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August 2009

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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.

Lost one of our newsletters? Formatting doesn't look right? Not to worry. All our recent newsletters are posted online at

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



Robert Frost Foundation Closing Next Month
13th 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 13th Annual Award. The winner will receive $1,000 and an invitation to present the winning poem this fall at the Frost Festival located at the Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the library in which Frost first explored the traditions of English and Irish poetry.

This year's judge, Jarita Davis, is a poet and fiction writer who earned a B.A. in classics from Brown University and both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. She was the writer in residence at the Nantucket Historical Association and has received fellowships from the Mellon Mayes program, Cave Canem and Hedgebrook. In addition, she was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Travel Research Grant, a Neiheisel Phi Beta Kappa Award, and a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Her work has appeared in the Southwestern Review, Historic Nantucket, Cave Canem Anthologies, Crab Orchard Review and Plainsongs.

Please submit two copies of each poem, one copy with contact information (name, address, phone number, email address) and one copy free of all identifying information. Reading fees are $10 per poem (send fees via regular mail, please). Make your check payable to The Robert Frost Foundation. Mail your entry to: The Robert Frost Foundation, Attn: Poetry Award, Lawrence Public Library - 3rd Floor, 51 Lawrence Street, Lawrence, MA 01841. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) or an email address if you'd like to receive the contest results. Email submissions are accepted at if you send your entry fee by regular mail.

You may submit up to three poems of no more than three pages each. Both published and unpublished works are accepted. See the complete contest guidelines at

Please enjoy "Cottonwoods" by Judith Brice, published in volume 2 of The Robert Frost Foundation Online Anthology (2005):
    by Judith Brice


    It took all day, the felling of the cottonwood,

    Two lumberjacks, lean and tough,

    Grasping the ancient saw between

    Their rough and work-hewn hands.

    (Until that year we never knew about cottonwoods:

    How they could shed their seeds and

    Drape the world with snow in spring!

    Nor did we see the flickering leaves as they grabbed each sigh of

    For what we knew, trees were trees to climb!)

    But this one was too big, our parents told us,

    "Too big, and it might be a danger to our cottage",

    And so we watched, stroke by stroke as the saw nabbed the

    We gulped our juice and ate our sandwiches as we sat on
    neighboring stumps.

    The saw moved, steady, into the pulp.

    The men, expressionless, worked their job.

    The Lake listened, waiting for the massive splash.

    And then it came. And it was new:

    Louder than our ears could hold,

    Then silent as a stone, skipped cold.

    [poem continues - click for Part II]


Closing Next Month
Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: September 30
Now in its seventh year, this contest seeks poems in any style, theme or genre. Both published and unpublished poems are welcome. Prizes of $2,000, $1,000, $500 and $250 will be awarded, plus five High Distinction awards of $200 each and six Most Highly Commended Awards of $100 each. The entry fee is $7 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, 2010
Now in its 18th year. Prizes of $3,000, $1,000, $400 and $250 will be awarded, plus six Most Highly Commended Awards of $150 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 17th contest will be announced on September 15, 2009.)

Now Open
Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest - No Fee
Online Submission Deadline: April 1, 2010
Winning Writers invites you to enter the ninth annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. We've simplified the entry process and increased the prize pool to $3,600, including a top prize of $1,500. There's still no fee to enter. Final judge: Jendi Reiter. See the complete guidelines and past winners.


Randy Cousteau

Congratulations to the winners of our eighth annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Randy Cousteau of Chicopee, Massachusetts won first prize and $1,359 for his poem "The Felching of the Oct'pus" (be advised, it's rated R). 776 entries were received from around the world. See the press release announcing the winners.

Jendi Reiter, editor of Winning Writers and judge of the Wergle Flomp Contest, said of this year's winning poem: "Strangely charming and disgusting at the same time, this well-crafted formal poem tells the story of two undersea creatures who overcome species-incompatibility to find romantic satisfaction."

Louis K. Lowy of Miami Lakes, Florida won second prize and $764 for "Poetry Workshop (Mary had a little lamb)". Reiter said, "Lowy's poem is clever light verse that makes a serious point. Too often, I hear from writers whose original voice has been 'workshopped' into oblivion." Lenny Lianne of Ramona, CA received third prize and $338 for "Hurl", a parody of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" that applies the Beat poet's distinctive language of excess to American junk food rather than the countercultural lifestyle. 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 Robert Wynne. His poem "The Prediction" won the 2008 Enigmatist Poetry Contest. The next deadline for this $100 prize will be October 1. (No website; email editor Mike Gullickson or see our Poetry Contest Insider listing for details.) Wynne is the co-founder of the poetry journal Cider Press Review. Visit his website here.

Congratulations to Elinor Benedict. Her new poetry collection, Late News from the Wilderness, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag under the Editor's Choice Series program. This collection was a finalist in Main Street Rag's Annual Poetry Book Award for 2008. See MSR's Coming Soon page to order this book at a special pre-publication discount. She kindly shares a poem from this book below. Elinor also recently won three separate Honorable Mentions in The MacGuffin Poet Hunt for 2008, the 2008 Abbie M. Copps Poetry Contest from Olivet College, and the James Hearst Poetry Prize from North American Review.

