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Featured Poem:
"Later She'd Remember" by Lyn Lifshin

Featured Poem:
"Practicing Loving Kindness" by Lisa Suhair Majaj

Featured Poem:
"Xerxes' Stone Mason" by Marvin Lurie

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January 2011

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

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

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



Share your writing, get feedback, and have fun on At you
  • 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.

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Upcoming Contest Deadlines

We are looking for personal essays, memoirs, and works of literary non-fiction. It can be spiritual, political, or funny. Creative approaches welcomed. The winner of this contest will take away a cash prize.
Deadline: In Four Days! — January 19

Quatrain Poetry
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. Cash prize to the winner.
Deadline: January 24

For this contest you are challenged to write a Haiku poem. Haiku is a form of poetry that only uses three lines. Can you paint a mental image using only three lines for a chance at the cash prize?
Deadline: January 29

Horror Story
Put your readers on edge or terrorize them for this horror writing contest. This writing contest awards a cash prize to the winner.
Deadline: February 3

The theme for this poetry contest is "faith". We are looking for poems that in some way pertain to this theme. It doesn't matter if it's spiritual, political, intellectual or emotional as long as faith is clearly represented. Cash prize for the winner of this contest for poets.
Deadline: February 8

Enter all contests for free with your upgraded membership. Upgraded membership is only $6.95 per month. These are only a few of our contests. View our full listing here.

Finding this site three years ago was a blessing to me. I am becoming the writer I wanted to be because of what I've learned at FanStory. I have had stories published (the publishers came to me), won the state contest last year in the short story category, and have been asked to speak at writers groups. Three years ago I couldn't write a grocery list.
—Marti Hurst — More Testimonials

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Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 31
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
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
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
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.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: September 30
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.


Congratulations to Lyn Lifshin. Her new poetry collection Ballroom was released last month by March Street Press. Poet and literary scholar Hugh Fox says of this book, "In Ballroom we have Lifshin at her absolutely most evocative, energetic, seductive... As always tactile, visual, deep-psychological, perhaps Lifshin's single most powerful book. They're always powerful, but this one is screaming—not just for today's reader, but down the road in time-travel classes about twenty-first century poetry that brings you irresistibly into the ecstatic, squirming NOW." She kindly shares a sample poem below. Visit her website for more books and poetry news.

Congratulations to Lisa Suhair Majaj. Her poetry collection Geographies of Light won the 2008 Del Sol Press Poetry Prize and was published in 2009. These poems give a voice to the Palestinian people, bearing witness to brutal loss, as well as the joy. She kindly shares a sample poem below. The most recent deadline for this $1,200 prize was March 15, 2010.

Congratulations to Becky Dennison Sakellariou. She won second prize for her poem "These ones know no ideology" in the 2010 Connecticut River Review Annual Poetry Contest. The Connecticut Poetry Society offers several contests throughout the year. The most recent submission period for this $400 prize was August 1-September 30. Visit Becky's website for her reading schedule and sample poems from her new collection, Earth Listening (Hobblebush Books, 2010).

Congratulations to John McBride. His poem "The War in Iraq" won first prize in the Poet's Choice category of the Fall 2010 Oregon State Poetry Association Contests. This twice-yearly contest offers top prizes of $50-$100 in various categories. The next deadline will be March 1.

Congratulations to Marvin Lurie. His poem "Xerxes' Stone Mason" won first prize in the free verse category in the Oregon State Poetry Association's Spring 2010 Contest, judged by Judith Arcana. He kindly shares it with us below. It was first published in their 2010 Verseweavers anthology.

Congratulations to Caroline Zarlengo Sposto. She won the $75 first prize in the Hint Fiction Contest offered by Whisper n Thunder, a magazine about the cultural traditions and political struggles of indigenous peoples. "Hint fiction" tells a story in 25 words or less. Read the winners online. The most recent deadline was December 5.

Congratulations to Jason Marchi. His poetry collection Ode on a Martian Urn was released last month by Fahrenheit Books, an imprint of OmicronWorld Entertainment LLC. Illustrated by Noel Belton, with blurbs by notable science fiction writers Ray Bradbury and Ben Bova, the collection features poems in several genres: fantasy and science fiction, horror, and mainstream.

Congratulations to Thelma T. Reyna. Her short story collection The Heavens Weep for Us (Outskirts Press, 2009) was one of six finalists in the Fiction & Literature: Short Story Fiction category of the 2010 National Best Books Awards from USA Book News. Set mostly in California, Texas, and Chicago, these stories deal with the losses, large and small, that we all experience and how we bravely reinvent ourselves to give meaning to life in the face of such hardship. Visit her website to learn more.

Congratulations to Monica Bottone. Her poem "Shelter Night" won an honorable mention in the Fall 2010 Lucidity Poetry Journal Clarity Awards. 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. Monica writes, "I found the contest in your listings! Thanks."

Congratulations to Ellen LaFleche. Ellen is the assistant judge of the Winning Writers War Poetry Contest. Her poetry chapbook Ovarian won the 2010 Dallas Poets Community Annual Chapbook Competition. This series of linked poems tells the story of a woman facing ovarian cancer. The judges commented on "how well [the poet] utilized different points of view, handled a difficult subject without sentimentality, and unified the manuscript." The Dallas Poets Community offers its $200 chapbook prize in even-numbered years, alternating with their contest for individual poems. The most recent deadline was July 15. Ellen's poem "Vacationing at the Ocean for Our 25th Anniversary" also won second prize in the 2010 White Mice Poetry Contest. This award, sponsored by the International Lawrence Durrell Society, offers prizes up to $200 for poems on a selected theme. The most recent deadline was October 15.

Congratulations to Berwyn Moore. Her poem "Pins and Needles" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the editors of The Pinch, the literary journal of the University of Memphis.

