This is such an amazing prize package for a low $10 entry fee! Proceeds from each entry goes directly to a woman in need via the Live Your Dream Award, sponsored by SI of Rittenhouse Square, PA, typically given to a single mother who has experienced hardships, to help her pursue her education.
I wanted to know how and why this project began, so I asked Shevaun Brannigan a few questions to find out. My interview with Brannigan and a link to the submission guidelines is below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about The Brittany Noakes Poetry Award.
BRANNIGAN: The Brittany Noakes Poetry Award is a fundraiser held by Soroptimist International of Rittenhouse Square, PA, one of nearly 1,300 clubs in 20 countries and territories working to improve the lives of women and girls around the world. The award is named after our club’s first Live Your Dream Award recipient. A Live Your Dream Award is a $1,000 cash award given to a female head of household who has experienced hardships, has financial difficulty, and wants to pursue her education. Last year, the poetry contest made it possible for us to give a $1,000 Live Your Dream Award to Ta’ilah so she could pursue her early childhood education degree, and this year’s contest will hopefully fund enough for our next award!
This year, we have some extraordinary prizes: $500 worth of custom broadsides created by artist and poet MaryAnn L. Miller. The final judge, Yolanda Wisher, is the 2016-17 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. Wisher has been a force within Philadelphia’s literary scene for the past two decades, upholding poetry as a public art.
For the full call and more details, including how the 25 semi-finalists and winner will be selected, visit the club’s website.
HOPKINSON: How/why was The Brittany Noakes Poetry Award originally started?
BRANNIGAN: Our club began in 2015, and as one of the charter members I was eager to find ways to combine my two passions: Poetry, and Fundraising. I have a wonderful community of poets in my life, from leading the reading series Feats of Poetic Strength, to my MFA program at Bennington, or from my undergraduate experience at The Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House at The University of Maryland, to my current workshop experience under the tutelage of Leonard Gontarek. In terms of fundraising, I previously raised over $25,000 for special needs guinea pigs, so I really had high expectations for fundraising for women in need!
I got the idea in the middle of a club meeting, and several hundred emails later, MaryAnn L. Miller had generously signed on to donate her time and materials for the broadsides, JC Todd agreed to serve as judge, and I promoted it.so.hard. I swear I lost some 20 facebook friends from updating each time I got a submission! It was so worth it though, as we raised over $1,000 dollars.
I suppose that speaks to the how…in terms of the why, the stories I encounter through the Live Your Dream Award applications of women who have experienced domestic violence and are victims of sex trafficking are heart breaking. But their stories of persevering for the sake of their children and creating a better world through pursuing their education in (most often) nursing, education, or social work is more inspiration than I could find in The Philadelphia Museum of Art. There is such a need in making education possible for these women, and that is why I started The Brittany Noakes Poetry Award.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
BRANNIGAN: Hands down, past winners Kayleb Rae Candrilli and Lisa Grunberger are the best examples, and their poems can be found here, along with information on the poets. You can read poems from the other finalists at my blog as well, and my thoughts behind why I selected them. Ultimately though, we are looking for excellent poems by men, women, and gender variant individuals on any subject matter, so long as it’s no longer than a page in size 12 font. We also accept donations!
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
BRANNIGAN: The Adroit Journal of course! Diagram, Hermeneutic Chaos Journal, Bone Bouquet, Winter Tangerine, American Poetry Review, Agni, and many others.
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
BRANNIGAN: Submit 5 poems for $10 by making a donation here, and forwarding your receipt with your poems as an attachment to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please reference the title of the first poem in your packet in the paypal notes field, as well as if you are a repeat entrant.
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
BRANNIGAN: They can email sirittenhousesquare@ soroptimist.net, and withdraw poems by leaving a note in submittable.
CONTEST DEADLINE: May 13, 2018
ENTRY FEE: $10 (proceeds direct to women in need)
PRIZES: $500 worth of custom broadsides created by artist and poet MaryAnn L. Miller.
NOTES: Each poem must be no longer than a page when typed in size 12 font (this restriction pertains to the broadside).
Categories: Poetry Contests