Congratulations to Joan Gelfand. Her book A Dreamer's Guide to Cities and Streams was published in January by San Francisco Bay Press. Reviews are forthcoming in such publications as Caesura, Midwest Book Review, Sacramento Poetry Review, Web del Sol, and Poetica. In addition, she has recently placed poems in several publications. "Nature Morte Au Panier" was accepted for the Fearless Books anthology The Light in Ordinary Things. "Three Poems About Nothing" is forthcoming in the Marin Poetry Center Anthology. "Good Morning America, Where Are You?" can be read at The New Verse News, an online journal of liberal-leaning verse. "Sex. Death. And All That Jazz" appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of Caveat Lector. She kindly shares it with us below. Gelfand's short story "Better Days" has been accepted for the Winter 2010 issue of The MacGuffin. In June, she was interviewed on Kris Welch's "Living Room" program on KPFA/Pacifica Radio/Berkeley. Her review of Rebecca Foust's poetry chapbook Mom's Canoe was published in RATTLE: Poetry for the 21st Century. Last month she became the Fiction Editor for Zeek Magazine.

Congratulations to Christopher Provost. His poem "The Carpenter" won an honorable mention in the Utmost Christian Writers Free April Contest. This free contest in honor of National Poetry Month accepted entries March 15-April 30 and offered prizes up to $100. Chris tells us, "Thanks for hosting a fantastic writing site!"

Congratulations to Karen Neuberg. Her poetry chapbook Detailed Still was released in July by Poets Wear Prada, an independent small press in New Jersey. Award-winning poet Molly Peacock wrote, "Karen Neuberg’s marvelous accomplishment in Detailed Still is that each poem is like a tiny mirrored room that reflects and refracts experience, evoking all the complications of memory and desire. Her gift is to find the connection between feeling and thought; each poem takes place in a synapse between brain and body, curiously both abstract and concrete simultaneously. Time is this poet's subject, and how desire is quickened or lost over time, and how we understand that only through memory. What a welcome debut this is for our American poetry." Preview this book at Issuu.

Congratulations to Ann Eustace. Her poem "Anorexic Emotions" won an honorable mention in the 2009 Inglis House Poetry Contest. She kindly shares it with us below. This award from a Philadelphia center for wheelchair-bound adults offers prizes for poems by disabled authors or on the theme of disability. The most recent submission period was April 1-June 1. The winners were published in the June 2009 issue of Wordgathering, an online journal of disability poetry and poetics, and will also appear in a chapbook this month.

Winning Writers Poetry Reviewer Tracy Koretsky's haibun "and tomorrow, green again" was published in the May/June 2009 issue of Sketchbook, an online journal of Eastern and Western short poetic forms. This issue of Sketchbook also includes a six-part collaboration between Tracy and Mary Davila, pairing haiga with visual art. We welcome Tracy as the new author of this newsletter's Critique Corner, starting in September. Visit her website at

Gary W. Studebaker's illustrated poetry collection Piercing Truths was released in May and is available from and other online retailers. He kindly shares a poem from this book below. His earlier book Choice Words may also be purchased from these sites.

Alegria Imperial had two poems published in Bannawag, an Ilocano-vernacular magazine that celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Ilocano is one of 87 dialects spoken in the Philippines. Alegria writes, "I grew up reading Ilocano. When I left for the university in Manila at 15, I never went back home and eventually rarely spoke it, never ever having written with it. I rediscovered it through a literary website. Writing in a language embedded in your own spirit must be how you feel. English, which I learned and thought was my own language, suddenly pales in a way when I compose a poem in Ilocano. And so, this publication is huge for me because I'm just learning how to write in the tongue I was born with—though the editor has to fix my grammar and orthography—and what a release it is!"

Ruth Hill had two poems accepted for the August issue of the online journal Word Catalyst. She also published a poem in Lucidity Poetry Journal and an article in this summer's Ocean Magazine. "All because of you!" she writes.


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 300 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.

Most contests charge entry fees. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars and many hours entering these contests each year. Don't waste your time or money. Out of hundreds of contests, there might only be two or three dozen that are especially appropriate for your work. We help you find them fast. Interviews and links to award-winning entries help you refine your craft. Learn more about Poetry Contest Insider.
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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.

Forgot your password? Need a password?
Please go to
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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.

8/28: John Llewellyn Rhys Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly August 29
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 28 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 500 pounds per title, plus 15 copies of the book.

8/29: United Planet Writing & Photography/Video Contest +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly September 12
Neutral free contest seeks written work (poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction) along with photos and videos that demonstrate the promotion of cross-cultural understanding, friendship, and supporting one another in one's own community or abroad. Top 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 not to exceed 1,000 words; see website for photo and video formatting rules. Enter by email only.

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

9/1: Mosaic Poetry & Fiction Competition +
Formerly May 1
Neutral free contest for poetry, fiction and nonfiction articles by disabled authors offers publication on website of Mosaic, a British organization for the disabled; in Mosaic News, their newsletter; and potentially in a future anthology. Length limit is up to 40 lines per poem, 700 words per short story and 500 words for articles.

