Blaise Kielar gets a Pushcart Prize Nomination!

Every year, hundreds of small presses in the US and around the world nominate up to six published pieces for inclusion in the annual anthology, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses. My essay “Violin Shop: Behind the Velvet Counter” was nominated by the North Carolina Literary Review To me, it is the writer’s equivalent of getting a Grammy nomination. The Pushcart Prize, the most honored literary project in America, has been a labor of love and independent spirits since its founding in 1976. I highly recommend you pick up either the latest (48th!) edition or any past year because I like how they intersperse poetry among the short fiction and essays. If my essay is selected it will appear in the 49th edition, due out in December 2024.

From the Pushcart website:

How has this series, published from an 8′ x 8′ backyard shack and staffed by hundreds of unpaid volunteers across the country, survived and thrived for decades?
The commercial world informs us that this is an impossible dream. Oligarchs pick our entertainments, our celebrities, our presidents and our wars. We children of the spirit are yesterday’s news, if we ever were news.
Yet the Pushcart Prize, the small presses and authors we honor, have flourished. The reason? Spirit will never be quelled, certainly not by big bucks and bluster. Each edition of the Pushcart Prize is evidence of this. Many new presses and dozens of new authors emerge annually and are honored in classrooms, bookstores and libraries around the world. And so the Pushcart Prize has been renewed since our first edition in 1976. We celebrate this renewal every year. This is our joy.

Bill Henderson, Publisher, Editor


Blaise Kielar received Honorable Mention in the 2022 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize for an excerpt from his memoir in progress, "Be Heard: The Quiet Kid Who Started the World’s Loudest Violin Shop." He opened Chapel Hill’s first violin shop in 1978 and retired from a music retail career by transitioning Electric Violin Shop into the first worker-owned co-op music store in the United States. He plays jazz violin and clarinet in several bands and leads the Bulltown Strutters, Durham’s community New Orleans brass band.