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

Featured Poem:
"I Remember the Zinnias" by Ruth Sabath Rosenthal

Featured Poem:
"The Plastics Man" by Paula Brancato

Featured Poem:
"Abandoned B-24" by William Childress

Advertise in This Newsletter

Critique Corner Special Feature: "How to Respond to Criticism of Your Poetry" by Tracy Koretsky

Newsletter Archives

December 2010

One of the "101 Best Websites for Writers"
Writer's Digest, 2005-2010

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.

Lost one of our newsletters? Was part of it garbled in transmission? Formatting doesn't look right? Not to worry. All our recent newsletters are posted online at
Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers 2010
Like What We Do?
Please Nominate Us by January 1
Writer's Digest is calling for nominations for its 2011 101 Best Websites for Writers. As you know, we were grateful to be named to this list for the past six years. Nominations are due by January 1. Please consider sending an email to Put "101 Websites" in the subject line and include a brief note about how Winning Writers helps you. Copy us on your nomination if you feel like it. We appreciate it!

Attention Advertisers—Last Call to Lock in Our 2010 Rates
Our circulation base will increase from 30,000 to 35,000 on January 1, and our ad rates will increase from $80 to $100. Buy your 2011 ads by 12/31/10 and lock in the current lower rates, the best value in literary ezines today! See testimonials.



Carpe Articulum Literary Review

Welcome to Carpe Articulum Literary Review, a full-colour, international, quarterly journal of resplendent literature! This perfect-bound, archival quality journal is the perfect fit for the most discerning reader's home, office, or private window seat. Once again we bring you a wonderful selection of cross-genre literature as well as spectacular interviews from famous industry greats. Genres include: Poetry, Short Fiction, Novellas, Screenwriting & Non-Fiction. We also include full-colour photography, informative articles and insightful interviews. Welcome to

GET A FREE ELECTRONIC ISSUE! This is a gift from us all at CALR with our compliments. Click to download a free electronic copy of last quarter's issue.

$10,000 per year in cash awards provided to exceptional writers and photographers! See this quarter's announcements below for details.

THIS ISSUE'S FEATURED GUESTS: We welcome Barbara Ehrenreich, author of seventeen books including bestsellers such as Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch and her newest book, Bright-Sided, which explores her amazing take on the "positive minded" philosophies being perpetuated in society, especially in the shadow of her own struggle with breast cancer.

We welcome Stan Jones and his wildly successful series of novels on Alaskan natives and stunning landscape as seen through the eyes of the half Inuit, Nathan Active!

We welcome Bruce Piasecki, whose non-fiction books including The Surprising Solution have been translated into over five languages worldwide! These remarkable and seasoned writers have graced Carpe Articulum's pages with their wit, wisdom, unusual experiences and advice. These interviews are rare and exclusive to Carpe Articulum—you won't see them anywhere else!

SPECIAL THANKS TO FORMER HEAD OF MGM STUDIOS, PARAMOUNT AND DESILU PRODUCTIONS, MR. HERBERT F. SOLOW, FOR THE LOVELY INTERVIEWS THIS ROTATION and HARRISON SOLOW FOR HER ENLIGHTENING INTERVIEW ON LIMINALITY, LUMINESCENCE AND LITERATURE. Last quarter, Mr. Solow spoke about what screenwriters should know about the industry, the true stories behind his mega-hits Star Trek and Mission: Impossible, and how things really work in Hollywood. Stay in touch to see the exciting new interviews in upcoming issues!

Carpe Articulum is available in print in Barnes & Noble, Borders and other fine bookstores worldwide. Online editions available as well.


Current call for submissions: Short Fiction, Screenwriting (Best opening scene only) and Non-Fiction & Poetry. NO PAGE LIMITS! Multiple submissions permitted; submit online via the website! Previously published work is permitted only if the print run did not exceed 2,000 copies.

     SHORT FICTION: Mar 30, Sep 30
     POETRY: Mar 30, Sep 30
     NOVELLA: Jan 7
     ESSAY/NON-FICTION: Jan 7, Aug 30
     PHOTOGRAPHY: Aug 30

Submit your work online now. Go to



Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 31, 2011
Now in its 19th 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, 2011
Winning Writers invites you to enter the tenth annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. We'll award $3,600, including a top prize of $1,500. Submit one humor poem online. No length limit. Both published and unpublished poems are welcome. No fee to enter. Final judge: Jendi Reiter. See the complete guidelines and past winners.

War Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: May 31, 2011
We seek 1-3 original, unpublished poems on the theme of war for our tenth 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, 2011
Now in its eighth year, this contest seeks poetry in traditional verse forms such as sonnets and free verse. You may submit work that has been published or won prizes elsewhere, as long as you own the online publication rights. 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, 2011
Now in its ninth year, this contest seeks poems in any style, theme or genre. You may submit work that has been published or won prizes elsewhere, as long as you own the online publication rights. 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 eighth contest will be announced in this newsletter on February 15, 2011.


Tom Howard Books is pleased to announce the results from its seventh annual Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse. Philip Brown of Wairarapa, New Zealand won first prize and $3,000 for his poem "South Sea Odyssey". Hundreds of entries were received from around the world. See the press release announcing the winners.

The judges said, "Here is a poem that has everything judges look for in a top-winning entry... The poet describes his quest as 'elusive treasure' or even an 'idle thought', yet he has brought the mystery, the ideal and finally 'the exotic waste of paradise' into the reader's consciousness; or, as he himself describes it, he has made fantasy—at least fleetingly—tangible."

Second prize of $1,000 went to Elizabeth Davies of Cambridge, England. In "The Queen of the Sea", Davies memorably retells the Javanese legend of a beautiful, haughty dancer and the rejected suitor's curse that turned her into a sea monster. In lines arranged in sinuous curves, Davies draws a character who inspires compassion as well as fear. Ellaraine Lockie of Sunnyvale, California won third prize and $400 for "Tao of Taos". This playful homage to a New Mexico cyber-cafe is peopled with New Age devotees who'd like to have it all: enlightenment, multicultural souvenirs, and good coffee. Crystal-Angelee Burrell of Brooklyn, New York won fourth prize and $250 for "Groceries on the Path Unpaved", a taut narrative of a racist incident and its long-lasting impact on the guilty bystanders.

