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What’s up with JEF?

Hi, everyone.

As we are all hunkering down and trying to survive this COVID-19 pandemic, some of us are turning our attentions to our literary endeavors more than ever. The TV becomes mind-numbing after a while, and one can only view so many online videos before going goofy. So what better than buying a few books in order to make the best of our time? Please consider buying a few JEF titles during this period.

I have received a couple of inquiries about this year’s Kenneth Patchen Award competition. I had thought about suspending it, but then I realized how important the literary world is to all of us who would land here in this space. We would have a hard time finding much by way of innovative literature in any of the mainstream presses. Even the stuff they market as “innovative” is not very. So we will forge ahead with our plans for the 2021 competition, but I will extend the deadline until the end of August this year. That might help a few folks get their manuscripts together in time.

The methodology for submitting the work is the same, and the details are outlined in the contest announcement. We understand that many small journals are going to Submittable for submissions. Were you aware of the fact that using Submittable costs over a thousand dollars a year, and that is at the discount price for small press journals? We cannot afford that. We barely receive that much in submission fees total, and we give a thousand dollar award to the winner. If the options are to collect the materials ourselves, to double the submission fee, or to not give out prize money, we prefer the first. So the entry fee remains $25.00. Last year that brought in about $950 total, so you see this is not a money-making project. We do it because we love innovative literature. And I love the innovative novels of Kenneth Patchen that gave me great inspiration to do my work.

When I was a young man, I was working on what would become my MFA thesis, Cistern Tawdry, a novel that incorporated concretism and other forms of literary experimentation. When I showed my work-in-progress to my roommate, a book and record dealer by trade, he immediately told me that it reminded him of a novel he had in his collection, and he pulled out a copy of Patchen’s Sleepers Awake. At first I was taken aback. Here I thought I was working in a new direction in my own writing, and then I saw that much of what I was doing had already been done by Patchen back in 1946. I was at first irked, but then I realized that what Patchen had done actually confirmed that the direction I was working in was a valid one. And the seeds of my passion for Patchen’s work were planted. That passion grew, and when I went on my first book tour, which was for my first published novel, Truly Fine Citizen, I made sure that my publisher let me begin the tour at the Patchen Literary Festival in Youngstown, Ohio, where I was fortunate enough to meet Miriam Patchen, Kenneth’s widow. We had lunch together and discussed his work, and then we corresponded for quite a while. She even wrote a foreword for my novel Hugh Moore.

So you can see how deep my affection for Patchen’s work is, especially his three experimental novels Sleepers Awake, The Journal of Albion Moonlight, and Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer. Kenneth and Miriam Patchen went through extraordinarily difficult times because of his health issues, but despite the enormous challenges they had to endure, they kept going. Actually, near the end of Kenneth’s life, he was working on painted poems, which are some of the most beautiful pieces he ever produced. So, in that spirit, we will also keep forging forward and will face the challenges of these times without giving up.

Another friend of mine would sometimes say that there are times in your life when all you can do in put your head down, cover your ears with your fists, and run like hell. These times feel like that. Hopefully we can all get past these times together and intact. And then we’ll have yet another amazing story to tell, and to tell in our own ways.

Best wishes to you all,



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Hi, everyone,

Eckhard here.  I wanted to thank everyone who participated in last year’s Kenneth Patchen Award competition.  I was amazed at the quality of manuscripts we received, and, in another year, I could easily have seen several of them as winners. We are very proud to have selected Genelle Chaconas’s book Plague City, and I am sure you will see how wonderful it is when it comes out.  Normally I send an announcement to every one who participated and thank each participant personally, but something tragic has happened. Within days of announcing here Genelle Chaconas’s selection, the external hard drive to my computer crashed, and that contained, unfortunately, the list I had been compiling of all the email addresses of everyone who submitted this year, and, foolishly, I had no back-up for that file. So, short of going through all your emailed submissions all over again to cull your email addresses, I was unable to send that announcement. So please accept my apology. I take this contest very seriously, and it is part of my effort to help keep the spirit of innovative fiction alive and well.

We hope to be publishing the 2018 winner, Patrick Keller’s Those Brave as the Skate Is, within the next couple of months. We are wrestling with some formatting issues, which is not uncommon in innovative work, but hope to have everything in order soon. So stay tuned! More wonderful work is on its way!

Our next title, Denis Emorine’s Death at Half Mast, is almost ready for launch, and I think you will really enjoy this book. It has been translated from the French with great attention to detail by Flavia Cosma with input and oversight by Denis and Michael Todd Steffen and help in American idiom and punctuation by yours truly.

