Please send us your best work to be considered for the cover of "The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2014." You can see the 2012 and 2013 anthologies here. But please do not use these as an idea of what we want. We want something very different, but we don't know what that is until we see it. So woo us!
Make sure you have the art/photograph available in 300 dpi, and at least 2000 pixels wide. You may submit 10 pieces.
If your piece is accepted you will receive a payment of 50 Euro. All rights to the work will remain with you.
CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT
Interviewer: Associate Editor, Kristen Coros
Amanya Maloba’s debut collection, Harvest, was published this month as the Grand Finalist of the Vine Leaves 2014 Vignette Collection Award. The collection is no less than a literary feast: the voice is seductive and arresting, the pages bursting with colour, flavour, and nuggets of emotional truth. In all, it is a banquet of the senses, guaranteed to leave any reader feeling dazzled and pleasantly full. We recently posed these questions to better get to know the woman behind the tour de force.
At what point did you realize you wanted to write?
I wrote a story in fourth grade about what it means to be a patriot after 9/11 (I was nine at the time of the attacks). I showed the story to my dad, who told me that I had real talent. In retrospect, the story sounds like total crap, but I think the positive response was enough for me to run with it. Later on writing became (and still is) a coping mechanism, so I’ve always done it, though I’ve also always been reluctant to share my work.
How would you describe your collection?
Harvest is my first full collection of any kind, so I think it reflects the same timidity and honesty I felt writing the first patriot story. For a long time I was writing what I thought were snippets of longer stories, but eventually realized there was something to short form, hence a collection of vignettes. Throughout the duration of the writing process I moved from London back to Chicago, finished my undergraduate degree, started two jobs, completed two internships, ran a marathon, started and ended a relationship etc.—needless to say I was not in the same place by the end of the project as I was when I started. Harvest is a reflection of all of the different phases and places I was in, so I don’t necessarily think that there’s a cohesive, simple way to describe it.
How long did Harvest take you to write?
I started writing Harvest spring 2013 and wrote most of the pieces last summer. From when I started scribbling in my notebook to submission the whole process took about nine months…my literary baby!
Your writing has a clear global sensibility. Have you lived in a number of places, or traveled a lot?
As the product of a black American mother and a Kenyan father, I’ve spent my whole life moving between cultures and identities. Attending a predominantly upper middle class white Quaker school in Wilmington, Delaware and a historically black dance school in Philadelphia, I had to learn how to navigate between the different aspects of my American experience with regards to class and race. This task was further complicated by the fact that I had to reconcile the customs and culture of my Kenyan heritage with the western norms of my peers. While growing up in a constant in-between state presented its challenging and lonely moments, it also provided me with the opportunity to explore what specifically defined various cultures and continues to allow me to move fluidly between many cultures.
This movement between cultures was not something that my parents tried to downplay during my childhood, but rather promoted it through extensive travel. Each summer, as a family, we would travel to a different city in the country for the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference. While my mom attended meetings during the day, my dad and I would explore the cities. Additionally, I was exposed to international travel, through visiting family in Kenya and accompanying my dad to England, where he conducted research. Discovering new details about life through immersing myself in different environments gave me exposure to places and people I didn’t otherwise encounter in my day-to-day life and the ability to think of myself as a global citizen.
While I realize that this ability to travel extensively is an elite privilege, the ability to think globally is something that I wanted to emphasize in writing Harvest. Far too many of us (across race, class, and gender divisions) get caught into thinking in very small frameworks, which inhibits us from fully understanding the very issues we’re trying to address. For instance, I think that I learned more about what being American means to me from one year living abroad than in the first twenty spent living in the States. Seeing how people react to me in different countries teaches me a lot about attitudes toward black people, Americans, and women. Namely, white supremacy and misogyny exist everywhere. It always tickled me how some Europeans would just unload all of their frustrations with the United States on me…I’m like, I’m pretty sure I have more beef with the place than you do, but please continue to blame me personally for the mess George W. Bush caused (despite the fact that I was not of voting age for either of his elections!). In London, my friend and I were called mulattos, shushed for speaking, and had our hair petted by strangers, while in the village my dad comes from little kids follow my mom and I in packs of as many as twenty because they don’t see visitors as light as we are. Same body, different reception. Not many people I know experience all of these reactions, so it was important to put the main character of Harvest, Sukari, in many of the same places and spaces I’ve been in.
