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Featured Poem:
"A Pretty Silk Flower"

Featured Prose:
"The Postmaster's Song" (excerpt)

Featured Poem:
"Breakfast With Sophia"

Featured Poem:
"Driving to Camp Lend-A-Hand"

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September 2008

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Welcome to our September 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.

Lost one of our newsletters? Message garbled in transmission? Not to worry. All our recent newsletters are posted online at


Mourning in the Presence of a Corpse
Mourning in the Presence of a Corpse
Poems by Norbert Hirschhorn
(Dar al-Jadeed, Beirut, Lebanon, 2008)

          ...memory like mourning in the presence of a corpse
                             the corpse refusing burial
                   buildings pocked by bullets and mortars
                             refusing to collapse...


Norbert Hirschhorn is a public health physician, commended by President Bill Clinton as an "American Health Hero". His poems have been published widely in the US and UK. He lives in London and Beirut.
Praise for Mourning in the Presence of a Corpse:

"The with death, depression, 'interior exile' but also romantic affairs, the power of memories and resilience... His work covers a range of registers, from the colloquial to the richly poetic and elevated."
(Daily Star, Lebanon)

"...The richness of his poetry derives not only from its deep and wide wisdom, but from its breath of humanity... He writes about the human condition with sad and ironic humor."
(Al-Hayat, leading Pan-Arab newspaper)

Norbert Hirschhorn Praise for Hirschhorn's first collection of poetry, A Cracked River (Slow Dancer Press, London, 1999):

"His poems traverse a broad emotional range, from the comfortable and familiar to the unsettling. His verse reveals a man who is both a humanist and a humorist whose focus remains on the rich details of personal experience rather than the abstractions of larger events."
(Kirkus Reviews,

"Hirschhorn's abidingly humane vision graces a mature and philosophical poetry that gazes into the inescapable trauma of modern humanity and refuses to blink."
(Prairie Schooner, USA)
ISBN-13: 978-9953-11-049-3
Price (postage included): $10 (US), £5 (UK), 7 Euros
Contact the author at
In the Middle East:


Last Call!
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. 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.

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.


Victoria Gouldthorp

Tom Howard Books is pleased to announce the results from its 16th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest. Victoria Gouldthorp of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin won first prize and $2,000 for her story "All Things Considered". Over 1,800 entries were received from around the world. See the press release announcing the winners.

Gouldthorp's poignant first-person narrative of a young woman coping with recent widowhood is leavened with moments of humor. Forced to be polite to clueless well-wishers, the narrator inwardly expresses her anger and bewilderment at the assumption that life should go on as usual. The judges said, "The plot is a simple one, yet it grabs the reader's attention because the narrator remains not only so thoroughly believable, but is frank and honest enough to admit to anti-social feelings that readers themselves have often entertained. Most of us have experienced similar pangs of guilt, and we have tried to suppress them; whereas the narrator's response provides a perspective not only strikingly different, perhaps even commendable."

Second prize of $1,000 went to Arthur Powers of Raleigh, North Carolina for "The Bridge", a vivid account of a priest struggling to keep his emotional balance while ministering to a poor village in Brazil. Paul Garrety won third prize and $500 for "Romanos", a romantic ghost story about a young girl and her violin instructor. Maggie O'Toole won fourth prize and $250 for "The Promised Land", a tale of brotherhood and redemption along the Mexican border, where immigrants cross a harsh desert in search of a better life.

Most Highly Commended awards of $200 each were given to Karima Alavi, Russell Cera, Thomas Lee, Desmond Meiring and Judy Willman. Highly Commended awards of $100 went to Betty Jo Goddard, Dixon Hearne, Katie Kimbro, Connie Lounsbury, Paul Ponsiglione and Angela Posey-Arnold.

Read the top winning stories on our website, plus the judges' comments and the complete list of winners and commended entries. Thanks to all of you who participated. The 17th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest is currently open for entries here through March 31.


Congratulations to Diana Woodcock. Her poems "Movement" and "Cupful of Light" won first and second prizes in the 2008 Dancing Poetry Contest from Artists Embassy International. She kindly shares "Movement" with us below. This contest offers three grand prizes of $100 plus presentation of the winners' poems as original interpretive dances at their annual festival in San Francisco. The most recent deadline was May 15. Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter was among the third-prize winners for her poem "Nature Morte, Palm Beach".

Congratulations to Richard Gibney. His story "Father Feeney's March of the Blessed" was one of 22 shortlisted stories (out of 702 entries) in the RTE Radio One Short Story Competition. RTE is Ireland's national radio and television broadcaster. The shortlisted stories are being aired on the radio and can be heard online. This contest for Irish writers offers prizes up to 3,000 euros and is currently accepting entries until October 27.

Congratulations to Maree Teychenné . Her song "A Pretty Silk Flower" (arranged by Dr. Steven Capaldo) made it into the semi-finals of the 2008 UK songwriting competition (Folk Song category). There were 6,200 entries this year spread over 10 song categories. Last year, the lyrics of this song also made it into the UK semi-finals in the Lyrics Only category. The song made its debut in March this year at a performance celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. She kindly shares it with us below.

Congratulations to Ellen LaFleche. Her poem "The Night Fisherman" was one of four runners-up in the 2008 Happy Hour Poetry Awards and will be published in an upcoming issue of Alehouse. Ellen received a $100 prize. The most recent deadline for this contest, which offers a top prize of $1,000, was July 1.

Congratulations to Harrison Solow. Her short story "The Postmaster's Song" (one of ten award-winning stories) was published in The Ground Beneath Her Feet, an anthology from UK-based publisher Cinnamon Press. The editor, Jan Fortune-Wood, says in the introduction to the Anthology that it "represents the best work submitted to the sixth Cinnamon Press short story and poetry collection awards" and says of all the short stories submitted that a "through-line emerged...centred on the exploration of inner landscapes, sometimes slightly surreal, sometimes poignant, but always finely observed, startlingly authentic and beautifully controlled." Ms. Solow, a Pushcart Prize winner for her essay "Bendithion", says, "It is my fourth writing award this year, largely due to the information in Winning Writers... I'm not interested in any but serious, well-run literary competitions and your site is invaluable in providing information—separating the wheat from the chaff." Read an excerpt from "The Postmaster's Song" below.

