Orison Books seeks to publish spiritually-engaged poetry, fiction, and non-fiction of exceptional literary merit. In our view, spiritual writing has little to do with subject matter. Rather, the kind of work we seek to publish has a transcendent aesthetic effect on the reader, and reading it can itself be a spiritual experience. Such work is not merely about spiritual contemplation, but itself leads the reader into profound contemplation. It is not merely about the sublime, but itself has a sublime effect on the reader. It is not merely about the mystery of being, but itself heightens the reader’s sense of the mystery underlying the fabric of our daily lives.
The poet Gjertrude Schnackenberg, in an interview with Jonathan Galassi, articulated a perspective on literature that resonates with our mission, and her words are worth sharing: “When I said that poetry tries and wants to make contact with reality, that is, with uttermost-being (truth, God, whatness, somethingness-nothingness, chaos-order)—to the Veda seers, the vibrating void; to the eighth-century Chinese poets, that-which-is-self-engendering; to mathematicians, a veil of numbers; to the Jewish mystics, the En-Sof; to Christian mystics, the indwelling of God and emanation of Christ in all things; to the animal kingdoms on earth, the starry night; to contemporary physicists, the excitation of superstrings; to cosmologists, the residue of an explosion of something to whose pre-explosion existence there is perhaps, as my friend Elaine Scarry once said to me, ‘no door’—I am referring very specifically and particularly to the material we are made from, this animated-in-us matter which we, in turn, express such a passionate drive to know (and which, in turn, has evolved a way to be known, through us, and is the source and object of our wonder and compulsion).”
Orison Books seeks to be broad, inclusive, and open to perspectives spanning the spectrums of spiritual and religious thought, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
General submissions are open year-round in the following categories:
-Poetry in Translation
General Fiction submissions are open during the months of April and October only.
We hold two annual contests:
–The Orison Prizes in Poetry & Fiction for book-length manuscripts (submission period: December 1 – April 1)
–The Orison Anthology Awards for single works in 3 genres (poetry, fiction, & non-fiction; submission period: May 1 – August 1)
Orison Books releases all titles in print, and prose titles in both print and e-book formats. We offer a small advance on royalties for all books accepted for publication through our open submission periods, and a cash prize as well as a standard royalties contract for manuscripts selected as contest winners.
Orison Books publishes The Orison Anthology every year, a collection of the best spiritual writing in all genres published in periodicals in the preceding year. Editors of periodicals may submit work for consideration from August 1 – October 1.
For more information, please consult the guidelines below.
The Orison Anthology Awards in Fiction, Non-fiction, & Poetry
Each year from May 1 – August 1 we accept entries of unpublished single works in three genres (fiction, non-fiction, & poetry) for consideration for The Orison Anthology Awards. The winner in each genre will receive a $500 cash prize as well as publication in The Orison Anthology, an annual collection of the best spiritually engaged writing that appeared in periodicals the preceding year. (The unpublished work selected for The Orison Anthology Awards will be featured alongside the reprinted material.)
Submit up to 3 poems (10 pp. max), 1 story (up to 8,000 words), or 1 work of non-fiction (up to 8,000 words). You may submit in multiple genres, and/or submit multiple entries in each genre.
Entry Fee: $15 ($30 if you would like a copy of the anthology)
Submission Period: May 1 – August 1, 2016
2016 Judges: Ravi Howard (fiction), Catherine Reid (non-fiction), Philip Metres (poetry)
Electronic submissions only: follow the Submittable link below
All manuscripts will be read “blind” (do not include any identifying information in your manuscript). Original English work only; no translations. Finalists will be selected by the editorial staff at Orison Books, and a winner will be selected in each genre by different prominent writers acting as contest judges each year. Current or former students of the judge in the genre in which they are submitting, or anyone with a close personal relationship with that judge, are not eligible to submit. In the event that a judge does not select a winner in their genre from among the finalists, the Editor will select a winner. The editors also reserve the right to select no finalists, in which case all entry fees will be refunded to contest entrants.
ABOUT THE JUDGES
Ravi Howard is the author of the novels Driving the King and Like Trees, Walking, for which he received the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Howard was a finalist for both the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction in 2008. He has recorded commentary for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Massachusetts Review, and Callaloo. He also appeared in the Ted Koppel documentary, “The Last Lynching,” on the Discovery Channel. The recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Hurston-Wright Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Howard’s television production work has appeared on HBO, ESPN, Fox Sports 1, and NFL Network. He received a 2004 Sports Emmy for his work on HBO’s Inside the NFL.
Catherine Reid teaches in the undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Warren Wilson College, where she specializes in creative nonfiction and environmental writing. In addition to two works of nonfiction, Falling into Place: An Intimate Geography of Home and Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst, she has published essays in such journals as the Georgia Review, Fourth Genre, Bellevue Literary Review, and Massachusetts Review; she also edited two anthologies with the poet, Holly Iglesias: Every Woman I’ve Ever Loved and His Hands, His Tools, His Sex, His Dress. Reid has been a creative writing fellow at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester MA, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and she has received fellowships in creative nonfiction from the North Carolina Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Philip Metres is the author of numerous poetry collections, including Pictures at an Exhibition, Sand Opera, abu ghraib arias, and To See the Earth, as well as the monograph Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941. He is also the translator or co-translator of I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky, Compleat Catalogue of Comedic Novelties: Poetic Texts of Lev Rubinstein, and A Kindred Orphanhood: Selected Poems of Sergey Gandlevsky. Metres has received two NEA fellowships, two Arab American Book Awards, the Lannon Literary Fellowship, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, five Ohio Arts Council Grants, the PEN/Heim Translation Grant, the Beatrice Hawley Award, the Akron Poetry Prize, the Anne Halley Prize, the Creative Workforce Fellowship, the Cleveland Arts Prize, and the inaugural George W. Hunt, S.J. Award for Excellence in Journalism, Literature & the Arts.
