Best Resources for Poets and WritersWinning Writers
IN THIS ISSUE

Recent Honors for Our Subscribers

Links to Award-Winning Poems

Alert: Bad Deal for Authors at Airleaf

Special Offers for Poets and Writers

Advertise in Our Newsletter

Guest Essay: Take Some Time for Playful Journaling

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Newsletter Archives


WINNING WRITERS NEWSLETTER
Winter 2006-7 Supplement


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Welcome to our Winter newsletter supplement. These quarterly supplements contain award-winning poems, timely Winning Writers announcements and special offers for poets and writers. We'll release our next regular newsletter on December 15.

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RECENT HONORS FOR OUR NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS
Congratulations to Eric Margerum. He was co-winner of Chronogram magazine's "Joined at the Hip" humor contest, which challenged readers to create a title and one-line concept pitch for a book that mashed together two famous works of literature. Read the winners and runners-up at http://www.chronogram.com/issue/2006/11/literarysupplement/joined.php


FEATURED SPONSOR'S MESSAGES

TRY POETRY CONTEST INSIDER
Get profiles on over 750 poetry contests, plus over 100 of the best prose contests. Search and sort contests by deadline, prize, fee, recommendation level and more. Interviews and links to award-winning work help you refine your craft. Explore Poetry Contest Insider for 10 days on us. If you like it, you'll pay just $6.95/quarter. If it's not for you, cancel and pay nothing. Winning Writers is one of the "101 Best Web Sites for Writers" (Writer's Digest, 2005 & 2006). Learn more about Poetry Contest Insider.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 31, 2007
Now in its 15th year. Prizes of $1,200, $800 and $400 will be awarded, plus four High Distinction awards of $200 each. Submit any type of short story, essay or other work of prose, up to 5,000 words. You may submit work that has been published or won prizes elsewhere, as long as you own the online publication rights. $12 entry fee. Submit online or by mail. Early submission encouraged. This contest is sponsored by Tom Howard Books and assisted by Winning Writers. Judges: John H. Reid and Dee C. Konrad. See the complete guidelines and past winners.

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest - No Fee
Online Submission Deadline: April 1, 2007
Winning Writers invites you to enter the sixth annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. The prize pool has doubled to $3,336.40 in cash, with a top prize of $1,359. There is no fee to enter. Submit online. Judge: Jendi Reiter. See the complete guidelines and past winners.

War Poetry Contest - $5,000 in Cash Prizes
Postmark Deadline: May 31, 2007
We seek 1-3 original, unpublished poems for our sixth annual contest on the theme of war, up to 500 lines in total. We will award $5,000, up from $3,000 in the previous contest. The top prize is $2,000. Your entry fee of $15 includes three months of online access to Poetry Contest Insider, a $6.95 value. Submit online or by mail. Judge: Jendi Reiter. See the complete guidelines and past winners.

Margaret Reid Poetry Contest - $4,500 in Cash Prizes
Postmark Deadline: June 30, 2007
Now in its fourth year, this contest seeks poetry in traditional verse forms such as sonnets and haiku. Both published and unpublished poems are welcome. 50 cash prizes totaling $4,500 will be awarded, including a top prize of $1,000. The entry fee is $6 for every 25 lines you submit. Submit online or by mail. Early submission encouraged. This contest is sponsored by Tom Howard Books and assisted by Winning Writers. Judges: John H. Reid and Dee C. Konrad. See the complete guidelines and past winners.

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LINKS TO AWARD-WINNING POEMS

HER GRAVE
by David Groff
Winner of the 2005 Meridian Editors' Prize
Entries must be received by December 20
Prestigious award from the University of Virginia's literary journal offers $1,000 each for fiction and poetry; enter online only. In this poem, a visit to his mother's grave sets off a series of harsh reflections on how our memories of loved ones are so often limited to superficial traits that death quickly erases.

RECOVERY
by Lynne Knight
Winner of the 2006 Lucille Medwick Memorial Award
Postmark Deadline: December 23
This competitive award from the Poetry Society of America offers $500 for a lyric poem on a humanitarian theme. Open to members only (we recommend joining). Knight shows us a starving pioneer family's odyssey through the eyes of a child who is innocent enough to perceive beauty and wonder as well as pain in her family's journey into the unknown. In an intriguing twist, the poem ends with the speaker urging the child's descendant, who is recovering from an illness (possibly anorexia), to choose life and eat.