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, list of previously published works and 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, a list of previously published works and entry form from website.

9/15: Robert Watson Literary Prizes +++
Highly recommended free contest from the Greensboro Review 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. Formerly known as the Greensboro Review Literary Awards, changed in 2006.

9/30: International Tanka Splendor Award +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers publication for unpublished tanka, a Japanese form. 31 tanka and three tanka sequences will be published in annual anthology as well as receive a free copy of the book. 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.

9/30: Lee & Low New Voices Award +
Formerly October 31
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. Entries may be poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. No folklore or animal stories.

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.



FundsforWriters is freelance hope for writers
Contests, grants, markets, publishers/agents and jobs for the serious and hobby writer. Ample calls for submission in four newsletters and a library of specialty ebooks. Published in The Writer Magazine and Writer's Digest, editor C. Hope Clark provides "hope" for your writing future.

FanStory Writing Classes
Writing Classes At Home - Adult Education For Writers
Join an online writing class! Further develop your writing skills. Writing classes at are small (seven or less students in each class) and designed to give you one-on-one instruction. Take your class from your computer in the privacy of your home or office. Find a class that is right for you! View Classes Available.

Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference

The Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference
Next conference: October 23-26

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

The cost of the conference is $995 and includes tuition, pre-conference materials, lodging and meals. The conference will be held at the Round House in Colrain, Massachusetts. Truly magical both inside and out, the Round House is a four-story building of 14 sides with over a dozen decks, sparkled by stained glass windows and a domed center with a cupola on top. Attendance is limited. For an application and complete guidelines, please visit You may also call 978-897-0054, email or write to Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference, Concord Poetry Center, 40 Stow Street, Concord, MA 01742-2418.

Two work scholarships are available. Recipients receive a 15% cost reduction for help at mealtime—kitchen assistance and cleanup. If interested, please email with the subject "COLRAIN WORK SCHOLARSHIP" for details.

Success Stories from Our Attendees
  • Jamie Ross, whose book Bringing in the Name has won the 2008 Four Way Books Intro Prize, attended Colrain with the manuscript in November 2006.

    "To say you (Joan) and Fred and the Colrain conference were formative in this whole deal would be an understatement! I met Martha there, too—though you never could have told me at the time that I'd even be sending the collection to Four Way."

  • Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno, a June 2007 attendee, has won the Beatrice Hawley Prize from Alice James Books and her book Slamming Open the Door was published in April.

    "There is no question in my mind that had I not attended the Colrain Manuscript Conference and received the kind of encouragement and judicious advice that I did there, I would not have won the Beatrice Hawley Award—would not have revised my manuscript the way I did, or even had the confidence to send it out."

  • Kristin Bock, a first conference attendee (March 2006), will have her manuscript from the conference, Cloisters, published by Tupelo Press in 2008.

    "I'm so grateful to the Colrain conference! What struck me most about the Colrain experience was the kindness and generosity of the attendees, the workshop leaders, and the editors. Everyone worked hard, taking the time to provide thoughtful and detailed feedback on each other's work. The editors gave individual attention to each and every poet, answering all of our burning questions about our manuscripts and the often cryptic world of publishing. A heartfelt thanks to all!!"

  • Lauren Rusk, also a first conference attendee, signed a book contract with Plain View Press for publication of her manuscript from the conference, Pictures in the Firestorm.

    "The most useful parts of the conference for me were doing the thought-provoking and instructive pre-conference assignments, hearing the editors speak on the panel about their motivations and daily realities, and receiving your insightful feedback on the parts of my manuscript we discussed in the workshop. Our time together remains vividly in my mind."

  • Diana Adams, another first conference attendee, had her manuscript, Cave Vitae, accepted for publication by Plain View Press.

    "At the conference I learned to think of a book of poems as a larger poem, and using Fred Marchant's and Jeffrey Levine's experienced advice was able to completely reconstruct my book, giving it a new life, synchonized and more coherent."

  • Allegra Wong, second conference attendee (August 2006), has had her manuscript, A Pure Bead, solicited for publication by conference editor Joan Houlihan (Del Sol Press). A Pure Bead was published in 2007.

    "My consultation with Dennis Maloney, White Pine Press, was helpful in several specific ways. Poets Joan Houlihan, Teresa Cader, and Fred Marchant are dedicated and dynamic workshop leaders. The workshops showed us what an editor is seeking. I know so much more about the publishing world."

  • Anne Shaw, first conference attendee (March 2006), has had her manuscript, Undertow, selected as winner of the 2007 Lexi Rudnitsky Poetry Prize and published by Persea Books.

    "I wanted to share my big news with both of you: I won the Persea Books contest! My ms Undertow is finally going to be published... I can't believe it. I am still in shock. I also want to thank both of you for the Colrain conference. I think it helped a lot in terms of making contacts, and getting me to think about the order of the book. When I went home I re-ordered and re-titled the ms, and I think that helped. The meeting with Martha Rhodes was very, very helpful too. At any rate, thank you both."