Harvest uses food as a lens to explore various aspects of human experience, both positive and negative. One of my favourite pieces from your collection is “Perfect White Rice,” in which you use the frame of a recipe for rice to tackle slavery and exploitation. It’s wrenching and brutally funny satire. How did you come up with the idea for this piece?
This is one of my favorite pieces as well. “Perfect White Rice” came about through my experiences with a class on Trans-Atlantic slave trade I took at King’s College London. We learned in class about the continuity of food production from West Africa to the New World, hence the specificity of the piece. However, some of the kids in that class were intent upon asserting that slavery has no tangible legacy to their lives. So, “Perfect White Rice” came from a place of frustration. In my experiences, many white people (in the USA and abroad) want to wipe their hands clean of slavery, though it is impossible to do so. At its core, the United States is founded on genocide and slavery, so even if your great grandparents were also immigrants, their success in the country was dependent upon the products of slave labor and the oppression of black and native peoples. Not to mention many major banks and institutions were founded by slave owners—as we know money doesn’t die, and so neither can the legacy of slavery.
I chose to focus on rice, because the idea that you would need a recipe for rice is pretty absurd, but it could have just as easily been sugar, tobacco, beans, or coffee with regards to food or roads and the wrought iron of New Orleans in terms of infrastructure. I wanted to show that many of the luxuries and conveniences we now take for granted have a history of screams and death behind them, and that even now as people live comfortably in their middle class homes, their lifestyle is supported by institutional oppression and suffering.
Who do you consider to be your literary influences/inspirations?
I fell in love with magic realism about six years ago, so obviously Gabriel García Márquez is a huge inspiration. His death was really hard for me—I cried alone on a bench in a San Francisco dog park for an hour, while people moved slowly away from me. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is one novel that I felt profoundly different after reading. My first exposure to vignettes was A House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, so she’s definitely had a huge influence on me. Cane by Jean Toomer is another excellent example of vignettes from the Harlem Renaissance. Among contemporary authors, I absolutely love Zadie Smith and Junot Díaz—they are both hilarious and preach the truth! I met Díaz once at the ALA conference and he said that my sister (who had previously attended his VONA workshop) and I were both book nerds, so that was a definite highlight of my life.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
This is technically not a piece of advice, but Toni Morrison said, “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” I keep that in mind as I write and make sure that I’m producing work I’ll still be excited to read in 50 years.
Since Harvest is so strongly tied to food, will you share your favourite meal?
This is honestly the most difficult question to answer. I can’t say I have a favorite meal, but there are certain foods that I know I could eat every day. The piece, “Chapati” was inspired by one of my favorite foods. One of the best parts about going home to Kenya is getting to eat endless chapatis—there are so many variations available in the States, but nothing like the ones at home! Butter is probably my original favorite food. I was on a butter diet when I was a baby because my weight was too low and I was never able to give it up. It just makes everything better—cinnamon raison toast, all types of potatoes, fish, burgers, steamed in coffee…everything. My favorite types of butter are the kind made by the Amish and the French kind with the salt crystals in it. I’m pretty strict with my diet, so I never feel guilty going overboard with butter.
What are you working on now/next?
I’m making the leap to novel writing, though don’t expect a finished project for a couple of years as I’m still in the reading/ research phase. I’m always doing a million things, so right now I’m experimenting with different mediums, mainly fashion, so who knows what will emerge.
Thank you, Amanya!
If your appetite for Harvest has been awakened, check it out HERE.
Submissions are now open!