A SUITABLE GUEST
by Knute Skinner
Winner of the 2004 Pavement Saw Press Chapbook Award
Postmark Deadline: December 30
This $500 prize for poetry chapbook manuscripts includes publication by an independent press that favors experimental and offbeat work. Skinner's cryptic, playful poem, selected from his chapbook The Other Shoe, describes breakfast with a lover who is never more remote than when he is being most generous.


We are gathering a growing library of award-winning poems in Poetry Contest Insider, over 50 to date. Enjoy a wide range of today's best work. Sign up for a free trial.


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SPONSORS' MESSAGES


Lucidity Poetry JournalLucidity Poetry Journal
Lucidity Poetry Journal, entering its 22nd year of publication, is seeking poems dealing with all the facets of human experience such as life, love, loss, joy, sorrow, hope, disappointment—all those elements faced by people in human relationships and events. We publish poems that are lucid and clear in diction and deal with everyday issues, avoiding vulgarities and jabberwocky. We also avoid political and religious verse, as well as purely nature poems: such as butterflies, sunsets, birds, etc. We are open to any format: formal or free verse but it is important to read our guidelines before submitting poetry. We do not consider email submissions.

If your work is accepted for publication, you will receive modest payment (from $1 to $15), plus a free copy of that issue. We do charge a small entry/reading fee to pay the publication and postage expenses of our journal. Please email us for submission details or visit our website: lucidityjournal.00books.com (the 00 are zeros). In addition to our twice-yearly journal, we also publish chapbooks for poets at a reasonable cost if you wish to have your poems in a book. A new concept has been developed we call a Mini-Chapbook, featuring 8 of your poems with an attractive cover. These are great for mailing or giveaways, and are cheaper than a greeting card. Send $1 for sample of the Mini-Chapbook.

In April 2007 we shall sponsor the 15th annual Lucidity Ozark Poetry Retreat at Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This 3-day event features lectures, critiquing groups, read-arounds and fellowship with poets from across the country. Registration fee for all 3 days is only $35. For details, please contact us: Lucidity Poetry Journal, Ted Badger-Editor, 14781 Memorial Drive, No. 10, Houston, TX 77079-5210, USA, or email tedbadger1@yahoo.com.

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Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference The Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference
Next conference: March 23-26
The Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference provides the faculty, connections, and method necessary to set poets with a completed manuscript or manuscript-in-process on a path towards publication. Includes workshops, consultations with press editors, evening poetry readings, editorial panel Q&A, group critique of selected poems, and an after-conference strategy session.

Faculty for 2007 include editors and publishers April Ossmann (Alice James Books), Martha Rhodes (Four Way Books), Jeffrey Levine (Tupelo Press), Jeffrey Shotts (Graywolf Press) and others; workshop leaders include Director of the Concord Poetry Center, Joan Houlihan; Suffolk University Creative Writing Program Director Frederick Marchant, Lesley University MFA faculty Teresa Cader, and Chair of the Writing, Literature, and Publishing Department at Emerson College in Boston, Daniel Tobin.

Cost of the conference ranges from $695 to $995 depending on room choice, and this cost includes tuition, pre-conference materials, lodging and meals. The March conference takes place in Harvard, Massachusetts, a peaceful, rural town, in a renovated century-old New England barn and farmhouse. For an application and complete guidelines, please visit www.concordpoetry.org/Colrain/. You may also call 978-897-0054, email cpc@concordpoetry.org, or write to Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference, Concord Poetry Center, 40 Stow Street, Concord, MA 01742-2418.

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Writing It Real Sheila Bender's Writing It Real and LifeJournal for Writers
Author of eight writing books for Writer's Digest Books and other presses, poet and essayist Sheila Bender puts her knowledge and classroom-tested writing exercises, discussion, and revision techniques to work for Writing It Real subscribers. If you write from personal experience or teach others to do so, visit www.writingitreal.com to learn about Sheila’s online writing classes and writer’s tools including LifeJournal for Writers, a software tool for building an effective writer's journal on your computer. Read five sample articles, and browse previews of recent articles to experience the flavor of Writing It Real Magazine’s weekly articles. Subscribe now and receive access to four years of archives as well as a year of new weekly articles. You’ll jumpstart your writing, observe Sheila guide authors from early drafts to fully realized essays and poems, and hear from well-published authors who write from their personal experience to create successful stories, poems, novels and memoirs.

