Tar Heel Poet Laureate

We at Wordsmiths, Carolina Quarterly, and Cellar Door envision a world of in which the greatest artists and creators are those whom seek to push the boundaries of their chosen craft. The same holds true for poetry.

As a result, the boundaries between performance and print are in a constant state of fluctuation. The realm of poetry is not meant to be about dichotomies, but about the expression of human experience in it’s purest form, regardless of whether that medium lies on the page or the stage. This evolution of poetry could not be more visible than it is at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In order to enable the burgeoning young minds of our historic institution and push forth the progression of the art, we will be conducting an annual manuscript submission competition in order to deem one exceptional young creator of poetry as the UNC poet laureate. Submissions will be open from January 1st, 2014 until February 15th, 2014 at 11:59pm. The winner will receive: publication of their chapbook, 25 free author copies, will serve as the feature of the Wordsmiths year-end poetry open mic, and earn a $50* honorarium. All finalists’ work will be considered for inclusion in Carolina Quarterly and Cellar Door.

Click here to submit your manuscript.

Submission Guidelines listed below.

Continue reading Tar Heel Poet Laureate

Holy Jockstraps, Batman!

by Sjohnna Bruce McCray

A Carolina Quarterly web exclusive


     There comes a time in every superhero’s life when he must reveal his identity to the ones he loves. He’s kept his late-night acrobatics hidden to protect his family and friends from enemies who would strike when he was most vulnerable: ordering a caramel macchiato, taking little Johnny to hockey practice, picking up mom from dialysis. Gay people face a similar dilemma. When we reveal our rainbow tights, it’s usually because the jig is up.

     Some parents never catch on, while others put the evidence together—like a disco-themed CSI but with more body glitter. “The only sport he ever played was that Dance Dance Revolution, always making a racket with those high kicks.” Observant parents suspect their son is gay well before he decides to double major in theater and blowjobs. Or, if you’re like me, your father might casually mention that if his son were a fag, he would kill him with his bare hands. He says it would be satisfying, too, and glances in my direction before asking for the salt.

Continue reading Holy Jockstraps, Batman!

Pushcart Nominations

We love all the work we publish in the pages of CQ – but sometimes we are called upon to play favorites. Our 2013 Pushcart selections represent the strength, range, and diversity of the writing we publish each year:

“Apartment on Market Street” by Jack Christian. Published in Vol. 63 no. 1
(Spring 2013).

“Preludes” by Leslie Bazzett. Published in Vol. 63 no. 2 (Fall 2013).

“Barbecue Catharsis” by Aaron Apps. Published in Vol. 63 no. 2 (Fall 2013).

“Song” by Russel Swensen. Published in Vol. 63 no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2013).

“Turn and Return” by Suzanne Marie Hopcroft. Published in Vol. 63 no. 1
(Spring 2013).

“The Word Worried is the Word Straw” by Brandon Amico. Published in Vol.
63 no. 2 (Fall 2013)

Congratulations to all our nominees. Thanks for letting your words find at home at CQ.

The End Is Nigh Prose Contest

THE END IS NIGH: A Researched Prose Contest from the Carolina Quarterly.

STEP 1: Excavate bunker in backyard. Prep doomsday go-bag. Sharpen quills.endisnighcrop
STEP 2: Survive apocalypse, literal, metaphorical, figurative or otherwise. Take copious notes.
STEP 3: Write it up. Send it in.
STEP 4: Win cash money, big-time celebrity writer validation, publication in the Carolina Quarterly and titillating sexual favors from adoring fans.*

Send us your dispatches about anxious endings, anticipated apocalypses, doomsday prepping, or getting right with God and family before it all comes crashing down. Or tell us about the aftermath of a less-than-total cataclysm. How do you move on after you literally (or figuratively) bet it all on END.

Pieces should incorporate travel experience, archival research, ethnographic observation, interviews, technical vocabulary from specialized professions, schematics for future technologies, or otherwise explore the vast, undocumented wilderness that lies beyond contemporary fiction and nonfiction’s manicured, clearly demarcated backyards.

Contest ends at midnight EST, December 31, 2013. No more than 5000 words per submission. Author name and contact information should appear on the cover letter, but nowhere else on the submission.

