Best Resources for Poets and WritersWinning Writers

Margaret Reid Poetry Contest Winners Announced

Recent Honors for Our Subscribers

Recent Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

The Best Free Poetry Contests, December-January

Notable Free Prose Contests, December-January

Calls for Submissions

New Literary Resources

New Recommended Book

Featured Poem:
"The Glinting Rhythm"

Featured Poem:
"Epistle to Nero"

Featured Poem:
"Setting Out"

Advertise in This Newsletter

Critique of Niki Nymark's "On Battery Hill"

Newsletter Archives

One of the "101 Best Websites for Writers" (Writer's Digest, 2005-2009)

December 2009

Send this page to a friend
We'll donate 15 cents to literacy

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

Like What We Do?
Please Nominate Us!
Writer's Digest is calling for nominations for its 2010 101 Best Websites for Writers. As you know, we were grateful to be named to this list for the past five years. Please consider sending an email to Put "101 Websites" in the subject line and include a brief note about how Winning Writers helps you. Nominations are due by January 1, 2010. Copy us on your nomination if you feel like it. We appreciate it!



Thousands of writers use
  • Helpful Feedback. Get detailed feedback for every poem, short story and book chapter that you write.

  • Contests. Over 50 new contests every month. Always free to paid members. Participate for cash prizes.

  • Rankings. See how you compare to other writers. Online statistics will show you how you are doing.

  • Motivation. Participate in an active online writing community. Improve your writing and get motivated.

Start getting feedback in less than 5 minutes

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

This Sentence Starts The Story
Two contests with a cash prize that challenge you to write a story that starts with a sentence.

Holiday Writing
Deadline: December 25. Two contests for the holiday. Write a story related to the holidays for our Holiday Story contest and write a poem for our Holiday Poetry contest. Christmas Day is the deadline for both contests. The winner of each contest will take away a $100 Prize!

Quatrain Poetry
Deadline: December 30. Write a quatrain poem for this contest. A quatrain poem is a poem with a clear rhyme scheme and four lines per stanza. Read the announcement for a sample poem. $100 prize.

Short Love Poem
Deadline: January 8. Short and sweet. Can you melt a heart with just fifteen words? $100 prize.

Horror Story
Deadline: January 14. Put your readers on edge or terrorize them for this horror writing contest. To the winner goes a $100 prize.

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

"Without FanStory I simply would not be a writer at all. The feedback and friendships I have made here have changed my entire life. Honest feedback helped prepare me for the real world. The contests have also helped me, and continue to help me. Writing to a topic, and writing to a deadline, is key. There isn't a more valuable skill than to sit down and write about a subject by a specific date. That's the real world."


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. 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.

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.

War Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: May 31, 2010
We seek 1-3 original, unpublished poems on the theme of war for our ninth annual contest, up to 500 lines in total. We will award $5,000, including a top prize of $2,000. Submit online or by mail. The entry fee is $15. Final judge: Jendi Reiter. See the complete guidelines and past winners.

Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse
Postmark Deadline: June 30, 2010
Now in its seventh year, this contest seeks poetry in traditional verse forms such as sonnets and free verse. Both published and unpublished poems are welcome. Prizes of $3,000, $1,000, $400 and $250 will be awarded, plus six Most Highly Commended Awards of $150 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.

Now Open
Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: September 30, 2010
Now in its eighth year, this contest seeks poems in any style, theme or genre. Both published and unpublished poems are welcome. Prizes of $3,000, $1,000, $400 and $250 will be awarded, plus six Most Highly Commended Awards of $150 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. The winners of the seventh contest will be announced in this newsletter on February 15, 2010.


Judith Goldhaber

Tom Howard Books is pleased to announce the results from its sixth annual Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse. Judith Goldhaber of Berkeley, California won first prize and $2,000 for her poem "The Bewick's Wren". Hundreds of entries were received from around the world. See the press release announcing the winners.

The judges said, "'The Bewick's Wren' is a wholly engaging poem that works well on multiple levels. In this quite remarkable composition, the author brilliantly combines three genres: nature poem, domestic escapade, playful conceit. Imagine a wren building her nest in a doll's house! Perhaps this actually happened. Certainly Judith Goldhaber makes the incident ring true—and that is part and parcel of her work's intrinsic charm. This picture of an enchantingly topsy-turvy Lewis Carroll world is then ratified by the cunning use of rhyming verse, which in turn imparts a delightfully mock-heroic aura to this unique yet spellbinding event."

Second prize of $1,000 went to Samuel Tan of Singapore for "10 p.m. by the Singapore River". This portrait of Singapore as a "thinking" city derives its vitality from his use of evocative language and his careful selection of typical but inherently fascinating incidents. Rosmarie Epaminondas-Böhm of Madrid, Spain won third prize and $500 for "Miss Worthington", an absorbing, all-too-human reminiscence of an elderly lady nearing the end of an eventful life. Ellaraine Lockie of Sunnyvale, California won fourth prize and $250 for "Coming Home in a Haibun". Written in a traditional Japanese form that alternates haiku with prose paragraphs, this poem presents rugged rural scenery most imaginatively in striking images that catch the mind's eye.

High Distinction Awards of $200 each were given to Carmine Dandrea, Elizabeth Davies, Louis Girón, Christine Hemp, and Michael John Walsh. Most Highly Commended Awards of $100 went to Noble Collins, Judith Goldhaber, Debra Gundy, Paul Hamill, Alys Jackson, and Jeanie Mercer.

Read the top winning poems on our website plus the judges' comments. Thanks to all of you who participated. The seventh annual Margaret Reid Poetry Contest is now open for entries here through June 30, 2010.


Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter's poem "Barbie at 50" was a semifinalist in the 2009 Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Contest and will be published in their Winter 2010 issue. This contest offers a top prize of $1,000. The most recent submission period was July 1-September 1.

Congratulations to Gina Ferrara. Her poetry book Ethereal Avalanche was released by Trembling Pillow Press in October. She kindly shares a sample poem below. This small press based in New Orleans publishes YAWP: A Journal of Art and Poetry, as well as individual poetry collections. Ferrara is also the author of the chapbook The Size of Sparrows (Finishing Line Press, 2006).

Congratulations to Nicole Nicholson. Her poem "Epistle to Nero" placed tenth among 461 entries in the 2009 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. She kindly shares it below. The top ten winning poems were announced on a special broadcast of Poetry Super Highway Live on October 4. Listen to the winning poems here.

Congratulations to Chella Courington. Her poem "Lynette's War" won the Goodreads October Poetry Contest and was featured in their newsletter and on their website. This poem was first published on as a finalist in the 2007 War Poetry Contest. Goodreads is a social networking site for sharing book recommendations and reviews.

Congratulations to Gerard F. Keogh, Jr. His poem "One Final Request From the Fallen Heroes" received the runner-up prize of $75 in the poetry category of the Foster City International Writer's Contest, an opportunity he discovered through Winning Writers. The most recent deadline for this contest, which offers prizes up to $150 for poetry, fiction, children's stories, personal essays and humorous articles, was June 1. Mr. Keogh writes, "I would like to say thank you for your wonderful newsletter."

Congratulations to Susan Keith. Her poem "Pontoon Pantoum" was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. This major British competition offers prizes of 5,000 pounds apiece for unpublished poetry and fiction. The most recent submission period was January 1-June 30.

Congratulations to Roberta Beary. King's Road Press recently published her chapbook of short poems nothing left to say, edited by Michael Dylan Welch. The collection was reviewed in the journal Frogpond. Beary's previous poetry collection The Unworn Necklace, from Snapshot Press, sold out its second paperback print run and will be republished in hardcover in January.