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California Institute of Arts and Letters
Closing Next Month
The Robert G. Cohn Prose Poetry Award
Postmark Deadline: January 15, 2007
The California Institute of Arts and Letters is pleased to announce the Robert Greer Cohn Prose Poetry Award in honor of Professor Cohn's lifetime of work dedicated to literature and poetry. Professor Cohn worked primarily in the field of French Literature, writing over 16 books, numerous articles, and essays focusing on the life and work of Mallarmé, a major book on Rimbaud and several books of cultural criticism. While a student at Yale University, just after World War II, Professor Cohn founded the highly regarded literary journal Yale French Studies. Read sample poems by Professor Cohn: "The Slender Girl" and "Request to Simon".

A prize of $300 will be awarded. The editors will also work with the winning poet to select up to ten additional unpublished poems from their body of work for publication in a limited edition chapbook. The reading fee is $10, payable by check to California Institute of Arts and Letters.

Please submit two copies of one unpublished prose poem on separate pages. One page must have your contact information and one page the poem only. Appropriate length of poems: 500 words or less, or one single-spaced page approximately 50 lines or less. See the complete guidelines at www.calartsandletters.org, then mail your submissions to:

California Institute of Arts and Letters
Cohn Prose Poetry Award
P. O. Box 470746
San Francisco, CA 94147

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Sky Saje Enterprises
Announcing the 3rd Annual Skysaje Enterprises Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: April 30, 2007
Haiku to homilies, form to free verse, slam to sonnets. All styles eligible! We also accept previously published work and multiple entries! Songs are welcome. Minimum $100 prize, additional prizes and/or publication depending on the number of entries received. Include a $5 reading fee with each entry. An entry is a set of 1-5 poems. Please put each poem on a separate page. Poems should be a maximum of 50 lines each. Early entries encouraged. Make checks payable to L. Berger and mail your entries to: Skysaje Enterprises, 50 Amesbury Road, Rochester, NY 14623-5314.

Someone will win! Why not you? For additional information, please visit the Skysaje website.
The meek shall inherit the earth but not the mineral rights
by Lawrence R. Berger, editor of Skysaje

In the bible we're taught that the meek shall inherit the earth that human beings were created in the image of god and given dominion over the rest of creation.

We're also taught that shortly thereafter along comes old Mr. Satan and he steals it all away.

Now this has prompted a lot of my friends into thinking that maybe that first lesson ought be changed to read something along the lines of the meek shall inherit the earth but only what's left after those who hustle

I got to say that that would be fine with me

I'll gladly let the hustlers keep all the cancer the ulcers, the stress and the greed and I'd gladly take the pleasure of watching a sun rise right on off their hands

Let them keep the Psychiatrist couches and the operating tables! I'll gladly "Settle" for a life of peace and harmony! Let the hustlers keep the mineral rights I'll keep my sanity thank you!

Copyright 1996 by Lawrence R. Berger

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ALERT: BAD DEAL FOR AUTHORS AT AIRLEAF

Poets and other small press authors should be on the lookout for marketing schemes that charge high fees for book publicity services of dubious value. Winning Writers newsletter editor Jendi Reiter, author of the poetry collection A Talent for Sadness (Turning Point Books, 2003), recently received a mass-mailed sales pitch from Airleaf Publishing & Book Selling. Headed "A National Campaign for A Talent for Sadness!", the letter purported to be a "special invitation" to participate in a national publicity campaign, including television commercials, full-color glossy newspaper inserts, interviews on local radio shows, and telemarketing calls encouraging bookstores to stock her book. All for the rock-bottom price of...$6,996.

While overpriced publicity services are nothing new, we felt this personalized letter crossed an ethical line by creating a false appearance of selectivity. "We recently discovered A Talent for Sadness and we believe it has the potential to be a national bestseller. Your book comes highly recommended and is precisely the kind of book we have had the most success selling." Well, gee. We'd like to think so, but poetry books that aren't written by pop stars or ex-presidents rarely achieve that level of commercial success. The total mismatch between these extravagant promises and the type of book being promoted makes us very suspicious of Airleaf's claim that "we have invited a very select group of authors and are accepting just the first 25." More likely they generated a letter like this for everyone on their mailing list who had a book out, similar to Poetry.com's "semifinalist" letters.