Prize: $500 + Publication no later than early 2015 by Vine Leaves Press + 20 copies
Guest Judge: Dan Holloway
Dan Holloway is the author of several novels and poetry collections, the ringmaster of New Libertines, a touring band of poets. He has set up a new publishing imprint 79 Rat Press to publish his conceptual work, including Evie and Guy a novel in numbers, and curate conceptual literature shows, such as NOTHING TO SAY. Dan also writes for The Guardian.
The Vine Leaves Vignette Collection Award includes a cash prize of $500, publication by Vine Leaves Press (paperback and eBook), 20 copies of the paperback, worldwide distribution, and promotion through Vine Leaves Literary Journal and staff websites. Author will receive a 70% royalty on all eBook and print sales.
Manuscripts are judged by Vine Leaves Literary Journal staff, and guest judge, Dan Holloway. This competition is open to vignettes in English (poetry and/or prose), written by authors anywhere in the world. Individual pieces in a manuscript may have been previously published in magazines, print or web journals, or anthologies, but the work as a whole must be unpublished (this includes previously self-published books.)
Employees of Vine Leaves Literary Journal are not eligible to enter.
Submit a 50 to 60 page manuscript, plus $25 fee via Submishmash (poetry: 60 poems max; prose: approx 800 words maximum per piece, 20,000 words max in total; each vignette must begin on a new page. Collections may be a mixture of both poetry and prose.)
Manuscripts should be submitted with a table of contents and acknowledgments. Include two cover pages, one with your name, address, email address, and title of the manuscript, and a second with only the title of the manuscript. The author’s name should not appear elsewhere on the manuscript.
Simultaneous submissions to other publishers or contests are permitted, as long as you withdraw your manuscript from Submishmash immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.
Before you submit a manuscript, please consider exploring the work published in the Vine Leaves Literary Journal to familiarize yourself with the kind of work we are looking for.
Kindly refrain from requesting an individual response to confirm receipt of your manuscript. The electronic submission manager offers automated confirmations. We receive thousands of submissions each year and can no longer offer individual acknowledgments beyond these. Thank you for your understanding.
Results will be announced on, or before, the following dates:
Quarter-Finalists: March 30, 2015
Semi-Finalists: April 30, 2015 (will also be considered for publication)
Grand Finalist: April 30, 2015
The online submission system will be accepting Vine Leaves Vignette Collection Award manuscripts between June 1, 2014 – February 28, 2015., 12 PM, EET.
Click here to submit.
*We are an independent, nonprofit literary journal. Submission fees help cover, though not fully, the prize money, publishing costs, and time reviewing manuscripts.
If you've been reading Vine Leaves for a while, you know that we've been up and running since December of 2011.
You may remember Jessica Bell's post, Behind the Scenes at a Literary Journal, where she broke down a lot of tasks and costs. Well ... we're getting so much bigger than this now. We are getting more than 4000 unique views a month and the compliments via email take our breaths away. Which is pretty damn excellent for a magazine running only a little over two years.
That is thanks to YOU.
But the bigger we get, the more we start to scrape the bottom of the money barrel. Especially since we are now publishing single-author vignette collections through Vine Leaves Press and offering a 70% royalty on both paperback and eBook. We are big (HUGE!) supporters of writers, so anything less just feels like robbery. But this means we don't make money. Because any money that we receive goes straight back into the journal and paying contributors for their work.
Our piggy bank is running very low. We have tried to get grant support through the Australia Council for the Arts, but in order to be eligible, we would have to publish only Australian literature. we are not willing to do that. There is a world of amazing writers out there. We can NOT make that sacrifice for arts funding.
Can you help us?
Please do us the honour of donating a few bucks to our mission: to give the vignette, a forgotten literary form, the exposure and credit it deserves.
Just think of it as buying two coffees one morning, instead of one, for the greater good of the vignette!
If you think you can spare a few bucks, you can easily donate HERE.
PLEASE SHARE WITH THIS EASY TWEET:
Could you spare the cost of a coffee 2 keep a much loved #litmag on its feet? @VineLeavesLJ need help! Please donate: http://goo.gl/v5AbiK
Each of the manuscripts that made the list of Quarter-Finalists were re-evaluated by five members of our staff (Jessica, Amie, Kristen, Krystal & Theresa), plus the guest judge, Dan Holloway. Each judge then voted on the manuscripts in order of preference.
