An incursion into the oppressor’s mind that led to writing a novel-in-verse

Carmen Bugan discusses working with Cold War surveillance family archives and the process of creating literary characters from secret police transcripts, in order to understand the narrative of oppression. In the course of locating an appropriate form which could transform historical documents and personal experience into literature, deeper questions about what constitutes literary language surfaced, both as challenges and solutions to understanding the language we use when addressing historical trauma.Click here to read.

Literary Matters Pushcart Prize Nominations

Literary Matters is proud to announce its nominees for The Pushcart Prize 2017. From issue 9:2, we’ve nominated Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “Las Muchachas” and Richie Hofmann’s “Shades.” From issue 9:3, we’ve nominated A.E. Stallings’ “Dyeing the Easter Eggs,” Catherine Tufariello’s “Clear Water,” and Jean Valentine’s “For a Friend Who Died Young.” And from issue 10.1, we’ve nominated Gregory Fraser’s “Nothing But a Few Bare Trees.”

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Invitation to event featuring J. Chester Johnson

The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers
invites you to a reading and conversation with

J. Chester Johnson
Poet, Essayist, Translator

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
7:00 pm

The Culture Center

410 Columbus Avenue
(Between West 79th & West 80th Streets)
New York, NY 10024

Doors open at 6:30 pm | Talk begins at 7:00 pm

~ Refreshments before the reading & after ~


Focusing on his two books published in 2017, Chester Johnson will read selections from Now and Then, his new poetry collection, and discuss Auden, the Psalms, and Me, the story of his experience working with W. H. Auden on a retranslation of the Psalms.

Polina Whitehouse: 2017 Meringoff Secondary School Essay Contest Winner

Polina Whitehouse

We are pleased to announce that Polina Whitehouse of the Brearley School has won The Meringoff Secondary School Essay Contest. The Meringoff Secondary School Essay Contest offers annual awards to students in grades 9 through 12 who have written superior analytical essays that deal with works of recognized literary merit. Papers may examine style, characterization, rhetorical technique, or structure, and may be about individual poems, short stories, novels, plays, or essays. Papers may also compare two carefully selected works. This year’s awards include a prize of $2000 and publication in the Winter issue of Literary Matters, the online literary journal of The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers.

Carolyn Jack: 2016 Meringoff Prize in Fiction Winner

Carolyn Jack

The ALSCW is pleased to announce that Carolyn Jack is the winner of the 2016 Meringoff Prize in fiction. Ms. Jack’s “Success” is part of a novel in progress. The judges (John Burt and Lee Oser) call it “a brilliant portrait of a talented, observant, tart-tongued, young pianist from a Caribbean island whose cultivated, nearly deaf mother has determined that he will be a prodigy, and who is just at the point of leaving home to pursue study in the United States.” The award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and publication in an upcoming issue of Literary Matters. Ms. Jack and the other Meringoff Prize winners have been invited to read at the 2017 annual conference of the ALSCW at the University of Dallas from October 26-29. For more information go to our website (

Chad Davidson: Meringoff Prize for the Essay Winner

Chad Davidson

The ALSCW is pleased to announce that Chad Davidson is the winner of the 2016 Meringoff Prize for the essay. Professor Davidson’s “Not Being Original” is an exciting and penetrating exploration of contemporary American self-hood and its relationship to scenic (and tourist oriented) modern Italy. The award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and publication in Literary Matters or Literary Imagination.

Chad Davidson is the author of From the Fire Hills (2014), The Last Predicta (2008), and Consolation Miracle (2003), all from Southern Illinois UP, as well as co-author with Gregory Fraser of the textbook Writing Poetry: Creative and Critical Approaches (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). He is a professor of literature and creative writing at the University of West Georgia near Atlanta and co-directs Convivio, a summer writing conference in Umbria, Italy.

Two Winners of 2016 Meringoff Prize for Poetry

The ALSCW is pleased to announce the co-winners of the 2016 Meringoff Prize for Poetry: Gregory Fraser for “Nothing But a Few Bare Trees” and Matthew Buckley Smith for “Object Permanence.” The winning poems will be published in an upcoming issue of either Literary Matters or Literary Imagination, and the winners will each receive $1,000 and a commemorative plaque.

The ALSCW would also like to thank all the fine writers who participated and especially the judges, Jee Leong Koh and Robert B. Shaw. The winners of the other Meringoff Prizes will be announced in the coming weeks.

Washington DC Local Meeting, February 10, 2017

The ALSCW will be hosting a poetry reading on February 10th in Washington DC at the Catholic University of America. The event will feature Meena Alexander, Robin Becker, Michelle Boisseau, Marianne Boruch, Rosellen Brown, Heid Erdrich, Jan Freeman, Alice Friman, Allison Joseph, Thylias Moss, Alicia Ostriker, Rebecca Seiferle, Enid Shomer, Terese Svoboda, and Eleanor Wilner. Each poet will read one to two poems of her own, and one by a woman not present. The event is free and open to the public, and will take place in Caldwell Auditorium from 6 to 7:15 pm. A reception will follow.

Congratulations to Many Distinguished Members!

Longtime member Kelly Cherry, who enjoyed a distinguished career teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been given a Lifetime Achievement Award from her alma mater, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Younger member Ryan Wilson, who is the ALSCW Office Manager and a graduate student at Catholic University, has won the Donald Justice Poetry Prize from the West Chester University Poetry Center.  The prize includes a cash stipend and book publication of his manuscript.

A version of the seminar paper—“Correspondences: Baudelaire’s Fleurs du mal and the Translation Tasks of Richard Howard and Walter Benjamin”– Mary Maxell gave at the 2016 annual conference will be published in the Yale Review.