Congratulations to Ruth Hill. Her poem "Climb in Me" won an honorable mention in the Summer 2010 New Millennium Writings Awards and will be published in their 2011 issue. We featured this poem in our October 2010 newsletter. This prestigious twice-yearly contest offers prizes of $1,000 apiece for poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction. Entries are currently being accepted through January 31. In addition, her poem "Pas de Deux" won a third prize in the 2010 Dancing Poetry Contest. The next deadline for this contest, which offers prizes up to $100 and a performance of the top three winners as an interpretive dance, will be May 15. Ruth's poem is also forthcoming in an anthology from Little Red Tree Publishing. Her poem "Bandwagon Patrons" appeared in the December 2010 issue of the e-zine Apollo's Lyre.

Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé has recently been published in Sketchbook ("a haiku is elevation", "as with an archivist's haiku", "as with an a priori haiku"), Caper Literary Journal ("reading gunnar björling [i] & [ii]"), Wag's Revue ("rhetoric is a haiku in high relief", "a haiku is a hasty departure", "a haiku in a hectoring tone", "anamorphis is a basin of haiku"), Silenced Press ("as with a haiku about akhmatova"), Pure Francis ("An Exceptional Design"), Clutching At Straws ("a haiku before serendipity"), Journal of Truth and Consequence ("constructivism is a haiku of similar folds"), and Swink ("a haiku is a blank stare"). Orion Headless also published a suite of Desmond’s ink drawings presently being reworked into linearte poems.


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.
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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: January 16-February 28

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

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

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.

1/28: BRIO Awards ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly January 29
Recommended free contest offers 25 grants of $3,000 to literary, visual and performing artists aged 18+ who reside in the Bronx, NY. Full-time college and graduate students are not eligible. Works submitted must have been created in the past 5 years. See website for rules and length limits for each genre. Enter online or by mail.

1/31: Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers 3,000 pounds for a translation of modern Arabic literature into English. Genre can be poetry or literary prose. Books must have been published in the previous calendar year and be available for purchase in the UK via a distributor or online. The original text must have been published in the original Arabic no more than 35 years preceding its submission for the prize. Must be submitted by publisher. Send 5 copies of translation and 3 copies of original to the Society of Authors, which administers the prize for the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature.

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.

2/1: Broken Bridge High School Poetry Prize +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest for unpublished poems by US high school students offers $150 and publication in a folio anthology from LS&S Press. Submit 1-3 poems via online form.

2/1: Gannon University's High School Poetry Contest +
Neutral free contest for students in grades 9-12 offers prizes of $100, $75, $50. Send 1-3 poems, any length. Gannon University is a Catholic college in Erie, PA.

2/1: Paterson Poetry Prize ++
Recommended free contest offers $1,000 for the best book of poetry published during the previous calendar year. Book must have 48+ pages and a press run of 500+ copies. Publisher should submit 3 copies plus entry form. Recent winners have been well-established poets.

2/1: Wednesday Club Junior Poetry Contest +
Neutral free contest for students in grades 10-12 offers prizes of $100, $75, $50, $25. Entrants must attend high schools in the area of St. Louis, MO. Entries must be submitted through the school's English Department. Send 3 copies of 2 poems, any length.

2/1: Wednesday Club Poetry Prize +
Neutral free contest for writers living within a 50-mile radius of St. Louis, MO offers prizes of $500, $300, $150. Must be over 18 to enter. Send 2 copies of 2 poems, any length.

2/1: Wick Poetry High School Competition +++
Highly recommended free contest for Ohio high school seniors offers $4,000 tuition to Kent State University, renewable up to four years pending good academic standing. Second and third prize winners receive $3,000 and $1,500 renewable scholarships. Send portfolio of 3-5 poems and one-page essay describing both your interest in poetry and how you plan to participate in the Kent State University writing community. A letter of recommendation from a teacher or guidance counselor is also suggested.

2/5: Library of Virginia Literary Awards ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers prizes of $3,500 in each genre for books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction published in the preceding calendar year by Virginia authors and/or on a Virginia theme. Publisher or author should send 3 copies of book plus entry form.

2/7: Hollins University Literary Festival Contest +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly February 8
Neutral free contest offers $100 apiece for unpublished poems and short stories by college undergraduates, along with reading at the Lex Allen Literary Festival in March. Submit 1-3 poems or 1-2 stories, no length limit specified. Enter by mail or email.

2/11: Michigan High-School Poetry Contest +
Formerly January 19
Neutral free contest offers prizes up to $200 for unpublished poems by Michigan high school students. Winners published in The Albion Review, the literary journal of Albion College in Michigan. Send 1-3 poems, maximum 50 lines each.

2/15: Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Award +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest from ICON, the student literary journal of Kent State University's Trumbull Campus, offers $100 for the best 1-2 poems, any length. Entries should be typed, single-spaced, with author's name, address and phone number on each poem. One submission per person.

2/15: The Binnacle Ultra-Short Competition +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest from The Binnacle, the literary journal of the University of Maine at Machias, seeks poems up to 16 lines and prose up to 150 words. A minimum of $300 in prizes will be awarded, with a minimum prize of at least $50, plus publication. At least one of the prizes will go to a UMM student. Enter by email only.

2/16: Memoir (and) Prizes for Prose or Poetry ++
Formerly February 15
Recommended free contest offers twice-yearly prizes for the best memoirs submitted to their magazine during each reading period (November 1-February 16, May 1-August 15). Online submissions preferred. Send 1-5 poems or one prose piece, maximum 10,000 words. See website for art formatting requirements. "Memoir (and) publishes memoirs in many forms. We strive with each issue to include a selection of prose, poetry, graphic memoirs, narrative photography, lies and more." Enter by mail or online.

2/28: California Federation of Chaparral Poets Youth Contest +
Formerly February 27
Neutral free contest for California students in grades 7-12 offers prizes up to $50 in each of 6 categories for poems 20 lines maximum. Categories are Junior (grades 7-9), Senior (grades 10-12), Light Verse, and three themed contests: "New Worlds", "Youth's View of Humanity", and "I Remember". No simultaneous submissions.