Most Highly Commended Awards of $150 went to Carmine Dandrea, Elizabeth Davies, Phill Doran (two awards), Ellaraine Lockie, Fred Kruger, Gregory Loselle, and Johnmichael Simon.

Read the top winning poems on our website plus the judges' comments. Thanks to all of you who participated. The eighth annual Margaret Reid Poetry Contest is now open for entries here through June 30, 2011.


Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter was one of three finalists for the 2010 Fulton Prize for Short Fiction. Her story "The Away Team", a chapter from her novel-in-progress, appears online in the Winter 2010 issue of The Adirondack Review. The most recent deadline for this contest, offering prizes up to $300, was July 31.

Congratulations to Ruth Sabath Rosenthal. Her poetry chapbook Facing Home was recently published by Finishing Line Press. She kindly shares a sample poem below.

Congratulations to Paula Brancato. Her new poetry chapbook For My Father was recently published by Finishing Line Press. She kindly shares a sample poem below. Visit her website to learn more.

Congratulations to Gerardo "Tony" Mena. The winner of our 2010 War Poetry Contest was profiled in the November 28 issue of the Columbia Daily Tribune, a Missouri newspaper. The feature discussed his decorated service with the Marines in Iraq, his winning poem "So I Was a Coffin", and his current life as a creative writing student at the University of Missouri. Mena hopes to help other veterans use the arts to come to terms with their memories of combat.

Congratulations to Dick Sheffield. His short story "Maere Tungol" won third prize in the 2010 Hackney Literary Awards for Poetry & Short Fiction and will be published in Birmingham Arts Journal in January. This contest offers prizes up to $600 for unpublished poetry and stories, in both nationwide and statewide (Alabama) categories. The most recent submission period was September 1-November 30.

Congratulations to Jari Thymian, Elizabeth Marchitti, and Mark Stevick, the first, second, and third prize winners in the Fall 2010 Lucidity Poetry Journal Clarity Awards. Other Winning Writers subscribers receiving honorable mentions included Don Lubov, Janet McCann, Eva Schlesinger, Ann Eustace, and Ruth Hill. This twice-yearly free contest with deadlines of April 30 and October 31 offers prizes up to $100 for poems in any form dealing with people and interpersonal relationships.

William Childress's poems "A Korean War Veteran Ponders Death" and "Abandoned B-24" were published in CT Review's Fall 2010 themed issue on Veterans of War. He kindly shares the latter poem below. CT Review is published by the Connecticut State University system. Two other poems, "The Death of Dora Hand" and "I Wish My Words Had The Power Of Crystal", appear in the 2010 issue of Connecticut River Review, the journal of the Connecticut Poetry Society.

N.L. Damoyi's poetry collection Daughter of Zulu is now available from Xlibris and on The book received positive reviews from the South African national daily newspaper Sowetan.


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.
Special Feature: Target Contests by Stage of Your Career
Are you just starting to submit your work to contests? Have you won several small prizes and are ready to challenge the next level? Are you a well-established poet looking to target the most prestigious prizes? We've identified contests that are especially appropriate for "emerging", "intermediate", and "advanced" writers. Look for the Quick Links box on the right after you sign in to Poetry Contest Insider.
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.
"I love using I send poems and manuscripts out to probably 20 contests each month from your listings... I recommend it to all my writer friends and students, too. I don't see how a writer can live without it. It's like air or water."
Tom Lombardo, Georgia

See more testimonials here, plus coverage of Winning Writers in Writer's Digest and The Writer, or start your trial now.


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.

12/17: California Book Awards +
Formerly December 18
Neutral free contest for published books whose authors lived in California when the work was written. Gold medals are awarded in the genres of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, first fiction, Californiana, outstanding book production by a California publisher, Young Adult (ages 0-10) and Juvenile Literature (ages 11-16). 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.

12/17: RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly January 15
Recommended free contest offers C$5,000 for poetry or fiction by Canadian authors under 35 with no published books. Genre alternates by year. 2011 contest (December 2010 deadline) is for 5-10 pages of unpublished poetry.

12/17: Rider University's High School Writing Contest +
Formerly December 18
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.

12/22: 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.
Contests restricted to members of the Poetry Society of America
Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award ($1,000 for a manuscript sample of poetry or verse-drama)
Cecil Hemley Memorial Award ($500 for a lyric poem that addresses a philosophical or epistemological concern)
Lucille Medwick Memorial Award ($500 for a poem on a humanitarian theme)
Lyric Poetry Award ($500 for a lyric poem)
Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award ($250 for a brief poem inspired by Dickinson, though not necessarily in her style)

Contests open to the general public
George Bogin Memorial Award ($500 for 4-5 poems that use language in an original way to reflect the encounter of the ordinary and the extraordinary and to take a stand against oppression in any of its forms)
Louise Louis/Emily F. Bourne Student Poetry Award ($250 for a poem by a US high school student)
Robert H. Winner Memorial Award ($1,000 for poems by authors over age 40 who have published no more than one book)
Louis Hammer Memorial Award ($250 for a distinguished poem in the surrealist manner)
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 5-12 offers 6 prizes of $100 plus publication in an electronic issue of Read Magazine. Send 1-2 unpublished poems, one-page maximum per poem, plus entry form.

12/31: Franklin-Christoph Poetry Contest +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly November 30
Neutral free contest offers top prize of $1,000 for unpublished poems, 100 lines maximum. Sponsor Franklin-Christoph is a manufacturer of fine pens and luxury items. Ten runners-up receive fountain pens worth $150. Maximum 2 poems per entrant. Enter by email.

12/31: Griffin Prize For Excellence In Poetry +++
Highly recommended free contest offers two prizes of C$65,000 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: Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended contest offers top prize of $500 and publication for an unpublished poem 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." No longer free as of 2010: $15 fee covers one poem, 100 lines maximum. (Though this newsletter is for free contests only, we are including this listing as a courtesy to our readers, to notify them of the recent change to this longstanding free contest.)