Even leaving aside the dishonesty, we feel services like these are generally not a good investment. It's better to do your own targeted research on the bookstores, local radio and TV stations, and performance spaces that would be most appropriate for promoting your book, instead of wasting money on a mass-mailing to markets that aren't appropriate for you. For far less money than Airleaf is charging, you can hire an assistant to help you schedule readings and network with booksellers, if you don't have time to do everything yourself. Pick up a copy of Carolyn Howard-Johnson's The Frugal Book Promoter for some creative ideas.


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Advertise to 16,000 Poets and Writers
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Peter Buttross, Natchez Poetry Contest

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"The ads we have run in the Winning Writers newsletter have garnered more response and inquiry than any other ads we have run in 20 years of publication."
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PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

Helping Incarcerated Mothers in Nepal

Reprinted from ProLiteracy's Literacy Advocate, Fall 2006 (PDF)

Within the damp, windowless walls of Kathmandu prison, women jammed into cells breathe air reeking of unwashed bodies and waste, shrink from guards who scar their bodies inside and out, and share their daily handfuls of uncooked rice with their children.

Nepal has no foster care system, so single mothers convicted of crimes who have no other care available are forced to bring their children to prison with them.

"In the criminal justice system, single women and mothers are particularly vulnerable because their families won't help them. When a child goes to jail with the mother, the child is subject to abuse and very dangerous physical and sexual situations," says Lynn Curtis, ProLiteracy's vice president of international programs.

In a country willing to subject its children to prison and where women are second class citizens, one woman took it upon herself to help the children no one else would help. Indira Rana Magar established Prisoner Assistance Nepal (PAN). This ProLiteracy partner provides nutritious meals, clean clothes, schooling, and a safe, warm home to 55 children who would otherwise live in Kathmandu prison.

"All of the children go to school. They would not be able to do that without PAN's help," Curtis says.

PAN extends its education efforts to the mothers and other imprisoned women, teaching them to read and write so that they will be able to support themselves and their children when they are released. They are using ProLiteracy's manual How to Start and Grow Your Own Business to combine literacy lessons with classes in business skills—recordkeeping, buying and selling goods, and legal rights. PAN also provides food and health care for a number of children and their mothers who still live in jail.

ProLiteracy Worldwide

ProLiteracy sponsors educational programs that help adults and their families acquire the literacy practices and skills they need to read their way to a better life. Join us in advancing ProLiteracy's vital mission. Click here to learn more. Click here to contribute.

Send this page to a friend and we'll donate 15 cents to ProLiteracy for each friend you refer.


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Sheila Bender
Guest Essay: Take Some Time for Playful Journaling

by Sheila Bender of WritingItReal

Three Easy Exercises that Work

As a writer, I use my journal to both play with strategies I pick up from other writers' work and test strategies I invent. In combination with observing the "show don't tell rule" (use imagery and detail that appeal to the senses rather than intangibles that tell the reader how to feel—i.e. "the light bounced off the water in diamonds" not "the bay was a dazzling sight"), playing around with the strategies helps me create new writing more easily.

Using Sound Imagery

One of my favorite exercises is to play with sound in my writing. We are a very visual culture, and it is easy to neglect sound imagery in writing since visual imagery comes more naturally to most of us.

To force myself to get sound imagery into my writing, I think of a noisy place—like the street I used to live on in Los Angeles on garbage collection day—and then set about describing it in a journal entry with words that describe the sounds. Here's an example:
On garbage collection days, the disposal company my husband calls Loud and Early slams and smashes its way into our sleep. We hear the sounds of garbage cans colliding with the thick rusty truck, then scraping and clattering across the asphalt and cement of street and curb. When we hear the garbage truck grind the dregs of our existence to a pulp, we slide our feet to the floor. A police helicopter hurls its hello from overhead, shaking the walls and shattering any memory of our dreams.
The work pays off when I find myself immersed in my experience from new angles. In this case, all the noise of life in LA floods in and once I write about sliding out of bed and being on my feet under the noise of the helicopter, I am ready to write about other LA sounds: the cracking sound a building makes during an earthquake, the sounds of a neighbor's TV and another neighbor's guitar practice coming out open windows not more than 10 feet from mine, the sound of shopping carts down the concrete sidewalks, pushed by the homeless, and the sound of a pack of parrots that live in the trees.

The more sounds I think of, the more I can recreate my time living in LA and the more I can do that, the more I am able to compare it to where I am living now—through sounds, of course: the raucous upset of cawing ravens when an eagle alights, the whoosh of the bay at high tide, the honk of geese and ducks and call of gulls, the way the sound of nesting pheasants reminds me of the "boom, boom" at the opening and between segments of a "Law and Order" episode.

