Just a Few Weeks Left to Apply for the 2020 Levis Prizes of $5,000 for a First Book of Poetry and First Book of Fiction  

Thank you to all who have submitted materials for this year’s prize thus far, and best of luck to all.  If you’ve been mulling it over, contemplating whether or not to apply, please know that it isn’t too late to get your applications in…

If you needed a bit more encouragement, however, here’s what poet Jennifer Funk, one of last year’s recipients, recently had to say about what the winning this prize has meant for her life and work:

When I tell people I am writer—and it is because of Ellen Bryant Voigt I do this, she who was so adamant that if I had gone to the trouble of getting myself to and through Warren Wilson, I should damn well claim the legacy—I do say first, “I am a writer,” because to say first, “I am a poet,” inevitably, inevitably, elicits a remark to effect of, “Oh, how nice.  I mean, I don’t really get poems, but that’s great.”  One shrugs.  Why couldn’t I have chosen fiction?  But I never dreamed of being understood (deeply legible, narratively inclined poet though I inevitably, inevitably, am) and I never imagined being sought out by other people to read, let alone widely, let alone making any money.  Forget prizes or publishing, I could barely get the arms of my ambition around the notion of stringing several decent sentences together in a row.  And yet.  And yet, each writer’s relationship with ambition is particular and eventually, I did come to terms with the reality that if I was—really and for truly—going to claim the legacy, I had to not only protect my writing life, but preserve it and until we have (as I raise my progressive fist, one day!) abolished capitalism, one must finance one’s life, that is to say, all of one’s various lives.  

I applied to the Levis in the last hour the prize was open and I did so without flinching or with any great hope.  A penny in a well, that was all.  I hardly need to tell you of my tearful shrieking or my astonishment or the absurd privilege of having an additional 5k on hand in 2020.  Like so much else in my wee little life, to have won the Levis seems patently ridiculous, and yet.  And yet, I will tell you that for the first time I feel a certain duty—to my community, to the tradition of our craft, to the reckless world we live in—to keep writing.  To win was to hold myself accountable to the legacy, and to live a writing life in which I try to do us proud is one I am (eye roll away) lucky to live

As a reminder, the Levis Stipends are open only to alumni who have not yet published a full-length collection in the selected genre in a standard edition.

Submissions will be accepted until January 8, 2021, and must be made via our new Submission Manager: https://www.levisprize.com/submissions/

You can find current submission guidelines here.  We look so forward to receiving your work!

Please feel free to direct any queries or requests for more information to:  

Nathan McClain

Levis Fellowship Administrator 

[email protected]