Best Resources for Poets and WritersWinning Writers

Recent Honors for Our Subscribers

Recent Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

The Best Free Poetry Contests, April-May

Notable Free Prose Contests, April-May

Calls for Submissions

Advertise in This Newsletter

Critique of "Life" by Wesley Dale Willis

Newsletter Archives

Find us on Facebook

Follow winningwriters on Twitter  Visit the WinningWriters channel on YouTube

April 2012

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

Welcome to our April 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.

Critique Corner welcomes our newest poetry reviewer, Laura Cherry. Tracy Koretsky and Jendi Reiter will also continue to contribute to this feature. From this month's column: "Form and content should touch and talk to each other like a pair of dizzy lovers, or dance and sing together like a well-honed vaudeville act. The poet can start with either one, and find that his or her choices are guided, coaxed, informed and sparked by the other."



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!



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.

Sports Poetry & Prose Contest Closing Next Month
Sports Poetry & Prose Contest
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. 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. 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.


Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter won the 2011 James Knudsen Editor's Prize for Fiction for her story "An Incomplete List of My Wishes". This contest from Bayou Magazine, the literary journal of the University of New Orleans, awards $500 for an unpublished short story. The most recent submission period was October 1-December 31.

Winning Writers Assistant Editor Ellen LaFleche was a finalist in the 2011 Anderbo Poetry Prize for her poem "This Broken Heart", which will be published in the online journal The most recent deadline for this $500 award was December 15.

Congratulations to Charlotte Mandel. She received the 2012 CCM New Jersey Poets Prize, a $1,000 award co-sponsored by the Journal of New Jersey Poets and the County College of Morris Foundation. The award presentation and poetry reading will take place April 25 at the college, and her poem "Secret Model" will be published in the Journal of New Jersey Poets. The next deadline for this $1,000 prize, open to all poets from New Jersey, will be November 1.

Congratulations to Lesléa Newman. Her new book for children, A Sweet Passover, was recently published by Abrams Books. Read about the inspiration for this story at the Children's Literature Network website.

Congratulations to Kathleen Flenniken. Her new poetry collection, Plume, was recently released by University of Washington Press. This collection explores the impact of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation on her family and community during her Cold War era childhood.

Congratulations to Marilyn Ringer. Her poetry chapbook Island Aubade will be published by Finishing Line Press in May. In other news, her poem "Sleeping Muse I" was accepted for publication in The Evansville Review, and her poem "The Off-Hand and the Opposable Member" appears online at The Pedestal Magazine.

Winning Writers Poetry Reviewer Tracy Koretsky's short story "The Promise of Pottersville" was published in the Winter 2012 issue of Greensilk Journal. Her poem "Always on Sunday" was accepted for the inaugural edition of Parody, a magazine of light verse.

Hanna Perlstein Marcus's memoir, Sidonia's Thread: The Secrets of a Mother and Daughter Sewing a New Life in America, is now available from Sidonia's Thread is the story of a mother and daughter who come to America from a displaced persons camp after World War II. Although they know no one except each other, they build a world that revolves around the mother, Sidonia's, extraordinary talent as a fashion designer and seamstress while her daughter serves as her dutiful model. As Sidonia becomes well known for her skill with a thread and needle, she continues to keep her inner secrets hidden, not only from her daughter but everyone else. Determined to craft a life of pride, self-reliance, and perseverance, Sidonia teaches her daughter to "stand up straight" in fashion and in life.

Joan L. Cannon's poem "November Poem" was published in Issue #9 of Lowestoft Chronicle. Her poem "Evensong at Ripon Cathedral", which appeared in that journal in 2011, was reprinted in the Best of the Net print and online anthologies from Sundress Publications.

Christopher Provost's poem "Antisocial Networking" was published in the March 2012 issue of the webzine Gutter Eloquence. He also had three haiku and senryu published in Notes from the Gean, a journal of Japanese poetic forms. These poems appear on page 105 of the December 2011 issue, viewable in this Calameo online reader.

Christine Stark's essay "Running", a meditation on trauma, running, race, place, and sexual exploitation, was published in the Twin Cities Daily Planet on March 29.

