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Featured Poem:
"Song Necklace" by Cathy Bryant

Featured Poem:
"Place of Peace" by Caroline Zarlengo Sposto

Featured Poem:
"The Dream Pond" by J.T. Milford

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July 2012

One of the "101 Best Websites for Writers"
Writer's Digest, 2005-2012

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

We offer our condolences to the family and friends of Martin Steele, a longtime Winning Writers subscriber who won several prizes in our contests over the years. Martin passed away from cancer on February 20. Born in South Africa and for many years a resident of Florida, Martin was a writer with a unique voice and inexhaustible imagination. His sense of humor ranged from quirky to macabre. All his work demonstrated the delight that he took in the English language. Visit his guestbook at the Beth Israel Memorial Chapel. Read his third-prize poem from the 2011 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest here.

From this month's Critique Corner by Laura Cherry: "There's a fine line between utopia and dystopia... Because a fictional utopia needs drama, the author has to play with the limits of its perfection by introducing threats or dangers or a sinister underside to the idyll. Similarly, for the sake of complexity and richness, depictions of dystopia can and should include some elements of lightness."

Coming next month: We'll announce the winners of the eleventh Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest!



Writing Classes at FanStory
Info On Writing Classes offers writing classes for writers of all skill levels. Take a class online from your computer. Participate while in the comfort of your home or office. Click on the title of the class below to find out more about the class. Four-week classes are only $99!

Upcoming Classes
Understanding Poetry
This course is designed for people who want to understand the basics of poetry, whether they want to become better reviewers or better poets. There will be no requirements to write poetry. Assignments are designed to appreciate and respond to poetry.
Class Starts: July 31

Grammar Tips (SPAG)
This is your chance to conquer the dreaded comma, unlock the mysteries of the apostrophe and figure out once and for all when to use "lie" instead of "lay". Every discussion will feature easy-to-follow examples, and assignments will provide a chance to practice and receive individual feedback.
Class Starts: July 31

What are tanka? How are they related to haiku? Why has that beautiful lovers' poem, the Imperial Court Tanka, fascinated so many of us? In this course, we'll learn how to write individual tanka and tanka sequences, a class renga, and subtle yet romantic Imperial Court Tanka. Come be a part of the communal joy and lovers' romance that are tanka!
Class Starts: August 5

In this class, we delve deeper into the mystery of haiku and explore the depths of Japanese poetic meaning. We discuss categories of haiku, both ones concerned with the natural world and ones concerned with the social world. We also explore haiku techniques to enable us to write haiku of refinement and depth. The beauty of haiku is what it's all about!
Class Starts: August 5

Writing Short Nonfiction
Many writers turn to more "creative" genres when they begin writing, such as poetry, short stories, and the novel. However, it is nonfiction, such as articles, feature stories, and interviews, that will sell while that completed novel languishes unread on the writer's desktop. In addition, nonfiction writers don't need agent representation while still using much of the same writing skills and creativity as a fiction writer.
Class Starts: August 6

These are only a few of our classes. Click here to view all classes.

  • Small Classes. Our classes are small and designed to give you one-on-one instruction while you complete assignments on your own time and work at your own pace in the comfort of your own home. Reserve a class seat. Once a class is full we will not sell any additional seats.

  • Online Classrooms. All of the courses operate in our unique online classrooms. Your classroom offers you a location to meet with your instructor, read and enter assignments, and ask questions.

  • Expert Review. Experienced instructors offer private review and detailed help. In addition, classes give you the ability to share your work with your classroom peers as well as the entire writing community.

  • Great Value. Four-week classes are only $99. Compare and you will find that classes online elsewhere are hundreds more and do not offer the small classroom size, personal attention, and benefits provided by being a school that is part of

"I am currently in the middle of my fourth class with Alvin Thomas Ethington, and have found him to be a sincere, conscientious and knowledgeable teacher. In each class setting, he has gone out of his way to ensure that every student feels they are getting their money's worth...but more than that, that they really enjoy the class, and learn something worthwhile and exciting.

"He has a 'no-man-left-behind' policy, and regularly stops class to check in on each student individually. He CARES about his students as real people.

"I am impressed that whenever we cover similar topics, he is not redundant, nor does he fall back on the same old material, but strives to be fresh and original. I appreciate him as a teacher and recommend his classes highly."

- Robyn Corum
- See more testimonials


Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest 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.

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. 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. You may submit work that has been published or won prizes elsewhere, as long as you own the online publication rights. 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.

Now Open
Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest
Postmark Deadline: April 30, 2013
Now in its 21st 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. $16 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.


Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter won an honorable mention in the 33rd New Millennium Writings Awards for poetry. Her poem "Robot Deer Shot 1,000 Times" will be published in the 2013 issue. This twice-yearly contest awards prizes of $1,000 for poetry, fiction, flash fiction, and essays. The 34th contest is currently open through July 31. Read an interview with Jendi at the Book Marketing Buzz Blog.

Congratulations to Sally Bellerose and Christine Stark. Bellerose's novel The Girls Club (Bywater Books, 2011) and Stark's novel Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation (Modern History Press, 2011) were finalists in the Lesbian Debut Fiction category of the 24th annual Lambda Literary Awards. This prestigious award series honors books by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender authors and/or with GLBT themes. The most recent deadline was December 1.

Congratulations to Cathy Bryant. Her poem "Song Necklace" was the winner in the adult category of the Inspired by Tagore writing competition from Sampad South Asian Arts, a British cultural center. She kindly shares it with us below. Over 1,400 entries from 37 different countries were received for this contest, which awarded 300 pounds for adults, 200 pounds for youth, for poetry, short stories or reportage inspired by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the famous Bengali poet, philosopher, artist, playwright, composer and novelist. The most recent deadline was January 31. This may have been a one-time contest for 2012.

