Best Resources for Poets and WritersWinning Writers

The Best Free Poetry Contests, Dec-Jan

Notable Free Prose Contests, Dec-Jan

New Literary Resources

New Recommended Books

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest Now Open

Critique of Joan Blake's "The Third Millennium"


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December 2005

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Welcome to our December newsletter. This is the companion to our online database, The Best Free Poetry Contests. It alerts you to upcoming contests and important contest changes.

As of today, all of the contests we administrate are open and ready for your entries. In deadline order, these are:

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 31; $3,000 in prizes

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest
Online Submission Deadline: April 1; $1,609 in prizes; no fee

War Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: May 31; $3,000 in prizes

Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse
Postmark Deadline: June 30; $3,500 in prizes

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: September 30; $3,500 in prizes; opens today

To view more contests, we invite you to try Poetry Contest Insider. It's $6.95/quarter with a free 10-day trial. We profile over 750 poetry contests, plus over 100 prose contests.

Want to make the text on this page (or any other web page) larger or smaller? We recommend using the Firefox browser, available at no charge. Learn more about Firefox.

We appreciate all of you who have been nominating us for the 2006 Writer's Digest 101 Best Web Sites for Writers. We'd like to share with you this nomination from Norah Eastern, a recent subscriber to Poetry Contest Insider. If you'd like to add your own nomination, please send an email to Put "101 Sites" in the subject line. Thank you!

I would like to nominate Winning Writers for the 2006 list of best websites for writers.

I subscribed to their Poetry Contest Insider, because I got a terrific first impression from the "public" part of the site. It had a Free Poetry Contests listing, (i.e. contests with no entry fee) and a lot of helpful links and references. This is where I found out about Poet's Market (the book)—which is something I've been looking for.

When I got into the subscribers' part of the site, I was very impressed with how well it was organized. I can search the database "forwards and backwards and sideways". Not only is this the most complete list I've seen, but each listing contains well laid out facts and other details that help me decide whether to enter a contest or not.

(For example, they even researched who would own the copyright, should your book be published! Now I can avoid the ones where "the publisher" is the answer.) I can "copy / paste" parts into my own records (e.g. address), which saves time.

While I found other aspects of Poet's Market helpful, the Contests section is nowhere nearly as complete as Winning Writers' Poetry Contest Insider, which lists about 750 poetry contests, many of them with significant monetary prizes.

These people have done their homework, went beyond what I expected of them for such a small membership fee, and saved me and other writers a "gazillion" hours of work. This is a priceless resource.


Norah Eastern

Deadlines: December 16-January 31

Here is a summary of upcoming free poetry contests. To get the complete profile for any contest, including guidelines, weblinks and background details, please login to The Best Free Poetry Contests and click the Find Free Contests link.

12/20: Somerset Maugham Awards +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest for published books of poetry and prose offers stipend of up to 6,000 pounds for foreign travel. Entrants must be UK residents and British subjects by birth, and under age 35 as of December 31. The work submitted may be poetry, fiction, criticism, biography, history, philosophy, belles-lettres or a travel book. Dramatic works are not eligible. Entries in all genres compete for one prize.

12/21: Fresh Meadows Poets Teen Poetry Contest +
Neutral free contest for young poets aged 13-17 offers top prize of $200. Send 1-3 poems, each under 22 lines (a line is up to 50 characters including spaces). 2005 theme is "What I see".

12/23: Poetry Society of America Awards +++
These highly recommended contests on various themes, with prizes up to $1,000, are free to Poetry Society of America members. We highly recommend joining ($45 per year, $25 for students). For nonmembers, a $15 fee covers all contests for which you are eligible. One entry per person per contest.

12/31: Euphoria Annual Poetry Contest +
Neutral free contest offers $100 and online publication for the best set of 1-5 poems, 50 lines maximum per poem. Submit by email only.

12/31: The Griffin Prize For Excellence In Poetry +++
Highly recommended free contest offers two prizes of C$50,000 for poetry books published in the current calendar year. One prize will go to a living Canadian poet or translator, the other to a living poet or translator from any country (including Canada). See website for detailed eligibility rules. This is one of the most lucrative poetry contests around, as well as one of the most prestigious.

12/31: Harold Morton Landon Translation Award +++
Highly recommended contest from the Academy of American Poets offers $1,000 for the best book of poetry in translation published in the US during the current calendar year. Translator must be a living US citizen. Book should be submitted by publisher.

12/31: Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Award ++
Recommended free contest for US medical students offers $1,000 and possible publication in a leading medical journal for one poem, maximum 2 pages.

