Winning Writers Newsletter

May 2005

Welcome to our May newsletter.

Congratulations to the Winners of the Tom Howard Short Story Contest #13
Jennifer Antonacci, Ned Condini and Kay Beth Faris-Avery took the top three awards in this year's contest, whose deadline was March 31. See the complete list of winners and commended authors. Over 1,200 entries were received - a record! Thanks to everyone who participated. The next contest will open at on August 15.

Last Call
2005 War Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: May 31
We seek original, unpublished poems on the theme of war. Submit 1-3 poems, up to 500 lines in total. $3,000 in prizes will be awarded, including a top prize of $1,500. The entry fee is $12. This fee includes free online access to the Poetry Contest Insider database for three months, a $5.95 value. Submit online or by mail. For complete guidelines please see:

Closing next month...
Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse
Postmark Deadline: June 30
The Margaret Reid Poetry Contest seeks poems in traditional verse forms, such as sonnets and haiku. $2,000 in prizes will be awarded, including a top prize of $1,000. The winning entries will be published. The entry fee is $5 for every 25 lines. Submit online or by mail. You may submit poems that have been published or won prizes elsewhere, as long as you own the anthology and online publication rights. Unpublished work is also welcome. Winning Writers is assisting with entry handling for this contest. Guidelines:

All best,

Adam Cohen & Jendi Reiter
One of the 101 Best Web Sites for Writers

(Writer's Digest, 2005)

The Best Free Poetry Contests

Deadlines: May 16 - June 30

5/31: The Bordighera Poetry Prize ++
Seeks the best manuscripts of poetry in English by an American poet of Italian descent and surname or middle maiden surname. The winning poet will receive $1,000 and their work will be translated into modern Italian.

5/31: Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation +++
Prize of 1,500 British Pounds is awarded to a collection of poetry translated from a European language into English. The collection must have been published between March 2003 and March 2005.

6/1: American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prizes ++
Prizes for outstanding English translations of poetry, fiction, drama or literary prose originally written after 1800 in Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian or Swedish.

6/1: Chicano/Latino Literary Prize ++
This year's genre is poetry. Submit a manuscript in English or Spanish (or a mixture of the two). Entrants must be US citizens or permanent residents.

6/1: The Claudia Ann Seaman Poetry Award for Young Writers ++
Entries must be received by this date
All US high school students are eligible. Submit 1-2 poems, up to 10 pages in all. Entries accepted by mail and email. Winner receives $500 and publication in Hanging Loose.

6/15: Towson University Prize for Literature ++
Honors books of fiction, poetry, drama or imaginative fiction published within the 3 years prior to the year of nomination or scheduled for publication this year. Author must have resided in Maryland for at least 3 years at the time of nomination and must be a Maryland resident when the prize is awarded. Any individual, institution, group or publisher may nominate one or more works for the prize.

6/24: Utah Arts Council Original Writing Competition ++
Honors individual poems by residents of Utah. Other competition categories this year include Novel, Biography/Autobiography, Collection of Stories, Young Adult Book, Short Story and Personal Essay.

6/30: John Glassco Translation Prize +
Award is for a translator's first book-length translation into French or English, published in Canada during the previous calendar year; work may be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or children's literature. The translator must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.

6/30: Ken Saro-Wiwa Anthology +
Flipped Eye Publishing is compiling an anthology of poems to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Ken Saro-Wiwa's execution. From 1990, Saro-Wiwa led a movement in Ogoni for social and ecological justice. He used his writing and his boundless energy to unite the Ogoni behind a call for greater autonomy within the Nigerian Federation, access to oil revenues for the development of Ogoni, the right to protect Ogoni from ecological devastation and the right to preserve the Ogoni language.

Themes of poems for the anthology are:

Ken Saro-Wiwa: The Legacy
Freedom of expression; resistance (literary and otherwise); imprisonment; non-violence; political oppression; leadership.

Social and Ecological Justice
Minority rights; exile/displacement/refugees; war, peace, poverty, justice; equity; the death penalty; pollution; climate change; the right to appropriate/sustainable development; power (and the abuse thereof); capitalism and corporations.

Previously published poems must be accompanied by permission to reprint. Poems should not exceed 80 lines (two pages) including stanza breaks. Submit 1-3 poems in the body of an email (no attachments) to Submissions should include your name, address, email and phone number and a maximum 25-word bio. 100 poems will be published in the anthology. There is no payment for submissions. Royalties to go to The Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation.

6/30: New England Poetry Club Contests +
These contests are free for members of the New England Poetry Club. Nonmembers may enter most categories for a fee. Some prizes are for students in New England, one is for translations, and the others seek poems in various themes and styles.