Congratulations to J. Lorraine Brown. Her poetry chapbook Skating on Bones (Finishing Line Press, 2011) was selected by the Massachusetts Center for the Book as a "Must Read" for summer 2012.

Congratulations to Helene Pilibosian. Her poem "Reinvented on the Subway" won first prize in the Spring 2012 Lucidity Poetry Journal Clarity Awards. Other Winning Writers and Poetry Contest Insider subscribers who placed in this contest were second prize winner Carrie Backe, third prize winner Laurence W. Thomas, and honorable mentions Janice Canerdy, Tracy Davidson, Norma Duncan, Bryce Emley, Jerri Hardesty, Christopher Hinkle, Fred Benton Holmberg, Rebecca Langley, Marjory Thomsen, Lowell Uda, and Lory Whitehead. This twice-yearly free contest awards prizes up to $100 for poems in any form dealing with people and interpersonal relationships. The most recent deadline was April 30.

Congratulations to Robert Ronnow. His poetry collection Communicating the Bird is now available from Broken Publications. Ronnow's work has received accolades from prominent poets such as W.S. Merwin, Rhina P. Espaillat, and Naomi Shihab Nye. Read samples at

Congratulations to Caroline Zarlengo Sposto. Her poem "Place of Peace" won the 2012 Nantucket Directory Poetry Contest. She kindly shares it with us below. This free contest for poems about Nantucket, MA awards $250 and publication of the winning poem in the print and online editions of the Nantucket phonebook. The most recent deadline was March 1.

Joan L. Cannon's poem "November Poem" appeared in the spring 2012 issue of Lowestoft Chronicle, and "J.S. Bach Said..." will be published in their summer issue. Her poem "Dawn is No Reprieve" is included in ...and love..., a new anthology from Jacar Press.

J.T. Milford's poem "The Dream Pond" was published in New Millennium Writings. He kindly shares it with us below. His poem "Clouds and Things" appeared in Lucidity Poetry Journal.

Elizabeth Marchitti's poem "Today" was accepted for issue #41 of The Paterson Literary Review. Two other poems appeared in the anthology Bridges: Poetry by Mature Adults of Northern New Jersey. Both are publications of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College. Bridges features poetry written in various senior workshops at PCCC.

Linda Leedy Schneider was the featured poet for Issue #107 of Caught in the Net, a biweekly email newsletter from the British writers' resource site The Poetry Kit. Read her work on their website.

Robert Savino's poem "In the Belly of the Outfield" was featured as the Poem of the Week for June 16 at Baseball Bard.

Apryl Skies's poem "A Flood in Fate's Garden" was published on Marbella Marbella Adelante, a Spanish arts and culture site. Her work also appears in Issue 29-36 (November 2011-June 2012) of Melaleuca, a free online journal of poetry by Australians.

Ruth Hill's poems "Slough Straw" and "She (Ode to a Roadside Weed)" were chosen by Writers Rising Up, a nonprofit that encourages environmental stewardship through the literary arts, for special YouTube presentations on their theme of "Prairie Grasses". Watch the video here. In other news, Ruth's flash fiction pieces "At the Poetry Fest" and "Dear Francesca" were published on the website Postcard Shorts. For the second year in a row, the Summer Literary Seminars program awarded her a partial fellowship to study poetry abroad. Her poem "Sufi" was published in the June issue of Poetry's Heartbeat. Ruth says, "I have now placed 130 poems using Winning Writers exclusively."

Suzanne Covich was interviewed in the Book Club Notes newsletter of Fremantle Press about her new memoir, When We Remember They Call Us Liars, released by Fremantle last month. From the interview: "To be able to finally write my story was both terribly painful and celebratory. I had to basically relive the things I had written about; bring each incident to life again and when I did this, each one acutely affected me. It was as if I was right back there, experiencing the terrors and the aftermath, especially keeping quiet about it all. It was an awful struggle not to tell the world about the violence that went on in our home... The real celebration for me is in the fact that I'd been able to use my writing skills to finally tell my story—a story I'd wanted to write since I was eleven years old." The book was also favorably reviewed on the Write Note Reviews blog by Monique Mulligan, who calls it "an immensely important book because it breaks the silence about child abuse—it sends a clear and strong message that people must speak out when others' rights are compromised."

David Kherdian will be giving a poetry reading on Sunday, July 22, at 3:30 pm at Esselon Cafe on Route 9 in Hadley, Massachusetts. Visit his website for samples of his work.

Have good news to share? Please email it to Be sure to include a link to the website of the contest or publication in question.


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.
"Your website is still the highlight of my life. I use it every day. I have had positive feedback from several editors and judges, have won some contests, and have been accepted for publication several times. I have also enjoyed the links for reading more poetry and learning more about the craft."
Ruth Hill, British Columbia, Canada

"Congratulations: Winning Writers is an extremely well-built and eminently useful tool! I have recommended it to many writers. Cheaper and easier to use than Poets and Writers, it also includes those valuable recommendations for those not yet (or only sometimes, as in my case!) in-the-know about the relative merits of the many invitations to submit, submit, submit."
Nancy White, New York

"...about a year ago I shifted my writing focus (novels, nonfiction) to poetry. I use your site exclusively to select contests. I've won, placed, and/or published 13 poems. The site is great. I can't imagine how much time it would take to search contests out and qualify them one at a time."
Lee Whipple, Florida

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


Deadlines: July 16-August 31

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

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

7/23: Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly July 25
Highly recommended free contest awards 1,000 pounds and a reading at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in Suffolk for the best first full-length collection of poetry published in Great Britain or Ireland since August 1 of the preceding year. Either publisher or author may submit 3 bound or proof copies of the book with a note indicating the date of publication. Include cover letter with contact information.