12/31: Neil Postman Award for Metaphor +++
Rolling Deadline
Highly recommended free contest offers $500 for the best use of metaphor in a poem published in RATTLE, a prestigious journal. Submissions are accepted year-round. Send 5-6 unpublished poems, any length. Wait for a decision on your first entry before submitting more. All poems published in RATTLE are automatically considered for this award. No separate application process.

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

12/31: ORBIS Readers Award +
Rolling Deadline
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.

1/14: Ralph Nading Hill Contest +
Extended from November 15
Neutral free contest offers $1,500 for the best unpublished writing about "Vermont, Its People, The Place, Its History, or Its Values". Entries may be an essay, short story, play, or poem. Maximum 1,500 words. Contest is open to current students in or residents of Vermont. Cosponsored by Green Mountain Power, an environmentally conscious utility company in Vermont, and Vermont Life magazine.

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: NALS Morning Star Award +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest for Native American writers offers $250 for a full-length manuscript (genre alternates between poetry, fiction, and drama). Entrants must have no published books in the genre they are entering. Manuscript must be accompanied by a 2-3 page essay on a given theme. 2011 genre is poetry, and essay theme is the impact of American Indian female writers on the author and his/her contemporaries. Submit by email.

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 $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 an interest in the environment, social change, and marginalized groups. Send up to 5 poems, 30 lines maximum apiece, by mail or email. Previously published poems accepted.

1/19: Poetry Society of Virginia (Student Categories) +
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 and College/University level. One poem per entrant. See website for line lengths and themes for each contest.

1/31: Harold Morton Landon Translation Award +++
Formerly December 31
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 previous calendar year. Translator must be a living US citizen. 3 copies of book should be submitted by publisher.

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 2-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 $175 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.

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.



Visit For A Listing Of Over 50 Writing Contests

FUNDSFORWRITERS — Grants, contests, markets and publishing calls for submissions. Over 35,000 readers. Chosen by Writer's Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers commendation for 2001-2010. Ten years of recognized excellence.

From a grateful reader:
I'm delighted to report that the publisher I found on Funds for Writers has just released my novel. Just another example of what a wonderful resource Funds for Writers really is!

Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Competition Closing Today!
6th Annual Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Competition
Postmark Deadline: December 15

We're pleased to announce the only Writer's Digest competition exclusively for poets! Regardless of style—rhyming, free verse, haiku and more—if your poems are 32 lines or fewer, we want them all.

First Place: $500 and a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City
Second Place: $250
Third Place: $100
Fourth Through Tenth Place: $25
Eleventh Through Twenty-Fifth Place: $50 gift certificate for Writer's Digest Books.

The names and poem titles of the First through Tenth-Place winners will be printed in the August 2011 Writer's Digest, and afterwards their names will appear on All winners will receive the 2011 Poet's Market.

Click for more information and to enter online or by mail

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 completed entry form and 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 "Seven lives wouldn't be enough..." by Vivien Kis of Baranya, Hungary, the winning poetry entry in our Summer 2010 contest:
Seven lives wouldn't be enough...
by Vivien Kis

for humans to undo their mistakes
because they are inerasable
and repeated in a pattern
like the stripes of a cat.

for getting to know yourself.
Our soul shows itself in endless facades
like there would be no end,
just as in a ball of wool.

for getting happy with yourself.
You can't always fall on your legs
because life lessons are needed
and those begin with getting up.

to escape from your bad conscience
because it would chase you like the
prey the predator into a life of insecurity.

to learn how to avoid hurting others.
Although we aren't cats
and do not own the seven lives of
them we do have the claws of an animal.

Still I would rather be a human
because in that one precious life
I would be able to dream
while cats can't even dream about that,
and I could even dream seven flawless lives
and the world could wait...

Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize Last Call!
2011 Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: December 31, 2010
Submissions are now being accepted for the 2011 Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize. Established in 1983 as the Grolier Poetry 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 will be awarded $1,000 and a reading at the William Joiner Center's Writers' Workshop in June 2011. Up to six poems by the winner and four by each runner-up are chosen for publication in the award anthology. All applicants will receive a copy of the award anthology. We will announce the winners on March 31, 2011.

To enter, applicants must submit, in duplicate, a typed manuscript of up to six previously unpublished poems (publication includes self-publication, website or online publishing, podcast and broadcast). The manuscript can be no more than 12 double-spaced pages. Your name must not appear on the manuscript. Include two copies of a cover sheet with your name, mailing address, and contact information, including email address and poem titles. Secure separate packets with paper clips. Do not use staples! The entry fee is $10, payable to the Ellen LaForge Memorial Poetry Foundation. Mail your entry to:

     William Joiner Center
     Attn: Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize
     UMass Boston
     100 Morrissey Boulevard
     Boston, MA 02125-3393

For more information, please email or visit

Ellen LaForge, a long-term resident of New York City, wrote poetry throughout her life. She died without seeing any of it published. Her sister, Jeanne Henle of Ann Arbor, Michigan, established the non-profit foundation as a memorial to her and as a means to support the discovery, encouragement, and education of aspiring poets.

Past Winners and Runners-Up Include: Pam Bernard, Sophie Cabot Black, Lucie Brock-Broido, Mark Conway, Debora Greger, H.L. Hix, Lynda Hull, Rudy Kikel, P.H. Liotta, Timothy Liu, Robert Louthan, Fred Marchant, Linda McCarriston, Jean Monahan, Jennifer Rose, Kate Rushin, Janet Sylvester, and Natasha Trethewey.

Dancing in Odessa by Ilya Kaminsky Last Call!
Tupelo Press Dorset Prize
Submission Period: September 1-December 31 (postmark dates)

The annual Dorset Prize, one of the most coveted poetry prizes in America, is an open competition for a poetry manuscript. It's open to poets with or without previous book publications. 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 this year's contest is Lynn Emanuel.