Have good news to share? Please email it to


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 truly appreciate the wealth of information that your website provides at such a convenient price."
Leonard Warrick, Texas

"Your website is a gem for this novice poetry writer. Thanks much for your efforts, valuable information and education."
Shirley Inez Osborn, California

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


Deadlines: April 16-May 31

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

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

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

4/16: Anna Davidson Rosenberg Awards for Poems on the Jewish Experience ++
Formerly April 10
Recommended free contest awards $3,000 in prizes, divided among 1st, 2nd, and Honorable Mentions, for poems about the Jewish experience. You may enter 1-3 poems, maximum 10 pages total. Submit 4 copies of your entry. Co-sponsored by The Magnes Collection of Jewish Life and Art at UC Berkeley, and the Doe & Moffitt Libraries at UC Berkeley.

4/30: Arabic Translation Award +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest for book-length translations of Arabic literature into English awards $5,000 each to translator and original author. (An author who translates his or her own work will only receive one $5,000 award.) Submit manuscript as hard copy and on CD. Winner published by Syracuse University Press.

4/30: Lucidity Poetry Journal Clarity Awards +
Twice-yearly neutral free contest gives top prize of $100 for poems about the human experience. Authors must be 18+. Editor Ted Badger says: "Seeking poetry that deals with people, relationships, life issues and events, written in clear and concise English. Form of the poem is open but it must have something to say without resorting to vulgarity. Clarity is crucial. We publish poetry that everyday people can relate to, understand and enjoy." Submit 1-5 poems, maximum 38 lines each (including stanza breaks).

4/30: New England Poetry Club Student Contests +
Neutral free contest gives prizes of $100 for unpublished poems by authors in three categories: New England college students and Massachusetts grade school and high school students. Send one poem, any length.

4/30: Odes to the Olympians Poetry Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral twice-yearly free contest awards $50 apiece in adult and youth categories for unpublished poems up to 30 lines about Greek and Roman mythology. Enter by email only. Themes change with each contest; the Spring 2012 contest is for poems about Ares/Mars. This contest is sponsored by Victoria Grossack and Alice Underwood, authors of The Tapestry of Bronze, a series of historical novels set in the ancient world.

5/1: Crucible Poetry and Fiction Competition +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest gives top prizes of $150 in each genre, plus publication in Crucible, the literary journal of Barton College. All submissions to the journal are considered for the prize. Send 1-5 poems or one story of no more than 8,000 words. One entry per person per genre. No simultaneous submissions. Enter online only.

5/1: Grant MacEwan Creative Writing Scholarship ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest awards a C$5,000 scholarship for an Alberta resident aged 25 and under, who shows extraordinary talent in an eligible literary genre and who demonstrates clear educational or training goals. Eligible genres are short fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction, stage play, radio play, and comic book / graphic novel script. Award honors the late Dr. Grant MacEwan, who wrote more than fifty books on subjects including nature, folklore, agriculture, politics, environment, literature, history and the people of Alberta. Writers should send 4 copies of story/essay, entry form, letter of reference and cover letter. Entrants must be able to prove enrollment in an acceptable undergraduate program of study or other recognized writing workshop, or suggest a minimum of two alternate program choices. Graduate programs are not eligible. See website for detailed guidelines.

5/1: IUPUI Poetry Contest +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly May 31
Neutral free contest for high school students or home schooled students of high school age includes prizes up to $300. Submit one poem, no more than 50 lines in length. Enter online only.

5/15: James Boatwright III Prize for Poetry +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended contest gives $500 for the best poem published in Shenandoah, the prestigious literary journal of Washington & Lee University, each year. There is no separate application process. Send 1-5 unpublished poems, following regular submission guidelines. Best for intermediate/advanced authors.

5/15: James Laughlin Award +++
Highly recommended free contest for a poet's second book, under contract to a publisher. The Academy of American Poets will award the winner $5,000 and buy copies of the winning book for distribution to its members. Publisher should submit four copies of manuscript or page proofs (no bound books or galleys) with author's name removed and entry form.

5/31: Bordighera Poetry Prize ++
Recommended free contest for manuscripts by Italian-American poets gives $1,000 each to the author and a commissioned translator who will translate the book into Italian. The poet must be a US citizen, but the translator may be an Italian native speaker from any country. The poet may translate his/her own work if bilingually qualified. Initial submission should be a 10-page sample from a manuscript of 48 pages maximum. See website for complete details.

5/31: Knoxville Writers' Guild Young Writers' Poetry Prize +
Formerly April 30
Neutral free contest for students attending high school in the Greater Knoxville area of East Tennessee gives prizes up to $100. Submit 1-3 poems totaling 100 lines maximum, by mail or email.