12/31: Ohioana Poetry Award: Helen & Laura Krout Memorial ++
Recommended contest offers $1,000 to an Ohio poet for a body of published work that has made, and continues to make, a significant contribution to poetry, and through whose work as a writer, teacher, administrator, or in community service, interest in poetry has been developed. Award is by nomination only. Nominees must have been born in Ohio or lived there for at least 5 years.

12/31: ORBIS Readers Award +
Rolling deadline contest offers 50 pounds per issue for the best poem published in each issue of Britain's ORBIS Quarterly Literary International Journal, as determined by reader vote. Online submissions accepted from non-UK entrants only. Email editor Carole Baldock for details.

12/31: Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Contest ++
Recommended free contest offers top prize of $500 and publication for an unpublished poem of 100 lines maximum that "expresses, directly or indirectly, a sense of the holy or that, by its mode of expression, evokes the sacred. The tone may be religious, prophetic, or contemplative." Send by mail, email or fax.

12/31: William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition +
Free neutral contest for students of medicine or osteopathy in the US and Canada offers prizes of $300, $200, $100 for a poem on any subject. Winners invited to read at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine (NEOUCOM) in April, possibly published in scholarly journal. Submit 1-3 poems, maximum 750 words each.

1/3: Maisonneuve Literary Contest +
Neutral free contest from Canadian arts and culture magazine Maisonneuve offers C$100 and publication for entries on specific themes. Entries should be 8 to 800 words; maximum one prose piece or two poems per contest. Contest usually runs bimonthly, different theme each time. The January 2006 theme is: Sunshine on Your Shoulders. "It's time to defrost! Along with pollen and the smell of wet grass, that little thing called love is in the air. We want to celebrate spring, so we're calling for stories of young love—ironic, unrequited, dejected or entirely genuine. Go on then, bare your soul."

1/6: Oklahoma Book Awards +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest for published books with an Oklahoma theme, and/or by authors who live or have lived in Oklahoma. Books must have been published during the previous calendar year. Winners receive medal and publicity. Awards are given in the categories of poetry, fiction, children/young adult, nonfiction and design/illustration.

1/6: Western Australian Premier's Book Awards +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest for published books offers A$7,500 each for fiction, poetry, nonfiction, scripts, books for children and books for young adults. Open to authors who: 1) were born in Western Australia; or 2) are current residents of Western Australia; or 3) lived in Western Australia for at least 10 years; or 4) the work is primarily about Western Australia, regardless of the author's country of residence. Book must have been published in the previous calendar year.

1/7: California Book Awards ++
Recommended free contest for published books whose authors lived in California when the work was written. $2,000 and gold medal for poetry, fiction and nonfiction, plus several prizes of $300 and silver medal in various genres. Poetry winners have been established writers.

1/9: Texas Institute of Letters Awards ++
Recommended free contest offers prizes up to $6,000 for published books in various genres including poetry, fiction and translation. Entrants must have been born in Texas or resided in Texas for two consecutive years at some time, or the book's subject matter must substantially concern Texas.

1/10: Andres Montoya Poetry Prize ++
Recommended free contest offers $1,000 and publication by the University of Notre Dame Press for a first book of poetry by a Latino author. US citizens and permanent residents only. Send 2 copies of 50-100 page manuscript. Biennial contest, offered in even-numbered years only.

1/10: HPU High School Poetry Contest ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest seeks the best poems by high school seniors, maximum 20 lines. Two winners receive four-year 50% scholarships to Hawai'i Pacific University. Online entry preferred.

1/15: Asnuntuck Student Poetry Contest +
Free neutral contest offers top prize of $200, other cash prizes, for poems from full- and part-time students at Connecticut public universities, community colleges and selected high schools. Send 1-5 poems by mail or email.

1/15: Julia Ward Howe Book Awards +
One award for a book (fiction, nonfiction or poetry) addressed to children/young adults and one for a book addressed to adults. Author must live or have lived within 100 miles of Boston, Massachusetts. The children's book category only includes chapter books and young adult books, not picture books. Send 2 copies of book. The 2006 contest chair is Shirley Moscow, who can be reached at 781-862-7697.

1/15: Levis Reading Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers $1,000 for a first or second book of poetry published during the preceding calendar year. Winner also receives an expenses-paid trip to Richmond, VA for a reading in September.

