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August 2008

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Welcome to our August newsletter. This is the companion to our online database, The Best Free Poetry Contests. It alerts you to upcoming contests and important contest changes, highlights quality resources for writers, and announces achievements and great poems by our readers.

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Coming September 1: Award-Winning Poems
Each quarter we publish a special edition of this newsletter featuring the winning poems from contests we admire. The next edition is September 1. Please watch for it in your mailbox!


Closing Next Month
Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: September 30
Now in its sixth year, this contest seeks poems in any style, theme or genre. Both published and unpublished poems are welcome. Fourteen cash prizes totaling $5,250 will be awarded, including a top prize of $2,000. 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.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 31, 2009
Now in its 17th year. Prizes of $2,000, $1,000, $500 and $250 will be awarded, plus five High Distinction awards of $200 each and five Most Highly Commended Awards of $100 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. $15 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. See the complete guidelines and past winners. (The results of the 16th contest will be announced on September 15, 2008.)

Now Open
Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest - No Fee
Online Submission Deadline: April 1, 2009
Winning Writers invites you to enter the eighth annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, called "famous" by Writer's Digest. Fifteen cash prizes totaling $3,336.40 will be awarded, including a top prize of $1,359. There is no fee to enter. Judge: Jendi Reiter. See the complete guidelines and past winners.


Benjamin Taylor Lally

Congratulations to the winners of our seventh annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Benjamin Taylor Lally of Burlington, Massachusetts won first prize and $1,359 for his poem "First Edition, 2008". 838 entries were received from around the world. See the press release announcing the winners.

The Wergle Flomp Contest dramatizes the low standards of heavily advertised free poetry contests sponsored by, Famous Poets Society, JMW Publishing, the League of American Poets, and similar enterprises. Winning Writers maintains a list of these "vanity contests" and other publishing schemes to avoid.

Vanity contests typically praise most entries to flatter poets into buying expensive anthologies containing their poems, as well as personalized plaques, tote bags, silver cups, even tickets to conventions (as much as $595 apiece) where enormous numbers of people receive "awards". Vanity contests waste poets' time and money, and replace honest evaluation with empty praise that inhibits poets' development and mocks notions of excellence. The Wergle Flomp Contest offers prizes for the most absurdly, hilariously bad poems that have been submitted to vanity contests as a joke.

Jendi Reiter, editor of Winning Writers and judge of the Wergle Flomp Contest, said of this year's winning poem: "Lally's elaborate Walt Whitman parody mashes up familiar quotations with modern pop-culture references, while consistently maintaining a Whitmanesque grandiose voice and lust for life. I like how this poem builds momentum with ever-more-extravagant claims for the narrator's genius, yet never breaks character. Though it is recognizably a parody, it stands alone as a humorous poem in its own right."

Julie Porter of Montclair, New Jersey won second prize and $764 for "The Rape of the Cock", which retells the saga of John Wayne Bobbitt's truncated member in rhyming couplets stuffed with classical allusions. Sooja Jones of Thiruvananthapuram, India received third prize and $338 for "Daft Idylls", a monumental riff on Wordsworth's "Daffodils" in which a fawning representative of offers fame and fortune for the narrator's poetic flatulence, or "borborygmi", to put it more eloquently. Twelve honorable mentions of $72.95 were also awarded.

Read all the winners and finalists, plus the judge's comments, here. Thanks to everyone who participated. The new Wergle Flomp contest opens today.


Congratulations to Michael F. Daley. His second poetry collection, To Curve, has just been released by Word Press. To read sample poems, click here.

Congratulations to M.B. Powell. Her poem "The Only Ones" was a semifinalist in the 2007 Joy Harjo Poetry Award from Cutthroat, A Journal of the Arts. The next deadline for this $1,250 award is October 10. In addition, her poem "Split Couplet on Same" was a finalist in the 2008 Dogwood Poetry Contest and appeared in their Spring 2008 issue. The next deadline for this $1,000 award is October 15. (Dogwood's contest year is based on when winners are announced; thus, the 2009 contest has an October 2008 deadline.)

Congratulations to R. Manoj Mohan. His poem "Tissue" won an honorable mention in the Mattia Family's 11th International Poetry Competition. He kindly shares this poem below. Mr. Mohan writes, "I have been receiving your newsletters regularly for the past five months or so, and I have found Winning Writers to be a very useful resource for finding out about valid poetry competitions. Your website also plays a significant role in featuring some of the best poems I have read in my life."

Congratulations to Kim Triedman. She won Main Street Rag's Annual Chapbook Contest for her collection bathe in it or sleep. She kindly shares a sample poem below. The most recent deadline for this $500 prize was May 31. Other Winning Writers subscribers who placed as runners-up in this contest, and have been offered publication, are Charlotte Muse and Chella Courington. Triedman was also a finalist for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship from Wilkes University for her manuscript The Other Room. The most recent submission period was October 1-March 1. Kim writes, "I have been a member of Winning Writers for the past year and a half and have found this site to be extremely helpful in identifying relevant competitions in the areas of both fiction and poetry."

Congratulations to Ellen LaFleche. She won a first prize in the 2008 Inglis House Poetry Contest for her poem "Estella, With One Lung, Keeps Her Appointment at Brenda's Beauty Box". Inglis House is a Philadelphia-based center for wheelchair-bound adults. This free contest offers top prizes of $50 in each of two categories: poems about disability, or poems by disabled authors. The most recent deadline was June 1. Read the winning poems here.

Congratulations to Marla Alupoaicei. Her nonfiction book Generation Hex, a Christian analysis of Wiccan and pagan spiritual movements in America today, was released this month by Harvest House Publishers. Contact publicist Tina Howard if you have a literary blog and would like to review this book on your site during September 2-12.

Sally Bellerose's short story "Mother of Pearl" was published in the Summer 2008 issue of Per Contra. Her story "National Blank Book" recently appeared on the blog Still Blue: More Writing By (For or About) Working-Class Queers. Her story "Potatoes, Sex, and Security" was published in the Spring 2008 issue of The November 3rd Club, an online journal of poetry, fiction and essays "written from a liberal, green, anarchist or libertarian perspective".

Marcia Popp's poem "Yard Gig" will be published in the Fall 2008 issue of Avocet, a Journal of Nature Poems.

Tolu Ogunlesi's poem "Love in a Time of Car-Bombs" was published in Issue #57 of Kaleidoscope. Published by United Disability Services in Akron, this journal explores the experience of disability through literature and the fine arts. The theme for this issue was "The Effects of War: Mind, Body and Spirit".


If you enjoy using The Best Free Poetry Contests, consider upgrading to Poetry Contest Insider. The Best Free Poetry Contests profiles the 150 or so poetry contests that are free to enter. With your Poetry Contest Insider subscription, you'll get access to all of our 750+ poetry contest profiles, plus over 100 of the best prose contests. Contest rules, addresses and deadlines change constantly. We update Poetry Contest Insider nearly every day to stay on top of them. Search and sort contests by deadline, prize, fee, recommendation level and more. Access to Poetry Contest Insider is just $7.95 per quarter, with a free 10-day trial at the start. Cancel at any time.

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Deadlines: August 16-September 30

Here is a summary of upcoming free poetry contests. Click the contest names to be taken directly to their profiles (you may be asked to login on your first click of the day). You may also view the profiles by logging in to The Best Free Poetry Contests here and clicking the Find Free Contests link to search for contests by name.