Login to The Best Free Poetry Contests now to view these and all our profiles of free contests. You can browse contests by deadline date, name, recommendation level, and more.

Key to Ratings
Highly Recommended: +++
Recommended: ++
Neutral: +

All deadlines are postmark deadlines unless otherwise specified.



Visit For A Listing Of Over 50 Writing Contests

FundsforWriters the online specialist for markets, grants, contests and calls for submissions. Chosen by Writer's Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers recognition for the last eleven years. 45,000 readers follow our newsletters. Editor C. Hope Clark resource specialist and now author of Lowcountry Bribe: A Carolina Slade Mystery from Bell Bridge Books, available wherever books are sold.

From a loyal reader: "The newsletter is becoming a Bible for me because you are thoughtful and conscientious in what you choose to print (and not print, I would assume). It is all of tremendous benefit, not just some throw-away information. Thank you so much."

Ruminate Magazine's Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize Closing Next Month
Ruminate Magazine's Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize
Online Submission Deadline: May 1

Ruminate Magazine is thrilled to announce that the acclaimed poet Li-Young Lee will be serving as finalist judge for our 6th annual Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize. We invite you to enter your work!

  • The entry fee is $15 (includes a free copy of the Fall 2012 Issue)
  • All submissions must be previously unpublished work
  • You may submit up to two poems per entry, no longer than 40 lines each
  • $1,000 will be awarded to the winner, and publication in the Fall 2012 Issue will be awarded to the first-place poem and second-place poem
  • All submissions must be submitted via our online submission form. We will not accept mail or email submissions.
For the complete guidelines and to submit your work, visit our website:

Please Note: Ruminate adheres to the following Contest Code of Ethics, as adopted by the Council of Literary Presses and Magazines, of which Ruminate is a proud member: "CLMP's community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage."

Ruminate Magazine is one of the only Christian-minded literary magazines to sponsor short story contests, poetry contests, and nonfiction contests, and art contests. And while our contests—just like our magazine—are not defined as Christian poetry contests or Christian fiction contests or Christian essay contests, we do strive to provide a forum for the conversation between art and faith to exist and continue. Past winners from the Ruminate Magazine writing contests have been recognized by Poets & Writers Magazine and have received notable mention awards in The Best American Short Stories anthology and Best American Essays anthology. Past finalist judges of our contests include Bret Lott, David James Duncan, Luci Shaw, Vito Aiuto, Greg Wolfe, Al Haley, Stephanie G'Schwind, and Leif Enger. It is our hope our writing contests provide a significant venue for our talented contributors to receive the support and recognition they deserve.

Dancing Poetry Festival
Closing Next Month
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 "Dance of the Seven Veils" by 2009 Grand Prize Winner Jeanne Wagner.
Dance of the Seven Veils
by Jeanne Wagner

Behind the torch lights, upturned faces tilt
And leer like sallow lilies in the dark.
The body and the mind are separate skills.
I've learned my motions well, I play my part.

Their faces leer like sallow lilies in the dark.
I wear one veil for each two years I've lived.
I've learned my motions well, I move by heart.
I give only what I'm asked to give.

I shed one veil for each two years I've lived.
You show one thing, another is concealed.
I give only what I'm asked to give.
Teach me what I'm not supposed to feel.

You show one thing, another is concealed.
A veil covers up my mouth but not my eyes.
Tell me what I'm not supposed to feel.
I drape myself in veils, my veils all lies.

One veil hides my mouth but not my eyes.
I watch the platters where the fish heads stare,
Indifferent to my veils, my veils all lies.
The dead have nothing more to bear.

I watch the platters where the fish heads stare
From the flattened silver circles of their eyes.
The dead are severed from their cares,
They're deaf to the rhythm of the knives.

Fish heads stare from the circles of their eyes.
Someone strips the scales, casts them to the side.
Along the spines and ribs, the sound of knives.
The heads left whole, the bodies open wide.

I shed my final veil and toss it to the side.
The body and the mind are separate skills.
Even after death the eyes are opened wide.
Like sallow lilies, our upturned faces wilt.