1/15: Poetic Licence Contest for Canadian Youth ++
Recommended free contest for Canadian citizens or landed immigrants attending junior high or high school offers top prizes of C$200 in each of two age categories: Junior (grades 7-9) and Senior (grades 10-12). Send 1-2 unpublished poems, no more than 50 lines each. Enter by email only. Send as plain text file in the body of the message, not as attachment. Include poem titles, poet's name, address, phone, age, grade and school.

1/15: Summerfield G. Roberts Award +
Neutral free contest offers $2,500 for the literary manuscript or published book that "best portrays the spirit, character, strength, and deeds of those who lived in the Republic of Texas" (1836-46). Entries may be fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, plays, short stories, novels or biographies. Send 5 copies.

1/19: Poetry Society of Virginia (Student Categories) +
Neutral free contest offers prizes of $25, $15, $10 in each age category, plus small prizes for poems on specific themes. Age categories are Grades 1-2, Grades 3-4, Grades 5-6, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-10, Grades 11-12, and Undergraduate College. One poem per entrant. See website for line lengths and themes for each contest.

1/20: Arts & Letters Awards ++
Recommended free contest for residents of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Prizes are as follows: Senior division (age 19 and up): 12 awards of C$750 each (four poetry, four fiction, two nonfiction, and two scriptwriting winners); junior division (age 12-18): 10 awards of C$200 (5 for poetry, 5 for all other literary categories). Entries must have been written in the past 12 months. Only one submission per person per art form (literary arts, music or visual arts); i.e. literature entrants must choose between poetry, fiction, nonfiction and drama genres. No simultaneous submissions.

1/30: Anthony Abbott Poetry Competition +
Free neutral contest offers top prize of $150, other prizes, for the best poem of up to 40 lines by a full-time undergraduate at a North Carolina college. One poem per person. Winners will be invited to read at the Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) Spring Literary Festival in March. No haiku.

1/30: Nature Poetry Competition +
Neutral free contest offers top prize of $350 for 1-3 poems, maximum 30 lines each. Sponsored by the Friends of Acadia, a group founded to preserve Acadia National Park in Maine. This contest seeks to promote and recognize distinctive nature poetry. Biennial (even-numbered years only). No simultaneous submissions.

1/31: Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest for published books offers two awards of $10,000 each: one for a book of fiction or poetry, the other for a book of nonfiction. The nonfiction category covers both creative nonfiction and scholarly works (biography, history, etc.). This award honors books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism or our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. Books must have been published in the previous calendar year. Plays, screenplays, unpublished and self-published works are not eligible. Author or publisher should submit 5 copies plus entry form from website.

1/31: Ann Arlys Bowler Student Poetry Contest ++
Recommended free contest for students in grades 6-12 offers 6 prizes of $100 plus publication in Read Magazine. Send 1-3 poems (published or unpublished), one-page maximum per poem.

1/31: Archibald Lampman Award ++
Recommended free contest for published poetry books by residents of Canada's National Capital region (Ottawa) offers C$500. Send 3 copies of a book published during the preceding calendar year by a recognized publisher.

1/31: Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize ++
Recommended free contest sponsored by the Goethe-Institut Chicago honors an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the US during the preceding calendar year. Literary novels, short stories, plays, poetry, biographies and correspondences are eligible. Prize is $10,000 plus a 3-month stay at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin and travel expenses for an award ceremony in Chicago in June. Publishers should submit 6 copies of the book along with any relevant publicity materials.

1/31: Jackson/Phelan/Tanenbaum Literary Awards ++
Recommended free contest offers 3 awards of $2,000 for unpublished manuscripts (up to 50 pages) of poetry, fiction, nonfiction or drama. For Jackson award, must be residents of Nevada or northern California (north of the Monterey-San Luis Obispo county line) for 3 consecutive years prior to deadline; for Phelan award, must have been born in California; for Tanenbaum award, must be residents of northern California as defined above. Entrants must also be aged 20-35 as of the deadline date.

1/31: Lohmann Poetry Prize +
Neutral free contest offers 3 prizes of $150 for poems by current residents of Washington State. Submit one poem, maximum 2 double-spaced pages.

Login to The Best Free Poetry Contests now to view these and all our profiles of free contests. You can browse contests by deadline date, name, recommendation level and more.

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

All deadlines are postmark deadlines unless otherwise specified.



Noel Follies
Traditional Christmas-season letter to family and friends recapping one couple's highlights, among these visiting a city of seven hills, Rome, yet not Rome. Poem: Locked up in yuletide ambivalence and striving to break out. Poem: The abominable visitors. Will they darken the doorstep again this year? A Spammy encore—incident at the square corner in which the notorious tramp receives a windfall from a botched bank robbery. Stocking stuffers, including excerpts from Prof. Tolpotzkin's classic volumes of "Misunderstood Words". Grandma and Grandpa entertain another odd caller, mute, musty and wrapped for the ages. Poem: Old, reveling in it.

