Award-Winning Poems: Summer 2016
Welcome to my Summer 2016 selection of award-winning poems, highlights from our contest archives, and the best new resources we've found for writers. These quarterly specials are included with your free Winning Writers Newsletter subscription.
In this issue: "There Have Come Soft Rains" by John Philip Johnson, illustrated by Julian Peters.
—Jendi Reiter, Editor
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Deadline This Month!
NORTH STREET BOOK PRIZE FOR SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS
Deadline: June 30. 2nd year. Co-sponsored by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter, and BookBaby. $6,000 in prizes, including three top awards of $1,500 each. Fee: $50 per entry. Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche
will judge, assisted by Lauren Singer. See the winners of our first contest and enter here.
Also open now, our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest will award $4,000 in prizes.
by Katherine Sánchez Espano
Winner of the 2014 Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Award
Postmark Deadline: June 15
This venerable literary journal gives $1,000 and publication for a full-length poetry collection. Espano's prizewinning collection was The Sky's Dustbin. This lyrical poem suggests that children mature by learning to see beauty in the unfamiliar and difficult.
POEM IN WHICH I PLAY THE RUNAWAY
by Rochelle Hurt
Winner of the 2015 Barrow Street Press Book Contest
Entries must be received by June 30
This prestigious press with an interest in avant-garde work awards $1,000 and publication for a full-length poetry manuscript. The title poem from Hurt's prizewinning book dissects the recklessness of a young woman's desire.
SAVING FOR SLEEP
by Hannah Craig
Winner of the 2015 New Measure Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by June 30
Sponsored by Parlor Press and the literary journal Free Verse, this contest gives $1,000 and publication for a full-length poetry collection. Craig's This History That Just Happened was the most recent winner. This dream-like poem blends imagery of an erotic encounter, a storm at sea, and a fisherman hauling in his (perhaps willing) prey.
DESTRUCTION DERBY and ON REFINEMENT
by Zayne Turner
Winner of the 2015 Kore Press First Book Award for Poetry
Entries must be received by July 15
This well-regarded feminist press gives $1,500 and publication for a poetry manuscript by a woman with no prior published full-length collections. Turner's Body Burden was the most recent winner. This pair of poems is a study in contrasts, finding a symphony of sound and light in a demolition derby, and violent chemical processes beneath the surface of a parlor scene—"yellowcake" as both tea-time delicacy and radioactive material.
[SOMETIMES I DON'T KNOW IF I'M HAVING A FEELING]
by Matthew Siegel
Winner of the 2015 Felix Pollak Prize
Postmark Deadline: September 15 (don't enter before July 15)
This long-running contest from the University of Wisconsin Press gives two awards of $1,000 and publication, the Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes, for an unpublished full-length poetry manuscript. Siegel's prizewinning collection was Blood Work. This chatty, angsty poem moves from obsessive self-analysis to an intuition of an unnameable presence.
Read more award-winning poems.
Jendi Reiter's debut novel Two Natures (Saddle Road Press, forthcoming September 2016) offers a backstage look at the glamour and tragedy of 1990s New York City through the eyes of Julian Selkirk, an aspiring fashion photographer. Coming of age during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Julian worships beauty and romance, however fleeting, as substitutes for the religion that rejected him. His spiritual crisis is one that too many gay youth still face today.
This genre-bending novel couples the ambitious political analysis of literary fiction with the pleasures of an unconventional love story. Vivid social realism, enriched by unforgettable characters, eroticism, and wit, make Two Natures a satisfying read of the highest sort. See an excerpt from the novel, and pre-order now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
For Julian Selkirk, the dry-witted hero of this complex, wide-reaching, and unfailingly touching Bildungsroman, photography is a way of shaping the world while trying to shield himself from it. But "the boy with the camera on the sidelines of the homecoming dance" soon discovers that life and love are too sprawling, unpredictable and flawed to be contained in a viewfinder. To see what is real—we learn along with him—we must hold two natures, beauty and truth, within our vision.
— Tracy Koretsky, author of the novel Ropeless, winner of 15 awards, and Even Before My Own Name, a memoir in poems
The latest mystery thriller in The Edisto Island Mysteries from C. Hope Clark
"Edisto Jinx is one of the most realistic, believable amateur sleuth novels I've ever read (although Callie, while not a cop at the story's opening, is no amateur). It brings new meaning—and verisimilitude—to the fanciful idea of amateur detectives knowing and finding out more than the police. I love how Clark paints a true picture of how this debacle would play out in real life."
–Clay Stafford, author / filmmaker, founder of Killer Nashville and publisher of Killer Nashville Magazine.
Buy Edisto Jinx at Amazon. View the trailer.
Arthur Powers is judging this year's Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. His award-winning collection of short stories, A Hero for the People, is available on Amazon Kindle. Click to buy—just $0.99!