Cloisters Closing Next Month
Tupelo Press First / Second Book Award
Postmark Deadline: Extended to May 15

The First / Second Book Award includes a cash award of $3,000, publication by Tupelo Press, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. The final judge for this year's contest is Dan Beachy-Quick. All finalists will be considered for publication. Results announced in summer 2012.

This competition is open to all poets who have not yet published a full-length collection of poetry and those who have published only one full-length book. Previously published poems with proper acknowledgment are acceptable. Translations are not eligible, nor are previously self-published books. Employees of Tupelo Press and authors previously published by Tupelo Press are not eligible. The contest is competitive. Simultaneous submissions to other publishers or contests are permitted; notify Tupelo Press promptly if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.

Submit a previously unpublished, full-length poetry manuscript of between 48 and 88 pages (of poems). Include two cover pages: one with title only, the other with title, your name, address, phone, and email. Include a table of contents and, if applicable, an acknowledgments page for poems previously published in periodicals. For notification of receipt of manuscript, include a SASP. For notification of the winner, enclose a SASE. Manuscripts will not be returned.

A reading fee of $28 by check (payable to Tupelo Press) or via PayPal must accompany each submission. Multiple submissions are accepted, each accompanied by a $28 reading fee.

Read the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript:

Submit your manuscript online or send via postal mail to:

Tupelo Press First / Second Book Award, P.O. Box 1767, North Adams, MA 01247

Read about past winners and more information about all Tupelo contests at:

Here is a poem by Kristin Bock, author of Cloisters (Tupelo Press, 2008), winner of the Tupelo Press First Book Award (now the Tupelo Press First / Second Book Award). For more information about this and Tupelo's other 100+ titles, please visit our website:
by Kristin Bock

Daftly ill, and prone to
languid and introspective poses,

I'm haunted by the wedding
of the shepherdess to a caterwaul,

naked vines straining
their infinitesimal mouths,

the somniloquy
of the sleeping asp,

a bloated lamb split
by the strokes of bells,

and three bees sipping
the fragile city
growing on my shoulder.

Please forgive me.
I am an ancient man.

I lean upon a great rusted sawblade.

New Letters Closing Next Month
Call for Entries: The 2012 New Letters Literary Awards
Postmark Deadline: May 18

New Letters magazine invites you to submit a short story, an essay, or 3-6 poems to the 2012 New Letters Literary Awards. Winners receive $1,500 for best essay, $1,500 for best poetry, and $1,500 for best fiction, and publication in a special 2012 awards issue of New Letters.

All entries are considered for publication. Simultaneous submissions welcome. First runners-up will receive a copy of a recent book of poetry or fiction from our affiliate BkMk Press. Essay and fiction entries may not exceed 8,000 words; poetry entries may contain up to six poems. $15 for first entry; $10 for each entry after. $15 entry fee includes a one-year subscription to New Letters.

Previous final judges have included Philip Levine, Maxine Kumin, Gerald Early, Joyce Carol Oates, Rishi Reddi, Mary Jo Salter, Floyd Skloot, Carole Maso, Cornelius Eady, Margot Livsey, Benjamin Percy, Robin Hemley, and Kim Addonizio.

For guidelines, visit, or send an SASE to Ashley Kaine, Contest Coordinator, New Letters, University House/UMKC, 5101 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110.

Please enjoy this excerpt from "Six Poems" by Albert Goldbarth, published in our Fall 2011 issue:
Six Poems
by Albert Goldbarth


In religion—and this might be an extreme
example, and yet an example nonetheless—it's
when the supplicant kneels before the god the way
the wheat bows down before the wind, and then
that congregation writhes in a kind of pentecostal
frenzy, and a thrill runs through the stalks,
the heads are controlled now by a force
beyond their rooted, earthly lives and, given tempest-level
enough, they're taken up bodily into the air
and are the air's . . . it's like that; having lost
themselves, they've gained a place in something larger
than their selves. Evidently deities require us
to be mainlined into their systems. And I've seen it
too as Heidi kneels over the acrylically sticky panel

—18 feet x 12—she's dabbing ribbon and gearwheels into, making
art that in its turn makes her a component of cap-a Art,
enlarged beyond mortality into secular communing
with the silky, tendriled lily ponds through which Monet communed
with the eternal, as did O'Keeffe, and Chagall, and Turner,
all of them: magnified beyond death, all of them: made
a part of the immaterial Oversoul precisely through obeisance
to materials: their brushes and tins of turpentine and shellacs,
the bin of gearwheels Heidi fiddles with sacramentally,
the long transcendent river of paint to drown in and be
resurrected from. For some, immersion in the military.
Some, the thing—the one great thing—that happens
when the wings of air spank out inside your own lungs
with the first step on the conquered Alpine peak, and then

[click for more]

Connecticut River Review Closing Next Month
The Connecticut Poetry Award
Postmark Deadline: May 31
For poets from ANY state...submit up to 3 unpublished poems, 80-line limit each. Two copies each, one only with contact information. Prizes of $400, $100 and $50. Winning poems will be published in Connecticut River Review.