An essay topic is beginning to present itself—I want to discuss the law and order of my personal life in both places and the forces that add chaos. How will I start? Maybe by writing about that pheasant—I am pulling weeds in my garden as I hear him, and because of the TV show, the sound makes me think about judges' gavels. I begin to consider the personal "laws" (such as "feelings come first"—e.e. cummings) I hold to in my life and the ways in which I am accountable to them wherever I live.

Evoking Your Smell Memory

Smell is another underused sense in written work. I am fond of playing with similes to evoke smells. Smells lead to memories I can put on the page with vivid detail. To start, I think of something I smell in my daily life and compare it to something else I remember smelling:
The smell of clothes fresh from the dryer is like the smell of bread baking at my friend's house.

The smell of the charcoal grill after the fire has died down is like my girlfriend's clothes after the fire in her apartment.

The smell of jasmine flowers as I walk by is like the smell of my grandmother's dress as I clung to the folds.
What I like about writing these similes is that I never know what leap of association I'll make and what story I might launch myself into. The memory of my grade school friend's apartment building burning down is vivid to me as it comes back through my sense of smell, and I might set to writing about memories of standing outside with my friend and her mother, of watching red flames coming out of all the windows, of feeling the heat that the flames produced, and of being overwhelmed by the actions of the fire fighters dragging heavy hoses and climbing onto the roof. I could write about the smoke damage to my friend's apartment, how for weeks she came to school in clothes that smelled of smoke.

This memory of a tragedy leads to memories of others that are vivid from childhood—ones I can get to through smell: the smell of an uneaten tuna fish sandwich I brought for lunch in fourth grade is forever mingled with the tragedy of a boy from my class collapsing and dying on the playground. The smell of onions frying remains is entwined with the memory of the day my father came home with blood on his hands from stopping to help a motorcyclist he found dying on the side of the road. The smell of lunch cooking on a grill at Girl Scout day camp, located in a park near the town's model of a one-family bomb shelter, is combined with fear of nuclear war.

My sense of smell enables me to gather material together that will help me reconstruct the dichotomy between the safe and cozy home I was growing up in and my realization that disaster intrudes as it wishes.

Borrowing Sentence Logic

Just as forcing ourselves to write from our senses of hearing and smell can produce topics and skillfully drawn description, relying on certain sentence structures can help us be clever and entertaining.

I am fond of copying fiction writer Ron Carlson's sentence logic when I want to add wit to my writing.

He shared his style of journaling years ago as a contributor to my book The Writer's Journal: 40 Contemporary Writers and Their Journals, and I've been playing with his ideas ever since. He writes clever sentences and keeps them around for "thickening the brew" when he fleshes out stories. Here's one of his sentences:
They discovered that the elevator in their dilapidated building acted as a bellows for the air conditioning, so they sent the child out an hour every afternoon to ride up and down.
When I used Ron Carlson's sentence logic of cause and effect as a pattern, I wrote this:
Because I discovered that my cats' scratching altered the upholstery on my couches, I let them do a patch every day and then I came with darning needles and embroidery paraphernalia and wove a beautiful array of colors into the tatters. Now people all over the world order my cat-scratched upholstery.
I had invented the beginning of a story about the way the business changed the "I's" life. I was interested in writing a short story about this "I" and I also know I can keep on using this sentence logic exercise to write about more discoveries until I evoke another interesting character who just loves to put the world together in his or her own way.

________

The beauty of playing with these exercise ideas is that you can use them when you want to write but don't know what you want to write about as well as when you have a topic but don't know how to start. Using the strategies, you'll bring more willingness to play with words when you write, even when you are writing about sad and difficult times. Willingness to come to your material in new ways stirs the pot so you maintain interest in what is brewing as you put words on the page.


Copyright 2006 by Sheila Bender

About Sheila Bender
Sheila Bender is a poet, book author, master writing teacher and publisher of Writing It Real Magazine. Her latest book of eight on writing is Writing and Publishing Personal Essays from Silver Threads Publishing. She teaches online through Writing It Real and for Absolute Write and Writers.com. Sheila also directs a yearly writers’ conference each June in Port Townsend, WA.

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COMING IN OUR DECEMBER 15 NEWSLETTER
2007 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest Opens
Best Free Poetry Contests for December 16-January 31