7/25: GLCA New Writers Awards ++
Recommended free contest gives a reading tour of 12 midwestern colleges, with a $500 honorarium per visit, for the author of a book of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction that is the author's first published book in that genre. One winner in each category. Publisher should submit 4 copies of book along with publicity material. For the 2013 (2012 deadline) contest, the book must have been published in the US or Canada between spring 2011 and spring 2012 (or galley proofs for works to be published in late spring or early summer of 2012). Selection process favors recipients of major first-book awards.

7/31: FIL Literature Prize in Romance Languages +++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly July 22
Highly recommended free contest gives $150,000 lifetime achievement award (by nomination only) for a writer whose work is in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Galician, Catalan, French, or Romanian. This is one of several awards sponsored by the Guadalajara International Book Fair. Formerly known as the Juan Rulfo Latin American and Caribbean Literary Award.

7/31: Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award +++
Highly recommended free contest for unpublished poems by authors aged 11-17 gives winners free books, anthology publication, tuition to writing classes, and other prizes. Online entries accepted. Sponsored by the Poetry Society of the UK, a prestigious literary society.

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

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

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

8/31: Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize ++
Recommended free contest from Utica College awards $2,000 for a poetry collection published in the past 18 months by an upstate New York author. Submitted work must be a book of poems in English, at least 48 pages long, with a press run of at least 250 copies. Winner must agree to attend award ceremony at Utica College, give a reading, and meet with students in a master class. For the August 2012 contest, book must have been published between January 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012. Entries may be submitted by author or publisher. Send 2 copies plus entry form and CV listing creative and scholarly accomplishments.

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.



The Cutthroat Online Mentorship Program
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 twelve 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 FundsforWriters pays for itself almost immediately. Hope and her research skills are phenomenal. Thanks to FFW I have sold four articles, all with clients who did this amazing thing called paying me. It's quite delightful—money is quirky but boy it's fun stuff to have! If you haven't signed up for FFW, you're just not serious about your career."

This Sharpening by Ellen Doré Watson Last Call!
Tupelo Press July Open Reading Period
Postmark between July 1 and July 31

Throughout July, Tupelo Press will hold open submissions for book-length poetry collections (48-90 pages) and chapbook-length poetry collections (30-47 pages). Submissions are accepted from anyone writing in the English language (whether in the United States or abroad). Include a cover page with the title of your manuscript, your name, address, phone number and email address. There is a reading fee of $28 for each manuscript submitted. Multiple submissions are accepted, so long as each submission is accompanied by a separate $28 reading fee. Manuscripts that have been submitted during this open reading period (July 2012) may not be revised and submitted again unless they are accompanied by an additional $28 reading fee. Manuscripts will not be returned.

Our online submission manager will be accepting poetry manuscripts between July 1 and July 31, 2012. We also accept manuscripts via postal mail. Your manuscript must be postmarked between July 1 and July 31, 2012 and sent to: Open Submissions, Tupelo Press, P.O. Box 1767, North Adams, MA 01247.

You may also include any or all of the following: a self-addressed stamped postcard for acknowledgment of receipt of your manuscript, a self-addressed stamped envelope for results notification, and an acknowledgments page listing previously published poems.

Read the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript:

And read about the July 2011 open reading results as well as other past winners of Tupelo contests at:

Here is a poem by Ellen Doré Watson, author of This Sharpening (Tupelo Press, 2006), who first came to Tupelo Press through the July Open Reading Period. For more information about this and Ellen's other Tupelo volume, Dogged Hearts (Tupelo Press, 2010), as well as Tupelo's other 100+ titles, please visit our website:
by Ellen Doré Watson

Your father was hungry for a last blast of light
so we hoisted his wheelchair into Aegean air

More rock and whitewash than tree or path
was the island of tending him in shifts

The road from where you sat to speaking of it
lay dark, even in that brilliance, a half-year away

You nursed silence, I blindness,
crossing to Delos without you

A prophecy, sun-touched and severed

A Room of Her Own A Room of Her Own Foundation
Attention Women Writers
Don't Miss A Room of Her Own's Upcoming Prize Deadlines

Last Call!
Orlando Prizes
Online Application Deadline: July 31 for all genres
$1,000 and publication for the best unpublished work by a woman in each of four genres: Short Fiction, Flash Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Poetry. Winning entries will receive print publication in the Los Angeles Review and AROHO's website. Fee: $15 per entry (payable via PayPal).

Closing Next Month
To the Lighthouse Poetry Publication Prize
Postmark Deadline: August 31
$1,000 for best unpublished poetry collection by a woman, and publication by Red Hen Press. Page limit: 48 to 96 pages. Fee: $20 per entry.

6th Gift of Freedom Award
Postmark Deadline: November 1
The 6th $50,000 Gift of Freedom competition will determine a finalist in each of four genres: Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Playwrighting, and Poetry. One genre finalist will be awarded the $50,000 Gift of Freedom grant. The three remaining genre finalists will each be awarded a $5,000 prize and eligibility to attend one future AROHO Retreat for Women Writers benefited by a Gift of Freedom Legacy Fellowship. Application Fee: $35. Open to any female resident of the US. Guidelines and application available at

The 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Last Call!
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 Albert Haley's "Barcelona". This entry won the 2007 Rattle Poetry Prize. Listen to Mr. Haley read his poem.
by Albert Haley

She was not the one who let you kiss her
behind the fake palms at the wedding reception.
She was not the one who went with you to Star Trek

number whatever and your knees bumped together
and struck intergalactic sparks in the back row.
She was not even the one who did your loads

of laundry in college and typed two and a half
term papers for you and cried at the bus station
while it was snowing like a scene from a bad novel.

The one you'll remember until you stop
remembering is the girl who sat beside you
in eighth grade biology and she kept smiling

sunbeams of encouragement as you dropped
then fumbled the scalpel and she had brown hair
and an implied continent of freckles and a short dress

and skinny legs and all the boys said Chrissie
was too nerdy because she got 100's on all the quizzes
and had a rock and mineral collection at home

that she dared to discuss over a half pint of milk
at the cafeteria lunch table. Together you took apart
the fetal pig and it seems like yesterday becomes today

because in your mind it is as if you were married
to Chrissie for those two piggy days in that class
more than anyone else you've known before or since.