Congratulations to Alvin Thomas Ethington. He won the $100 prize in FanStory's "Write About This" contest for his children's story "The Mermaid and the Octopus". FanStory offers numerous themed contests for its members throughout the year. This contest invited authors to write about a featured artwork on the website.

Congratulations to Robert Savino. He won the 2008 Oberon Poetry Prize for his poem "Breakfast With Sophia". He kindly shares this poem with us below. The Oberon Foundation is a nonprofit arts organization in Long Island, NY. The most recent deadline for this $1,000 prize was March 15.

Congratulations to M. Lee Alexander. She won first prize in the Asinine Poetry Contest for her poem "Last Supper". This annual contest offers prizes up to $100 for humorous poetry on a selected theme. The most recent deadline was August 1, for the "Crime" contest.

Congratulations to Dave Kessler. He won an honorable mention in the Asinine Poetry Contest for his poem "The French Soccer Case". In addition, Mr. Kessler's poem "Herding Hummingbirds" appeared in the Sept/Oct 2008 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

Berwyn Moore's sonnet "Driving to Camp Lend-A-Hand" was posted on American Life in Poetry, a syndicated newspaper column by former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, on July 31. She kindly shares this poem with us below.

Darla Himeles is featured reading nine of her poems as part of Getting Something Read's "Writers Reading" project. She, along with other featured poets, can be heard here. The direct link to her poems is here.

Robert Gilbert's novel Megan's Love, a romance set in the American Southwest, is now available on and through his website. An accompanying CD single, Soft Tears, is also available.

Scott Ennis' poem "Lullaby Blessing" was purchased by McGraw-Hill for use in their eighth-grade English textbook Expressions.


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Deadlines: September 16-October 31

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.

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.

10/15: Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers a fellowship of about $50,000 for US poets, to fund a year of travel outside North America. Entrants must be US citizens by virtue of birth in the US, or birth outside the US to an American citizen parent. While contest is open to all, poets with significant publishing credits have the best chance. Application should include 40 pages of poetry, or copy of published book and 20 pages of additional poetry. See website for other materials required.

10/15: Fernando Rielo World Prize for Mystical Poetry +
Neutral free contest offers 7,000 euros for unpublished "poetry expressing the spiritual values of humanity in their profound religious significance," written in Spanish or English or translated into one of these languages. Open to all nationalities, but most winners have been from Spain and South America. Entries should be 600-1,300 lines. No simultaneous submissions.

10/31: Eric Gregory Awards +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers prizes totaling 24,000 pounds for a collection of up to 30 poems, drama-poems or belles-lettres, by a writer who will be under age 30 as of March 31 of the following year. The author must be a British subject by birth but not a national of Eire or any of the British Dominions or Colonies, and must ordinarily be resident in the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland. Previously published work accepted.

10/31: Lucidity Poetry Journal Awards +
Neutral free contest offers top prize of $100 for poems about the human experience. Authors must be 18+. Editor Ted Badger says: "Seeking poetry that deals with people, relationships, life issues and events, written in clear and concise English. Form of the poem is open but it must have something to say without resorting to vulgarity. Clarity is crucial. We publish poetry that everyday people can relate to, understand and enjoy." Submit 1-5 poems, maximum 38 lines each (including stanza breaks). Address entries to "Lucidity Poetry Journal 2008 Contest".

10/31: RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly October 15
Recommended free contest offers C$5,000 for poetry or fiction by Canadian authors under 35 with no published books. Genre alternates by year. 2008 contest is for 5-10 pages (maximum 2,500 words) of unpublished poetry.

10/31: Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended contest from UK-based Society of Authors offers 5,000 pounds for the best book of poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction by a UK author who will be under 35 as of December 31. Entries in all genres compete for one prize. The author must be a British citizen ordinarily resident in Britain. The work submitted must have been first published in Britain in the year in which the deadline falls.

10/31: Talk About Debt Poetry Competition +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest sponsored by Talk About Debt, a UK-based online community for debt help and financial advice, offers prizes up to 300 pounds for poems that inspire debt-free living. Enter via comments field on their website. Previously published poems accepted.

10/31: Wick Student Poetry Competition +++
Highly recommended free contest for poets enrolled in Ohio colleges and universities offers chapbook publication by a prestigious university press. Sponsored by the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. Manuscripts should be 15-25 pages of poetry.

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.



CUTTHROAT, A Journal of the Arts Last Call!
CUTTHROAT: The 2008 Joy Harjo Poetry Award & the Rick DeMarinis Short Story Award
Postmark Deadline: October 10
First Prize in each genre: $1,250 and publication in CUTTHROAT
Second Prize in each genre: $250 and publication in CUTTHROAT

All finalists will be acknowledged in CUTTHROAT and considered for publication. Winners are announced in POETS & WRITERS and the AWP Chronicle.
To enter our 2008 Joy Harjo Poetry and Rick DeMarinis Short Story contests, send three unpublished poems (100-line limit each) or one unpublished story (5,000-word limit), a self-addressed stamped envelope (mandatory!), a cover sheet with name, address, email and telephone, and a $15 reading fee for each submission to CUTTHROAT Literary Award, Attn: [Poetry Contest or Short Story Contest], P.O. Box 2414, Durango, CO 81302.

No author name may appear on your manuscript. Enter as often as you wish. Please see the complete guidelines on our website. Send all inquiries to or call 970-903-7914. This year's judges are Richard Jackson (Poetry) and Linda Hogan (Short Story). Past contributors to CUTTHROAT include Marvin Bell, Joy Harjo, Michael Waters, Rebecca Seiferle, Michael Blumenthal, Naomi Shihab Nye, Patricia Smith, Richard Jackson and Andrei Codrescu.

