we found memorable and were very fond of. Thank you to everyone who trusted us with their writing and gave us the opportunity to read their work.

We’ll now be turning our focus towards getting this year’s six total manuscripts ready for production. Both the Debut Series and Vella Contests re-open in January 2020, and we’re excited to read what next year has in store!

We received nearly 220 submissions this year, making our selection incredibly tough. These decisions are difficult every year, and if we had unlimited resources, we would have accepted several more. Please join me in congratulating the writers below!

This year’s winners are:

Lecture – Chase Burke
Permanent Marker – Sarah Cooper
The Museum of Resentments – Amanda Hope
When I Think of the Randolph Mountains – Conor McNamara

Our Finalists include:

I-80 – Brett Biebel
Wanting – Emily Bieniek
Mayflies – Cassandra Caverhill
Wonders of a Distant World – Ja’net Danielo
Telling the Bees – Sara Eddy
An Untold History of Black – Ashley Evans
Radio Buttons – Erin Fletcher
A Kiss for the Misbehaved – Jessica Lynne Furtado
Growth Response – Dena Igusti
Uncertain Elevators – Kristen Jackson
Androphobia – Samantha Lamph
Alchemy 37 – Lisa López Smith
Heirlooms: Stories – Alexander Luft
Allegheny Front – Lisa McMonagle
Gloom of Excruciating Desires – Olivia Pierce
Five Seconds to Skip Ad – Jacob Price
On Desire – Claire Robbins
Rooh – Maya Salemeh
Love, Mom – Cathryn Sherman
Cartography – Bassam Sidiki

And there are many more manuscripts we found memorable and were very fond of. Thank you to everyone who trusted us with their writing and gave us the opportunity to read their work.

We hope to have announcements for the Vella Chapbook Contest posted in the near future!

We are so excited to announce the release of Ananda Lima’s Translation, our final 2018 Vella Chapbook Winner to be released this year, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up.

These poems received the following praise:

There is so much unbridled joy and pained tenderness in Ananda Lima’s Translation. Inspired by the poet Nathaniel Mackey and the musician Caetano Veloso, her verse streams effortlessly down the page, plaiting English with Portuguese, as Lima sings of the thrills and terrors of her new life in America, the pleasures of motherhood, and what she inherited from her family. Her voice is singular and wise and fresh. I love the poems in this chapbook.
Cathy Park Hong

Ananda Lima’s Translation is as much a mother’s grappling with how to raise her son amid the danger and violence of today’s America as it is an investigation of a daughter’s inherited, migrant Brazilian past. Lima’s poetry has the rare power to let us feel and “know the terror” of the present moment, while reflecting on and ancestry and passing on familial legacy to the next generation. Her poems aren’t afraid to “shout ‘I’m an American citizen’ ” across borders and languages, while shattering the security of presumed identity and recognizing both the precarity and privilege of citizenship. Piercing and poignant, Lima’s voice and music stay with you, “undisturbed / by wind or water, there will always remain/ a footprint” guiding your way home.
Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Lá na Bahia or on the 7 train, Ananda Lima’s poems house a stillness that moves gracefully on the page. Translation is altruistic in its soft haunt, its fleshly reminder that our daily self-discoveries are just the bones of ancestors waking for attention. The collection is a sun of moments gathered to greet us when and, wherever we may land after a long day of feeling like “other.”
Shauna Barbosa

* * *

This wraps up our new titles from the 2018 contests — but we might have some surprises in the works over the next few months! And as always this time of year, we’re spending every spare minute with the 350+ manuscripts we received for 2019.