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"After Desolation" by Judy Kronenfeld

Featured Poem:
"The Floor Rattled With Us" by Elaine Zimmerman

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Award-Winning Poems: Spring 2012

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

Welcome to our Spring 2012 selection of award-winning poems. These quarterly specials are included with your free Winning Writers Newsletter subscription. We'll release our next regular newsletter on March 15.



Carpe Articulum Literary Review Carpe Articulum Literary Review Carpe Articulum Literary Review Carpe Articulum Literary Review Welcome to Carpe Articulum Literary Review!
Carpe Articulum is an international, cross-genre literary review that challenges the traditional format of black and white. CALR seeks to dissolve the interdisciplinary, divisive boundaries and to embrace a wider audience in love with the written word, beautiful photography and a desire to connect with a global community of like-minded people. Scientists, Writers, Journalists, Actors, Homemakers, Artists, Human Rights Activists, Photographers and others from all cultures and walks of life have a place to meet here at CALR. We make a special effort to promote the work of emergent artists in every issue. People who might never have met, find kinship and camaraderie in the unity of the pen. They can experience and touch one another's lives so that oceans of divide are united by the single turn of a page. The egalitarian nature of the written word, photography, and an accessible literary program make all of this possible.
Hadassah R.L. Broscova
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 to Hadassah Broscova at 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!


Winning Writers Assistant Editor Ellen LaFleche was profiled in the February 10, 2012 issue of Hampshire Life, the weekly magazine of the Western Massachusetts newspaper The Daily Hampshire Gazette. From the article: "Poet Ellen LaFleche's Workers' Rites, published last year, celebrates the lives of working-class people ranging from a chambermaid to a cloistered nun to a midwife on an immigrant ship. LaFleche says she hopes that the chapbook, which won the Philbrick Poetry Prize sponsored by the Providence Athenaeum in Rhode Island, can serve as an inspiration during tough economic times." Read a sample from this chapbook here.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter was one of three finalists for the 2011 Gival Press Short Story Award for her story "Cross", the first chapter of her novel-in-progress. The next deadline for this $1,000 award will be August 8.

Congratulations to Susan Tepper. Her novel-in-stories From the Umberplatzen was recently published by Wilderness House Press. This collection of linked flash fiction centers on the love story between an American divorcee and a brilliantly eccentric German physicist. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler has called From the Umberplatzen "a brilliant mosaic of a novel".

Congratulations to Judy Kronenfeld. Her third collection of poetry, Shimmer, was recently released by WordTech Editions. She kindly shares a sample poem below. Sandra Gilbert says of this collection: "I'm deeply moved by these powerfully voiced poems that oscillate between evocations of an earlier world—the 'crumbling Bronx', the 'white noise' of the city—and the new realm of age, loss, and reconciliation to which we all must come."

Congratulations to Elaine Zimmerman. Her poem "The Floor Rattled With Us" was a finalist for the 2011 Knightville Poetry Contest, judged by Charles Simic, and was published in the literary journal The New Guard. She kindly shares it with us below. The most recent deadline for this $1,000 prize was September 22. In other news, Elaine's poem "Nothing is Still in This World" won an honorable mention in the Artsmith Literary Award, which closed December 30. Winning Writers subscriber Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé was the other honorable mention winner.

Leonard J. Warrick's book The Exodus: A Collection of Poetry is available from Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Co. These poems were written in the wake of the 2004 presidential election, when there was a strong mood of pessimism overriding the spirit of Black America. The Exodus is a creative effort aimed at instilling a concept of self-love, respect and forgiveness within American Black people.

Shannon Nichola Stoner's debut novel, The Rise of Sekhmet, is now available on and Barnes & Noble. Set in ancient Egypt, this book tells the story of two unlikely friends, an orphaned beggar boy and a young heir, who join forces to stop an evil pharaoh from obtaining relics of destructive power.

KJ Hannah Greenberg's poetry collection A Bank Robber's Bad Luck With His Ex-Girlfriend is now available from Unbound CONTENT. She kindly shares a sample poem below. From the publisher's blurb: "Songbirds are entertaining. Roses smell nice. Most passion, however, resolves as cacophonous and stinky. In A Bank Robber's Bad Luck With His Ex-Girlfriend, this mess we call 'love' gets reduced, poked at, prodded, and eventually pushed over." Special for Winning Writers newsletter readers: use the code "sentiment's chowder" on your order form to receive a 10% discount.

Apryl Skies's poem "Dear Charles" was published on the blog L.K. Thayer's Poetry Juice Bar. Visit Apryl's website at

Natalie Diaz's poem "Downhill Triolets" was published in Narrative Magazine as the Poem of the Week for February 6, 2012.

Wilshire Lewis's novel Pregnant Without a Cause is available as an e-book at and Barnes & Noble. The author describes it as "a screwball comedy of midlife craziness, teen angst and reality show backstage drama."