Congratulations to Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé. This past November, Desmond, upon invitation, was the first speaker opening the debate, Dissecting the Merlion, the closing event for the biennial Singapore Writers Festival. For his performance piece, he completed a mixed media canvas of his one-word poem "mermer" in charcoal, graphite and metal, as well as a ceramic bowl half-glazed in crackle green. The same night, a t-shirt featuring his poem "murmur, the making of it"—reconfigured by Karen Kon—was presented at a fashion show during a gala dinner at The Ritz-Carlton. With its full line of caesurae in a continuum, this sonnet takes its cue from John Cage's three-movement composition, 4'33". The poem was penned for The Kings of Freedom Project, named after the four panels of the Berlin Wall which the Hefner Art Collection donated to Singapore. The four panels have been installed in the Bedok Reservoir Park, with the support of the National Parks Board, marking the 20th year since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Ruth Hill's poem "Setting Out" was published in the online journal Word Catalyst in November. She kindly shares it with us below. Ruth describes herself as a "happy Winning Writers subscriber" and tells us "I am averaging one publication placement PER WEEK, which is a pretty good average for a beginner with no formal training, wouldn't you say?"

Persephone Vandegrift's poem "The Gist of the Affair" was included in the anthology Lavanderia: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Word, published by San Diego City Works Press. The editors say: "This anthology initiates us into one of the most sacred domestic rituals of our mundane world—the purging of physical and psychic stains, or the art and work of doing laundry. The writers' voices rise above the sounds of washing machines, non-televised daytime dramas, and laughter. Removing the clothespins from their mouths, these women reveal their secrets, fears, loves, and regrets in poem and story form."

Helen Phillips' book Fly With Me: A True Story of Healing from Multiple Sclerosis is now available from AuthorHouse. Phillips was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when she was 27 years old and a mother of three young children. Her family lived through the civil war for Zimbabwean independence. This is her true story of suffering with MS, the long lessons for healing and trials in war, widowhood, remarriage, divorce and financial struggle.

Sally Kosmalski has two books available through Wordclay Publishers. Ride a Rainbow – Dive With Neptune is a collection of ten short family memoirs that share themes of travel, adventure and scuba diving. Swirls of Chocolate in My Heart is a book of love poetry.

Harry Gilleland, Jr. has three poetry books available through the Spirit of the Season catalog: Poetry for the Common Man, Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems, and Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man. Other titles by Gilleland appear in the fantasy and romance sections.

Correction: We mentioned in a recent subscriber news item that the literary journal Heart, published by Nostalgia Press, had folded. However, we were happy to hear from editor Connie Martin that the press still exists, with a new online contest planned for early 2010. Check their website for details soon.


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 $9.95 per quarter, with a free 10-day trial at the start. Cancel at any time. Time-limited offer: Order by December 31 and your first quarter is just $7.95.

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.


Deadlines: December 16-January 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.

Forgot your password? Need a password?
Please go to
We will email your password to you within minutes.

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.

12/18: California Book Awards +
Formerly December 19
Neutral free contest for published books whose authors lived in California when the work was written. Winners receive recognition in various genres. Poetry winners have been established writers. Entries must have been published during the current calendar year. Author or publisher should send 6 copies of book plus a completed entry form. Prior to 2009, this contest offered monetary awards for recipients (top prize in 2008 was $2,000 in each genre). We have reduced the ranking from Recommended to Neutral, but still consider it worth entering for the prestige.

12/18: Rider University's High School Writing Contest +
Formerly December 12
Neutral free contest offers prizes up to $100 in each genre for poetry, fiction and essays by high school students. Prose entries should be 5 double-spaced pages maximum, poems 50 lines maximum. One entry per person per genre. Sponsor is a liberal arts college in New Jersey.

12/21: Charlotte Newberger Prize for Poetry +
Formerly November 30
Neutral free contest offers $150 for unpublished poems touching on the experience of Jewish women. Send 1-3 poems, maximum 100 lines each. Sponsored by LILITH, a Jewish feminist magazine.

12/22: Poetry Society of America Awards +++
These highly recommended contests on various themes, with prizes up to $1,000, are free to Poetry Society of America members. We highly recommend joining ($45 per year, $25 for students). For nonmembers, a $15 fee covers all contests for which you are eligible. One entry per person per contest.
12/30: Puffin Foundation Artist Grants ++
Recommended contest offers grants of $1,000-$2,500 to emerging artists in the fields of art, music, theater, dance, photography, and literature whose works due to their genre and/or social philosophy might have difficulty being aired. US citizens and permanent residents only. Send SASE for application packet. Application will include an entry form, project description and goals, budget, biographical information, and either a small work sample or references.

12/31: Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest for published books offers two awards of $10,000 each: one for a book of fiction or poetry, the other for a book of nonfiction. The nonfiction category covers both creative nonfiction and scholarly works (biography, history, etc.) This award honors books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism or our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. Books must have been published in the current calendar year. Plays, screenplays, e-books, unpublished, print-on-demand, and self-published works not eligible. Author or publisher should submit 5 copies plus entry form from website.

12/31: Ann Arlys Bowler Student Poetry Contest ++
Recommended free contest for students in grades 6-12 offers 6 prizes of $100 plus publication in an electronic issue of Read Magazine. Send 1-2 poems (published or unpublished), one-page maximum per poem.

12/31: Euphoria Annual Poetry Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers $100 and online publication for the best set of 1-5 poems, 50 lines maximum per poem. Submit by email only. Previously published poems accepted. Best for emerging writers.

12/31: Griffin Prize For Excellence In Poetry +++
Highly recommended free contest offers two prizes of C$50,000 for poetry books published in the current calendar year. One prize will go to a living Canadian poet or translator, the other to a living poet or translator from any country (including Canada). See website for detailed eligibility rules. Publisher should send 4 copies of book plus a press packet. This is one of the most lucrative poetry prizes around, as well as one of the most prestigious.

12/31: Harold Morton Landon Translation Award +++
Highly recommended free contest from the Academy of American Poets offers $1,000 for the best book of poetry in translation published in the US during the current calendar year. Translator must be a living US citizen. 3 copies of book should be submitted by publisher.

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

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

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

12/31: Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Award +++
Highly recommended free contest from the Academy of American Poets alternates between a $25,000 fellowship for translators of modern Italian poetry to complete a work-in-progress (even-numbered years), and a $5,000 prize for published books of English translations of modern Italian poetry (odd-numbered years). US citizens only.

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

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

1/15: Andres Montoya Poetry Prize ++
Recommended free contest offers $1,000 and publication by the University of Notre Dame Press for a first book of poetry by a Latino author. US citizens and permanent residents only. Send 2 copies of 50-100 page manuscript.

1/15: Arts & Letters Awards +++
Formerly February 6
Highly recommended free contest for residents of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Prizes are as follows: senior division (age 19 and up): 18 awards of C$1,000 each (6 poetry, 5 fiction, 3 nonfiction, 2 scriptwriting, 1 humanitarian essay, and 1 French literature award); junior division (age 12-18): 22 awards of C$250 (10 poetry, 10 prose and drama, 1 French language, 1 humanitarian essay). Entries must have been written in the past 12 months. Only one submission per person per art form (literary arts, music, or visual arts); i.e. literature entrants must choose between poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and drama genres. No simultaneous submissions.

1/15: Donald Murray Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest from the National Council of Teachers of English offers $500 for the best essay about teaching and/or writing that was published in the previous calendar year. Anyone may nominate an essay of any length. Send 2 copies with information on the source and date of publication. Email John Boe for complete rules.

