TU’s Nationally-Known Nimrod Discovers Writers
By K.J. WEBB
DISCUSSING LITERATURE: Dr. Fran Ringold, Editor-in-Chief of the Nimrod International Journal of Poetry and Prose at the University of Tulsa, discusses the publication with a TU student.
The Nimrod International Journal of Poetry and Prose was founded in 1956 at the University of Tulsa. It has been active in the discovery and publication of new writers for more than 50 years and has had increasing impact on the development of the careers of new writers for more than 32 years through the Nimrod (formerly Hardman) Awards.
Editor-In-Chief Francine Ringold, Ph.D. says, “Like all literary magazines, American literature has been developed from literary journals whose publishers are willing to take a chance on new writers that they foresee as having quality. From the first, our mission at Nimrod was, and is the discovery of writers. Well-known writers such as James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams and William Stafford were all first published in small literary magazines, which years ago were often called the ‘little magazines.’”
When asked about the difference between Nimrod and mainstream journals, Ringold says, “We don’t take ads. We don’t have to satisfy an advertiser’s audience, or our underwriters. This allows us to focus on quality content.” She adds, “Though our audience is a more narrow distribution than a mainstream publication, our publication is by no means small, and we do everything we can to broaden our audience.”
Ringold describes the profile of a Nimrod reader as someone who is an experienced reader with a highly developed reading sense, or someone who has aspirations toward writing, or a desire to improve writing skills. She emphasizes that though many people who read Nimrod are college educated, it’s not a requirement to appreciate or understand the writing.
Nimrod has developed and grown substantially during the five decades since its founding. It began at the University of Tulsa as a 16-page stapled document and sold for 35 cents. By 1964 it was being published three times a year and grew to 96 pages. Today it’s 220 pages and published biannually; one issue is thematic with themes ranging from ‘who we are’ to ‘food and literature’ to a variety of different cultures and countries. The second issue is the awards issue. “We’ve grown to accommodate the onslaught of excellent material we receive every year.” Ringold says, “We take in 3,000 manuscripts a year from writers all over the world.” Writers submit their prose, and poetry, in competition for first ($2,000) and second ($1,000) annual prizes in both categories. The anonymous submissions are evaluated and judged by a 28-person editorial board which selects 20 works in both the prose and the poetry categories. “We have a wonderful editorial board, and also an advisory board which has over 30 people. Most have been with us for at least five years. Everyone involved is so generous with their knowledge and time, and many are fellow writers with master’s degrees and above in literature,” says Ringold, She adds, “When the 40 finalist works are selected, they’re submitted to a final judge in each category. Our judges rotate each year. For 2009 the judge for poetry is the acclaimed poet Marie Howe, and for fiction it’s Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler.”
A distinct feature of the Nimrod Awards is that the judges and winners are brought to Tulsa, as well as are other specialists in fiction, poetry, fantasy, and memoir writing. An awards banquet is followed the next day with all day writing workshops for aspiring writers and writers who want to hone their craft. This year’s 32nd annual awards and workshop has the theme ‘Words at Play’ and will be held October 23-24 at the Allen Chapman Activity Center at the University of Tulsa. Marvin Bell, the first Poet Laureate of the state of Iowa, and celebrated author of more than 16 books of poetry, will host a workshop at this year’s event. “He has won every prize in the book,” says Ringold. “It’s a real honor to have him participate.” Writers travel from all over to attend the awards and workshops, and many also come from Tulsa and the surrounding area. Anyone interested in reading and/or writing may register for the event.
Ringold says, “Nimrod is like a family. Through the years wonderful people have given their time, energy and talent for nothing except the reward of meeting winners, or just the satisfaction of discovering a writer who goes on to publish in The New Yorker or other major literary publications, as many of our award winners have. It’s wonderful to be able to discover new literary voices and talent from all over the world.”
Avid readers and writers will be able to listen to works from this year’s themed issue ‘Mexico/USA’ at a public reading to be held August 27 at 7 p.m. at the Martin Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett Rd. in Tulsa. Contact Sara Martinez at (918) 669-6346 for more information.
Nimrod is supported by grants, private donations and sales. Copies of the journal can be purchased at the TU Bookstore, Borders, Barnes and Noble and Steve’s Sundries and at Nimrod directly. For more information, call (918) 631-3080, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.utulsa.edu/nimrod.