WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: The Flood


Leaf Seligman

Leaf Seligman has been writing fervently since childhood. Stories, letters to the editor, journals, poems, plays, novels, essays, sabbath meditations. She studied fiction writing and poetry at the University of New Hampshire where she earned an MA in writing; she studied playwriting at Brandeis. She began teaching writing in 1985, as a graduate assistant at the University of New Hampshire, and a volunteer at the Rockingham County jail. She’s taught writing ever since at two universities, a college, two prisons, two jails, and a variety of community settings. Her writing has been published in Creative Nonfiction and The New Thought Journal. Bauhan Publishing brought out two books by her, Opening the Window: Sabbath Meditations (2011) and A Pocket Book of Prompts (2015). Leaf freelances as a writing guide and itinerant preacher in addition to teaching.

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Pearl S. Buck Award for Writing for Social Change


Barbara Evans Fleischauer

Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer was elected in 2014 to her 10th two year term representing Monongalia County in the West Virginia House of Delegates. She is a graduate of Allegheny College in Meadville, PA and the WVU College of Law. Barbara lives on the Evans family farm just outside of Morgantown with her husband, WVU Law Professor Bob Bastress.

She has passed important legislation affecting women, children, veterans and disabled West Virginians.

In 2014, Delegate Fleischauer sponsored nearly one-third of the House bills that became law. She is known as one of the hardest working Delegates, passing hundreds of bills to aid her community and state during her tenure in the W.Va. Legislature.

Barbara is a member of and has served as a leader in numerous local, state and national organizations.  She was raised in and is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. Because of her legislative and community service, Delegate Fleischauer has been the recipient of local, state and national awards.

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Long Poetry


Dr. Brucella Jordan

Dr. Brucella Jordan is a historian and former professor who has been involved in a variety of historical projects. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Government from West Virginia Institute of Technology, a Master’s Degree in Public History and a Ph.D. in History from West Virginia University. She has taught classes primarily in African American history at West Virginia University, Marshall University Graduate College, West Virginia Institute of Technology, and Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. She is co-founder and curator of the African American Heritage Family Tree Museum in Ansted, West Virginia and she portrayed the historical characters Anne Spencer and Ida B. Wells for ten years under the sponsorship of the West Virginia Humanities Council. Dr. Jordan is the author of Flashback: Poetry and Commentary, Anne Spencer: Poet of the Harlem Renaissance, African American Migration to Ansted, West Virginia, and Aunt Artie’s House. She spends summers in West Virginia and winters in Georgia.

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Inspirational Writing


Sandi Rog

Sandi Rog is the founder and acquisitions editor of Tulpen Publishing (www.tulpenpublishing.com). She has been editing since 1999 and is also an international, multi-published, award-winning author.

Sandi lived in Holland for thirteen years and now lives in Colorado with her husband, her children, a cat, and too many spiders.  You can learn more about Sandi Rog at her personal website: www.sandirog.com.

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Emerging Writers Prose


June Langford Berkley

June Langford Berkley is a writer who imagines her family saga in storytelling performances and fiction.  Her multi-faceted career in education includes public school and university teaching and nationwide consulting.  She has written many articles and chapters for text books.  Her published fiction includes: Shannaganey Blue, a novella, University of Akron, 5th ed. 1993; The Rhinegold Case, University of Akron, Akros Review, l984.

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Emerging Writers Poetry

Grady Hillman


Grady Hillman is a literary translator, poet and performer and received the Austin Book Award for his poetry collection Razor Wire. His poetry and poetry translations have been published in more than 50 literary journals and anthologies. Hillman has been a solo artist or part of an ensemble in 300 poetry performances. He directed or co-directed three inter-disciplinary performing companies: Clearlight, PoDan Sam, and WordWork.

Hillman holds an M.A. in linguistic anthropology and conducted a Fulbright Grant to Peru to research and record Quechua narratives between 1989-90. Prior to receiving his Fulbright, he published a book of historical Quechua verse with Guillermo Delgado, Return of the Inca. Hillman has translated and published more Quechua verse since his year in Peru, and he has published and performed Russian and Spanish translations as well.