  • Suellen Wedmore, third conference attendee (November 2006), has won the Grayson Books Chapbook Contest.

    "I just wanted to thank you again for the support and advice you offered at the Colrain Poetry Manuscript workshop. One thing I learned/deduced while I was there was that my manuscript was perhaps really two chapbooks—so I began sending out chapbooks instead of a full manuscript. And just last night I learned that I won the Grayson Press Chapbook prize with a book built around my war poems. Chalk one up for Colrain! And thanks again!"

  • Charles Boyer, another first conference attendee, had his manuscript The Mockingbird Puzzle accepted for publication by Finishing Line Press.

    "I've had some good news. I had a chapbook accepted at Finishing Line Press, a Kentucky literary press. It should be coming out sometime in June. Thanks to all of you for your advice and encouragement with the poems!"

  • Click for more Colrain Publication News

Utmost Last Call!
Novice Christian Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: August 31
Contest will award US$2,000 to previously unpublished poets of Christian faith. First Prize is $500; special prizes for rhyming poetry. Entry fee: $20 per poem. Click for the rules and required entry form. This contest is sponsored by Utmost Christian Writers Foundation, a registered non-profit association for Christian poets.

Please enjoy "What I'm left with" by Sabrina L'Heureux , Second Prize winner in the 2007 Novice Christian Poetry Contest:
    What I'm left with
             for nonna and nonno

    by Sabrina L'Heureux

              Rare eyes: passed down
    like hand-painted china, each grandchild's
    a shade of moss, olive, deep green.
    Recipes for meals I couldn't pronounce; biscotti, polenta,
    plump balls of gnocci. The tradition of ten dollar allowance
    and bags of loonies on birthdays, saved
    from trips to the Woodwards cafeteria.
              The black and white photo of their wedding day:
    pale skin, lips tinged with pink someone added on
    with careful hands. The front garden roses, cut
    into a crystal vase, petals the colour of nonno's wine,
    the scent strong as nonna's bath powder, the quilt on her bed
    dusted with a fine sheen of white from our tiny hand prints.
              The way my hands move, like nonna's: floured, firm,
    a sculptor of bread hunched in rolls under a blanket,
    like her own rounded shoulders, disappearing
    into the folds of her silk floral blouse.
              A bowl of languages: English folded into French
    with Italian endings stirred in. English learned
    from Soap Operas and romance novels
    traded in at the second-hand book store for more.
              And stories, like a box of moth-eaten sweaters
    that I will wear every so often when I am cold
    and think of nonna with a baby in Africa, her first home,
    or nonno, miles away at war, waist in the trenches,
    or the two of them years later,
    singing fait dodo while I close my eyes.

Submit online to Carpe Articulum!
Carpe Articulum Literary Review

2009 Caketrain Chapbook Competition2009 Caketrain Chapbook Competition: $250 and Publication of Winning Chapbook
Postmark Deadline/Online Submission Deadline: October 1

Final Judge: Michael Burkard, author of Envelope of Night: Selected and Uncollected Poems 1966-1990 (Nightboat Books), Unsleeping (Sarabande Books), Pennsylvania Collection Agency (New Issues Press), Entire Dilemma (Sarabande Books) and My Secret Boat: a notebook of prose and poems (W.W. Norton).

Prize: $250 award and publication of a limited-edition, perfect-bound chapbook with a full-color cover. Author also receives 25 contributor copies.

Previous Competition-Winning Titles: Elizabeth Skurnick (Check-In), Tom Whalen (Dolls), Claire Hero (afterpastures), Tina May Hall (All the Day's Sad Stories), Matt Bell (The Collectors)

Open to manuscripts 20 to 50 pages in length. Previously-published poems 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 a check or money order in the amount of either $15 for reading fee or $20 for reading fee and copy of the winning chapbook (payable to Caketrain) and send with your manuscript to Caketrain Journal and Press, Box 82588, Pittsburgh, PA 15218. You may also submit your entry electronically.

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

The Missouri Review's Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' PrizeThe Missouri Review's 2009 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize
Postmark Deadline: October 1
The Missouri Review is now offering $15,000 in prize money for the 19th annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize Contest—$5,000 per genre in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Each entry is $20, and entries are accepted both online and through the mail. Fiction and non-fiction entries should be no more than 25 typed, double-spaced pages. Poetry entries can include any number of poems up to 10 pages. All entrants receive a one-year subscription to The Missouri Review either in print or in the new environmentally-friendly digital format, which includes bonus audio content.