From snout to curled tail she wasn't girl-like yech
or gross but right there with you observing
the wonderful and frightening bits and pieces

such as sprawling liver, thumb-sized kidneys,
or tracing out the vas deferens and inguinal canal,
and you were accidentally brushing your foreheads

and touching each other's still smooth hands
and those trusty knees came together beneath
the table in a way that did just about everything

except make a baby and that wasn't actually necessary
because as unnamed boyfriend and girlfriend
your pig dissection discoveries were the actual equivalent

of your own offspring nursed with fumes
of formaldehyde and careful forceps pull
and tweezers squeeze until you put the remains

in a bag at the end of the last day and dropped
them in the hazardous waste container.
Then it was time for lab reports to be written,

grades to be entered in Mr. Bender's book,
and for everyone to move on to another project.
You got a B and Chrissie nailed the A and she said

she was sorry and patted you on the back,
an entirely new gesture from her that moved you,
but you couldn't say so. "It was just a pig,"

you told her but even then you knew it wasn't
and that you would never ask her to a dance
or even see much of her again after this class was over.

The pig was everything, heaven and earth and love
and brief roses with no sequel. Years later
you heard that Chrissie was an indie singer

with a single in play, then the band fell from FM grace,
she faded away and moved to Barcelona of all places
where you hope, really hope, she is shaking a tambourine

as well as her long brown hair and that late at night
she still takes out her rocks and turns over some
of the interesting ones she has collected along the way.

Rattle: Neil Postman Award for Metaphor Neil Postman Award for Metaphor (no fee)
Rolling Deadline

Although primarily known as an educationist and a media critic, Neil Postman was, at his core, a "noticer"—and he particularly noticed what we do with metaphor and how metaphor shapes and creates our cognitive world. Postman maintained that words (and words, in truth, are metaphors) are as much the driver of reality as they are the vehicle. Consequently, metaphor was not a subject to be relegated and limited to high school poetry units wherein a teacher drones on about the difference between "like" and "as" and considers the job finished. For Postman, the study of metaphor was unending and metaphors were as crucial as they were omnipresent; they served to give form to and dictate experience.

In honor and remembrance of Neil Postman, who died on October 5, 2003, we have established the Neil Postman Award for Metaphor. The motivation for the award is simple and two-fold: To reward a given writer for his or her use of metaphor, and to celebrate (and hopefully propagate) Postman's work and the typographical mind.

Each spring the editors will choose one poem from all of the submissions received by Rattle during the previous year. The author of the chosen poem will receive $500. There are no entry fees or special submission guidelines. Send up to 5 unpublished poems plus a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to: Rattle, 12411 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604. To browse previous winners, and for information on how to submit electronically, visit our website at

Please enjoy "At the Office Holiday Party" by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz. This poem received a 2009 Neil Postman Award Honorable Mention.
At the Office Holiday Party
by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

I can now confirm that I am not just fatter
than everyone I work with, but I'm also fatter
than all their spouses. Even the heavily bearded
bear in accounting has a lithe otter-like boyfriend.

When my co-workers brightly introduce me
as "the funny one in the office," their spouses
give them a look which translates to, Well, duh,
then they both wait for me to say something funny.

A gaggle of models comes shrieking into the bar
to further punctuate why I sometimes hate living
in this city. They glitter, a shiny gang of scissors.
I don't know how to look like I'm not struggling.

Sometimes on the subway back to Queens,
I can tell who's staying on past the Lexington stop
because I have bought their shoes before at Payless.
They are shoes that fool absolutely no one.

Everyone wore their special holiday party outfits.
It wasn't until I arrived at the bar that I realized
my special holiday party outfit was exactly the same
as the outfits worn by the restaurant's busboys.

While I'm standing in line for the bathroom,
another patron asks if I'm there to clean it.

Snake Nation Press Closing Next Month
Snake Nation Press: Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry
Postmark Deadline: August 31
Now in its twenty-second year, Snake Nation Press announces the 2012 Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry:

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

Please mail your entry and fee to:

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

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

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

Please enjoy the title poem from How the Garden Looks from Here (purchase), winner of the 2004 Violet Reed Haas Poetry Award.
How the Garden Looks from Here
for Donna

by Lisa Zimmerman

The cat finds her way among herbs
while bees follow each other into an audience

of blossoms. Already a door on the house
has opened into sunlight and a woman

sits at a wheel and shapes a bowl
from a flake of earth. The dog yawns

beside her, waiting. No one notices
the horses moving, slow as stars,

across the dry grass
of sky.

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

Please mail your entry and fee to:

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

Utmost Closing Next Month
Novice Christian Poetry Contest Will Award $2,000
Postmark Deadline: August 31

Utmost Christian Writers will award prizes of $600, $400, $200 and $50 (10 prizes) for poems by unpublished Christian writers, with an additional $200 and $100 awarded for rhyming poems. Click for the complete contest rules. Submit online or by mail. Utmost Christian Writers Foundation is a registered non-profit society for the encouragement and support of Christian poets.

We are proud to present the 2011 winning poem:
That You Love One Another
by Bryana Joy Johnson

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God…and the light shines into the darkness
and the darkness has not overcome it.  The Gospel of John, Chapter 1

that your joy may be full, every
       buttercup glossy, and the lichen
              green crawling up the steep and the
                     mossy banks of the algae-blue pond,
                            too immaculate with bubbles and
                                   bryophyte fronds for explaining.

That your pores secrete sheer love
       here—residue of living—and your
              tongue flap, always giving names to
                     the sweetness of the way. Slap
                            the globe under a crystal coverslip,
                                   and tip the slide to rays and after all
                                          you can go ahead and call it good.