The winner receives a prize of $3,000 and publication. All entries must be postmarked or submitted electronically between September 1 and December 31, 2010. To submit your manuscript electronically and to review the complete guidelines, please visit our website:

You may also send your manuscript via postal mail. Please include a $25 reading fee, payable to Tupelo Press, a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for notification, as well as a self-addressed stamped postcard (SASP) if you would like acknowledgment that we received your manuscript. Manuscripts will not be returned. You may include an acknowledgments page listing previously published poems. Make sure that you include two cover pages. One with manuscript title, your name, address, phone number and email address. One with only manuscript title. Send your manuscript to:

     Tupelo Press
     Attn: Dorset Prize
     P.O. Box 1767
     North Adams, MA 01247

Here is a poem by Ilya Kaminsky, who came to Tupelo through the Dorset Prize contest. This is from his book Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004).
A Toast
by Ilya Kaminsky

If you will it, it is no dream. — Theodore Herzl

October: grapes hung like the fists of a girl
gassed in her prayer. Memory,
I whisper, stay awake.

In my veins
long syllables tighten their ropes, rains come
right out of the eighteenth century
Yiddish or a darker language in which imagination
is the only word.

Imagination! a young girl dancing polka,
unafraid, betrayed by the Lord's death
(or his hiding under the bed when the Messiah
was postponed).

In my country, evenings bring the rain water, turning
poplars bronze in a light that sparkles on these pages
where I, my fathers,
unable to describe your dreams, drink
my silence from a cup.

Ralph Nading Hill, Jr. Literary Prize

Grayson Books Closing Next Month
Grayson Books Chapbook Competition
Postmark Deadline: January 15, 2011
Prize: $500, publication of chapbook and 50 copies
Reading fee: $15
Submit: 16-24 pages of poetry, two cover sheets (one with contact information and one anonymous)
SASE for results only

Simultaneous submissions are permissible if we are notified immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.

This year's judge is Jack B. Bedell, the Woman's Hospital Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he also serves as editor of Louisiana Literature and director of Louisiana Literature Press. His most recent books are Call and Response (Texas Review Press), Come Rain, Come Shine (Texas Review Press) and French Connections: A Gathering of Franco-American Poets (LaLit Press).

Please mail your entry and fee to:

     Grayson Books
     P.O. Box 270549
     West Hartford, CT 06127-0549

The Quick and the Dead by Elizabeth HarringtonPlease enjoy these poems from The Quick and the Dead by Elizabeth Harrington, the winning entry in the 2010 Grayson Books Chapbook Competition.

Last July I lost almost everything.

          My small intestine
          My future's future (I feared)
          My donor-boy, his hands
              arranged over vacancy.

O, my Minnesota-boy, my body-part, my shiny new
question: What is your name?

The moon just now is bringing us light, transplanted
from the sun.

          Think not absence, think
          relay team, think the passing
          of a baton. Of mercy.

Now imagine the recipient—

          Her breathing, her waking, the way
          she lifts—as if resurrected—
          her chilly hands.

Sending My Mother Home After My Surgery

My mother dreams of white horses
          with red-tinted ornaments in their manes.
                    She can't make them stop,

she says, she can't sleep, for the sake of the horses.
          Should she leave me? Is it safe?
                    I know she's thinking

of her too quiet apartment, the pinch of dark, falling
          from her four poster bed;
                    but not death, she says, it's not death

that worries her. There are worse things,
          like being forgotten, smiled over
                    by strangers, smug and indifferent

in the event she becomes dependent
          and moved to a nursing home which, she says,
                    would be worse than death

and don't think she doesn't mean it
          and I know, I do know
                    I tell her as I did when my sister and I

stood in the street with her once and told her we
          would never do that,
                    before she could be coaxed

back in the front seat of the car where she sat silent
          all the way home, staring out the window
                    at nothing I could see.

Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest sponsored by Oregon Quarterly
Closing Next Month
12th Annual Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest (no fee)
Postmark Deadline: January 15, 2011

Oregon Quarterly invites entries to the 2011 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 this year's contest judge, Debra Gwartney, 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, Craig Lesley, Molly Gloss, Kathleen Dean Moore, Kenny Moore, and Thomas Hager.
  • Prizes in the Open Category: $750, $300, $100
  • Prizes in the Student Category: $500, $200, $75
  • No entry fee required
  • First-place essay in the open category will appear in Oregon Quarterly
  • A selection of top essays will be featured in a public reading on the UO campus
  • Fifteen finalists (ten in the Open Category and five students) will be announced in the Summer 2011 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 complete guidelines at (click on Essay Contest).

Please enjoy this excerpt from "Browntown" by Fred Lorish. This essay won third place in the Open Category of the 2010 contest.
My first foray into the area was in high school, when Troop 3 planned a long hike up Steve's Fork to a site known as Browntown. About ten of us, with Larry Schade and Carl Olson as the adult leaders, drove through Jacksonville to Ruch, then south to the Copper Store where we crossed the Applegate. We found the Forest Service road that followed Carberry Creek to the trailhead on Steve's Fork. The hike that day was incredibly difficult, much more so than any of us, adults included, had expected: the trail negotiated the steep terrain by sometimes following the creek, sometimes climbing high to bypass areas where the creek roared through narrow chasms. The trail was poorly maintained, and we found ourselves climbing over and under fallen trees. We had left home early, at dawn, and hiked until the sun was low. The steep canyon that had hemmed us in mile after mile suddenly broadened enough for us to find some flat ground. It wasn't a meadow, exactly. Trees were still thick right up to the creek's edge. But some sections had been cleared, and we found ourselves amid the ruins of an old Chinese mining camp from the 1860s. We were told it had been called "Browntown", probably the nicest epithet the locals could come up with. The rough foundations and large timbers from the shacks the Chinese had used still littered the banks; you could still see where the stream had been diverted, though the sluice boxes were long gone, victims of spring floods. Everyone began exploring the well-rusted and deteriorated equipment and collapsed buildings. Larry shouted to us to tread lightly.

Click to read this and all the winning and finalist essays from the 2010 Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest

On The Premises

Closing Next Month
On The Premises Short Story Contest (no fee)
Email Submission Deadline: January 29, 2011
Since 2006, On The Premises magazine has aimed to promote newer and/or relatively unknown writers who can write creative, compelling stories told in effective, uncluttered, and evocative prose.

