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Featured Poem:
"Twilight of the Sword Swallower" by Dana Curtis

Featured Poem:
"Sturgeon" by Hilary Sideris

Featured Poem:
"Irises" by J.T. Milford

Featured Poem:
"Finally" by Yedida Bernstein Goren

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July 2011

One of the "101 Best Websites for Writers"
Writer's Digest, 2005-2011

Welcome to our July 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



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

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

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Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Nonet Poetry Contest
Write a nonet poem for this contest. This is a poem with a specific format. View the announcement to see an example. This poetry contest has a cash prize.
Deadline: In Four Days - July 19

New Arrival Acrostic Poem
This is a special contest for new writers to An acrostic poem is a poem where the first letter of each line spells out a word. $100 prize.
Deadline: July 26

Acrostic Poetry Contest
Another acrostic poetry contest! Read the announcement for a sample poem. $100 prize.
Deadline: August 2

Naani Poetry Contest
Naani is a form of poetry with a specific syllable count. Read the announcement for an example. Cash prize for the winner of this poetry contest.
Deadline: August 9

Love Poem
Write a love poem. Your love poem can be fictional or non-fictional. It can be a humorous or a serious love poem. The choice is yours. Cash prize for the winner of this poetry contest.
Deadline: August 16

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

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


All entries that win cash prizes in these contests will be published on (over one million page views per year) and announced in the Winning Writers Newsletter, with over 35,000 subscribers.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest 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.

Now Open
Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 31, 2012
Now in its 20th 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.


Congratulations to Dana Curtis. Her second full-length poetry collection, Camera Stellata, was recently published by WordTech Communications. She kindly shares a sample poem below.

Congratulations to Gretchen Fletcher. Her poetry chapbook The Scent of Oranges: Poems from the Tropics was recently published by Finishing Line Press. This collection was inspired by the flora and fauna of South Florida. Read more about her on the Upstreet blog.

Congratulations to Katherine J. Leisering. She recently won four 2011 writing awards. Leisering won second place in the Writers-Editors Network Annual International Writing Competition (formerly the CNW/FFWA Florida State Writing Competition) in nonfiction for her essay, "Peg O' My Heart", a tribute to her mother. She won a second honorable mention in the same category for her humorous piece, "Trust Me! I'm a Psychic!" The next deadline for this contest, offering prizes up to $100 in various genres, will be March 15. Additionally, she was named one of three winners in the Thurber Treat Contest, sponsored by the James Thurber Society, for writing a caption for a Thurber cartoon and expanding on it with an accompanying humorous story. Winners were invited to the Thurber House in Columbus, OH to read their winning entries at a special dinner. She also won an honorable mention in the Lyttle Lytton Contest, which asks entrants to write the worst short opening line of a novel. In 2010, she won an award in the Robert Benchley Humor Writing Contest and a memoir award from the League of American Pen Women.

Congratulations to Hilary Sideris. Her new poetry chapbook, Gold & Other Fish, is now available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press. It will be released in September. She kindly shares a sample poem below. Poet Martha Rhodes says of this collection, "These are sharp—if not often biting—and funny—if not often hilarious—lyrics which explore the vulnerable self, the armed self, the self alone, the self in relationship through the power of metaphor; that which may be seen point blank in our lives, masked here to gain objectivity, distance, clarity, and insight."

Congratulations to Tomasz Mielcarek. His poem "I was waiting for you" won an honorable mention in the 2011 Vivienne Haigh-Wood Prize from the journal Melusine, or Woman in the 21st Century. This $500 prize, open to both men and women, seeks "carefully crafted, thought-provoking work that explores all angles of the contemporary female experience". The most recent deadline was March 1. Mr. Mielcarek also recently won two poetry contests in Poland.

Congratulations to John Alexanderson. He won an International Merit Award in the Poetry 2011 International Poetry Competition from Atlanta Review. His name was listed in the winners' issue and on the website. The most recent deadline for this $1,000 prize was March 1. John writes, "As usual, I owe much of the thanks to Winning Writers. Without WW I probably would not have known about this contest. I use Winning Writers as my almost sole means of submitting to poetry publications. It saves me so much work because you have already screened the contests. Thus, I know if I should even enter a contest and can rest assured that the ones not worth entering have been eliminated."

Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter's flash-fiction piece "Exodus" was published in the July 2011 issue of the online journal Lily, paired with a photo by Elvira Vila.

Ellaraine Lockie's "pollages", collages incorporating original poems and handmade paper, were featured in the May 2010 issue of The Centrifugal Eye. In addition, Lockie's poem series "The Life Cycle of Paradise Lost" appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of the webzine Centrifuge, along with an essay and interview. The three poems, which begin with the same stanzas and have different endings, explore how methamphetamine production and addiction have ravaged her Montana hometown.

J.T. Milford's poem "Irises" was published in the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Heart, the poetry magazine of Nostalgia Press. He kindly shares it with us below.

David Kherdian's recently published book Gatherings: Selected and Uncollected Writings features selections from his wide-ranging oeuvre, consisting of over sixty books: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, biographies, memoirs, anthologies, translations, retellings, and more. Highlights include chapters on his friendship with William Saroyan and his involvement with the San Francisco poetry renaissance of the 1960s. Visit his website for purchasing information.

Dan Savery Raz, Publishing Editor at Danscribe Books, announces the release of The Last Stanza, an anthology of poetry by the members of StanzAviv, a creative collective of writers associated with Bar Ilan University and Tel Aviv University. StanzAviv members come from Israel, USA, UK, France, Canada, Latvia and beyond. Poets include Dara Barnat from Tel Aviv University's English Faculty, literary translator Sabine Huynh, Israeli poet Michal Pirani, and Yedida Bernstein Goren, who kindly shares a sample poem below. The book also features atmospheric shots of Tel Aviv taken by award-winning photographer Nitzan Hafner. All proceeds from the sale of this book go to the ARDC (African Refugee Development Center), an NGO in south Tel Aviv that provides shelter, education, counseling and advice to refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. The ARDC was founded by refugees for refugees.

Nicole Nicholson's poem "Color (a modest plea)" was published in Shift Journal, an online journal exploring the creative perspectives of people with autism.

Charles W. Pratt had two poems from his collection From the Box Marked 'Some Are Missing' (Hobblebush Books, 2010) featured on Garrison Keillor's radio show The Writer's Almanac: "Graduation Speech" on June 23, and "Valediction" on June 24.

Alegria Imperial has several poetry publications to report. One of her haiku appeared in the June 2011 issue of The Heron's Nest. Another poem was published in Issue #10 of Eucalypt, an Australian journal of tanka poetry. Her poem "The Wait" appeared as text and an audio recording in Issue #51 of The Cortland Review. Her poem "to this we wake" was included in the Magnapoets anthology Butterfly Away.


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 1,250+ active poetry and prose contest profiles. Search and sort contests by deadline, prize, fee, recommendation level and more. We don't just list contests, we point you to the ones that will gain the most attention for your work, whether you are just starting out or are well-established. Exclusive interviews with contest judges and editors help you understand how your submissions are evaluated.