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 40,000 subscribers.

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest Closing This Month
Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 31
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.

Closing Next Month
Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (no fee)
Online Submission Deadline: April 1
Winning Writers invites you to enter the 11th 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.

Sports Poetry & Prose Contest - New!
Online Submission Deadline: May 31
New from Winning Writers, our Sports Poetry & Prose Contest will award $5,000 in total prizes, including a $1,500 top prize for poetry and a $1,500 top prize for prose (fiction and nonfiction). Submit an unpublished entry of 1-2 poems or one work of prose on a sports-related theme, up to 6,000 words in all. Fee is $15 per entry. Final judge: Jendi Reiter. Click for the complete guidelines.

Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse
Postmark Deadline: June 30
Now in its ninth year, this contest seeks poetry in traditional verse forms. Both published and unpublished poems are welcome. Prizes of $3,000, $1,000, $400 and $250 will be awarded, plus six Most Highly Commended Awards of $150 each. The entry fee is $8 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 tenth 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. New this year, there will also be a special $250 bonus prize for humorous verse. The entry fee is $8 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.



by James D'Agostino
Winner of the 2011 New Michigan Press/Diagram Chapbook Contest
Postmark Deadline: March 30
New Michigan Press, publisher of the quirky multimedia online journal Diagram, awards $1,000 and publication for a chapbook of poetry, prose, or mixed-genre work. This selection from D'Agostino's prizewinning Slur Oeuvre celebrates the hope of intimate connection despite the inherent risks: "Let the let down now/let down their guard again."

by Matthew Buckley Smith
Winner of the 2011 Able Muse Book Award for Poetry
Entries must be received by March 31
This open manuscript contest from an established small press awards $1,000 and publication. Smith's Dirge for an Imaginary World won the inaugural award in 2011. A prothalamium is a song in celebration of a marriage. In this sardonic variation on the genre, Smith compares his own singleness and his father's straying ways.

by Patrick Ryan Frank
Winner of the 2010 Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry
Postmark Deadline: March 31
This prestigious first-book contest for poetry manuscripts is held in even-numbered years, alternating with the Levis Poetry Prize for subsequent books. Award is $1,000 and publication. Frank's collection How the Losers Love What's Lost was the most recent winner. This unsettling poem imagines a rape with the power dynamics reversed, perhaps as a self-protective fantasy for the victimized woman.

We are gathering a growing library of award-winning poems in Poetry Contest Insider, over 125 to date. Enjoy a wide range of today's best work. Sign up for a free trial. Learn more below.


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 and prose 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.
"I wasn't on top of the contest circuit until I subscribed to Winning Writers. Since I joined the site a year ago, I have won the top prize or placed in poetry contests 24 times and have had 11 publications. In the five years I wrote poetry prior to joining this site, I had only one publication. Clearly, Winning Writers has had a huge impact on my career. Thank you!"
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by Susan McCabe

Don't want to be dead
remembering those I have not spent time
listening to, here on this perch so earthy.

Damien Hirst's skull thinks like this

Studded death-head worth nine million,
part of an enormous hedge fund
billowing, while art triumphs
over art—like Hirst's shark shredding

(don't be late; show ends)—
For eyes hollow like this diamond-studded skull,
jewels painstakingly placed—
where nose smashed in, then gaping
teeth armor of open lost bright mouth
dead we wear is not our death

When viewer sees this skull, viewer
has already eaten of earth and dust
Not as much as soldier wearing macerated skull
He wore it like a stereophonic mask,
connected his iPod through a hollow

Only he was many legs and eyes then, he
sang in pits, in multiples

          Call the poem "Wend" I thought
because I hearken back:
Not ready for skulls everywhere
harpooned, exposed, so wend
when we are wistful dreaming,
with face full-teared, wearing death
looking into little mosaic mirrors

Diamond skull isn't memento mori
It's a monument of, of
very inversion of art
Dead shark eye jeweled with irony
("skulls are in" a shopkeeper said,
stroking ivory skull of brandied caramel)
Hirst's skull is not Day of Dead kind

This soldier's skull, has brain's imprint
waves not touches though it hurts
felt shark's luscious-horrific tongue
Now what's sewn distance
—no decay for a hearse, hummer of Hummers,
flying through dungeon streets—
I wander alleys, glance back...

