The Pushcart Prize: A Peek into the Prestigious World of Small Press Recognition

That is what I asked when I received the message

I sat tapping away at the keyboard. Messenger dinged. Initially, it looked like another random man attempting to message me about how hot they thought I was.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash. Altered by Jennifer Brewer via Canva.

The name sounded familiar though so I figured I should investigate. The mystery was solved, however, when he messaged again.

“It’s Mark, from Ariel Chart.”

My heart raced. Why was I receiving a message from the editor of one of the literary magazines I have published with? I hadn’t published anything in a while.

We exchanged pleasantries and a bit of chit-chat and asked me if I had heard of the Pushcart Prize. Which I had heard of but didn’t really know a lot about. Then he dropped the bomb…

“I am nominating your short fiction “Shifting Sand” for 2021.”

Photo by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash

My inner child did cartwheels, I couldn’t believe it. I was excited and speechless. I had been happy to have my story accepted by a literary press. I didn’t really know what the honor was for exactly, however, I’ve never had my work nominated for anything before and that was exciting.

So, What is the Pushcart Prize?

The Pushcart Prize is a Best of Small Presses series. According to the Pushcart Prize website, it has been around since 1976. Small presses and literary magazines from around the world nominate six pieces from the year to submit for the Pushcart Prize.

“It is one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the ’60s and ’70s.”

It was founded by Bill Henderson and is known as “one of the most honored literary projects in America.” It was created to recognize and celebrate independent publishing.

What’s the big deal?

Literary magazine editors and small presses read thousands of stories a year. Each writer hopes they will be published. From those that are chosen for publishing. The editors re-read those stories and are only allowed to choose six to nominate for the Pushcart Prize.

Of those nominations, a mixture of sixty short stories and poetry are selected to be published in that year’s Pushcart anthology. The names of the nominees are also published in the anthology.

There is no monetary gain from being nominated or winning. However, the honor and recognition can potentially be beneficial in your future writing career.

I was, also, asked to be interviewed for a podcast with Ariel Chart. It will release in the next few days. Overall, this has been exciting and fun. I always hope that my work is received well and someone enjoys it. This is one more thing encouraging me to keep heading down this path of the adventure called writing.

Author Note:

I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Here is the nominated piece, “Shifting Sand”, for your reading enjoyment:

Photo by Vitaliy Rigalovsky on Unsplash. Altered by Jennifer Brewer via Canva.

Featured Photo by Rey Seven on Unsplash

***Disclaimer*** This is a work in progress and as such is likely to change before reaching the finished product. Thank you for your understanding.

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Originally published on Medium

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