That the blueberries dotted
       juice-busting in the pancakes be
              perfect and the hurts and the
                     headaches treated with the best
                            medicine—joy incandescent, Edison,
                                   that glows outward and around
                                          into light and surround sound.

That sirens clang music on the
       inside drums. And after, when the
              crying comes, that you remember Me.
                      Oh, that you not forget! That you by
                            means waste the wine-red cup,
                                   that you break flesh into breadcrumbs
                                          and taste the ways I poured it into you.

Friends, I have called you friends
       and given you the oceanic unplumbed
              places, scratched your faces with
                     unsounded depths and sight
                            that you might know the breadth,
                                   the width, the height so well you speak
                                          it in your sleep, murmur it to the
                                                 cold, the blaze alike, let it take hold.

That you not forget in all the flood, the
       flailing, about the blood, the nailing
              flesh on wood while the pulse roars,
                     the life ebbs out for them—the
                            friends, you know. In the end, on the
                                   bend around the road where the rubber
                                          meets the asphalt and the mud-splash
                                                 splatters and things count, well
                                                        this will be all that matters.

Sport Literate Sport Literate Essay and Poetry Awards Closing Next Month
Sport Literate Essay and Poetry Awards
Postmark Deadline Extended to August 31

Swing for the fences
Sport Literate, the Chicago-based journal that offers honest reflections on life's leisurely diversions, is offering cash prizes for poetry ($100) and prose ($300). Send us your best sporty verse or essay with a $15 reading fee and we'll pick our two favorites.

What better borrowed interest for us than Babe Ruth? Though the Sultan of Swat likely never penned a poem or sweated an essay, he was legendary for his leisurely diversions. With a nod to the Bambino (admittedly a stretch), we're extending our deadline into summer's Dog Days.

Step up
It's easy to enter. Simply email your essay or poem as an attachment to No fiction, please. Poets can send up to three poems for a $15 entry fee. See our contest guidelines at

All entries will be considered for publication and all entrants will receive a copy of the journal.

Use PayPal to send the $15 reading fee to Snail mail may be sent to our post office box with a check for $15 payable to Sport Literate to 2248 West Belmont #20, Chicago, IL 60618.

Editors will read all entries and send up to five anonymous finalists to our two judges (bios online). Winners will be announced in September 2012.

On The Premises

Now Open
On The Premises Short Story Contest (no fee)
Online Submission Deadline: September 28

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 Time. Time matters in every story, of course. But for this contest, we want time to play an especially important role. Send us a story where time, or some aspect of time, or some idea directly related to time, is vital to the characters and the plot.

Any genre except children's fiction, exploitative sex, or over-the-top gross-out horror is fine. 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.

The Missouri Review's Editors' Prize The Missouri Review
The Missouri Review's Editors' Prize: Over $15,000 in Prizes
Postmark Deadline: October 1

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

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

Please enjoy this excerpt from "Big Jim" by Robert Kimber, the winning entry in our 2007 essay competition.
In the summer of 1955, the year my father quit his job with the Bankers Trust Company in New York City and bought Big Jim Pond Camps—the year, that is, when my father took a flier and did what he had always wanted to do, which was own and run a hunting and fishing camp in Maine—he discovered after just a couple of months at Big Jim that substantial as the place may have looked to the casual eye, it was tender and vulnerable as a newborn baby, in need of constant coddling and attention if it were not to succumb to the heat, humidity, rot, rust and decay of Maine summers, the crushing weight of winter snows, the rank growth of alders that kept marching, marching against this tiny beachhead of cleared land, threatening to engulf it if they were not constantly beaten back.

Take the main lodge, two stories high, built of full logs, nobody knew when exactly, but a long time ago, around the turn of the century. Downstairs: one big, open room, forty by twenty-two feet, the guests' dining room. Upstairs: eight little bedrooms, supposedly for the help, but so stifling hot in the summer and icy cold in the fall that neither my parents nor any previous owners had ever asked a cook or waitress to occupy one of those rooms. Then, sticking out the back, an addition that housed the kitchen and sticking out the side of the kitchen, the back dining room, where the owners and the help ate.

This whole gangling structure perched on a narrow shelf of land between the water and the hill that rose steeply behind it and every other building at Big Jim. All eight guest cabins, also built of full logs, stood within just a few footsteps of the shore. If that potbelly of a hill had ever added a few inches to its girth, it would have pushed Big Jim's lodge, camps, shower house, ice house, woodshed—every last stick—out into the pond.

Click for the complete essay

CUTTHROAT, A JOURNAL OF THE ARTS, announces the 2012 Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and the Rick Demarinis Short Story Prize
Postmark Deadline: October 10

Each contest will award a $1,250 FIRST PRIZE and $250 SECOND PRIZE plus Publication
Honorable Mentions are also published

    LINDA GREGERSON, Joy Harjo Poetry Prize
    CHARLES BAXTER, Rick DeMarinis Short Fiction Prize

For those who enter by regular mail: SASE REQUIRED! Enter as often as you wish. For each submission, send up to three poems (100-line limit/one poem per page) or one short story (5,000-word limit/double-spaced) in 12-point font, a cover sheet with name, address, phone & email, title(s) of submission, SASE for announcement of winners (we recycle all manuscripts) and a $15 entry fee per submission made to CUTTHROAT, A JOURNAL OF THE ARTS, P.O. Box 2414, Durango, CO 81302.

For those who enter online: Click the link at the bottom of the Contest page on our website: Fill out our online form. There are separate forms for each genre. You will be charged $17 for each submission. A submission consists of three poems (100-line limit/one poem per page) or one short story (5,000-word limit/double-spaced) in 12-point font. Contest deadline is Midnight, October 10.

For all entries: UNPUBLISHED WORK ONLY! No author name may appear anywhere on the manuscript. Multiple submissions are OK, but we must be informed immediately of acceptances elsewhere. All finalists are considered for publication. All winners published in CUTTHROAT and announced on our website, in POETS & WRITERS and AWP WRITER'S CHRONICLE. No relative, student or staff member of CUTTHROAT is eligible to enter our contests.