This soldier was mad with fear
where we have all gone half-cried
where we have all gone and will go
Must we wear our death this way?
Trace of where their brains
felt comfortably held.
Out of pan into angel fire

Can we carry-on our spare legs or must we check them
Appendages are necessary and many
for we live in an e-motive world
There are many appendages unchecked
I wander like a zombie playing checkers in his head
This soldier wore iPod dangling like an IV
It's death's glucose drip

Soldier abed for good it seems
"There" he says, "There, Livingston with pike"
Spindly curtains open a voice:
let there be space and time enough
Then a window upon dead crack'd ajar:
formaldehydish salt-water whirled

Decay is far away and ironic right here
We don't feel it, ripped flesh
of saddest shark in all world,
face-book of our times—
This soldier danced until fell down dirty,
skull was skin patched like leopard's

clawing down into music along his veins
in glucose drip
May I carry a spare leg on the plane?
(like some man parading his great-grandfather's
wooden arm from civil war,
pricing it on Antiques Roadshow)

This soldier fell down in his own brain
Soho is louder than usual with vanity
e-diamonds are durable things you'll ever see
atomic has a way with them then we'll see

His nurse thought he was a zombie.

Soldier said dead twice to prove he still lived
wearing dress of a voodoo princess
and tin body parts nailed to wood for cure
Glucose could be thinkier, thinker,
could be thicker, warmer blood

Skull had a prayer rug under it
before diamonds adhered
They shone ice in aluminum buckets—
lie-stars where skin had shrank away.

Artist not smartest harpoonist on earth
has grungy glass smile won't wear down slowly
Wend, skull, with your bright armor and teeth
Art, he says, comes from some place where nothing
stares back; sipping his cocktail,
dirty doesn't dirty him;

There's a certain pain that can't not be pain
Say to this skull, to shark shredding,
they can't bite, dying in public

This wasn't what soldier wanted skull to remember
His buddy filmed whole thing, came back in pieces
Art, he said, was a pit taken out of him—

dead dead
dead dead

(memory, not forsaken, of a rose from a bus stopped at a light after track practice;
of a tasted peach on blue jay way from open car, his three friends a shining thing)

Copyright 2009 Susan McCabe

This poem won third prize in the 2009 War Poetry Contest sponsored by Winning Writers. Author Susan McCabe received a $600 award. See the judge's comments on the winning poems from this contest.



Swallow by Jendi ReiterSwallow by Jendi Reiter Reviewed at Ampersand Books
Winner of the 2008 Flip Kelly Poetry Prize from Amsterdam Press, Jendi Reiter's poetry chapbook Swallow was favorably reviewed on the Ampersand Books blog in December 2010. Critic Martha Rzadkowolsky-Raoli says, "Jendi Reiter created a tidy poetry book in which swallow means everything you can expect swallow to mean. She exhausts the word; its mashed remains a mix of cow meat, desire, intestines, bird. If you read the book, and you should, you'll experience the beating of the word... The relationship between premises in these poems get downright eucharistic on logic's ass."

To order, email Jendi Reiter or send a check for $8.00 to Amsterdam Press, 6199 Steubenville Road SE, Amsterdam, Ohio 43903.

Enjoy this sample poem from Swallow:
Our Story So Far
by Jendi Reiter

It snowed harder than it had in years. He hit her with his car. He apologized. She gave him her number. The damage was small. She didn't file a complaint. He called her. They fell in love. She told the children this story.


She fell in love. He didn't complain. She told the children a story. It snowed harder than it had in years. She called him. He apologized. The damage was small. He hid it in the car. She had his number.


He apologized for his car. She loved to complain. He told the children, it snowed harder than it had in years. Years without number. When they were in love. The damage was small. They were a hit. That's what she called him.


She called the children in from the snow. He hit it with his car. The complaint had a number. His story was that he was in love. The damage was small, he apologized. She was harder than she'd been in years.


The snow fell on their car. The complaint took years. They called the children for the story. No one apologized. It was harder without them. Perhaps they had hit the numbers. Perhaps they fell in love.

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From a loyal reader: "You're like the warm-fuzzy writing mentor everybody dreams about finding instead of the prickly professionals one too often encounters. Meantime, you manage to mentor thousands of us and create a supportive community of writers. Thank you!"

Fish Publishing Writing Competitions
Welcome to the Fish Publishing Writing Competitions. Please enjoy this one-page story from the 2005 Fish Anthology Mountains of Mars and Other Stories.

Postcard from New York
by Tom Murray

Woke up this morning to something you never get in this city.


Not a car horn, siren, or murmur of voices reaching up to the 14th floor.

The street below was empty or so I thought. In the flats opposite the hotel folk were also looking down from windows to the street below.

Then I saw what they saw.

A road block of police cars and then a figure like an extra out of a B movie moving slowly up the street. He or she was dressed in what looked like a deep sea diving suit. He or she walked slowly, very slowly.

I followed his, or her every slow step until they stopped and I saw it. Directly across from my hotel was a briefcase, an everyday briefcase, sitting upright, and so alone looking, on the sidewalk.

And I was on the 14th floor with a lift I had already found out never arrived when you wanted it.

I watched.

The deep sea diver with what looked like a metal rod ever so slowly edged open the case (I don't know how that suit would have protected him) and out flew—paper. Paper that drifted higher and higher down the street, to God knows where else.