Our congratulations go to the 2007 winners:
1st Prize Joy Harjo Poetry Competition: Melissa Kwasny of Jefferson City, Montana for her poem, "The Under World"
2nd Prize Joy Harjo Poetry Competition: Tana Jean Welch of Tallahassee, Florida for her poem, "A Crate of Oranges"


1st Prize Rick DeMarinis Short Story Competition: Michael Schiavone of Gloucester, Massachusetts for his story, "Golden Years"
2nd Prize Rick DeMarinis Short Story Competition: Rusty Harris of Simi Valley, California for her story, "One-Man Band"
Now through October 10, we are also reading poetry and short stories for the next print edition of CUTTHROAT. Writers living outside the US may send electronic submissions. Send 3-5 unpublished poems or one unpublished short story (5,000-word limit) to the attention of the proper editor:
  • Pamela Uschuk, Editor In Chief or
  • William Pitt Root, Poetry Editor or
  • Beth Alvarado, Fiction Editor
CUTTHROAT, A Journal of the Arts
P.O. Box 2414
Durango, CO 81302
Include a brief cover letter and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for return of manuscript or for an editorial response. We recycle manuscripts. WE DO NOT READ SUBMISSIONS THAT DO NOT INCLUDE SASEs. Please allow 16-20 weeks for a response. Because we have no cultural, racial, gender or regional bias, we welcome all styles and subjects. Our only bias is excellence. For further information, please visit our website.

Gerald Cable Book Award
Last Call!
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. Congratulations to Daneen Wardrop, our most recent published winner.

Guidelines: $20 reading fee payable to Silverfish Review Press. Manuscripts should be at least 48 pages. Clean photocopies 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 snail-mail submissions to: Silverfish Review Press, Gerald Cable Book Award, P.O. Box 3541, Eugene, OR 97403.

Please enjoy "Well" by Paul Hunter, a poem from Ripening, published by Silverfish Review Press.

Rattle of chain in the pipe
short dry wait while you crank
up out of dark underfoot

to the hot tin cup taken down
from its twisted wire loop
offered the cast iron mouth

anticipating the gush
that overfills even so
splashes your legs as you lift

to the sounds of abundance
dripping and flowing
back beneath you for the next

who feels parched
who will draw up drink deep
empty and shake out this cup

IsotopeLast Call!
Isotope 2009 Editors' Prizes in Nonfiction, Fiction and Poetry
Postmark Deadline: October 15
  • Prizes: $300 and publication for each genre winner
  • Genres: Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry
  • Entry fee: $15 per genre (includes discounted 2-year subscription)
Isotope: A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing is interested in lyric and short narrative essays, short stories, microfiction, prose poems, poetry, and artwork that engages in and meditates on the varied complex relationship among the human and non-human worlds, with a special interest in moving beyond merely laudatory descriptions of natural beauty and elegies on loss of the same.

We are interested in "the beauty of things"—to use Robinson Jeffers's phrase—but seek to complicate typical modes of nature writing with a wide range of emotion and subject.

We are especially interested in work engaging fields, subjects and concerns that move beyond traditional nature writing—including urban ecosystems, astronomy, physics, chaos theory, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, restoration ecology, earth sciences, cartography, sexuality, medicine and the body.

You may enter only one submission in each genre but you may enter more than one genre. Each entry requires the $15 fee, which will be credited to extended subscriptions if you enter two or three genres total.

All entries considered for publication. Previously published work is not eligible. Submission by regular mail only, though fees may be paid online. See Isotope's website at for full contest guidelines. Please follow them carefully.

A Room of Her Own - 2009 Gift of Freedom
Closing Next Month
Attention 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.

Here is an excerpt from Without a Map by Meredith Hall, the 2004 Gift of Freedom award winner. This memoir was written under her grant.
Chapter Ten
Killing Chickens

I tuck her wings tight against her heaving body, crouch over her, and cover her flailing head with my gloved hand. Holding her neck hard against the floor of the coop, I take a breath, set something deep and hard inside my heart, and twist her head. I hear her neck break with a crackle. Still she fights me, struggling to be free of my weight, my gloved hands, my need to kill her. Her shiny black beak opens and closes, opens and closes silently as she gasps for air. I hadn't known this would happen. I am undone by the flapping, the dust rising and choking me, the disbelieving little eye turned up to mine. I hold her beak closed, covering that eye. Still she pushes, her reptile legs bracing against mine, her warmth, her heart beating fast with mine. I turn her head on her floppy neck again, and again, corkscrewing her breathing tube, struggling to end the gasping. The eye, turned around and around, blinks and studies me. The early spring sun flows onto us through a silver stream of dust, like a stage light, while we fight each other. I lift my head and see that the other birds are eating still, pecking their way around us for stray bits of corn. This one, this twisted and broken lump of gleaming black feathers, claws hard at the floor, like a big stretch, and then deflates like a pierced ball. I wait, holding her tiny beak and broken neck with all my might.

I am killing chickens. It is my birthday. I was awake through the night, reckoning with a terrible decision. When I woke this morning, the next path was finally, achingly clear. After breakfast I sat with my children, Alex and Benjamin, and struggled to ease the news that their father and I are divorcing. They were stunned into silence. Now, as I crouch over my quiet hen, my sons are making a birthday surprise for me at the kitchen table. "It's okay, guys," I had said as I gathered my gloves and went outside, trying with my voice to pull them back to safety. "I won't peek."

I carry Bertie's warm, limp body outside and lay her on the grass. Back inside the coop, I stalk my hens and come up with Tippy-Toes. I gather her frantic wings and crouch over her. My husband normally would kill off my beautiful but tired old hens, no longer laying, to make way for the new chicks that are arriving tomorrow. I don't know how to do this. But I am going to do it myself. This is just a little thing in all the things I am going to have to learn to do alone. I have five more to go. Tippy-Toes tries to shriek behind my glove. I clamp my hand over her beak and give her head a hard twist. I feel her body break deep inside my own chest.