1/15: Julia Ward Howe Book Awards ++
Recommended free contest offers $1,000 each for adult and children's books published in the previous calendar year by authors who live or have lived within 100 miles of Boston, Massachusetts. The adult literature category includes fiction, nonfiction and poetry; children's books may be chapter books or young adult books, but no picture books.

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

1/15: Poetic Licence Contest for Canadian Youth ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest for Canadian citizens or landed immigrants attending junior high or high school offers top prizes of C$350 in each of two age categories: Junior (grades 7-9) and Senior (grades 10-12). Send 1-2 poems, no more than 50 lines each. Enter by email only. Send as plain text file in the body of the message, not as attachment. Include poem titles, poet's name, address, phone, age, grade, and school.

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

1/15: Women Artists Datebook Contest +
Neutral free contest offers several payments of $125 for poems by women, to be included in a spiral-bound datebook with original art. Syracuse Cultural Workers describes itself as a "peace and justice publisher" with interest in the environment, social change, and marginalized groups. Send up to 5 poems, 30 lines maximum apiece, by mail or email.

1/18: Write Queer London +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly January 8
Neutral free contest offers top prizes of 200 pounds in each genre for short stories, essays, and poems about queer London, past, present and future. Poems should be 30 lines maximum, stories and essays 2,500 words maximum. Online entries accepted. Contest sponsor Untold London is a collaboration between a number of organizations with experience in the London history and heritage sector. Its goal is to discover the history of London's diverse communities.

1/19: Japanese Literary Translation Prize ++
Formerly December 31
Recommended free contest offers $6,000 for book-length translations of classical or modern Japanese literary works: novels, collections of short stories, literary essays, memoirs, drama, or poetry. Entries may be published or unpublished. Prize may be split between two winners. Either publisher or translator should submit 7 copies of translated book and 7 copies of the entry form plus one copy of the original title in Japanese.

1/19: Poetry Society of Virginia (Student Categories) +
Formerly January 21
Neutral free contest offers prizes of $50, $30, $20 for college students, $25, $15, $10 in the elementary through high school categories, plus small prizes for poems on specific themes. Age categories are Grades 1-2, Grades 3-4, Grades 5-6, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-10, Grades 11-12, Community College, and Undergraduate College. One poem per entrant. See website for line lengths and themes for each contest.

1/25: Poetry in Motion Contest +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly February 2
Neutral free contest for residents living within a 50-mile radius of St. Louis, MO offers the opportunity to have your poetry published on posters in MetroLink trains and buses, in conjunction with the Poetry Society of America's "Poetry in Motion" program. Previously published work accepted. Send 1-3 poems, maximum 15 lines each. Entries must be received by 5 pm local time on the deadline date.

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

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

1/31: Spirit First Meditation Poetry Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers prizes up to $150 for unpublished poems of any length on the theme of meditation, mindfulness, stillness, or silence. Poems may reflect any discipline or any faith or none. Maximum 3 entries per person. Enter by mail or email. Contest sponsor Spirit First is an interfaith meditation center in the Washington, DC area.

1/31: Toadlily Press Quartet Series +
Don't enter before January 1
Neutral free contest offers four prizes of $100 for a chapbook-length poetry manuscript, 16-18 single-spaced pages. The winners' collections will be published together in a single full-length book.

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 has been a satisfying oasis in a desert of emails that I receive on a daily and weekly basis. I humbly thank you, Hope, for your constant encouragement and missives about writing." FundsforWriters readers love their email. Come see why they are loyal, satisfied and enthusiastic. Four newsletters, website resources, ebooks, consults and motivational material to make you fall in love with writing all over again. Chosen by Writer's Digest for 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past nine years.

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 fewer 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.

Dream Quest One Last Call!
Dream Quest One Poetry and Writing Contest
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. Electronic entries accepted via PayPal. Visit for details and to enter.

Please enjoy this excerpt from "The Golden City" by Charlotte Ashlock of Guelph, Ontario, the winning story entry in our Winter 2005-2006 contest:
    "I was one of the daughters of the great noble houses of the city, and I was as wild as a half-tamed tiger, always putting on the scullery maid's clothes and sneaking out of back doors to run in the streets or the grand bazaar. Though my parents frowned on these expeditions, they were never too harsh with me, for they had a bit of the wanderlust themselves, and besides, it was hard to believe I could be hurt on the streets of the golden city. For it was not like most cities, swarming with thieves and pickpockets and with murderers in every dark alleyway. Crime was practically unheard of, and anyone who lacked a meal might knock on a golden door and be ushered into a cool courtyard full of blossoming trees, to be given a cup of mango juice and a plate of kiwis and strawberry jam and cassava bread and cold chicken. I passed for a beggar many times myself, knocking at a friendly door to find hidden gardens with cushioned chairs and silk canopies, swarthy men who bowed to the queer little beggar in jest, calling me 'Lady' (if only they knew how correct the title was) as they served me queer pastries full of ground beef and spices, or eggs and mushrooms, or fruit and cream cheese..."

    [click for the complete story]

Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize Last Call!
The Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize Seeks Submissions
Postmark Deadline: December 31
Established in 1983 as the Grolier Prize, the Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize is open to all poets who have not yet published a book of poetry, including small press, chapbook or trade book. The winner receives $1,000 and two copies of the poetry prize Annual. Up to six poems by the winner and four by each of three runners-up are chosen for publication in the Annual.

Submit, in duplicate, a manuscript of up to six previously unpublished poems and no more than twelve double-spaced pages. Your name must not appear on the manuscript. Include a separate cover sheet with your name and contact information, including email address and poem titles. Entry fee: $10, payable to The Ellen LaForge Memorial Poetry Foundation.

Winner and runners-up will be notified by March 31. Please mail your entry to:
    William Joiner Center
    Healey Library, 10th Floor
    University of Massachusetts, Boston
    100 Morrissey Boulevard
    Boston, MA 02125-3393
For more information please email or visit

Tupelo Press Dorset PrizeLast Call!
Tupelo Press Dorset Prize
Postmark Deadline: December 31
The annual Dorset Prize is an open competition for a poetry manuscript, with a $3,000 prize and publication by Tupelo Press. Submissions are accepted from anyone writing in the English language, whether living in the United States or abroad (translations are not eligible for this prize).

The final judge for the 2009 Dorset Prize will be Jane Hirshfield, author most recently of After (Harper, 2006). All finalists will also be considered for publication.

Submit a previously unpublished, full-length poetry manuscript of between 48 and 88 pages. A reading fee of $25 (US) by check or PayPal must accompany each submission. If sending a check, please make this payable to Tupelo Press, and mail to Tupelo Press, P.O. Box 1767, North Adams, MA 01247. We also now accept online submissions. See full guidelines at

Please enjoy this excerpt from Severance Songs by Joshua Corey, winner of last year's Dorset Prize:
    Cup of three fingers fits and forms the split,
    wriggles lambently, condenses to slick down
    prank'd hairs, pinks point by point any strip
    of skin from here to here, under the prickle where
    rough runs smooth, salt deposits sparking
    there and there—armpit, upper lip's dimple,
    nape, hip-hollow, stray boned hard and soft
    from tip to taint, dip to stick, sip to state.
    Nap of the earth under radar rumbles ratio—
    count not or count on freezes perfecting
    flush of every lip, heat principally
    tiding, biding, bearing rising action
    into this present tense engorgement, engaged
    entre nous, to enter you as wine, to be drunk.