Hey poets! Searching for poetry markets and contests?
Then subscribe to one of Writer's Digest's 101 Best Web Sites for Writers 2005, The Poetry Market Ezine! It's free to subscribe. Published monthly. Each issue includes 4 featured poetry markets, several poetry contests and poetry news such as readings, chapbook publishings, etc. All email addresses are kept confidential. Also includes a review of a current book of poetry in each issue. To subscribe, email or visit

Sallie Bingham's New Novel Tells the Story of a Woman Who Risks Everything
At the opening of Cory's Feast, Cory calls herself "desperate, horny and gullible"—and she should know. A chaotic life defined by moves, divorces, and a child given away at birth has become, in middle age, the inspiration for a new start: she buys an old B&B in Taos, New Mexico and sets about recreating a life based on its former owner, Mabel Dodge Luhan. Luhan's Taos salon attracted artists and intellectuals such as Jung and D.H. Lawrence to Taos in the 1920s; Cory aspires to teach the skiers and tourists who visit her a new morality: the morality of "as if". The results are explosive as she involves herself in solving a murder, takes on a Pueblo Indian as a lover, and welcomes her sister Apple, who has come from a far different life. This novel continues the life of the two sisters who first made their appearance in Bingham's Matron of Honor, a novel called by Publishers' Weekly "her best yet."

Cory's Feast is available now from Sunstone Press. Read a sample chapter.

Last Call
Perigee 2005 Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: December 31
Submit your best poems for a chance to win your share of $700 worth of cash prizes. The winning entries will be published in our April anniversary issue and sent to Martha Stewart Living Radio where they will be considered for inclusion in the daily Sirius Satellite radio show, "The Naturalist's Journal". Pushcart Winner Steve Kowit is the Finalist Judge. Submit online or by mail. Reading fee: $7 for every three poems. Winners announced: February 15th, 2006. What are you waiting for? Gather up your best poems and head over to today.

Last Call
Petra Kenney Poetry Competition
Postmark Deadline: December 31 for US and Canadian entrants
Now in its 11th year. One of Britain's most prestigious contests. Prizes of 2,125 British pounds will be awarded, including a top prize of 1,000 pounds. There is also a prize of 250 pounds for comic verse, and prizes of 250 and 125 pounds for the best entries by poets aged 14-18. The top winner will be published in Writing Magazine. All winners will be invited to read at the awards ceremony in London in May. US poets may enter for US$5 per poem. Canadian poets may enter for Can$7 per poem. Each poem should be 80 lines or less. See guidelines and obtain an entry form at:
Questions? Please email

Closing Next Month
Grayson Books Poetry Chapbook Competition
Postmark Deadline: January 15, 2006
Winner receives $400 and 50 copies of chapbook. $12 entry fee. Brad Davis (see interview) will judge this competition. Contestants are invited to submit 16-24 pages of unpublished poetry. Please paginate your manuscript. Include a cover sheet with the title of your manuscript, your name, address, phone and email address (if you have one). Also include a title page with just the title of your manuscript (no identifying information). Secure your entry with a clip (no staples). Make your $12 reading fee payable to Grayson Books and mail your entry to Grayson Books Chapbook Competition, Dept W, P.O. Box 270549, West Hartford, CT 06127. You may enter as many times as you like. Include a $12 fee with each entry. You may submit the same work simultaneously to this contest and to others. Please notify Grayson Books if your work is accepted elsewhere. For complete information, please see (use Internet Explorer to view the site).

Closing Next Month
HeartLodge: Honoring the House of the Poet - First Annual Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: January 31, 2006
Prizes of $100, $50 and $25 will be awarded. Honorable Mentions will be recognized. Please submit three unpublished poems per entry. Each poem may contain up to 34 lines and line breaks, with up to 56 characters per line. Submit two copies of each poem. Your name, address, phone and email address should appear in the upper right corner of one copy. Leave all identification off the second copy. Include a cover sheet with your entry bearing your contact information and the titles of your poems, and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). Entry fee: $10 for each set of three poems, payable to HeartLodge. You may submit multiple sets of poems if you include an entry fee for each. The winners will be published in the 2006 issue of HeartLodge. All entries considered for publication. Please mail your entries to HeartLodge, P.O. Box 370627, Denver, CO 80237. Questions? Please email