Two down. I feel powerful, capable. I can handle whatever comes to me.

But I need a rest. I am tired, exhausted, with a heavy, muffled weight settling inside. "I'm coming in," I call in a false, singsong voice from the kitchen door. "Better hide my surprise." Ten and seven, Alex and Ben know that a terrible thing is happening to them. They are working quietly in the kitchen, not giggling and jostling the way they always do. Their downy blond heads touch as they lean over their projects. I feel a crush of sadness, of defeat. We are exploding into smithereens on this pretty March day and we all know it.

"I have to make a cake!" I sing from the doorway. "When are you guys going to be done in there?"

"Wait! Wait!" they squeal. It is an empty protest, their cheer as hollow as mine.

Our old house smells good, of wood smoke and the pancakes the three of us ate this morning, in that other world of hope and confidence before our conversation. We live on a ridge high over the mouth of the Damariscotta River on the coast of Maine. From our beds, we can see out over Pemaquid Point, over Monhegan Island over the ocean to the edge of the Old World. The rising sun bursts into our sleep each morning. At night, before bed, we lie on my bed together naming Orion and Leo and the Pleiades in whispers. Monhegan's distant lighthouse beam sweeps the walls of our rooms all night at thirty-six-second intervals. Our little house creaks in the wind during February storms. Now spring has come, and the world has shifted.

"Help me make my cake," I say to the boys. They drag their chairs to the counter.

"Mum, will Dad be home for your birthday tonight?" Alex asks. Both boys are so contained, so taut, so helpless. They lean against me, quiet...

[click to continue reading]

Perugia PressPerugia Press Prize — Now Accepting Submissions
Postmark Deadline: November 15
A prize of $1,000 and publication by Perugia Press is given annually for a first or second unpublished poetry collection by a woman. Submit manuscripts with a $22 entry fee. Visit the Perugia Press website for complete guidelines, email or send a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to Perugia Press Prize, P.O. Box 60364, Florence, MA 01062.

Two Minutes of Light The 2008 winner, Two Minutes of Light by Nancy K. Pearson, is on sale now at Please enjoy this poem selected from the book...
Consider the Lilies of the Field
by Nancy K. Pearson

Years ago I slept on the sidewalks
in the Tenderloin, a summer junkie
selling baking soda crack to college boys.
Every day the fog cribs in; the blue gum cypress
sleep underwater and I do not feel a drop.
I am thirty now. Still Silva and Reggie use
their caked brown fingers all day twisting
baggies behind Miz Brown's Feed Bag.
Silva keeps her teeth in her scarf.
I write all day and into the violet night,
my heart soaked through—
all my life I've been vain in my grief.
Meanwhile, the thin-skinned lilies
hold more than their weight of water
deep in the perpetually shedding forest—
they toil not, neither do they spin.

Copyright 2008 by Nancy K. Pearson

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". Read that poem here.

Dream Quest OneNow Open
Dream Quest One Writing Competition
Postmark Deadline: December 31
This writing contest is open to anyone who loves to express their innermost thoughts and feelings in poetry or to write a short story that's worth telling everyone! We're accepting poems, 30 lines or fewer on any subject, and short stories, 5 pages maximum on any theme (single- or double-line spacing). Multiple entries welcome.

Short Story First Prize: $500, 2nd: $250, 3rd: $100
Poetry First Prize: $250, 2nd: $125, 3rd: $50

Entry fees
$10 per story
$5 per poem

How to Enter
Send your work with a cover page that lists the title(s) of your poem(s)/story(ies), name, address, phone number, and email address, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for entry confirmation. Make your entry fee payable to "DREAMQUESTONE.COM" and mail to Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest, P.O. Box 3141, Chicago, IL 60654. Visit for details and to enter.

Please enjoy "Juvenile Delinquency" by Lynn Galanis of Stamford, CT, winner of the first prize for a short story in our Summer 2008 contest:
Juvenile Delinquency
by Lynn Galanis

"When are you going to have children?"

Here we go again. At 37 and 40, my husband and I are one of the few childless couples in our circle. Since childless couples are not considered families, a traditional event like a one-year-old's birthday party is fertile ground for an inquisition. Under the guise of nice, light party conversation.

"How about when it starts looking like fun?" I smile sweetly and nod toward a girl puking purple liquid into a corner. A bevy of women run to her, like white blood cells to a wound.

Jeanelle has regularly cross-examined me about my willingness to reproduce since she began having babies six years ago. Our husbands are old college buddies with busy lives and a state between them, so we only see John and Jeanelle on special occasions. This is the third first birthday I've attended on their behalf. Our only other connection is the group e-mail list for her photos. Two percent include John and Jeanelle; the surplus is of their progeny and a whippet.

Skinny Jeanelle is in blue-and-white capris, white leather loafers, a white blouse, and a dark blue knit vest, very Banana Republic. She pushes a flat-ironed chunk of silky dark hair behind her ear, a gold bangle glinting on her tanned, toned arm. Her appearance is flawless, except for her face, which looks like a sardine: long, with glossy skin, sucked-in cheeks and dead eyes. Her nose and lips twitch, like she's trying not to smell an odor that envelops her. Jeanelle scratches her pointy chin with a buff-colored nail. A large diamond ring dares me not to notice it. She notices me noticing. A smirk crosses her thin lips. I lick mine...

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Lunch Hour Stories 2008 VERY Short Story and Narrative Prose Poem Contest
Postmark Deadline: December 31
Lunch Hour Stories magazine announces its annual VERY Short Story and Narrative Prose Poem Contest. THREE winners will receive cash prizes, free copies, and publication in a print anthology. Up to NINE additional winners will receive publication.