2/28: Chistell Writing Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers top prizes of $100 for short fiction and poetry, for writers aged 16+ who have never been published in a major publication. Chistell is an independent publisher of popular literature with a focus on African-American women. Send 1-2 poems or one story; online submission only.

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 — 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:
FundsforWriters newsletter has inspired me to not give up and that opportunity can knock anytime... anywhere. My successes this year have proven it. Keep doing what you do!

Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's PrizeLast Call!
Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize 2011 (no fee)
Sponsored by the Goethe-Institut Chicago
Postmark Deadline: January 31
A prize of $10,000 and a one-month residency at the Literary Colloquium in Berlin is given annually for a translation from German into English published in the United States during the previous year. The winner also receives an all-expenses-paid trip to the award ceremony in Chicago. Publishers may submit six copies of a poetry collection, short story collection, novel, novella, or essay collection published in 2010. There is no entry fee. Submit entries to:

     Goethe-Institut Chicago
     Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize
     150 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 200
     Chicago, IL 60601

Questions? Please call Christiane Tacke at 312-263-0472 or visit us on the web at

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

Accenti Magazine is pleased to announce 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 "The Nature of Italy" by Sheila Wright. This essay won First Prize at the Accenti Magazine Awards held during the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival in April 2006.
Gino understands my need. One chilly day in February, he takes me to Pozzuoli, just north of Naples, to visit the Solfatara. It is a brimstone-scented place where Mother Earth's heart beats close to the surface, where her breath steams and mud-blood bubbles. I am not entirely afraid since we have paid an admission to enter this no-man's land. It is a natural attraction, like Yosemite's geysers, supposedly safe if you follow the rules and stay away from the roped-off areas.

We have the place to ourselves, and as I step out into the sulphurous valley, I have the strange sensation of walking on another planet while at the same time feeling closer to the Earth than ever before. We are careful not to step in the pools of boiling mud or on the fumaroli, holes out of which vapour hisses. "According to legend," says Gino, "this is where the Greeks first conceived their idea of hell." I find the place eerie, but strangely welcoming. A half-ruined Roman sauna beckons to us, and we crouch inside, breathing deeply, letting the thick warmth invade our lungs and bodies. We come out feeling drugged. I crave more.

The next weekend, we continue my quest. A bus takes us part way up Mount Vesuvius, then we walk. The side of the crater is just bare rubble. Nothing grows in this sun-scorched environment and I am glad there is a fresh winter breeze. At 1,277 metres above the sea, we have a grand panorama of the Bay. The islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri rise from the azure expanse like prehistoric sea creatures. We approach the edge of the caldera and peer into the mouth of Vesuvius, a pit full of rocks, steam and garbage. Then we look the other way, down towards Pompeii. Between the crater and the famous ruins, there is just us and a couple of kilometres of volcanic scree. The sun paints our shadows on the vapour, causing our image to shimmer inside the volcano.

Somewhere far below our feet, the Earth's skeleton is contorting: the African plate is slowly pushing itself beneath the Eurasian plate, causing the Mediterranean basin to shrink, Vesuvius to remain active and Pozzuoli to rise. How can we not feel this with our whole being?

Click for the complete essay

Closing Next Month
Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Award
Postmark Deadline: February 28
The 11th Annual Snowbound Series Chapbook Award is an open competition with a prize of $1,000 and fifty copies. 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 2011 final judge will be Ellen Doré Watson. Prior winners include Mark Yakich, Joy Katz, Barbara Tran, John Cross, Stacey Waite, and Kathleen Jesme. All entries must be postmarked or uploaded to the online Submission Manager between December 1, 2010 and February 28, 2011. To submit your manuscript electronically and to see full guidelines, please visit our website:

You may also send your manuscript via postal mail. Please include a $20 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: Snowbound Chapbook Award
     P.O. Box 1767
     North Adams, MA 01247

Here is a poem by Cecilia Woloch, past winner of the Snowbound Chapbook contest. This is from her book Narcissus (Tupelo Press, 2008):
Postcard to Kim from the Cafe Les Philosophes
by Cecilia Woloch

"J'ai doute"/"J'ai conscience."
—etched on the mirrors in the W.C.

It had never occurred to me before that perhaps I should have been afraid. I
would still not know how to say this in French, which tense, which mood to
use. If I could have conjugated then. We were husband and wife in that house
because that's what we'd been pronounced. No—we'd been others once. In the
drowsy rooms, the wistful restaurants, the blur of weeks and months. And now
he was angry and swinging a bat. He was maybe drunk. It was maybe my fault.
But I had not been/was not afraid. Or afraid, but not then for myself. He had
changed; he could change again. If I could find the right words, I thought. To
say: but love but love but love. And there was a stuttering of rain. Something
I thought had gone wrong with the language, with the meaning we make of
breath. He was only kidding with the bat. Like a child? Only taking it out on
the air. I had been talking with an old friend late in the lobby of her hotel. I had
been right around the corner. He had known where I was all along. Plus-que-
. More than perfect? More than the past turning back on itself. Before he
had raised it again and swung. One has fear. One is stricken dumb.

Melusine Melusine, or Woman in the 21st Century's $500 Poetry Prize
Email Submission Deadline: March 1
Melusine, or Woman in the 21st Century, an online woman-centered literary journal, will award its $500 Vivienne Haigh-Wood Prize and publication in our Spring/Summer 2011 issue for one winning poem. Second and third place winners and seven honorable mentions will be published in the same issue. The prize is named after T.S. Eliot's notorious first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood.

All non-finalist entries will be considered for publication in the Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter issues. Submit up to three previously unpublished poems for a $15 reading fee. Submissions and payment are accepted online only by email and PayPal. For more details, please visit

Please enjoy this excerpt from "In the Spired House" by Jessica Cuello, the winning entry in our 2010 contest.
II. Stepsister

Not born to hate, I learned
the increments
of power on my own.