Winners are featured in the spring issue of The Missouri Review and flown to Columbia, Missouri, for a gala reading and reception. Three runners-up in each category receive cash prizes and are considered for publication. Past winners' work has been reprinted in the Best American series. For details on how to enter, please visit our webpage:

About The Missouri Review
The Missouri Review, founded in 1978, is one of the most highly-regarded literary magazines in the United States. For over 30 years, The Missouri Review has dedicated its efforts to identifying the most talented and promising writers early in their careers and providing them with needed and much-deserved recognition to increase their exposure. The Missouri Review also specializes in interviews with famous authors and found-text features resulting in never-before-published works appearing in the magazine. For more information on The Missouri Review, visit

Voices Israel Poetry - The Reuben Rose Annual Poetry Competition The Twentieth Annual Reuben Rose Poetry Competition 2009
Sponsored by 'Voices', The Israel English Poetry Association

Entries must be received by October 7 (rolling deadline)

Entry fee: NIS15; US$5; €4; or £3 (pounds sterling) per poem (these currencies only, payment by cash or check, made payable to "Voices Israel"). Receipt of submission acknowledged if accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope with appropriate Israeli postage, or enclose three International Reply Coupons (available from your post office). Please see our website at for more information.

Poem Format & Content
General, not necessarily on Jewish or Israeli subjects. Challenging, humorous and/or curious poetry is welcome. Poems should not be more than 40 lines, submitted in duplicate (one copy should NOT have any identifying information) and accompanied by a cover letter giving the titles of the poem(s) submitted, with your full name and address. You may enter as many poems as you wish at $5 etc. per poem. Entries received after the deadline will be automatically entered into the following year's contest. Mail your entries to:
    Attn: J. Dicks, Reuben Rose Competition
    P.O. Box 236
    Kiryat Ata 28101
Package Deal
Four of your submissions may be considered by the "Voices" editorial board for publication in the upcoming Voices Israel Anthology, Volume 36. Please email four entries of your choice to our anthology editors, Sheryl Abbey & Michael Dickel, at See website for details. (Please note the postal mail address above is for the Reuben Rose Poetry Contest entries only.)

About the Judging
Judging anonymously by John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of Brantford. He has the distinction of being named Honorary Life Member of The Canadian Poetry Association. He has published over fifty anthologies.

Winners will be notified personally. The results will be published online in December in the monthly Voices newsletter and in Poets & Writers magazine. There will be a public reading.

Open City Open City's 2009 RRofihe Trophy Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: October 15
6th year! The RRofihe Trophy for an unpublished short story! Limit: 5,000 words. Winner receives: $500, trophy, and publication in Open City magazine. Judge: Rick Rofihe. Contest Assistant: Carolyn Wilsey.

  • Stories should be typed, double-spaced, on 8 1/2" x 11" paper with the author's name and contact information on the first page and name and story title on the upper right corner of the remaining pages
  • Limit one submission per author
  • Author must not have been previously published in Open City
  • Mail submissions to RRofihe, 270 Lafayette Street, Suite 1412, New York, NY 10012
  • Enclose a self-addressed stamped business envelope (SASE) to receive names of winner and honorable mentions
  • All manuscripts are non-returnable and will be recycled
  • Reading fee is $10. Check or money order payable to RRofihe
  • See the complete guidelines at
Rick Rofihe is the author of Father Must, a collection of short stories published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Grand Street, Open City, Swink, Unsaid, and on and His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Spy, and The East Hampton Star, and on A recipient of the Whiting Writers' Award, he has taught writing at Columbia University, currently teaches privately in New York, and is the editor of the new online literary journal,

Anderbo's 2009 Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: November 1
4th year! For up to six unpublished poems. Winner receives $500 cash plus publication on, "Best New Online Journal". Judged by William Logan. Contest Assistant: Charity Burns.

  • Poems should be typed on 8 1/2" x 11" paper with the poet's name and contact information on the upper right corner of each poem
  • Poet must not have been previously published on
  • Mail submissions to 270 Lafayette Street, Suite 1412, New York, NY 10012
  • Enclose a self-addressed stamped business envelope (SASE) to receive names of winner and honorable mentions
  • All entries are non-returnable and will be recycled
  • Reading fee is $10. Check or money order payable to RRofihe
  • See the complete guidelines at
William Logan was born in Boston in 1950. He attended Yale, where he studied American history and literature, though he had a long flirtation with game theory. He was a rock critic of no great distinction, though he squandered a good many weekends at the Fillmore East in New York. After taking his MFA at the University of Iowa, he spent a peripatetic six years following his sweetheart to Massachusetts, Virginia, and California. They then spent two years in England, where they held successive Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarships. He is the author of eight volumes of poetry, most recently Strange Flesh (2008). He has also published five books of poetry criticism, including Our Savage Art (2009). He has twice been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in criticism, which was awarded to The Undiscovered Country (2005). Among his other honors are the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets, the 1988 Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle, the Allen Tate Prize, the Corrington Medal for Literary Excellence, and the inaugural Randall Jarrell Award in Criticism. He has been called the "most hated man in American poetry" as well as the "best practical critic around". He has been teaching at the University of Florida since shortly before the ozone hole was discovered over Antarctica.

Coal Hill Review Coal Hill Review Poetry Chapbook Contest: $250 and Publication
Postmark Deadline: November 1
The 2009 Coal Hill Review Poetry Chapbook Contest is now open. Please submit your manuscripts online at Reading fee: $15 to be paid via PayPal (major credit cards accepted). Submit 10-15 pages of poetry, either a group of poems or one long poem. Poems may be previously published. Include an acknowledgements page.