See our complete list of free poetry contests by deadline date

Key to Ratings
Highly Recommended: +++
Recommended: ++
Neutral: +

All deadlines are postmark deadlines unless otherwise specified.

There are seven active free contests with rolling deadlines. These typically accept entries at any time of year. See them now at:

Follow Up on VoicesNet
Some of you may recall our comments about VoicesNet last fall. VoicesNet conducts regular poetry contests and publishes anthologies. While we felt VoicesNet wasn't a deceptive vanity contest, and employed some selectivity in its honors, we felt most poets would be better served by entering better contests such as those profiled in our guide, The Best Free Poetry Contests.
VoicesNet wrote to us to object, so we asked them for a sample anthology to evaluate. This arrived last month and we read through it. We stand by our initial assessment. The poems in the anthology are uneven in quality, and we feel that little prestige would attach to someone who appears in it.

A Plug for the Mozilla Firefox Browser
Firefox is a free alternative to Internet Explorer. We've been impressed by its speed and stability. It's good about displaying text at a readable size when you arrive at a web page, and makes it easy to change the text size to your taste. Many free extensions are available, including a Google Toolbar, local weather updates and software that blocks distracting ads from displaying. Download Firefox at

Sponsors' Messages

Perigee Calls for Submissions!
Online Submission Deadline: May 31
Attention poets and writers, Perigee is calling for your groundbreaking fiction and poetry. We want work that shatters genre, and connects on an authentic emotional level. Good storytelling and an engaging voice are a must. Don't wait to submit your best work; if your writing makes our June issue it will be presented alongside the winners of our 2005 Fiction Contest. Perigee continues to redefine what is expected from an online journal. We're looking for fearless writing - both effective and revolutionary. Submit online or by mail. UNTIL MAY 31: Check the "I came from Winning Writers" box when submitting and get your work fast-tracked!

Dancing Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: June 1
Last chance. Enter your poetry now. Three Grand Prizes of $100.00 each plus performance of the poems at the Dancing Poetry Festival, October 2005 in San Francisco. Cash awards will also be made to the first, second and third place winners. For complete information, please go to:

4th Annual Kore Press First Book Award in Poetry
Postmark Deadline: June 2
Book publication plus a $1,000 prize will be given to a woman poet writing in English. This competition is open to any female writer who has not published a full-length collection of poetry. Writers who have had chapbooks of less than 42 pages printed in editions of no more than 400 copies are eligible. Judge to be announced. Past judges have included Eavan Boland, Jane Miller and Carolyn Forché. For details and submission instructions see

$1,000 and Book Publication: Autumn House Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: June 30
All finalists considered for publication. Final judge Jean Valentine. 50-80 pages of poetry. Enclose $25 reading fee. Autumn House Press, P.O. Box 60100, Pittsburgh, PA 15211. See website for complete guidelines:

The Virginia Brendemuehl Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: July 30
Winner receives $1,000 plus publication. Send 1-3 unpublished poems, a self-addressed stamped envelope and a $10.00 entry fee to The Virginia Brendemuehl Prize, Rock & Sling, P.O. Box 30865, Spokane, WA 99223. Finalists will also be published. Deadline extended to July 30. Winner will be notified by September 1. No simultaneous submissions, please. Rock & Sling seeks poems that nudge up against Christianity. Visit our website for guidelines, excerpts, editor bios and more:

The Litchfield Review Summer Contest
Postmark Deadline: July 31
The Litchfield Review ( ) seeks original, unpublished poems, essays and short stories for its Summer Contest. The overall winner will receive $250. Other prizes of $100 may also be awarded. The reading fee is $10 per essay, short story, or set of 1-3 poems. All prizewinners will be published in The Litchfield Review. Runners-up may also be published. All writers we publish will receive a free copy of the issue in which they appear. We are a new journal offering a forum to emerging and established writers; our only criterion for acceptance is excellence. We look for good stories beautifully told, quality poetry of substance, and creative nonfiction that lingers long in the minds of readers. See the complete contest guidelines:

The Premier Print Edition of Ascent Contest
Postmark Deadline: July 31
Poetry is sought for the debut print issue of Ascent Aspirations. Prizes of C$100, C$75, C$50 and C$25 will be awarded, along with five Honourable Mentions of C$10 each. All prizewinners and HMs will receive two free copies of the issue in which they appear. All additional poets in the collection will receive one free copy of the issue. See details for contest submissions:
Ascent Aspirations Magazine has been published online since 1997. Learn more:

Steel Toe Books Open Reading Period
Postmark Deadline: July 31
Instead of running a contest this year, Steel Toe Books is going to have an open reading period during the months of June and July. Send a full-length poetry manuscript (48-72 pages). There will be no celebrity judge and no prize money, but we do plan to offer one author a royalties contract. There's no reading fee, but we ask everyone who submits to purchase one of our existing titles directly from us ($10): 300 Whispering Hills Boulevard, Bowling Green, KY 42101. Check out our website.