My future wrote itself
on Sister's breasts
and Mother's chin.

Tired of my choices,
it was easy to despise
your earnest look,

your subservience
beside our cruel games.
We laughed while you

picked up a hundred lentils
thrown into the fire.
The second time

we turned away, afraid
of your clean, neat pile.
You slept on the floor

when we took your bed.
You acted as though you came
from a sacred place,

preferred a chiseled stone
to our combs and laces.
If you'd had the courage

to speak, I'd have touched
the granite rock, learned
about your mother. Were there

soft-spoken mothers?
We nursed our mutilation
when the birds pecked our eyes.

I stroke the crowded
dresses. I doubt I fit
into your palace thoughts.

Click for the complete poem

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:
Dotty's Plot
by Denise Duhamel

after her ex-husband died
the hussy he left her for
asked if she could have Dotty's side
of the burial plot since
she assumed Dotty
didn't want to be buried
next to a cheat
                          the hussy
didn't have the money
to pay for her half
and when Dotty pointed out
the hussy already stole her husband
and didn't feel
she was entitled to also get a piece
of ground for free
that it was a matter of principle
                                                         the hussy
explained she didn't think
she was a hussy anymore
since she had stuck with Dotty's ex
and had been this guy's spouse
as long as Dotty had
                                     it took chutzpah
to make such a request
so Dotty thought about it
long and hard
before she said get out
or I'll kill you

The Grub Street Book Prize The Grub Street Book Prize
Postmark Deadlines: March 15 for Poetry, July 15 for Non-Fiction, October 15 for Fiction

The Grub Street Book Prize is awarded three times annually to a writer outside New England publishing his or her second, third, fourth (or beyond...) book. First books are not eligible. Writers whose primary residence is Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire or Rhode Island are also not eligible.

Each winner receives a $1,000 honorarium and an all-expense-paid reading/book party at Grub Street in downtown Boston. Winners will also lead a craft class on a topic of his or her choice for a small group of Grub Street members.

Though Grub Street's top criterion is the overall literary merit of the work submitted, the award committee especially encourages writers publishing with small presses, writers of short story collections, and writers of color to apply. We also want the award to benefit writers for whom a trip to Boston will likely expand their readership in a meaningful way.

See for full application guidelines.

Grub Street is thrilled to announce that Rahna Reiko Rizzuto has won our 2010 National Book Prize in Non-Fiction for her memoir, Hiroshima in the Morning, published by The Feminist Press. Rizzuto will receive $1,000 and will lead a class on the craft of narrative non-fiction at our Muse and the Marketplace conference April 30-May 1, 2011. She will also lead a free craft class for members in our space. Head juror Grace Talusan described this wonderful winning book in these words:
In her memoir Hiroshima in the Morning, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto explores what happens when a bomb finds its target. Initially, she's in search of stories about Japanese Americans during World War II and survivors of the atomic bomb. Her husband and sons, ages 3 and 5, stay in New York as Rizzuto travels to Hiroshima, despite criticism that she's a "bad mother" for leaving her family for months to write. She's steeped in stories about fate and survival, about how someone survived because of a seemingly mundane and arbitrary move. She is collecting material for her second novel, including interviews with survivors of the atomic bomb named Little Boy, when a new ground zero is created in New York. The world around her as well as the world she's created with her husband will never be the same. Her family pressures her to come home, but Rizzuto won't leave Japan or her work. She writes, "So there is that moment, then; the last breath of before: when life is about to change, utterly and forever, into something we have no way to conceive of. When the trajectory is already being drawn and there is no way to stop it." Using diary entries, emails, telephone transcripts, and oral histories, Rizzuto pieces together a masterful collage about Hiroshima, 9/11, ambivalent motherhood, a doomed marriage, and a writer trying to understand what narrative means amidst so many kinds of bombs hitting so many beloved targets.

Westmoreland Arts & Heritage FestivalWestmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival Poetry & Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 15
The Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival is currently accepting previously unpublished poetry and short story manuscripts for its 2011 Poetry & Short Story Contest. The contest is open to any living writer writing in English anywhere in the world. Entries will be juried by accomplished writers and poets. Two jurors will be selected. One juror is chosen to evaluate the poetry entries and a second juror is selected to jury the short story entries.

The 37th Annual Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival takes place July 1-4, 2011 at Twin Lakes Park, near Greensburg, PA. Winning entries will be on display at the Festival where up to 150,000 patrons will have the opportunity to read the works.

All work must be original, not having been entered in any previous Poetry & Short Story Contest sponsored by the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival. There is no limit to the length of poems. Each author may enter one story; each poet may enter two poems. All genres are accepted. Awards for both contests total $1,000.

Entry fees are as follows:
  • $10 for up to two (2) poems
  • $10 for one (1) short story
  • Writers may enter both contests for a $20 entry fee
Please direct any questions to Adam J. Shaffer via email at or by calling 724-834-7474. For more information, visit the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival website, For an official application form, please see

Tupelo Press First/Second Book Award12th Annual Tupelo Press Award for a First or Second Book of Poetry
Postmark Deadline: April 15
The 12th Annual Tupelo Press Award for a First or Second Book of Poetry is an open competition with a $3,000 prize. 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). Final judges are to be announced. Prior winners include Jennifer Michael Hecht, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Bill Van Every, Kristin Bock, and Jennifer Militello. All entries must be postmarked or uploaded to the online Submission Manager between January 1 and April 15, 2011. To submit your manuscript electronically and to see full 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: First/Second Book Award
     P.O. Box 1767
     North Adams, MA 01247

Alabama Writers Conclave Alabama Writers' Conclave (AWC) Contest at
Postmark Deadline: April 20
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 AWC contest.

Organized in 1923, the Conclave is reputedly 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 15-17, 2011 at the Huntsville Marriott, Huntsville, AL).