We update Poetry Contest Insider nearly every day. Be among the first to learn about new contests and late deadline changes. Access to Poetry Contest Insider is just $9.95 per quarter, with a free 10-day trial at the start. Cancel at any time. Most contests charge entry fees. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars and many hours entering these contests each year. Don't waste your time or money. Out of hundreds of contests, there might only be two or three dozen that are especially appropriate for your work. We help you find them fast. Learn more about Poetry Contest Insider.
"Just recently, after following one of your newsletter leads, I found that I was lucky enough to win The Tennessee Williams 25th Literary Prize for Poetry. The award included $1,000 and publication of four of my poems in Louisiana Cultural Vistas! In addition, after following another lead, I just received word that I am a finalist in the 2011 Pablo Neruda Poetry Contest sponsored by Nimrod magazine. (The winner is to be announced in mid-June.) I thank you and your staff for helping to make such good news possible for me and other poets by sorting through the plethora of sources and updating deadlines. (A truly dizzying task.)"
Patricia (Pat) Hawley, Washington

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


Deadlines: July 16-August 31

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

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

7/22: FIL Literature Prize in Romance Languages +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly July 30
Highly recommended free contest offers $150,000 lifetime achievement award (by nomination only) for a writer whose work is in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Galician, Catalan, French, or Romanian. This is one of several awards sponsored by the Guadalajara International Book Fair. Formerly known as the Juan Rulfo Latin American and Caribbean Literary Award, changed name in 2009.

7/25: GLCA New Writers Awards ++
Recommended free contest offers a reading tour of 12 midwestern colleges, with a $500 honorarium per visit, for the author of a book of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction that is the author's first published book in that genre. One winner in each category. Publisher should submit 4 copies of book along with publicity material. For the 2012 (2011 deadline) contest, the book must have been published in the US or Canada between spring 2010 and spring 2011. Selection process favors recipients of major first-book awards.

7/25: Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly July 31
Highly recommended free contest offers 1,000 pounds and a reading at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in Suffolk for the best first full-length collection of poetry published in Great Britain or Ireland since August 1 of the preceding year. Either publisher or author may submit 3 bound or proof copies of the book with a note indicating the date of publication. Include cover letter with contact information.

7/31: Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award +++
Highly recommended free contest for unpublished poems by authors aged 11-17 offers free books, anthology publication, and other prizes. Online entries accepted.

7/31: Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature ++
Recommended free contest offers publication by Sarabande Books, a high-quality literary press, for a manuscript of poetry, fiction, or essays (all genres compete together) about Kentucky or by Kentucky authors. Winner must agree to travel to readings within the state. You are eligible if you were born in Kentucky or have lived there for at least two years, or your book is set in or about Kentucky. Poetry manuscripts should be 48-100 single-spaced pages, prose manuscripts 150-250 double-spaced pages. No scholarly works, children's literature, or genre fiction. Accepts online entries.

7/31: Marie Alexander Poetry Series Book Contest ++
Recommended free contest offers $500 and publication for a book-length collection of prose poems by a US author, at least 48 single-spaced pages. Send one copy by regular mail and another copy by email as an MS Word or PDF file. The Marie Alexander Poetry Series is an imprint of White Pine Press, a well-regarded small press.

7/31: Stone Canoe Annual Awards +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers prizes of $500 apiece for poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and technical essays that contribute to the public's understanding of engineering and technology. Winners will be published in Stone Canoe, the Syracuse University literary journal. Entrants must have a first-person connection to upstate New York, but the subject matter of the submission does not need to involve the area. Typical personal connections can include growing up, attending college or an artist's residency, or being employed in the region. Award is for work already published in the journal. No separate application process; all submissions are automatically considered for the prize. Submit 3-5 poems, or one prose piece up to 10,000 words, through their online submission manager.

8/1: Donn Goodwin and Joseph Gahagen Poetry Prizes +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest from Milwaukee Irish Fest offers two prizes of $100 for unpublished poems reflecting Irish or Irish-American poetic traditions. The Donn Goodwin Prize is open to all authors, while the Joseph Gahagan Prize is open to current Wisconsin residents. One poem per person per category.

8/15: Linda Flowers Literary Award +
Neutral free contest offers $500 for the best story, essay, or poems with a connection to North Carolina themes or events (out-of-state authors eligible). Submissions should engage readers' understanding of the "humanistic apprehension", bringing to light "real men and women having to make their way" in the face of "changes and loss, triumphs and disappointments". Entries are expected to draw on particular North Carolina connections and/or memories, and should be 2,000-2,500 words.

8/16: Memoir (and) Prizes for Prose or Poetry ++
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 16). 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.

8/17: Boardman Tasker Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly August 16
Recommended free contest offers 3,000 pounds for the best published book on the theme of mountains or mountaineering, first published or distributed in the UK between November 1 of the previous year and October 31 of this year. Entries must be submitted by publisher, and may be poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or drama. Early entries are encouraged.

8/31: Aquillrelle Poetry Contest +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly May 31
Neutral free contest sponsored by a poetry forum based in Belgium seeks unpublished poems by authors 18+. As of 2011, the top three authors will have a manuscript of poetry published in lieu of cash awards. Submit 1-5 poems, maximum 30 lines each. Enter online only.

8/31: ScotsCare "A Scot in London" Poetry Competition ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers 1,000 pounds for a poem, 40 lines maximum, on the theme of "A Scot in London". Entrants must be aged 18+. Enter by mail or online. Contest sponsor ScotsCare is a charity for Scots in London. This contest is offered in conjunction with their 400th anniversary. May be a one-time event for 2011.

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 40,000 readers. Chosen by Writer's Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers commendation for 2001-2011. Eleven years of recognized excellence.

From a grateful reader:
I first discovered Strokestown International Poetry Festival in Funds for Writers and have just returned from Ireland with the festival's FIRST PRIZE of 4,000 euros, for one poem! Thanks for putting me onto this one!

Carpe Articulum Literary Review

Welcome to Carpe Articulum Literary Review!
This issue is a one-of-a-kind collector's issue. It features close friends and family of the late film icon, Elizabeth Taylor, special interviews and great art, guest appearances by Dr. Wilton Dillon, Senior Scholar Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution, and David Halloran, Dartmouth College, a farewell to the talented Jack Sheridan—first discovered here at CALR—the announcements of the CALR Short Fiction/Novella awards, STUNNING photography and so much more!
Carpe Articulum Literary Review Short Fiction/Novella Competition 2011 Winners
WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO SUBSCRIBE! Only through your support can we continue to bring these world voices! Click for a sample: ONE FREE ELECTRONIC ISSUE of our print publication! THIS IS A ONE-TIME gift of last quarter's issue featuring an exclusive interview with LORD (CHARLES) SPENCER, NINTH EARL SPENCER, about the literary festival at his ancestral home, The Althorp Estate, his favourite reads, and his sister Princess Diana's charitable legacy. (For best performance, please keep your mouse pointer off the magazine pages while they download.)