Minutes later the car horns, sirens, murmur of voices returned and folk streamed, almost bored looking, out of flats and hotels like water released from a dam.

And I walked down the fourteen flights of stairs and joined them.

Love to the boys.

Click for more stories

Writecorner Press Writecorner Press Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: March 31
First Place $500; Editors' Choices, $100.
Seeks the best unpublished poems of 40 lines and under. Any style, any theme. Send 2 copies of each poem, with author's name, address, phone, short bio, and email address on only one copy. Make other copy anonymous. Fee: $5 first poem, $3 each additional poem, payable to Writecorner Press. Read the complete guidelines, then mail your entry to Writecorner Press, P.O. Box 140310, Gainesville, FL 32614. Read past winners.

E.M. Koeppel Short Fiction Contest
Postmark Deadline: April 30
First Place $1,100; Editors' Choices, $100. Seeks unpublished stories, 3,000 words maximum. Any style, any theme. $15 fee for one story, $10 each additional story, payable to Writecorner Press. Send one title page with author's name, address, phone, email address, and short bio. Send second title page with title only. Read the complete guidelines, then mail your entry to Writecorner Press, P.O. Box 140310, Gainesville, FL 32614. Read past winners.

Writecorner Press judges all submissions anonymously. Winning poems and stories will be published on our literary site, After publication, writers retain all rights. No email entries, please. Fees are used to pay awards and site expenses.

Please enjoy "The last punctuation mark" by Catherine Moran, winner of the 2011 Writecorner Press Poetry Prize. We nominated Catherine's poem for a Pushcart Prize as well.
The last punctuation mark
by Catherine Moran

My insignificance overwhelms me.
One day I will slice through the air
feet first,
and blue molecules will conveniently close up,
and no trace of me will be left.
How easily people will go on to the drug store,
and beauty shop, and Farmers' Market
without giving me a second thought.

Sometimes I remember for a fleeting second,
my great aunt, Eulalia,
just for another tribute to her staunch personality.
Such a powerful old moniker.
Memories have the staying power of spring pollen.
A new generation, a blast of rain
and they are erased.

None of these thoughts will prevent me from
carving out my own niche,
even polishing up the furniture a bit.
I've collected
a bushel of layered words to stuff the cracks
of my walls and keep out all those boring ideas.
I've pasted
pictures of my wandering children on the ceiling
without return addresses.
I've sung songs
weaving a blanket strong enough to keep
mediocre critics at bay.
All will be burned with little thought
when I leave.

And that torch may be the brightest evidence
of a gate-crasher
who stayed after the party to pick up the confetti.
I will be jettisoned into a mute universe
in a combination of sparks and carbon.
If a charred piece escapes,
I hope it is not a stanza, or a phrase,
or even a word.
I hope it is just a comma.

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 winners will be invited to read at our 19th Festival at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, September 8, 2012
Dancing Poetry Festival All prize winners will receive a prize certificate suitable for framing and a ticket to the Dancing Poetry Festival 2012. 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 2011 Festival.

Last year's Grand Prize winners included Claire J. Baker, Elaine Christensen and Carol Frith. 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.

Dancing Poetry Contest 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.

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

Please enjoy "If the Moon Can Float" by 2011 Grand Prize Winner Elaine Christensen.
If the Moon Can Float
by Elaine Christensen

If night can hunker like a thief
      in the foothills,
      waiting to steal tree by tree
      across the valley,

Then I can kneel, an old woman
      in a dark room,
      prayers spiraling up the chimney,
      curling themselves in the coils of God's ears.

If prayers can escape
      through layered shingles of my roof,
      through chinks in brick walls,
then I can hide here, a velvet mole,
      safe from the yellow beak,
      bent and sharp,
      the flapping wings,
      that floodlight moon.

      If the moon can float all night in the lake,
      like a thin smile,
      an empty canoe,
      God's all-seeing eye almost shut,
then I can swim out into the black stream,
      a tiny minnow,
      a flash of quicksilver
      one fish in a school of stars.

If stars can blink on in the dark
      like street lamps,
if street lamps can pool their light
      on every corner like gold coins,
if gold coins can link their profiles
      into shining bracelets
      across the city,
then I can face morning,
      arms outstretched,
      palms open,
      fingers extended,
      each, a ray of sun.

Idaho Prize for Poetry at Lost Horse Press The Idaho Prize for Poetry
Postmark Deadline: May 15

The annual Idaho Prize for Poetry is given for a book-length poetry collection. The winner will receive $1,000 and publication by Lost Horse Press. Reading fee: $25 per entry. Nance Van Winckel is our 2012 judge.