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Winning Writers gathers contest information from a wide variety of sources including publishers' press releases, online link directories, Poets & Writers Magazine, and e-newsletters such as TOTAL FundsforWriters, The Practicing Writer, and CRWROPPS. We encourage readers to explore these useful resources, and let us know about worthwhile contests we may have missed.

8/18: Boardman Tasker Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers 2,000 pounds for the best published book on the theme of mountains or mountaineering, first published or distributed in the UK between November 1 of the previous year and October 31 of this year. Entries must be submitted by publisher, and may be poetry, fiction, nonfiction or drama. Early entries are encouraged.

8/29: John Llewellyn Rhys Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly August 31
Recommended free contest offers top prize of 5,000 pounds for the best English-language book (poetry, fiction or nonfiction) published in the UK by a UK publisher during the current calendar year. Galley proofs accepted for books scheduled to be published between August 29 and December 31. Author must be a British or Commonwealth citizen aged 35 or under as of the date of publication. Must be submitted by publisher. No entry fee, but shortlisted publishers will be asked to contribute 250 pounds per title, plus 10 copies of the book.

8/31: Science Fiction Poetry Association Poetry Contest +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly August 24
Neutral free contest offers prizes up to $100 for speculative poetry (surrealism, science and math, fantasy, sci-fi and supernatural horror). Maximum 3 entries per person. Enter online. No simultaneous submissions. The required theme for 2008 is "Energy". Poems should be 20 lines maximum.

9/1: Helen Schaible Shakespearean/Petrarchan Sonnet Contest +
Neutral free contest offers top prize of $50 for the best sonnet using a Shakespearean or Petrarchan rhyme scheme. Sponsored by the Poets' Club of Chicago and the Illinois State Poetry Society. One poem per person.

9/15: Kate Tufts Discovery Award +++
Highly recommended free contest offers $10,000 for a first published book of poetry by a US citizen or current resident. Books must have been published between September 15 of last year and September 15 of this year. Send 5 copies of book, cover sheet, bio, entry form from website. Judges seem to favor books that have already won prizes and/or come from the top literary presses.

9/15: Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award +++
Highly recommended free contest offers $100,000 for a published book of poetry by a US citizen or current resident. "The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is presented annually for a work by an emerging poet, one who is past the very beginning but has not yet reached the acknowledged pinnacle of his or her career. While some poetry prizes discover and honor new voices and others crown an indisputably major body of work, this award at Claremont Graduate University aims to sustain a poet who is laboring in the difficult middle between these extremes." Books must have been published between September 15 of last year and September 15 of this year. Send 5 copies of book, cover sheet, bio, entry form from website.

9/15: Robert Watson Literary Prizes +++
Formerly known as the Greensboro Review Literary Awards, this highly recommended free contest from a reputable journal offers $500 each for poetry and short fiction. No length limit for poetry; stories should be 7,500 words maximum. Unlimited number of free entries makes up for the no-simultaneous-submissions rule.

9/30: International Tanka Splendor Award +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers small prizes for unpublished tanka, a Japanese form. 31 tanka and three tanka sequences will be published in annual anthology and the authors will receive a $20 gift certificate from AHA Books. Send either 1-3 tanka or one titled sequence of 3+ tanka. A tanka is five lines and up to 31 syllables. No simultaneous submissions. Contest is judged anonymously by those entrants who submitted their work online.

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.



Hand Luggage OnlyHand Luggage Only – 100 Contemporary Sonnets
On Sale Now at Open Poetry

Lovers of contemporary poetry that's brief and to the point will enjoy Hand Luggage Only, the anthology of Open Poetry's International Sonnet Competition 2007, which contains the 100 shortlisted sonnets and the winning poems selected by judges Susan Bassnett, Jacqueline Osherow and Don Paterson. This was a major competition with £2,800 in prize money attracting just under 2,000 entries.

These sonnets from all across the world, including those by 1st prize winner Julie Kane (USA), 2nd prize winner Daniel Neumann (Australia) and 3rd prize winner Alison Mace (UK), comprise an exciting mix of traditional and experimental sonnet structures covering a wide range of issues: love and death, as always, but also joblessness, trapeze artists, Alzheimer's, mobile phones, roadkill, emails—the small as well as the large concerns of modern life.

You would have thought the sonnet should be dead. It isn't. Hand Luggage Only is the proof of that and that a long-lived tree can still grow new branches.

Hand Luggage Only is available through bookshops, Amazon etc (ISBN 978-0-9559162-0-5) but also by direct online purchase for international delivery from the publisher's website at

The International Sonnet Competition will run again, most likely in 2010. The Open Poetry website and also will announce details in due course.

Please enjoy "Used Book", the 2007 winning sonnet by Julie Kane. Ms. Kane received an award of £1,400.
Used Book
by Julie Kane

What luck — an open bookstore up ahead
as rain lashed awnings over Royal Street,
and then to find the books were secondhand,
with one whole wall assigned to poetry;
and then, as if that wasn't luck enough,
to find, between Jarrell and Weldon Kees,
the blue-on-cream, familiar backbone of
my chapbook, out of print since '83 —
its cover very slightly coffee-stained,
but aging (all in all) no worse than flesh
through all those cycles of the seasons since
its publication by a London press.
Then, out of luck, I read the name inside:
the man I thought would love me till I died.

The View From HereThe View From Here: New Literary Magazine
The View From Here: Issue 1 on sale NOW!

See a full preview and order your copy at:

Includes interviews with Preditors & Editors & author James Meek.

The View From Here is a monthly magazine with book reviews, author and industry interviews, creative goals, inspiration for writers and original short fiction, brought to you by an international team of writers.

On-line version at:

Submissions wanted for future editions, see the on-line zine for details.
Praise for The View From Here:

"There is great passion and drive here and I'll be following The View From Here with interest."
—Tom McCarthy of Men in Space & Remainder

"I applaud the launch of The View From Here—it provides a platform for accessible, thoughtful and interesting writing about books and writers. This magazine is written by and for people who understand about writing."
—Paul Torday of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen & The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce

Wellspring HouseRetreat for Writers in Beautiful Western Massachusetts
Inviting poets, fiction writers, memoirists, and all writers. Wellspring House is a beautiful and tranquil retreat whose ambience has been lauded by former residents as utterly conducive to creativity. Carol Dine calls it "my haven and my heaven". We are nestled in Ashfield, population 1,800, one of the "hilltowns" between the Berkshires and the Connecticut River. Amherst and Northampton and the five colleges—Amherst, Smith, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke and the UMass flagship campus—are within a 35-minute drive. Ashfield has three eateries, two churches, a library, a music store, a hardware store which sells excellent ice cream, a feminist press (Paris), and a resident theater company (Double Edge). Ashfield Lake is a five-minute walk.

