Meet Angie Pelekidis, Author of Unlucky Mel, Winner of The Blue Mountain Novel Award

Angie Pelekidis

We are happy to introduce you all to Angie Pelekidis of Port Crane, New York, who is the winner of our Blue Mountain Novel Award for her wonderful novel, Unlucky Mel.
Angie introduced her novel to us by saying, “Unlucky Mel…is (a) comedy loosely based on Hamlet, but with a revenge plot of epic ineptness, (and) a comedic female protagonist….who’s struggling to balance her sense of family duty with her creative and professional ambitions.”

This caught our attention. A revenge plot, loosely based on Hamlet, with an epically inept female protagonist? What’s not to like?

Her synopsis took it further: “When Melody Hollings’s widowed father starts behaving strangely, she chalks this up to his trying to manipulate her into moving back into his hoarding house of horrors. She’s in her final year as a Ph.D. student, living with her boyfriend, and enjoying her independence from her needy father. But as Collin’s behavior becomes more bizarre, Mel learns he has dementia. Her only hope is to land an alumni fellowship after she graduates so she can stay local and care for him. For this to happen, she needs her friend and mentor, Ben, to edit her dissertation and reciprocate all the help she’s given him with his writing and life. Instead, he trashes her book and wins the fellowship for himself. Forced to move back in with Collin, she plots her revenge against Ben. But her vengeful acts escalate as they fail to make a dent in his blessed existence.”

The comedic escalation is deftly combined with the growing stress Mel feels while handling her father’s needs, teaching too many students, and feeling uncertainty over her own future.

A novel blending humor and pathos, Unlucky Mel promises to be a great addition to our growing list of titles. It also seems a pretty safe bet that Angie will fit right in with our growing family of unique and highly-talented writers.

Angie Pelekidis received a Ph.D in English/Creative Writing from Binghamton University in 2012, where she also earned an M.A. in the same field. Her dissertation, an unpublished short-story collection titled Patrimonium, won the Distinguished Dissertation Award for Creative Writing. Her writing has appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Confrontation, North Dakota Quarterly, Masters Review, Bluestem, Eleven Eleven, and McSweeney’s. She won first prize in the New Ohio Review’s Fiction Contest, which was judged by Ann Beattie.

We want to congratulate Angie and welcome her to the Hidden River Arts family.

The Blue Mountain Novel Award is offered annually for an original, unpublished novel. The winner receives a $1,000 cash award and publication with Hidden River Publishing. The next deadline is March 31, 2020. Please see our guidelines for further information. A list of the semi-finalists and finalists of the Blue Mountain Award may be reviewed here. You may also be interested in a profile of our first Blue Mountain winner, Jeffrey Voccola, and his novel, Kings Row.

Please be sure to follow our blog for all updates of Hidden River activities.

The Story of the String-Heel Incident of Angola Prison is Told Through Poetry in Remaking Achilles: Slicing into Angola’s History by Carol Tyx, Willow Run Poetry Book Award Winner

Carol Tyx
Winner of Willow Run
Poetry Book Award

We are pleased to introduce you to Carol Tyx, of Iowa City, Iowa, who is the inaugural winner of our Willow Run Poetry Book Award for her stunning collection, Remaking Achilles: Slicing Into Angola’s History. Tyx received the cash award of $1,000 and her manuscript has just been published on the Hidden River Press imprint of Hidden River Publishing.

Inspiration for Tyx’s work came from a gruesome historical event in 1951, when 37 inmates of Angola Prison in Louisiana slashed their own Achilles tendons in order to make public the brutal conditions at the prison. Interest in this event led Tyx to the prison itself, where she did extensive research and, with what began as a plan for one or two poems, found herself writing an entire book of poetry based on this incident. More information about Carol’s experience with this horrifying history can be read here.

Carol teaches writing and American literature at Mt. Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Her teaching interests include African American literature, U.S. Latino literature, creative writing, and service learning. Along with a colleague and many students, she facilitates a prison book club. Her poetry has most recently been published in Minerva Rising, Hunger Mountain, Big Muddy, Iowa City’s Poetry in Public, and Rising to the Rim, published by Brick Road Poetry Press.

