Announcing the winners of our Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest |

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Winning Writers Newsletter - August 2021

View Free Contests

We found over two dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between August 15-September 30. In this issue, please enjoy "Not Waving But Drowning" by Stevie Smith, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Winners of the 2021 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest WERGLE FLOMP HUMOR POETRY CONTEST WINNERS
Congratulations to Koss, winner of our 2021 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. "My Therapist Sez" earned her $2,000 and a two-year gift certificate from Duotrope. We awarded runner-up Marcus Bales $500 for "Corvid Nineteen". J. Clark Hubbard won a special Third Prize of $250 for "God!". Honorable mentions and $100 went to Christiana Crabill, Matthew DeGroat, Jonathan Delp, Robert Garnham, Valarie Hastings, Matthew Kemp, Denise Shelton, Sarah Totton, Mike Voltz, Mike Walker, and Cameron Winship. 5,688 contestants entered from around the world (in a socially distanced way). Read all the winning entries with comments from the final judge Jendi Reiter. And let's hear it for assistant judge Lauren Singer, who read all 5,000+ poems. The administration of this contest was also helped out by Annie Mydla.

Our 2022 contest is now open for entries. We will again award top prizes of $2,000 and $500. Our co-sponsor Duotrope will give the winner a two-year gift certificate (a $100 value) to go with their $2,000 prize. As always, this contest has no fee.

Deadline Next Month
19th year. We will award $3,000 for a poem in any style or genre and $3,000 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $200 each (any style). The top 12 entries will be published online. The top two winners will also receive two-year gift certificates from our co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $100 value). Length limit: 250 lines per poem. Entry fee: $15 for two poems. Multiple entries welcome. Final judge: S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Vernon Keeve III. Deadline: September 30. Submit online here.

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Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Ellaraine Lockie, S. Erin Batiste, Dean Gessie, Cathy Miller, Joan Leotta, Cris Mulvey (featured poem: "Two Medicine Lake"), Lilianne Milgrom, Carey Link (featured poem: "Sezer Raises His Open Hands"), Trent Busch, Jacquie May Miller, William Luvaas, David Olsen (featured poem: "Route 66 Blues"), John Shore, William Huhn, Judy Juanita, Terri Kirby Erickson, and R.T. Castleberry.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter's poem "All Cakes Are Bastards" was one of five finalists in the poetry category of the 2021 Solstice Lit Mag Writing Contest, judged by Tim Seibles, and you can read it here. The most recent deadline for this $500 prize was May 25.

Winning Writers contest judge Denne Michele Norris was interviewed in Publishers Weekly about her new job as Editor-in-Chief of Electric Literature. Denne will be the first Black and openly transgender editor-in-chief of a major US literary publication. She envisions the notable online journal as "a home for writers and stories that are pushing the cultural conversation forward, as opposed to reacting and responding to it."

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

Have news? Please email it to

Ad: Submit Your Book Manuscript at Atmosphere Press

So far in 2021 Atmosphere authors have sold thousands of books across five continents, received starred or featured reviews with Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist, and have even appeared on a giant billboard in Times Square. Atmosphere has had books with 1,000+ first-month sales in four different genres, and their Author Connect program unites their authors with each other like no other press. And they're just getting started.

Atmosphere Press currently seeks great manuscripts, and they'll be the publisher you've always wanted: attentive, organized, on schedule, and professional. They use a model in which the author funds the initial publication of the book, but retains 100% rights, royalties, and artistic autonomy. From an exceptional editorial team through book design and into promotion, partnering with Atmosphere is the way to do your book right.

So, send your manuscript their way. Submissions are free and open to everyone and in all genres.

Ad: Two New Contests from Oprelle

Deadline: September 1

What the Haiku

What the Haiku! Poetry Contest
$5 per entry

For just a moment, let's stop taking ourselves so seriously and write a non-traditional haiku! Not to disrespect the form, but to use the nuances of specific syllables (5 – 7 – 5) to express anything out-of-the-box or outrageous! From venting your annoyance, to tossing your best pick-up lines, to musings on space travel. There were no barriers! Just fun with language! Wherever your creativity takes you! We are looking for originality and relevance to current life.

"What the Haiku!"     Poetry...just for the fun of it!