WANT TO BE A PART? Send your ideas, editorials, and questions for the editor to and you can get published in this international review! The best commentaries, articles, and questions for the editor will be included. Please register at our website, then make your submission. NO SUBMISSIONS ARE COMPLETE WITHOUT REGISTRATION, THANK YOU!

We give away $10,000 every year to outstanding writers and artists and hope you will decide to become a member of our literary family. Enter our fiction, non-fiction, poetry, novella and photography contests at any time of year. If you miss a deadline, your entry will automatically roll over for the next cycle.

The magazine is 150-200 pages of full-colour delight, translated into five languages. We feature short fiction, poetry, informative articles, photography, non-fiction and incredible interviews with hot up-and-coming writers as well as iconic ones such as Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, George Lucas (Star Wars, Indiana Jones), Ray Harryhausen (father of motion picture special effects), Ray Bradbury (author of Fahrenheit 451), Jodi Picoult (author of Change of Heart, Handle With Care, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister's Keeper which was made into a major motion picture with Cameron Diaz) and Nicholas Sparks (author of Message in a Bottle, also made into a motion picture with Kevin Costner & Robin Wright Penn, as well as The Notebook, The Last Song, etc.) And that was just last October's issue!

We hope you will join us and become a vital part of our literary family—without you, none of this is possible nor necessary. Become a cherished reader today!

No time to write AND make submissions? Try Writer's Relief!

Writer's Relief (est. 1994) is an author's submission service. We help writers make targeted, professional submissions to literary agents and editors (in the genres of novels, poetry, short creative prose, and nonfiction books).

Writer's Relief You don't have to tackle the submission process alone! We have a service for every budget. You can get 25+ submissions to the best-suited agents/editors within three days.

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Our detailed database of literary agents and editors includes many who are actively reading during the summer and fall months. Our clients include writers of all levels—from major literary award winners/nominees to new writers with strong voices. To learn more about our clientele, visit our website.

NO TIME TO WRITE? Services include: targeting the best-suited agents/editors, composing cover/query letters with client approval, proofreading and formatting submissions, preparing mailing labels, providing an electronic submission report, individually addressing printed cover/query letters, tracking all submissions including any editorial comments, providing a personal submission strategist for consulting, and more.

NOTE: Writers who wish to regularly submit are encouraged to apply to join our invitation-only Full Service program. Submission guidelines are available on our website. Consideration is free.
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Dream Quest One Last Call!
Dream Quest One Poetry and Writing Contest
Postmark Deadline: July 31
This writing contest is open to anyone who loves to express their innermost thoughts and feelings in poetry or to write a short story that's worth telling everyone! We're accepting poems, 30 lines or fewer on any subject, and short stories, 5 pages maximum on any theme (single- or double-line spacing). Multiple entries welcome.

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

Entry fees
$10 per story
$5 per poem

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

Please enjoy this passage from one of our favorite stories, author anonymous, about a high school teacher whose husband had suddenly passed away:
Her eyes beginning to water, she went on, "So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn't have to be something you see, it could be a scent—perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone's house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches the autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the "stuff" of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted. We must make it important to notice them, for at any can all be taken away."

The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our books and filed out of the room silently.

That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school than I had that whole semester. Every once in a while, I think of that teacher and remember what an impression she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook. Take notice of something special you see on your lunch hour today. Go barefoot. Or walk on the beach at sunset. Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double-dip ice cream cone.

For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn't do. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

From "The Teacher" (A Powerful Lesson)

Click for more quotations that inspire us

Orpheus on the Red Line by Theodore Deppe Last Call!
Tupelo Press July Open Submission Period
Throughout July, Tupelo Press will hold open submissions for book-length poetry collections (48-90 pages) and chapbook-length poetry collections (30-47 pages). Submissions are accepted from anyone writing in the English language (whether in the United States or abroad). Please read these complete guidelines before submitting your work:

For the first time ever, Tupelo Press has invited a guest editor to bring a new editorial vision to the July Open Reading Period. We're honored to say that Nate Pritts, poet, editor, publisher and scholar, has answered our call. Nate Pritts is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection from Lowbrow Press, Sweet Nothing, as well as four previous books of poetry. Poetry Magazine called The Wonderfull Yeare (Cooper Dillon Books) "rich, vivid, intimate, and somewhat troubled" while The Rumpus declared Big Bright Sun (BlazeVox Books) "a textual record of mistakes made and insights gleaned... [in] a voice that knows its part in self-destruction." Nate earned his M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College and his Ph.D. in British Romanticism from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. He is the founder and principal editor of H_NGM_N, an online journal and small press. He lives in New York. Whether or not you've submitted a poetry manuscript to the July Open Reading period in the past, here's an opportunity for a fresh reading by a superb poet/editor.

Include two cover pages (all within the same document). One cover page with the manuscript title, your name and contact information, including address, phone number and email address. The other cover page with just the manuscript title.

There is a reading fee of $28 for each manuscript submitted, which can be sent via check payable to Tupelo Press or you can make a payment via PayPal. Again, see the complete guidelines for details.

We accept manuscripts in two ways: on paper and electronically. Click to submit electronically via our Submission Manager. Mail paper manuscripts to:

     July Open Submissions
     Tupelo Press
     P.O. Box 1767
     North Adams, MA 01247

You may also include a self-addressed postcard for acknowledgment of receipt of your manuscript and SASE for notification. Manuscripts will not be returned. You may include an acknowledgments page listing previously published poems. If you send a paper manuscript and pay via PayPal, please include a copy of the PayPal receipt with your manuscript.

We look forward to reading your work!

Here is a poem by Theodore Deppe from Orpheus on the Red Line (Tupelo Press, 2009):
by Theodore Deppe

Marisol. Strange to have named this stunted tree
for a suicidal eight-year-old I worked with years ago—

surely she doesn't remember me, yet here she is,
bent almost parallel to the ground, three thousand miles

from the children's unit. November rain
in the last few coppery leaves. And the absurd

little grace notes of lichen and moss. Olive trees
in Tuscany have this same stubborn shape,

as do gnarled pines in T'ang Dynasty paintings.
So, a Taoist Italian tree in Donegal with a Puerto Rican soul:

I know I'm home when I reach this crooked rowan.
Axe-cuts a quarter way through the trunk:

why would anyone want to fell
one of the glen's only trees? Marisol, I doubt

things will get much easier—even in summer
this rowan can't offer more than partial shade and thin

sweet music in its branches. Downhill,
the smooth scar of the abandoned railway

disappears into the bog. Nothing much left in this gale
but one hobbled tree. From which a girl might step.