Every four months, On The Premises sponsors a short story contest. Entrants pay no fees, and winners receive cash prizes in addition to exposure through publication. Every contest challenges authors to write creative, compelling, and well-crafted stories based on a broad premise that the magazine's editors supply.

Prize money: $180 for 1st, $140 for 2nd, $100 for 3rd, and $40 for honorable mentions, all in US dollars. Usually, two or three honorable mentions are published.

The newest contest launched on November 7. In your story, one or more characters should try to answer an unusually difficult question of great importance to them. You can find details at To be informed when new contests are launched, subscribe to our free, short, monthly newsletter.

"On The Premises" is recognized in Duotrope, Writer's Market,, and other short story marketing resources.

The WB Yeats Society of New York Poetry Competition

The W.B. Yeats Society of New York Poetry Competition — Samuel Menashe, Judge
Postmark Deadline: February 1, 2011

Increased awards: First prize $500, second prize $250. Winners and honorable mentions receive 2-year memberships in the Yeats Society and are honored at an event in New York at Barnes & Noble Union Square on Monday, April 4, at 6:30pm. Competition is open to members and non-members of any age, from any locality. Entry fee $8 for first poem, $7 each additional.

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

     Poetry Competition WW
     WB Yeats Society of NY
     National Arts Club
     15 Gramercy Park South
     New York, NY 10003

Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to receive the judge's report (example). List of winners is posted on around March 31, along with information on the Yeats Summer School in Ireland, last week in July, first in August.

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

Please enjoy "Darkness with Lantern", which won first prize in our 2002 competition (Harvey Shapiro, judge):
Darkness with Lantern
by Geraldine Connolly

—For William Meredith

At that party in your garden, red azaleas candled
the evening, their burning blossoms threading
a willow's feathered green with rosy
assurance. Guests fanned out in circles
around the patio and its stone fountain.
You had just suffered your first stroke

and sat, motionless in a chair, threading
your fingers through each other. When a man rose
to pour you a drink, you never moved. A circle
of friends gathered around you. One stroked
your white hair. The flames of flickering candles
fluttered beneath an incessant wash of fountain.

Flashbulbs popped and spilled a searing fountain
of sparks across the party. Someone threaded
the crowd, draped a sweater across you, rose
into darkness with a lantern, its glowing circle
bright but your jumbled words faltered, thought strokes
never connected. Richard put a lemon cake with candles

on the table next to your arm. Blue candles
flared and waned while you described the fountain
of flames when you burned Auden's letters. Your hand threaded
the air with an authority your words could no longer rise
to. I was there with you, claimed your lover, who circled
you as a mother circles crooked flame in the strokes

of aphasia. I think not, you cried, remembering threads
of fire rimming white packets. A fierce certainty rose.
I think not, you shouted. My sister there-only! The stroke
as you struggled to speak, took over. Memory circled
memory in a winding spiral of ash, candled
toward meaning then drifted into the fountain

of the forgotten. Your face grew flushed in its circle
as awkward tremors, unformed ideas fluttered into candles
of thought, then halted, unraveling. Night rose
in its cloak of unfinished threads. You remembered
no more words, staring passionately into the fountain.
I remember them for you with this pen stroke.

Accenti Accenti Writing Contest 2010 – $1,000 Top Prize
Postmark Deadline: February 18, 2011

Accenti Magazine is pleased to announce the launch of the 6th Annual Accenti Writing Contest. First Prize is $1,000 and publication in Accenti. Second and third place winners receive $250 and $100 respectively. (All prizes stated in Canadian dollars.) Submissions welcome online and by mail. The Accenti Writing Contest is open to all writers, established and emerging, worldwide. For contest rules, please go to

Winning entries will be presented at the 6th Annual Accenti Awards during the 13th Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, April 27 to May 1, 2011. Follow us on Facebook: Annual Accenti Magazine Writing Contest.

New this year, the contest is open to fiction and nonfiction on any topic. See past awards presentations on YouTube.

Founded in Montreal in 2003, Accenti Magazine celebrates Italian influences on North America's cultural and literary heritage and acts as a bridge between communities. For more information, please visit

Please enjoy this excerpt from "Going to the Chapel" by Andrew de Angelis. This essay won Second Prize at the Accenti Magazine Awards held during the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival in April 2006.
I have since attended four weddings in Italy (one of which was even on a Thursday), and when all was said and done, I found myself resenting what weddings had become in Canada and embracing what weddings are in Italy. I couldn't understand how far we had gone from something that was so meaningful and simple. In my eyes, Italian Canadian weddings had become caricatures of themselves, aimlessly repeating what had been done countless times before, but bigger each time. It took me some time to realize that this "matrimonial divide" was simply the natural evolution of a separated species.

Everything changes over time; cultures and traditions, people and places. For those who never left Italy, the rate of change happened slowly and organically; life went on relatively unabated. For those who left, everything changed quickly and unnaturally. Before the technological revolution, immigrants were almost completely cut off from their home. For those lucky enough to be literate, letters would not arrive for weeks or months at a time. The rest would have to wait for the rare opportunity to use a phone that sounded like it was connected by giant strings of wool. With no support, they could only move forward on their own.

They struggled to find their place in this country, to find work, to start a family, and to overcome intolerance. They held on to the belief that they had made the right decision, and the harder it got, the tighter they held. Unfortunately, by the time most of them could enjoy the fruits of their labour, their prime had come and gone. But their children could live the better life. Naturally, the wedding became the right time and the right place to acknowledge and celebrate everything. It became their chance to thank the friends who fed them, sheltered them, and employed them. It became their chance to say to their children, "This was for you." It became their chance to say to those who had doubted their decisions, "I made it." It became their affirmation that it was all worthwhile.

Click for the complete essay

David Dodd Lee The Lester M. Wolfson Poetry Award
Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2011
The Lester M. Wolfson Poetry Award aims to bring fresh and original voices to the poetry reading public. The prize will be offered annually to any poet writing in English, including poets who have never published a full-length book as well as poets who have published several. New and Selected collections of poems are also welcome. The winning poet will receive $1,000, publication of his or her book and 50 copies of the book. The winner will also be invited to give a reading at Indiana University South Bend as part of the release of the book. Finalists, other than the prize-winning manuscript, will be considered for publication. The final selection will be made by the Series Editor, David Dodd Lee.

