The 2019 Firecracker Award Winners: CLMP Honors Magazines and Books

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The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses’ 2019 Firecracker Awards mark five years in honoring fiction, nonfiction, poetry and literary magazines.

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By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Five Categories of Books and Magazines
The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses  (CLMP) has named the winners of its annual awards program for a fifth year.

Appropriate to the summer—though the winners were announced during June, ahead of the US Independence Day holiday—CLMP names winners in five categories of what it calls its Firecracker Awards.

In addition to its book and magazine awards, CLMP this year honored  Tender Buttons, recipient of the third annual  Lord Nose Awardgiven in memory of Jonathan Williams, publisher of the literary press The Jargon Society, in recognition of a the body of work from that small press. Tender Buttons was founded in 1989 by poet Lee Ann Brown with the aim of publishing experimental women’s writing. CLMP Board Member David Wilk, presented that award.

Winners of the 2019 Firecracker Awards

Fiction: Little Fish by Casey Plett, published by Arsenal Pulp Press

Jury commentary: “In Little Fish, Casey Plett brings us fully into the world of her characters and lets us feel the fateful inevitability of their choices.

“Plett’s protagonist, Wendy, is searching for a hidden trans lineage in her own family tree.

“This heroic quest is at once deeply private and an enormously helpful way to think about what it means for any of us to come of age and become heroes of our own lives.”

Creative Nonfiction: The Leftovers by Shaelyn Smith, published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center

Jury commentary: “The strength and poignancy of Shaelyn Smith’s The Leftovers rests in the work itself not being easily categorized. Emerging out of a critical engagement—one might even say a fixation—with Judy Chicago’s iconic feminist art installation The Dinner Party housed at the Brooklyn Museum, The Leftovers encapsulates feminist testimony, art criticism, and personal discovery while rendering the visual as tactile and vivid.

“Smith goes well beyond asking who has been brought to the table and who has been left out—she erects platforms for voices and perspectives, both historical and contemporary, that speak to how historical recovery can also be a trap. The viewpoints she brings together offer universal truths held by individuals and community through a tightness in structure, voice, and overall composition. With prose that encourages a kind of infectious curiosity, Smith cracks open what writing about art can mean for how we read the world around us. The Leftovers is singularly engaging and as essential to our shelves as it is to our everyday dialogue.”

PoetryCity of the Future by Sesshu Foster, published by Kaya Press

Jury commentary: “Sesshu Foster’s City of the Future forces readers to rethink poetry, postcards, and the present by asking us to reimagine how we use language but also how language is used upon us. His work is one of utmost service.

“On a neighborly and communitarian level, Foster’s work documents and challenges injustice. Beginning with ‘in the infinite city,’ the text builds image after image of sentient beings in “the city”—a space defined by its problematic (and dehumanizing) charge.

City of the Future is part manifesto, part conversation/correspondence, and part elegy—this is a rare portrait of a space that is actively disappearing.”

Magazine, Best Debut: Aster(ix)

Jury commentary: “This refreshing new publication is striking, inspiring, and smartly visionary. The judges are impressed by the commitment to editorial excellence evident in the compelling content and clean design. Commendably, the journal’s mission highlights generative experiment, recognizing the relationship between the creative interrogation of dominant discourse and effective social change.

“Moreover, leading the charge to nurture and publish works by artists and writers committed to social change with particular attention to works by women of color working on the margin of their discipline, Aster(ix) serves as a remarkable beacon for our times and beyond.

“This is an impactful and stunning debut, charting and accomplishing necessary work in the field.”

Magazine, General Excellence: ZYZZYVA 

Jury commentary: “Since its founding in 1985, ZYZZYVA has been committed to publishing with care and curatorial verve all genres of literature—including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and interviews—from writers known and emerging, as well as an impressive range of visual art.  Inclusive, equitable, and visionary, ZYZZYVA has impressed the judges with its unfailing standards of quality, scope, and its consistent contribution to and support of a broad spectrum of literature and literary conversation.

“They are an outstanding and longstanding example of the vital role of literary magazines and journals in the world.”

Finalists in the 2019 Firecracker Awards

Fiction
A Bright and Pleading Dagger by Nicole Rivas, published by Rose Metal Press
All Roads Lead to Blood by Bonnie Chau, published by Santa Fe Writers Project
Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, translated by Tina Kover, published by Europa Editions
Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead, published by Arsenal Pulp Press
Little Fish by Casey Plett, published by Arsenal Pulp Press
Mina by Kim Sagwa, translated by Bruce and Ju-Chan, published by Two Lines Press
Strawberry Fields by Hilary Plum, published by Fence Books
That Which Girls Conjure Will Help Them Survive by Kristen Stone, published by Guillotine
The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana, published by Dorothy, a publishing project
Trick by Domenico Starnone, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri, published by Europa Editions

Creative Nonfiction
A Handbook of Disappointed Fate by Anne Boyer, published by Ugly Duckling Presse
An Imperfect Rapture by Kelly Beard, published by Zone 3 Press
Before They Left Us by Rosemary Ann Davis, self-published with Old Road Publishing
False Calm: A Journey Through the Ghost Towns of Patagonia by María Sonia Cristoff, translated by Katherine Silver, published by Transit Books
Letters from Max: A Book of Friendship by Sarah Ruhl and Max Ritvo, published by Milkweed Editions
Mating in Captivity: A Memoir by Helen Zuman, published with She Writes Press
To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight by Terrance Hayes, published by Wave Books
No Archive Will Restore You by Julietta Singh, published by Punctum Books
The Leftovers by Shaelyn Smith, published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center

Poetry
Baby, I Don’t Care by Chelsey Minnis, published by Wave Books
Body & Glass by Rodney Koeneke, published by Wave Books
City of the Future by Sesshu Foster, published by Kaya Press
Crosslight for Youngbird by Asiya Wadud, published by Nightboat Books
Dissolve by Sherwin Bitsui, published by Copper Canyon Press
Good Morning America I Am Hungry and on Fire by Jamie Mortara, published by YesYes Books
Milk by Dorothea Lasky, published by Wave Books
Post Traumatic Hood Disorder by David Tomas Martinez, published by Sarabande Books
The Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods by Tishani Doshi, published by Copper Canyon Press
You Will Always Be Someone From Somewhere Else by Dao Strom, translated by Ly Thuy Nguyen, published by AJAR Press

Magazine: Best Debut
Aquifer: The Florida Review Online
Aster(ix) Journal
Full Bleed
Headway Quarterly
Poet’s Country
The Arkansas International
The Bare Life Review
The Second Shelf: A Quarterly of Rare Books and Words by Women
Twyckenham Notes
Under a Warm Green Linden

Magazine: General Excellence
Creative Nonfiction
Poetry
Raleigh Review
Sinister Wisdom
The Cincinnati Review
The Common
The Literary Review
Washington Square Review
Water~Stone Review
ZYZZYVA


More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards is here, and more on CLMP is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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