2011 Rattle Poetry Prize Last Call!
Rattle Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: August 1

The annual Rattle Poetry Prize offers $5,000 for a single poem, plus $100 each to fifteen finalists. Now in its sixth year, the competition has added a twist: In 2011 the final judge could be you. Fifteen finalists will be selected in a blind review by the editors and published in the winter issue of Rattle magazine; the winner will then be chosen by entrant and subscriber vote. This is a new way to make the competition even more writer-friendly. Consider also:
  • The first prize is one of the largest in the world for a single, unpublished poem.
  • Fifteen poets receive prize money and publication.
  • Additional poems are frequently offered publication, as well.
  • The finalists are announced just six weeks after the deadline, on September 15 each year, with no delays.
  • The finalists are judged in a blind review, and the editors personally read every poem submitted.
  • The entry fee is simply a one-year subscription to the magazine (two issues).
Entries are accepted by email or hard copy. For full guidelines, or to read the winning poems from previous years, visit

Please enjoy this excerpt from Mary-Lou Brockett-Devine's "Crabs", honorable mention in the 2009 Rattle Poetry Prize:
by Mary-Lou Brockett-Devine

The only thing I know
is they can crawl, swim,
and bite like hell.
               —"Chas" Howard
Beautiful Swimmers

And this, then, is the wonder of evolution:
crabs cannot fly. Imagine them
with their five pairs of legs (eight for walking,
two adapted into claws) hovering over
your family picnic, piercing the skin
of your hotdog as you duck their armored
dives or working in flocks to carry off
a roasted chicken or your tabby cat. What kind
of collar would dogs wear to repel these bugs
with shells so thick it takes a hammer

to crack their claws, a hatchet to hack them
in half to bait a blackfish hook? Calico
crabs, kelp crabs, and king crabs with claws
that can reach to pinch flesh no matter where
you hold them. Box crabs, rock crabs, and spider
crabs, so wiry they could land on your head
and wrap their long legs around your chin—
their wild wings keeping tension on your jaw
as the claws try to rip off something soft. What hope
for the songbirds? Crabs in the branches

Click for the complete poem

Pavement Saw: Transcontinental Poetry Award for First or Second Books Last Call!
Transcontinental Poetry Award for First or Second Books
Postmark Deadline: August 15
A prize of $1,000, publication by Pavement Saw Press, and 50 author copies are given annually for a first or second poetry collection. Poets who have not published a book, who have published one collection, or who have published a second collection of fewer than 40 pages, or who have published a second full-length collection with a print run of no more than 500 copies are eligible. More than one prize may be awarded.

Mail a manuscript of 48 to 70 pages with a $20 entry fee for US and Canadian entries, $23 for mailed overseas entries, or $27 to submit electronically (all entries, worldwide), by August 15. All entrants receive Pavement Saw books, chapbooks and journals equal to, or more than, the entry fee. For the complete contest guidelines, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), visit our website, or email us.

Pavement Saw Press
Attn: Transcontinental Poetry Award
321 Empire Street
Montpelier, OH 43543

David Baratier, Editor

About Pavement Saw Press
Pavement Saw Press has been publishing steadily since the fall of 1993. Our books are published in runs of a thousand with some printed in library edition hardcovers, our chapbooks in runs of four hundred. We specialize in finding authors who have been widely published in literary journals but have not published a chapbook or full-length book. We are an eight-time Ohio Arts Council grant winner. Many well-known authors and editors have supported these titles including John Ashbery, James Tate, Franz Wright, Cornelius Eady, Jim Daniels, Edward Dorn, Leslie Scalapino, Harryette Mullen, Robert Kelly, and Billy Collins. Their praises appear on back covers, in reviews and in other support materials we use to market these books. Reviews and poem reprints have appeared in Poets & Writers, Poetry Daily, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Rain Taxi, Verse Daily, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Small Press Review, the AWP Chronicle, and many other fine publications.

Pavement Saw Press' authors have had subsequent full-length books appear from a bevy of publishers including New Directions, Ahsahta Press, Cleveland State University Press, Bear Star Press, Curbstone Press, New York Quarterly Press, Chax Press, BlazeVOX [books], Birds LLC, Shearsman Books, Red Hen Press, University of Georgia, Tupelo Press, Hanging Loose Press, Wings Press and many others. Authors from our press have won many other awards, notably the National Poetry Series and the Lambda Literary Award. In 2011, we will publish four full-length books and five chapbooks.

Sacramento Poetry Center - 2011 Quinton Duval Chapbook Contest

Snake Nation Press Closing Next Month
Snake Nation Press: Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry
Postmark Deadline: August 31
Now in its twenty-first year, Snake Nation Press announces the 2011 Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry:

     • $1,000 prize and publication
     • $25 entry fee must accompany the manuscript
     • 50-75 page manuscript; previously published poems eligible

Please mail your entry and fee to:

     Snake Nation Press
     Attn: Poetry Contest
     2920 North Oak Street
     Valdosta, GA 31602

Snake Nation Press provides an informative, non-threatening venue for writers to submit their work in the midst of an often chaotically diverse publishing world. Over the history of the Press, the staff and volunteers have found great satisfaction in forging personalized editorial relationships with both emerging and established writers. The Snake is committed to keeping an honest and open dialogue with authors and to furthering the literary arts on a local and global scale. Many hours of volunteer labor and the electronic resources of the Web have allowed a small press to help present many new literary voices to the world-wide community.

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

We are proud to present "Blood Burning Moon" by Dr. Nagueyalti Warren, part of Braided Memory, her winning manuscript in our most recent contest.
Blood Burning Moon
by Nagueyalti Warren

Morning mocks romance
in a shack where children sleep
curled into threadbare pallets
disguised satin in moonlight.

The alba she longs to sing
sticks in her throat—dry kindling.
He comes. Places his iron hands
on her slim hips.

Pulls her to his unwashed face.
His cinereous whisky lips
cause her to heave, gag a familiar sickness,
pray for blood.

He doesn't know the landscape of her
soul—its longings for life without
steel fists, work boots, overalls.
She watches him slurp warmed-up coffee,

hears his empty stomach growl and sees
their stair-step children waking up.
When he leaves she steeps tea and prays
for blood before changing soiled diapers

and stirring gruel on a stove burning coal.
No soap operas anesthetize her moil.
Radio is static. But she sees
a dress: red velvet in her mind.

Soft flowing, red velvet.

She prays for blood.

Also at Snake Nation Press: Serena McDonald Kennedy Award
Postmark Deadline: August 31
Submit a novella of up to 50,000 words or a manuscript of short stories up to 200 pages long. Fiction and nonfiction accepted. Any well-written manuscript on any topic will be considered. Previously published works may be entered. An entry fee of $25 must accompany the submission. Winner receives $1,000 award and publication.

Please mail your entry and fee to:

     Snake Nation Press
     Attn: Serena McDonald Kennedy Award
     2920 North Oak Street
     Valdosta, GA 31602

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

Please enjoy "From Achor to Hope" by Stephanie Grammenopoulos, Grand Prize winner in the 2010 Novice Christian Poetry Contest:
From Achor to Hope
by Stephanie Grammenopoulos

She is encrusted with the gold
Of a foreign deity.
Her Baals illude her
With strokes of diluted paint
That ribbon around her callow lips
Denying them of sustenance.