Current or former students or employees of Indiana University South Bend, as well as friends of the Series Editor or other Wolfson Press staff, are not eligible for the prize. There is a $25, non-refundable, entry fee, made payable to Indiana University South Bend. There is no limit on the number of entries an author may submit. Simultaneous submissions are fine, in fact they are encouraged, but please withdraw your manuscript if it is taken for publication elsewhere. Please include a SASE with each entry. Please include a self-addressed postage paid postcard if you desire confirmation of manuscript receipt. No manuscripts will be returned. Entries sent by email or fax are not permitted; they will be disqualified. On your cover sheet include name, address, phone number, and email. The manuscript should be paginated and include a table of contents and acknowledgments page.

Mail manuscripts to:

     Lester M. Wolfson Poetry Award
     Indiana University South Bend
     Department of English
     1700 Mishawaka Avenue
     P. O. Box 7111
     South Bend, IN 46634-7111

Manuscripts submitted for the Lester M. Wolfson Poetry Award should exhibit an awareness of the contemporary "voice" in American poetry, an awareness of our moment in time as poets. We are excited to receive poetry that is experimental as well as work of a more formalist bent, as long as it reflects a complexity and sophistication of thought and language. Urgency, yes; melodrama, not so much. Winners will be announced via this website, as well as through the mail. We will also announce the winner in major magazines (Poets & Writers) and blogs. The winning book, and any others chosen from the pool of entries, will be published in 2012. Questions? Please email

upstreet upstreet
Submission period: September 1-March 1
upstreet, an award-winning literary annual, seeks quality submissions—with an edge—of short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, for its seventh issue. The first six issues featured interviews with Jim Shepard, Lydia Davis, Wally Lamb, Michael Martone, Robin Hemley, and Sue William Silverman. Payment: author copy. Distribution: Ingram, Source Interlink, Ubiquity, and Disticor (Canada). For sample content and to submit, see For news about upstreet and its authors, visit

From upstreet number six:
When I was Younger
by Ray Gonzalez

When I was younger, I believed in
the collar lizards that overran the desert.

It took forty years for them to disappear.
When I go home, now, all I see are

tiny geckos, blinking faces that don't belong here.
What has brought them to replace

the lizards I chased as a boy?
Who decides the invasion of geckos is

enough to erase the past and chase
those quick lizards away?

The geckos cling to brick walls and old doors,
pretend it is fine to flash at flies and bugs

that go by, blinking in a world where there
are no childhood friends, only a pair

of elderly men sitting on a bus bench,
pulling out their ancient matchboxes

to boast and compare their withering
collections of old lizard tails.

Writecorner Press Writecorner Press Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: March 31
First Place $500; Editors' Choices, $100.
Seeks the best unpublished poems of 40 lines and under. Any style, any theme. Send 2 copies of each poem, with author's name, address, phone, short bio, and email address on only one copy. Make other copy anonymous. Fee: $5 first poem, $3 each additional poem, payable to Writecorner Press. Read the complete guidelines. Read past winners.

E.M. Koeppel Short Fiction Contest
Postmark Deadline: April 30
First Place $1,100; Editors' Choices, $100. Seeks unpublished stories, 3,000 words maximum. Any style, any theme. $15 fee for one story, $10 each additional story, payable to Writecorner Press. Send one title page with author's name, address, phone, email address, and short bio. Send second title page with title only. Read the complete guidelines. Read past winners.

Writecorner Press judges all submissions anonymously. Winning poems and stories will be published on our literary site, After publication, writers retain all rights. No email entries, please. Fees are used to pay awards and site expenses. Read the contest guidelines, then mail your submissions to Writecorner Press Contests, P.O. Box 140310, Gainesville, FL 32614.

Please enjoy "immediately after the epitaph" by Sarah Marx, winner of our 2010 Poetry Prize.
immediately after the epitaph
inspired by Emily Dickinson

by Sarah Marx

—and I know something about
alone, about finding sympathy
in a bird's feathers or the cracks of a windowpane,
or in an exercise tape, all smiles and limber kicks—
or in tortilla chips, or coiled strings
or in a type pad with hyper-used Enter key
jammed into limbo—

—and I can play the quiet contrarian too
at home, picking fights for the hell of it,
rational and prickly, all erudition no faith
and I can rub myself numb when I need to
with graphite and old paper—

—and when I walk my feet are unaccustomed,
like yours must have been, to the feel of strange ground,
and when I walk I am swollen like a rain cloud full to bursting,
vapor oozing from my ears, turning to fog—

—and you and I, we know the truth
in sailing away on hyphens, or hoisting uppercase;
there's an escape hatch when we praise the folds
of a cherry blossom not yet blown, when our hands become the petals
and we can settle a new perch, peeking through sunshine
while we wait for winter to scatter us.

Anderbo Poetry Prize
2011 Anderbo Creative Nonfiction Prize
Postmark Deadline: June 15, 2011
  • Submit one entry, up to 1500 words
  • Winner receives $500 cash and publication on
  • Judged by Elizabeth Wurtzel, assisted by Emma Stockman
  • The creative nonfiction piece should be typed on 8 1/2" x 11" paper with the writer's name and contact information on the upper right corner of the first page, and the writer's name on every page
  • Writer must not have been previously published on
  • Mail submissions to:
         Anderbo Creative Nonfiction Prize
         270 Lafayette Street, Suite 1412
         New York, NY 10012
  • Enclose 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
Elizabeth Lee Wurtzel, an American writer and journalist, is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. She published her groundbreaking memoir of depression, the cultural phenomenon Prozac Nation, at the tender age of 26. Already a cultural critic and literary light for The New Yorker and New York magazines, Elizabeth Wurtzel had only dared to dream when growing up of the rarefied world and success Prozac Nation opened to her. Yet, no success could staunch her continuous battle with depression. Following the success of Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel published Bitch, and after a stint in rehab, released More, Now, Again about her battle with drugs and how she overcame her addictions. She has since published two other books, The Bitch Rules, and The Secret of Life: Commonsense Advice for the Uncommon Woman. Currently she practices law and writes regularly on current culture for

Open City's 2011 RRofihe Trophy Short Story ContestOpen City's 2011 RRofihe Trophy Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: October 15, 2011
8th 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; 2011 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:
         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 epiphanyzine, slushpilemag and fictionaut. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Village Voice, SPY, and The East Hampton Star, and on mrbellersneighborhood. A recipient of the Whiting Writers' Award, he has taught MFA writing at Columbia University. He currently teaches privately in New York City, and is an advisor to The Vilcek Foundation for their 2011 prizes in the field of literature. Rick is the editor of the new online literary journal,



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.