Submit online to Carpe Articulum
Carpe Verbum Essay/Non-Fiction Postmark Deadline: January 7, 2010
Carpe Verbum Novella Postmark Deadline: January 7, 2010
Carpe Articulum Literary Review
Welcome to Carpe Articulum Literary Review! You can submit online! We look forward to reviewing your work and wish you luck in the contests. We are an international review with over 35,000 readers. We give away $10,000 every year to outstanding writers and artists and hope you will decide to become a member of our literary circle of friends. Enter our fiction, non-fiction, poetry, novella and photography contests at any time of year. We also accept submissions outside our contests via email.

The magazine is 150-200 pages of full-colour delight, translated into five languages. We feature short fiction, poetry, informative articles, photography, non-fiction and incredible interviews with hot up-and-coming writers as well as iconic ones such as Jodi Picoult (author of Change of Heart, Handle With Care, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister's Keeper which was made into a major motion picture with Cameron Diaz) and Nicholas Sparks (author of Message in a Bottle, also made into a motion picture with Kevin Costner & Robin Wright Penn, as well as The Notebook, The Last Song, etc.) And that is just this October issue!

Our writing staff includes two ex-New York Times writers (both of whom are draped in copious prestigious writing awards) as well as movie and television people for national networks. We are truly fortunate to have a full-time staff of such quality people. Our readers make up the rest of the content via their submissions. You do not have to enter a contest to be published with us. Moreover, we are the original cross-genre, international review in the world. Our readership list reads like a virtual Who's Who list and that is specifically cultivated to make certain that the winners of the award series get the maximum exposure to important agents and writers who have the power to influence writing careers.

Please enjoy this gratis electronic version of our latest issue, a preview of what you can look forward to should you decide to become one of our literary family members. We offer a great deal to our readers, superior to other reviews in scope, resources and content. Should you decide to become one of our cherished subscribers, you will receive one issue free of charge and will also find yourself immersed in short fiction, poetry, incredible interviews with great and famous writers, and articles which are insightful, timely, and informative.


Coffee House Fiction Closing Next Month
Dame Lisbet Throckmorton Fiction Contest Call for Entries
Postmark Deadline: January 31, 2010
Original short stories, or chapters that stand on their own, should use 3,500 words or less to dazzle the judges. Winning stories, and select shortlisted stories, will be published in an anthology. $600 in prizes plus copies of the anthology for the four winners. The entry fee is $17. We also offer a critique service for those who wish to receive their story's score plus feedback. This is an additional $25. For more information see or email

Please enjoy this excerpt from "Something Like That River" by Douglas Campbell, the winning entry in last year's contest:
    First they had to fill the car with gas, a ritual Gary had come to hate, and not just because of the cost. Their car was a gas hog they couldn't afford to replace yet, and the thought of where that gas would end up, burned and flung into the atmosphere, melting the polar ice caps and poisoning every human breath, filled him with disgust and shame.

    So why am I doing this? he asked himself, as he had so many times, and in the next instant answered himself with the same old explanation: I need a job to live. I need a car to get to the job. The car needs gas.

    Is that a syllogism? Gary wondered.

    "No," said a voice inside his head.

    Was that the voice of self-loathing I just heard?

    "Yes," said the voice of self-loathing.

    "Shut up," Gary said...

    [click for the full story; below, editor Sherri Cook reads from Mr. Campbell's story]

Little Red Tree Publishing
Deadline Extended!
The Vernice Quebodeaux "Pathways" Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: January 31, 2010
The Vernice Quebodeaux Prize, sponsored by Little Red Tree Publishing, includes a $1,000 cash award, publication of a full-length collection of poetry, and a generous royalty contract. All forms and styles are welcome.

The late Vernice Quebodeaux, born in Egan, LA (on the banks of the Bayou Plaquemine Brûlé), was a poet who spent a lifetime struggling with the demands of raising children, family feuds, bigotry, apathy, and indifference to her writing aspirations. On her death the beginnings of a book of poetry called Pathways was found by her daughter, Tamara Martin, and incorporated into a book, Sunday's in the South. We are honoring her life and cherished goals by creating this competition to recognize the specific unique voices of women poets.

All finalists will be considered for publication, with one selected as the prizewinner with a book published in 2010. Download our complete guidelines (PDF), then send your 60-100 page manuscript with a $20 reading fee to: Little Red Tree Publishing, LLC, Attn: The Vernice Quebodeaux Prize, 635 Ocean Avenue, New London, CT 06320.

Little Red Tree Publishing
Deadline Extended!
The Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: January 31, 2010
The International Poetry Prize, sponsored by Little Red Tree Publishing, includes a first prize of $1,000. The runner-up will receive $250 and five finalists will receive $50 each.

This prize is offered in response to demand for an opportunity to be associated with Little Red Tree by poets who have yet to develop a full collection. It is also an opportunity for Little Red Tree to extend its search and engage with quality poets from around the world who wish to be published.

The prizewinner, runner-up and other honorees will feature prominently, with full biographies, in a special collection called Little Red Tree International Poetry Book 2010. The book will also include a wide selection of poetry from those submitted that did not make the final selection but were considered worthy of publication. We anticipate the book will contain as many as 80 poems, with a free copy to each poet published, and be published in 2010 with a book launch in New London, CT.

All winners and published poets will be invited to read their poems. Download our complete guidelines (PDF), then send your poem(s) with a reading fee of $5 each to: Little Red Tree Publishing, LLC, Attn: The International Poetry Prize, 635 Ocean Avenue, New London, CT 06320.

Little Red Tree Publishing
Little Red Tree Publishing

Little Red Tree Publishing was established in 2006 and is based in New London, CT. Our mantra is simply to produce books that: Delight, entertain and educate.

We have doubled the number of books produced each year and plan to publish 12 full books of poetry in 2010. Part of that plan is the incorporation of a full book of poetry from the Vernice Quebodeaux "Pathways" Poetry Prize and an anthology from the Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize.

From humble beginnings, Little Red Tree has always seen its role, consistent with the finest traditions of small independent publishing, as preserving and expanding the dwindling opportunities for previously unpublished poets and established poets to publish a full collection of poetry. It is our aim that each book attains the highest standards both aesthetically and artistically. Our aesthetic stance is one of quality in all aspects of the content and the physical appearance of our books. We feel passionately that well-crafted and accessible poetry should be celebrated and presented as such with conviction and confidence. Therefore, all our books are coffee-table size, 7" by 10"—an emphatic statement of intent and a celebration of the poetry.

Our commitment to the individual poet and their work is undivided, and they are involved in every decision until their collection is complete, the book is finished and ready for printing.

We look forward to reading your wonderful poetry.

New Millennium WritingsClosing Next Month
Postmark Deadline: January 31, 2010
Categories: Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, and Non-fiction
Prizes: $4,000 in prizes - $1,000 for first prize in each category
Criteria: Our sole criterion is superior writing. We look for originality, accessibility, musicality, psychological insight, and moral sensibility
Contest Rules & Online Submissions:

Since 1996, we have published over 1,000 writers and poets and awarded over $100,000 in prizes to help launch writing careers. NMW is winner of a Golden Press Card Award for Excellence. According to Kane S. Latranz of Alibi, "I found this to be one of the most powerful literary experiences I've ever had. For anyone who gives a whit about writing or the human condition, New Millennium Writings should be required reading."

Please enjoy this excerpt from "An Altar for Uncle Joe" by Ed Frankel, the winning poetry entry in our 27th contest:
    I wind the metronome with the mahogany front
    and listen to the thick seventy eight—your solo at nineteen
    on "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company C",
    The Andrews Sisters and the Glen Miller Band.
    Then some bebop, Coleman Hawkins, Clifford Brown.
    The metronome ticks a hundred and twenty beats a minute,
    sixteenth notes fly all over the room
    at twice rate of a human heart,
    the sound of your fist beating on the door that night
    when you staggered through the house
    into the bathroom crying, Annie, Annie,
    and then the drop of dead weight.
    My father cursed and put you on the couch.
    My mother grabbed the pills from your trumpet case
    while the sirens moaned to a stop outside.
    The red and white lights flashed in the dark
    and the neighbors came out to watch.