Established in 1998, Lost Horse Press—a nonprofit independent press—publishes poetry titles of high literary merit, and makes available other fine contemporary literature through cultural, educational and publishing programs and activities. The Lost Horse New Poets, Short Books Series, edited by Marvin Bell, is dedicated to works—often ignored by conglomerate publishers—which are so much in danger of vanishing into obscurity in what has become the age of chain stores and mass appeal food, movies, art and books.

Contest Guidelines
  • All US poets are eligible.
  • Send manuscripts of 48 or more pages of poetry, no more than one poem per page, no smaller than 12-point type in an easily readable font. Poems may have appeared in journals and chapbooks, but not in full-length, single-author collections.
  • Name, address, phone number, email address, and title of poetry collection must appear on the cover letter only. The goal is "blind" judging. Author's name should not appear anywhere in manuscript except the cover letter.
  • No restriction on content, style, or subject—we're looking for the best writing.
  • All checks or money orders for entry fee—$25—should be made payable to Lost Horse Press. Submissions without a reading fee enclosed will not be considered. A $50 fee will be charged for returned checks.
  • Include a #10 self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with sufficient postage for notification of finalists and winner. We are sorry but manuscripts cannot be returned—they will be recycled.
  • If manuscripts arrive postage due, they will be returned or discarded.
  • Use white, lightweight paper. Quality paper won't impress readers the way a quality manuscript will.
  • Print on one side only. Type—no handwriting should appear anywhere on the manuscript.
  • Mail manuscripts to Lost Horse Press, Idaho Prize for Poetry, 105 Lost Horse Lane, Sandpoint, ID 83864.
  • We will announce the winners on August 15, 2012.
  • For more information, please see
  • Questions? Please email or call 208-255-4410.

Ray Amorosi, final judge for the 2011 Idaho Prize for Poetry, has declared California poet J.T. Ledbetter's Old and Lost Rivers the 2011 prize winner. Mr. Ledbetter will receive $1,000 plus publication by Lost Horse Press. Old and Lost Rivers will be released this spring.
Old and Lost Rivers is a collection of poems about people who have been beaten down by bad weather, poor crops, and little love save what their memories have put away, much like the clothes they came to each other in, now in a cedar chest or in the root cellar with potatoes, jars and eggs. Many of the poems are harsh, even cruel—poems John Van Doren has called, "a report of a vanishing world that was always achingly inarticulate and therefore of violent heart"—yet there is release of one kind or another, through fantasy or revenge: often it comes in a tired acceptance of what is. And, as in life, there is the momentary humor. It is almost always short-lived, but it is there and it is honest.

There is a certain quietness in J.T. Ledbetter's Old and Lost Rivers. Each poem is a lull, a seductive silence, that follows the rhythms of the flowing hills of the Palouse and the rolling rivers which usher the relaxed reader along on a journey that is clear and definite and concise. The strength of Ledbetter's poems is in that dreamlike, pastoral, almost hypnotic rhythm of each poem coupled with a pertinent, subtle re-call to consciousness in every ending. One could easily get lost in these poems, and one would definitely be better for it.

—Raymond Hammond, editor of New York Quarterly

Tiferet 2012 Writing Contest


Our New Literary Resources and Recommended Books features appear in our quarterly special issues, which are published on March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1. Contest announcements and calls for submissions appear in our regular monthly newsletters.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
This free service allows you to self-publish your books in Amazon's popular e-reader format. Books self-published through KDP can participate in the 70% royalty program and are available for purchase on Kindle devices and Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, Blackberry, and Android-based devices. With KDP, you can self-publish books in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian and specify pricing in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling, and Euros.

Ask Wendy - The Query Queen
The website of freelance writer Wendy Burt-Thomas features a bulletin board with announcements of writing contests and calls for submissions.

Buddhist Poetry Review
Buddhist Poetry Review is a quarterly online magazine dedicated to publishing fresh and insightful Buddhist poetry. "Our vision encompasses the full spectrum of Buddhism, and we welcome submissions from authors who write from any perspective." Submissions are accepted via their online form. See website for special themes for each issue.

Clips: The Video Blog at Poets & Writers
A curated selection of videos, including book trailers, brief interviews, and other literary curiosities updated daily.

David Boyne
The blog of the humorous essayist David Boyne features excerpts from his books and observations about the follies of modern life, particularly in the publishing industry.

Launched in 2012, Empirical is a literary and current affairs magazine with the openness and pioneering spirit of the Pacific Northwest. Empirical aspires for truth by boldly introducing thought-provoking points of view and new paradigms. A forum for discourse on contemporary issues, the magazine is "radically empirical" in considering the broad range of human experience. Empirical accepts previously unpublished poetry, fiction, artwork, and nonfiction (send proposals first for the latter). This is a paying market.

First Literary Review-East
Launched in 2010 by poets Cindy Hochman and Karen Neuberg, this monthly online literary journal publishes short poems (16 lines maximum) by emerging authors. All genres welcome, including political satire, humor, and lyric poems. Previously published work accepted.