Bigger Than Me

"Bigger Than Me" Poetry Contest
$15 per entry

Go deep for this one. So often we read poetry that touches us on the deepest of levels. We are reminded of the amazing power within our souls, and the energy of everything. 
We are particularly looking for poems that seem to attribute happenings to some force that is bigger than ourselves. 1-20 lines.

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things,
but their inward significance."

Oprelle's "Bigger Than Me" Contest is looking for your musings on any topic, such as:

A strong coincidence
A clear sign
A calling
A love story

          A unique connection
          A path you must take
          Road rising to meet you
          Divine reciprocity

                    Power of our thoughts
                    Strength of a soul
                    A string of events
                    The connection of all

Ad: Contest in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction: $1,000 Prize in Each Genre's 12th Annual Writing Contest

More than $3,500 in prizes, with a $1,000 grand prize in each genre and $100 to the finalists for's 12th Annual Contest in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction.


We accept contest submissions (via Submittable) through Labor Day, September 6, 2021, for publication in February 2022. $20 entry fee per set of 3-5 poems (or a single long poem), story, essay or article. All submissions are considered for publication.'s editors will read all entries, passing the top entries in each genre to the judges, who will choose the first-place winners. Decisions of the judges are final. Judges and editors do not know the identity of the contestants.


Poetry: Ellen Bass
Ellen Bass is the award-winning author of Indigo, Like a Beggar, The Human Line, Mules of Love, and others. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, she founded poetry workshops at Salinas Valley State Prison and the Santa Cruz, California jails, and teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University.

Nonfiction: Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s newest book is a collection of illustrated nature essays, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments. She is also the author of four books of poetry, most recently, Oceanic. She is a professor of English and creative writing in the University of Mississippi's MFA program.

Fiction: Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Maurice Carlos Ruffin is the author of The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You and We Cast a Shadow, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the PEN America Open Book Prize.

For additional information, please visit our website.

Submit Now!

Ad: A Hotel Room of One's Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program

A Hotel Room of One's Own

Deadline: September 28

Fee: $25

What humor writer wouldn't want to attend the wildly popular Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop and spend two all-expenses-paid weeks at a hotel? Free room service. A housekeeping staff. An omelette bar. A TV remote of your own. The sun rising over the Great Miami River (aka, the Dayton Riviera).

And, most importantly, a "Do Not Disturb" sign.

Applications for A Hotel Room of One's Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program will be accepted during September 7-28.

Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, and Mike Reiss, writer for The Simpsons for three decades, will choose the two grand prize winners. Preference will be given to emerging humor writers. The package is worth approximately $5,000, but the experience is priceless. Cash prizes for finalists and honorable mentions.

Read the announcement and FAQs. Then apply here (starting on September 7) for what Forbes says "may be the best writer's residency in the country."

Ad: Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

S. Mei Sheng Frazier will judge the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest, assisted by Vernon Keeve III

Sponsored by Winning Writers

TOM HOWARD PRIZE: $3,000 for a poem in any style or genre

MARGARET REID PRIZE: $3,000 for a poem that rhymes
or has a traditional style

The top two winners will also receive two-year gift certificates from our co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $100 value)

Honorable Mentions: 10 awards of $200 each (any style)

Submit published or unpublished work. Top 12 entries published online.

Judged by S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Vernon Keeve III.

Recommended by Reedsy as one of The Best Writing Contests of 2021.

Submit 1-2 poems for one $15 entry fee.

Enter via Submittable by September 30

Ad: The Vivian Shipley Poetry Award

Vivian Shipley Poetry Award

Ad: The Missouri Review's 31st Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize

The Missouri Review's 31th Annual Editors'Prize

Deadline: October 1

$5,000 Fiction | $5,000 Nonfiction | $5,000 Poetry

Winners receive a cash prize, publication, promotion, and an invitation to a reception and reading in their honor. Submit one piece of fiction or nonfiction up to 8,500 words or up to 10 pages of poems. Enter online or by mail. All entries considered for publication. Regular entry fee: $25. All-Access entry fee: $30. Winners will be announced in early 2022.

Each entrant receives a one-year subscription to the Missouri Review in digital format (normal price $24) and a digital copy of the fifth title in our imprint, TMR Books, Private Lives, a new anthology of stories that first appeared in TMR (normal price $7.95). 