The winning chapbook will be published electronically in Coal Hill Review, as well as in a paper edition. All finalists will be considered for publication in Coal Hill Review. The final judges for the competition are Anna Catone and Philip Terman, poetry editors of Coal Hill Review (see bios). Please address any questions to with the words "CHAPBOOK COMPETITION QUERY" in the subject line.

Please enjoy this poem by James Tyner, part of his winning chapbook entry from 2008:
    After Jumping Some Kids and Taking Their Money, 1988
    by James Tyner

    We buy Cheetos and Fanta
    with the money we stole.
    Took it as they cried,
    pried it loose with kicks to stomach
    and stomps to the face.
    Fingers grow orange
    from the powder of our breakfast
    and stomachs pop out
    between ribs and belt buckles
    as the soda slides down.
    And Whooser laughs,
    cheese staining his teeth,
    his breath coming heavy
    through busted lips.
    I laugh also, lips stinging
    from salt, from blood,
    from smiles as we eat.
    This is what we are given,
    the children of the ghetto,
    this is what we inherit,
    a breakfast of chips,
    skin pocked with dirt and scabs,
    backs resting loosely
    against graffitied alleys
    as we laugh at fights,
    at money stolen,
    at the blood that drips loosely
    down my left arm
    and puddles.



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.

8/28: Young Lions Fiction Award +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly August 29
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: Discovering New Mysteries Competition ++
Recommended free contest offers prizes up to $10,000 for mystery writing in several genres: original plays, screenplays, teleplays, and short stories for both adult and youth audiences. Contest is sponsored by the International Mystery Writers' Festival, held each summer in Owensboro, KY.

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.

8/31: Gemini Magazine Flash Fiction Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers $100 and publication in online literary journal Gemini Magazine for short fiction up to 1,000 words. Enter by mail or email.

9/1: Anderbo Seeks Novelist Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers $300 and web publication as a serial in the well-regarded online literary journal Anderbo for an unpublished novel. Entries should be the first 30 pages of the manuscript, up to 10,000 words. Enter by email.

9/7: Life Lessons Essay Contest +++
Formerly September 9
Highly recommended free contest offers $3,000 and publication in the lifestyles magazine Real Simple for personal essays up to 1,500 words. Open to US authors aged 19+. Enter by mail or email. 2009 theme is "When did you realize that you had become a grown-up?"

9/17: Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest for College Students +++
Highly recommended free contest for high school seniors and 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 ++
Entries must be received by this date; late submissions held for the next contest
Recommended twice-yearly free contest offers prizes up to $700 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: Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly October 15
Recommended free contest offers prizes of 500 pounds for Young Writers (aged 18-25), 1,000 pounds for Professional Writers, for essays of 1,000-1,500 words on a question exploring Franklin's relevance in our time. 2009 theme is liberty versus security. Entrants must be current residents of the US or UK. Enter by email.

9/30: Iowa Short Fiction and John Simmons Short Fiction Awards ++
Recommended free contest from the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop seeks two manuscripts of short fiction (each 150 double-spaced 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.

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.



American Veteran Essay Project for Teens
Entries must be received by October 15
US teens aged 13-17 are invited to submit essays, 1,000 words maximum, for inclusion in an anthology honoring American veterans. This opportunity is sponsored by Lynn and Reid Geddie, a mother and son from the Metro Atlanta area. After extensive research about her father's military role in WWII, Lynn's son Reid wrote an essay about his grandfather for a class project at his middle school in Georgia. Both came away from the finished project with a greater appreciation and deeper understanding of the sacrifices made by all of our veterans. They are now compiling an anthology of similar stories to be presented to their local VFW chapter. Teens who want to enter a story in the project should write about a veteran that served from WWII or any period through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The essay should be written about a veteran who exhibited the ability to be a role model and explore how that person has shown the "power of one" by making a difference in the lives of others. The top essay winner will receive a 2010 summer camp experience, titled MISSION QUEST, at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Georgia. The second-place essay will receive a $50 cash prize. See website for email entry instructions.

Cyclamens and Swords
Entries must be received by November 30
Cyclamens and Swords, an online literary journal edited by Israeli poets Helen Bar-Lev and Johnmichael Simon, seeks submissions of poetry, stories and artwork for their next issue. The poetry theme for this submission period is "Ticklish Subjects". Fiction can be on any theme. Enter online only.

Guideposts Anthologies
Entries must be received by December 15
The Christian inspirational publisher Guideposts is seeking short essays for three upcoming titles in their Incredible Power of Prayer anthology series. The next volumes in this 12-book series will be From Tragedy to Triumph, focusing on how prayer eliminated or helped one deal with trials, hardships, and suffering in life, whether physical, emotional, relational, financial, etc.; Refreshed by the Spirit, focusing on how prayer helped one overcome periods of spiritual dryness; and Love and Forgiveness, concerning how prayer was the determining factor in a renewed love, forgiveness, and eventual restoration of broken relationships. Entries should be 1,000-2,000 words. "The stories should have a creative title, an attention-grabbing introduction, main body with a conflict or challenge, and a clear, satisfying resolution. They need to be descriptive, rooted in time and place, compelling personal experience stories with a realistic portrayal of the people involved. They need to be stories rather than testimonies, Christian living articles, and shouldn't focus on mere feelings or mental states. Most important, they need to revolve around prayer itself and not the circumstances of the story. These are themed books but the purpose is to convince the reader of the power of prayer in these situations." Email Jeanette Littleton for complete guidelines for this and other upcoming opportunities in this genre.



