Our 2017 Pushcart Choices


WE HAVE an image in our heads of a back room at Pushcart Press. In the room are envelopes– stacks of postmarked envelopes. Corridors of mountains of stacks of mailed envelopes sent by every literary press or project in America– nominations for the 2017 Pushcart Prize. Ours is there, in the room, somewhere, among them.

We’re optimists, so we designed our mailing and its Intro letter– and chose our nominees– with a goal in mind: winning the elusive prize. The odds? What are odds!? We sneer at the odds! We have no “name” writers, and we aren’t a name ourselves to the good people at Wainscott, New York. But we’re here and we believe in ourselves and our project.

This year we published a number of excellent stories, poems, and profiles. Many could have been nominated. We used reasoning and rationalizations to make our selections– all such decisions are ultimately arbitrary, based on whim and whisper as much as logic. So it was with us.

OUR SELECTIONS and the reasons for them:

Elusive Instinct” by Ana Prundaru.

Simple, clear writing. Perfectly easy to get into, but with marked style as well. No easy trick to accomplish. A story whose tone and mood fits the stylish aesthetic to which we aspire.

“Dry Bones” by Sonia Christensen, and “The Fetus” by Clint Margrave.

Two well-written, powerful stories which begin with intriguing openings. Read the first sentences of both of them. The titles themselves are provocative and visual. More than this, the stories are works of art with depth of meaning to them.

“Operative 73 Takes a Swim”  by Wred Fright.

This one is so different from the norm in execution, ideas, and plot we believe it would catch anyone’s eye. Even in Wainscott, should any eye happen to glance at it, within the mountains and stacks. Like the others, it’s also a terrific little tale. Wred has published work with New Pop Lit on several occasions, is overdue for recognition from us. The lesson: keep sending us work!

Finally, we nominated two short-but-striking Appreciations of American writers, which we published as part of the ongoing All-Time American Writers Tournament.

One, about Philip K. Dick, is by D.C. Miller. The other, about Gene Wolfe, is by Robin Wyatt Dunn. Two able wordsmiths who can do much with a limited amount of words.
We love and respect all the writers we’ve published, and all who’ve submitted work. Without the writer we’re nowhere– just a blank screen awaiting the magic of art.

Questions for National Book Foundation


(Pictured: Cipriani Wall Street, location of 2017 National Book Awards Ceremony.)

NOTE:  We requested an interview with National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas about their upcoming awards, but never received a response. Here are several questions we would’ve asked:

1.)  Does New York City exercise too much dominance over American literature?

2.)  Would you say the National Book Foundation is a promotional arm of Big Five publishing? Are New York publishers the foundation’s chief support?

3.)  Is it a mistake for all ten of your 2017 Non-Fiction nominees to be slanted politically one way? Should a tax-exempt arts organization be open to a variety of viewpoints?

4.)  We note the National Book Foundation is sponsoring a reading program in Pakistan. Is this done for political reasons?

5.)  How does one attend the awards Benefit Dinner at Cipriani Wall Street on November 15th? How much are tickets? Is the event not open to the public?




Our Pushcart Nominations and Why


We at New Pop Lit have joined the annual flood of mail sent off to the good people at Pushcart Press in Wainscott, New York, in the form of six nominations for consideration for Pushcart Prizes. Winners are included in the Pushcart Prize annual collection.

Every year the Pushcart people receive thousands of nominations from hundreds of literary outfits. The competition is stiff, to say the least.

If the editors have a bias, it’s understandably toward print journals, as they continue to operate in print. They may also be biased toward “name” writers– we’ve seen the likes of Joyce Carol Oates and Mary Gaitskill in their collection. This is understandable also. The Pushcart people seek credibility and recognition, just like the rest of us.


What should be our objectives when deciding which works published in the past year to nominate?

1.) To nominate some of our best/favorite writings. Including work that pleased our readers.

2.) To present an eclectic mix. We’ve included in our nominations this year a poem and a book review. “Eclectic” in our mind includes mixing younger and older writers.

3.) To give ourselves an outside chance that one of our nominations wins a Pushcart Prize. Which means, long stories or essays are out. As a print publication, Pushcart has strictly limited space. If an upstart like ourselves has ANY shot to be included, it’s with a short work that grabs their attention.

Perhaps the best story we published in the past year was “Lucid Dreamer,” by Scott Cannon. It starts slow, and is quite long. This excluded it, in our eyes, from being nominated. Fortunately, we ran a shorter work by Scott in 2016 which is also an excellent story.

The other side of the coin is that we nominated not one of the “flash fiction” stories we published. Which brings us to our fourth criterion:

4.) To indulge our capricious whims. We’re writers– artists– ourselves. Which means at some point we throw away logic and operate on emotion and instinct. if we don’t have fun doing this project– what’s the point?



“Clarity,” a story by Alex Bernstein.

“Ergo Propter Hoc,” a story by Scott Cannon.

“Diminutives,” a story by Samuel Stevens.

“The Old Neighborhood,” a story by Andy Tu.

“Colapinto’s Undone,” a book review by Andrea Gregovich.

“Death in the Medicine Cabinet,” a poem by Blixa BelGrande.


Many thanks also to Anne Leigh Parrish, Tom Ray, Jess Mize, Ian Lahey, Erin Chapman, “Fishspit,” Tarzana Joe, Dan Nielsen, Wred Fright, and the other talented writers we could’ve or should’ve nominated this year.


Thanks most of all to the people at Pushcart Press. The best way to support what they do is to purchase one of their collections– at a bookstore near you.