Wellspring House has five rooms for residents (two suitable for couples), two baths on the second floor, and an upstairs sitting room. Downstairs is a communal kitchen and eating area for residents, a spacious living room with a fireplace and a half bath (see pictures). The house is surrounded by a large patio, flower and vegetable gardens, fruit trees and five acres of woods. We supply linens, coffee and tea—and bikes! Fee: $175/week. For more information, please email your hosts, Ann and Preston Browning, at, call 413-628-3276, or mail Wellspring House, P.O. Box 2006, Ashfield, MA 01330.
Wellspring House
Guests say:

"I want to thank you for a wonderful three weeks at Wellspring House. It proved to be my most productive period in five or six years. You have done an amazing job of putting together a beautiful conducive environment. The gorgeous common area, the sunny bedrooms, and the surrounding Berkshires with all their various colors and moods—these are all elements I will cherish in memory."

"For the invaluable time, space and freedom you provide at Wellspring House, I thank you."

"Wellspring House: An island of tranquility in an ocean of tumult."

"I had a very productive visit. The house, the town, the hosts—all were so beautiful to experience, and were truly a wellspring of inspiration."

"What a deeply romantic setting in which to write, stroll and sleep. We loved the books downstairs, the art in the hallways, and the breeze in this room upstairs. We hope all are inspired to create and enjoy the beauty around them."

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Our Contests

Faith Non-Fiction
The theme for this non-fiction contest is "faith". We are looking for personal essays, memoirs, and works of literary nonfiction that in some way pertain to the theme. It can be spiritual, political, or funny. Creative approaches welcomed. $100 prize for the winner of this writing contest.
Deadline: August 18th (only three days left!)

Acrostic Poetry
Write an acrostic poem. An acrostic poem is a poem where the first letter of each line spells out a word. View an example in the announcement. $100 prize for the winner of this contest.
Deadline: August 19th (just four days left!)

Write About This
Write a story based on the image pictured in this announcement. What is happening here? Is this your character? Or how will your character react to what is shown? A $100 prize to the winner.
Deadline: August 25th

Summertime Story Contest
For our Summertime Story Contest we are looking for stories that somehow capture this time of year. Stories should be summertime oriented but creative approaches are welcomed. Cash prize for the winner.
Deadline: August 30th

These are only a few of our contests. View our full listing here.

FanStory is one of the Writer's Digest "101 Best Websites for Writers" (2005-2008). Writer's Digest says, "Founded in 2000, this site presents free contests and peer-to-peer reviews. One fairly unique feature offered by the site is the ability to create your own contest and challenge other writers." Find out more.

Utmost Christian Writers
Last Call!
Novice Christian Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: August 31
Utmost Christian Writers seeks poems from unpublished Christian poets. US$2,000 in cash prizes will be awarded, including a top prize of $500. Special prizes for best rhyming poem and best traditional rhyming poem. Winning entries will be published at Entry fee is $15 per poem. Please see the complete rules and submit using our entry form.

Please enjoy "April Winter" by Jan Wood, the current International Christian Poet Laureate selected by Utmost Christian Writers Foundation:
April Winter
by Jan Wood

Wire-strung words transmit requests for prayer.
The assassin returns, aims, strikes vulnerability,
recalls your mother caught in the crosshairs,
sights daughter pain across soft milk flesh
targets an inheritance the size of a plum.

Telephone sadness flat frozen words-hang.
I melt them in outrage.
We're the same age.
What is plum-sized? Metastasized?
Is it life-sized or death-sized?
How dare this sniper stake out these hills
hide landmines along lymph-routes
to your song-caves below?
How will you conceal scars or disguise flat notes
of half-breasted hope?
What do you ask of me in this pole-to-pole silence?
Should I full of doubt, challenge this skilled marksman?
I'd rather you request that I train as a spy,
wear camouflage, search the net for cures and surgeons.
Instead you desire my faith,
will me to stand out-stretched
between you and our arsenal of weaponry.
I allow my sobs and syllables
to become audible whispers on your behalf,

Gently I cradle your words
hand-held cellular proof
prayer has twisted into melody lines
engraved in tissue its measure of praise.

Closing Next Month
Robert Frost Foundation12th Annual Robert Frost Foundation Annual Poetry Award
Postmark/Email Submission Deadline: September 15
The Robert Frost Foundation welcomes poems in the spirit of Robert Frost for its 12th Annual Award. The winner will receive $1,000 and an invitation to present the winning poem at the Frost Festival located at the Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on Saturday, October 25.

Please submit two copies of each poem, one copy with contact information and one copy free of all identifying information. Mailing address: Robert Frost Foundation, Lawrence Library - 3rd Floor, 51 Lawrence Street, Lawrence, MA 01841. Email submissions are also accepted at Reading fees are $10 per poem (send fees via regular mail, please). Read about last year's honorees and the contest guidelines at

Please enjoy these video readings of Howard Robertson's 2007 Honorable Mention poems, "The Pathos of the Golden Toad" and "Night on the Balcony of the Chalet".

Please also enjoy "Town Roads" by Robert Crawford, a poem from the Frost Foundation's 2004 online anthology:
Town Roads
by Robert Crawford

At each town line the old town roads change names
To take the name of where you're coming from:
The Chester Road will bring you into Derry,
Derry Road ends at the Chester green.
Confusion wasn't built in by design —
The roads were laid like spokes on wagon wheels
To serve the farms that long ago moved west —
But this arrangement's hard on travelers
Who simply want to get from place to place.
What these towns need is a Copernicus
To tell them that the center lies without,
And agencies to legislate that roads
That run between them share a common name.
And yet, when sitting on the bench behind
Two cannons and a monument to boys
Who went, when asked, to save the wider world,
But never came back down these wrong-named roads,
I see the possibility: perhaps
The towns were right. All roads don't lead to Rome;
They do, however, radiate from home.

DeNovo Prize: Closing Next Month
C&R Press Poetry Book ContestsAnnouncing C&R Press' 2nd Annual Poetry Book Contests
The DeNovo Prize is awarded for a first book. $500 prize plus book publication. $25 reading fee. Reading period: August 1-September 30 (postmark deadline, please do not spend extra money shipping overnight). All entrants receive a copy of the winning book if they provide an appropriate SASE (7" x 10" envelope with $2.23 in postage). This year's judge is Denise Duhamel. Last year's judge, Thomas Lux, awarded the DeNovo Prize to Michelle Bitting for Good Friday Kiss.

Our Fall Open Series is open to all. $20 reading fee. Reading period: August 1-October 31. All entrants receive a copy of the winning book if they provide an appropriate SASE (7" x 10" envelope with $2.23 in postage). Last year's winner: Jon Veinberg's The Speed Limit of Clouds.
Please visit for full guidelines and updates. Electronic submissions welcome (and encouraged) with PayPal payment option through website. Alternately, please send hardcopy manuscripts with checks payable to C&R Press to:
C&R Press
BOX 4065
Chattanooga, TN 37405
Questions? Please email

Closing Next Month
The Northwest Cultural Council"Life's Unique Journey" 2008 Juried International Poetry Competition
Entries must be received by September 30
The Northwest Cultural Council seeks unpublished poems that reflect the writer's impressions of "Life's Unique Journey". Prizes of $300, $100, $75 and $50 will be awarded. Four honorable mentions will also be recognized. Accepted poems will be displayed at the Northwest Cultural Council art gallery, along with Visual Art reflecting the same theme, from November 18–December 30. Winning poems will be published in our quarterly newsletter SPOTLIGHTS, which has a circulation of 7,000. Poets 18 years of age and older are eligible.