Congratulations to our 2011 winners:

1st Place Joy Harjo Poetry Prize: David Maduli of Oakland, CA for "Ghost Dance"
2nd Place: Rebecca Dunham of Bayside, WI for "Elegy For The Eleven"
Honorable Mention: Jennifer Sweeney of Redlands, CA for "Cabinet of Curiosities"

1st Place Rick DeMarinis Short Fiction Prize: Kathy Conde of Superior, CO for "Georgia Nights"
2nd Place: Justine Siener of Fairhope, AL for "Journals of Coteau Ridge"
Honorable Mentions: Dwight Holing for "Longboard" and Dee Hubbard for "The Dutchess Run"

We are proud to present "Unclean" by Tawnysha Green, published in Cutthroat 11.
by Tawnysha Green

The first time Momma shows me
a demon is during revival week.
Pastor lines us all in front
of the altar, slaps his hands
on our foreheads, makes us fall
back in Jesus' name.

Ushers cover Momma's legs with blue
sheets as she weeps on the floor, speaks
in tongues, like the people before us do.
The piano man plays, sings the same
song as more fall under Pastor's hand.
Momma wakes, says, the Holy Spirit is here.

The song is long and, me, sister fall
asleep on the seats. Momma stands, hands
outstretched to the altar, to those who cry,
dance when the pastor talks in God's language.
The song lasts until morning and Momma
wakes me up, tells me, sister to follow

past the praying bodies on the floor,
blue sheets in a heap, shows us a lady who does not
fall under Pastor, does not pray in his language.
Pastor motions for the ushers to come, to lay
hands on her, too. Momma says, she doesn't have
the Holy Spirit, the spirit in her is bad, full of demons.

The lady is on the floor now, ushers, pastor
on top of her. They push her head back,
pin arms to the floor. Be delivered in Jesus'
name. I cast you out, they say. She says nothing.
Shoka loma lameh moda kadem simoda hada,
they say. They are praying in the Spirit, says Momma.
For two years, Momma doesn't show me anymore
demons, not until two ladies move in across our street.
Momma spies on them through the window as they water
their lawn, check mail, walk their dogs. They're bad women,
says Momma. Women like them have demons, she says,
to make them like that. They are unclean.

For a long time, I don't understand what she means,
only that she would point them out when we go
to the grocery store, to the movies, them together,
holding hands, whisper, demon, say the same words Pastor said
during revival. Soka loma lameh moda kadem simoda hada
and I would remember the demon lady when I saw

the ladies from across the street. Soka loma lameh
on the floor, limbs twisted. Moda kadem simoda hada,
eyes rolled back. Shoka lameh simoda hada, mouth open wide.

The Writers Place The Writers Place Screenwriting Competition
Early Bird Online Submission Deadline: October 31 (late submissions accepted through November 15) leverages the connections of entertainment business executives and award-winning writers to aid aspiring writers by eliminating barriers within the industry. The Writers Place takes outstanding scripts under its wing, and allocates its talent, resources, and expertise to attach scripts to the right representation and/or production company. Register today for membership! We also accept shorts and teleplays.

The Writers Place cofounders have jointly raised over $50 million for film and entertainment projects. Winning screenwriters receive awards, cash prizes, in-kind prizes, and public relations services worth $2,000. Honored scripts will be presented to the competition's 6,500+ industry participants, including managers, agents and producers, and distributors from around the globe. Go to for complete details, and $50 off a Writers Place Script Consultation.
Paula Brancato Dr. James E. Fischer
More About The Writers Place
Alumni include Skin Meade whose script "Hope Now" was picked up by SONY. Student Matt Lutz, runner-up, sold "Fat Camp" with the help of Writers Place management. Diane Meyer, 1st place winner, signed a "writer for hire" agreement with Nasser Entertainment and Robert Heske published his horror anthology, "Cold Blooded Chillers" through introductions made by TWP. Writers Place cofounders are active members of Harvardwood, HCNY, IFP, and teach at Georgia State, StonyBrook Southampton, Southern Methodist University and USC. Go to and plug into the network and support system that is The Writers Place. Submit your screenplay today!

Little Red Tree Publishing
Little Red Tree Publishing Now Open
The Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: December 31

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

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

The prizewinner, runner-up and other honorees will feature prominently, with full biographies, in a special collection called Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize 2013 Anthology. The book will also include a wide selection of poetry from those submitted that did not make the final selection but were considered worthy of publication. We anticipate the book will contain as many as 80 poems, with a free copy to each poet published, and be published in the summer of 2013 with a book launch in New London, CT.

All winners and published poets will be invited to read their poems. Download our complete guidelines (PDF), then send your poem(s) with a reading fee of $5 each to: Little Red Tree Publishing, LLC, Attn: The International Poetry Prize, 635 Ocean Avenue, New London, CT 06320. We also accept electronic submissions (see the guidelines).

Little Red Tree Publishing
Little Red Tree Publishing Now Open
The Vernice Quebodeaux "Pathways" International Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: December 31

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

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

This year's judge will be Richard Harteis. Since 2007, Mr. Harteis has served as president of the William Meredith Foundation, dedicated to preserving the legacy of the late US Poet Laureate and his partner of 36 years. Mr. Harteis is the author of ten books of poetry and prose, most recently a series of elegiac lyrics, The Revenant.

All finalists will be considered for publication, with one selected as the prizewinner with a book published in 2013. Download our complete guidelines (PDF), then send your 80-100 page manuscript with a $20 reading fee to: Little Red Tree Publishing, LLC, Attn: The Vernice Quebodeaux International Poetry Prize, 635 Ocean Avenue, New London, CT 06320. We also accept electronic submissions (see the guidelines).