12/17: Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Awards ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly December 18
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: Eric Hoffer Award for Short Prose +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest from Hopewell Publications offers $500 and anthology publication for unpublished short fiction or essays (both genres compete together) up to 10,000 words. Enter online only. No simultaneous submissions. Deadlines are quarterly, but there is only one annual prize. You can enter one story per quarter.

12/31: French-American Foundation Translation Prizes +++
Entries must be received by this date
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
Recommended free contest offers $2,000 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 +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest for high school and college students in the New York Metropolitan area offers scholarships up to $2,000 for essays, maximum 750 words, on the spirit of Japan. Enter online only. Entrants must be 13 years old or older and enrolled in high schools or undergraduate programs in the New York Metropolitan area during the current school year. Entrants must be US citizens or legal permanent residents of the US except void in Maine and wherever prohibited by law.

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: Living Under Fire Short Story Competition +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers 100 pounds and online publication for a short story, up to 1,000 words, about life in a war zone. Contest sponsor London-based Holland Park Press Ltd. publishes literary fiction and poetry and places special emphasis on bringing the work of Dutch authors to the English-language market. Enter by email only. Launched in conjunction with the release of Arnold Jansen op de Haar's King of Tuzla, a novel of the Bosnian war, this will be a one-time contest for 2010.

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: Micro Award +
Neutral free contest offers $500 for the best short story up to 1,000 words that was published or self-published, in print or online, during the current calendar year. Enter by mail or email. Mailed submissions must be postmarked from October 1 to December 31, and received by January 15. Emailed submissions must be sent between October 1-December 31.

12/31: RTE Radio 1 Short Story Competition ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly October 26
Recommended free contest for authors born or normally resident in Ireland offers top prize of 3,000 euros for unpublished short fiction of 1,800-2,000 words that is suitable for radio performance. One entry per person.

12/31: Seventeen Magazine Fiction Contest ++
Recommended free contest for short fiction by US and Canadian teenage girls (ages 13-21) offers top prize of $5,000 and publication in Seventeen Magazine for a short story up to 500 words. Enter by mail or online. Entries must be postmarked by December 31 and received by January 7. 2011 judges (2010 deadline) are Seventeen editors and novelist Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games.

12/31: Take Five Writing Contest ++
Recommended free contest for students in grades 5-12 offers 4 prizes of $100 plus publication in an electronic issue of Read Magazine. Send one unpublished story or essay of 500 words maximum, inspired by 5 of the photos on their website, plus entry form.

12/31: TCU Texas Book Award ++
Recommended free contest offers $5,000 for the best book of fiction, nonfiction, art or photography about Texas, which was published in the past two years. All genres compete together. Offered in even-numbered years only. Author, publisher or agent should send 3 copies of the book. Winner must give speech at awards banquet in Fort Worth in the spring.

1/5: Narrative Travel Writing Contest +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly October 31
Neutral free contest offers prizes up to $500 and publication on for travel essays, 1,000-5,000 words, on an annual theme. Enter online only. Photo illustrations are encouraged.

1/8: John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly January 9
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.

1/15: 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: Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest ++
Formerly January 31
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.

1/15: 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. One prize per year, but two deadlines, depending on when book was published. Deadline was September 15, 2010 for books published January through June 2010. For books published July through December 2010, the deadline is January 15, 2011.

1/19: Orwell Prize +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly January 20
Highly recommended free contest offers prizes of 3,000 pounds in each of four categories (Book Prize, Journalism Prize, Blog Prize, and Special Prize) for the best political writing published 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 as described in the contest rules. Submit 6 copies of one book, 4-6 articles or broadcast transcripts (or a combination of the two), or ten blog posts by a single author. The Special Prize is offered at the judges' discretion and is not a separate submission category.

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 2011 contest, entries must have been published between February 1, 2006 and the deadline date. 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: 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: 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.



I Remember the Zinnias,
by Ruth Sabath Rosenthal

autumnal hues with bee-magnet centers.
In the planting, pearls of satisfaction
beaded Mother's cheeks, made her glow
head to toe. Each summer, till first frost,
zinnias fringed the pathway to
the side door by our kitchen.

Mother loved her zinnias, their color rich
contrast to the dusty-rose brocade sofa,
aqua cut-velvet of Father's chair—
both bound in clear-plastic slipcovers
that, in summer, made the backs
of our thighs stick to our seats.

When her new dining set arrived, keen
to keep it pristine, Mother moved Lucky,
my beloved canary, to the kitchen, to roost
inches from pot roasts simmering, the window
nearby rarely open—and, child I was,
I didn't protest on my bird's behalf.

Weeks later, just back from school,
I learned that Lucky had died
and Mother had given his cage away.
She claimed to have buried him
in her tomato patch, just feet
from her prized zinnias.

Copyright 2010 by Ruth Sabath Rosenthal

This poem is reprinted from her chapbook Facing Home, which was recently published by Finishing Line Press.


The Plastics Man
by Paula Brancato

(for my father)


She wanted to say she loved him, as the hospital walls dissolved.
She wanted to tell him
about the boy she kissed once when he was in Korea,
but in a morphine haze
she slipped into that night of mermaids and moons.

Under the boardwalk, the sand cold, her feet bare.
It was my father she missed
but the boy with the clean shaven face was indisputably there,
the smell of citrus and his dark dank hair.
His hand brushed her cheek as their lips met. The sea

roared on and in the pain of my father's absence,
my mother sat with the boy.
I could still be a ballerina, she wanted to cry. I could still
make babies. Most of all she wanted him, my father, inside, inside.
To fill this hollowness.