There are no style restrictions. Judging will be based on originality, technique and the ability of the poet to make a statement that touches and moves the reader. Submit one or two poems in English. Each poem may be up to 50 lines long. Entry fee: $15, payable to The Northwest Cultural Council. (The fee is the same $15 whether you submit one poem or two.)

Download the entry form as a PDF, or mail your request for an entry form with a stamped, self-addressed envelope (SASE) to:
NWCC Corporate Gallery
500 North Hicks, Suite 120
Palatine, IL 60067
Learn more and see last year's winning entries at our website, Questions? Please email or call 847-991-7966.

Please enjoy "Escaping to Cuba" by Shah'e Mankerian, the first-place poetry winner in the 2007 contest:
Escaping to Cuba
by Shah'e Mankerian

You tell me about the streets
overflowing with balconies,
and T-shirts of Ché hanging on telephone wires.
You want to sell me Cuba.
You tell me about the hotel
the color of banana peeling itself,
the paint disappearing slowly
like the extended days of the revolution.
No need to convince me.
I would sell my Honda
and buy a ticket on a single engine cargo plane;
I would sell the Buddha
I found at a garage sale.
I will follow you even if you're Castro,
even if you kiss me like a Marxist
kissing Lenin's feet,
even if you pull me away from my mother's glance...

[poem continues here]

Caketrain 2008 Chapbook CompetitionCaketrain 2008 Chapbook Competition: $250 and Publication of Winning Chapbook
Postmark Deadline/Online Submission Deadline: October 1
Genre: Fiction. Final Judge: Brian Evenson, author of The Open Curtain, The Wavering Knife and Altmann's Tongue. Winner will receive a $250 award and publication of a limited-edition, perfect-bound chapbook with a full-color cover in the style of our previous winners, Claire Hero ("afterpastures"), Tom Whalen ("Dolls") and Elizabeth Skurnick ("Check-In").

Open to fiction manuscripts 40 to 60 pages in length. Previously-published stories or excerpts may be included in the manuscript, but the manuscript as a whole must be an unpublished work. Translations and previously self-published books are ineligible. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable; please notify us if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere. Please enclose either check or money order in the amount of $15 for reading fee (payable to Caketrain) or $20 for reading fee and a copy of winning chapbook and send with your manuscript to Caketrain Journal and Press, Box 82588, Pittsburgh, PA 15218. You may also submit your entry electronically; see for full guidelines.

Caketrain is a literary journal and press based in Pittsburgh; our interest is in bringing readers the very best in daring contemporary creative writing. For more information, please visit us at

Gerald Cable Book Award
Announcing 2008 Gerald Cable Book Award
Postmark deadline: October 15
Silverfish Review Press sponsors this award annually for a book-length manuscript of original poetry by an author who has not yet published a full-length collection. No restrictions on style or subject matter; translations are unacceptable. Barbara Hamby will judge. Winner receives $1,000, publication, and 100 copies of the book. Winner announced February 2009.

Guidelines: $20 reading fee payable to Silverfish Review Press. Manuscripts should be at least 48 pages. Clean photo copies are acceptable. The poet's name should not appear on the manuscript. Include a separate title page with author's name, address and phone number. Poems may have appeared in periodicals, chapbooks or anthologies, but should be acknowledged. No changes will be considered after submission. Manuscripts will not be returned. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for results. Simultaneous submissions accepted. Notify press immediately if manuscript is accepted elsewhere.

Entrants who include a 7" by 10" self-addressed envelope and $2.23 in postage (media mail) receive a free copy of a recent winner. We accept email submissions; see for instructions. Submit snailmail submissions to: Silverfish Review Press, Gerald Cable Book Award, P.O. Box 3541, Eugene, OR 97403.

Please enjoy "White Street" by Daneen Wardrop, a poem from her 2006 award-winning manuscript, The Odds of Being.

White Street
by Daneen Wardrop

Fireworks happen at the end of a white street,

         she says when I pick her up from daycare.

The day after the Fourth, firecrackers hit cement,

            spindly leftovers guttering down the block,

                               high-pitched, descending lines



                      before the detonation.

If they were clothes they’d be feathers and fringe,

           magenta, fuchsia, what she wears

sultry afternoons, salt rolling down arms and neck—

                                              the long string, orange beads burst

           and roll capriciously to corners—

If she could she’d buy sparklers

                                               regardless of my worry,

cherry bombs and California candles,

boxes with Chinese characters that look like the real thing,

                                  while I’d stand beggared

at the milk trees and snow birds

                         lining the length of the white street

in a glare that leaves no shadows

A Room of Her Own - 2009 Gift of FreedomAttention Women Writers: $50,000 2009 Gift of Freedom Award
Postmark Deadline: October 31

Dream of writing?
    Write to dream?
        Get started!

A Room Of Her Own Foundation (AROHO) encourages women writers to apply for the $50,000 2009 Gift of Freedom Award. This award will be given to an American woman writer who is a US citizen and will be living in the US during the grant period. Unpublished and published writers of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and plays may apply.

AROHO is dedicated to helping women artists achieve the privacy and financial support necessary to pursue their art. As Virginia Woolf recognized in the 1920s, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write." Download the application here.

We'd like to share the story of Meredith Hall, the 2004 Gift of Freedom award winner. Her published memoir, Without a Map, was written under her grant.
Meredith Hall grew up bonded to her insular New Hampshire community, comforted by the hallmarks of belonging: perfect attendance in Sunday school, classmates who seemed more like cousins, teachers who held her up as a model student, a mother who loved her unconditionally. Then, at sixteen, she became pregnant, and all at once those who had held her close and kept her safe turned their backs.

The same day in 1965 that Meredith was expelled from school, her mother told her "You can't stay here."¯ Her father and stepmother reluctantly offered Meredith a cold sanctuary until she gave birth to the child she gave up for adoption. Then she was banned from her father's home forever. For the next decade she wandered, lost to society and to herself. Slowly, Meredith began stitching together a life that encircled her silenced and invisible grief.

When he was twenty-one years old, Meredith's lost son found her. She learned that he had grown up in gritty poverty with an abusive father—in her own father's hometown. Their reunion was tender and turbulent, a renaissance. Meredith's parents never asked for her forgiveness, yet as they aged, she offered them her love. Without a Map charts an extraordinary path in which loss and betrayal evolve into compassion, and compassion into wisdom.
Here is an excerpt from Without a Map...
I am memory. Everything I have been is carried here in my body. I am written, the pain and the great love, the surprises, the losses and the findings. The young woman's body I live inside still, that unforgotten home, is a text. It is engraved with memory, my life. Psychologists believe that grief and trauma are taken up by our bodies and held, that we envelop the memory and build it into ourselves, make it part of us, write it into our cells. We think we have mostly forgotten, but our bodies do not.

And we remember love. I have often wished that my children could remember all the tender, floating hours of being nursed, of being held into my heart, stroked and safe. I believe now that they do remember, that their bodies know love and safety. If this is true, then I, also, must carry my mother's love, my father's. Whatever else may have gone wrong, whatever of grief and loss is carried by each of us, so too is love. Nothing is lost.

The Morten H. Clausen Short Poetry CompetitionThe Morten H. Clausen Short Poetry Competition:
15 Winners...$500 1st Prize

Postmark Deadline: December 1
The Morten H. Clausen Short Poetry Competition, the latest in the writing contest series sponsored by Writing for Money, is looking for complete poems of up to 150 words, published or unpublished, any style, any format. Enter as many times as you wish. See for complete details.