Stories and poems should be narrative in nature and written in paragraph form only. They should be previously unpublished and 500 words or less each. Send as many as you wish. All stories/poems, regardless of genre or theme (except children's, religious, nonfiction, and erotica) will be considered. We're open to anything, so send us your most creative work! Visually beautiful, moving or humorous, we want it all. Simultaneous submissions are okay, too.

Send one copy and a $5 non-refundable reading fee per entry (SASE optional) to: VSS/PP CONTEST, Lunch Hour Stories, PMB 1117, 22833 Bothell Everett Highway, Suite 110, Bothell, WA 98021, USA. Or, submit via email to and pay online at

Complete submission guidelines and contest entry details can be found at Thank you for supporting Lunch Hour Stories magazine, and good luck!

The W.B. Yeats Society of New York Poetry CompetitionThe W.B. Yeats Society of New York Poetry Competition — Alice Quinn, Judge
Postmark Deadline: February 1, 2009
First prize $250, second prize $100. Winners and honorable mentions receive 2-year memberships in the Yeats Society and are honored at an event in New York at Barnes & Noble Union Square (April 6, 2009). Competition is open to members and non-members of any age, from any locality. Entry fee $8 for first poem, $7 each additional.

Submit poems in English up to 60 lines, not previously published, on any subject. Each poem (judged separately) typed on an 8.5 x 11-inch sheet without author's name; attach 3x5 card with name, address, phone, email. Mail to Poetry Competition WW, WB Yeats Society of NY, National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY 10003. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to receive the judge's report (example). List of winners is posted on around March 31, along with information on the Yeats Summer School in Ireland, July 25-August 9, 2009.

Authors retain all rights, but grant us the non-exclusive right to publish winning entries. These are the complete guidelines; no entry form necessary. We reserve the right to hold late submissions to following year. For information on our other programs, or on membership, please visit or write to us at the address above.

Please enjoy "Song for Rana", first-prize winner in our 2007 contest (Marie Ponsot, judge):
Song for Rana
by Charlotte Muse
Menlo Park, California

Epigraph: The frog (Rana; of the family Ranidae) is disappearing all over the world.

Come back to our dreams with your cold and warty skin
your sideways eyes
your splayed hands clothespin-fingered,
the litheness of your open thighs
ballooning of your singing throat

We knew before the forests came
and went that you were magic.
We'll look past your crude disguise,
we told you. Fetch the golden ball
and you shall sleep upon our pillows singing

We wove you in, we made you songs,
mm-hmm, mm-hmm,
We thought you were unpleasant but we did,
A prince of a fellow, all in all,
we listened for you spring and fall
mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm

When it was midnight, I held my breath
and kissed him handsome.
He waltzed me to my room.
Kick your shoes off, do not fear,
bring that bottle over here,
he sang, and I did. Outside,
under a black and silver sky
the voices of a thousand frogs
rang like muffled bells.

But who needs the frog
when the prince is underneath?
we asked ourselves,
netting frogs from their dank ponds
by the thousands. We'd hand one,
pickled in formaldehyde,
limp as a potholder,
to any biology student
who'd mine for the giblet heart,
the intestines rolled neatly as socks in a suitcase.

Such uses they found
for your body, Rana!
We've seen what makes you tick.
We know what makes you croak.

And now you answer
with an awful silence.

Please. Don't go.
We want you back.
We see now what we've broken.
We didn't mean to break it
break it break it. We didn't
mean to break it.

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2009
upstreet, an independent literary annual, is seeking quality submissions—with an edge—of short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, for its fifth issue. Each issue features an author interview; the first four interviews were with Jim Shepard, Lydia Davis, Wally Lamb, and Michael Martone. Payment is in author copies. upstreet is nationally distributed by Source Interlink, Ubiquity, and Armadillo, and by Disticor in Canada. For sample content and to submit, visit For news about upstreet and its authors, visit This poem is from upstreet number four:
The Hint
by Karen Chase

The bear safety pamphlet says:
act human, wave your arms,
speak to the bear,
but I have nothing more to say to you.

Just because I can speak, Bear, don't
expect me to. It's not always human
to talk, in case you didn't know.

Sometimes we'd rather act—
you know about that.
The skewed way you glance sideways

at an armed man gets fear across
better than talking can. Don't take
your chances with me, Bear—

you are stronger but we are smarter.
Right now I am using my brain as you
sleep in your den. Hint:
we gain advantage with tools.

Don't fool with me. I hear stories
from friends who know your kind.

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...

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These free prose contests with deadlines between September 16 and October 31 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.

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.

9/30: Virginia Quarterly Review Young Reviewers Contest +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers $1,000 for reviews (2,000-3,500 words) by authors under age 30 about books of poetry, fiction or nonfiction published in the US during the current calendar year. Winner also receives contract for three additional reviews (worth up to $3,000). Enter via online form only.

10/1: Chapter One Fiction Competition +
Neutral free contest for novel excerpts by New York City residents aged 18+ offers up to five prizes of $1,000 and a public reading. Send the first chapter of your unpublished novel or work-in-progress, maximum 20 double-spaced pages, plus 250-word synopsis.

10/1: Christopher Isherwood Foundation Grants +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers $4,000 fellowships to US authors with one published book of fiction. Submit 3 copies of completed application from website plus 20-30 page sample of fiction, published or unpublished.

10/1: Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly September 30
Highly recommended free contest from major literary publisher offers $12,000 for the best full-length manuscript of creative nonfiction by a US resident with no more than two published books in that genre. Entries should be 175-400 double-spaced pages.

10/1: National Award for Arts Writing +++
Highly recommended free contest offers $15,000 for a nonfiction book published in the US in the current calendar year about an artistic discipline (e.g. visual, performing or literary arts). Sponsored by the Arts Club of Washington. Publishers, agents or authors should submit 3 copies of the book plus entry form.