Historical Short Fiction Prize
Entries must be received by August 30
The prize is designed to publish and encourage writers of Short Historical Fiction. First Prize £2,000, nine runners-up prizes of £250, with the best ten stories published in a Short Histories Anthology in 2006. Judging are Barbara Erskine, Michel Faber and Rose Doyle. Entry fee is £20 per story. Writers may enter and pay online at or mail to Short Histories, P.O. Box 63, Exeter EX6 8WX, England. There is a critique service available for £37 per story. Full details on the website or phone 00 353 27 55645. Administered by Fish Publishing for the Historical Novel Society.

Seeking Life-Related Lucid Poetry
The Lucidity Journal of Verse celebrates its 20th year of publication. We give modest pay for poetry published in both cash and copies. For details, contact editor Ted O. Badger, 14781 Memorial Drive, No. 10, Houston TX 77079-5210, email or call 281-920-1795.

"A bad day in chess is better than any good day at work."
When great players gather over chessboards, great venues frequently provide the backdrop and, happily, there are few bad days, at least for those providing coverage. A longtime reporter recalls three such sites: Lone Pine, California; Tilburg, Holland; and Brussels; with brief sketches of personalities (Kasparov, Karpov, Korchnoi among them) linked to location. Included are anecdotes, photos of grandmasters and locales. Plus poems and a short story stemming directly or indirectly from chess coverage. Visit

A+ Editing & Writing Associates
Editing and writing network serving writers, publishers (mainstream, genre, trade, academic, poetry), literary agents, researchers and businesses. Specialties include fiction, nonfiction, medical, scientific, technical, educational textbooks, business documents, grants, theses and dissertations. Services include copyediting, substantive editing, proofreading, critiques, query letters, proposals, mentoring/writing assistance and ghostwriting. Highest editorial and ethical standards. Only 2% of the applicants screened and tested are good enough to meet our criteria. Literary attorney available to review your contracts with agents and publishers. Read our articles before you shop the Internet for an editor, agent or publisher.

Poetry Contest Insider
Make the Most of Your Contest Efforts
  • Expert online guide
  • Profiles over 650 poetry contests
  • Helps you decide which contests to enter
  • Updated nearly every day
  • $5.95 with 10-day free trial
Our customers say,

"I have often used Winning Writers as a source of information on writing competitions and publication possibilities. This is far and away the best site of its kind, anywhere on the Internet. As a result of submitting to some of the contests they have recommended, I've won various awards for my poetry and these, in turn, have led to other types of recognition. As well, the competitions directly associated with Winning Writers are of very high quality. The site administrator is always readily accessible by email and responds in a friendly and helpful manner. The newsletter is also very informative. I have recommended this site to many of my peers and as a senior high school teacher, have included it for reference in a list of writing resources for students. It is WELL worth numerous visits!"
Brenda Tate, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Read more testimonials from our subscribers

Free trial. Try Poetry Contest Insider free for 10 days. Access all our 650+ contest profiles. If you like it, you'll pay just $5.95 for three months of access. If not, cancel and owe nothing.

Vanity Contests: A Call to Action

A crucial element of the vanity contest phenomenon is their large advertising presence. Type in "poetry contest" into any major search engine and you're likely to see many prominent ads for vanity contests, typically offering prizes of $10,000 or more. Enter one of these contests and you'll generally receive fawning praise for your work, the strong implication that you've received a rare honor, and an invitation to buy a $40-$50 anthology and maybe attend a $595 convention.

Many of you have asked us how to push back against the deception and exploitation that vanity contests represent. One way is to enlighten the search engines about the true nature of their clients. One of the largest search engines is Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture). Yahoo's Terms and Conditions prohibit advertising that is "false, deceptive or misleading." We suggest you contact Yahoo! and let them know you object to deceptive vanity contest marketing. Click the Ad Feedback link in the bottom right corner of Yahoo's Report Abuse page. Here is a suggested message. We encourage you to infuse it with your own words.

Dear Yahoo! Search Marketing,

For keywords like "poetry contest", you are currently running many ads for companies like,, and I would like you to investigate these companies and consider banning their ads.

