This is What America Looks Like, Coming Spring 2021

The Washington Writers Publishing House is publishing an anthology,  This Is What America Looks Like. Submit now!

The Washington Writers Publishing House (WWPH), the publisher of my short story collection “Strivers”, is a unique venture, a cooperative non-profit, run on a shoe-string budget by an all-volunteer editorial, production, and publicity team. The press publishes only two titles annually, winners of separate competitions for poets and fiction writers. As a winning author, you are required to become a “member” of the cooperative for two years following the publication of your book. But as the press provides a space for collaboration, supporting other authors, as well as a well-respected connecting link into the D.C. area’s independent press and literary communities, many of its authors continue to work with WWPH long after their contract-mandated volunteer period ends. I’ve stayed on as well, and this year I am taking on production management responsibilities, trying to absorb all the publishing knowledge I can from the press’ spirted president, Kathleen Wheaton. It’s exciting to see winning authors embrace the challenges of bringing a book to life in a collapsed time period, while having the charge to drive decisions they wouldn’t be afforded at a major publishing house, like leading the creative direction of their book cover designs.    This year’s winners are two exciting voices from Baltimore, poet Steven Leyva and fiction writer Adam Schwartz (submitters must live within 75 miles of Washington, D.C., but this may be the first time that both the poetry and fiction winners are not from the close-in DC metro area).  I had the pleasure of reviewing Adam’s manuscript, which I’d characterize as a humanizing love letter to his city and the kids he’s taught as a Baltimore city school teacher.

For 2021 however, WWPH is putting the annual contests on hiatus, as we will instead publish an anthology,  This Is What America Looks Like. The editors are looking for submissions from writers who live in the DMV area or have a connection to it (whether via being a former resident or having attended school here).  As America finds itself once again grappling with its soul in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the theme should spur some provocative new writing, hopefully from a diverse group of local writers truly representative of the literary talent and vision in the greater DC/Maryland/Virginia area and especially Baltimore, which seems to be in a mini creative renaissance, producing new voices and creatives like Kondwani Fidel, D Watkins, and Devin Allen.

Submissions, which only cost 5$ per piece,  are due by June 1, via Submittable. On the fiction side, short “flash” fiction will be encouraged. More information about the project is here.

 I am anxious to see the results of what could a be an important literary timestamp marking how writers in our area interpret the American story in the age of White House buffoonery and an uncertain pandemic, income disparity and wealth concentration, non-essential workers enjoying quarantine vacations and “essential” workers dying for billionaire profiteers, climate change and children in cages, angry white male Fox News watchers and their manager-calling domestic partners, Black Live Matter, All Lives Matter,  Blues Live Matter…the genius of Blue Ivy, Instagram models and Spotify artists, social media celebrities and high school-aged influences, Tiger Kings and retail bankruptcies and Dow Jones records, skyrocketing student loan and household debt married with shrinking job sectors, the repackaging of xenophobia in a global world connected like never before….whew! So much American material for writers to possibly infuse in their take on what America looks like now. Looking forward to the anthology.

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