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

Please enjoy this excerpt from "Mojave" by Shawn Jacobsen. This story won first prize for fiction in the Alabama Writers' Conclave 2010 Literary Competition.
Alan had captured many venomous snakes with nothing more than his hands and a couple of sticks, and he had done it again only to keep the practice familiar. Twice since he started graduate school he had removed a rattlesnake from a campground, and he hated when people killed snakes.

He held the snake's head inches from his own. The black, forked tongue slid in and out of its little, round opening as the tail vibrated. Trailing down its face were dark diagonal eye lines, and in front of those were the heat-sensing pits that enabled it to see its prey in complete darkness. Primitive as it might be, this animal could see things Alan could not. He peered into its slitted pupils. It was a rare privilege to gaze into the soul of such a perfectly designed creature.

Click for the complete story and work by other winners in our 2010 competition (PDF).

The Writer's Digest 80th Annual Writing Competition The Writer's Digest 80th Annual Writing Competition
Postmark Deadline: May 2

For 80 years, the Annual Writer's Digest Competition has rewarded writers just like you for their finest work. We continue the tradition by giving away more than $30,000 in cash and prizes!

Win a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City!

Grand Prize: $3,000 cash and a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City to meet with editors and agents. While you are there a Writer's Digest editor will arrange for you to meet with four editors or agents!

First Place: The First-Place Winner in each category receives $1,000 cash and $100 worth of Writer's Digest Books.

Second Place: The Second-Place Winner in each category receives $500 cash, plus $100 worth of Writer's Digest Books.

Third Place: The Third-Place Winner in each category receives $250 cash, plus $100 worth of Writer's Digest Books.

Fourth Place: The Fourth-Place Winner in each category receives $100 cash, plus $50 worth of Writer's Digest Books.

Fifth Place: The Fifth-Place Winner in each category receives $50 cash.

Sixth through Tenth Place: The Sixth- through Tenth-Place Winners in each category receive $25 cash.

First- through Tenth-Place Winners also receive a 1-year Writer's Digest VIP membership, which includes a one-year subscription (new or renewal) to Writer's Digest Magazine, 1-year access to, 10% off Writer's Digest University workshops and purchases at and more.

11th through 100th Place: All other winners receive distinctive certificates honoring their accomplishment. Visit for complete guidelines and to enter online.

Dancing Poetry Festival
Artists Embassy International Poetry Contest - Three Grand Prize Winning Poems to be Danced and Filmed
Postmark Deadline: May 15

  • 3 Grand Prizes will receive $100 each plus their poems will be danced and filmed. Each Grand Prize winner will be invited onstage for photo ops with the dancers and a bow in the limelight.
  • 6 First Prizes will receive $50 each
  • 12 Second Prizes will receive $25 each
  • 30 Third Prizes will receive $10 each
All prize winners will receive a prize certificate suitable for framing and a ticket to the Dancing Poetry Festival 2011, and be invited to read their prizewinning poem at our 18th Festival (time and location to be announced). The top three poems chosen as Grand Prizes will be choreographed, costumed and recorded live in an on-stage performance at the Festival. See pictures from our 2010 Festival. Dancing Poetry Festival

Last year's Grand Prize winners included Ana Elsner, Art Schwartz and Pat Tompkins. Recent topics of winning poems have touched on the travels of Matisse, a Picasso painting, falling leaves, love, Iraq, China, history, dance, current events, reverie, socially significant situations and even some humor sprinkled here and there. Please don't feel constrained to write a poem about dancing.

The entry fee is $5 per poem or $10 for 3 poems. Each poem may be up to 40 lines long. Send two copies of each poem. One copy should be anonymous (just title and poem), the other should have your name, address, phone, email address and where you heard about this contest (e.g. Winning Writers Newsletter). There is no limit on the number of entries. Entries should be typed.

When the judges evaluate entries, they look for innovative perspectives on ordinary or unusual subjects as well as excellence of craft. Your entry should be suitable for a general audience since our following is comprised of people of all ages and ethnicities. English translations must be included with non-English poems. Dancing Poetry Contest

Our judges consist of poets, dancers, musicians and visual artists of various media, all members of Artists Embassy International. Judging is done with the anonymous copies of the poems. Artists Embassy International is a non-profit, volunteer, arts and education organization whose goal is to further intercultural understanding through the arts.

Three poets, the Grand Prize winners, will be rewarded with seeing their poems danced by Natica Angilly's Poetic Dance Theater Company, a well-known dance troupe that has performed around the world and throughout America. This company is dedicated exclusively to creating new avenues by combining poetry, dance and music together for presentation and the expansion of poetry with dance in the life of our culture.

To enter the contest, please visit our website at or submit to AEI Contest Chair W, Judy Cheung, 704 Brigham Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95404. Questions? Please email Ms. Cheung at

Robert Frost Foundation
15th Annual Robert Frost Foundation Annual Poetry Award
Postmark/Email Submission Deadline: September 15 (don't enter before March 1)
The Robert Frost Foundation welcomes poems in the spirit of Robert Frost for its 15th Annual Award. The winner will receive $1,000 and an invitation to present the winning poem this fall at the Frost Festival located at the Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the library in which Frost first explored the traditions of English and Irish poetry.

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

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

Please enjoy "The Great Disappointment" by Adam Tavel, winner of our 2010 competition. Listen to Mr. Tavel read his poem.
The Great Disappointment
by Adam Tavel

                Boston, 1844

It was a shock to find themselves alive,
unrobed, the great blue veil of sky
intact and hiding still its long beard
of riddles. But to slander them fools
is like damning an ivy tangle
for its sluggish creep toward light

though I must confess when Walsh
offered a sorrel for the kingdom
was at hand
I took his mare without
reaching for my billfold. Some travesty
of arithmetic William Miller preached.
True, I joined the mob heckling

their dour rapture, their gingham
wives scraping through town,
but that first October night of frost
when their ramshackle pulpit burned
I heaved my bucket with the rest,
cursing the bigot flames that licked

the new dawn red. A busted Lutheran
I combed the beach of my mind
for a psalm and found it free
of shells and kelp and even driftwood
splinters from a spongy wreck
melted by the steady weep of waves.