The Orison Prizes in Poetry & Fiction
Each year from December 1 – April 1 we accept submissions of full-length poetry (60 – 100 pp.) and fiction (minimum 30,000 words) manuscripts for consideration for The Orison Prizes in Poetry & Fiction. Fiction manuscripts may be a collection of short stories or flash fiction, a novella, or a novel. All manuscripts will be read “blind” (do not include any identifying information in your manuscript). Original English work only; no translations. Finalists will be selected by the editorial staff at Orison Books, and a winner will be selected in each genre by different prominent writers acting as contest judges each year. Current or former students of the judge in the genre in which they are submitting, or anyone with a close personal relationship with that judge, are not eligible to submit. In the event that a judge does not select a winner in their genre from among the finalists, the Editor will select a winner. The editors also reserve the right to select no finalists, in which case all entry fees will be refunded to contest entrants. All finalist manuscripts will be considered for publication under a standard royalties contract.
The winner in each genre will receive a $1,500 cash prize, publication, and a standard royalties contract.
Entry Fee: $25
2017 Judges: Carl Phillips (poetry) and David Haynes (fiction)
Entry Period: December 1, 2016 – April 1, 2017
Electronic submissions only: follow the Submittable link below
ABOUT THE JUDGES
Carl Phillips is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Reconnaissance (FSG, 2015), Silverchest (FSG, 2013), Double Shadow (FSG, 2012), Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006 (FSG, 2007) and Riding Westward (FSG, 2006). His collection The Rest of Love (FSG, 2004) won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Prize and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Philips’ honors include an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Academy of American Poets Prize, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Library of Congress. Phillips is Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also teaches in the Creative Writing Program.
David Haynes is the author of seven novels for adults and five books for younger readers. He is the founder of the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction, is a Professor of English at Southern Methodist University, and also teaches regularly in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Haynes was named one of America’s best young novelists by Granta Magazine, has received a fellowship from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and is a director of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). His most recent novel is A Star in the Face of the Sky (New Rivers Press). He is also the author of a series for children called “The West Seventh Wildcats.”
Fiction manuscript submissions are accepted during the months of April and October. We consider all types of fiction, including novels, short story or flash fiction collections, and novellas. Minimum word count: 30,000 Work in English translation is also accepted. (The translator must have permission to publish the translations, or the original work must be in the public domain per U.S. and international copyright law.) When possible, Orison Books offers a small advance against royalties for books selected for publication. Send an author biography and complete manuscript.
Non-fiction manuscript submissions are accepted year-round. We consider all types of non-fiction, including essay, memoir, literary criticism, etc. Minimum word count: 30,000. Work in English translation is also accepted. (The translator must have permission to publish the translations, or the original work must be in the public domain per U.S. and international copyright law.) When possible, Orison Books offers a small advance against royalties for books selected for publication. Send an author biography and complete manuscript.
Poetry in Translation
Submissions of full-length (60 pp. minimum) poetry collections in English translation are accepted year-round. The translator must have permission to publish the translations, or the original work must be in the public domain per U.S. and international copyright law.
Single- or multiple-genre anthology proposals are accepted year-round. Send a one-page description of the anthology, biographical information for the editor(s), and 30 pages of sample content.
The Orison Anthology
Editors of literary periodicals (print or digital) may nominate work in a single genre or in multiple genres to be considered for inclusion in our annual print publication, The Orison Anthology, which will reprint the finest spiritually engaged writing from a broad and inclusive range of perspectives. The work must have appeared, or be slated to appear, in the periodical during the 2015 calendar year. Work selected for inclusion will appear alongside the winners of The Orison Anthology Awards in Fiction, Non-fiction, and Poetry, judged this year by Kevin McIlvoy, Ann Hood, and Claire Bateman. The author of any work selected for inclusion will receive 2 complimentary copies of the anthology; the periodical where the work originally appeared will receive 1 complimentary copy.
The work may be by a single author or by multiple authors, as long as the total page count meets the requirements specified below.
By nominating work for inclusion in The Orison Anthology, you are indicating that you have acquired the permission of the author(s) to do so.
Editors may submit a scanned copy of print pages or a PDF file of the text.
Deadline: September 15, 2015.
Single genre submissions: Submit up to 6 poems (40 pp. max), or up to 2 works of prose (any genre; 60 pp. max). If the work is not easily classified, submit up to 60 pages of text. In the file, include the author’s name and biography, the name of your periodical, and the issue number(s) in which the work appeared.
Multiple genre submissions: submit up to 3 poems (20 pp. max) and a work of prose (any genre; 25 pp. max). If the work is not easily classified, submit up to 60 pages of text. In the file, include the author’s name and biography, the name of your periodical, and the issue number(s) in which the work appeared.
There is no fee to nominate work for The Orison Anthology. We do, however, provide the option to support the efforts of Orison Books and the publication of The Orison Anthology by donating $10 or by pre-ordering a copy of the anthology ($25). A donation or pre-order (or lack thereof) will in no way effect the editorial choices made by the Orison Books staff.