Indies Unlimited
Fiction writer K.S. Brooks administrates this online community that offers a platform for self-published and small press writers to promote their books. Weekly themed contests, judged by the readers of the site, offer the chance to be published on the website and in an annual e-book anthology. "At Indies Unlimited, we support a broad and inclusive definition that encompasses authors whose body of work is not obligated to a single large publishing company. Authors who are exclusively self-published, those who work with small print or regional presses, or small digital publishers, and those who may do some of each, or even have only some work published by traditional publishers are welcome here. The bottom line is that if you consider yourself to be an indie, you most likely qualify."

Knot Magazine
Launched in 2012, this online journal publishes poetry, prose, essays, and book reviews that are Middle Eastern in nature. Authors can be of any nationality. Knot highly encourages works in the author's native language followed by an English translation. Previously published work is accepted. Follow guidelines for online submission.

North Central Review
Published by North Central College in Illinois, this journal seeks submissions of creative writing by undergraduate students. Deadlines are February 15 and October 15 annually. Students may submit up to 5 poems and 2 pieces of prose per issue. No piece should exceed 5,000 words in length. Include proof of undergraduate status (.edu email address or photocopied student ID without number). Online entries accepted. is a multimedia social networking site for poets of all skill levels. Your free profile page can include photos, audio, video, and text, and it can be linked to your profiles on other social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The site also holds monthly contests with cash prizes.

PubIt by Barnes & Noble
This free program allows you to self-publish your books for B&N's Nook e-reader and compatible devices. The site takes a percentage of sales.

Pubslush is a crowdfunded book-publishing platform with a charitable side. Writers can share 10 pages and a synopsis on the website, and interested readers can pledge from $10-$500 to support publication. Books that attract 1,000+ supporters will be published. For every title sold, Pubslush will donate one book to a child in need. Pubslush's charitable foundation supports other literacy programs as well.

Quick Brown Fox: The Literary Journal of the Five Colleges
Launched in 2010, QBF publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and artwork by students at the Five Colleges in Western Massachusetts: Smith, Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and UMass Amherst. Editors say, "We seek to bridge the barriers between the colleges and to promote our generation's voice by providing students with space for writing, discussion, and a collaborative intellectual experience."

Redux: A Literary Journal
This online journal provides a second home for poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction that was previously published in a print magazine but is not available on the Internet. See website for submission periods. Interested authors should query first with an excerpt and description of the proposed submission. Do not send the whole piece unsolicited. Editors say, "The goal is to find work from years gone by...from, dare we say, before the internet was invented? Certainly before journals started regularly posting work online. What do you have that's old but SO DAMN GOOD that it kind of kills you inside that it's sitting on a shelf somewhere, printed in a beautiful font but unread, practically forgotten? That's what we want to see. Since the purpose of this journal is to get excellent, published work back out into the world, we ask that writers published on Redux commit to using social media and/or the web to spread the word about their publication."

Savvy Authors
This multi-author blog shares opportunities and advice for writing genre and commercial fiction. Online workshops are also available.

Scribendi provides a wide variety of proofreading and copyediting services for literary manuscripts, personal and business documents, and academic writing. Pricing is per word. They can also help write a query letter, synopsis, and outline for authors of fiction and nonfiction books who are shopping their manuscripts to agents.

Steel Toe Review: A Journal of Contemporary Southern Arts & Literature
This online journal publishes fiction, poetry, essays, and multimedia work from writers all over the world, but they have a special interest in work with a connection to the Birmingham, Alabama area. They also publish an annual print anthology with selections from the online version. Editors say, "Tradition means something more than just doing the same things that people before you did with slight variations. Tradition provides a set of conventions and a set of expectations, and all of these can be reinterpreted and remolded and put to new uses. At Steel Toe Review, we strive to find literary and multimedia art that challenges and re-invents traditions."

The Bad Version
The Bad Version, a print and online journal, is produced by a group of recent Harvard grads, who met during their time at The Advocate and The Crimson. They publish essays, fiction, and poetry, and all of their published pieces have responses to them that comment on the piece, challenge it, and further its ideas. The idea is that the pieces are "bad versions", the initial conversation starter that gets a dialogue going. Editors say, "We picture The Bad Version as a snapshot of an ever-evolving conversation."

The Dredge Cycle
Poet and graphic designer Adam Rubinstein's blog is a companion to his work on The Dredge Cycle, an experimental novel-in-verse about his hometown of Wellesley, MA. "Things I discuss: Eastern Mass. history, story­telling, book­making, time travel, poetry & novels, writing craft, dreams, publishing, indigenous perspectives, spirituality, research, and whatever I can't get outta my head."

The Literary Handyman
Fantasy novelist Danielle Ackley-McPhail's blog shares practical advice about structuring a story, marketing your work, and polishing your prose.

