Rehoboth Reads, a new project that will involve the city-wide reading and discussion of a single book, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, is holding a writing contest that seeks submissions of short stories, creative nonfiction and poetry that touches on the theme of “Redemption and/or Justice.”
Judges for the contest are Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; George Pelecanos, novelist, screenwriter, film and television producer; and Jeanne Murray Walker, writer, teacher and lecturer.
The deadline for submissions is Jan. 31, 2019. Winning entries will be published in Delaware Beach Life magazine.
“We’re excited to see how people will show, in a creative way, how issues of justice or themes of redemption have played out in their own or perhaps a character’s life,” said Rehoboth Reads board member and executive director of the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild, Maribeth Fischer. “And we’re thrilled to have three amazing writers, all actively engaged in their communities, all passionate about issues of justice and redemption, serve as our judges.”
“This powerful book provides a wealth of inspiration,” added fellow Rehoboth Reads board member Nancy Sakaduski, who owns Cat & Mouse Press and runs an annual writing contest. “We invite our talented local writers to use their creativity to bring this theme to life in their own ways.”
Submissions do not have to reference the book; in fact, organizers said, the writing should not be a critique of or commentary on Stevenson’s book. The hope is that the winning short story, work of creative nonfiction, and poem will offer other ways of exploring and thinking about the theme.
Because the winner in each category will be published in the May issue of Delaware Beach Life, the work should also have a coastal theme (this could be as simple as setting the story in a beach town or it could be as complex as using the ocean as a metaphor for redemption).
The judge for the creative nonfiction category is Sam Calagione, the founder and president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in Rehoboth Beach, and the Dogfish Inn in Lewes.
Calagione is the author of five books about beer and the beer business, including his first book, “Brewing up a Business,” which is as much about following and acting upon one’s dream — something he shares with Bryan Stevenson — as it is about beer.
In fact, alongside beer, literature is one of Calagione’s major loves. The books in the library at the Dogfish Inn in Lewes are supplied by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s bookstore, City Lights, in San Francisco, and Calagione is the founder and sponsor of the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, started in 2002 and now in its 16th year.
The judge for the short-story category is George Pelecanos, a novelist, screenwriter, film and television producer, and the recipient of numerous international writing awards. He is the author of 21 novels set in and around Washington, D.C., and worked for HBO as a producer and writer for “The Wire,” “Tremé,” “The Pacific” and “The Deuce.”
Pelecanos’ latest book, “The Man Who Came Uptown,” is, in Pelecanos’ words, “sort of a love letter to reading and the power of books.” In a 2018 interview in The Washingtonian, Pelecanos commented that a common theme in many of his books is redemption, the idea that people can change.
The judge for the poetry category is Jeanne Murray Walker, a writer, teacher and lecturer. She has written eight volumes of award-winning poetry, including her latest, “Helping the Morning: New & Selected Poems.” Walker’s poetry and essays appear in leading journals. Her scripts have been performed in theaters across the United States and in London.
Walker has taught for 40 years at the University of Delaware, where she headed the creative writing concentration. She also serves as a mentor in the Seattle Pacific University master-of-fine-arts program and on the editorial boards of Image and Shenandoah magazines.
In addition to publication in Delaware Beach Life, winners will be invited to read their works at a public reception/reading in May.
Writers are being strongly encouraged to read the contest guidelines, which are posted on the Rehoboth Reads website at Rehobothreads.com. Submissions should be emailed to Rehobothreadscontest@gmail.com. A $10 fee is required for each submission. The fee is payable through PayPal via a link on the Rehoboth Reads website, or by check (made out to “Rehoboth Library”) mailed to Rehoboth Library, 226 Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth, DE 19971.
Rehoboth Beach Reads is under the auspices of the Rehoboth Beach Public Library, a 501(c)(3) organization. Committee members include Susan Kehoe, managing partner for Browseabout Books (committee chair); Tyler Antoine, program librarian at the Rehoboth Beach Public Library; Alex Colevas, buyer for Browseabout Books; Maribeth Fischer, founder and executive director, Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild; Georgette Regnault, book club coordinator in partnership with Rehoboth Library; and Nancy Sakaduski, owner, Cat & Mouse Press. For more information about Rehoboth Reads, go to www. Rehobothreads.com.