Why stooped old maids mumbled
toothless matins for the match-hand
while our faces flared
a ghoulish orange in the blaze
is beyond any reason I can reckon.
I suppose my soul is like Walsh's mare

that bucked and spit three long days
I lacked sense and called her mine
until her wheat-stalk leg
snapped mid-sprint, the dagger bone
sprouting from her skin.
In and out of my falling dream

I laid on stinking straw
until a cold sun shone her wound
true in all its gore. No boy's will
nestled in my chest's locket
could keep a Winchester shelved
or save her long sleep there

by the forked willow, where father
buried every bareback he ever rode
and when the strong rye blessed him
with a faith no wife's eyes saw
he dug his nails into his palms, out
where a son can't tell his bones from theirs.



These free prose contests with deadlines between January 16 and February 28 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.

1/18: New York Times "Win a Trip with Nick Kristof" Contest +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers college and graduate students the opportunity to go on a reporting trip in the developing world with New York Times columnist Nick Kristof. Prize includes stipend for meals, lodging and airfare. Send essay of 700 words maximum, and/or an original video of 3 minutes maximum, explaining why you should win the prize. Enter online.

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: American Kennel Club Fiction Writing Contest ++
Recommended free contest offers top prize of $500 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 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: 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: 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.

2/1: Danuta Gleed Literary Award +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest offers C$10,000 for the best first collection of short fiction published by a Canadian author in the preceding calendar year. Send 4 copies to the Writers' Union of Canada.

2/1: Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers $5,000 for a book of fiction by a US woman, published in the preceding calendar year. Entries may be a novel, a collection of short stories, or experimental writing. Four copies must be submitted by publisher. Sponsored by the University of Rochester's Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies.

2/3: PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly January 14
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.

2/6: Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award +++
Entries must be received by this date; don't enter before January 24; former deadline February 7
Highly recommended free contest offers prizes of $15,000 and publication by Penguin Group USA for unpublished or self-published novels in two categories: General Fiction and Young Adult. Enter via online form only. Contest is co-sponsored by online bookseller, Penguin Group USA, and the self-publishing company See website for detailed eligibility guidelines.

2/14: Writers' & Artists' Yearbook Short Story Competition ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers 500 pounds, plus tuition to an Arvon Foundation residential writing course worth 575 pounds, for unpublished short fiction up to 2,000 words. 2011 theme is "Compulsion". Enter by email. The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook is an annual directory of markets and advice for writers, similar to Writer's Digest in the US. It is published by A&C Black.

2/15: Expatriate Travel Writing Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers prizes up to $500 and publication on for travel essays, 1,000-3,000 words, relating to one's experience living, moving, or working abroad. Enter online only. Photo illustrations are encouraged.

2/15: Nelson Algren Awards +++
Formerly February 12
Highly recommended free contest offers top prize of $5,000, three prizes of $1,500, plus publication in the Chicago Tribune newspaper, for 1-2 short stories, maximum 10,000 words.

2/15: The Common Review Short Story Prize ++
Formerly January 31
Recommended free contest sponsored by The Common Review, the magazine of the Great Books Foundation, offers top prize of $400 for a short story, 500-5,000 words.

2/28: Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest +++
Entries must be received by this date; don't enter before February 1
Highly recommended free contest for authors aged 30 and under. Prize is tuition to The Kenyon Review's one-week summer seminar and publication in the highly prestigious journal. Submit one story, 1,200 words maximum, via their online form. No simultaneous submissions.

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.



Women Writing on Family
Entries must be received by January 30; extended from December 15
The Key Publishing House Inc., a Toronto-based publisher of academic and non-academic books, seeks submissions for an anthology about writing and publishing by women with experience in writing and publishing about family. Possible subjects: using life experience; networking; unique issues women must overcome; formal education; queries and proposals; conference participation; self-publishing; teaching tips. Tips on writing about family: creative nonfiction, poetry, short stories, nonfiction, novels. Practical, concise, how-to articles with bullets/headings have proven the most helpful to readers. Please avoid writing too much about "me" and concentrate on what will help the reader. No previously published, co-written, or simultaneously submitted material. Please send 2-3 possible topics you would like to contribute, each described in a few sentences, and a 65-75 word bio written in the third person. Please send in a .doc Word file using FAMILY/Your Name on the subject line to Co-Editor Carol Smallwood. You'll receive a Go-Ahead and guidelines if your topics haven't been taken. Contributors will be asked to contribute a total of 1,900-2,100 words. Those included in the anthology will receive a complimentary copy as compensation.

Graywolf Press
Entries must be received by January 31
Prestigious, competitive literary publisher Graywolf Press is accepting open submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction manuscripts during the month of January. No genre fiction or children's books. Book-length manuscripts may be mailed or uploaded to their online form as MS Word documents. See website for registration form and guidelines. No explicit length limits; poetry manuscripts are generally 48-80 single-spaced pages, prose manuscripts 200-500 double-spaced pages. There will also be open submission periods in May and September.

Rooster Hill Press Short Fiction Series
Postmark Deadline: February 1
Rooster Hill Press, an affiliate of Minnesota State University at Mankato, is seeking unpublished short fiction collections up to 30,000 words (approximately 100 double-spaced pages). No entry fee, payment in 25 author copies.

