Free State Review’s “Heavenly Creatures Contest” commemorates the luminous kite photography of celebrated darkroom artist Sally Gall, a photographer who has visited kite festivals around the world from Long Beach, Washington to Cervia, Italy and Fano, Denmark. These festivals are both ethereal performances and merry social gatherings, uniting thousands of kites into a spectacle of choreographed dances, fights, and competitions. Check out the New York Times slideshow here.
Free State Review publishes print issues four times every three years. For this contest, the content will be free to everyone. All participants will be considered for print publication.
I wondered how and why this contest came to be, so I asked editor Barrett Warner a few questions to find out. See my interview with Warner and a link to their submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Heavenly Creatures Contest.
WARNER: The Heavenly Creatures Contest is simply to write a love letter to the sky. It can be a poem, or flash fiction, or even an actual love letter. The contest is free to enter and the winner will receive one of the artist proofs from Sally Gall’s Heavenly Creatures project—a series of photographs of soaring kites, single ones and small groups having a party. We’ll also feature the winner and a few other entries in our print journal Free State Review and on our website.
There’s so much new myth making in the world right now, but it’s hard for me to open a window without thinking of all the windows that have ever been opened. And so, in a periodic frenzy of curating my fictive online persona, I sometimes think of Icarus. Turns out, I’m not alone. Sally Gall has been going to kite festivals around the world capturing some beautiful poems and stories up in the sky. These things only last a moment and they become new poems and stories, all engaging with each other and the medium, sky, air, whatever’s up there, all falling back to earth in some fashion.
HOPKINSON: How/why was the Heavenly Creatures Contest originally started?
WARNER: Sally and Free State Review became connected through one of our publisher’s poetry television projects—videos incorporating original sound arrangements, visual effects, and a poetry reading. Julia Wendell who runs Galileo Books is engaged with a number of artists and musicians in this creation, but Sally’s work definitely caught our eye. She blends our two slogans perfectly—the magazine’s Totally Limited Omniscience and the publisher’s Earth Is Not the Center of the Universe.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
Free State Review is a published conversation between poets and poems, arts and ideas, flash and long form writers. We’ve sent copies to every state, Canada, Quebec, Mexico, Ireland, England, France, and many to libraries in South Africa. I can’t say that we have a target audience, only that the magazine serves as a kind of listening post to some exciting work being produced and since it’s printed, the issue can go around with you everywhere. That said, about three quarters of our readers come from the writing community, and maybe half of these would rather meet you in the lobby while the other half would rather meet you in the alley.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
WARNER: Free State Review seeks poems, stories, creative nonfiction, flash, and one minute plays. Each issue also has a Remembering beat, which is basically an obituary that can be for a person or a work of art or anything, even someone who hasn’t died. Of the ten obituaries we’ve run since 2011, I think only three were for people who had actually died.
We get so many submissions that are almost wonderful, but which maybe need a ten minute shower just to get everything right. Some of the things that make us cry are a confident, appealing voice—vivid imagery and the balance of abstract to concrete imagery—the capacity to surprise—the elastic syntax, pace, and music—thematic cohesiveness and the emotional range and maturity—deft handling of highly charged emotion—use of wit, humor, and self-implication—the choice and use of extended metaphor, skillfully juxtaposing the micro and the macro.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
WARNER: I like the new Poetry Magazine better than the old one, but not as much as I’ll like what it may become in a few more years. Tar River Poetry, Nimrod, Cimarron Review, and Beloit Poetry Journal I tend to look forward to. The first thing, always, I look for our contributors out elsewhere in the world and I love their successes.HOPKINSON: Where can folks send contest entries?
WARNER: Free State Review has a submit button on its website, and also a way to contact us if we’ve left something out of the guidelines. Give us a jingle! We also post our publisher’s book manuscripts calls in our Submittable queue.
DEADLINE: September 1, 2018
ENTRY FEE: None
PRIZES: “The winner will be featured in our Spring 2019 issue and will receive an artist proof signed by Sally Gall valued at $250. All participants will be considered for publication.”
FORMS: one poem or flash fiction