With six judges, the highest score a manuscript could have gotten was 6 if each judge put it first on their list. The lowest score a manuscript could have gotten was 60.
Without further ado, here are the three Semi-Finalists in order:
Which means ...
Amanya Maloba is the GRAND FINALIST!
Amanya, you are the winner of the $500 cash prize + Publication by Vine Leaves Press + 20 copies!
But that's not the only good news. We are also offering Bauke and Christine a publishing contract, too!
All finalists will be contacted for their postal address and mailed an award certificate in due course.
Have a great week, all!
Note: Every author that submitted to the award will receive feedback on their manuscript. It will be sent as soon as humanly possible. Thank you for your patience.
The manuscripts on this list are those which Jessica, Dawn and Amie believed would be an honour to publish through Vine Leaves Press.
Though we do not have any strict judging criteria (these are vignettes, after all, and do not follow standard rules), we looked for originality, sound spelling and grammar, and the 'it' factor. The 'it' factor basically means you 'wowed' us, and that if we had the resources to publish all the manuscripts on this list, we would.
Each Quarter-Finalist will be contacted for their postal address and mailed an award certificate at the end of the entire judging period.
Without further ado, here are the Quarter-Finalists in no particular order:
By the end of April, we will announce the Semi-Finalists: our top three choices.
Each of the manuscripts that made the list of Quarter-Finalists will be re-evaluated by five members of our staff (Jessica, Amie, Kristen, Krystal & Theresa), plus the guest judge, Dan Holloway. Each judge will then vote on the manuscripts in order of preference.
With six judges, the highest score a manuscript can get is 6 if each judge puts it first on their list. The lowest score a manuscript can get is 60. After voting is complete, the three manuscripts with the highest combined scores will be our Semi-Finalists.
Each Semi-Finalist will be contacted for their postal address and mailed an award certificate at the end of the entire judging period. Their manuscripts will also be considered for publication through Vine Leaves Press.
The Grand Finalist will be announced no later than June 1, but most likely much earlier.
Jessica Bell, the Publishing Editor of the journal, and founder/owner of Vine Leaves Press, will re-evaluate the three Semi-Finalists, with the assistance of the guest judge, Dan Holloway, and decide on the manuscript which will receive the Grand Prize.
The Grand Finalist will be mailed an award certificate and awarded $500 + Publication in early 2015 by Vine Leaves Press + 20 copies (more details HERE).
We'd like to thank all who submitted their manuscripts to the award. The standard of writing is spectacular and we are pleased to announce that we will be running this award annually. Submissions for the 2015 vignette collection award will open on June 1, 2014.
Please note: Every author that submitted to the award will receive feedback on their manuscript. It will be sent as soon as humanly possible. Thank you for your patience.
Dawn Ius and I have been friends for years. When I had the idea to start Vine Leaves Literary Journal, I couldn’t think of a better person to run it with me. So it is with much sadness that we bid farewell to Dawn, our Co-Publishing Editor, this month. She has been an invaluable member of the Vine Leaves team, and I will forever be grateful to her for helping to shape what Vine Leaves has become.
Dawn, you will be sorely missed!
Without further ado, here is her goodbye letter to you, our readers, and contributors:
Dear Readers and Contributors,
I’m terrible at letting go.
It’s not just saying goodbye, though that part sucks, too. It’s more the idea of seeing—believing in—the potential of something and knowing, deep down, that the best thing is to walk away.
Which is why it is with a heavy heart that I must step down, let go of my position at Vine Leaves Literary Journal.
Since Jessica and I started this magazine, I’ve (virtually) met hundreds of seriously talented artists. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with the brilliant Jessica Bell and her forward-thinking staff. And I’ve watched the Journal grow (quickly!) with contests, blogs, and artist opportunities that continue to boggle my mind.
For the past two years, the journal truly has been a labour of love.