These companies make their money by deluding poets that they have placed well in contests through a selective process. In reality, they praise most entries they receive, then attempt to sell the poets anthologies, conferences and products. I believe these companies violate your Terms and Conditions, which prohibit advertising that is "false, deceptive or misleading." For more information about these sham contests, please see


[Your Name]
[Your Email Address]

Google is another large player in the search advertising market. Send a message to the Google AdWords Advertising team through this Contact Us page (the Adwords link is in the "Specific inquiries" section). We suggest a slightly different message for Google:

Dear Google,

For keywords like "poetry contest", you are currently running many ads for companies like,, and I would like you to investigate these companies and consider banning their ads.

These companies make their money by deluding poets that they have placed well in contests through a selective process. In reality, they praise most entries they receive, then attempt to sell the poets anthologies, conferences and products. Your company motto is "Don't Be Evil". I hope you will prove it by disassociating yourself from these sham contests. For more information, please see


[Your Name]
[Your Email Address]

New Resources

Book Promotion Ezine
Biweekly ezine for authors in all genres. Subscribers contribute articles on marketing, publicity, self-publishing and more. Most useful for writers of commercial fiction and nonfiction. Subscription is $5/year, includes 20% discount on Book Marketing from A-Z, a 400-page compilation of the best marketing strategies of 325 subscribers to this newsletter (retails for $18.95).

LiveJournal: Shakespeare's Sonnets as Haiku
Hilarious "executive summaries" of the Bard's first 20 sonnets, which show that he was obsessed with procreation.

Here Comes Everybody: Writers on Writing
Quirky interviews with contemporary poets are featured on this weblog. Read Ron Silliman on baseball statistics, Annie Finch explaining poetry to a seven-year-old, and more.

Slam Idol Podcast
Download free MP3 audio files of slam poets performing their work. Currently the site is running a series of "American Idol"-style competitions in which you can vote for your favorite slam poem.

Slate Article: 'Poems of War'
Six leading writers and editors - Robert Pinsky, Alice Quinn, Judith Shulevitz, Dan Chiasson, Anthony Swofford, and Robert Fagles - discuss the poems that they turn to in times of war. Includes audio clips of them reading the poems.

Selected Prose Contests and Calls for Submissions

Write a Gripe Contest +
Entries must be received by November 30
$500 for the best "gripe" of 150 words or less. No gratuitous profanity, obscenity or malice. Entrants must be older than 17. Fee $15. See complete rules online. Sample work on website suggests that humorous gripes about life's little annoyances (e.g. Andy Rooney, Jerry Seinfeld) will fare better than political rants.

Indiana Review: Latino & Latina Writers Issue ++
Postmark Deadline: December 31
Latino and Latina writers are invited to submit to this special issue of Indiana Review, a prestigious literary journal. The editors seek poetry, fiction and nonfiction "that is well executed, original, and contains energy and immediacy. Content that addresses political, social, and cultural aspects of the Latino and Latina identity and community are welcome but not a prerequisite for consideration. Our intent with this issue is to showcase the vibrant and diverse voices of new and established Latino and Latina Writers." See website for guidelines.

More Sponsors' Messages

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: September 30
Open to poems in any style, theme or genre. $2,000 in prizes will be awarded, including a top prize of $1,000. The winning entries will be published. Early submission is encouraged. The entry fee is $5 for every 25 lines. Submit online or by mail. You may submit poems that have been published or won prizes elsewhere, as long as you own the anthology and online publication rights. Unpublished work is also welcome. Winning Writers is assisting with entry handling for this contest. Guidelines:

Publish Your Book From Your Computer for as Little as $1.00 Each will take your manuscript over the Internet from any Microsoft Windows-based program. Publish a book in trade quality from 25 to 5,000 copies in about 7-10 working days. Ideal when you want to publish books to give as gifts, sell at events and readings, or sell from your website. Specify the kind of book you want to print and get an instant price quote. Customers say, "the published book is exactly what I had envisioned. And the cost was so reasonable, I'd recommend to anyone." "I experimented with several different short-run and POD printers during my 90-day adventure from self-published to major book deal, and I have to say that the quality of your books was BY FAR the best. When sending press kits to the media, and anyone we wanted to impress, we'd always send your books, which we affectionately referred to as 'The GOOD books.' "

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WriteSuccess Newsletter
Sign up now for WriteSuccess's free biweekly newsletter for freelance writers. Editor Mary Anne Hahn has a knack for finding the most interesting literary sites and markets. It's easy to feel lonely as a freelancer. Mary Anne's inspiring attitude and success notes from readers create a sense of community.