She is dry in Jericho,
Battling the hyraxes
That chew the waste of their bodies
In this Valley, a skeleton land
Where fish stink and die of thirst,
The rivers a wilderness.
The desert malaises her
And husks her to the core,
Revealing a heart with cold blood
Desperate for renewal,
Remnant of the lack in Achor, a deep ravine
That runs like a vein to a displaced destination.

She has no pulse here
Dreamless, with a counterfeit fiancé
That she approaches at a disfigured altar
Wearing a gown of nettles
That sever the skin of her feet
And cling to the cloth from her garter.

She waits for the time when the sky will open
And rain on this desert.
She yearns for the alluring of a man that will uproot her
And split the land she inhabits.
He will grow olive trees,
Places for gazelles to tread,
And waterfalls dispelling from space.
Clusters of roses will rise with saffron
And his cloak will be like white Madonna lilies,
His eyes like deep blue hyacinths.

And He does come,
With animated breaths exhaled from the sky
And teaches her new melodies.
Her skin darkens from the incessant sun
And her warm summer hair grows like a pinch of glory.
A revival arises in her stomach,
Cultivating a deep roar that startles the walls around her
Causing her captivity to pour down like milk on barren soil
To reveal a hidden and open door
Of hope.

Robert Frost Foundation 15th Annual Robert Frost Foundation Annual Poetry Award
Postmark/Email Submission Deadline: September 15

The Robert Frost Foundation welcomes poems in the spirit of Robert Frost for its 15th Annual Award. The winner will receive $1,000 and an invitation to present the winning poem on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at the Frost Festival located at the Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The theme of the 15th Annual Festival is "Robert Frost and the Art of the Sonnet".

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 "Mowing" by Robert Frost, followed by a more contemporary "Mowing" from our website.
by Robert Frost

There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound—
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.

by Midge Goldberg

You know those chores you always have to do,
like mowing grass: I grumble, go outside—
a lawn this size will take an hour or two
at least—put on my Red Sox hat and ride
around designing circles, lines, a border.
I move from shade to sunshine, deftly steering,
looking purposeful and bringing order
so neat and sure—and sure of disappearing.
With all this sun, I know that what I'm doing
won't last, won't keep a week; I ride about
to find the pleasure in the not pursuing,
to learn beyond the shadow of a doubt
the patterns that I long to bring to pass
get mown and overgrown like summer grass.

The Mercer Street Books Fiction Prize: No-Fee Novel Contest sponsored by Anderbo

Connecticut River Review Connecticut River Review Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: September 30

The Connecticut Poetry Society is pleased to announce that the Connecticut River Review Poetry Contest is accepting submissions. Please note that the deadline for submissions is now September 30. The judge is Edwina Trentham. All poets are welcome. You do not need to reside in Connecticut or belong to the Connecticut Poetry Society.

We offer prizes of $400, $200, and $100. Winning poems will be published in the Connecticut River Review. Honorable Mentions may also receive publication. For your $15 entry fee (make check out to CPS) you may enter three unpublished poems, up to 80 lines each. Multiple and simultaneous submissions are acceptable if you notify us immediately upon acceptance elsewhere. Last year's winners are not eligible for this year's contest.

Please submit two copies of each poem, one with contact info and one completely anonymous. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for contest results. No poems will be returned—please keep a copy. Mail your work to CRR Contest, CPS, P.O. Box 270554, West Hartford, CT 06127.

The Connecticut Poetry Society is a state-wide community of poets dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of poetry. CPS has a 35-year tradition of excellence in publishing work of national and Connecticut poets. Our mission is to support poetry with chapter meetings, contests, and events for CPS members throughout the state. More information on this contest and on our organization can be found at

On The Premises

On The Premises Short Story Contest (no fee)
Online Submission Deadline: September 30

77% of web-based fiction magazines pay their fiction writers nothing. So do 60% of print-only fiction magazines!

If you'd like to try getting paid for your fiction, why not consider us? 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. We've never charged a reading fee or publication fee, and we pay between $40 and $180 for short stories that fit each issue's broad story premise. We publish stories in nearly every genre (literary/realist, mystery, light/dark fantasy, light/hard sci-fi, slipstream) aimed at adult readers (no children's fiction). Our most recent issue featured five authors we'd never published before and one author making his first fiction sale.

Our current short story contest launched on July 4. In some way, some kind of myth or legend must be important to the story for this contest. It doesn't matter if the myth/legend turns out to be true. "Family legends" like the time Cousin So-and-So did something memorable are fine as long as the story is fiction... that is, as long as you're making it up! You can find details and instructions for submitting your story at To be informed when new contests are launched, subscribe to our free, short, monthly newsletter.

On The Premises magazine is recognized in Duotrope, Writer's Market,, the Short Story and Novel Writers guide books, and other short story marketing resources.

PhatSalmon Poetry Contest

The Missouri Review's Editors' Prize The Missouri Review's Editors' Prize: Over $15,000 in Prizes
Postmark Deadline: October 1
Submit your best poetry, fiction, and essays. Winners in each genre receive $5,000, a featured publication in our spring issue, and a trip to Columbia, MO for a gala reading and reception. Three finalists in each genre receive cash prizes and will also be considered for publication. $20 contest fee includes a one-year subscription to The Missouri Review.

Entries must be previously unpublished and will not be returned. Please include no more than 25 typed, double-spaced pages for fiction and nonfiction. Poetry entries can include any number of poems up to 10 pages in total. Each story, essay, or group of poems constitutes one entry. Submit online or by mail. Click for the complete guidelines.

Please enjoy this poem by George Looney, the winner of our 2010 Editors' Prize in Poetry.
To Account for Such Grace
by George Looney

Some nights, light's particle nature is italicized
by the downward emphasis of a steady rain.

History is the distance between what happened
and what we say happened. A woman without

an umbrella is a frail shadow hunched over
a small flame flickering between her palms

in a shallow alcove, the only light the flame
cupped in her hands and a sixty-watt bulb

somewhere behind her in the niche she's found
that almost keeps her out of the frenzied rain.

If this were being painted in sixteenth-century Florence,
the woman would be a statue of the only woman

the church could love, the mother of God
the son, and cupped in her delicate, trembling hands

would be the burning heart of God become man,
having flown out of his dying chest with a last wheeze

from the cross. Rain, in the painting, would be
an occasion for the artist to show off his brilliance

with reflective surfaces, nothing more. History
might ask us to ignore the woman's hands, the calluses,

how they tremble and seem too delicate to hold up
under her grief. No matter is as delicate

as light. Or as alluring as the face of this woman,
having a smoke, waiting out the rain. Entire histories

have been imagined to account for such grace.
Music has transformed the human voice

to make possible even a vague hint of the delicacy
of this woman's fragrant hands, moist with mist,

reflecting light in ways a Renaissance master
would have bowed down to, envious, rapt.

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.

Please enjoy this excerpt from Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre, the winner of our 2010 National Book Prize in Fiction:
"Your Honor, might I say something?" Wanda said.

The judge looked a little wary. "Yes, ma'am."