Please take a look at some of our most recent titles as well.  Yuriy Tarnawsky’s The Iguanas of Heat and Warm Arctic Nights, Harold Jaffe’s  Porn-anti-Porn, James R. Hugunin’s Finding Mememo, Jim Meirose’s Understanding Franklin Thompson, R.M. Strauss’s The Skrat Prize Memorial Anthology, Grace Murray’s Black Scat Books: A Bibliography 2012-2018and Jeffrey R. DiLeo and Warren Motte’s Experimental Literature: A Collection of Statementare all worthy of your attention!

Thanks for being here!

Eckhard Gerdes

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2019 Kenneth Patchen Award winner announced!

Journal of Experimental Fiction Logo 


 Journal of Experimental Fiction announces 2019 Winner of the Kenneth Patchen Award Winner for the Innovative Novel!

 AURORA, IL—May 25, 2019—The 2019 winner of the Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel is Genelle Chaconas, of Rancho Cordova, California, for their novel Plague City.

This year’s judge, novelist Jane L. Carman, has said the following in her ecomium for the novel:

Innovative and engaging from the start Plague City draws the reader in with forms and a genreless narrative presented via reader participation. The prose sometimes reads like a song, sometimes asks questions, and shows you how literature might (must!) move forward in a chaotic world. With space to breathe Genelle Chaconas weaves a collage-style work that asks the reader to return, reread, and reconsider fiction (and reality).

Jane L. Carman is the founder of Lit Fest Press, Festival Writer, and the reading series Festival of Language and a reading eXperiment. She holds a PhD from Illinois State University where she is a former Codirector of the Publications Unit and a Sutherland Fellow. Her book, Tangled in Motion, was published by Journal of Experimental Fiction Books in 2015 and is in the second edition. Her critical and creative work can be found in Devil’s Lake, Santa Clara Review, American Book Review, elimae, Palooka, Dirty: Dirty (Jaded Ibis Productions), 580-Split, JAC, and many others. She is currently coauthoring a book a suicide stories with Amy L. Eggert.

 Plague City was chosen as the winner of the Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel over many other worthy candidates for the exceptional craft and originality with which it is written as well as for its deep sympathy for the human condition, both qualities epitomized by Kenneth Patchen himself.

Genelle Chaconas is nonbinary gendered, queer, an abuse survivor, has mood disorders, and feels proud. They earned a BA in Creative Writing from CSUS in 2009, an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University in 2015, and 50k of debt. They’ve been published lots but don’t namedrop. Their chapbooks include Fallout Saints and Dirty Pictures (little m press, 2011) and Yet Wave (the Lune, 2017). They serve as head editor for HockSpitSlurp Literary Magazine. They enjoy scifi and gangster flix, drone/noise/industrial music, and long walks off short piers. They live in the greater Sacramento area. This is their first novel.

After a hiatus, THE KENNETH PATCHEN AWARD was revived in 2012. In the 1990s, The Kenneth Patchen Prize for Literature was a much-coveted prize administered by Pig Iron Press of Youngstown, Ohio, in honor of famous experimental fiction author, proletarian poet, and Ohio native Kenneth Patchen.  Beginning in 2012, the Award was reinstituted as the Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel, and it honors the most innovative novel submitted during the previous calendar year.   KENNETH PATCHEN is celebrated for being among the greatest innovators of American fiction, incorporating strategies of concretism, asemic writing, digression, and verbal juxtaposition into his writing long before such strategies were popularized during the height of American postmodernist experimentation in the 1970s.  His three great innovative novels, Sleepers Awake, The Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer and The Journal of Albion Moonlight, have long been benchmarks for beats, postmodernists and innovators of all ilks, inspiring younger writers to greater significance and innovation in their own work.

ABOUT JEF: Founded in 1986, The Journal of Experimental Fiction is the English language’s pre-eminent source for innovative fiction.  Contact: Eckhard Gerdes, editor & publisher, Site:



2018 – Patrick Keller – Those Brave As the Skate Is  (coming soon!)

2017 – Richard Strauss – The Skrat Prize Memorial Anthology

2016 – Charles Hood – Mouth

2015 – Kate Horsley – Between the Legs

2014 – Bob Sawatzki – Return to Circa ‘96

2013 – Moore Bowen – Oppression for the Heaven of It

2012 – Carolyn Chun – How to Break Article Noun