Some early praise for Remaking Achilles:

Remaking Achilles brings alive the vivid realities of Angola’s history. I study Angola, …this collection paints the horrors and injustices of time past in a way that the simple facts never do. Carol Tyx has done a remarkable job of reminding us all of where we came from and why we do not want to return.” (Marianne Fisher-Giorlando, retired criminal justice professor and Angola historian)

“These sterling voices pretending to be persona poems are so well researched and authentically rendered that the painful and traumatic memories of Angola will continue to haunt readers long after the last pages are sliced open and left bleeding.” (Frank X Walker, author of The Unghosting of Medgar Evers)

“A compassionate and imaginative retelling of a harrowing period in American penal history. With each vivid and lyrical insight, Carol Tyx weaves a compelling poetic tale depicting the effects of institutional racism and cruelty, of unimaginable hardship, but also of the human impulse to resist and seek dignity. In the darkest hours, there are sparks of light.” (Andy Douglas, author of Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir)

Like the ghostly inmate who takes his place in the long line of U.S. prison atrocities, Carol Tyx claims her place in a long tradition of poets like Muriel Rukeyser (The Book of the Dead, 1938) and Carolyn Forché (The Angel of History, 1994), incorporating individual impersonations and historical documents into lines that incriminate us all. (Cecile Goding, The Iowa Summer Writing Festival)

Remaking Achilles: Slicing into Angola’s History is available at online bookstores, and can be ordered at your local brick and mortar store. It is currently a newly available book on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It takes a little longer for IndieBound and Powell’s to create a listing, but they will be making the book available shortly as well. The eBook version will also be uploaded shortly, so if you prefer an eBook, please give us about a week, and check back!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

The Willow Run Poetry Book Award is offered yearly for a book-length collection of original poetry. The next submission deadline for the Willow Run Poetry Book Award is February 20, 2020. For more information, please see our guidelines.

IN PROGRESS by Catharine Leggett

 

Leggett good reads photo

We here at Hidden River Arts are thrilled to announce that IN PROGRESS by Catharine Leggett, which won our fifth annual Eludia Award, has launched.

Catharine’s short stories have appeared in the anthologies The Reading Place, Slow the Pace, Lose Yourself, The Empty Nest, Law & Disorder, Best New Writing 2014, as well as in the journals Room, Event, The New Quarterly, Canadian Author, and The Antigonish Review. Other stories have appeared online in paperbytes, Per Contra, and Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism, as well as on CBC Radio. The Eludia Award brings with it a $1,000 cash prize and publication on our Sowilo Press imprint.  Shortly after winning our award, Catharine learned that her novel, The Way to Go Home, was accepted for publication with Urban Farmhouse Press. She lives in London, Ontario, Canada and taught creative writing in the continuing studies program for Western University. We are thrilled to welcome Catharine to the Eludia Award family of fantastic women writers.

To mark this birth, we’ll be catching up with our earlier winners and sharing their latest projects and creative adventures. Please follow our blog, where we will be announcing some events and some sales in order commemorate this book launch and to celebrate our other Eludia winners.

The Emigrant and Other Stories, our sixth Eludia Award winner, by Justine Dymond, is scheduled for publication in fall, 2019.

The Eludia Award is given yearly as a first-book award, for a book-length work of fiction (either a short story collection or a novel) by a woman writer, age 40 or above. It carries a cash award of $1,000 and publication by Sowilo Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing. The deadline for our current cycle of submissions has been extended to June 30, 2019.

In Progress is available at AbeBooks, Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and if you don’t find it at your local bookstore, it is easily available by order. If you prefer eBooks, our Kindle edition has also launched!

Book clubs, reviewers and requests for interviews?  Please contact us at hiddenriverarts@gmail.com so that we can talk!

Tuan Phan Receives The Panther Creek Award in Non-fiction From Hidden River Arts

Tuan Phan, Winner of
The Panther Creek Award

Hidden River Arts, the inter-disciplinary independent arts organization located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce Tuan Phan of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam as the inaugural winner of The Panther Creek Award from Hidden River Arts, for his memoir, Remembering Water.

Phan speaks of his memoir, “Remembering Water is a memoir of my escape from Vietnam in 1986 and my return to live there thirty years later. It delves into my memories of the past Saigon my family left, my return, the family members with whom I’ve reunited and the locals I’ve met. It encompasses the Vietnam of my childhood memories as well as the present-day version of Vietnam, from Saigon’s booming development and its high rises, to the countryside and Mekong Delta. In 1986, I escaped from Vietnam, a member of a mass exodus of refugees that have been named the “boat people”. I was only eight years old at the time. 21 years later, I returned to visit Saigon as a foreigner in the birth city. This new Saigon is now a humming modern metropolis, a complete remake of the quiet, poverty stricken city that I left. Remembering Water is a memoir and reflection of my departure and return. It encompasses the Vietnam of my childhood memories as well as its present-day form, from Saigon’s booming development and its high rises, to the countryside and Mekong Delta. I’ve lived in Vietnam for nearly two years, the book is an account of that return and stay.”