"I would never dream of interrupting the proceedings, it's just that we've played out this scene in our living room about a hundred times over the past two weeks, and I thought I'd save you some time. Gary swears up and down he didn't do it. Well, there's been days when we've believed them and days when we didn't. Finally one night, after praying and thinking it over, things became perfectly clear to me. I turned to Lawrence (that's my husband) and I said, 'Honey, whether he did it or didn't, the punishment's the same. Whether he overturned the one receptacle or he smashed those car windows too, the punishment's the same. I want to soundly punish Gary in a way he won't forget.' Lawrence agreed with me, Your Honor.

"See, Gary's always been a sweet, gentle boy who minds his manners. That's the type of boy I raised. Not some ruffian who barrels down the street in Boise raising Ned. The biggest animals on earth, your honor, whales, eat the smallest, little bitty shrimp. I will not let my Gary become some monster that eats and destroys indiscriminately. I've seen it happen to other men. They hurt and kill and damage property, then go on their way without looking back. I'd rather Gary be a shrimp who fights fair. The meek shall inherit the earth, that's what I've always taught him."

The craving in Wanda's heart overcame her. She choked back tears and Gary placed his hand on her shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Your Honor. I'm almost done. Gary won't tell us the names of those other boys. Says he just met them that night. Carl. I don't know no Carl. Well, whoever it was, Gary won't be seeing him for quite some time. He's been grounded since that night, and will be for the next two months. He lost his car privileges except to and from school. He does his homework, spends some family time, then goes to his room. Saturdays we make him volunteer at the Mennonite soup kitchen. Sure, he griped at first, but he seems to be enjoying it now. He might even continue after his punishment's over."

Wanda allowed herself a glance at Gary. His jaw was fixed in a gaping frown like a pickled herring.

"Your Honor, my friends think Lawrence and I are being too hard on Gary. I tell them that if I have any power at all as his mother, Gary will never darken the door of a courtroom again. He will never damage another person's property again. He will never harm a person smaller than himself."

Now Wanda allowed herself to break down, and hide her face for a moment against Gary's shoulder. Then she regained her composure. "Thank you, Your Honor."

The judge sat for a long time, holding the tip of his reading glasses in his teeth. A fear gripped Wanda's heart. What if he put down the glasses and said, "Miss, you don't seem old enough to be this young man's mother"?

Click to read more

Little Red Tree Publishing
The Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: October 15

Little Red Tree Publishing The International Poetry Prize, sponsored by Little Red Tree Publishing, includes a first prize of $1,000. The runner-up will receive $250 and five finalists will receive $50 each.

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

The prizewinner, runner-up and other honorees will feature prominently, with full biographies, in a special collection called Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize 2011 - Anthology. The book will also include a wide selection of poetry from those submitted that did not make the final selection but were considered worthy of publication. We anticipate the book will contain as many as 80 poems, with a free copy to each poet published, and be published in early 2012 with a book launch in New London, CT.

All winners and published poets will be invited to read their poems. Download our complete guidelines (PDF), then send your poem(s) with a reading fee of $5 each to: Little Red Tree Publishing, LLC, Attn: The International Poetry Prize, 635 Ocean Avenue, New London, CT 06320. Congratulations to our 2010 winners Ed Frankel, Simon Peter Eggertsen, John Laue, William F. Lantry, Kaimana Wolff, Janet Ireland Trail, and Ellen LaFleche.

Little Red Tree Publishing
The Vernice Quebodeaux "Pathways" International Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: December 15

The Vernice Quebodeaux Prize, sponsored by Little Red Tree Publishing, includes a $1,000 cash award, publication of a full-length collection of poetry, and a generous royalty contract. All forms and styles are welcome.

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

All finalists will be considered for publication, with one selected as the prizewinner with a book published in 2012. Download our complete guidelines (PDF), then send your 80-100 page manuscript with a $20 reading fee to: Little Red Tree Publishing, LLC, Attn: The Vernice Quebodeaux International Prize, 635 Ocean Avenue, New London, CT 06320. Congratulations to our 2010 winner, Diana Woodcock.

Little Red Tree Publishing
Little Red Tree Publishing

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

We aim to publish about 12 books each year. This includes a full book of poetry from the Vernice Quebodeaux "Pathways" International Poetry Prize and an anthology from the Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize.

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

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

We look forward to reading your wonderful poetry.

They're at It Again - Stories from Twenty Years of Open CityOpen City's 2011 RRofihe Trophy Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: October 15
8th year! The RRofihe Trophy for an unpublished short story! Limit: 5,000 words. Winner receives: $500, trophy, an announcement on the Open City website, followed by publication on the website. Judge: Rick Rofihe, assisted by 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 or on
  • Mail submissions to:
         270 Lafayette Street, Suite 705
         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,

National League of American Pen WomenThe 25th Annual Portland Pen Poetry Contest
Sponsored by the Portland Branch of the National League of American Pen Women
Postmark Deadline: November 7

AWARDS: First Place $250; Second Place $50; Third Place $25

ENTRY FEE: $5 per poem ($4 per poem if we receive your entry by August 31) — check or money order—no cash

CONTEST RULES: Any form; any style; 40-line limit strictly enforced. No email or fax entries. One poem per page; two-page poems must be stapled together.

Two copies of each typed or computer-printed poem should be single-spaced with no photos or decorations. Copy one must have your name, complete address, telephone number and/or email address in the upper right-hand corner. Copy two—no identification.

Poems must be in English, the original work of the author, unpublished in any form, and not a winner beyond Finalist or Honorable Mention in any other contest.

The Contest is open to adult men and women, except members of the Portland Branch, National League of American Pen Women.

No poems will be returned. All rights revert to the author. First, Second, and Third Place Winning Poems will be published in The Portland Pen, the newsletter of the NLAPW, Portland Branch. Honorable Mentions will be awarded by certificate as merited.

Please tell us where you discovered our contest (e.g. Winning Writers Newsletter). For a Winners' List, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with your entry. Send your entry to:

     Portland Branch, NLAPW
     Joan A. McLaren Henson
     12356 SW King George Drive
     King City, OR 97224

     Questions? Please call Joan Henson at 503-639-7925.

The National League of American Pen Women was founded in 1897—23 years before women's suffrage—in order to bring together women journalists, authors, and illustrators. It is a professional organization with members in Letters, Art, and Music.

Please enjoy "North Lake" by Leland James, the winning entry in the 2008 Portland Pen Poetry Contest.
North Lake
by Leland James

The arctic night
Crawls down upon the ice.
Last light a strip of gray,
Amber where it touches the horizon:
A tired eye about to close.
Tired of barrenness and cold.
Snowshoe tracks faint from the dawn
I now retrace on groaning ice.
An Ancient Beast nightwind howls,
Rising up in gales of swirling snow.
Away too long, too long alone.
The frozen lake, my soul.

No light shines before me.
Dark cabin windows mock my coming from the cold,
The sunrise fire long turned to shivering ashes.
My refuge reclaimed,
Like my tracks upon the snow.
No trail of smoke to greet me.
The cabin door as frail as lace.
Rime frost, the morning fog,
Winter's breath crept in between the logs,
Drifts, a ghostly shroud, upon the cabin floor.
A skim of ice where water spilled lies near the stove.
A careless act, like this late coming from the cold.
The winter unforgiving.
With habits frozen deep,
I light the lamp, I bolt the door.