Read a prizewinning story by Melissa Yancy, an essay by Peter Selgin, and a selection from poetry winners Katie Bickham, Kai Carlson-Wee, and Alexandra Teague. Hear from past entrants what it's like to win here, here, and here.

Questions? Email

Ad: 2021 Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, Barry Lopez Nonfiction Prize, and Rick DeMarinis Short Story Prize


Reading Period: August 31-November 1

$1,500 First Prize, $300 Second Prize, Honorable Mention


GUIDELINES: Starting on August 31, go to our website and submit poems and stories through our online submission manager on the Submissions Page. Submit up to 3 poems (100 line limit/one poem per page) or one short story or one creative nonfiction piece (5,000 word limit/double spaced) in 12-point font. NO AUTHOR NAME ALLOWED ON ANY MS. There is a $23 nonrefundable entry fee per submission.

UNPUBLISHED WORK ONLY! No work that has already won a prize is eligible. No former CUTTHROAT prize-winning author may enter the contest he or she has previously won. Enter as often as you wish. Multiple submissions okay, but we must be informed immediately of acceptances elsewhere. Finalists considered for publication. Winners published in CUTTHROAT and announced on our website, in POETS & WRITERS, and WINNING WRITERS. No relatives of or staff members of CUTTHROAT nor close friends, relatives, or students of judges are eligible to enter our contests. See our website for more information. WE RECOMMEND YOU READ A COPY OF CUTTHROAT BEFORE ENTERING OUR CONTESTS.


"The Way Things Are Going in Liberty, Utah" by Sunni Wilkinson of Ogden, Utah
Joy Harjo Poetry Prize

"Speak to Me of Love" by Linda Lucero of San Francisco, California
Rick DeMarinis Short Story Prize

"Legally Speaking, Rats Aren't Even Animals" by Timothy DeLizza of Baltimore, Maryland
Barry Lopez Nonfiction Prize


Ad: Measureless Silence, poems by Cris Mulvey

Measureless Silence
Cris Mulvey, the grand prize winner of our most recent North Street Book Prize, is publishing a second chapbook of her poetry this November with Finishing Line Press. She writes, "It is called Measureless Silence and brings together a collection of my poems about the Wild and the West." Proceeds from the sale of the book will be offered to the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, which works to protect and steward the lands, water, and wildlife of the Badger-Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, and surrounding areas of Montana.

"There is a music in these poems that works magic with the particularity of the images to create a whole body experience out of which willows, swans and bison rise as if from within our own being, untamed and untameable. In Measureless Silence, Christine Mulvey has composed a symphony of words that sings the wonder and devastation that is our world. Each poem is a summons, whether through the 'wrap of forest' or the harsh light of 'glitz and bling', to discover ourselves as the wild itself: pristine, ravaged, and innocent as snow, as wings, as wind."

—Kim Rosen, author of Saved by a Poem: the Transformative Power of Words

Now is a great time to pre-order Measureless Silence for delivery in November. It is $14.99 plus $2.99 for shipping.

Please enjoy these sample poems:


Walking onto the frozen lake
beneath these chiseled mountains,
snow puff-powdering the purple air,

ravens rustling by carrying light
like a drink in the curve of their backs,
the ragged cry of their cackling

deepening the thrum of silence:
I am a pine seed stuttering
onto a stainless platter,

the air around me
the color of bluebirds' feathers
twirling into an ocean of sky.


Come with me out to where the soft round shapes
of the fallen snow lie draped across the bushes like the thighs
and hips of a sleeping god curled up on the open bedspread of the land.

Here willow twigs stand frozen, furred by hoar
and under the diamond glint of the bowl of night the river,
black as molten pitch, whispers underneath its skin of ice.

In the silence, only an occasional flumpf of snow
falling from bare boughs, tinkling the air, or the mournful
honking of the swans calling from the lake the whole night through.

Here tell me the story of your lonesomeness, your unheard prayers!
And I will show you how, underneath that ridge inked like a koan
across this boundless white, a solitary bison ploughs his head

in big slow sweeps from side to side
knowing that six feet down
there must be grass.

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
Perito Prize. This international contest awards 500 pounds and anthology publication for a short story, 1,000-2,000 words, on the theme of accessibility, inclusion, and inclusive design. Due September 30.

