MFA student Peter Kispert aims to leave his mark on Indiana Review through new prize

Post courtesy of newsroom intern Tori Lawhorn:

Peter Kispert moved more than 900 miles for the Indiana Review.

Now, a third year MFA student in the Creative Writing Program at Indiana University, Kispert is the editor-in-chief of the Indiana Review.

Peter Kispert

Peter Kispert is the current editor-in-chief of the Indiana Review. | Courtesy photo

“I came here for the Indiana Review, hands down,” he said. “I deeply respected the journal and wanted to learn more about the craft of fiction writing.”

Even as an undergraduate student majoring in English and linguistics at the University of New Hampshire, Kispert said he knew of the Indiana Review’s reputation.

“I admired its legacy and committed position in the larger literary community,” he said. “It’s almost 40 years old. I’m regularly astonished by the exceptional work the journal publishes.”

The Indiana Review is a national, nonprofit biannual literary journal dedicated to showcasing the talents of emerging and established writers by publishing outstanding fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Kispert said.

Located in Ballantine Hall, the Indiana Review is completely run by graduate students. The review also has several undergraduate interns per semester.

The review is made possible by grants from the English Department and the College of Arts and Sciences, along with private donors.

When Kispert became the editor-in-chief, he said he wanted to take some new initiatives with the review. The Blue Light Books prize was one of them.

This first time collaboration with Indiana University Press, IU’s internal publishing company, was inspired by a blue light outside of the Indiana Review offices in Ballantine Hall. When the office is open, the blue light is turned on.

Indiana Review Cover

The winter 2014 cover of the Indiana Review. | Courtesy photo

“This light has come to symbolize the journal’s openness and commitment to fostering a sense of community,” Sarah Jacobi, interim regional sponsoring editor at IU Press, said. “It is this sense of community that brings IR and IUP together.”

This collaboration will take place in the form of a yearly contest for aspiring upcoming authors. The prize will rotate each year between collections of short stories and poems. The first prize awarded will be for short stories. Any person wishing to enter the contest must submit a previously unpublished book-length manuscript.

The call for submissions is Dec. 1, 2015 to Feb. 15, 2016. No translations will be accepted. A $20 submission fee is required upon manuscript submission. Manuscripts should be 30,000 to 45,000 words (120-140 manuscript pages) in length. No manuscripts with interior art will be considered. Manuscripts must be submitted online to the Indiana Review.

A publication contract and an award of $2,000 against future royalties will be awarded to the winner. The book will be published in trade paperback format. The author will be issued a standard contract with IU Press. The first Blue Light Books winner will debut at the 50th anniversary of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Feb. 8 to 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

The winner will also be flown out to Bloomington read a selection of their work at the annual Blue Light Reading in March 2017.

Though the Blue Light Reading series has been established at the Indiana Review for six years, this is the first time there has been a collaboration between IU Press and the Review. Kispert said he hopes this relationship will continue to grow in fruitful and exciting ways.

Indiana Review Cover 2

The summer 2015 cover of the Indiana Review. | Courtesy photo

“The blue light has become a part of our own identity at the Indiana Review,” he said. “It is central to our local and national literary missions and provides us with an opportunity to bring some of our most well-known and prolific writers to Bloomington to serve as a valuable intersection of these two communities.”

Kispert himself has had his work appear in a number of publications including Tin House, The Journal, McSweeney’s, The Baltimore Review, the Colorado Review and The New York Daily News. His work has also been cited in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and NPR.

Upon graduating next May, he said he hopes to obtain a job at a publisher or attend a publishing program at Columbia University.

Kispert said he ultimately hopes to work towards a career in publishing at one of Big Five publishing houses: HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster, or Hachette Book Group.

Though he is looking toward graduation, Kispert said he wanted his initiatives to be something the Indiana Review could continue long after he graduates. The Blue Light Books prize, he hopes, is one of them.

“This is an outstanding venture and partnership with a venerable university press with a catalogue of consistently excellent work,” he said. “It’s also a sustainable venture. We are so excited to see the first Blue Light Book title through production, and to work with Sara Jacobi, Mandy Hussey and all the Press for years to come.”

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