But it requires a tremendous time commitment. In the past few months, a number of personal and professional opportunities have emerged and converged, further constricting the amount of time I can commit to the journal. As the magazine makes giant leaps forward, I’ve become acutely aware of how personally stretched I’ve become.
Rather than let the Vine Leaves team—and all of you—down, I’ve decided the most responsible thing to do is resign. *deep breath*
I have absolute faith in Jessica’s leadership and the team she has amassed. Vine Leaves will continue to grow and flourish. The magazine is truly groundbreaking and I’m extremely proud to have been part of its inception and initial growth.
I’ll continue reading and evaluating submissions until the end of March for the forthcoming Issue #10. I’ve also read and evaluated all of the 2014 Vignette Collection submissions to help determine the list of quarter-finalists which will be announced by the end of the month. Wow—there were some truly brilliant collections. I can’t wait to see who wins!
As the journal carves out new paths, I will remain one of its greatest cheerleaders, and a tremendous fan of each of its contributing artists.
Thank you for your inspiration, motivation, and your support. Your art has enriched my life. While I will miss the “everyday” involvement with the magazine, I look forward to watching it grow—from the sidelines.
All my best,
If you would like to reach out and wish Dawn well, I’m sure she would be extremely happy to hear from you. You can email her here: dawnmius (at) gmail (dot) com.
Our first announcement will be a list of Quarter-Finalists. The amount of manuscripts that make the quarter-finalist list will not be a standard number. The manuscripts on this list are those which Jessica, Dawn and Amie believe would be an honour to publish through Vine Leaves Press.
Though we do not have any strict judging criteria (these are vignettes, after all, and do not follow standard rules), we look for originality, sound spelling and grammar, and the 'it' factor. The 'it' factor basically means you 'wowed' us, and that if we had the resources to publish all the manuscripts on this list, we would.
Our second announcement will be the top three manuscripts: our Semi-Finalists. Each of the manuscripts that made the list of quarter-finalists will be re-evaluated by five members of our staff, plus the guest judge, Dan Holloway. Each judge will then vote on the manuscripts in order of preference.
Just say, hypothetically, that there are ten quarter-finalists. With six judges, the highest score a manuscript could get is 6 if each judge put it first on their list. The lowest score a manuscript could get is 60. After voting is complete, the three manuscripts with the highest combined scores will be our semi-finalists.
Our final announcement will be the winner: our Grand Finalist.
Jessica Bell, the Publishing Editor of the journal, and founder/owner of Vine Leaves Press, will re-evaluate the three semi-finalists, with the assistance of the guest judge, Dan Holloway, and decide on the manuscript that will receive the grand prize.
WE'D LIKE TO THANK ALL WHO SUBMITTED THEIR MANUSCRIPTS TO THE AWARD. THE STANDARD OF WRITING HAS BEEN SPECTACULAR AND WE ARE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT WE WILL BE RUNNING THIS AWARD ANNUALLY. SUBMISSIONS FOR THE 2015 VIGNETTE COLLECTION AWARD WILL OPEN ON JUNE 1, 2014.
UPDATE: APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED.
We're looking for a dedicated and vignette-loving Assistant Editor to help us navigate our impressive submissions, starting April, 2014.
We need someone who is willing to put in the time and effort, do the work with love and care, and stick around for the long haul. If you’re someone just looking for some editing experience for a few months, to add to your CV, please do not apply. We need someone that is as passionate about this journal as we are, and that wants to help us succeed in our mission: to give the vignette, a hopelessly forgotten literary form, the exposure and credit it deserves.
Do you want to make history with us? We plan to be around for a very long time.
This is what we would expect from you:
These tasks will take, at most, three hours of your time per week. The work can be done from home anywhere in the world. Please note that this is a volunteer position. All staff at Vine Leaves are volunteers. Any money made is put straight back into the journal.
If you think you’re the right person for the job, please email Jessica Bell: jessbell(dot)vineleaves(at)gmail(dot)com, with your CV. In addition, explain in the body of your email why you believe you would be an asset to the journal.