SUNY-Albany Conference on "The Outlaw"
Entries must be received by February 1
The University at Albany, SUNY English Graduate Student Organization, seeks submissions of creative and scholarly work for an upcoming conference on the theme of "The Outlaw: Trespass, Disfigurement, Domestication" (April 1-2, 2011). "The outlaw threatens the sovereign and yet is sovereignty's possibility. Simultaneously alluring and terrorizing, the outlaw realizes and reorients desires while giving shape to national nightmares and personal terrors. What may be deviant to one is prophetic to another; while silenced as heretic and dismissed as irrational, the outlaw is also the opportunity for cultural, political, and scientific revolutions." They are particularly interested in works that challenge notions of genre, performance, and poetics. Creative submissions should include a 150-300 word description and a 2-3 page sample. Critical abstracts should be limited to 250-300 words. They encourage submissions from graduate students working in any field, historical period, genre, or scholarly discipline. Email Janelle Adsit for full guidelines.

State 8 Publishing
Entries must be received by February 28
State 8 Publishing is seeking approximately 100 freelance writers for the launch of their new national arts and entertainment review website in 2011. They are looking for writers of various styles, voices and ages capable of delivering articulate, medium brow reviews, so specialist subject knowledge and expertise won't be necessary for many reviews. Writers, regardless of their age and experience, will regularly have the opportunity to switch subject matter and review a wide range of film, TV, theater, documentaries and drama. Rates of pay are as follows: 800-word reviews pay $300 and 500-word reviews pay $150. To apply, please send at least one review or professional standard article you have written, minimum 500 words in length. Please do not send several smaller pieces pasted together, any informal blogs, article website "how to" or info pieces or anything other than a piece of writing that shows your ability to write professional standard reviews. Writers are welcome to send their application in PDF format with a copyright notice watermark on if desired, still ensuring all text is readable. Please email a CV containing your home address and details of your interests and previous employment, not just your writing experience, to editor Hilary Reeson. The subject window of your email should first state your full name followed by the words "WiWr Application." All applications will be acknowledged on receipt although only successful applicants will be contacted after the application stage. They are hoping to complete hiring by February.

It's All in Her Head
Entries must be received by March 1
Personal essays are sought for an upcoming anthology of women writers who have surmounted the challenges of living with mental illness. Essays should be 2,000-4,000 words, submitted by email as MS Word documents, iWork Pages files, or PDFs. Unpublished material preferred. Editor Laura M. Andre says, "I am seeking first-person, literary non-fiction essays (please, no poetry) from established writers and talented emerging voices detailing your experience with a mental health issue, and how you've learned to make peace with it. Although your essay may (and should) reveal the truth about what it is/was like to live with your particular challenge, I'm looking for contributions that have a positive and/or hopeful tone (humor is more than welcome), with concrete examples of how you've managed to be productive, successful, satisfied, and yes, happy—or at least content. It's All in Her Head will both acknowledge the severity of treated and untreated mental concerns and also share women's strategies for taking care of themselves and restoring themselves, given the tools at their disposal, from pharmaceuticals to meditation, and everything in between...the winning cocktail that gives them some measure of mastery over their lives." See website for more details.

Workers Write! Literary Journal
Postmark Deadline: December 1 (or until issue is full)
Workers Write! is a journal of working-class literature, collecting the stories and poems about jobs that define who we are as individuals and communities. For their next issue, "Tales from the Combat Zone", they are seeking stories and poems from the soldier's point of view (all branches welcome). They are interested in everything from command to grunt work. They will also consider war stories and peacekeeping missions, as long as the job is the central theme. Entries should be 500-5,000 words. Submit by mail or email. This journal pays $5-$50 for accepted pieces (depending on length and rights requested). They will consider previously published material.



Later She'd Remember
by Lyn Lifshin

dancing along the Charles
with the man she couldn't marry.
Fireflies, like miniature flashlights.
In photographs the Sycamore
breeze twists their hair together.
"To my angel" and love on
the back. Moving like birds on
fire they danced past benches of
lovers. It was the last dance
before she eloped. Words were
turned to weapons. When she was,
she was more there than ever,
would always be beautiful with
only pearls and jasmine in her hair

Copyright 2011 by Lyn Lifshin

This poem is reprinted from her collection Ballroom, which was recently released by March Street Press.


Practicing Loving Kindness
by Lisa Suhair Majaj

Bless the maniac
barreling down the one-way street
the wrong way,
who shakes his fist when I honk.
May he live long enough
to take driving lessons.

Bless the postman
puffing under the no-smoking sign.
(When I complain, my mail
goes mysteriously missing
for months.) Bless all those
who debauch the air,
the mother wafting fumes
across her baby's carriage,
the man whose glowing stub
accosts a pregnant woman's face.
May they unlearn how to exhale.

Bless the politicians
who both give and receive
bribes and favors.
Bless the constituents
seeking personal gain,
the thieves, the liars, the sharks.
And bless the fools
who make corruption easy.
May they be spared
both wealth and penury.

Bless the soldiers guarding checkpoints
where women labor and give birth
in the dirt. Bless the settlers
swinging clubs into teenager's faces,
the boys shooting boys with bullets
aimed to kill, the men driving bulldozers
that flatten lives to rubble.
May they wake from the dream of power,
drenched in the cold sweat
of understanding. May they learn
the body's frailty, the immensity of the soul.

Bless the destroyers of Falluja,
the wreckers of Babylon,
the torturers of Abu Ghraib
and Guantanamo Bay.
May they understand desolation,
may they comprehend despair.

Bless the peace makers,
the teachers, the word-workers;
the wavers of flags
and the makers of fighter jets.
May they know the ends of their labor,
and the means. May they make
reparations. May they rebuild.

Bless this planet, so cudgeled,
so bounteous: the rain forests,
the tundra, the ozone layer.
May it persevere beyond
our human follies. May it bloom.

Bless cynicism. Bless hope.
Bless the fingers that type,
the computer that processes,
the printer that prints.
Bless email and snail mail.
Bless poetry books that cross oceans
in battered envelopes,
bearing small flames of words.

Copyright 2009 by Lisa Suhair Majaj

This poem is reprinted from her collection Geographies of Light, which won the 2008 Del Sol Press Poetry Prize.