Open Now
Utmost Christian Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: February 28, 2006
The Utmost Christian Poetry Contest seeks poems from Christian poets. Over US$3,000 in cash prizes will be awarded in our 6th annual contest, including a first prize of US$1,000. There are many special categories, including "Best Poem by an Unpublished Poet", which will be awarded US$200. Winning entries will be published at Entry fee is US$15 per poem (Can$15 for Canadians). Entries are now being accepted. This is the largest annual poetry prize in North America available exclusively to poets of Christian faith. Please see the complete rules and submit using our entry form:



These free prose contests with deadlines between December 16 and January 31 are included as a bonus in The Best Free Poetry Contests. View their profiles by logging into The Best Free Poetry Contests. After you login, please click the Find Free Contests link, then search by Prose Contest Type to find prose contests.

12/29: Association for Ingenious Writing Fantasy Writing Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral contest offers $1,000 and web publication for a fantasy story. Email your entry with your name and email address and the type of contest (fantasy writing) in the subject line. The Association for Ingenious Writing is an organization dedicated to helping the amateur writer learn about freelance writing.

12/29: Grant MacEwan Author's Award ++
Entries must be received by this date
Free recommended contest offers C$25,000 for the best book published during the current year by a living Alberta resident. Award honors the late Dr. Grant MacEwan, who wrote more than fifty books on subjects including nature, folklore, agriculture, politics, environment, literature, history and the people of Alberta. The prize will be given to the Alberta author whose book best reflects Alberta and/or Dr. MacEwan’s interests. Writers should send 4 copies of book, entry form, CV and cover letter.

12/29: Grant MacEwan Young Writer's Scholarship ++
Entries must be received by this date
Free recommended contest offers four awards of C$2,500 for short fiction and essays by young Alberta residents. The prize will be given to young writers whose entries best reflect Alberta and/or Dr. MacEwan’s interests. Writers should send 4 copies of story/essay, entry form, letter of reference and cover letter.

12/31: David Dornstein Memorial Creative Writing Contest ++
Recommended free contest offers prizes up to $1,000 (top prize will be at least $700) for an original story of no more than 5,000 words on a Jewish theme or topic. Entrants must be aged 18-35 as of the deadline. Sponsored by the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education. Winners published in CAJE newsletter.

12/31: Lantern Books Essay Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers $1,000 top prize for essays on the animal advocacy, vegetarian or environmental movements, maximum 1,500 words. Entrants should familiarize themselves with Lantern's core subject areas and viewpoint by exploring their website. Online entry preferred. No simultaneous submissions.

12/31: Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction ++
Recommended free contest offers $2,500 for the best novel about the Civil War published during the current calendar year. Publishers, critics or authors should send 5 copies of the book to the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.

12/31: Premio Aztlan Literary Prize +
Neutral free contest offers $1,000 for published books of fiction by Chicano/Chicana authors who have published at least one but no more than two books. Books must have been published in the calendar year in which the deadline falls. Winner must agree to attend the award ceremony and deliver a lecture at the University of New Mexico in April (the prize includes travel and lodging expenses). Send 5 copies of book plus supporting materials.

12/31: Resurgence and Scientific & Medical Network Essay Competition ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free essay contest offers top prize of 1,000 pounds. Resurgence Magazine advocates "science with a soul" and publishes articles relating to science, ecology and spirituality. The 2005 theme is "Can Spiritual Values Combat Global Warming?"

12/31: Thoroughbred Times Fiction Contest ++
Recommended free contest offers prizes of $800, $400, $250, plus publication, for fiction up to 5,000 words about some facet of the Thoroughbred horse industry. Mail or email entries accepted.

12/31: Undiscovered Authors Competition ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest from self-publishing company BookForce UK awards prizes of up to 10,000 pounds for unpublished fiction, creative nonfiction and academic works. Winners from 16 regions of the UK and Ireland receive cash prizes of up to 1,000 pounds and compete for the national grand prize. Send a sample chapter of up to 25 pages/10,000 words, plus synopsis. Finalists will be asked to submit a complete manuscript. Send entries by email as MS Word attachments.

1/1: L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest ++
Recommended free contest for emerging writers of short science fiction, fantasy and horror offers quarterly prizes of $1,000 plus an annual $4,000 grand prize for one of the four winners. Send only one story per quarter, maximum 17,000 words. See website for eligibility rules.

1/10: Tell Tale Press Writing Contest +
Neutral free contest for short fiction offers 3 prizes of $200 savings bond, other gifts. Complete one of the 24 story openings on the website, or write a story involving any of the Tell Tale Press characters or places. Maximum 2,000 words. Contest runs twice yearly, January 10 and July 10.