Children's Guide to Poetry
Brief, easy-to-understand discussion of short poetic forms such as the haiku, cinquain, and sonnet, with links to lessons and examples.

The Collagist
This monthly online journal from literary press Dzanc Books publishes new short stories, poems, and essays from both emerging and established writers, as well as exclusive excerpts from forthcoming novels. They also plan to include several new book reviews in every issue.

The Copperfield Review
This online literary journal for readers and writers of historical fiction accepts submissions of poetry, short fiction, essays, book reviews, and interviews.

From Page to Pixels: The Evolution of Online Journals
In this article from the May/June 2009 Poets & Writers Magazine, award-winning poet Sandra Beasley discusses the growing prestige of online publication and the advantages it offers for disseminating your work. Recommended journals include Blackbird, Coconut, and Drunken Boat.

Lighten Up Online
British quarterly webzine of light verse. Previously published poems accepted. Enter by email.

Biannual journal of haiku poetry, established in 1986. Mayfly is a paying market. Editors say, "We feel it is the duty of the editors and writers to make careful selection and proper presentation of only the very best, the most evocative, the truly effective haiku. We publish only 14 or 15 haiku per issue, but each haiku is printed on its own page."

Sketchbook: A Journal for Eastern & Western Short Forms
Bimonthly online journal publishes poetry in a variety of Japanese forms, such as haiku and haibun, as well as other poetic forms from around the world.

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.



2010 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market
Annual directory for fiction writers from Writer's Digest includes over 2,000 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.

2010 Poet's Market
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.

2010 Writer's Market (Deluxe 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. The 2010 Deluxe Edition also includes a year's access to, which contains an additional 2,500 listings. Writer's Market is "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."

Said and Done
By James Morrison. The stories in this collection from Black Lawrence Press explore the nuances of feeling and the power dynamics of intimate moments between family members, lovers, and strangers, in a way that is deeply insightful without over-explaining. Morrison's vision of human nature contains shades of Shirley Jackson and Flannery O'Connor, though written in a more restrained style. These stories always leave the reader with the sense that there is more to the characters than the chosen anecdote can reveal.

The Strange History of Suzanne LaFleshe: And Other Stories of Women and Fatness
Edited by Susan Koppelman. This important anthology from The Feminist Press spans a century of women's short fiction. The large women who populate these stories may be sensual goddesses, lesbian feminists, sideshow performers, battered wives, or troubled teens, but each poses a question about our discomfort with embodiment and female power. A bonus feature of this anthology is an excellent critical essay by Koppelman, a literary historian and the leading expert on short fiction by US women. View her author page at The Feminist Press website for other themed anthologies in this series.



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.

Office Depot Coupon
Save on paper, toner, binders and all your writing supplies at Office Depot. Free delivery in select areas when you order $50 or more.



Grandfather in November
by Elinor Benedict

At eighty-five he walks in wind,
blunt head forward, steady as a tank.
The muscles in back of his neck bristle
with battleship gray. Instead of gun,
he grabs his red-handled axe
and chops more maple and oak
than winter will burn. He beats
the chips from dying elms
          Let others hunt, he growls.
That autumn pastime's all too easy,
waiting in the bush for simple shots
to amble by. To fish in April, that's his
war, his conquest of a hidden foe.
He hits his favorite ice-edged stream
with sharpened hooks and fights
each swirl as if he fishes for his life
and only breathes with catching.

Copyright 2009 by Elinor Benedict

This poem is reprinted from her new poetry collection, Late News from the Wilderness, which was a finalist in Main Street Rag's Annual Poetry Book Award for 2008 and will be published this year in MSR's Editor's Choice Series.


Sex. Death. And All That Jazz.
by Joan Gelfand

In one night love was tender it gripped
Time was suspended
And the love was the love of the contented.
Soon after, the firing squad arrived.
Gunned down innocent soldiers.
My heart stopped, it ached, crying out
For the men and all their mothers.

Sex and death are closest relatives; one lives upstairs,
One lives down. The furniture is the same but different—
Sex prefers overstuffed chairs in shades of red,
Death digs on black, clean lines, a wooden bed.

Sex and death share walls, and floors and
Sometimes when you're held by love
You can hear death taking the stairs, one by one by one.
It's a fragile co-existence, this. Sex. Death.
And all that jazz.

Sex and death, and all that jazz—it's anything but mellow.
It's about the shake up, the shake down, the shaky boots and more
It's about the flip-flop stomach, the flight of bees.
The shock of the right fellow, the weak knees.

Le petit mort. Or something like that. We tell ourselves
It's our friend. We never stop to realize that like a good story,
The beginning is in the end.

Copyright 2009 by Joan Gelfand

This poem appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of Caveat Lector.