10/1: Pilgrimage Writing Award ++
Formerly August 1
Recommended free contest offers $1,000 for the best personal essay up to 6,000 words that appeared in any of this year's issues of Pilgrimage, a thrice-yearly publication emphasizing themes of place, spirit, peace and justice, in and beyond the Greater Southwest. Themes change with each issue. Shorter pieces preferred. October theme is "Deep Democracy" (see website for details).

10/13: Jerwood Awards for Non-Fiction +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly October 5
Highly recommended free contest offers top prize of 10,000 pounds to UK or Irish citizens, or residents of the UK for at least 3 years, who are working on their first major commissioned works of non-fiction. Applications should include a cover letter with project description, a copy of the publishing contract, a synopsis or draft chapter, and a supporting letter from the editor.

10/15: Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers prizes of 500 pounds for Young Writers (aged 18-21), 1,000 pounds 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. Entrants must be current residents of the US or UK. Enter by email.

10/15: Hiett Prize in the Humanities +++
Formerly September 15
Highly recommended free contest offers a $50,000 fellowship to a US citizen or permanent resident who has not yet reached his or her full potential, but whose work in the humanities shows extraordinary promise and has a significant public or applied component related to cultural concerns. Candidates must be within the early stages of a career track in which the primary work is in a field centered in or directly related to one or more of the humanities. Open to creative writers as well as scholars. Entrants must be nominated by an individual already established in the humanities.

10/20: Brenda L. Smart Fiction Prizes +
Formerly October 22
Neutral free contest for North Carolina authors with no published books offers $500 for short fiction (up to 5,000 words), $250 for flash fiction (up to 1,200 words).

10/27: RTE Radio 1 Short Story Competition ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly October 29
Recommended free contest for authors born or normally resident in Ireland offers top prize of 3,000 euros for unpublished short fiction of 1,800-2,000 words that is suitable for radio performance. One entry per person.

10/31: FundsforWriters Essay Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest for short essays (750 words maximum) on topics of interest to the professional writer offers $200 in fee-charging category, $50 in free category. FFW is an excellent resource for both literary and commercial freelance writers, offering useful e-books and newsletters that list paying markets for different types of writing. Fee is $5 per essay. Themes change annually. 2008 theme: "The Best Advice I Ever Had...and Followed" or "The Best Advice I Ever Had...and Ignored". Enter by email (no attachments).

10/31: Girls Gone Great Scholarship Essay Contest ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers $1,000 college scholarship for high school junior and senior girls for essays, 800 words maximum, on how they are making a difference in their community. Entries should include a reference from an adult who is not a family member. Sponsor is a women's radio show in Baltimore. Enter by email.

10/31: Lee & Low New Voices Award +
Neutral free contest offers top prize of $1,000 and publication for a picture book story (1,500 words maximum) by a US writer of color who has no prior published books in this genre. No simultaneous submissions.

10/31: Narrative Travel Writing Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers prizes up to $500 and publication on for travel essays, 1,000-3,000 words, on an annual theme. Enter online only. Photo illustrations are encouraged.

10/31: PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest for published books of fiction by US citizens offers top prize of $15,000, four runners-up of $5,000. Send 4 copies of book to the Foundation office. Recent winners have been well-established writers such as Philip Roth, Ha Jin and John Updike.

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.



Poets of the American West
Rolling Deadline
Many Voices Press, an imprint of Flathead Valley Community College in Montana, is accepting submissions for an anthology of poets from Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. No deadline; they will read submissions until they have selected a quantity sufficient to compile a 400-page manuscript. $200 Many Voices Prize awarded to the best poem from each state. Send up to 12 poems, any length, with $12 fee and submission form from website. Previously published poems accepted if you own the rights. Poems in Spanish and Native American languages must include English translation. All entrants receive copy of anthology (a $24 value). Editors say, "We are most interested in poems that offer original insights into historical or contemporary life in the American West. We are open to all poems of merit, regardless of style, though narrative poems accessible to a broad readership are most likely to catch our attention." Order their anthology of Montana poets, Poems Across the Big Sky, to see the type of work they publish.

Muse & Stone
Postmark Deadline: November 15
Muse & Stone, the literary journal of Waynesburg University in Pennsylvania, seeks submissions of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Send 1-5 poems, or one prose piece up to 6,000 words, to Muse & Stone, Buhl Hall, Waynesburg University, 51 West College Street, Waynesburg, PA 15370. Indicate genre on outer envelope. Website may not be updated, but rules confirmed via Sept/Oct 2008 Poets & Writers classifieds.

Bird's Eye reView
Postmark Deadline: December 1
New online literary journal seeks submissions of strong narrative poetry based out of personal experiences. Editors say, "We believe everyone has a story to tell and a unique voice with which to tell it." Formal and free verse both welcome, but no experimental or avant-garde work. Send 1-5 unpublished poems by mail or email.

Fiction International "Artist in Wartime" Issue
Postmark Deadline: December 15
Fiction International, a literary journal "emphasizing formal innovation and progressive politics", seeks submissions of fiction and nonfiction for its upcoming theme issue on "The Artist in Wartime". Read editor Harold Jaffe's article in Armageddon Buffet on "The Writer in Wartime" before submitting.

Entries must be received by March 1, 2009
upstreet, a literary journal based in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, seeks submissions of poetry, fiction and essays for Issue #5. Entries must be submitted through their online form. Send no more than 3 poems, 2 stories or 2 nonfiction pieces (including prose poems). Prose should be 5,000 words maximum. upstreet is a competitive journal whose authors have won numerous awards.



Blithe House Quarterly
Online literary journal publishes short stories by emerging and established gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered authors. They also accept work by straight authors on GLBT themes.

The Cresset
Valparaiso University literary journal considers the arts and culture from a Christian perspective. They accept submissions of poetry, essays and book reviews.

CUNY School of Professional Studies—Online Writing Courses
The City University of New York offers reasonably priced online seminars on various liberal arts topics, taught by elite scholars, researchers, and creative artists.