Little Red Tree Publishing
Little Red Tree Publishing

Little Red Tree Publishing was established in 2006 and is based in New London, CT. Our mantra is simply to produce books that: Delight, entertain and educate. We aim to publish about 12 books each year.

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

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

We look forward to reading your wonderful poetry.



These free prose contests with deadlines between July 16 and August 31 are included as a bonus in The Best Free Poetry Contests.

Click the contest names below to go straight to their profiles, or login to The Best Free Poetry Contests here. After you login, please click the Find Free Contests link, then search by Prose Contest Type to find prose contests.

7/24: Litro & IGGY International Young Persons Short Story Award ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly July 25
Recommended free contest gives 2,500 pounds for short stories with an international theme, 3,000 words maximum, by authors aged 11-19. Enter by email. Contest is cosponsored by the British literary journal Litro and the International Gateway for Gifted Youth (IGGY) at the University of Warwick.

7/27: Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date; formerly July 29
Recommended free contest awards 1,000 pounds for translators aged 18-34 with no more than one full-length published book of translation. ("Book" includes full-length dramatic works.) The prize will focus on a different language each year. In 2012, they are looking for translations from Chinese to English of the story "The Wig" by Han Dong.

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

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

8/1: Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest awards C$25,000 for novels or short story collections published in Canada during the calendar year by Canadian citizens or landed immigrants. Deadline varies depending on when your book was published: books published between October 1 and April 3 must be received by April 4; those published between April 4 and June 5 must be received by June 6; and those published between June 6 and September 30 must be received by August 1. Publishers should submit 5 copies of the book (or 3 bound galleys, to be followed by at least 2 copies of the book), press kit, entry form, and list of titles published by that publisher, to establish eligibility. See website for detailed requirements.

8/1: Writers' Trust Hilary Weston Non-Fiction Prize ++
Entries must be received by this date
Recommended free contest gives top prize of C$60,000 for nonfiction published in Canada during the calendar year by Canadian citizens or landed immigrants. Deadline varies depending on when book was published: books published between October 1 and April 3 must be received by April 4; those published between April 4 and June 5 must be received by June 6; and those published between June 6 and September 30 must be received by August 1. Publishers should submit 5 copies of the book (or 3 bound galleys, to be followed by at least 2 copies of the book), press kit, entry form, and list of titles published by that publisher, to establish eligibility. See website for detailed requirements. Formerly known as the Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize, changed name in 2011.

8/31: Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize +++
Entries must be received by this date; don't enter before August 1; former submission period was June 1-30
Highly recommended free contest from major literary publisher awards $12,000 for the best full-length manuscript of creative nonfiction by a US resident with at least one previously published book in any genre. Entries should be a minimum of 100 double-spaced pages. The 2012 prize is for a manuscript-in-progress.

8/31: Leap Local Travel Writing Competition +
Entries must be received by this date
Neutral free contest gives prizes up to $500 and web publication for true stories of "hilarious, surprising, culture-shocking, passionate, and life-changing" local travel experiences. By "local", they mean "a travel experience which engaged with local individuals or environment and culture unique to the travel location." Entries should be 500-650 words maximum. Submit online. All competitors must post a new recommendation of a local guide or service on the Leap Local website for every entry they submit. Authors must be aged 18+.

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.



The Oracle Body Project
Entries must be received by August 26
Harvard Divinity School student Maggi Van Dorn is collecting personal essays about the body as a source of wisdom and revelation, with the goal of putting together an anthology to be shopped to publishers. Essays should be 1,200 words maximum. Fill out online form and submit by email as an MS Word attachment. Topics may include sports, dance, parenting, illness and healing, religious rituals, sexuality, handicrafts, and more. See suggestions on website. "The project derives from one central belief: It is through the union of body and soul, not the abandonment of the flesh, that the divine is made most palpable and present in our daily life. This one, precious body we call home acts as an oracle of practical knowledge, nudging us with poignant aches and pleasures toward the truth of our experiences... Stories from a diversity of backgrounds are welcome, those that are intimately connected to a religious faith and those independent of a particular tradition. What is most vital to this project is that the narratives possess an authentic personal voice and describe the experience with rich detail, clarity and creativity."

Red Booth Review
Postmark Deadline: September 1
Red Booth Review, an online journal of poetry, photography, and artwork edited by W.T. Pfefferle, seeks submissions of unpublished work for their upcoming themed issue on "celebrity". Send 2-10 poems or 1-5 images (72 dpi, maximum size 640 pixels) by email. Simultaneous submissions accepted. Past contributors have included Paul Hostovsky, Carol Smallwood, and Changming Yuan.

Main Street Rag "Law and Disorder" Anthology
Entries must be received by September 15
Main Street Rag, a well-regarded small press in North Carolina, seeks submissions of short fiction up to 10,000 words for their latest themed anthology, "Law and Disorder". Enter by email only. Follow formatting guidelines on website. No simultaneous submissions, but previously published stories are eligible if they have NOT been published online OR in the past 5 years (copyright date 2007) in another anthology, magazine or individual collection. Submissions close at 5 pm EST on the deadline date. Editors say, "The Law and Disorder short fiction anthology seeks submissions that explore the idea of law, whether written or unwritten, of nature or society, enforced or broken, including crime solving and legal systems; all manner of disorders, from biological to social; and power systems, victimization, and social or biological conformity and aberration. Genres may range from traditional and realistic to fantastic. If drawing on popular genres that fit the law and disorder theme, submissions with original twists and high literary quality will be favored."



Song Necklace
by Cathy Bryant

I pick up my necklace of songs
and place it round my neck;
a neck imperfect, caught in time
and lined with it, unlike the songs
and the poems, which live on,
as unending and perfect as love.
And kissing each song like a tear
or a crystal, a precious stone or moment,
I remember and feel again
the love that has never, can never
leave nor fade nor numb.