The Scrapper Poet (Karen J. Weyant)
The Scrapper Poet is the blog of Karen J. Weyant, an award-winning writer and teacher with a special interest in working-class literature. Her chapbook Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt was a contest winner from Main Street Rag.

Transition Magazine
This literary and cultural journal was founded by Ugandan writer Rajat Neogy in 1961, and re-launched in 1991 by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. Transition publishes poetry, fiction, and essays from and about Africa and the African diaspora.

See our complete directory of resources at This is also the gateway to our recommended books, magazines, service providers, advice for writers (with manuscript tips) and poetry critiques.



The Carcinogenic Bride
By Cindy Hochman. When the Big C meets the Big D, all you can do is laugh. At least, that's where poet Cindy Hochman's survival instinct takes her. Packed with more puns than a Snickers bar has peanuts, this chapbook from Thin Air Media Press brings energetic wit to bear on those modern monsters, breast cancer and divorce. To order a copy ($5.00), email Cindy at

Riddley Walker
By Russell Hoban. Imagine the Bhagavad-Gita as a Punch-and-Judy show. What do the legend of St. Eustace and particle physics have in common? In this unique novel, part mystical treatise and part fantasy-horror fiction, two millennia have passed since a nuclear war knocked Britain back to the Iron Age, and a semi-nomadic civilization has preserved only degraded fragments of our science through oral tradition in the form of puppet shows. Our narrator, 12-year-old Riddley, at first joins forces with a shifting (and shifty) cast of politicos and visionaries who hope to bring the human race back to its former glory by rediscovering the recipe for gunpowder. But soon he's on the track of bigger game: the nature of reality, and the causes of sin. Which is more fundamental, unity or duality? Why does Punch always want to kill the baby?

This Road Will Take Us Closer to the Moon
By Linda McCullough Moore. This luminous collection of linked stories takes the risk of positing a universe where tragedy and confusion do not get the last word. The narrator's acerbic wit and unsparing assessments of human nature, particularly her own, earn credibility for the moments of grace that always break in to redeem her family's love-hate relationships.



After Desolation
by Judy Kronenfeld

the air quivers again
and swoops, scintillates
glinting like flashes
from a spinning
prayer wheel

and the neck stretches up
for the rush in it, the fluster,
the flare—

The wandering mind
hangs its hat on the hushed
notes studding
the telephone wires, settled
like folded black umbrellas

until one, then two, four,
grapple straight up
an air wall—oh grand plans—
and ripple away—

and the gaze ascends, as if
through the crystalline
spheres, to where
in the high cloudless sky
black specks like bits
of burnt paper—like the remnants
of a life's complexities swept
from a fire—rise and circle,
calmly weave and float.

Copyright 2012 by Judy Kronenfeld

This poem is reprinted from her new collection, Shimmer, which was recently released by WordTech Editions.


The Floor Rattled With Us
by Elaine Zimmerman

Two cobalt vases, the size of urns, on the dresser.
Swirled gold and one cracked lip at the rim where

a large tulip might rest a stem, caught in the crack.
You are on the phone. The dog sleeps on the pillow.

A cigarette in the plastic ashtray, smoke coming out
at a slant. Light pours in through chenille drapes.

Papers strewn about. Some crumpled on the carpet.
Others piled high, held down by paperweights.

When Joey Gallo calls, the room is still. When he threatens,
the room turns. When you refuse him, we all turn around.

Now there are cops at the doors, following us to school.
No one is to take candy from strangers. Oh give me

a stranger, just a plain stranger. Not someone blowing up
the house or shooting me down on the living room carpet.

I let him in. Didn't know the difference between the oil man
who came the day before and the one who pretended to be

delivering us heat for winter. Good thing the tank was full.
It blew Joey's cover. Smart as he was. And then the neighbor

says I am her child and I know, just know somehow to keep
my mouth shut. What we see at the door in the nice delivery

hat and outfit is like Halloween. Not real, but coming
for something. A trick. Skeletal and lurking.

For years we feared turning corners, unknown guests,
tree boughs too close to the window, the sound of trains

speeding through night. The floor rattled with us.
Death was loud every day, if there is such a thing as loud

in threats you cannot see. Loud in the kitchen, walking home,
jumping rope. Even in the backyard with the daylilies rising.

No place to hide. Though we did, in our own family ways.
Crazy Joe was gunned down at his birthday dinner.

Two hitmen, five shots. Little Italy sounded like firecrackers.
Nine years of dread turned over like a black jack.

Couples walk Mulberry Street arm in arm. Women wear
felt hats with white peonies, though Easter is weeks away.

At Umbertos, the pasta's so hot, it clouds the mirrors.
Couples share cannolis; Sinatra sings, Anything Goes.