Enclose a $15 reading fee, check payable to CPS. Mail your entry to:

     Connecticut Poetry Society
     Attn: Connecticut Poetry Award
     P.O. Box 270554
     West Hartford, CT 06127

Simultaneous submissions are permitted if we are notified immediately when a poem has been accepted elsewhere. Ken Cormier will serve as contest judge. Mr. Cormier is the author of two collections of stories and poems: Balance Act and The Tragedy in My Neighborhood. He has also released three CDs of original music. Cormier is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Quinnipiac University. See for more details.

We are proud to present "The true scale of terror" by Salita S. Bryant, the 2010 winner of The Connecticut Poetry Award.
The true scale of terror
by Salita S. Bryant

What I remember most, even now, is the lack
of sound. Although I know it was there,
that unmistakable squeal, the crisp snap
of impossibly small bones, my younger brother
weeping. I can only sustain the touch
of the screen door pressed into the back of my
head, my shoulders, my hands flat to my sides
holding the spring that could snap the door shut
like a slap. I could not turn away, even after
I knew that once they had gotten free, once
the first of my brother's cosseted hamsters
had broken rank and scuttled from the porch
and through the French doors and into the
library, at the exact moment my father
dropped his god-white lab coat at the back door
laundry, and the sour wind of phenol and scotch
had blown through that house, that these creatures
were nothing more than delicate coffins of dust.
And so I froze. I watched this coming frenzy of boot
heel, of blood on white brick, of pebbled concrete
smeared with fur, as one might watch the calving
of an iceberg, or the collapse of a building, with
the detached resolve of one who knew nothing
would slake this delight if it wanted you next.

On The Premises

Closing Next Month
On The Premises Short Story Contest (no fee)
Online Submission Deadline: May 31

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 seven authors we'd never published before and one author making his first fiction sale.

The premise of the current contest is And Now For Something Completely Different. Humorous prose is not taken seriously in today's literary world. We aim to rectify that. We dare you to write a short piece of fiction that makes us laugh, or at least smile. If you can make us laugh and think, or laugh and feel deeply about someone or something, all the better.

We will not accept parodies of another author's specific fictional characters or world(s). No exceptions!

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 guidebooks, and other short story marketing resources.

Tiferet 2012 Writing Contest

The MacGuffin's 17th National Poet Hunt Contest

Southern Poetry Review 2012 Guy Owen Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: June 15
$1,000 and publication for an unpublished poem. Submit three to five poems (10 pages maximum), a $20 entry fee (includes one-year subscription to journal), and SASE for reply only, between March 1 and June 15 (postmarks). Include contact information on cover sheet only. All entries considered for publication. Mail your entry to:

     Southern Poetry Review
     Guy Owen Prize
     Department of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy
     Armstrong Atlantic State University
     11935 Abercorn Street
     Savannah, GA 31419-1997

All entries considered for publication. Visit website for more information:

Southern Poetry Review is the second oldest poetry journal in the region, with its origins in Florida and subsequent moves to North Carolina and now Georgia. Continuing the tradition of editorial openness and response to writers that began with Guy Owen in 1958, SPR publishes poems from all over the country as well as from abroad and maintains a worldwide readership. Past issues feature work from Chana Bloch, Billy Collins, Alice Friman, David Hernandez, Andrew Hudgins, Maxine Kumin, Heather McHugh, Sue William Silverman, R.T. Smith, Eric Trethewey, and Cecilia Woloch.

Please enjoy "Red Rover" by Catherine Staples, the Guy Owen 2011 winner, published in the Southern Poetry Review.
Red Rover
by Catherine Staples

Augustine heard the children's voices
And he knew: Tolle lege, tolle, lege....
Was it syllable & sound that wooed him?