Graduation Day Is Here, Father's Day Is Coming
Put Your Poems and Pictures on Apparel, Cards, Gifts and More makes it easy to put your words and images on shirts, greeting cards, postcards, mugs, magnets and posters. Order them for yourself or for gifts, or sell them online at a profit. CafePress makes each item to order, so you don't have to commit to a large batch all at once. It's quick and easy to set up your store, and there's no set-up charge. We've been getting a kick out of our Judge Jendi mugs. Now through May 18, save $5 off your purchase of $50 or more. Use the coupon code MAY5. Get started here:

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Save on all your writing supplies at Office Depot. Free delivery in select areas when you order $50 or more. This coupon expires on May 21.
Save $30 off Purchases of $150 or More!

Public Service Announcement


These messages protect and inform you - because you can read. Millions are not so fortunate. Your help is urgently needed. ProLiteracy Worldwide, the world's oldest and largest nongovernmental literacy organization, has effective techniques that teach adults and families to read and write. But it needs volunteers to teach them, and contributions to get textbooks into students' hands. Take action today, go to

Advertise to 14,000 Poets and Writers
Promote your contests, websites, events and publications in this newsletter. Reach over 14,000 poets and writers for $35. Ads may contain up to 100 words and a headline. Place your reservation at:

"I want to thank all of you at Winning Writers again for providing such a wonderfully beneficial service for poets and writers.... The staff at Perigee is impressed with how many of our readers and contributors learned about our online publication through Winning Writers."
Ben Arnold, Co-Editor, Perigee

Jendi's Critique Corner

This month, Critique Corner is pleased to present "South of Presidio" by Ron Wertheim.

If you would like a chance to be critiqued, please email your poem to me at Send the poem in the body of your email message (no attachments) and put "poetry critique" in the subject line. One submission per poet per month. Thanks!

South of Presidio
by Ron Wertheim

From Presidio south, the land is like burnt bread.
The Chichimec's scavenged here, naked, mud-caked, moon-crazed;
Voluptuaries of the blood, ancestors of the Aztecs.

If you see a stovepipe cactus, it's a crucifix, nails and all.
By some law of rot, all weather has stopped;
It's hot, but, it's not - it's dead temperature.

It's got no color - that's what is not - no color at all.
Space, sky, nauseates the eye. The hue of elephant.
You're inside a boundless canvas tent, riding on canvas cement.

And if you break down, thousands of miles from the next town,
And suns and moons fade in and out beyond your count,
You won't die - never! Won't age. Here you remain the same - forever.

Firing across
The abyss
The synapses
The neural messenger
Crackling silently
Through the branches
Of the nerve tree
And speaks to the receptor

From where does the message come?
What is the messages origin?
What could the message be?
Spoken to the deep ear soundlessly?

And what if
The messenger slows
Stumbles and trips
Into the abyss
And the message doesn't arrive?
Could we survive - south of Presidio?

As I drive, the only thing I can think to do is whistle:
A fountain of melody
Sparkling and crystalline
Flying like glistening water
In arches of baroquean
Yet fresh with the freedom
Of a jazz improvisation-
Charley, Antonio, Diz, Johann Sebastian...

Music is
The message
Of what
The message

South of Presidio
I pull the pick-up over,
Cut the motor,
Get down,
And all around is
A wall-less

Copyright 2005 by Ron Wertheim

Critique by Jendi Reiter

This month's critique poem, "South of Presidio," impressed me with its gripping depiction of the harsh yet sublime landscape of the desert Southwest. (Based on the references to the Aztecs and Chichimecs, I'm guessing that the author is referring to Presidio, Texas, a small town near the Mexican border.) Though the poem loses focus after the first four stanzas, the strong opening convinced me that the author has the talent to make this piece even better.

Poems that try to capture the spirit of a place are most effective when they make the place the central character. The author must find a delicate balance between too much and too little personal involvement in the story. Too much, and the poem becomes about the speaker's feelings about the place, not the place itself; the narrator acts as a barrier to the reader's direct experience of the location. Too little, and the poem falls apart into a collection of impersonal snapshots that exert no emotional pull on the reader.

The 20th-century poet Richard Hugo was a master of the poetry of place. He excelled at choosing the right details to reveal the souls of forgotten towns. Writers interested in exploring this genre shouldn't miss this brief essay (pdf) about landscape and inspiration in the work of Hugo, Philip Levine and other major poets....

critique continues

This poem, our critique and contest suggestions for poems in this style appear in full at:

Coming in the June 15 Winning Writers Newsletter
Best Free Poetry Contests for June 16-July 31

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