Xerxes' Stone Mason
by Marvin Lurie

(Seen at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago)

I don't know your name,
only your mark:
two point-to-point reclining diamonds
hidden in the design
claiming an arms-length piece of gray stone lintel
with its frieze of standing lions
chiseled for the coming in and going out of Xerxes.

But I can see you from here,
in a dusty work yard under the Persian sun
surrounded by piles of uncut stone.
You have a leather apron and palm pads
fight hard stone with soft iron,
eat your lunch of lentils, rice and flat bread,
trade the rough humor and banter of laborers.

I want to tell you,
the palaces of Xerxes are pulled down,
their pieces collected and displayed in museums,
but your mark survives, declares
the hard work of building empires
is done with hammers, chisels and sweat,
by proud builders who mark their work.

Copyright 2010 by Marvin Lurie

This poem won first prize in the free verse category in the Oregon State Poetry Association's Spring 2010 Contest and was first published in their 2010 Verseweavers anthology.


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From the website of
    Why Literacy is Important

    In the United States, an estimated 30 million people over the age of 16 read no better than the average elementary school child. Worldwide, nearly 800 million adults are illiterate in their native languages; two-thirds of them are women. Yet the ability to read and write is the basis for all other education; literacy is necessary for an individual to understand information that is out of context, whether written or verbal. Literacy is essential if we are to eradicate poverty at home and abroad, improve infant mortality rates, address gender inequality, and create sustainable development. Without literacy skills—the abilities to read, to write, to do math, to solve problems, and to access and use technology—today's adults will struggle to take part in the world around them and fail to reach their full potential as parents, community members, and employees.

    ADULTS NEED STRONG LITERACY SKILLS raise children who have strong literacy skills

      In the U.S. — Learning to read begins long before a child enters school. It begins when parents read to their children, buy their children books, and encourage their children to read. The research is clear: parents who are poor readers don't read as often to their children as do parents who are strong readers; children who are not read to enter school less prepared for learning to read than other children.

      Internationally — Educated mothers in developing countries are more likely to send their children to school than non-educated mothers. be good employees

      In the U.S. — The employees most in demand in the U.S. have at least a two-year college degree. Workers must be able to read safety regulations and warnings so they and their co-workers can stay safe on the job. And working in a team means that employees must be able to communicate clearly with one another.

      Internationally — In developing countries, math literacy skills help people taking part in micro-enterprise programs to manage their businesses. keep themselves and their families healthy

      In the U.S. — Understanding a doctor's orders, calculating how much medicine to take, reading disease-prevention pamphlets—all are ways adults can keep themselves and their families healthy. But millions of adults lack these essential "health literacy" skills, which adds an estimated $230 billion a year to the cost of health care in the U.S.

      Internationally — Teaching adults in developing countries to read as they are shown how they can prevent disease has helped reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, trained community first-aid practitioners, and led to more sanitary drinking water supplies. be active in their communities

      In the U.S. — Political campaigns in the U.S. often stress the need for "informed voters". But how can an individual be well informed if he or she cannot access written campaign literature or read newspaper coverage of the issues and candidates? The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, showed that low literate adults are less likely to vote than strong readers, but become more active in their communities as their reading and writing skills improve. avoid crime

      In the U.S. — There is a clear correlation between adult illiteracy and crime. More than 45 percent of all inmates in local jails, 40 percent in state facilities, and 27 percent in federal corrections institutions did not graduate from high school. Inmates age 24 and younger are less educated.

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.

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This month, Critique Corner is pleased to present "3:48 AM, The Real Reason Sharing a Bed with Your Baby is Highly Unadvisable; or, Mama's Little Heartbreaker" by Jenny Sanders. (Tracy Koretsky will return as the author of Critique Corner in March.)

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!

3:48 AM, The Real Reason Sharing a Bed with Your Baby is Highly Unadvisable;
or, Mama's Little Heartbreaker

by Jenny Sanders

Sleeping, sometimes,
Pink petal, concave curl,
Pliable, meldedcandlewax
So that I set the illusion
She is more a part of me.

But those days are over.
She is mostly apart of me.

Often in her infant slumber, reputed for its
Sweetness and tranquility,
She bucks and claws,
Writhes with tortured neck and arch
To draw around herself a circle,

          Some clear air.

Yes, even in her dreams
Our recent separation
Is, for her it seems,
Not only fact, but desirable fact.

Soft fall of lashes on softer cheeks,
Lips parted in imperceptible breath,
This ambrosial drop of crushing sweetness
Is crusting over,

Portcullis slowly closing,

An inside joke to which I am no longer privy.

Copyright 2011 by Jenny Sanders

Critique by Jendi Reiter

For this month's Critique Corner, it seemed appropriate to begin 2011 with a poem about new birth and the passage of time. Jenny Sanders of Mount Airy, Georgia sent us this poem about her newborn daughter Lizzie. She told us that she uses poetry to "tap the myriad of intense emotions" engendered by motherhood. Where prose seeks to make experience transparent and orderly, poetry "almost always taps into a knowledge that cannot be defined as sense, but that operates on some other plane of knowing."

Sanders' reflections are a good place to begin our discussion of the use of emotional ambivalence to add dramatic interest to a poem. Coming off the holiday season, we can probably all remember moments when we experienced a disconnect between how we were supposed to feel and how we actually felt. When a poem makes room for the shadow side of an event that has been whitewashed by sentimentality, not only does it freshen up an old topic, but it wins over the reader by promising the relief that truth-telling brings.

Few milestones in life are surrounded by as many high-pressure expectations, both sentimental and judgmental, as motherhood. Recalling our own helplessness as infants, we would feel safer believing that the mother's passion for her child is always only innocent, harmless, and unselfish. As Freud and the Brothers Grimm would agree, though, all intimate relationships have other baggage: sensual desire, fear of separation, fear of mortality, and anger at the beloved for making us thus vulnerable. Like the new year, the new child is a fresh start but also an unwelcome reminder that time passes, and eventually we will die and be replaced by the next generation...

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