Archive for the ‘Games, Contests, & Diversions’ Category

Fiction Mashup Contest

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Thanks to the scads of readers who contributed to our Cento Contest! Actually, there were only two of you—but your centos delighted us—so much that we’re adding a full year to both your CR subscriptions. Same holds true for anyone who offers us a cento using lines from CR 12.1 by the end of the day tomorrow. We should mention that Assistant Ed. Jose Angel Araguz took the form to new heights by creating a sonnet cento of last lines. To check all these out, simply click on the title of the CR Cento Contest post and scroll down.

mashupsAnd now it’s time for a genre switcheroo. A fiction cento, as it were, though that’s not really an existing term, so we’re just calling it a fiction mashup. Same deal: Those who submit credible efforts—and especially those who submit incredible efforts—get a year added on to their subscriptions. Associate Ed. Don Peteroy played it pretty loose when constructing the mashup below—grabbing a phrase, part of a sentence, or just some interesting word pairs from every prose piece in our current issue. The result is . . .

Hot Raisin Bird for the Temptation Arm of My Father

by Don Peteroy

     “I want you to come over. Right now,” Earl said.

     “It is forbidden,” Esther said. He hung up the tapeworm and ran out into the rain with his Cape of Invisibility. Except it never worked.

     He called 911.

     “Welcome to Mr. Milkshake. Can I take your order?”

     “Are you ready?” he asked. Words clogged his helicopter.

     “I want you to come over. Right now,” she said.

     He was driving over in his disaster of a car. She opened the shed. He reached over, putting his arm around seas of cantaloupe slices. She had makeup insurance won’t cover. The girl sometimes wore firewood.

     “You nervous?” he asked like a pinecone.

     “You signed a contract,” she said.

     “Good, but could you squeeze harder?”

     That hot, itchy feeling was leaking from him, kind of shaped like France. He said he’d been taking a lot of heat from Pastor Joe: She’s seeing a therapist rumored to be in Rising Sun. It snugs up to the Mason-Dixon line, covered by a Vampire Weekend poster.

     He sat on the edge of the bed. Her throat was always on schedule, the damp smell of the locker room. One month, they’d eaten nothing but sailors, but after the divorce, he couldn’t stop thinking about a tub of cottage cheese. When he was nine, he’d been chased through concrete. Chickens were miles away. Rain fell unceasingly in preserve jars. Pastor Joe had bailed him out of jail because her neuroses allowed him to feel like potato salad charred to purity. Winter came. They all ate.

     “Did you fight back?” Esther said. A spatula simmered in the crockpot.

     He unrolled an old treasure map. She hit him with her secret cave. Everyone got a chance to.

     I called 911, popped out my left boob, and said, “No daughter of mine is going to be a rock star.”

     Me. It was the last thing she was expecting. Me in full makeup and costume, with their chemistry teacher wired directly to a defibrillator. “Look, let’s go over the options in person,” I said.

     “We just want to eat bacon,” she said at length, like a fragile foot.

     “She shits herself all the day,” he said, putting his dick away. “I hate salmon.”

     I wanted to inhale my wig. “I’m in the band,” I said.

     “No way. You’re making that up,” she said.

     I unrolled condom wrappers, built to look like coffins. “I’m in the band,” I said.

     She threw a pillow. Chickens were miles away. Nipping at each other. That night, she would sit me in a bucket of crabs.

The CR Cento Contest

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Rochelle Hurt:
The cento is a collage form in which a poem is composed entirely of lines from other poems. It can be an homage to the originals, a subversive twist, or just a fun game. Contemporary examples of the form include “The Dong with the Luminous Nose” by John Ashbery and “Wolf Cento” by Simone Muench.

In homage to the poets of our current issue, I’ve composed a couple of centos in which each line comes from a different poem in issue 12.1. (I’ve added punctuation here and there.) We encourage you to compose your own 12.1 cento and post it on our blog. We’ll float a free issue to creators of the strongest three (either gift for a friend or added to your current subscription). Pro tips: 1. Remember to cite the authors you quote from the issue; 2. enjambment is your friend!


Storm Cento

The sky lit up like a glass of water,

flipped eyelids first glint of light.

Our zinc roof unpeeled to show

Father the split fibula where the marrow must rust.

Dark blue run, rim of

a portable dark. Maybe a cave inside

leading to the sea. Grime and pastel.


Blindness is medicine for those who have

a secret room of hands.

Yes, simply because it contains all the secrets of

my transparent body.

Sources, in order: John McAuliffe, Dong Li, Safiya Sinclair (x2 – different poems), Marianne Boruch, Benjamin S. Grossberg, Justin Runge, Nick Courtright, CJ Evans, Changming Yuan, Kiriu Minashita.


Cynic’s Cento

O keel and swerve,

bird that flies from the past to the past

in a room adjusted by a metallic voice.