The tears of farewell fill
my old cracked cup; tears pouring
an ocean of love at my feet, cupped
tears that reflect stars and the endless
stream of the universe, the cup
freshened eternally at the ever-giving
fount; and to all who wept and wrote
and sang, who made their gitanjali,
the loved one drinks in life divine
and whispers a soft, unasked-for
"thank you".

You gave all things, from ancient tales
to new and future memories, my love
who adds new songs to my necklace;
never accepting for me the tawdry
or finite jewellery. You teach me
the yes of clouds that colour sunsets,
of open smiles. For the gifts and teaching,
your gora says, "thank you",
communing in ceaseless renewal.
The necklace is shared out, and grows
now and for all time and beyond time.

(Notes: Gitanjali: song offerings. Gora: fair-faced.)

Copyright 2012 by Cathy Bryant

This poem was the winner in the adult category of the Inspired by Tagore writing competition from Sampad South Asian Arts, a British cultural center.


Place of Peace
by Caroline Zarlengo Sposto

We pivot in and tie
our small sailboat to the dock.
Gulls gather on the shore as sun goes down
and fire paints the sky.
Bathed in crimson glow, we walk
the timeworn path past cottages near town,
to charming, cozy streets.
Night falls slowly. Lights blink on.
We wander dreamlike over cobblestone
Toward picturesque retreats;
musing about times foregone.
Hand in hand, we recall this day that's flown.

Copyright 2012 by Caroline Zarlengo Sposto

This poem won the 2012 Nantucket Directory Poetry Contest.


The Dream Pond
by J.T. Milford

Sitting on the marshy bank
with maiden cane and hyacinths
I watch a yellow leaf float
in aimless circles
of stillness,
a summer-like stillness
and feel a sudden wind
that moves ripples
across the water
near a willow,
a brown-green willow

and without apparent cause, it stops

As I gaze across the pond
I am overtaken by a dream
that the marsh pond is still
when death is near
with feelings of lost joy
and loneliness
a wild sort of reverie
with cormorants, marsh marigold
and dark woods
the dream star
that sits in the eye of the pond's light
signals the possibility
of an early lament
certain darkness
a tunnel of light

Now the failing light awakens me,
as darkness slowly falls upon the marsh pond
and in a sudden sweep of wind
the willow surrenders its leaves
down to the earth, a sad weeping earth

and without apparent cause, it stops

Copyright 2012 by J.T. Milford

This poem was first published in New Millennium Writings.


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This month, Critique Corner is pleased to present "Gotham City" by Charles Kasler.

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!

Gotham City
by Charles Kasler

reborn vultures create mischief in Birmingham
with abandoned parachutes and excessive tattoos
selling insurance against bad weather and bad luck
homeless scarecrows in corduroy search the trash
for empty lipsticks and worn memories
foghorns signal mildew in the night

police battle inner demons on weekends
in a thick soup of deserted hotel,
forsaken church, and abandoned lighthouse
autumn's vague prophesy delivers emptiness
at the doorstep of her beloved
weary evangelists call for repentance
and foghorns whisper secret passwords and jade status

torpedoes head for the opera house in full formation
angels get wings trimmed in barbershop quartets
blind whales flounder through treacherous currents
of underground lakes and river
even as salmon swim the canals on Mars
the morning is dank and hung-over
as smoke from junkyard tugboats
and foghorns speak to passing ships in their own language

Monday's desolate sun sets on abandoned coffins
jazz musicians stand beside corrupt snake charmers
worthless confessions spill out of rusted horns
cold lanterns illuminate nervous encounters in a subway tunnel
gypsies cry obscure and foreign spells
and foghorns play ambient hymns for zombie weddings

pinstripe chain gang swings the hammer in bad neighborhoods
accident-prone clowns sing the blues
from a disappointed balcony
to an aimless congregation of shaggy mutts and
old propellers
gargoyles patrol the sky looking for food
and foghorns signal a call to prayer at the appointed hour

green limousines roam the street in frozen weather
detectives inspect strawberry rhinestones in a warehouse elevator
cheerleaders way past their prime assemble in vacant lots
foghorns breathe clouds of gloom in the cathedral
sigh cranberry sadness over the city
sing velvet songs of lost love

...and foghorns mourn for creeping and forgotten dreams

Copyright 2011 by Charles Kasler

Critique by Laura Cherry

A learned friend of mine told me that there's a fine line between utopia and dystopia. "Why is that?" I asked, and he told me it's because of the rigors of plot. Because a fictional utopia needs drama, the author has to play with the limits of its perfection by introducing threats or dangers or a sinister underside to the idyll. Similarly, for the sake of complexity and richness, depictions of dystopia can and should include some elements of lightness: for example, flashbacks to a happier, pre-Armageddon time, or a contrast between the language and what it describes. Charles Kasler's "Gotham City" showcases an urban landscape in ruins, but cast in such vivid, nearly ecstatic language that readers may find themselves happily caught up in this dark vision.

Kasler's poem gives us Gotham with no Batman in sight; this city is a maelstrom of wreckage and corruption. Images of hope in the form of music are undermined or destroyed ("torpedoes head for the opera house in full formation"). In the first line, Gotham is also referred to as Birmingham, which we can perhaps read as Birmingham, Alabama, with its history of race-related violence, but which could also refer to industrialized Birmingham, England. In this setting, insurance salesmen mingle with "homeless scarecrows in corduroy", evangelists, gypsies, jazz musicians with their "worthless confessions", and chain gangs. The darkened streets are punctuated with fretful bursts of light, color, wealth: "cold lanterns illuminate nervous encounters in a subway tunnel", "detectives inspect strawberry rhinestones in a warehouse elevator".

Stylistically, "Gotham City" plays out primarily in long lines liberated of punctuation and capitalization—a style associated with such notables as e.e. cummings and W.S Merwin—which has the effect of intensifying the scene's confusion and blurring of boundaries...

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