1/14: Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers $1,000 for the best unpublished work of short fiction by full-time US undergraduate or graduate students of African descent. Writers who have published a book in any genre are ineligible. Submit 2 copies of a short story or novel excerpt, maximum 25 double-spaced pages.

1/15: Gather Short Fiction Competition +
Entries must be received by this date
Free neutral contest offers $500, online publication and $250 worth of Houghton Mifflin books for short stories up to 3,000 words. Entrants must join, an online content-sharing and discussion forum, in order to post their entries. Membership is free. Submit by email only.

1/15: South Carolina Fiction Project ++
Recommended free contest for South Carolina residents offers 12 prizes of $500 and publication for the best unpublished story up to 2,500 words. Winners will be published on the websites of the SC Arts Commission and The Post and Courier, a Charleston newspaper. Entrants must be 18 or older.

1/30: Lulu Blooker Prize +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers prizes up to $2,000 for published and self-published "blooks"—a book of fiction, nonfiction or comics whose content was originally developed on the author's blog or website. Ebooks not eligible. Sponsored by, a provider of self-publishing services. Author or publisher should send 3 copies of the book and a completed entry form.

1/31: Betty Trask Prize +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers awards totaling 25,000 pounds for a published first novel of "a romantic or traditional nature", i.e. not experimental. Author must be a Commonwealth citizen. If published, the work must have been published in the UK in 2005 or be due for publication in 2006. Entrants must be under 35 as of December 31, 2005. Winner must agree to use the prize money for foreign travel.

1/31: Caine Prize for African Writing +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers $15,000 for published short stories by African writers, defined as someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or whose parents are African, and whose work has reflected African sensibilities. Up to 5 shortlisted authors receive a travel stipend. For the 2006 contest, entries must have been published between February 1, 2001 and January 31, 2006. Must be submitted by publisher. Send 12 copies of published story.

1/31: Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Thrice-yearly free neutral contest offers $200 and web publication for short fiction. The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-20th century America. Entries should appeal to a reader with these characteristics. Submit stories of 1,000-5,000 words by email to as an MS Word or Adobe Acrobat attachment. Please be sure to include your name, address and phone number with your submission, and include "Short Fiction Contest Submission" in the subject heading of the email.

1/31: Jerry Jazz Musician Seeks "Accent on Youth" Columnist
Entries must be received by this date
Contest is open to youth aged 14-17. Write an essay of approximately 500 words on this theme: "Your best friend Jerry knows nothing about jazz music, and has just sent an email asking that you write him back and tell him what you like about it. He also asks that you tell him who your favorite historic or contemporary jazz artist is, why you like that particular artist (or group) so much, and which recordings you would recommend." Winner will become their next "Accent on Youth" columnist. Entries are sent via email. See website for details.

Login to The Best Free Poetry Contests now to view these and all our profiles of free contests.

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

All deadlines are postmark deadlines unless otherwise specified.



The Arabesques International Literary and Cultural Review
Algerian print and online literary journal publishes poetry, fiction, essays, reviews and drama, in English, French or Arabic languages. Both original works and translations welcome. They have a particular need for reviews of translated books, especially from lesser-known languages.
Large selection of links to key players on the Chicago poetry scene, including independent bookstores, publishers, performance spaces and Chicago poets living and dead. Check out their audio and video links (see "multimedia" in the sidebar).

The Everyday People's Guide on How to Write a Novel
Novelist Peder Hill takes you inside the process of writing his novel-in-progress, Dreaming Underwater. Brief articles give advice on the essentials of plotting, character development, and dialogue, while Hill's blog lets you observe the evolution of his book through writing and revision.

Shel Silverstein
Official site featuring the work of this acclaimed author of humor poetry for children. Includes fun activities for kids, and lesson plans for teaching his poetry in the classroom.

Ways To Bore Me With Your Attempts At Poetry
LiveJournal blogger "The Red Shoes" takes aim at boring, self-absorbed, non-musical free verse, and lays the blame on the doorstep of William Carlos Williams and his ubiquitous red wheelbarrow. Read this for insight into how contest editors and judges think.

See all our resources now at This is also the gateway to our recommended books, magazines, service providers, advice for writers (with manuscript tips) and poetry critiques.



Aqua Curves
By Karen Braucher. Feminine archetypes get a modern reinterpretation in verses alternately playful and poignant, in this prizewinning collection whose guiding spirit is the mermaid. Winner of the 2005 Stevens Prize from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.