Feminist Studies
This scholarly journal published by the University of Maryland also accepts submissions of poetry, short fiction, personal essays and artwork, with deadlines of May 1 and December 1 annually. No simultaneous submissions. "Feminist Studies is committed to publishing an interdisciplinary body of feminist knowledge that sees intersections of gender with racial identity, sexual orientation, economic means, geographical location, and physical ability as the touchstone for our politics and our intellectual analysis. Whether work is drawn from the complex past or the shifting present, the pieces that appear in Feminist Studies address social and political issues that intimately and significantly affect women and men in the United States and around the world." Authors published in Feminist Studies since its inception in 1972 include Meena Alexander, Nicole Brossard, Jayne Cortez, Toi Derricotte, Diane Glancy, Marilyn Hacker, Lyn Hejinian, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Cherrie Moraga, Sharon Olds, Grace Paley, Ruth Stone, and Mitsuye Yamada.

Small Beer Press
Independent press edited by acclaimed fantasy and magical-realist authors Kelly Link and Gavin R. Grant publishes the biannual journal Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, plus books and chapbooks of genre-bending fiction. Link and Grant are also the editors of the excellent Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology series, begun by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.

The View From Here
Down-to-earth, witty literary magazine features author interviews, book reviews, flash fiction, cartoons, news and events. Their editors hail from the US, England and Australia, allowing them to introduce overseas audiences to new authors and publications worth watching.

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.



Christening the Dancer
By John Amen. Vital, innovative first collection of poems blazes with the agony and ecstasy of rebirth. "We stand in the fusillade,/refusing to camouflage ourselves./Every bullet swallowed turns to gold in our bowels."



Last Call!
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. 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.

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!

2009 Poet's Market — Now On Sale
The 2009 edition of Poet's Market is on sale for $18.47 at Amazon. Published each August by Writer's Digest, this is the best annual guide to 1,600 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.

Alibris Coupons - Expiring Today!
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Office Depot Coupons
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by Diana Woodcock

Here's how I'd like to move
through this world:
Entering the forest without
     moving the grass,
Entering the water without
     raising a ripple.*

The only one I'd ask for
guidance is the red-crowned
crane. And I would drink
from mountain streams,
subsist on fallen chestnuts,
bathe in morning mists. I'd

move among the sick, curing
by reciting poetry, and for every
three questions I'd give only
one answer—no more long-
winded dissertations. I'd

move on faith—distribute all my
money by the evening, or on Fridays
give away everything I own as those
early Sufis did. I'd

move out of my queen-sized bed—
put a ruler from the strips of the reed
mat on the page of my body.**
ask nothing of anyone except the grey
fish—how I wish I could

move with them through warm Gulf waters
swimming in perfect synchronization.
When disturbed, fragment like fireworks,
then flow back together in unison. I want to

move through this world as if I had fins or
wings—nothing holding me back—dawn,
dusk, final witching hour. But if I must
trod along on two calloused feet, let me
pirouette and leap like a ballerina, then float
down any avenue or street as if I were loon
or swan on the most placid lake or pond.

*Zen saying
**Abu Talib Kalim

Copyright 2008 by Diana Woodcock

This poem won a first prize in the 2008 Dancing Poetry Contest from Artists Embassy International.


A Pretty Silk Flower
by Maree Teychenné


A pretty silk flower for the maiden
and a comb for her fair shiny hair.
A potted cherry tree for her sweetheart
and a padded, executive chair.

A pretty silk flower for the maiden
and some braid for her fair shiny hair.
Six goblets, painted gold, for her sweetheart
and a watch-dog for when he's not there.

A baby that spoils it for her sweetheart
and another thirteen to be born.
By fifty when she's done makin' children,
she'll be saggy and swollen and torn.


So may she bathe
in the still morning waters
where the willow and lavender grow.

May she find out her worth
before it's too late

and may she learn how
to simply say 'No, oh no!'
May she learn how to simply say 'No!'


From a herbal and tonic in the mornin'
to a stay at a country detox.,
to a marriage that is open but hopeful
that he won't give their children the pox.

A mirror and Bible for companions
and a wig for her once shiny hair.
His gamblin' and his drinkin' and ragin'
make her glad that he's now rarely there.

A pretty silk flower for the maiden
on a grave barely under the ground.
Her sweetheart cashed the goblets soon
after and I can't say he's ever been found!


Copyright 2008 by Maree Teychenné

This song made it into the semi-finals of the 2008 UK songwriting competition (Folk Song category), and made its debut in March this year at a performance celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.


The Postmaster's Song (excerpt)
by Harrison Solow

...And then, one September day, Mallory had a birthday. When she got up on that heraldic morning, it was just the sort of day she liked. Rainy and windy and dramatic—with dark leaves flying and that pattery sound on the windowpane—the sort of day when she could wear her tall boots and high-collared, wind floating; when everyone's cheeks were busked with weather and Mallory's breakfast was ambrosial. Thick yellow Welsh honey on toast and local milk in the tea. An excellent beginning to an excellent day.

It was about to become bendigedig.

Bendigedig is a Welsh word that means fantastic, splendid and brilliant. Not quite what is meant by those words in English, but still superlative, in a solid, Welsh sort of way. (There are some lovely words in Welsh for "fantastic". Godigog—penigamp—gorchestol. But bendigedig is the one that would have come to mind if Mallory had known what was about to happen.)

When she had finished her breakfast, Mallory washed her dishes, put on her swashbuckling coat, picked up her satchel and umbrella and walked out of the door into a new life.

On the way to the university, even though she was running a little late, she stopped at the Post Office, which was just across the road from the campus. The Post Office was Mallory's favourite place in the village. On pale November mornings, white and gauzy, it seemed like an Edward Hopper painting and on late golden summer afternoons, it took on the imposing air of an Italian palazzo.