The old pull of music over matter. Like Red rover,
Red rover, send Augie right over
. Shirts billowing,
The good rush of wind. Like love of Latin,

Hatred of Greek, a child's clarity cuts through
The din deciding. God's voice tumbling like eggs
A rattle in boiling water, sweet tumult

Of the first kitchen, fogging the windows,
Dimming the high pane over the hall door.
He was waiting in that place past grief.

Perhaps it was nothing he heard—
Just his sorting mind, sorting
One of childhood's refrains.

Like hearing your name in cold air,
That reddening flush climbing the limbs—
They're daring you to break the line, to pass

Through the kingdom of grasped hands
Far side, off side, out of kilter, echoing.
Nothing the same after this—

By what miracle do they know your name?

The 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize The 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: August 1

The annual Rattle Poetry Prize offers $5,000 for a single poem to be published in the winter issue of the magazine. Ten finalists will also receive $100 each and publication, and be eligible for the $1,000 Readers' Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote.

Additional poems from the entries are frequently offered publication as well. In 2011 we published 19 poems that had been submitted to the contest, from over 1,700 entries.

With the winners judged in a blind review by the editors to ensure a fair and consistent selection, an entry fee that is simply a one-year subscription to the magazine—and now a large Readers' Choice Award to be chosen by the writers themselves—we've designed the Rattle Poetry Prize to be one of the most writer-friendly contests around.

Entries are accepted by email or hard copy. For full guidelines, or to read the winning poems from previous years, visit

Please enjoy "Tavern. Tavern. Church. Shuttered Tavern," by Patricia Smith, winner of the 2010 Rattle Poetry Prize (and a Pushcart Prize nominee):
Tavern. Tavern. Church. Shuttered Tavern,
by Patricia Smith

then Goldblatt's, with its finger-smeared display windows full
of stifled plaid pinafore and hard-tailored serge, each unattainable
thread cooing the delayed lusciousness of layaway, another church

then, of course, Jesus pitchin' a blustery bitch on every other block,
then the butcher shop with, inexplicably, the blanched, archaic head
of a hog propped upright to lure waffling patrons into the steamy

innards of yet another storefront, where they drag their feet through
sawdust and revel in the come-hither bouquet of blood, then a vacant
lot, then another vacant lot, right up against a shoe store specializing

in unyielding leather, All-Stars and glittered stacked heels designed
for the Christian woman daring the jukebox, then the what-not joint,
with vanilla-iced long johns, wax lips crammed with sugar water,

notebook paper, swollen sour pickles buoyant in a splintered barrel,
school supplies, Pixy Stix, licorice whips and vaguely warped 45s
by Fontella Bass or Johnny Taylor, now oooh, what's that blue pepper

piercing the air with the nouns of backwood and cheap Delta cuts—
neck and gizzard, skin and claw—it's the chicken shack, wobbling
on a foundation of board, grease riding relentless on three of its walls,

the slick cuisine served up in virgin white cardboard boxes with Tabasco
nibbling the seams, scorched wings under soaked slices of Wonder,
blind perch fried limp, spiced like a mistake Mississippi don' made,

and speaking of, July moans around a perfect perfumed tangle of eight
Baptist gals on the corner of Madison and Warren, fanning themselves
with their own impending funerals, fluid-filled ankles like tree trunks

sprouting from narrow slingbacks, choking in Sears' Best cinnamontinged
hose, their legs so unlike their arms and faces, on the other side
of the street is everything they are trying to be beyond, everything

they are trying to ignore, the grayed promise of government, 25 floors
of lying windows, of peeling grates called balconies, of yellow panties
and shredded diapers fluttering from open windows, of them nasty girls

with wide avenue hips stomping doubledutch in the concrete courtyard,
spewing their woman verses, too fueled and irreversible to be not
listened to and wiggled against, and the Madison St. bus revs its tired

engine, backs up a little for traction and drives smoothly into the sweaty
space between their legs, the only route out of the day we're riding through.



These free prose contests with deadlines between April 16 and May 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.

4/20: Harold U. Ribalow Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly March 1
Recommended free contest gives $3,000 for a published book of fiction on Jewish themes. Publishers should submit 3 copies of an English-language book published in the previous calendar year. Three copies should be sent to Hadassah Magazine's NYC office. Early entries strongly encouraged. Email Deborah Meisels with questions.