"Everything is fine," my father crooned
to soothe himself. She was fast asleep already. He looked down.
Something electric hit his heart and he dropped her hand.
The wedding ring was gone. This is not my
beautiful house...this is not my beautiful wife.

Then he remembered.
It was home in the jewelry box he'd bought her in Korea.
beside a small jar of cold cream, cover off,
capturing the last swish of her fingers.
"Everything is fine."

He was holding her waist, so small, like the tiny dancing
girl inside the jewelry box, a ballerina, who twirled and twirled,
the tinny melody, the fullness of my mother's hips under his hands,
the timbre of her voice, not low, not high,
in his dreams she always laughed,

my cries and the babbling of my brother, the tick-tock-tick
of the starburst clock in our hall, the dripping sink, dishes piled high, wet
clothes that flapped into the laundry bag. And footsteps.
The echoes of a family, no one there.
Every night, it was like that.

"Everything is fine."
Every night she was here
in the sterile room.


My father stood, dying for a cigarette.
He shifted his thoughts to his work,
because chemistry
was always easy, the titration he must make next morning.
The solution. How life was like a saturate,

a sudden crystallization from the falling of a final grain. Of the toughness,
the viability of petrochemical plastics. How capable
they were. My father was a "Plastics" man.
Using the handkerchief she ironed for him, he blew his nose,
wiped his eyes. She only saw his shadow then,

heard the faint hum of the machines, morphine
dripping into her veins. Drifting, she smelled the smell of him, her husband, traced his
lips in her dream. The salt of his skin, the starched
crispness of his collar, the heat of him
like an iron, the oily coils of his hair, faintly

mixed with the scent of tape and saline, the metallic
taste of the IV feed. The light was out: he'd turned it down.


Somewhere in the dark, a baby cried. It was her. She was the baby.
She was on someone's knees, bouncing, an aunt's, an uncle's,
she was passed from hand to hand. There was
a bright beach ball, red, yellow, green, and laughter.
The ball, thrown with speed, flew toward her. Bigger and bigger.

She grew frightened, suddenly. It would fly in her face,
no one to stop it. It would obliterate
everything. "No, no, please, don't go. Please!" she shouted.
Or thought she did. At the height of this eclipse, she tried
to sit up but her box of a body fell back.


My father, hand on the doorknob, heard her moans.
"I'm here," he said, and turned back.
But he wasn't. He too was lost.
Thinking of the national athlete he once was, running the 440
around an asphalt track. The all-night lover he could have been,

given half the chance. The IBM
VP climbing into his Olds in Poughkeepsie. The Princeton scholar,
finishing his masters, my mother and brother
and I applauding, as photographers snapped
pictures and he alone explained how plastics

would save the world. The beautiful mistress Giselle
he might have had if he wasn't a good Catholic and didn't turn her down.
They would be in Peru or Fiji, stripped down in a bed, bathing
in the heat of one another. But at that moment,
there was only the honorable husband,

the benevolent father, the good son left to him,
the terror of raising me and my brother very possibly alone,
a piquant scent of hospital,
and the remembered touch of my mother's sex the first time they'd made love,
her legs wrapped around him. He was gone,

though, of course, he turned
back and placed his arm under her shoulder.

Copyright 2010 by Paula Brancato

This poem is reprinted from her chapbook For My Father, which was recently published by Finishing Line Press.


Abandoned B-24
by William Childress

Strafing Old Highway 99
from Fresno to Bakersfield,
your plexiglass nose broken
by flak from ten-year-olds,
you advertise the American Way:
hot dogs at a roadside café.
Where now are all the gay
young airmen, breaking hearts
like cities? With rotting
tires and shredded tail,
you hum dead songs of war,
helped by a winter wind.
Old at fifty-five, you
still hear the screams
of Messerschmitts and Stukas
that long ago gave way
to the whine of Volkswagens.
Liberator, your time
has flown. You stand
now in the cold wind of
evening, a solitary reflection
of ideals grown old.

Copyright 2010 by William Childress

This poem was first published in CT Review's Fall 2010 themed issue on Veterans of War.


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. Reserve your 2011 ads now at our 2010 rates! Find out more and make your reservation here:

"The results were great for the money—a good value."
David Dodd Lee, judge of the Lester M. Wolfson Poetry Award sponsored by 42 Miles Press

See more testimonials



ProLiteracy on Facebook, Jumo

Follow ProLiteracy on Facebook and Jumo. These social networks will bring you the latest literacy news and tips, and help you connect with others who feel passionate about adult literacy and education. For those not familiar with Jumo, it's "a social network connecting individuals and organizations who want to change the world", founded in February 2010.

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



This month, Critique Corner is pleased to present Tracy Koretsky's essay "How to Respond to Criticism of Your Poetry".

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!

How to Respond to Criticism of Your Poetry
by Tracy Koretsky

This month, in a special edition of Critique Corner, we deviate from our usual format to address a topic close to our hearts: how to accept and use criticism.

Dear reader, I feel I must insist: There is only one way to do it, only one way to respond to criticism of your poetry: "Thank you for your time and interest. You have given me food for thought."

I offer these words in quotation, as a model; I offer them for your safety. I mean that—those are our poems out there. Just as you need to stop and look before you turn right on a red light, for your own sake and that of others, this is a rule of the road. You never know who's hurtling at you down the Avenue of Communication.

Of this much I am certain, as a strategy it will not fail you. Honor the risk required to offer comment; retain your autonomy as author. However you convey it, your reply will come off upbeat and brave.

It sounds simple. It's not. It can be one of the hardest things that, we, as poets, must master. Must, because, if we don't, we will never grow and learn. And if we stop doing that, we eventually stop writing.

Why does this work? Because writers are talkers, but to use critical feedback, we have to listen. Let me show you how a reply like, "I really appreciate your thoughts; they will be with me when I revise," can help you switch the talker off, so that you can benefit from the time and attention people have taken to consider your work...

Click to continue reading this essay

This essay appears 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