Morten Clausen, for whom our poetry competition is named, was a life-long farmer and the father of Writing for Money editor John Clausen. He came to poetry late in life, and much of it reflects the struggles, insights, and experiences of his 92 years, especially his relationship to nature and the land. Very few of his poems have been published, although one critic called one of his works, "a very nearly perfect poem". That poem, "Seasons", is presented here by permission of his family.
by Morten Clausen

If I were the Earth
I would like the spring and summer
I would be the new the beginning
I would give birth and be a leader
The optimist and the first
I would know what is coming

If I were the Earth
I would like the summer and fall
I would develop and mature
I would be a producer and a giver
The ultimate and the best
I would know what is now

If I were the Earth
I would like the fall and winter
I would think of rest and retiring
I would withdraw and be a hibernator
The pessimist and the last
I would know what is past

The Litchfield Review Now Open
The Litchfield Review Writing Contest
Postmark Deadline: December 31
We seek poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction for our semi-annual magazine competition. Prose entries should be 3,000 words or less. Poetry entries may be of any length.

To be considered for both publication and a cash prize, please enclose $10 with each essay, short story, or set of 1-3 poems. Enclose $15 and you may submit an unlimited number of entries. Mail your manuscripts to:

     The Litchfield Review
     7 Bonna Street
     Beacon Falls, CT 06403

For more information and news about our ongoing writing contests, please check our website,, or email Theresa C. Vara at

TIFERET: A Journal of Spiritual LiteratureTIFERET Writing Awards
Postmark Deadline: April 1, 2009
TIFERET: A Journal of Spiritual Literature offers awards of $250 each for Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction categories. We publish writing from a variety of religious and spiritual traditions. Our mission is to help reveal spirit through the written word and to help promote peace within the individual and the world. $15 entry fee for one story or essay up to 25 pages or 6 poems.

To enter, please mail your check to TIFERET, 211 Dryden Road, Bernardsville, NJ 07924. Then submit your entry through the Submissions Manager on our website, under the genre of Contest-Poetry, Contest-Nonfiction, or Contest-Fiction. Submissions that are not correctly categorized or are not matched with a mailed entry fee check will not be included in judging. Winners will be announced Spring 2009. Poetry Judge: Elisabeth Murawski; Fiction Judge: Ilan Stavans; Nonfiction Judge: Peter Selgin.

From the Editor's Blog:
Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung wrote often about an individual's need to integrate opposites within our psyche in order to become whole human beings. To recognize there are parts of us that are strong and parts that are weak, parts that are feminine and parts that are masculine, parts that may love those nearest to us and parts that do not.

The Tree of Life as described in mystical Judaism is a helpful depiction of the opposites within ourselves and even, perhaps, within God and the nature of creation itself.

Of course, the Tree of Life concept is not found only in Judaism but also in Christianity; Chinese and Egyptian mythology; science, music and art; and many other religious traditions.

Within kabbalah or Jewish mysticism, however, the tree of life is used to understand the nature of God and creation. It consists of ten interconnected nodes, called sefirot. Sefirah is the Hebrew word for number. These ten sefirot can be called portals to God, or traits of God. They include Chesed, which means LovingKindness, flowing, and its quote unquote opposite, Gevurah, which means Restraint or limits. If these two sefirot are not in balance, a person's—and even the world's—spiritual/mental/emotional/physical lives may be imbalanced as well.

There are other opposing pairs of sefirot on the Tree: Chochma and Binah, father or wisdom and mother or understanding. Hod, surrender, and Netzach, victory.

Tiferet is in the central column and has no opposing sefirot. It represents the reconciliation of opposites...the place where the physical and spiritual realms merge. It is associated with the heart, truth, and beauty...

[click to read more]



These free prose contests with deadlines between August 16 and September 30 are included as a bonus in The Best Free Poetry Contests.

Click the contest names below to go straight to their profiles, or login to The Best Free Poetry Contests here. After you login, please click the Find Free Contests link, then search by Prose Contest Type to find prose contests.

8/29: Young Lions Fiction Award +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly August 24
Highly recommended free contest sponsored by the NY Public Library offers $10,000 for the best published book of fiction (novel or short story collection) by a US author age 35 or under. Books must have been published or scheduled for publication during the current calendar year. Must be submitted by publisher. See website for nomination form.

8/31: Family Circle Fiction Contest ++
Recommended free contest offers top prize of $750 for short fiction up to 2,500 words. Entrants must be US residents, aged 21+. Family Circle is a women's magazine with articles about parenting, health, cooking, crafts, relationships, and family travel. Entries must be postmarked by August 31 and received by September 7.

9/1: Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers prizes of $500 for Young Writers (aged 18-21), $1,000 for Professional Writers, for essays of 1,000-1,500 words on a question exploring Franklin's relevance in our time. 2008 theme is ethical journalism. Enter by email.

9/1: True Patriot Network Essay Competition +++
Highly recommended free contest for US high school students offers $25,000 college scholarship for progressive political essays (up to 1,500 words) on the theme "What does true patriotism mean to you?" Enter by mail or online. This is a one-time contest for 2008. Sponsors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer say, "We wrote The True Patriot to spur national conversations about the values and principles that ought to guide our politics—and to inspire civic action consistent with those values. We believe that true patriotism is an inheritance derived form the progressive ideals of our nation's founders, and we believe we have an obligation to pass that inheritance on to the next generation."

9/9: Life Lessons Essay Contest ++
Recommended free contest offers $3,000 and publication in the lifestyles magazine Real Simple for personal essays up to 1,500 words about the most important day of your life. Open to US authors aged 18+. Enter by mail or email.

9/12: United Planet Writing & Photography/Video Contest +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly August 25
Neutral free contest seeks fiction, creative nonfiction, photos and videos that demonstrate the promotion of cross-cultural understanding, friendship, and supporting one another in one's own community or abroad. Prize is a free volunteer Quest (airfare not included) for up to two weeks to any of United Planet's short-term locations around the world in order to advance the winner's own personal intercultural interaction and promote social and economic prosperity worldwide. Written entries should be 2,500 words maximum (one winner across all genres); see website for photo and video formatting rules. Enter by email only.

9/17: Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest for College Students +++
Highly recommended free contest for full-time college students offers $10,000 top prize, other large prizes, for essays on Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. Essays should be based on one of the three questions on the website, and be 800-1,600 words long. Enter by mail or online. Contest is looking for entries that are sympathetic to Rand's rationalist, libertarian philosophy. See website for other student contests.

9/21: Glass Woman Prize +
Neutral free contest offers $600 and online publication for the best short fiction or creative nonfiction by women. Both published and unpublished work welcome. Entries should be 50-5,000 words. Contest sponsor Beate Sigriddaughter says, "Subject is open, but must be of significance to women. My criterion is passion, excellence, and authenticity in the woman's writing voice." Enter by mail or email (no attachments).

9/30: Essence Short Fiction Contest ++
Recommended free contest offers $1,000 and publication in Essence, a popular magazine serving the African-American community, for short fiction featuring an African-American female protagonist. Open to US residents aged 18+ who have never had a work of fiction published in a major commercial book, or in a magazine with a circulation of more than 25,000. Entries should not exceed 2,500 words or 10 double-spaced pages.