The amber eye has closed,
Ending the world outside.
Windows black as midnight ice.
The Beast now screams against the cabin walls,
Claws digging at the rag-stuffed cracks.
The rags hard frozen, brittle.
The Beast, enraged, grasping for its prey.
The lamp light faints, a jagged glow,
Stuttering as if the rattled windows were its voice.
Saying I must hurry,
Hurry with the stove.
The iron heart of northern places.

I choose the precious wood, placing it with care.
A sacred nest of twigs I lay beneath.
With trembling hand, the match igniting.
I watch the fire awhile, still kneeling on the floor.
The split wood blackens slowly.
Wisps of flame darting like phantoms.
I close the iron door, listening for the draft:
The fire's first steady breath, the chimney warmed.
Listening for the promise that the fire will go.
Praying deliverance from barrenness and cold,
Away too long, too long alone,
Pray to deny the Beast my soul.
Drifting into dreams of morning coals
Glowing like cherries in the snow.

Writer's Digest Short Story Writing Competition Writer's Digest Short Short Writing Competition
Postmark Deadline: November 15

Ahhh, summer.
Long, sizzling days. Long, cold showers.
Short, erratic tempers and even shorter shorts!

Plop down in some AC and get thinking about your next short story to enter in the Writer's Digest Short Short Competition. Or start those tweaks to a personal favorite that you've been sitting on. Send us your best in 1,500 words or less and you could win $3,000 and a trip to the 2012 Writer's Digest Conference.

First Place: $3,000 and a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference
Second Place: $1,500
Third Place: $500
Fourth Through Tenth Place: $100
Eleventh Through Twenty-Fifth Place: $50 gift certificate for Writer's Digest Books



These free prose contests with deadlines between July 16 and August 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.

7/25: Litro & IGGY International Young Persons Short Story Award ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers 2,500 pounds for short stories, 2,500 words maximum, by authors aged 11-19. Enter by email. Contest is cosponsored by the British literary journal Litro and the International Gateway for Gifted Youth (IGGY) at the University of Warwick.

7/29: Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly July 31
Recommended free contest offers 1,000 pounds for translators aged 16-34 with no more than one full-length published book of translation. ("Book" includes full-length dramatic works.) The prize will focus on a different language each year. In 2011, they are looking for translations from the Arabic of the story "Layl Qouti" by Mansoura Ez Eldin, an Egyptian writer.

7/29: Landfall Essay Competition ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly July 31
Recommended free contest for New Zealand citizens offers NZ$3,000 for the best essay on any topic, maximum 6,000 words. Sponsored by the literary journal Landfall. The purpose of the competition is "to encourage New Zealand writers to think aloud about New Zealand culture, and to revive and sustain the tradition of vivid, contentious and creative essay writing in this country." One entry per person. Entries must be received by 5pm local time on the deadline date.

7/31: Platt Family Scholarship Prize Essay Contest ++
Recommended free contest for full-time US college students offers prizes up to $1,500 for essays, 1,500-5,000 words, on an annual theme relating to Abraham Lincoln. Enter by mail or email. The Lincoln Forum's mission is "to enhance the understanding and preserve the memory of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War".

7/31: S.E.VEN Fund and Peace Corps Enterprise Solutions to Poverty Contest ++
Entries must be received by this date
New recommended free contest sponsored by the National Peace Corps Association and the S.E.VEN Fund offers $5,000 for an essay, 750-1,200 words, detailing innovative ideas for fighting poverty. S.E.VEN is a virtual nonprofit entity run by entrepreneurs whose strategy is to markedly increase the rate of innovation and diffusion of Enterprise-based Solutions to Poverty. See website for detailed theme information. Enter online only.

8/1: Ethnographic Fiction Competition +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly June 15
Neutral free contest offers $100 for stories that use alternative literary genres to explore anthropological concerns. These concerns may be any of those associated with the fields of anthropology: Archaeological, Biological, Linguistic, Sociocultural, and Applied Anthropology. Send cover letter and 3 copies of submission packet of 1 short story, maximum 20 pages. No online or faxed entries.

8/10: Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers C$25,000 for novels or short story collections published in Canada during the calendar year by Canadian citizens or landed immigrants. Deadline varies depending on when your book was published: books published between October 1 and April 12 must be received by April 13; those published between April 13 and June 14 must be received by June 15; and those published between June 15 and September 30 must be received by August 10. Publishers should submit 5 copies of the book (or 3 bound galleys, to be followed by at least 2 copies of the book), press kit, entry form, and list of titles published by that publisher, to establish eligibility. See website for detailed requirements.

8/10: Writers' Trust Hilary Weston Non-Fiction Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest offers C$25,000 for nonfiction books published in Canada during the calendar year by Canadian citizens or landed immigrants. Deadline varies depending on when your book was published: books published between October 1 and April 12 must be received by April 13; those published between April 13 and June 14 must be received by June 15; and those published between June 15 and September 30 must be received by August 10. Publishers should submit 5 copies of the book (or 3 bound galleys, to be followed by at least 2 copies of the book), press kit, entry form, and list of titles published by that publisher, to establish eligibility. See website for detailed requirements. Formerly known as the Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize, changed name in 2011.

8/15: Glamour Magazine "My Real-Life Story" Essay Contest ++
Formerly September 15
Recommended free contest offers $5,000 and possible publication in Glamour Magazine for personal essays by women, 2,500-3,500 words. Enter by mail or online. Open to US residents aged 18+.

8/15: Intergeneration Day Storytelling Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest offers prizes up to $500 for short stories and essays (both genres compete together) that illustrate intergeneration needs, connections and understanding, and feature characters from at least two generations. 750 words maximum. One illustration or photo may be included. Send entries as MS Word or PDF attachment.

8/15: Pockets Fiction-Writing Contest +
Neutral free contest for children's literature offers $500 and publication in Pockets, a Christian devotional magazine for elementary-school children (ages 8-12). Stories should be Christian-themed fiction for children and 750-1,000 words long.

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.



Tupelo Press Open Reading Period
Postmark Deadline: July 31
Tupelo Press, a prestigious literary publisher, is accepting non-contest submissions of book-length poetry collections (48-90 pages) and chapbook-length poetry collections (30-47 pages) during the month of July. $28 reading fee supports the operations of this nonprofit small press. 2011 guest judge is poet Nate Pritts. Enter by mail or online.