Help: The Original Human Dilemma
By Garret Keizer. Personal and philosophical meditations on the paradoxes of help—why we offer it, why we need it, and what makes it effective (or not). A former Episcopal priest and English teacher, Keizer has a sparkling aphoristic prose style worthy of G.K. Chesterton, but also a winsome humility that prefers a balance of opposites rather than a neat solution. Everyone should read this book.

Love in the Western World
By Denis de Rougemont. Bold, original study of the invention of courtly love and its echoes in high and low culture through the centuries. Themes include the tension between romance and marriage, romantic ecstasy as substitute for religion, and the craving for union with the beloved as a disguised longing for self-annihilation. Nonscholars may skim some of the historical passages, but poets and fiction writers alike will benefit from reexamining the origins and implications of the romantic values we take for granted.

The Right Stuff
By Tom Wolfe. No one understands the American alpha male like Wolfe, who brings his boisterous journalistic voice to the story of the first American astronauts. Published in 1979, this book has aged well, and reads now as a commentary on the brevity of fame as well as an incomparable glimpse into the Cold War zeitgeist.



Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 31, 2006
Now in its 14th year. Prizes of $1,000, $600 and $400 will be awarded, plus four High Distinction awards of $250 each. The top entry will be published in a triennial anthology. Other entries may also be published. 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 anthology and online publication rights. $12 entry fee. Submit online or by mail. Early submission encouraged. Winning Writers is assisting with entry handling for this contest. Judges: John H. Reid and Dee C. Konrad. Guidelines:

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest - No Fee
Online Submission Deadline: April 1, 2006
Now in its fifth year. Sponsored by Winning Writers. Prizes of $1,190, $169, $60 and 5 honorable mentions of $38 each. A humor contest with a special twist. No fee to enter. Judge: Jendi Reiter. Submit online:

War Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: May 31, 2006
Sponsored by Winning Writers. We seek original, unpublished poems for our fifth annual contest 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 three months of online access to the Poetry Contest Insider database, a $6.95 value. Judge: Jendi Reiter. Submit online or by mail. Guidelines:

Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse
Postmark Deadline: June 30, 2006
Now in its third year, this contest seeks poetry in traditional verse forms such as sonnets and haiku. 30 cash prizes totaling $3,500 will be awarded, including a top prize of $1,000. All winners of cash prizes will be published in an anthology. The entry fee is $6 for every 25 lines you submit. Enter online or by mail. Early submission encouraged. 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. Judges: John H. Reid and Dee C. Konrad. Guidelines:

Now Open
Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: September 30, 2006
Now in its fourth year, this contest seeks poems in any style, theme or genre. 30 cash prizes totaling $3,500 will be awarded, including a top prize of $1,000. All winners of cash prizes will be published in an anthology. The entry fee is $6 for every 25 lines you submit. Enter online or by mail. Early submission encouraged. 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. Judges: John H. Reid and Dee C. Konrad. Guidelines:

Write Ways to Win Writing Contests
John H. Reid, a widely published Australian novelist and award-winning poet (under the name Tom Howard), has written a witty and practical guide to finding the best contests for your work. Topics include identifying the judges' tastes, "popular" versus "literary" styles of writing, preparing a professional-looking manuscript and avoiding scam contests. Though his examples are drawn from fiction, poets will also find this guide indispensable. Next three weeks only, buy at Lulu for just $10 (regular price $14.99).

Publish Your Book From Your Computer for as Little as $2.00 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.' "

Do you have a personal story that belongs in today's bestselling anthologies, like Chicken Soup for the Soul, A Cup of Comfort, and Chocolate for Women? You could get published and receive money for your work! Julia Rosien, a publishing veteran and editor at ePregnancy Magazine, will mentor you and show you how to turn your memories into essays that warm the heart...and sell.

2006 Poet's Market
The 2006 edition of Poet's Market is on sale for $16.49 at Amazon. Published each August by Writer's Digest, this is the best annual guide to 1,800 journals, magazines, book publishers, chapbook publishers, websites, grants, conferences, workshops and contests. Helps you find publishers who are looking for your kind of work. Also updated are Novel & Short Story Writer's Market and Writer's Market for works of prose. Writer's Market is "the most valuable of tools for the writer new to the marketplace," says Stephen King in On Writing.

WriteSuccess Newsletter
Sign up now for WriteSuccess's free 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.