Intermediate Writers
Eric Gregory Awards. The Society of Authors will award prizes totaling 20,000 pounds for a collection of up to 30 poems, drama-poems, or belles-lettres, maximum 50 pages total, by a writer who will be under age 30 as of the deadline date. The author must be a British national or a resident in Great Britain and Northern Ireland for at least three years. Previously published work accepted. Due October 31.

Advanced Writers
Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship. The Amy Lowell Trust will award a fellowship of about $62,500 for US poets to fund a year of travel outside North America. Entrants must be US citizens by virtue of birth in the US, or birth outside the US to an American citizen parent who was born in the US. Due October 15.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

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

Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature
(poetry, prose, art, video pertaining to disability experiences and cultures - August 15)

Carte Blanche: Disability Issue
(poetry, fiction, comics, photography by disabled creators - August 21)

Flowers & Vortexes
(poetry - August 30)

Guernica: "Dirt" Issue
(poetry, fiction, essays, and artwork on the politics of hygiene - September 1)

Neon Door
(poetry, prose, art, comics, video on "Emotional Nudity" - September 1)

The Best New True Crime Stories: Unsolved Crimes and Mysteries
(narrative journalism about cold cases - September 1)

Rattle: "Librarians" Issue
(poetry by authors with current or former library careers - October 15)

Aesthetic Press
(commercial fiction by writers of color - January 1)

The Best New True Crime Stories: Crimes of the Famous and Infamous
(narrative journalism about celebrities involved in crimes - January 1)

PSA: Literacy Facts

Incarcerated individuals who participate in correctional education programs are 43% less likely to recidivate than individuals who do not. Learn more about why adult education matters.

Award-Winning Poetry

Dennis Hinrichen

by Dennis Hinrichsen
Winner of the 2020 Off the Grid Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by August 31
This $1,000 award from Grid Books accepts full-length poetry manuscripts by authors aged 60+. Hinrichsen's collection This Is Where I Live I Have Nowhere Else to Go was the most recent winner. This flowing poem pays tribute to "hitman of funk" James Brown with stream-of-consciousness syncopation and smoothness.

by Jonathan Greenhause
Winner of the 2020 Fischer Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by August 31
The Telluride Institute gives prizes up to $1,000, online publication, and a public reading (online this year) for a single poem. Previously published work is eligible. Greenhause's wry poem looks at what happens when our symbolic projections onto nature collide with the complex reality of the ecosystem.

GIRL'S GUIDE TO LEAVING and other poems
by Laura Villareal
Winner of the 2020 Coniston Prize
Entries must be received by September 1
Radar Poetry gives $2,000 and publication for a cohesive group of 3-5 poems by a woman writer (trans-inclusive). In this poem, Villareal invokes a ghostly Mexican legend to express the thrill and taboo of being "the first girl in your family/to never stop moving". Subsequent poems follow the speaker's struggle with being queer and brown in Texas, and the ways that dangerous relationships can feel like home.

by Susan Leslie Moore
Winner of the 2019 Juniper Prize for Poetry
Entries must be received by September 30
This long-running award series from the University of Massachusetts Press gives two prizes of $1,000 and publication, one for a debut collection and the other for a subsequent collection. Moore's book That Place Where You Opened Your Hands won the 2019 debut prize. In these pensive poems, she examines the schema we impose on our surroundings, sometimes whimsical, other times limiting: "A horse behind a fence is progress, but only if you're not the horse."

"Not Waving But Drowning" by Stevie Smith, illustrated by Julian Peters

We are proud to present Julian Peters' illustrated version of Stevie Smith's "Not Waving But Drowning". You can find more such adaptations in Poems to See By by Mr. Peters.Not Waving But Drowning

Not Waving But Drowning
Not Waving But Drowning
Not Waving But Drowning

The Last Word

Jendi Reiter

Witch Kitsch
Should I mourn Salem's executed witches as my spiritual ancestors? It's hard to say, because there's no good evidence that they considered themselves witches (tortured confessions don't count). Even if some of them did practice folk magic in secret—practices like hexing or fertility charms having always coexisted alongside official Christianity—the 17th-century witches' values and cosmology were likely more similar to the Puritans' than to my Temple of Witchcraft class's Buddhist-inflected, queer-friendly worldview. Magic is a technology that doesn't necessarily create common ground among its practitioners.

Read more

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