9/30: Happy Tales Literary Contest ++
Formerly August 31
Recommended free contest offers $200 and a trophy cup for the best literary parody providing an alternate happy ending to a well-known tragic work of fiction or drama. Sponsored by the Montana Festival of the Book. Entries should be no more than 10 double-spaced pages. Submit by mail or email.

9/30: Iowa Short Fiction Award ++
Recommended contest from the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop seeks a manuscript of short fiction (150 pages minimum) by an author who has not previously published a book of prose fiction in English. (Books in other genres or languages, and self-published books, do not disqualify you.) Prize is publication under a standard royalty contract.

9/30: Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Thrice-yearly free neutral contest offers $100 and web publication for short fiction. The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theatre, 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. Please include "Short Fiction Contest Submission" in the subject heading of the email.

9/30: L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest +++
Highly recommended free contest for emerging writers of short science fiction, fantasy and horror offers quarterly prizes of $1,000 plus an annual $5,000 grand prize for one of the four winners. Send only one story per quarter, maximum 17,000 words. See website for eligibility rules. Entrants may not have professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium.

9/30: Metcalf-Rooke Award ++
Recommended free contest offers C$1,500 and publication for the best unpublished novel or short story collection by a Canadian writer. No length limit specified (200-400 pages is typical). Biblioasis is a small independent press in Ontario that publishes literary prose and poetry, and the critical journal CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries.

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.



Ragged Sky Press "Clothing" Anthology
Postmark Deadline: August 29
Poetry publisher Ragged Sky Press seeks poems about clothing for a one-time anthology: outergarments, undergarments, shoes, accessories—anything that conceals...or reveals. Well-woven poems will be selected by the editors. Previously published work acceptable with notification. Submit 1-3 poems, maximum 10 single-spaced pages total, to, or by mail to Ellen Foos, 270 Griggs Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540. See website for complete guidelines.

Entries must be received by August 31
Online literary journal Poemeleon seeks original poetry, book reviews, interviews and essays for its December 2008 issue, which will be dedicated to humor poetry (no light verse). Works previously published in print, but not online, may be submitted, as well as unpublished works. All submissions must come through the online form on their guidelines page.

Tarpaulin Sky
Postmark Deadline: August 31
Online literary journal Tarpaulin Sky will be reading poetry chapbook manuscripts submitted during August. Authors who have not previously been published in the journal should send a manuscript of 18-28 pages with a $10 fee. Past contributors may submit for $5. Since entries are not read blind, do include a cover letter with your bio and publication history. This is a prestigious journal whose contributors include Chris Abani, Aimee Bender, Joshua Corey, and Matthea Harvey, which makes up for the lack of a cash prize.

[ex nihilo]
Entries must be received by September 9
[ex nihilo] is a new electronic publication of new works in image, sound, text, and the intersections between these media. They expect to publish two issues a year, with a different theme for each, plus occasional print anthologies. [ex nihilo] is interested in works that address, in some manner:
  • the vacuum
  • salvage / remainders
  • imaginary spaces possessed of imaginary dimensions
  • darkness / lightlessness
  • reduced or infinitesimal means
  • the exponential
  • self-abnegating symbols
  • the blank
  • obliteration
  • the inconsequential
  • refusal
  • the contentless / general contentlessness
  • the generic and / or undifferentiated and / or the contra-original
  • adhesive agents in search of clients to bind
  • none of the above or below
Send submissions and queries to

Off the Coast
Postmark Deadline: September 15
Off the Coast, a poetry journal based in Downeast Maine, seeks poems, artwork, and newly published poetry books for review. Send 1-3 poems pasted into an email to or mailed to editors Valerie Lawson and Michael Brown, Off the Coast, P.O. Box 14, Robbinston, ME 04671.

Postmark Deadline: September 15
Canadian literary journal sub-TERRAIN seeks submissions of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, photography and artwork for an upcoming issue on the theme of "religion". Editors say, "New-age creeps and pious geeks need not apply, so leave your crystals and Jack Chick tracts at the door. We're looking for fresh ideas and interpretations of religion, spirituality, and good ol' 'god'. What or who do you worship and why? Does organized religion have a place in a rational society? Do you pray, or just shout out the name of your fave deity when you're getting it on? sub-TERRAIN wants to know." Payment for accepted work is C$25 per poem or page of prose, and C$25-C$100 for artwork. Maximum 3,000 words for fiction, 4,000 for nonfiction. Indicate on outer envelope that your submission is for the religion issue.

Tilt Press
Postmark Deadline: September 30
Tilt Press, a North Carolina small press, seeks submissions of poetry chapbook manuscripts, 15-22 single-spaced pages, by authors with no previous published poetry books or chapbooks. Send manuscripts as an MS Word attachment to Include a cover page (with author's name, address, phone number, email address and MS title), a title page (title only, no name of author), a table of contents and an acknowledgments page listing published poems. Author's name should not appear anywhere except the first cover page. Number the pages, starting with the first poem. Tilt Press plans to publish three chapbooks from this open submission period.

Crab Orchard Review
Postmark Deadline: October 31
Crab Orchard Review, a prestigious literary journal published by Southern Illinois University Carbondale, seeks submissions of poetry, fiction and literary nonfiction for their annual themed issue. 2008 theme is "Color Wheel: Cultural Heritages in the Twenty-First Century". Editors say, "We are open to work that covers any of the multitude of ways our ideas of identity, tradition, family, and place are challenged by an ever-changing world." Translations and original work are both welcome. Writers whose work is selected will receive $20 per magazine page ($50 minimum for poetry; $100 minimum for prose), two copies of the issue, and a year's subscription.

The Queer Collection
Postmark Deadline: December 31
Annual anthology from Fabulist Flash Publishing seeks poetry, short fiction and creative essays by and for a gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, and queer audience. Some previously published material will be considered including stories, articles, and book excerpts. No graphic erotica. Authors may submit a combination of up to 5 pieces of prose (each 3,000 words maximum) or poetry (40 lines maximum) for consideration.

Women's Studies Quarterly
Entries must be received by January 1, 2009
This journal of creative and scholarly writing about women's issues is seeking poetry, fiction, memoirs, artwork, and academic essays about motherhood. See website for formatting guidelines and the email addresses where submissions in each genre should be sent. Possible topics include:
  • Discourses around motherhood and how they are shaped by race, ethnicity, immigrant status and sexuality
  • Mothers in the workplace: The price of motherhood, "mommy tracking" and "maternal wall," "opting out"
  • The "mommy wars": Stay-at-home moms vs. working moms
  • The paid and unpaid work of mothering and caregiving; the "second shift"
  • Motherhood, loss and grief: Infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth and infant and child death
  • Motherhood and disability/special needs
  • Intensive mothering: Ideologies and practices around co-sleeping, breastfeeding, homeschooling and unschooling, toilet-training, tutoring
  • Mothers as consumers: The marketing of motherhood
  • Pregnancy: The medicalization of and birthing practices, representations of the mother's body, assisted reproductive technologies (ART), surrogacy, abortion and reproductive choice
  • New models of motherhood: LGBT moms, young moms, single mothers, stepmothers and blended families
  • Men as moms: Stay-at-home dads, coparenting, single fathers
  • Immigration and motherhood; global labor chains
  • Childcare and domestic labor: Practices, issues and politics
  • Motherhood and ecofeminism, explorations of "mother nature"
  • Mommy lit as its own brand of chick-lit and the new "dad" books
  • Mothers and digital media: The role of mommy blogs, list-servs, message boards and social networking sites
  • Adoption: Transnational and domestic, transracial
  • Motherhood and public policy: From debates about FMLA to activist groups such as MomsRising
  • Mothering older children, mothering adult children, grandmothering
  • Motherhood and Third Wave Feminism
  • The experiences of women who choose not to mother
  • Mothering in comparative, global and transnational contexts



The Blog Tour Spot
Publicist Tina Howard will help you get your book reviewed on blogs during a specified period (a virtual book tour). Services include setting up a website, sending out review copies, following up with reviewers, and arranging author interviews. The Blog Tour Spot has a special interest in Christian fiction and nonfiction.

