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Winning Writers Newsletter - January 2023

View Free Contests

We found over three dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between January 15-February 28. Don't miss this new 5-minute video guide to our free contest database prepared by Annie Mydla. She answers your most common questions and shares tips on improving your odds of winning prizes.

In this issue, please enjoy a vidiette of "The Trees" by Philip Larkin, prepared by Jim Avis from illustrations by Julian Peters and read by the author. Coming next month: We'll announce the winners of our 2022 North Street Book Prize.

Open at Winning Writers, co-sponsored by Duotrope
Free to enter, $3,500 in prizes, including a top award of $2,000. Deadline: April 1.

$9,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $3,000 each. $22 entry fee. Deadline: April 30.

View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 140,000 followers on Twitter and find us on Facebook. Advertise with us, starting at $40.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Amina Gautier, Michael Loderstedt, Duane L. Herrmann, Diane Elayne Dees, Remi Recchia, Helen Bar-Lev, David Kherdian, J Brooke, Kip Meyerhoff, Sandra Sidi, Eva Tortora, Noah Berlatsky, R.T. Castleberry, and Yvonne.
Richard Angilly
Winning Writers mourns the passing of Richard Angilly, co-founder of the Poetic Dance Theater Company and the Dancing Poetry Festival, a long-time sponsor of this newsletter. For thirty years, Richard was "president for life" of the Ina Coolbrith Circle, the oldest large poetry organization in the state of California. To honor Richard's memory, this year's Dancing Poetry Contest is offered with no entry fee and over $1,000 in prizes. The deadline is April 15.

Karen Braucher

We also mourn the passing of our subscriber Karen Braucher (January 15, 1954-January 8, 2023). A key member of the Portland, Oregon poetry community, Karen was the author of four collections, including Aqua Curves and the adoption-themed collection Sending Messages Over Inconceivable Distances. She also penned mystery novels under the name K.B. Tobin. Read more about her work on her website and at Oregon Poetic Voices.

Winning Writers contest judge Mina Manchester and Lauren Christiansen co-authored an essay, "My NaNoWriMo Diary", which was published in Electric Literature in November.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter's letter to the editor, supporting reparations for slavery, was published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on December 27.

Learn about our subscribers' achievements and see links to samples of their work.

Have news? Please email it to

Ad: Last Call for Grayson Books Chapbook Competition

Works of Wildfire

Deadline: January 31

  • Prize: $500, publication of chapbook, and 50 gorgeous copies
  • Reading fee: $20
  • Submit: 16-36 pages of poetry
  • Submit online via Submittable

This year's judge, Joan Kwon Glass, is the author of Night Swim and three chapbooks. She is Editor-in-Chief for Harbor Review and poetry editor for West Trestle Review.

Simultaneous submissions are permissible if we are notified immediately upon acceptance elsewhere. Multiple submissions are also permitted; a fee must accompany each entry. Including acknowledgments of previously published poems is acceptable but not required. When a manuscript is chosen for publication, we will request acknowledgments.

Visit the Grayson Books website to find out more about our press and submit here. We congratulate Eleanor Berry, winner of our 2022 Chapbook Competition for Works of Wildfire. Please enjoy this sample poem:

The place we left

is no longer the place we left.

Soon after we fled that night, the shaggy spires of firs
must have become so many fifty-foot torches.

When we first went back, we found
charred-black trunks raining down
dead needles.

Salvage logging turned the burned woods into
stump-fields, into gouged earth strewn
with hacked-off fir-limbs
and studded with a few
clumsy heaps of slash.

Now, nearly a year since the fire, the ravaged land
hosts a battalion of mullein—dozens of coarse,
eye-level stalks—where past years
firs canopied native shrubs.


The place we left
is no longer the place we left, no longer

our address. We chose not
to rebuild in that changed place, instead moved
to this 1950s subdivision between
old orchards and town.

How calmly the single-story houses
stretch out on their shrub-bordered lots!
On the wires overhead, plump doves
proclaim territory.

Does anyone here know
how swiftly and completely
a long-familiar landscape
can be undone?

Ad: Next Generation Indie Book Awards—Last Call!

Deadline: February 10

Entries are now being accepted for the 2023 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the most exciting and rewarding book awards program open to independent publishers and authors worldwide who have a book written in English and released in 2021, 2022, or 2023 or with a 2021, 2022, or 2023 copyright date. The Next Generation Indie Book Awards are presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group.

There are 80+ categories to choose from, so take advantage of this exciting opportunity to have your book considered for cash prizes, awards, exposure, possible representation by a leading literary agent, and recognition as one of the top independently published books of the year!

Ad: Grants for Writers! Apply now!

the de Groot Foundation

Deadline: February 15

LANDO Grants

The de Groot Foundation announces the newly launched LANDO GRANTS for WRITERS. These grants are $7,000 each, designed to encourage and support writers writing in any genre about the migration, immigration or refugee experience.

In addition to the LANDO Grants, The de Groot Foundation also awards seven COURAGE to WRITE GRANTS to writers in any genre ($7,000 each) and ten Writer of Note grants ($1,500 each).

Learn more and apply.

Ad: No-Fee Contest

Veterans Writing Award

Ad: On The Premises Short Story Contest (no fee)

On The Premises

Deadline: Friday, March 3, 2023, 11:59pm Eastern US Time

Last time we checked, 77% of web-based fiction magazines pay their fiction writers nothing.

So did 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 $75 and $250 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 readers older than 12 (no children's fiction).

The premise of our 41st contest is "Where Is...?" For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which one or more characters have a problem because something (someone?) important is missing. Whether whatever is missing is ever found is up to you. Choose the answer that makes the story work better.

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), and we do not accept fan fiction for the same reason. We will accept serious literary drama, crazy farces, and any variation of science fiction and fantasy you can imagine. Read our past issues and see!