"Set in the vast and sometimes violent landscape of contemporary Brazil, this is a gorgeous collection of stories—wise, hopeful, and forgiving, but clear-eyed in its exploration of the toll taken on the human heart by greed, malice, and the lust for land." —Debra Murphy, Publisher, Idylls Press
"Arthur Powers is more than a totally captivating, adventurous storyteller. He is a wonderfully accomplished writer who enriches the reader's experience of life, and is a mighty skillful reporter who knows the ins and outs of people and places. While his locations are often fascinatingly exotic, more importantly his people are always engagingly real! In short, Powers is in that rare company of authors who are impossible to put down!" —John Reid, founder of the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest
Our 2016 Full-Length Contests for Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction are now open!
Send us your full-length manuscripts of poetry (50-80 pages), fiction (200-300 pages), and nonfiction (200-300 pages)! The winner in each genre will receive book publication, a $1,000 prize, and a $1,500 travel/promotion grant. Postmark deadline: June 30.
The final judges for this year's contest:
Poetry - David St. John
Fiction - William Lychack
Nonfiction - Michael Martone
Congratulations to last year's winners!
Poetry - Brian Swann's St. Francis and the Flies
Fiction - Kathy Anderson's Bull and Other Stories
Nonfiction - Harrison Candelaria Fletcher's Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams
See our complete contest guidelines, and enjoy this poem from Mr. Swann's winning entry:
by Brian Swann
For years I never bothered to look them up, but today,
just flipping through a book, I found them, moving them
from tiny blue flowers in mats, to speedwell, "speedwell,"
a prayer to prosper, and so it has, this immigrant with
a Puritan name whose urge got it this far inland, up in
these mountains, living a life with me under the radar
so successfully we became invisible. But now I want to
see it, and walk out back to the stone wall that marks the
limit of my land and there they are at noon, in the wall's
shade, under the giant maple, fully open, wide awake.
For a better look I get down on one knee, go face to face,
so our world's carry across, touch in the silence of a name.
Deadline: July 15. The annual Rattle Poetry Prize is once again offering $10,000 for a single poem to be published in the winter issue of the magazine. Ten finalists will also receive $200 each and publication, and be eligible for the $2,000 Readers' Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote.
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 a runner-up Readers' Choice Award to be chosen by the writers themselves—the Rattle Poetry Prize aims to be one of the most writer-friendly and popular poetry contests around.
We accept entries online and by mail. See www.rattle.com for the complete guidelines and to read all of the past winners.
Enjoy "Morning at the Welfare Office" by Valentina Gnup, winner of the 2015 Readers' Choice Award.
See our Books page for all of our recommended poetry, fiction, and nonfiction books.
THE 19TH WIFE
This multi-layered novel intertwines the story of Brigham Young's ex-wife Ann Eliza, a real historical figure who successfully campaigned to outlaw plural marriage in the United States, with a modern-day murder mystery in a polygamist Mormon splinter group. The narrative unfolds through fictional documents—correspondence, research papers, autobiographies—suggesting that truth is subjective and many-sided.
This suspenseful and satirical novel-in-stories follows an African-American family in 1950s Chicago who tangle with a cabal of upper-class white occultists. Each chapter cleverly inverts the xenophobic tropes of one of H.P. Lovecraft's classic horror stories, with the implication that the heartless and greedy cosmic forces of the Cthulhu Mythos are more a self-portrait of Jim Crow's America than an enemy from beyond the stars.
This debut novel by a popular blogger on Catholic sexual ethics combines brilliant satire, heartbreak, and hope. A half-dozen alcoholics from all walks of life are selected for a reality-TV show set in a residential rehab clinic. When healing and repentance become co-opted into the postmodern performance of the "self", is transformative grace still possible? Sometimes, incredibly, it is, but not always, and not in a fashion that anyone associated with the show could control or predict.
Meet Earl Mills. Earl is all too familiar with the shame and embarrassment of being illiterate. At 45 years old, Earl was married with five children, owned his own home, and worked for 25 years at the same company. Yet he had a secret that few others knew: he could not read.
His lack of reading skill was exposed when he was put on the spot at church one night when he was asked to read a Bible passage. The problem was that at 44 years old, he couldn't read. No one knew except his wife. Earl says, "When you can't read, you keep it under a lock and a key and you let hardly anyone inside of that part of your life."
Earl sought the assistance of the Craven Literacy Council. When he went to them they assessed him at a second-grade reading level. He had trouble spelling words like girl and bird. With sheer determination he embarked on a three-year process of learning how to read. In addition to improving his literacy skills, Mills developed his ability to capture the frustrations and triumphs through his poetry. Today, he has published several books of poetry, including From Illiterate to Poet and From Illiterate to Author.
Earl is now a passionate advocate for adult literacy. He recently attended the National ProLiteracy Conference on Adult Literacy in Charleston, South Carolina where he was asked to read a few of his inspiring poems to the audience of 500 adult literacy professionals. ProLiteracy is a national nonprofit whose mission is to help adults learn to read by developing materials and programs for over 1,000 literacy member programs across the country. When adults learn to read and write, they have the power to change their lives and their communities.
Read "Twenty Six Letters", a poem by Mr. Mills.
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