Chroma: A Queer Literary and Arts Journal
This British literary journal publishes and promotes edgy, lyrical, and challenging prose, poetry and artwork by lesbian, gay, bi and trans writers and artists. They also offer an international queer writing competition.

Creativity in Motion
This foundation offers the biennial Thatcher Hoffman Smith Prize of $40,000 for a visionary creative work in process. The award is meant to recognize the power of original thought and expression in possibly enriching the world around us. Past honorees have spanned the genres of visual, literary and performance arts as well as activism, academic studies and commercial writing. The deadline for initial proposals falls in August of even-numbered years; 50 applicants will be invited to submit full-length applications.

Faber Finds
Venerable British publisher Faber & Faber offers print-on-demand copies of out-of-print titles from its backlist. Offerings include literary fiction, poetry, memoir, history, criticism and children's books.

The Frugal Editor
Book-promotion expert Carolyn Howard-Johnson offers tips for perfecting your business letters, query letters, book manuscripts, and book proposals. Readers of this award-winning blog are encouraged to submit questions that may be answered on the site.

New Zealand Poetry Society
Founded in 1973, the New Zealand Poetry Society offers an annual poetry contest and publishes the bimonthly magazine 'a fine line'. Their website includes numerous listings for literary events, resources and contests for writers in New Zealand and abroad.

Please Don't
Edgy online literary journal with an ironic take on pop culture publishes fiction, nonfiction and interviews. Submit your own next chapter to Axl Watch, a serial-collaborative noir novel that follows Chicago private dicks Gatz and Tunnicliff to Los Angeles on a mysterious case centering around the best lead singer in all of rock and roll.

The Rose & Thorn Podcasts
Pushcart nominees and other highlights from an attractive and long-running e-zine of poetry, fiction and memoirs. The Rose & Thorn is notable for its mix of mainstream literary, magical-realist and genre writing.

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



2009 Novel & Short Story Writer's MarketNew Edition!
Annual directory for fiction writers from Writer's Digest includes over 1,300 listings of magazines, book publishers, literary agents and contests. Other helpful resources include advice from well-known authors, and information on conferences, workshops and writing programs for fiction writers.

2009 Poet's MarketNew Edition!
Published each August by Writer's Digest, this is the best annual directory of 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 available is Writer's Market for works of prose ("the most valuable of tools for the writer new to the marketplace," says Stephen King in On Writing, "If you're really poor, ask someone to give it to you for Christmas.")

2009 Writer's MarketNew Edition!
Annual directory for prose writers from Writer's Digest offers over 3,500 listings of book publishers, magazines, trade publications and literary agents. Helpful articles cover topics such as writing a query letter and how much to charge for your work.

Becoming the Villainess
By Jeannine Hall Gailey. Coherent, engaging first collection reads like a single long poem in the voices of fairy-tale ingenues and villainesses, B-movie femmes fatales, superheroines, and mythological women. Moving easily between colloquial humor and poignant lyricism, Gailey summons up a feminist pantheon. The recurring figure of Philomel, whom the gods turned into a nightingale after her brother-in-law raped her and cut her tongue out, epitomizes the mixed blessing of art that is brought into being by tragedy. Were women not silenced, this collection seems to say, we would not have the dazzling indirections of myth and fairy tale, the coded language of comic-book symbolism. "Everybody loves the dead girl after she's dead."

The Poisonwood Bible
By Barbara Kingsolver. In this novel, a dangerously naive American missionary family is swept up into the turmoil of the Congo's independence from Belgium in 1960. Each of the multiple narrators speaks with a poetry all her own, and voices a different way to make sense of this clash of cultures. Despite the violence and injustice that the family witnesses, and in which they become complicit, the world they inhabit is anything but meaningless, though it may be a meaning that does not have the white race, or even the human race, at the center. Kingsolver combines a prophet's rage with a mystic's delight in small miracles such as the jungle's fertile ecosystem and the generosity of starving villagers.



Closing Next Month
Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: September 30
Now in its sixth year, this contest seeks poems in any style, theme or genre. Both published and unpublished poems are welcome. Fourteen cash prizes totaling $5,250 will be awarded, including a top prize of $2,000. 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.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 31, 2009
Now in its 17th year. Prizes of $2,000, $1,000, $500 and $250 will be awarded, plus five High Distinction awards of $200 each and five Most Highly Commended Awards of $100 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. $15 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. See the complete guidelines and past winners. (The results of the 16th contest will be announced on September 15, 2008.)

Now Open
Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest - No Fee
Online Submission Deadline: April 1, 2009
Winning Writers invites you to enter the eighth annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, called "famous" by Writer's Digest. Fifteen cash prizes totaling $3,336.40 will be awarded, including a top prize of $1,359. There is no fee to enter. Judge: Jendi Reiter. See the complete guidelines and past winners.

Want to freelance for magazines but don't know how? Need a little motivation to get started? Learn how to develop ideas, research markets, write your query letter, and make your pitch to editors! In only eight lessons, veteran freelancer Linda Formichelli will show you the ropes. She's written for more than 120 publications, including USA Weekend, Family Circle, Men's Fitness, and Woman's Day. Let Linda show you how you can, too!

Alibris Coupons
New, used and out-of-print books, college textbooks and bargains. Order at least $49 of books shipping from Alibris and they'll ship for free. Here is a bumper crop of coupons just in time for the new school term:
Use coupon code BEACHREADS on checkout at Alibris to save $5 on $50 or more of books, music, & movies at This coupon expires August 20, 2008.

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Use coupon code SCHOOL on checkout at Alibris to save $6 on $60 or more of books, music, & movies at This coupon expires Sept. 15, 2008.

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Use coupon code BIOLOGY on checkout at Alibris to save $10 on $100 or more of books, music, & movies at This coupon expires Sept. 15, 2008.

Use coupon code ALLNIGHTER on checkout at Alibris to save $15 on $150 or more of books, music, & movies at This coupon expires Sept. 15, 2008.

Office Depot Coupons
Save on paper, toner, binders and all your writing supplies at Office Depot. Free delivery in select areas when you order $50 or more.
10% Off Your Purchase! No Minimum!* Don't miss this chance to save on your order, large or small, when you order today. (Excludes Technology. Expires 30-Aug-08) at

Hurry, Limited Time Offer! Enjoy $45 off purchases of $225 or more at! Shop Office Depot Today and Save on the Furniture and Supplies You Need! Excludes Technology. Offer Expires September 30, 2008.



by R. Manoj Mohan

On a gloomy winter evening
She sits beside the fireplace;
Even the heat of the flames
Couldn't warm her frozen heart.
She frowns at the tissue
She clutches in her hand—
Smooth, absorbable,
Sparingly used,
A little bit wrinkled around the edges.
She crumples it into a ball,
Throws it into the fire;
It curls up inward—
The angry embers feed on it.