Tuan Phan is a Vietnamese American who arrived in the United States in 1986, when he was eight, where he and his family have lived and where he was educated. After a childhood learning English and forgetting his mother tongue, he is now back in his birth country, teaching English and relearning his first language, while re-immersing himself in Vietnamese culture and life.

The Panther Creek Award is offered yearly for an unpublished book-length work of non-fiction. The winner receives a $1,000 cash award and publication with Hidden River Publishing. Submissions for the next cycle of the award will be accepted beginning on January 1 and deadlining April 15, 2019. For more information about The Panther Creed Award, please see our guidelines.

For a list of the semi-finalists and finalists of this first cycle of The Panther Creek Award, please see our News and Awards announcement page.

Hidden River Arts was established over twenty years ago in Philadelphia, PA as an organization focused on “serving the unserved artist”, looking to provide supports in the form of awards, live arts events, workshops, and publication to bring attention to artists working in under-recognized areas, or in under-recognized forms. More on Hidden River Arts can be found at our website http://www.hiddenriverarts.com as well as here on our blog. We encourage you to follow us here to be sure you are updated with our news, events and activities.

Justine Dymond Is Winner of the 2018 Eludia Award

Justine Dymond has won the 2018 Eludia Award for her story collection, THE EMIGRANT AND OTHER STORIES

Hidden River Arts, the inter-disciplinary independent arts organization located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce Justine Dymond of Belchertown, Massachusetts, as the 2018 winner of The Eludia Award, for her collections of stories, The Emigrant and Other Stories.

In describing her award-winning manuscript, Ms. Dymond says, “The stories in my collection range widely in setting and era, including France during World War II, Maine in the early eighteenth century, and Tennessee in the twenty-first century. What the stories all have in common, however, are characters who experience life as foreigners, whether in their own countries or not, and who long for a real or imaginary elsewhere. Each character has a different impulse that propels their longing. For one couple, it is discomfort with their identity as Americans as they spend time in another country. In the title story, a young teacher discovers freedom and desire inside the walls of a prison. In another story, a teenager in Washington, D.C. yearns to be included in the lives of strangers. In the story titled “Intruder,” a woman in colonial New England gradually realizes that her neighbors want her to be elsewhere. Each story represents a border experience, imposed from the outside or inside, that paradoxically confines and propogates the human desire to be somewhere else.”

Given that we live in a time so filled with xenophobia and nationalism, so filled with out-of-control hatred of the “other,” The Emigrant and Other Stories speaks to our lives in a very timely and powerful way.

Justine Dymond is Associate Professor of English at Springfield College in Massachusetts, where she teaches literature and writing. Her short story “Cherubs” was selected for a 2007 O. Henry Prize and was listed as a distinguished story in The Best American Short Stories 2006. Her stories have appeared in Pleiades, The Massachusetts Review, The Briar Cliff Review, Meat for Tea, Lowestoft Chronicle, and Cargo Literary, and have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes and The Best American Travel Writing. Her fiction has been honored with grants and awards from the Vermont Studio Center, Writers OMI at Ledig House, and Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. Demeter Press issued her co-edited collection Motherhood Memoirs: Mothers Creating/Writing Lives in 2013. She is currently writing a novel based on the life of a woman who was tried for infanticide in Boston in 1733.

The Eludia Award is a first-book award, offered yearly for an unpublished book-length work of fiction written by a woman writer, age 40 or older. The winner receives a $1,000 cash award and publication with Hidden River Publishing. The next submission cycle for the award deadlines March 15, 2019. Please see our guidelines for additional information.

Hidden River Arts was established over twenty years ago in Philadelphia, PA as an organization focused on “serving the unserved artist”, looking to provide supports in the form of awards, live arts events, workshops, and publication to bring attention to artists working in under-recognized areas, or in under-recognized forms. More on Hidden River Arts can be found at our website. And the names of our semi-finalists and finalists of the 2018 Eludia Award cycle can be found here.

Marjorie Sandor Is Named The Inaugural Winner of The Tuscarora Award

Marjorie Sandor, Winner of The Tuscarora Award for Historical Fiction

Hidden River Arts is pleased to announce Marjorie Sandor of Corvallis, Oregon, as the inaugural winner of The Tuscarora Award for Historical Fiction for her novel, The Secret Music at Tordesillas.