You can find details and instructions for submitting your story here. 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.


Cleaver Magazine Form & Form-Breaking Poetry Contest

Deadline: March 31, 11:59pm Eastern US Time

Judge: Diane Seuss

  • $500 First Prize
  • $250 Second Prize
  • $100 Third Prize

Show us your poems that hold up the perfect iambic pentameter of a Shakespearean sonnet or crash it on the rocks of free verse. Show us a villanelle with textbook patterning or show us the villanelle who just crashed her car. Whatever the form, we want to see your poems that use form consciously, whether that's to execute them to perfection or execute their expectations. The one requirement is that your work engages with a form of poetry; whether it gets married to that form or breaks up at the last couplet is up to you.

  • The initial submission fee is $15 for 1-2 poems of up to 3 pages each, with an option to upload additional poems for $10 apiece.
  • No previously published work.
  • Winners will be announced in June. Prior to the announcement, all submitters will receive an email notifying them of any decisions regarding their work.
  • Prizewinners will be published in Cleaver's Fall Issue, September 2023. Finalists may also be offered publication.

More information at our website.

Ad: No-Fee Contest

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest


Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Spotlight Contests (no fee)

Some contests are best suited to writers at the early stages of their careers. Others are better for writers with numerous prizes and publications to their credit. Here is this month's selection of Spotlight Contests for your consideration:

Emerging Writers
$1,000 for 1,000 Words Middle and High School Creative Writing Contest. The Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation awards two top prizes of $1,000 for previously unpublished flash fiction, exactly 1,000 words long, by students worldwide in grades 6-12 (one prize for grades 6-8 and the other for grades 9-12). Winners may be published online and in the sponsor's annual Bluefire journal. Submit one entry via the sponsor's online submission form by February 1.

Intermediate Writers
Zócalo Public Square Poetry Prize. Zócalo Public Square will award $1,000 for a poem by a US author that best evokes a connection to place. "Place" may be interpreted by the poet as a place of historical, cultural, political, or personal importance; it may be a literal, imaginary, or metaphorical landscape. Send 1-3 unpublished poems, no length limit, by email. Zócalo connects people to ideas and to each other in an open, accessible, non-partisan, and broad-minded spirit. Due January 23.

Advanced Writers
Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. The Academy of American Poets will award $1,000 for the best book of poetry, 48+ pages, translated from any language into English and published in the US during the previous calendar year. Translator must be a living US citizen or someone who has resided in the United States for the past decade. To have a book considered, the publisher must submit it online by February 15.

See more Spotlight Contests for emerging, intermediate, and advanced writers within The Best Free Literary Contests database.

Search for Contests

We'll Critique Your Entire Book or Manuscript for Just $180, Shorter Work for $90—Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Winning Writers Critique Service

Compare to book and manuscript critique services charging $600 and up. For $180, Annie Mydla will provide a professional critique that's 1,500-3,000 words long. You may also submit up to 3 specific questions to be answered within your critique. We guarantee your satisfaction. View a sample critique. Learn more and place your order.

We also offer critiques of poems, stories, and essays and children's picture books for just $90.

Calls for Submissions

Winning Writers finds open submission calls and free contests in a variety of sources, including Erika Dreifus' Practicing Writer newsletter, FundsforWriters, Erica Verrillo's blog, Authors Publish, Lit Mag News Roundup, Poets & Writers, The Writer, Duotrope, Submittable, and literary journals' own newsletters and announcements.

Fulcrum Books: Women's Reproductive Health Anthology
(personal essays on abortion, fertility, menopause, etc. - January 20)

NonBinary Review: "Food" Issue
(food-themed poetry, prose, or artwork - January 31)

Sundress Publications: Prose Manuscript Reading Period
(story and essay collections, memoirs, novellas - February 28)

Under a Warm Green Linden: America//Being America
(poems on contemporary public policy - April 30)

The Heartland Review
(poetry, fiction, essays - May 1)

Arc Poetry Magazine: "Crip Lives" Issue
(own-voices poetry about living with chronic illness, mental or physical - May 15)

Favorite New Resources

Here are some of our favorite newly added resources at Winning Writers. For a full list, see our Resource pages.

Action, Spectacle Action, Spectacle
Biannual online literary and arts journal engages with social and political currents

Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature
Free online archive at the University of Florida offers 7,000 children's books to download

Broken Sleep Books
Leftist, UK-based indie press publishes poetry and nonfiction

Eggplant Tears
Literary webzine for transmasculine and butch authors

Type in an author's name to find comparable recommendations

Rattle Poetry Book Reviews
Contemporary poetry journal Rattle reopens its reviews feature

Spoonie Magazine
Online journal by disabled writers and artists

Taco Bell Quarterly
Quirky online lit mag publishes writing and art that reference the fast-food chain

Travesties: A Queer Journal of Uncanny Arts
Queer online literary journal publishes poetry and art

Who Pays Writers?
Links to a wide variety of commercial and literary journals, with pay rates for each

"The Trees" by Philip Larkin—a vidiette by Jim Avis based on illustrations by Julian Peters, read by the author

Jim Avis presents this vidiette from Julian Peters' illustrations of "The Trees", a poem by Philip Larkin, read by the author. These illustrations originally appeared in Plough in June 2020. More poems illustrated by Mr. Peters appear in his book, Poems to See By.

The Trees

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterGod's Second Draft
I am noticing a connection between my vast amounts of disorganized possessions and my trauma-habit of believing that fulfillment is exclusively located in the future. When you live in a constant state of emergency, pleasure can seem like an unaffordable luxury in the present.

[Read more]

Jendi Reiter is the editor of Winning Writers.
Follow Jendi on Twitter at @JendiReiter.