This morning however, it looked like the uncompromisingly grey damp Welsh building it was, though Mallory rarely saw it that way, largely because two of her favourite people in the world worked there: Aaron, who was tall and thin and handsome with damson eyes and a calming voice, and William who was short and round and handsomer, with eyes so sparkly that they really could not be said to have a colour at all—and whose voice can never adequately be described.

Once each millennium, perhaps, a voice like this is born. Once in a thousand years do the gods descend to bless the tender throat of a newborn babe. But, in William, that is where it stayed—deep in the throat of a protracted infancy, surrendered to a secret twenty years before. Mallory knew that he had lost the career of a lifetime. A life of Carreran splendour, a fame of Pavarottian proportions. All the village knew it, though they knew not why. All kept silence. Except, as it turned out, Mallory...

Copyright 2008 by Harrison Solow

This story was published in The Ground Beneath Her Feet, an anthology from UK-based publisher Cinnamon Press.


Breakfast With Sophia
by Robert Savino

She wakes on a bed in the living room,
in the dark. She crawls to the foot
and peeks over the edge to see
if I'd been to sleep at all,

then, unhinges into a series of karate moves
and says, "Grandpa, I'm gonna beat you up!"
I engage for a short while, then quickly take
to the breakfast table, a clandestine coward.

After one period of fruit loop table hockey,
she eats. I tangle with nocturnal words, aloud.
She lifts her spoon, holding it like nunchucks
and says, "Grandpaaaaw, you a knucklehead,"

then follows me everywhere, with her mother's eyes,
a pastime of summer fun, all over again.
When she leaves, flowers in the garden droop.
Crabgrass and dandelions peek out over the sod.

I imagine her return as a teen or young adult,
reading this poem to me or saying,
"C'mon Gramps, I can't dance to this!"

Copyright 2008 by Robert Savino

This poem won the 2008 Oberon Poetry Prize from the Oberon Foundation, a nonprofit arts organization in Long Island, NY.


Driving to Camp Lend-A-Hand
by Berwyn Moore

for Emma Grace

The day we picked our daughter up from camp,
goldenrod lined the road, towheaded scouts
bowing on both sides, the parting of macadam
as we drove, the fields dry, the sky lacy with clouds.
A farmer waved. A horse shrugged its haughty head.
We stopped for corn, just picked, and plums and kale,
sampled pies, still warm, and tarts and honeyed bread.
Sheets on a line ballooned out like a ship's sail.
Time stopped in those miles before we saw her.
For eight days we hadn't tucked her in or brushed
her hair or watched her grow, the week a busy blur
of grown-up bliss. It came anyway, that uprush
of fear—because somewhere a child was dead:
at a market, a subway, a school, in a lunatic's bed.

Copyright 2008 by Berywn Moore

This poem was featured in former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry column.


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Last Call for ProLiteracy Worldwide's 2008 Annual Conference: October 1-4

ProLiteracy Worldwide Join us in Little Rock, Arkansas!

We'll be in Little Rock from Wednesday, October 1 through Saturday, October 4 with workshops, presentations, and speakers for a professional development event you don't want to miss!

We're offering special group rates—bring 3 people and pay just $900 for conference registration; that's a savings of $220. Register 5 people for $1,500 and 10 for just $3,000!

You'll want to include adult learners, so they can be a part of the first-ever Rally for Adult Learner Rights taking place on Saturday morning. Special Student Rate—$150!

There's still time to register and there are hotel rooms available at the Doubletree Hotel. It's walking distance from the Peabody Hotel/Statehouse Convention Center, and it's the location for many pre-conference and conference sessions (including the entire community literacy institute) so you'll be right in the middle of all the action! Contact the Doubletree at 501-372-4371 today!

Register online today! See You in Little Rock!

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This month, Critique Corner is pleased to present "The Trees Stand Watch" by S.E. Ingraham.

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!

The Trees Stand Watch
by S.E. Ingraham

Last month as I lay ill
and dying still,
my neighbor's trees
kept watch

Their bony arms raised
to the skies
defying winter's wrath,
blackly outlining
starkest cold felt deep
within the marrow
of my bones,
and without as well

Then the birches, with March,
heralded false Spring briefly,
with a fuzzy show of slightest green
worn off again in hours
by the ice-storm
I felt surround my heart,
my soul, my everything

Birch is hard-wood
and so am I, so together
we stood strong,
weathered the non-season

Refusing to give up the ghost,
die, as expected;
we toughed out the weeks
until real Spring

Deigned to put in
her appearance
and now the trees stand watch,
their branches lovely,
dancing full of leaves
and grace and hope,
and yet, like sentinels,
they guard my being,
not allowing death
to steal in and make off
with anything
I am loath
to give up
just yet.

Copyright 2008 by S.E. Ingraham

Critique by Jendi Reiter

In this month's critique poem, "The Trees Stand Watch", S.E. Ingraham writes with a simplicity and cleanness of style that befits the narrator's stripped-down spiritual condition. A crisis can force us to abandon the luxury of ironic distance, the fear that our emotions will seem too sentimental if we don't surround them with elaborate artistic tricks. Sincerity is born of desperation.

Illness foregrounds our animal nature and its limitations, sometimes a rude surprise for the artist accustomed to exploring the seemingly infinite territory of the imagination. Here, the narrator learns how to remain present with her painful body by finding kinship with the strong, protective, long-lived trees.

With powerful directness, the first stanza introduces the primal antagonists at work in the poem, death and solitude ("Last month as I lay ill/and dying still") versus life and caregiving ("my neighbor's trees/kept watch"). I think it's significant that we know this detail, that these are the neighbor's trees rather than the protagonist's own property or simply "some trees". "Neighbor" instantly connects the trees to companionship and a kind of unconditional solidarity with strangers in need, as in "love thy neighbor as thyself"...

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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Winners Announced for the Fifth Annual Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse
The Best Free Poetry Contests for October 16-November 30