Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Open Door Project

Don Weise, a New York gay fiction book editor and his colleagues are launching the first ever Open Door writing competition. With world AIDS day around the corner, December 1st, this competition invites all non-published authors to write anything and everything relating to what is considered the "post aids" era. After the submissions are collected and read the winner will be announced in March and invited to a New York publishing intensive with private and public readings and a meet and greet with the who's who of past and present gay literature. Below is Don's letter:

With World AIDS Day approaching (December 1), I thought perhaps you might be looking for an original angle to this important event. I'd therefore like to let you know about The Open Door Project.

Started by six of Manhattan's leading gay book editors, including myself, the project is in fact a national short story contest launched recently in response to AIDS. A very 21st century response you'll find. Our intention is two-fold. First, we're seeking to help replenish the ranks of gay writers killed by the epidemic by opening doors of the publishing industry to the best unpublished newcomers. Drawing on our vast professional connections, we editors will fast-track careers that might otherwise take years to get started. On a larger level, however, we're attempting to reclaim and renew the gay literary landscape in what today is commonly called the "post-AIDS era".

As a group we editors have published landmark AIDS-themed works by Larry Kramer, Randy Shilts, Paul Monnette, Edmund White, Essex Hemphill, and Allen Barnett to name only a handful. It's especially historic that we come together not around our literature's past but its future. For just as the face of the epidemic has quite literally evolved (ballooning overseas at a horrific pace), so too has the response of gay men to it; no longer content with candle light vigils, red ribbons, and quilts, we've become more creative in our role as witnesses, if not survivors. Where once we gave voice to dying men by publishing their books, we editors now feel called to step up and remedy the void that's been left behind--a void that persists in spite of the tremendous medical advances that have seen a return to normalcy for so many in the US.

More than discovering new talent, The Open Door Project marks the first time ever leading gay editors and leading gay authors--as one publication put it, "a virtual who's who of gay literature"-- have united around AIDS at this crossroads. I'd be thrilled to discuss the project with you further. If the story is not quite right for you, I'd very much appreciate being put in touch with anyone who might be interested.

Very sincerely,
Don Weise

The Open Door Project winner will be invited to:

A five-day publishing introduction intensive in New York City-- including a series of lunches with literary agents, book editors, and other publishing figures, a public reading, and a private cocktail reception with New York's writing community will be awarded to the winner of the first Open Door Project fiction competition. The contest is open to gay men writing fiction with queer content who have not yet published a book of fiction. Accommodations and transportation will be provided to an out of town winner. Judges include Christopher Bram, Alexander Chee, Samuel R. Delany, Dennis Cooper, Robert Gluck, E. Lynn Harris, Scott Heim, Andrew Holleran, David Leavitt, Stephen McCauley, Dale Peck, and John Weir. Submit stories or stand-alone novel excerpts of up to 8,000 words by March 1, 2008. The winner will be announced June 08. There is no entry fee. Submissions should be mailed to:

Don Weise, Open Door Project
c/o Oscar Wilde Bookshop
15 Christopher St
New York, NY 10014

Questions concerning this project can be sent to Don Weise: dweised@aol.com

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