    I'll skip the food; you never was much of an eater.
    Where do I put the reds and whites
    the uppers, downers and all arounders,
    the theme-song of the man with the golden arm,
    your custom-made Benge that Aunt Katy Rose
    the Fishtown beauty from Kensingtown
    bent over your head, and where do I put
    whatever else it was that took you out of the life?
    Where do I put the punch-clock job you took
    with the City Department of Weights and Measures;
    your heart attack, those last years, watching daytime TV.
    You called it, greasing the skids in No Man's Land.

Oregon Quarterly Closing Next Month
11th Annual Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest (no fee)
Postmark Deadline: January 31, 2010
Oregon Quarterly invites entries to the 11th Annual 2010 Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest in both student and open categories. Entries should address ideas that affect the Northwest. The Oregon Quarterly staff will select finalists and the contest judge, Tom Hager, will choose the top three winners in each category. Past judges have been Kim Stafford, Barry Lopez, John Daniel, Karen Karbo, Brian Doyle, Lauren Kessler and Craig Lesley.
  • Prizes in the Open Category: $750, $300, $100
  • Prizes in the Student Category: $500, $200, $75
  • No entry fee required
  • First-place essays will appear in Oregon Quarterly
  • A selection of top essays will be featured in a springtime public reading on the UO campus
  • Fifteen finalists (ten in the open category and five students) will be announced in the Summer 2010 issue of Oregon Quarterly
  • All finalists will be invited to participate in a writing workshop with the contest judge on the day of the reading
Entries should be nonfiction, should not have been previously published, and should be no more than 1,500 words in the student category and 2,000 words in the open category. The student contest is open to any student currently enrolled and pursuing a graduate or undergraduate degree at a college or university. One entry per person. Find the submission address and complete guidelines at (click on Essay Contest).

Please enjoy this excerpt from "The Wild Gods of the West and the Paradox of Beauty and Terror" by Melvin Adams. This essay won third place in the open category of our tenth contest.
    ...The cowboys were fatally attracted to the primordial feminine indwelling beauty of the terrains they could not leave, ignore, or reject. They struggled against it but ultimately surrendered to the seductive pull of it. As Camille Paglia has stated, "There is danger in beauty." The poet Rilke put it even more clearly, "Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror." Once they laid eyes on the terrains of the West, their fate was sealed. In the end, they were consumed because one cannot see God and live.

    One day many years ago when my father and I were fishing in a meadow near Jack and Jenny buttes, a cougar emerged from the timber to the west and began running towards me. I was about eight or nine. My father panicked, threw down his rod and began running toward me as I sat on the bank of the stream. At the last second the cougar veered from its path and jumped across the stream between us. I do not know why it veered. Later my father asked me what I was thinking as the cat came at me. I remarked about how surprised I was that it could jump clear over the stream. My father said that the cougar was beautiful but terrifying...

Click to read "Wild Gods" in full and all the winning essays from our tenth contest.

2010 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Postmark Deadline: January 31, 2010
Submissions are now being accepted for the fourth William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. This award, given by Stanford University Libraries in partnership with the William Saroyan Foundation, recognizes newly published works of fiction and nonfiction with a $5,000 award for the winner in each category. The prize is designed to encourage new or emerging writers and honor the Saroyan literary legacy of originality, vitality and stylistic innovation. For entry forms and more information on the prize, visit the Saroyan Prize website:

Please enjoy this excerpt from the 2008 Nonfiction Winner, Dandelion Through the Crack, by Kiyo Sato:
    ...If the FBI thinks a good man like Mr. Saiki is a spy, there is no telling what they will do to me. If I were to be picked up now, what would my family do? Would my parents be notified? I must write down somewhere that my name is Kiyo Sato and that my parents are Shinji and Tomomi Sato at Route 2, Box 2917, in Sacramento, California. What will they do with my Studebaker? Dear God, please, please, not now!

    I slow down. The police car slows down. My steering wheel becomes wet and slippery. He follows me steadily. I reach the town of Perkins, almost within the legal radius of five miles. I pass Bradshaw Road and he is still right behind me. I hold my body erect to keep from crumbling. My spine stiffens from fear. My foot can hardly control the pressure on the gas pedal and I try hard not to jerk or spurt forward.

    I wish desperately now that I had taken the time to get that permit, but just to get it I have to go to Sacramento, which is over the five-mile radius. Besides, my Nisei Japanese-American friends tell me that it takes hours of waiting, that no one seems to know what they are doing. Right now, traveling eastward, out of town, I can't tell the officer that I'm on my way to get it. The steering wheel begins to slip...

    "I hope Dandelion Through the Crack is widely read and noted. Taken simply as a family chronicle, it is moving and graceful. But it is also a powerful, thought-provoking historical document, which dramatizes important changes in California and the United States as a whole."
    —James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly

The WB Yeats Society of New York Poetry Competition
The WB Yeats Society of New York Poetry Competition
Postmark Deadline: February 1, 2010
This year's competition will be judged by Alice Quinn, executive director of the Poetry Society of America and former poetry editor of The New Yorker. Competition is open to members and nonmembers of any age, from any locality. First prize $250, second prize $100. Winners and honorable mentions receive 2-year memberships in the Society and are honored at an event at Barnes & Noble Union Square, New York City, May 1, 2010.

Submit poems in English up to 60 lines, not previously published, on any subject. Type each poem (judged separately) on an 8.5 x 11-inch sheet without author's name; attach 3x5 card with name, address, phone, email.

Entry fee $8 for first poem, $7 each additional. Mail to:
    Poetry Competition WW
    WB Yeats Society of NY
    National Arts Club
    15 Gramercy Park S
    New York, NY 10003
Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to receive the report of the contest results. List of winners is posted on around March 31, 2010, along with information on the Yeats Summer School in Ireland, July 24-August 6, 2010. Authors retain rights, but grant us the right to publish winning entries. These are the complete guidelines; no entry form necessary. We reserve the right to hold late submissions for the following year. For reports of previous competitions, and information on our other programs and membership, visit or write to us.

Please enjoy "The Yellow Fields", winner of an honorable mention in our 2004 contest:
    The Yellow Fields
    by Zara Raab

    My own mother was a small town girl, dark
    And slim, unschooled, artless, and bighearted—
    Who kept a clean house over a green hill,
    And mothered her four children. That's all—
    Until the day she unwound the turban
    Of home and ran out bareheaded, leaving
    Us for dreams, for the Idea of Love,
    Small town life had turned stale and boring. We
    Had turned stale and boring. She wanted out.
    She wanted the new life she dreamed of now,
    Quick, she threw open the doors of her
    Cell, and walked out into the yellow fields.
    She didn't consider having to spin
    Her powers to god, she didn't reckon
    The waterfall of loss, how its pounding
    Muffled the sounds and scents all around her.
    Head bare, she walked out into the open,
    Where the deer step at twilight, ears twitching,
    Upwind of the hunter's scent, the scent of
    Powder in the guns, and of grass burning.

Houston Writers Guild Houston Writers Guild: Grand Prize Novel Contest $1,000
Postmark Deadline: February 28, 2010
Houston Writers Guild will award $1,000 to the first-place winner in their Spring 2010 contest. Submit the first fifteen pages of your novel. Second prize is $300 and third prize is $200. We welcome a wide range of genres: Mainstream, Literary, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Historical, Saga, Mystery, Thriller, Spy, Action, Adventure, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Non-Fiction. Go to for details. Winners will be announced at our Spring 2010 Workshop on April 10 featuring a prominent editor, a literary agent, and a noted screenwriter.