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. Holiday special: Get Two-Day shipping for the price of Ground. Get started here:

Office Depot - December Coupon
Save on paper, toner, binders and all your writing supplies at Office Depot. Free delivery in select areas when you order $50 or more. Coupon:
Save $30 off any $150 Purchase from Office Depot in December!

Choose from over 50 million new, used and out-of-print books at Alibris. Slash your textbook costs in literature, poetry, philosophy, art and all academic subjects. Free shipping offer on eligible books (look for the Super Value Shipping Truck):
FREE Shipping on orders of $49 or more!

Advertise to 16,000 Poets and Writers
Promote your contests, websites, events and publications in this newsletter. Reach over 16,000 poets and writers for $35. Ads may contain up to 100 words and a headline. Place your reservation at:

"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."
Ted O. Badger, Editor, Lucidity Poetry Journal

"Thanks for the great advertising value your service continues to offer. Your subscriber base continues to serve as the foundation for our submissions."
Robert Woerheide, Editor in Chief, Perigee



National Adult Literary Assessment Results Released Today

The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy report has just been released. This is the first update of adult literacy skills in the US in more than 10 years.

ProLiteracy will issue analysis as soon as possible following the release of the report. We also will have available ProLiteracy representatives, program directors and adult learners for telephone interviews and reactions. Please contact Rochelle Cassella to arrange an interview (315-422-9121 x353; mobile: 315-345-3222). During the following week, ProLiteracy will co-host a live webcast in partnership with the California state library system to discuss the report.

According to Sheida White at the National Center for Education Statistics, the NAAL report will contain the following information:
  • A description of five categories of adult literacy: Below Basic, Basic, Intermediate, Proficient, and Non-Literate in English

  • Estimates of the population of adults in each category in the US

  • Sample tasks from the survey corresponding to each category

  • The 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey data recalculated using the NAAL methodology for purposes of comparison
Data from the six states that purchased additional sample data also will be released on December 15 (Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York and Oklahoma).

The report will not contain state-by-state or other small area estimates for the remaining 44 states.

For background information on the NAAL survey and methodology, please visit or visit the public policy update section of ProLiteracy's website and read the Public Policy Update dated July 8, 2005.

ProLiteracy Worldwide is a nonprofit international literacy organization based in Syracuse, NY, that was formed by the 2002 merger of Laubach Literacy International and Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc. ProLiteracy Worldwide is now the oldest and largest nongovernmental literacy organization in the world and pursues a mission of sponsoring educational programs that help adults and their families acquire the literacy practices and skills they need to function more effectively in their daily lives.

ProLiteracy America, the US Programs Division of ProLiteracy Worldwide, represents 1,200 community-based volunteer and education affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. ProLiteracy America provides accreditation, advocacy, and technical assistance as well as program and professional development services. In addition, its affiliates benefit from an annual conference and regional training programs.

Support ProLiteracy's vital mission. Click here to learn more. Click here to contribute.

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



This month, Critique Corner is pleased to present "The Third Millennium" by Joan Blake.

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!

by Joan Blake

all the good air gone
with the ghosts
live wire and chatter
long for a face
a voice, a torso with arms,
legs, gone the
words, books, love
notes, business lies
scattered to the

tend flowers while
some mammals, wrapped in
aluminum, live without joy
on riches and letters of
the alphabet building
clouds floating
around the

Copyright 2005 by Joan Blake

Critique by Jendi Reiter

This month's critique poem, Joan Blake's "The Third Millennium", is primarily concerned with constructing an atmosphere rather than a narrative or an argument. It appeals to our intuitive ability to perceive connections that we may not be able to explain analytically. John Ashbery is one of the most well-known writers in this style, elements of which can also be found in Mark Strand's early collection Darker.

We're taught to decipher poems by looking for the "real" meanings that the surface images represent: the moon is like a woman's face, the fallen leaf is a metaphor for death. For Blake's poem, I think this technique would miss the point. Trying to match up the "aluminum" or "letters of/the alphabet" to literal features of 21st-century life would prematurely arrest the free association of images that these words are meant to provoke. I will share some of my impressions of the poem below, but these should not be considered an authoritative key to its meaning(s).

The overall mood that I got from the poem was one of unreality and isolation, worsened by technology. I was immediately grabbed by the opening lines, "all the good air gone/with the ghosts", with their strong repetition of "GO-" sounds. The words "gone" and "ghosts" cannot help but arouse feelings of loss. Even before we know where we are in this poem, we are already nostalgic for somewhere else. There was a time before this fog descended, but those better days have slipped away somehow....

critique continues here

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

See all of 2005's poetry critiques


The Best Free Poetry Contests for January 16-February 28