Anorexic Emotions
by Ann Eustace

I know you anorexic friend
We are alike in battles for control.
You say "Thin thing is what I will be."
Your body shape will be the way you see it.
Not with your cursed mirror telling you
"You are the fattest one of all."
Like you, my starving girl I say,
"Cold soul is one thing I will be."
What I starve are my emotions, whereas before
I let myself be transparent and suffered for it.
Now I cannot have the strawberry shortcake of joy,
Leaden potato of sorrow, boiling chili of fury.
Sometimes I give my feelings freedom.
Alone and safe I disgorge them, drowning in tears,
punishing myself with fists, twirling in drunken excitement.
We must learn, nothing that is starved is healthy.
Perhaps as I see your skeletal self, to live
you must put on some strengthening
flesh and I must lose some armoured shell.
I pray to find some gentle guide whom we can trust
to lead us on the path unto our bread.

Copyright 2009 by Ann Eustace

This poem won an honorable mention in the 2009 Inglis House Poetry Contest and was published in the June 2009 issue of Wordgathering, an online journal of disability poetry and poetics.


What Love Isn't
by Gary W. Studebaker

Love isn't manufactured. That's manipulation.
It isn't temporary. It strives for preservation.
Openness and honesty, these are what love brings.
Love finds ways of giving,
'Cause love endures all things.

Love is not impatient. Love is not unkind.
If it becomes self-serving, love is undermined.
Love will never propagate wherever envy clings.
Love won't delight in evil,
'Cause love endures all things.

Love is never boastful. Love is never proud.
It will not find comfort in a rude or angry crowd.
It delights in truthfulness. It lifts you up on wings.
Love is always trusting,
'Cause love endures all things.

Love is never hopeless. It provides protection.
It never fails the test of time for love maintains connection.
Even through the hard times, love eternal springs.
Love isn't for the faint of heart,
'Cause love endures all things.

            1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Copyright 2009 by Gary W. Studebaker

This poem is reprinted from his illustrated poetry collection Piercing Truths.


Advertise to 25,000 Poets and Writers
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"We can tell by our data readings that Winning Writers is an economical and efficient way to advertise both the Anderbo Poetry Prize and The RRofihe Trophy/Open City Short Story Contest."
Rick Rofihe, Publisher & Editor-In-Chief, anderbo

"I'm very pleased with the variety of responses we've received, and I very much appreciate the care you took in adding links and generally improving the copy I sent you."
Mark Schorr, Executive Director, The Robert Frost Foundation

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This month, Critique Corner is pleased to present "And While the Beast Was on the Prowl" by Ned Condini.

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!

And While the Beast Was on the Prowl
by Ned Condini

And while the beast was on the prowl I read you
dear Andrew with a tumor in my face
with winter just outside the door and ice
gripping the heart: will I ever recapture
youth's immortality?
               And you came
with your beloved hills
to which in fury and terror
in delay and inertia
you led your years
               of which you begged to be
pardoned, to care and not to care:
riotous fullness, avarice

and your hills right before me
stretched the arid, pure death
to a fiery point so that
paucity and hatred did not sway me
nor the malignant gnomes
golems and tarots and the clown the jerk
the King of Oil the King of Thuribles
the paladins the crescent holy wars

What joy your Hermes tongue
that thwacked all other lights
uncouth and mediocre
of a small world in heat
your realm of ferns and vineyards
for which I whirl, a top
driven by gypsy music
your childlike voice your calm
whispering your nostalgia
for grasses and oaks clamorous
with birds and winds, with strong
aromas, dead at last

all boring melodramas

now silence germinates
for the other hand of man
not the one of the pontiffs
always jilting our songs
no, but your blue-haired town
within its ring of walls
that foil the enemy's thrust
your presence in all things
icosahedral eye
that says to grim nightmares
one more day one more day
we fooled the dragon's fangs

and now the unbridled happiness
of starving children soon
to be fed the eerie trumpet
flourishing over mountains....

Author's note: Andrew is astonishing Italian poet Andrea Zanzotto, born in Veneto, Northern Italy. Holy wars is ironic: the wars waged today between Muslims and the rest of the world.

Copyright 2009 by Ned Condini

Critique by Jendi Reiter

Ned Condini's poem "And While the Beast Was on the Prowl" is both an intimate address to a mentor, and an ambitious meditation on salvaging humane values in a time of violent fanaticism. The personal element helps the reader engage with a topic, the so-called "clash of civilizations", that often remains at the level of mere polemics and theorizing.

Condini's style and theme here remind me of the high-Modernist aesthetic epitomized by T.S. Eliot. The phrase "to care and not to care" and the medieval imagery hark back to Eliot's "Ash Wednesday"; the Eliot who wrote "these fragments I have shored against my ruins" in "The Waste Land" would have recognized Condini's concern that European civilization was crumbling under assault from barbarism and greed.

I chose this poem because I was moved by the beauty and intensity of the darkly mythical imagery Condini uses to dramatize this political conflict. At the same time, however, I felt that the poem had levels of meaning I couldn't grasp because I didn't recognize all the allusions in it....

Click to continue reading this critique

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 2009 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