4/26: Fountainhead Essay Contest for High School Students +++
Highly recommended free contest for high school students (11th and 12th grade) awards $10,000 top prize, other large prizes, for essays on Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead. Essays should be based on one of the three questions on the website, and be 800-1,600 words long. Online entries preferred. Contest is looking for entries that are sympathetic to Rand's rationalist, libertarian philosophy. See website for other student contests.

4/30: Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence +++
Formerly April 29
Highly recommended free contest for published books of fiction by an African-American author gives $10,000 and all-expenses-paid trip to Baton Rouge, LA to read from winning book at ceremony in January. Send entry form and 10 copies of a book published in the previous calendar year. Certain self-published books may also be eligible if they have substantial sales, were reviewed in well-known journals, or were the choice of a major book club.

4/30: Norman Mailer College Writing Awards +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly April 28
Highly recommended free contest for creative writing by 2- and 4-year college students gives prizes of $5,000, $5,000 and $10,000 respectively. Four-year college winners also receive scholarship to the Norman Mailer Writers Colony in Provincetown, MA. Contest is open to current full-time college students. 2012 genre is fiction. Submit one or more stories (within the page limits) or a self-contained section of a longer work (for example, from a novel) through their online form.

4/30: Norman Mailer High School Writing Awards +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly April 28
Highly recommended free contest for creative writing by currently enrolled high school students awards $5,000 and a trip to NYC for the award ceremony. 2012 genre is fiction. Submit one or more entries, maximum 10 single-spaced pages total, through their online form.

4/30: Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz Award +++
Entries must be received by this date
Highly recommended free contest awards $10,000 for a novel first published in Spanish in the past two years by a female author. Winner also receives travel expenses to the award ceremony at the Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico. Send 6 copies of the published Spanish-language book and author's curriculum vitae and photo. For the 2012 contest, entries must have been published between January 2011-April 2012.

5/1: West Virginia Fiction Competition ++
Recommended free contest from Shepherd University's Appalachian Literary Project gives top prize of $500 for the best unpublished short story of 500-2,500 words by a West Virginia resident or student. One entry per person. The contest's mission is to encourage and recognize novice writers in the state, and to foster an appreciation of Appalachian culture and values represented in the diverse writing of the region. Enter by mail or email.

5/5: We the Living Essay Contest for High School Students +++
Highly recommended free contest for high school students (10th-12th grade) gives $3,000 top prize, other large prizes, for essays on Ayn Rand's novel We the Living. Essays should be based on one of the three questions on the website, and be 700-1,500 words long. Online entries preferred. Contest is looking for entries that are sympathetic to Rand's rationalist, libertarian philosophy. See website for other student contests.

5/15: Hayek Essay Contest +
Entries must be received by this date; formerly May 31
Neutral free contest gives prizes up to $2,500, plus travel grant to annual conference, for essays of 5,000 words maximum in the spirit of free-market economist F.A. Hayek. Entrants must be aged 35 or younger. Sponsored by the Mont Pelerin Society, a libertarian think tank in Virginia. This contest is held in even-numbered years only. Enter online (preferred) or by mail.

5/27: Dream Deferred Essay Contest ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly February 20
Recommended free contest gives prizes up to $2,000 for essays, 600-1,500 words, on the struggle for civil rights in Middle Eastern countries. Open to authors living in the US, Arab League member states, Iran or Afghanistan, aged 25 or under. Enter via online form. Sponsor HAMSA is an initiative of the American Islamic Congress.

5/31: Black Orchid Novella Award ++
Recommended free contest gives $1,000 and publication in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine for the best traditional mystery novella. Contest sponsor The Wolfe Pack is the official fan club for Nero Wolfe, a legendary fictional sleuth created by Rex Stout in a series of mystery novels published from 1934 to 1975. Entries should be 15,000-20,000 words. See website for thematic and stylistic restrictions. Essentially, they are looking for an old-fashioned story of deduction, with a witty style and an engaging relationship between the characters, and no explicit sex or violence.

5/31: Ellen Levine Fund for Writers Award +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly May 2
Highly recommended free contest from Teachers & Writers Collaborative awards a stipend of $7,500 to an author working on a second or third book of fiction who does not have a publishing contract for the work. Send a manuscript sample of 75-80 double-spaced pages, an outline of the work, a brief bio, and a list of previously-published qualifying publications. Entries must be received by 5 PM Eastern time on the deadline date.