Please enjoy this excerpt from the beginning of Roger Paulding's novel The Pickled Dog Caper, available from
    Clad in a plain blue linen shirt and breeches, on his back a red pea jacket stolen from a French sailor, Richard Makepeace sat on a three-legged stool before the bar of justice. Heavy chains circled his chest and looped his wrists and ankles. An iron collar embraced his neck.

    "Oyez! Oyez!" the court crier shouted. "The court will please come to order. The Honorable Silas Payne, presiding judge."

    When Makepeace turned to look at the judge, the metal choker's rough edge nicked his neck. Blood droplets sprinkled his shirt. An omen, he thought—and not a gracious one.

    The judge's countenance was long, withering, and sour as that of a baboon. Forlorn hope there, Makepeace figured.

    Unmarked by the pox, Makepeace's face seldom failed to inspire confidence in his behavior. Scarcely twenty, he knew he was far too handsome for his own good. Times often were, he thought he could have done better with himself.
Mr. Paulding is president of the Houston Writers Guild.

The entire chapter is available, along with the second one, and photographs of the area for this amusing tale set in eighteenth-century Maryland, on Read how Makepeace manages to escape the gallows, and find out if he can maintain his new identity as a priest without being found out for the rogue he is.

"The flavor, the colors and the details of the 18th century in a page-turning story," comments Chris Rogers, author of Bitch Factor, a Bantam series, and Goosing the Write Brain, The Storyteller's Toolkit.

Snake Nation Press Snake Nation Press: Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry
Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2010
Now in its twentieth year, Snake Nation Press announces the 2010 Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry:
  • $1,000 prize and publication
  • $25 entry fee must accompany the manuscript
  • 50-75 page manuscript; previously published poems eligible
Please mail your entry and fee to:
    Snake Nation Press
    Attn: Poetry Contest
    2920 North Oak Street
    Valdosta, GA 31602
Snake Nation Press provides an informative, non-threatening venue for writers to submit their work in the midst of an often chaotically diverse publishing world. Over the twenty-year history of the Press, the staff and volunteers have found great satisfaction in forging personalized editorial relationships with both emerging and established writers. The Snake is committed to keeping an honest and open dialogue with authors and to furthering the literary arts on a local and global scale. Many hours of volunteer labor and the electronic resources of the Web have allowed a small press to help present many new literary voices to the world-wide community.

The editors of Snake Nation Press look for manuscripts that concretely render the writer's actual and imaginative experiences. We publish writing that both newly interprets life in its everyday reality and that opens the reader's eyes to internal landscapes that have not yet been envisioned. We believe that good writing fortifies a belief in the value of human life and effort, but above all the work must connect intuition and experience to cast a spell of surprised recognition that shocks the reader with what was thought to be familiar.

Please enjoy this poem from our first issue, Fall 1989:
    by Allan Peterson

    At no matter what age
    the snake is unwrinkled.
    It does not go grey
    or death drop out of its head.
    It renews its diamonds.
    It can be beautiful script
    and write sleek in the grass
    til the last minute.
    Two choices are irreversibile:
    suicide and the full body tattoo.
    Everything else is forgiving.
    Everything else is prepared for you.

Fish PublishingTwo Competitions Now Open at Fish Publishing
    Fish One-Page Prize
    Entries must be received by March 20, 2010
    Flash Fiction of up to 300 words. The ten best stories will be published in the 2010 Fish Anthology.
    Contest is open to writers of any nationality writing in English.
    Entries must not have been published before.
    Judges: John Hegley and Simon Munnery.
    Entry online or by post.
    First Prize 1,000 Euro.
    Results announced on April 30, 2010.
    Entry Fee 12 Euro.

    Fish Poetry Prize
    Entries must be received by March 30, 2010
    For poems up to 200 words. The best ten will be published in the 2010 Fish Anthology in July.
    Contest is open to poets of any nationality writing in English.
    Entries must not have been published before.
    Judge: Matthew Sweeney.
    Entry online or by post.
    First Prize 1,000 Euro. Each of the ten successful poets will receive five copies of the Anthology.
    Results announced on April 30, 2010.
    Entry Fee 12 Euro.
Fish Publishing, Durrus, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

Alabama Writers ConclaveAlabama Writers' Conclave (AWC) Contest at
Postmark Deadline: April 20, 2010
Prizes awarded in July: $100, $75, $50 and $25 plus online publication (optional) of first through fourth place winners in the Alalitcom at Categories and maximum word limit: Fiction (2,500), Short Fiction (1,000), Juvenile Fiction (2,500), Nonfiction (2,500), Traditional Poem (any form, maximum 40 lines), Free Verse Poem (60 lines), Humor (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry – 2,000 words or 50 lines for poem), First Chapter Novel (up to 10 double-spaced pages).

Entry fee for each submission in all categories (EXCEPT Poem and First Chapter Novel): $5.00 if AWC member, $8.00 non-member. For First Chapter Novel: $10.00 if member, $12.00 non-member. For all poems: $3.00 per poem if member, $5.00 non-member. Multiple entries accepted, but you may win only one prize per category. Entries must be original, unpublished, and may not have won a money prize in any contest.

Organized in 1923, the Conclave is the oldest continuing writers' organization in the United States. Members include writers, aspiring writers and supporters of the writing arts. Sharing information, developing ideas, honing skills, and receiving practical advice are hallmarks of the annual meeting (July 16-18, 2010 at the Hilton Birmingham Perimeter Park, Birmingham, AL).

The Conclave is responsible for nominating, for the governor's appointment, Alabama's Poet Laureate, a post currently filled by Sue Brannan Walker. Further information:



These free prose contests with deadlines between December 16 and January 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.

12/18: Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Awards ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly December 19
Recommended free contest offers three prizes of $500 for books of fiction and nonfiction (creative or scholarly) written by an African-American and published in the US during the current year. There is one award for adult fiction, one for nonfiction and one for a first novel. The awards honor books that depict the "cultural, historical, or sociopolitical aspects of the African Diaspora". Must be nominated by publisher.

12/31: Culture of Enterprise Student Essay Contest ++
Recommended free contest for undergraduates offers prizes up to $10,000 and web publication for essays, 2,500-3,000 words, on the topic: "Can Character and Communities Survive in an Age of Globalization?" Sponsor is a libertarian think tank funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

12/31: Desert Writers Award +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers annual fellowship of $2,000 for writers of literary or creative nonfiction to spend time writing in and about the desert landscape. Send 10-page writing sample, project description and biographical statement. Enter by email only. Finalists may be interviewed.

12/31: French-American Foundation Translation Prizes +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly November 15
Highly recommended free contest offers prizes of $10,000 apiece for the best published book-length translations of French fiction and creative nonfiction into English. Entries must have been published in the US during the current calendar year. (Bound galleys are accepted for books scheduled for publication by December 31.) Publishers should submit the translated book along with the French original and a cover letter with information about the book and its author.

12/31: Girls Gone Great Scholarship Essay Contest ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly October 31
Recommended free contest offers $1,000 college scholarship for Maryland 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.

12/31: Japan Center—Canon Essay Competition +
Neutral free contest for high school and college students in NYC and Long Island offers scholarships up to $2,000 for essays on the spirit of Japan. Enter by mail or online.

12/31: 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.