Ms. Sandor speaks of her novel, “The novel tells the story of a 16th-century musician of Jewish descent navigating the ever-growing terror of the Spanish Inquisition from within the court of the Catholic Kings Fernando and Isabel, and later, that of their tragic, intriguing daughter, Queen Juana “the Mad.” Forcibly converted to Christianity as a child, the gifted young instrumentalist Juan de Granada carries in his memory a music—and a culture—now punishable by death. The dangers of his daily life gradually increase as he finds himself drawn close to a young woman of the court, herself the daughter of converts, whose courage and secret passion for the old traditions threaten her life, and the lives of those she loves.”

While exploring a particular historical time and place, the novel also explores the very human and timeless struggle to hold fast to personal and artistic liberties in a time rife with national paranoia, ethnic cleansing – certainly relevant to our times. The Secret Music at Tordesillas reveals a nearly-undocumented aspect of the Spanish Inquisition: the way that cultural and religious oppression threatens to doom forbidden artistic practices.

Marjorie Sandor is the author of four highly-acclaimed books of short fiction and essays, including the linked story collection Portrait of my Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime, winner of a 2004 National Jewish Book Award. Her work has appeared in such journals as AGNI, The Georgia Review and The Harvard Review, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. Her edited international short-story anthology, The Uncanny Reader, appeared in 2015. She teaches in the MFA Program at Oregon State University and the Rainier Writing Workshop.

The Tuscarora Award is offered yearly for an unpublished book-length work of historical fiction. The winner receives a $1,000 cash award and publication with Hidden River Publishing. The next submission cycle for the award deadlines May 31, 2019. For information, please see our guidelines.

Hidden River Arts was established over twenty years ago in Philadelphia, PA as an organization focused on “serving the unserved artist”, looking to provide supports in the form of awards, live arts events, workshops, and publication to bring attention to artists working in under-recognized areas, or in under-recognized forms. In addition to the information here on our blog, you may explore our Hidden River Arts website.

The semi-finalists and finalists of this inaugural cycle of The Tuscarora Award can be found here.

Jeffrey Voccola Receives the Inaugural Blue Mountain Novel Award

Jeffrey Voccola
winner of The Blue Mountain Award for his novel KINGS ROW

Jeffrey Voccola, of Kutztown, Pennsylvania has won the inaugural Blue Mountain Novel Award for his novel, Kings Row. The award carries a $1,000 cash prize and publication with Hidden River Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing.

Jeffrey received an MFA from Emerson College. His fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including The Cabinet, Noctua Review, Cottonwood, Beacon Street Review, Folio, Whirligig. His essays have been published in Inside Sources, The Las Vegas Sun, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Jeffrey is currently Associate Professor of Fiction Writing and Director of the Writing Program at Kutztown University.

Kings Row is what Jeffrey calls a “literary mystery” about the murder of a university freshman in a post-industrial college town by one of the working class men of the community. Describing his novel, Jeffrey tells us, “Kings Row explores elements of racism and class-ism as they exist today, particularly in small communities…as rapid changes in demographics and social norms threaten their way of life. Kings Row is a tragic and heartbreaking story of two Americas growing farther apart. The book contains multiple points of view, including the victim, Christopher Roche, and the murder is mentioned in the first chapter. As a result, the reader is able to follow these two young men as their lives intersect. As a professor at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, I have a deep understanding of the characters, setting, and premise of this novel. Although the book is a work of fiction, the central conflict is based on an actual event that took place in Kutztown only a few years ago.”

The manuscript captured the imagination of our staff at Hidden River for its deep understanding of a struggle taking place across the U.S. and in all areas where the shifts in economy have hollowed out formerly thriving manufacturing towns, ruining lives and families and fracturing communities. The violence that takes place in the novel is representative of the kind of rage that is boiling beneath the surface of our society, rage which is often taken out on the most vulnerable among us rather than on those truly guilty of destroying our once-thriving economy.

Exploring a heartbreaking subject with language both honest and transcendent, Kings Row carries the reader along, through its exploration of the inner lives of many characters, to create a tapestry of suffering truly illustrative of current day America.

Here is a clip of Jeffrey reading from a portion of the novel:

The Blue Mountain Novel Award is offered yearly by Hidden River Arts. Its next deadline is November 15, 2019. For more information and guidelines, please see our blog page for The Blue Mountain Award.