5/31: Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Thrice-yearly free neutral contest awards $100 and web publication for short fiction. The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theatre, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-20th century America. Entries should appeal to a reader with these characteristics. Submit stories of 1,000-5,000 words by email to as an MS Word or Adobe Acrobat attachment. Please be sure to include your name, address and phone number with your submission. Please include "Short Fiction Contest Submission" in the subject heading of the email.

5/31: Vocabula Well-Written Writing Contest +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral contest awards prizes up to $200 for "200-500 words of readable, well-written, even beautiful writing" (fiction or nonfiction). Enter by email. First entry is free, each additional entry $15. Contest sponsor The Vocabula Review "battles nonstandard, careless English and embraces clear, expressive English."

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.



Cider Press Review Online
Entries must be received by May 30
Cider Press Review, an established literary journal, is seeking poems and poetry book reviews for its first-ever online issue. Submit 1-5 unpublished poems through their online submission manager. No simultaneous submissions.


Advertise to 40,000 Poets and Writers
Promote your contests, websites, events, and publications in this newsletter. Reach over 40,000 poets and writers for $125. Ads may contain up to 250 words, a headline, and a graphic image. Find out more and make your reservation here:

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

See more testimonials



Women in Literacy

Women, more often than men, live in poverty, suffer from disease, and deal with daily discrimination in their homes and in their communities. This often is due to cultural traditions and local laws that give men access to education, property, jobs, health care, and government participation that is denied to women.

ProLiteracy's Women in Literacy initiative gives women the reading, writing, and math skills they need to understand their rights and change their daily lives. Research shows that when women take these steps, the changes they make in their own lives extend into their families and communities with positive effects. For example:
  • When low-income women increase their income, they use their new earnings to improve the education, health, and nutrition of their families.
  • As women become better readers and writers, they marry later and are more likely to use family planning, causing fertility rates to decline.
  • Attending school for even a few years helps women become better agricultural workers who generate more income and take better care of their families.
Through the Women in Literacy: Critical Issues in Literacy series, ProLiteracy explores the health, human rights, and poverty challenges women face daily. The series shows how women's literacy initiatives help women gain new attitudes and skills, and the information they need to change their conditions: For more about ProLiteracy's international work, read our Global Literacy Matters blog.

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

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

Send this 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 "Life" by Wesley Dale Willis.

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 Wesley Dale Willis

Life is long when you are young
Life is short when you are old
Life is long when songs are sung
Life is short some days I'm told

Life is gone when you are dead
Life is done the graveyard said

Life's a question asking why?
Lively blossoms fill the air
Life's a heartbeat pulsing by
Life is maidens soft and fair

Life of dawning days will end
Life's a yawning viper's grin

Life's a calling whippoorwill
Life's a melody of rides
Life's a falling star until
Lifeless crater she resides

Life is good but sometimes odd
Life's a life then life subsides
Life is from the breath of God.

Copyright 2012 by Wesley Dale Willis

Critique by Laura Cherry

Form and content should touch and talk to each other like a pair of dizzy lovers, or dance and sing together like a well-honed vaudeville act. The poet can start with either one, and find that his or her choices are guided, coaxed, informed and sparked by the other; ideally, this interplay happens throughout the creation of the poem, and these two components strengthen each other like the members of any good team. To see how this works in action, let's look at what can happen when the poet starts with a particular form in mind.

Paradoxically, rules and guidelines can work as a stimulant to creativity; they can provide just the right kind of distance to guide an idea out of chaos and into words. In particular, heavily weighted emotional content can be easier to manage when it is poured into a container rather than onto the open floor of the white page. While one part of the poet's mind is occupied searching for rhymes or counting beats in a line, another can be shaping those emotional raw materials. The swamp of emotion becomes a project—an elegant building or bridge—rather than a morass.

There is a whole tradition of forms to choose from, of course, but inventing a form can be an extra feather in the cap! The invented form, of course, has the additional advantage (and challenge) of allowing the inventor to set the rules him- or herself, based on what sort of tickle will provoke the muse of that particular day. In "Life", the poet, Wesley Dale Willis, uses an invented form he calls a "sonnadeucearima", whose form we'll examine closely in a moment to see how it works and plays with its content...

Click to continue reading this critique

This poem and our critique appear in full at:

See all of our poetry critiques.


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


The Best Free Poetry Contests for May 16-June 30