New Southerner announces ‘James Baker Hall Memorial Prize in Poetry’

New Southerner is pleased to announce the James Baker Hall Memorial Prize in Poetry, an annual award to be offered along with the magazine’s literary prizes in fiction and nonfiction beginning this fall.

Hall, who died June 25 at his home near Sadieville, Kentucky, was slated to serve as final judge in poetry for this year’s contest. His widow, author and poet Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, has agreed to take his place. Her most recent works include Dividing Ridge, a poetry collection, and At the Breakers, a novel.

“Jim’s life and work embody New Southerner’s spirit and the sense of community and creativity we hope to inspire,” said Bobbi Buchanan, editor-in-chief. “We’re proud to honor his memory with an annual award in his name.”

Hall, 74, was a prolific writer, beloved teacher and critically acclaimed photographer. He authored several poetry collections, including  Praeder’s Letters and The Mother on the Other Side of the World, as well as the blackly comic coming-of-age novel Yates Paul, His Grand Flights, His Tootings.

Hall graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1957, earned a master of arts at Stanford, and taught at several universities before becoming an English professor at UK in 1973. He served as director of UK’s creative writing program for 25 years and was named Kentucky Poet Laureate in 2001. Among his many awards, Hall received a Stegner Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Prize and an honorable mention in the San Francisco Art Institute Film Festival.

The New Southerner Literary Contest opened April 1, and submissions of poetry, fiction and nonfiction will be accepted through Oct. 1. The winner in each category will receive $200, publication in the magazine’s winter issue online and publication in the annual print anthology.

In addition to Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, this year’s final judge in fiction is Janna McMahan (author of Calling Home and The Ocean Inside) and in nonfiction, Cathleen Medwick (author of Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul and contributing editor to O, The Oprah Magazine).

A $10 entry fee covers up to three poems, each up to 50 lines; or a single work of fiction or nonfiction, up to 5,000 words. Entries must be the author’s original, unpublished worked and suitable for publication in New Southerner. The quarterly online magazine is dedicated to promoting self-sufficient living, environmental stewardship and local economies. It seeks to publish relevant articles, art and literature, as well as works by writers with a Southern connection, and works written with a Southern slant or that focus on Southern issues, people and places.

Complete contest guidelines are available at From the menu, click “Submissions,” then click “Contest Submissions.”

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