12/31: Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction +++
Highly recommended free contest offers $5,000 for the best novel about the Civil War published during the current calendar year. Publishers, critics or authors should send 4 copies of the book to the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.

12/31: Seventeen Magazine Fiction Contest ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest for short fiction by US teenage girls (ages 13-21) offers top prize of $2,500 and publication in Seventeen Magazine. 2010 judges are Seventeen editors and Meg Cabot, best-selling author of The Princess Diaries. As of 2009, enter online only. Entries must be received before midnight EST on the deadline date.

12/31: Thoroughbred Times Fiction Contest ++
Recommended free contest offers prizes of $600, $300, $200, plus publication, for fiction up to 5,000 words about some facet of the Thoroughbred horse industry. Mail or email entries accepted. Offered biennially (odd-numbered years only).

1/8: Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics +++
Formerly December 19
Highly recommended free contest for US college students offers top prize of $5,000, other large prizes, for essays about ethical issues and the place of ethics in human life. See website for specific themes. Entrants must be registered undergraduate full-time juniors or seniors at accredited four-year colleges in the US during the Fall 2009 semester (for 2010 contest).

1/9: John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly January 10
Highly recommended free contest for US high school students offers top prize of $5,000 cash, plus $5,000 to grow in a John Hancock Freedom 529 College Savings Plan, for essays about how a contemporary elected official (post-1956) risked his or her career to take a stand based on moral principles. Essays should be 1,000 words maximum and cite at least five research sources. Online entries preferred.

1/14: PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers a fellowship of $5,000 to an author of children's or young adult fiction. An eligible candidate is a writer of children's or young adult fiction in financial need; candidates have published at least two novels for children or young adults which have been warmly received by literary critics, but have not generated sufficient income to support the author. The writer's books must be published by a US publisher. Candidates must be nominated by an editor or fellow writer. Send 3 copies of outline and excerpt of 50-75 pages from current project, plus letter of nomination, list of prior publications (with reviews if available), and a financial statement.

1/15: RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly October 31
Recommended free contest offers C$5,000 for poetry or fiction by Canadian authors under 35 with no published books. Genre alternates by year. 2010 contest is for 5-10 pages (maximum 2,500 words) of unpublished fiction. 2011 contest will be for poetry.

1/15: VCU Cabell First Novelist Award ++
Recommended free contest from Virgina Commonwealth University offers $5,000 for a first novel published during the previous calendar year. Author, agent, and editor also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Richmond, VA to participate in the Virginia Commonwealth University First Novelist Forum. Send 3 copies of published book. Deadline was September 15 for books published January through June 2009. For books published July through December 2009, the deadline is January 15, 2010.

1/17: Dream Deferred Essay Contest ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly January 11
Recommended free contest offers prizes up to $2,000 for essays, 600-1,500 words, on the struggle for civil rights in Middle Eastern countries. Open to authors living in the US, Arab League member states, Iran or Afghanistan, aged 25 or under. Enter via online form. Sponsor HAMSA is an initiative of the American Islamic Congress.

1/20: Orwell Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly January 14
Highly recommended free contest offers prizes of 3,000 pounds in each of three categories (Book Prize, Journalism Prize, Special Prize) for the best political writing published in the UK or Ireland during the preceding calendar year. Entries may be published books of fiction or nonfiction, or journalistic articles or broadcasts. All entrants must have a clear relationship with the UK or Ireland. Submit 6 copies of one book, or 4-6 articles or broadcast transcripts or a combination thereof. The Special Prize is offered at the judges' discretion and is not a separate submission category.

1/31: American Kennel Club Fiction Writing Contest ++
Recommended free contest offers top prize of $750 for short stories up to 2,000 words that feature dogs of an AKC-registrable breed or a breed listed in the Miscellaneous class. No simultaneous submissions. The AKC is a well-known organization that sets the criteria for purebred show dogs, as well as advocating for animal welfare and providing information for dog owners and breeders.

1/31: Amy Writing Awards ++
Recommended free contest offers $34,000 in prizes, top prize of $10,000, for articles with a Biblical perspective that were published in secular newspapers or magazines, or on mainstream, non-religious news or e-magazine websites (no blog entries), in the previous calendar year. "Examples of issues for consideration, but not limited to these, are family life, divorce, value trends, media and entertainment character, pornography, political morality, US national interests, abortion, religion and addiction to drugs and alcohol. The biblical impact on individual character and outlook are also appropriate issues. The need for obedience through biblical truth should be evident."

1/31: Caine Prize for African Writing +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers 10,000 pounds for published short stories by African writers, defined as someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or whose parents are African, and whose work has reflected African sensibilities. Up to 5 shortlisted authors receive a travel stipend. For the 2010 contest, entries must have been published between February 1, 2005 and January 31, 2010. Must be submitted by publisher. Send 6 copies of published story. (They prefer 6 originals but will accept 1 original and 5 photocopies.)

1/31: Jack London Writing Contest ++
Recommended free contest for students in grades 9-12 offers prizes of $2,000, $1,000 and $500 for stories and essays of 2,000 words maximum (entries in both genres compete together). Entries should be submitted by the student's English teacher.

1/31: 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.

1/31: Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest ++
Recommended free contest seeks essays that "address ideas that affect the Northwest" region of the US. Top prize of $750 in the open category, $500 in the student category (college or graduate school), plus smaller prizes and publication in Oregon Quarterly, the University of Oregon magazine. Maximum 2,000 words for the open category, 1,500 words for the student category. One essay per person.

1/31: Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant ++
Recommended free contest offers a $1,000 grant to an Ohio writer aged 30 and under with no published books. Submit 1-6 prose pieces (fiction or creative nonfiction), each of which should be 10-60 double-spaced pages in 12-point font. Applicants must have been born in Ohio or lived there for at least 5 years. See website for details and entry form.

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.



Memoirs, Ink's Weekly Fragmoirs Contest
Rolling Deadline
"A fragmoir is a tweet-length or status-length fragment of your life. Not all statuses and tweets are fragmoirs. If you don't get it, please read our archive of favorite fragmoirs." Each week, the best fragmoir submitted via their online form will be published on the website. Memoirs, Ink also runs several contests for full-length personal essays. Sign up for their e-newsletter or see our Poetry Contest Insider profiles for details.

The Broome Review
Postmark Deadline: December 31
The Broome Review is a literary magazine that seeks to bring further local and national exposure to the Broome County, NY arts community by attracting writers and artists of many genres from across the country and across the world. The journal promotes cultural development in and outside the immediate area through the creation of a wider audience for the works of established and emerging artists. For their 2010 issue, they are seeking submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Send 3-5 poems, maximum 10 single-spaced pages, or one prose piece up to 8,000 words. "Shorter work stands a better chance as we try to provide a space for as many voices as possible to be heard."



Asian American Literary Review
The Asian American Literary Review is a space for writers who consider the designation "Asian American" a fruitful starting point for artistic vision and community. In showcasing the work of established and emerging writers, the journal aims to incubate dialogues and, just as importantly, open those dialogues to regional, national, and international audiences of all constituencies. They select work that is, as Marianne Moore once put it, "an expression of our needs...[and] feeling, modified by the writer's moral and technical insights." Published biannually, AALR features fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, comic art, interviews, and book reviews.

Black Lawrence Press
This well-regarded independent small press offers several annual contests for chapbooks and full-length collections of poetry and literary fiction. Order one book from their catalog and receive a free subscription to editor Diane Goettel's weekly e-newsletter with tips for getting published by a small press.

The Brown Bookshelf
This book review website is designed to raise awareness of the myriad of African-American voices writing for young readers. Their flagship initiative is 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by African-Americans.

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.