Copyright 2012 by Elaine Zimmerman

This poem was a finalist for the 2011 Knightville Poetry Contest, judged by Charles Simic, and was published in the literary journal The New Guard.


Graphic, Animated Features
by KJ Hannah Greenberg

He made no mention,
Intending, not at all,
To sell such singular
Life moments.

Yet, in movie houses' back rows,
He'd sworn more furry fiends
Than were displayed by the celluloid's
Graphic, animated features.

Apartment building basements, too,
Provided settings
Amiable to focused professing of
Assorted stray hairs and lipstick stains.

Those sorry choices,
Among piles of whites, cottons, delicates
Scooped, rose, flailed against
Her common sensibilities.

Such troubling mundanities,
When practiced in parked cars,
By him with others,
Resulted in births of absentee lovers.

Copyright 2012 by KJ Hannah Greenberg

This poem is reprinted from her collection A Bank Robber's Bad Luck With His Ex-Girlfriend, which is now available from Unbound CONTENT.



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David Dodd Lee, judge of the 42 Miles Poetry Prize sponsored by 42 Miles Press

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Alberta WhitakerThis Adult Learner is No Longer Hiding

For years, Alberta Whitaker hid the pain she felt over not being able to read.

After all, it was easy to hide. She had graduated from high school—surely a sign of education and accomplishment—and she had raised six children while working as a school bus driver for 17 years.

But not being able to read or write well, even after having a high school diploma, meant she encountered a number of small humiliations every day.

She felt out of place at meetings where she had trouble understanding notes and conversations. She could not always help her children when they struggled in school. Some people Alberta met were quick to express their frustration with her. Her opportunities for good jobs were limited.

"People who have an education don't understand how much it hurts on the inside," says Alberta, "I made up my mind to go back to school."

Alberta, originally from Georgia, feels it was very "unfair" for the school system to push her through without really equipping her with the skills she desperately needed.

"I felt nobody cared. I needed help, and I didn't get it," she says.

Now living in Syracuse, Alberta is assisted by The Newland Center (formerly The Learning Place), a nonprofit organization that provides free adult literacy programs to anyone needing help in the area. Her mother and sister had made use of the center's services in the 1990s. Now, her sister, Vera, is working on an autobiography while her mother is continuing to improve her reading skills.

Inspired by their success, and driven by her own determination, Alberta is slowly transforming her life.

In one year, she has moved from reading at a fourth grade level to a seventh grade level.

"I'm just filled with joy," says Alberta. "I'm full of determination. Learning to read better is like opening my eyes."

No one is prouder of Alberta than her tutor Ann Derr.

"She's an incredibly motivated student," says the retired educator, who has been working with Alberta for just over a year. "It has been just delightful. I will take her as far as she wants to go."

And how far does Alberta want to go? Her children are now grown and pursuing lives of their own. Alberta is unemployed, and though she's eager to reenter the job market, she knows she needs to keep improving her skills in order to do so.

With digital literacy essential in today's workplace, another tutor, John Briggs, is helping her with her computer skills. He is also helping her understand her benefits as a veteran's wife.

Reaching out to The Newland Center has made Alberta realize that she too wants to reach out to others. Her goal is to one day be a counselor and to be able to provide young people with the help she did not receive early on.

"I don't want other people to be hurting on the inside, like I did."

To hear more about Alberta and the adult literacy issue, listen to this radio segment from WAER in Syracuse, N.Y.

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.

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by Megan Elaine Davis

What the heart of the young mouse said to the psalmist

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but a baited trap!—
For the mouse is dead that slumbers,
hibernating: winter's nap.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the traps about this house—
"'Welcome death,' quoth the rat"
Was not spoken of the mouse.

Not engorgement, and not starving,
Is our destined foodie way:
But to hoard, that each tomorrow
Find us stashing more away.

Tails are long, and ears are twitching,
And our tummies, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled burning engines,
Rumble for that cheese we crave.

In the eaves and in the rafters,
Scavenging with other mice,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a rodent with a life.

Trust no housewife, howe'er pleasant!
Let the cats by her hand be fed!
Sneak, —sneak into pantry cupboards!
Sugar below, and oatmeal o'erhead!

Lives of great mice all remind us:
We can crawl in spice racks, dine,
and departing, leave behind us
paw prints in the flakes of thyme.

Paw prints, that perhaps another,
Scurrying o'er life's countertop,
A forlorn and mangy brother
Seeing, may do a belly flop!

Let us, then, though small and furry,
With a heart for any fate,
ever braver, ever sneaky,
learn to steal that mouse trap bait.

Copyright 2011 Megan Elaine Davis

This poem won an honorable mention in the 2011 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest sponsored by Winning Writers. Author Megan Elaine Davis received a cash prize of $75. See the judge's comments on the winning poems from this contest.


The Best Free Poetry Contests for March 16-April 30