I suppose
It wasn't as pinkish and perfumed
As she would have liked.

Copyright 2008 by R. Manoj Mohan

This poem won an honorable mention in the Mattia Family's 11th International Poetry Competition.


Chaos Theory
by Kim Triedman

Come this way.

The tree out my window is bare now
then full of leaves; many things, actually, and
the sky likewise changes. Just now there is the
threat of white.

Sometimes: no birds.

I have been here—forever, really—
watching, waiting with a thirst. It may
not seem like much but you will see:
the stories are like the light, so
when I crane my neck a little to the left
the sun is either bleeding or it's not.
Today the road is veined with salt,
but once a moon stared back at me,
blank and unforgiving.

Sometimes there are tears, but there are
copper pennies, too, and glasses of milk;
mothers with no teeth. Paths
abound: citrine, the smell of limes;
kudzu dark and pulpy and heavy as loss.
I have seen a Muslim woman walking
in the wind, her burka like a flying shroud,
and then the sky above her head
go black with beating birds.

Come this way. I will try to protect you.
I have watched men starve along the way,
half lost, and then devour themselves
like serpents. You will see.
The light this way may be too harsh;
the noise of endless wars. Colors—
mutinous. There are no walls, only space
and then more space—

Even on a bad day I will feel you
breathe. It may be quiet. It may be
quiet; only limes.

Come this way.

Copyright 2008 by Kim Triedman

First published in The New Writer, this poem is reprinted from Ms. Triedman's forthcoming chapbook bathe in it or sleep, which won Main Street Rag's Annual Chapbook Contest for 2008.


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ProLiteracy Worldwide 2008 Annual Conference: October 1-4, Little Rock, Arkansas

The ProLiteracy Worldwide annual conference will be held at the Peabody Little Rock—home of the world-famous Peabody ducks and a premier luxury hotel for business or pleasure. Located on the bank of the Arkansas River in Little Rock's River Market District, the Peabody Little Rock is just minutes away from the Clinton Presidential Center and 15 minutes from the Little Rock International Airport. The hotel is connected to the Statehouse Convention Center.

Curtis Aikens, star of the Food Network and regular ABC Good Morning America cast member, will be the headline speaker at the Adult Learner Rights Rally that will close ProLiteracy's conference on October 4.

Curtis Aikens Aikens didn't learn to read until he was 26 years old and began working with local literacy programs affiliated with Laubach Literacy and Literacy Volunteers, Inc. Those programs merged in 2002 to create ProLiteracy Worldwide, Inc.

As a child, Aikens memorized what he heard in class; when taking tests, he would scribble illegible answers and then respond orally when teachers asked him to translate. People responded to Aikens' likeable personality, and he was able to make it through high school and college with the help of friends; he even owned his own business. But he feared that his secret would become public, so when he saw a commercial for the Marin County Free Library Literacy Program, he enrolled and began to learn to read. Six years later, Aikens was a published author; he continues to donate a portion of his book royalties to adult literacy programs throughout the US.

Along with adult literacy students attending the conference, Aikens will lead close to 800 literacy program directors, teachers, trainers, and volunteer tutors and board members attending the ProLiteracy conference on a first-ever march from the Peabody Hotel through downtown Little Rock to the steps of the Old Statehouse building. There adult learners will unveil their rally platform and discuss action items. Following the rally, Aikens will deliver the keynote address at the lunch that closes the two-and-a-half days of workshops and presentations for adult learners and practitioners.

Learn more about the conference and register now at

ProLiteracy WorldwideProLiteracy supports adults and young people in the US and internationally who are learning to read, write, and do basic math by training instructors, publishing instructional materials, and advocating for resources and public policies that support them.

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This month, Critique Corner is pleased to present "Whisper Without Words" by Akpoteheri Godfrey Amromare.

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!

Whisper Without Words
by Akpoteheri Godfrey Amromare

They are all the same
The night
Laughs the last and loudest
My friends
Are anxious to creep
Walk taller
And pride their budding beards

This is our fate
That before the sun
Dies down
These children
Should all elope silently
And with silence
Leave us
To our face
Swollen, and ugly with silence

How may we know
Those alive
Seeing that they
Have chosen
Our hearts to walk?

A royal flower
When fading from royalty
And longing for shame
From nature's tempered elements
Too harsh to befriend.
Many a gentle gardener
Allows the gentle dame
A gentle passage
Through waiting earth
And she returns only to return
Yet, not in a fellow flower's soul.

How may we know
Those with us
The dead
Have left their graves
To be with us?

The war had many returns
Her sweet fruit
Drove our peering eyes to its hut
Retreating deeper
From the historic, crippling search
For our lost African brothers
Among deafening ranting
Of many maiming machines
We later found them
Snoring merrily
Among other stench corpse
We bore them
(Cherishing the mien of love)
Home on our shoulders
Each heart
A broken article of cold
We lay them on the pyre
We wept
Calling on earth and heaven
To witness our dead
And then came
Departing heart-shake-
It was time to say goodbye
We dug them
Away into waiting earth
But they would not go
They have chosen our soul eternally to roam!

The dead are not dead
The dead are here with us
Walking tall
Among us
In our memories
As we also must
Through love in loved ones
When the night
Becomes our light
And to waiting earth
We gravitate!

In learning
To live with the dead
We cherish
The smell of our living friends

Copyright 2008 by Akpoteheri Godfrey Amromare

Critique by Jendi Reiter

This month's critique poem, "Whisper Without Words", comes to us from Nigerian poet Akpoteheri Godfrey Amromare. I've been struck by how submissions from our African subscribers maintain the clarity of free verse without the colloquial, self-conscious flavor of much mainstream American narrative poetry.

As I sift through this year's War Poetry Contest entries, many times I come across what I call the "unnecessary narrator"—the speaker who is not involved in the main action, and therefore writes a poem about how she feels when watching it on television, thinking about it while tending her peaceful garden, and so forth. It's as if we have lost permission to exercise our fictional imagination within a poem, let alone to claim the authority of the omniscient narrator who guided us through the great nineteenth-century novels of politics and society. An epic subject deserves a prophetic voice.

I appreciate the formality of Amromare's speech, a trait I also encountered in previous critique poems by Tendai Mwanaka and Obed Dolo. The emotions are strong and personal yet unadulterated with the mannerisms of the everyday self, the ironic asides and pop-culture details that an American writer might employ to create a likeable and accessible narrator.

Such details are unnecessary to give "Whisper Without Words" verisimilitude. Amromare's poem is made painfully relevant by our knowledge of Africa's ongoing wars. At the same time, because of the style and the narrative's supernatural elements, we feel situated in a mythic or universal realm, not limited to one historical moment...

critique continues here

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

See all of our poetry critiques.


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Our Fall 2008 selection of winning poems from contests we admire

Winners Announced for the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
The Best Free Poetry Contests for September 16-October 31