As a young poet, Hillman began work in the Poet in the Schools program in Texas. That led him to the Texas prison system where he conducted a three-year residency as the Poet in the Schools for the Windham School System, the state-wide prison program. For thirty years, he has worked as a consultant and artist for community arts programs in the US and abroad. (He collected and edited anthologies of Katrina memoirs--Writing Mobile Bay: The Hurricane Project (Alabama Writer's Forum) and Walking the Waterfront: Pascagoula Remembers America's Most Destructive Natural Disaster (National Communities in Schools and the Mississippi Arts Commission)). However, Hillman is best known in the community arts realm for his work in correctional arts. He edited or co-edited state-wide anthologies of prison writing in Texas (Writer's Block) and California (About Time III). For the last four years, he has served as a mentor and consultant to the National Endowment for the Arts and Federal Bureau of Prisons.

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Children’s Books


Jennifer Allison

Jennifer Allison grew up in a small town in Michigan. One of her best friends lived on a sheep farm, and the two girls found the spooky atmosphere of the barn hayloft to be perfect for séances. As it turned out, the experience was also perfect inspiration for a novel about a thirteen-year-old psychic investigator in her Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator series.

Ms. Allison holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.F.A. from American University. Her various careers have included work as a news reporter and high school English teacher. She has also held numerous odd jobs — piano player in a shopping mall, assembly-line worker for General Motors, waitress, preschool teacher — that have helped her generate ideas for characters and stories.

Jennifer Allison currently lives in Chicago, with her husband, Michael, and their three children — Max, and the twins, Marcus and Genevieve (“Gigi”).

WV Writers Contest F.A.Q. #52

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing CompetitionsTo see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION:  For the Pearl S. Buck Category, can one submit a manuscript of 20 poems (under 5,000 words) about social change, wherein each poem draws its inspiration from a singular experience in the life of the poet and, as a whole, speaks to social change?

ANSWER:   Typically in the contest, each submission is one poem or one prose piece per entry. However, in the topic categories, such as Pearl S. Buck, Appalachian, The Flood, or Inspirational, the rules of the contest as written do not necessarily disallow it.  The topic categories that accept prose or poetry just say "up to 5000 words, (prose or poetry)" which one could argue would not necessarily prevent multiple poems as part of an overall manuscript focused on a single topic.  One could also make the point that prose writers have up to 5000 words at their disposal, while most poems would come nowhere close to that word count.  As contest coordinator, I also just like the idea of a small group of poems that are dedicated to a single topic.  I think it would be good to try this out.

Without changing any rules, for 2017 the special topic categories of the West Virginia Writers Contest (such as Inspirational, Flood, Appalachian, and Pearl S. Buck) will also accept limited collections of poems that must be entirely about the topic for which they are submitted.  By "limited" here's what we're saying:

  • All poems within the manuscript submission must be on theme to the category.  These should not be poems that only loosely fit the theme, but poems which reinforce one another to speak directly toward the category's theme.
  • The word count for the manuscript of poems may not exceed the 5000 word limit of the category and that word count must be indicated below the category in the upper right corner of the first page, as in accordance with contest guidelines.
  • The entry fee to do this is the standard category entry fee of $10 per manuscript.
  • All poems within the submission must be previously unpublished, unless the previously published poems account for less than 25 percent of the whole (as in accordance with our eligibility rules as stated on the contest rules page of the entry form).
  • No poem within the collection can have previously won a prize from West Virginia Writers, Inc. (excluding honorable mentions).
  • Judges for those categories will be instructed that any collection submissions should be judged as a whole work and not by their individual parts; meaning if one or more of the poems is not up to the quality standards decided by the judges, that poem or poems may drag down the score for the whole.  So choose your words wisely.  Similarly, if a judge finds there are poems present which are off topic, that too may play a factor in their ranking of the work.
  • Submissions such as this should be stapled together and have an overall collection title.
  • Regular poetry-only categories of the contest (Short Poetry, Long Poetry, Emerging Writers Poetry) still allow only one individual poem per entry.

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Book Length Prose/Young Adult

Tom Douglass

Tom Douglass is the Appalachian Echoes fiction editor for the University of Tennessee Press. He is the author of A Room Forever: The Life, Work and Letters of Breece D’J Pancake(1998) and the upcoming Voice of Glory: the Life and Work of Davis Grubb (2017). He has edited reprints of Hubert Skidmore’s Hawk’s Nest and Davis Grubb’s Fools’ Parade. He teaches Contemporary Literature at East Carolina University. He is a graduate of Davis & Elkins College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.