She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders
By Jennifer Finney Boylan. This witty and eye-opening memoir describes one person's experience of being transgender. James Finney Boylan was a published novelist and English professor who had tried all his life to suppress his feeling that he was female inside. Finally, at age 40, he began the process of transition, leading to an upheaval and rearrangement of his family life, depicted here in anecdotes both comical and sad. Some will feel that the real hero of the tale is the author's wife, who lovingly supported Boylan's transition despite her pain and anger at losing the man she married. Boylan's hilarious narrative voice is the book's chief strength; its weakness is an absence of in-depth reflection on where our ideas of "male" and "female" identity come from.



Alibris Coupons

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.



The Glinting Rhythm
by Gina Ferrara

Admit it. Today could be the best moment
you've ever had in my concave city—
your downpours, evictions, evacuations,
broken heart and skid marks dissolve
on an afternoon where rust and orange mums
are placed beneath names of the dead.
Here, there are no mounds.
Everyone succumbs to mortar and alabaster.
You become unstuck, acquiescing
to a fluency that flows without language.
The paddle wheel turns percussive
measured as a haiku we push,
pedal beneath the bridge, metal touches metal
and moves brackish jade water
named for a zealot saint.
My red hat keeps slipping from my head.
You steer us back into sunlight
and we marvel at the sight and sound of steel
glinting a rhythm, a recurring dream,
where three ibises rise like hope from flotsam.

Copyright 2009 by Gina Ferrara

Originally published on, this poem is reprinted from her collection Ethereal Avalanche, which was released by Trembling Pillow Press in October.


Epistle to Nero
by Nicole Nicholson

are going to open a debate. I
am going to open up the sky and spill liquid, flashing nightmares onto your faces. Marching horsemen will brand hoof prints into your backs, their bee language paths preprogrammed by the sharp knife seizing, the bleeding propelled and held backwards in your own chests—oh, how you would wound the arms that feed you. You handed these horsemen

the scales,
the sword,
the horn of shudder holding
rattled lungs and tainted blood behind its lips. The call of the wild barks pestilence into the air.

You dreamed these nightmares long before I was blood.

You scripted them—
the sideways glance at the quiet jingle
and silken ass shake wearing someone else's name; the cuneiform lie arranging itself according to your discordant song onto sheets of baked tree blood; the letter chained to letter chained to death chained to blue eyes squeezing out oceans, exiting final pleas to the sky for their insulted dreams of freedom; the sword crying to forge canals through flesh where there are none. The cock and the wound, the cunt and the knife.

And if you think my curls betray me—
baked sun skin, white hair,
banished man to a crazy island, then remember this:

you made Patmos.

You dusted sand at my feet and gave me a canvas. You gave me chained sky and I paint on it. You steal our blood. I rob it back from you and paint your sister tongue sideways with it—Greek curls and straight line letters lined with God—to mock you. You stamp me into this sand, my spine curving with the borders of dunes and sparkling with the glitter of dirt, and leave me here to die in the dust to be re-read up until the end of God. My dreams, your nightmares. It's all the same.

Copyright 2009 by Nicole Nicholson

This poem placed tenth among 461 entries in the 2009 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. Listen to the winning poems here.


Setting Out
by Ruth Hill

Rusty sticky swing spring squeaks
Rickety wicker rocker raps
Porch floor boards with bumpy beats
Squeaks and bumps and screen door flaps
Robin whistles shrill thrill trill
August sun silently sets
Orange sky on purple hill
Tonight, as good as it gets

Know, no chair pad soft enough
Gramma's disappearing bones
Grampa's singing cannot bluff
Robin's clear and marbled tones
Crunch gaudy oilcloth cushion
Past field stones lovingly laid
By these hands so strong and young
Now just crickets serenade

Copyright 2009 by Ruth Hill

This poem was first published in the online journal Word Catalyst in November.


Advertise to 30,000 Poets and Writers
Promote your contests, websites, events and publications in this newsletter. Reach over 30,000 poets and writers for $80. Ads may contain up to 250 words, a headline and a graphic image. Find out more and make your reservation here:
    Enjoy our old 2009 rate of $65 per ad when you order by December 31, plus a 25% discount when you order four ads or more. The ads you reserve may run at any time in the future.
"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

See more testimonials.



Join ProLiteracy

It doesn't matter if you're a teacher in an adult basic literacy or English-as-a-second-language classroom, a volunteer tutor working one-on-one with an adult student, a district supervisor of an Adult Basic Education program, or an administrator of a community-based literacy organization — ProLiteracy membership can benefit you!


  • National and International Advocacy for public policies and legislation that benefit adult learners and the people and programs that serve them
  • Instructor's Notebook — 16 pages of practical and proven instructional techniques you can use right away, plus online expansion activity materials. Three issues per year. A $50 value!
  • Exclusive access to the Member Resources section of our Web site
  • Access to Connect, our Members-Only listserv
  • Public policy updates, e-mail alerts on literacy-related legislative issues
  • Network News, our monthly e-mail newsletter that lets you know where to find grants, free resources for administrators and instructors, and professional development opportunities
  • 25% discount on your registration to our annual conference
  • 15% discount on our professional development services
  • $30 off a one-year subscription to the Adult Basic Education & Literacy Journal. Three issues per year. Member price: $35; List price: $65
  • $10 discount on Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) membership. You pay just $25
  • Special Pricing or FREE webinars on "hot topics"
Click to join ProLiteracy now!

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

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

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



This month, Critique Corner is pleased to present "On Battery Hill" by Niki Nymark.

If you would like a chance to be critiqued, please email your poem to 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!

On Battery Hill
by Niki Nymark

I push snow with my feet,
suck ice cookies off one mitten
while dragging the sled
behind like a stubborn dog
on an icy leash
to reach the tin drum bonfire
crowded with Big People
laughing, warming hands,
their faces lively
over the fierce coals.

My dad brings me;
he loves the outdoors. His skin
is thick and ruddy, his voice booms
out, a baritone with basso rumbles.
He stays up by the fire, smacking
his hands for warmth, lets me take the hill
myself. The hill is a test;
fly fast enough to go straight down,
but not slide into the frozen lake.

show me where I've been:
all mixed up, criss-crossed
with the runners and feet
of others. Bundled
in big coats, caps, scarves,
anonymous, you can't tell
if I'm a boy or girl—
even I'm not sure yet.
No one knows me here,
my wet bed, my little lies,
how easy it is to make me cry.

Copyright 2009 by Niki Nymark

Critique by Tracy Koretsky

It is winter here in the United States and the beginning of a long season when we will be reminded of Christmas at every turn and thoughts for many move to family. Perhaps that is why I find myself so drawn to this dramatic persona poem by Niki Nymark, of St. Louis, Missouri, author of A Stranger Here Myself from Cherry Pie Press.

Unlike my last two critiques in which I focused upon a few lines or phrases, the issues with "On Battery Hill", as I perceive them, are more systemic.

Let's start with what's working. Nymark has constructed a durable underlying narrative structure. In three stanzas divided roughly in half in terms of plot, she moves the story consistently forward. First she places the character, then gives her a goal—in this case, a visual target. Stanza two begins by introducing the next character (father) then raises the stakes both emotionally and physically with "the hill is a test".

Notice the restraint of the placement of that phrase. Many poets would succumb to the dramatic effect of ending the stanza with it. Nymark makes a more subtle choice...

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.


Visit Reiter's Block for poetry, cutting-edge Christianity, book notes and cultural insights. Subscribe free to get Jendi's latest posts as they happen. Go to the home page, see the Subscription box on the left.


The Best Free Poetry Contests for January 16-February 28