Twilight of the Sword Swallower
by Dana Curtis

The metal ground sharp and
sparks: a brand new constellation: "Fire
Opal," "Ruined Lizard," "Eye's
Inner Sanctum." In the sweet
illumination, I work at the saw
cutting fish out of silver
for jewelry or some soon to be invented
weapon. Everything is manipulated,
softened by heat, hair caught
in the polishing wheel, glitter
of new set jewels. Titanium,
treated with flame or electricity, turns colors
no bomb would wear: consumptive nova
bursting myriad blades. It takes skill
to split small things. Let the new sky
bless the new stars.
   Evening, what is known
as golden hour, the film crew
rush to get the shot while Seraphim
walk their small mad dogs.
So attracted to the camera's
rigid intent blinking their watery eyes,
spoiled by wingspans: a sexy use
for archaic weapons. Visit me
at my pretty house where I'll serve
grapes and whisper
something no one remembers, hopes
never to hear. Not the inevitable
edge, the intimate comprehension
of swallow and remove, my presence
on a red cushion in the black and white
night. We cut our throats on
the new sky, old angels.

Copyright 2011 by Dana Curtis

This poem is reprinted from her new collection Camera Stellata, which was recently published by WordTech Communications.


by Hilary Sideris

Loved for what he's used for,
Isinglass & caviar,
he yields viable hybrids;

he's called kosher & traif.
His snout exploits soft
estuary beds. Slow

to grow up, he goes back far,
whiskered & ancient
as he's immature.

Hatched on the delta, part salt,
part fresh, he forages
at the interface.

Copyright 2011 by Hilary Sideris

This poem is reprinted from her new chapbook Gold & Other Fish, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. It first appeared in Confrontation, issue 107, Summer 2010.


by J.T. Milford

Why do hidden images suddenly
arrive and engulf my senses?
where do they come from and why
do they continue to return again and again?
a falling leaf, wind blown flowers, a cloud,
a certain sea light, irises in sunlight

On the edge of the marsh near a quiet bayou
Irises burn iridescent and as clouds move slowly on
shadows from the changing light reveal their
muted sensual colors and their blue and yellow chroma
shimmering in the nearby stream reflects
a sacred message from the earth's Gardener

When I least expect these irises to appear
with their sunlit image they present
themselves to me elusive and fleeting from another
time and I present to them my wistful longings
these goddesses of rainbows in sunlight will always
revisit for they come from a secret place in my heart

Copyright 2011 by J.T. Milford

This poem was published in the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Heart, the poetry magazine of Nostalgia Press.


by Yedida Bernstein Goren

i am refugee, you were this too, yes? my friend
i ran, climbed, snaked to shaky part of your borderwall
oh israel holy-israel my mind breaking into pieces of glass
i hear jews are good people
months i journey hide every some hours
lost friends, brother, child back home
you also lose family shot at by crazed soldiers, yes?
we hear you did long long time ago 60 years
walking and walking and walking and walking
they aim bullets at me
they rape my woman
i stand there
my eyes stretch into my forehead, my pupils fall out my eyelids
i hold back the skyscream
trudge on with wife on back
over last sandkilometer
i reach you, finally, oh Israel
scarred, falling, hungry
you send me to holding station
like prison
you look down on me and wife
you so shy of kindtouch
so short on welcomewords
weeks months later
you tell us to leave on big plane
you pay
where, kind officer, do you think we should return to?

Copyright 2011 by Yedida Bernstein Goren

This poem is reprinted from The Last Stanza, an anthology of poetry by the members of StanzAviv, a creative collective of writers associated with Bar Ilan University and Tel Aviv University (Danscribe Books, 2011). All proceeds from the sale of this book go to the ARDC (African Refugee Development Center), an NGO in south Tel Aviv that provides shelter, education, counseling and advice to refugees and asylum seekers in Israel.


Advertise to 35,000 Poets and Writers
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Adult Learner's Autobiography Offers Inspiration and Hope
Little Hot Mama: The Flossie Turner Lewis Story
Flossie Turner Lewis seemed to be living a complete life as mother to five children and as a performer everywhere from nightclubs in Miami to minstrel shows in Mississippi. Her show business career lasted more than 40 years—and yet the entire time, Flossie could neither read nor write.

Finally at age 65, Flossie enrolled in an adult literacy program and at the age of 72, she earned her high school diploma. Flossie has since become a fierce advocate for adult literacy, lobbying Congress and addressing countless clubs and organizations. She won the Outstanding Student of the Year award in 2002 at the joint national conference of Laubach Literacy and Literacy Volunteers of America.

Now Flossie's autobiography, Little Hot Mama: The Flossie Turner Lewis Story, is being sold at a reduced price ($3.99). You can purchase the e-book or read the first chapter free on the Little Hot Mama website. Co-written by Paula Meseroll, the e-book is also available for unlimited circulation by libraries. Adult literacy organizations can buy one copy and put it on up to six devices for students to read. A portion of the proceeds from each sale supports ProLiteracy's mission to advance adult literacy and basic education everywhere. The e-book is published by Stay Thirsty Press, an imprint of Stay Thirsty Publishing, a division of Stay Thirsty Media.

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 "Meanings" and "A Winter's Night" by Norman William Kearney.

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!

by Norman William Kearney

So sweet the rose, that opens in the sun,
How soft the light, when day is almost done.
Gardenias scent wafts gently on the breeze,
And fresh the air across the lapping seas.
The gentle touch, when love is said, and felt,
Sounds, far away, from distant ringing bells.
Sweet kiss of lips, when given in surprise,
A song of birds, on blue and cloudless skies.
Wind blows light, thru' tresses, soft' and fair,
The music plays, and love songs fill the air.
Turn of head, when words are softly spoken,
A promise kept, and never to be broken.

These things there are, and here for all to see,
But only you, mean all of this, to me.

Copyright 2011 by Norman William Kearney

A Winter's Night
by Norman William Kearney

A winter's day 'tho it be sharp might be a man's delight,
When a hard days work is done, it quickly turn to night.
The sight and sound of rain on roof, or twinkling stars above,
Brings thoughts anew, and fresh, and keen perhaps ideas of love.
The warmth that comes from heart of man might serve to overcome,
A cold and cheerless time, from the weakening of the sun.
And were you there and waiting still, for man's return from toil,
Then I would never feel the cold that comes from winter's chill.
Your presence cheers and fills the heart so that my blood runs full,
And always would I hurry home, for comfort, in the evening's cool.
If only you forever stood and always by my side,
I should feel always tall and strong, from darkness never hide.
From winter there could be no care, and nothing that forbode,
If you were there and kept me warm, and free from life's great load.

Copyright 2011 by Norman William Kearney

Critique by Tracy Koretsky

The last time I had the privilege of writing Critique Corner, we shared the gift of an amazingly well-crafted sonnet crown focusing our attention on poetry's most potent sound device: rhyme. This month, with the help of two additional sonnets from Australian poet Norman Kearney, we'll take on the more subtle of the two major sound devices: meter.

Why study sonnets to observe—and practice for ourselves—rhyme and meter? Because sonnets are built, in general, as three and a half sets of four lines. In this way, they are not at all dissimilar from the structure of an American popular song.

Think about it: the average popular tune has two sets of four lines, a break—called "the chorus"—often two lines, then another set of four lines ending with some sort of repetition of the chorus. A sonnet is an arrangement of similar units...

Click to continue reading this critique

These poems, our critique and contest suggestions for poems in this style appear in full at:

See all of our poetry critiques.


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