The future, clover-shaped, hail-beat.


Relax, this is only a sketch

of the inner eye. I would travel many days to see

these plastic heavens

the blue darkness vividly boils around.


My faith’s not what I’m told God wants it to be.

When the boats sail, I let them.

Sources, in order: Joelle Biele, Chelsea Jennings, Kiriu Minashita, Justin Runge, Krzysztof Jaworski, Jay Leeming, Christopher Robley, Kiriu Minashita (different poem), James McMichael, K. A. Hays.

Schiff Awards Finalists and Honorable Mentions

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

featWithout further ado!


Michele Herman
Kate McQuade

Honorable Mentions

Michael Alessi, Steve Amick, David Armstrong, Chris Arp, Sarah Batkie, James Bennett, J. Bowers, Mason Boyles, Elizabeth Denton, Darrin Doyle, Andrea Eberly, Emily Franklin, Scott Gloden, Becky Hagenston, Carissa Halston, Simon Han, Rob Hicks, Mark Hitz, Mark Holden, Christian Holt, David Joseph, Bradford Kammin, Rachel Kondo, Kevin Mandel, Terrance Manning Jr., LaTanya McQueen, Sarah Menkedick, Billy Middleton, Christina Milletti, Christopher Mohar, Derek Palacio, Michael Pearce, Karenmary Penn, Todd James Pierce, Maegan Poland, Lara Prescott, Hannah Timmins Reid, Katie Rogin, Anna Rowser, Chad Schuster, Sarah Taggart, J. Duncan Wiley, Hannah Withers, and Rolf Yngve

Schiff Awards Follow-Up!

Monday, October 5th, 2015
Thanks to everyone who entered our seventh annual summer contest. You sent us essays: There was that beautiful meditation on the altered state of motherhood, for example, as well as that investigative, yearning search for a family past erased by slavery. You sent us pitch-perfect comic stories: We got one featuring a computer coder with a suicidal grandma and a girlfriend obsessed with an Amish reality show. (You thought you had problems!) You sent us sharp and lyrical realist stories: We received several heartbreaking and disorienting tales about what it’s like to live with dementia. You sent us imaginative fabulism and odd magical realism: We got many stories that explored gender, including one in which a woman wakes up with a man’s (ahem) hardware. And you sent poems. One of you imagined the sex life of zombies. One of you imagined the sex life of Gollum. Several of you reimagined that original sex scandal in the mythical garden of yore.  You sent us secrets and heartbreaks, childhoods and dreamscapes. You sent lists and villanelles and rondeaux, and a record-breaking number of prose poems. You sent us (vicariously) to the boulevards of Paris, the villas of Italy, the research labs of Antarctica, and the backyards of post-apocalyptic America. We had an embarrassment of riches, and we’re embarrassed we could only pick one winner.

Don Bogen on the winning poem: Jaime Brunton’s “Chase” is the first prose poem to win the Schiff Award and a great example of the genre at its best. Here are some things I especially admire about it.  First, it’s definitely a poem. Neither narrative-driven nor expository, “Chase” can’t be mistaken for flash fiction or a paragraph in an essay. It uses sentences the way a good poem in free verse uses the line: with grace, variety, and special attention to sound. “Chase” revitalizes phrasing, so that the most impersonal, empty constructions—“There is,” “There are”—come to support subtle emotional exploration. What the poem has to say about time, loss, and our hopes for a clear arc in the lives of those we love is marked by discovery and insight. “Chase” is sharp, sensitive, and brilliantly rendered, a standout among prose poems and poems in general.

Michael Griffith on the winning story: Robert Long Foreman’s “Awe” features a documentarian who, adrift after a project gone tragically wrong, has quit his profession and is seeking . . .  well, is seeking renewed access to the sublime, to awe. His bizarre stratagem is to arrange through Craigslist to watch a woman give birth. In Foreman’s nimble hands, Bill’s alternately comic and poignant (mis)adventures with the couple who agree to allow this make for a delightfully askew, surprisingly emotional story.

Check the blog tomorrow for our distinguished list of HONORABLE MENTIONS. (Sorry, meant to announce them today, but there have been logistical . . . complications, and we don’t want to leave anyone out!)


Winners of the 7th Annual Schiff Awards!

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

WordOfArt1aOur sincere thanks to those who submitted work to The Cincinnati Review’s summer contest. This year’s field was wildly varied in form and content, and it was difficult to choose from among the many quality entries. In addition to the winning pieces, we have a distinguished list of finalists and honorable mentions, as well as the editors’ comments on the entries and the prize poem and story. Please visit our blog on Monday for more contest content.

Those who participated in the contest will receive a year’s subscription to The Cincinnati Review, beginning with our winter issue, due out in early December, and also including the spring/summer prize issue.