The grand prize winner will receive $1000. Three runners-up will receive $150 each. All winners will be published in an upcoming issue and featured in our online edition.


Contest entry fee is $15, or $25 with a one-year subscription to the Quarterly (Just a buck more than the regular price!).

To submit, go here: https://www.tellitslant.com/home/journal_details/21

Or mail your entry, fee, and a SASE to THE END IS NIGH, Carolina Quarterly, 510 Greenlaw Hall, CB# 3520, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599.


Contest Judge: Jim Shepard
Jim_Shepard_bodyJim Shepard is the author of six novels, including most recently Project X, and four story collections, including most recently You Think That’s Bad (Knopf, March 2011). His third collection, Like You’d Understand, Anyway, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize. Project X won the 2005 Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction, as well as the ALEX Award from the American Library Association. His short fiction has appeared in, among other magazines, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, Paris Review, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, DoubleTake, the New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Playboy, and he was a columnist on film for the magazine The Believer. Four of his stories have been chosen for the Best American Short Stories, and one for a Pushcart Prize. He teaches at Williams College and in the Warren Wilson MFA program, and lives in Williamstown with his wife Karen Shepard, his three children, and two beagles.


*no promises on that last bit.

An Interview with Nahal Suzanne Jamir

Nahal Suzanne Jamir recently published her first short story collection, In the Middle of Many Mountains (Press 53, 2013). She was awarded the 2012 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize and won second prize in the 2012 Press 53 Open Awards in Flash Fiction. Prior to this collection, her work appeared in The South Carolina Review, Jabberwock Review, Ruminate Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, and Passages North, among others. To read her story, “In Perfect English,” check out the Fall 2011 issue of CQ.

Jamir explores a range of themes in her work, from the distance between immigrant parents and their American-born children to the experience of single parents struggling to provide stability for their children. The importance of family and culture is highlighted in her work, as is the impact of stories and their telling. Whether in the bright burst of her flash fiction or the unfolding of a novella, her work is engrossing and thought-provoking. The Carolina Quarterly recently spoke with Jamir via email about her collection.     

–Laura Bennett, Fiction Staff

Carolina Quarterly (CQ): First, let me say that I truly enjoyed reading your collection. I was impressed with the wide-ranging scope of the work. As a reader, I was given a glimpse into many different worlds, from science fiction to a modern immigrant experience to the domestic narrative. One of the primary ties that seems to bind the collection together is a concern with the importance of stories and storytelling to individuals, families, and cultures. Is your interest in the role of stories in society what led you to become a writer? Or did the process of putting stories to paper spark that interest?

Nahal Suzanne Jamir (NSJ): As a child, I always had an interest in stories. I think this is natural for children. I had stories coming at me on all fronts, oral and written, family stories and science fiction stories, etc. Yet, at a certain age, I started to get curious about the lives of the people I was closest to. When I asked my parents about their lives, they dodged the questions. My mother would not speak of her own story but of the lives of her ancestors. My father wouldn’t speak of his own story but of the places he’d been to or lived in—and the stories of places. So, I would say that not getting answers (or not getting straight answers) transformed my view of stories. As a child and youth, I found my parents’ evasion annoying, but as an adult, I looked back at those non-answers and “side” stories as parts of some sort of whole. It became clear that nothing was clear. There was no one story that would answer my questions. As this realization grew, my stories became more fragmented and my interest in the role of stories in my cultures (both American and Persian) grew. Still, I don’t know if I know exactly how to describe the role of stories in society. At Texas State University, I was lucky to have Tim O’Brien as a teacher. At the end of our workshop in 2003, he said. “Stories aren’t about what we understand. They’re about what we don’t understand, what we can’t understand.” Some of this may make more sense in the context of writing nonfiction, but all fiction writers and poets are writing from a personal space. That personal space may be literal understanding or emotional understanding or imaginative understanding of each writer’s life experience. These different approaches lead to different types of stories, and just as a mosaic can mean something to the artist who constructed it, the recipient (reader, viewer, etc.) will make his/her own meaning. Storytelling is not a simple act of reflection—unless we imagine two mirrors facing each other.

Continue reading An Interview with Nahal Suzanne Jamir