Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Now Hear This - A Unique Literary Prize for Military Writers

[In lieu of our regularly planned posting, we are running this timely announcement of a new literary prize in honor of my brother Jeff Sharlet after whom this blog is named. This prize has been established by my son and daughter and their spouses as a memorial to Jeff. This literary competition will be conducted annually by the University of Iowa, the premier program for writers in the United States, and its distinguished literary journal. If you are a military veteran or on active duty as well as a writer, a submission from you of either fiction, non-fiction or poetry would be most welcome. If you do not qualify, but know of a writer who has served or is serving in the military, please pass on this notice.The following announcement has been written by my son and co-author on the memoir project in progress.]


The 'Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans' is a $1,000 prize, with publication, for writing in any genre on any subject by U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel, hosted by The Iowa Review and judged by Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his collection of short stories, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. The deadline is June 15. Read more about it at the website of The Iowa Review. If you're a vet or on active duty and a writer, please consider submitting your work. If you have friends, family, co-workers, or students who are veterans, I hope you'll let them know about this contest, which we believe is the first of its kind.

About The Prize

The prize is in honor of my uncle, Jeff Sharlet (1942-1969), the founder of Vietnam GI, the first anti-war paper by and for enlisted men and women. Each issue of Vietnam GI featured interviews with ordinary soldiers and other military personnel. They were angry, funny, sad and scaldingly honest like no other account of the war at the time, and soon after the first issue the paper was inundated with letters from other GIs who wanted to let Jeff know that reading Vietnam GI -- itself a dangerous act -- was the first time they recognized themselves in the media.

The paper helped launch an underground press of hundreds of anti-war papers by and for GIs, the information network of a movement that contributed mightily to the end of the war. Jeff, who'd been exposed to U.S. chemical weapons in Vietnam, died in 1969 at age 27.

The Iowa Review has been published at the University of Iowa in Iowa City for 42 years. Past contributors include John Ashbery, Jorge Luis Borges, William Burroughs, Raymond Carver, Louise Gluck, Seamus Heaney, James Alan McPherson, Joyce Carol Oates, Ishmael Reed, Marilynne Robinson, Charles Simic, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, David Foster Wallace, and many others.

The prize is in honor of an anti-war activist, but what truly made Jeff's work uncommon was his focus on the voices of his fellow enlisted men and women.Vietnam GI was fiercely anti-war, but it was first and foremost about those voices. In that spirit, the contest is open to current and past U.S. military personnel, writing on any subject.

Jeff Sharlet, Vietnam, 1964

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