Without further ado, the winners of the seventh annual Robert and Adele Schiff Awards are:

Jaime Brunton for her poem “Chase”


Robert Long Foreman for his story “Awe”


Let the Contest Commence!

Monday, June 1st, 2015

EnterToWinOur summer contest is officially open. Bring on your stories or essays about crazy uncles, camping trips gone bad, of conjoined twins marrying conjoined twins, about the takeover of talking oysters, the turncoat best friend or the boss from hell, the skeleton in the closet who starts dressing up and putting on skits. Send us your poems about prairie fires, annoying yacht salesmen, the ruminations of a slab of granite, about tides, wishes, crows, lutes, bridges, French tutors, nanotechnology, or any combination thereof. Which is our way of saying we’re open to everything—as long as your piece is well considered, fully imagined, and skillfully executed. Enter—as many times as you like—between now and midnight (eastern time) on July 15 using Submission Manager on our website. The fee for each entry is $20, and with each paid fee comes a year’s subscription. Multiple submissions means multiple subscriptions that are either yours to accrue or to give to a fellow lit lover.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable under the condition that you notify us if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere. As the contest is judged blind, no contact information may appear anywhere on the manuscript file. Files that do include identifying information will be rejected unread, and entry fees will not be refunded (though you’ll still get your free subscription).

All entrants will be notified of the winners—who receive a thousand bucks each—on October 1, and an announcement will appear on our website and in the Winter 2016 issue. Winning entries will be published in the Summer 2016 issue, which comes out in May. Remember: Even if you don’t win, your piece could still be selected for publication. It happens a lot.

An important note for international entrants: Our payment gateway requires you to enter a US state or territory and zip code as part of your address. We suggest you use OH for the state and 45202 for the zip code. If you already have an account with us, you’ll need to change this information on your account page before submitting payment. After your payment has gone through, please change your address back, so that your free subscription will go to the right place.

If you have any questions about the contest or problems submitting and/or making payment, please email editors[at]cincinnatireview[dot]com, and we’ll get back to you shortly.

Robert and Adele Schiff Awards, 2015

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Writers: Polish up your best poems, stories, and creative nonfiction, because we’re gearing up to read entries for the 2015 Robert and Adele Schiff Awards in Poetry and Prose. One winning poem and one prose piece (fiction or creative nonfiction) will be chosen for publication in our 2016 prize issue. The entry fee of $20 includes a year-long subscription.

Submissions will be accepted from June 1 through July 15.

Please note that we consider only online submissions (through our Submission Manager).

Here’s all the official Schiff Awards information:

One winning poem and one prose piece (fiction or creative nonfiction) will be chosen for publication in our 2016 prize issue, and winning authors will receive $1,000 each. All entries will be considered for publication in The Cincinnati Review. (And yes, we occasionally publish work that does not officially win.)


Writers may submit up to 8 pages of poetry or 40 pages of prose (consisting of a single story, essay, or linked microfictions), per entry. Previously published manuscripts, including works that have appeared online (in any form), will not be considered. There are no restrictions as to form, style, or content. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable under the condition that you notify us if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.


Entry fee is $20, which includes a one-year subscription to The Cincinnati Review. All entries will receive equal consideration. And every time you enter, you receive a year’s subscription . . . so if you enter three times, you are a subscriber for three years, and so on. Note: You have the option of giving any of your subscriptions as gifts to delightfully lit-hungry significant others.

Entrants will be notified October 1 on our website, and the winning pieces will be published in the Summer 2016 issue.

That’s the basic stuff. We’ll send out another email with some particulars about setting up your entry in Submission Manager (e.g., there are some tricks for international entrants) next week.

Puzzle Solution

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

solutionAll you crossworders who didn’t quite manage to fill in the blanks, click here for the solution to last week’s puzzle (created by fiction ed Michael Griffith). Congrats to Juliana Gray for getting us her completed grid in record time! Remember, there will be a real doozy of a crossword on the last page of our summer issue, due out in July.

Crossword Challenge Continued

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

eveYep, the brain-tickling never ends here at Cincinnati Review. Today fiction editor Michael Griffith presents you puzzle-doing types with another upper-works workout. Click here for Eve’s Puzzle. Michael describes the difficulty as “moderate,” but we’re printing a real killer of a crossword on the last page of our summer issue (out in July).

As always, the first person to send a correctly completed grid to editors [at] cincinnatireview [dot] com receives a free issue (mailed to the person of his/her choice).

On an unrelated note: We’re gearing up for our summer contest. Look for details here next week!

Crossword Key

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Gold keyFor those who haven’t yet puzzled through this month’s puzzle—or for you crossword whizzes who just want to check your answers—click here for the key. The winner (submitting her solution approximately an hour after we posted He Hath No Fury) is Katherine Karlin, whose remarkable story “We Are the Polites” appears in our current issue. Congrats, Katy. Look for another puzzle next month. . . .