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Winning Writers Newsletter - March 2021

View Free Contests We found over three dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between March 15-April 30. In this issue, please enjoy "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Last Call!
Deadline: April 1. 20th year. $3,500 in prizes, including a top award of $2,000. Final judge: Jendi Reiter. Both unpublished and previously published work accepted. See last year's winners and enter here.

Deadline Next Month
Deadline: April 30. 29th year. $8,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $3,000 each. Fee: $20 per entry. Final judge: Dennis Norris II. Both unpublished and previously published work accepted. See last year's winners and enter here.

Coming in next month's newsletter: We'll announce the winners of our 18th annual Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 135,000 followers on Twitter and find us on Facebook. Advertise with us, starting at $40.

Featured Sponsor: $8,700 IN PRIZES AND PUBLICATION

Imagine 2200 judges Kiese Laymon, Sheree Renée Thomas, Morgan Jerkins, and adrienne maree brown

Deadline: April 12 | No entry fee

Submit your story by April 12 to Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors, a new climate-fiction contest from Fix, Grist's solutions lab.

Imagine calls for unpublished short stories (3,000-5,000 words) that envision the next 180 years of a just, regenerative future. Judges include renowned authors Kiese Laymon, Sheree Renée Thomas, Morgan Jerkins, and adrienne maree brown. Imagine draws inspiration from Afrofuturism, as well as Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, disabled, feminist, and queer futures, and the genres of hopepunk and solarpunk. We want to see—and share—stories that center climate solutions from the most impacted communities.

The top three contest winners will be awarded $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 respectively, and nine finalists will receive a $300 honorarium. Winners and finalists will be published in an immersive digital collection. Conjure your wildest dreams for society—all the sweet, sweet justice, resilience, and abundance we could realize—and put those dreams on paper.

There's no fee to enter, so if you’re ready to get writing, you can find our submissions portal here. And if you'd like to get in touch, please reach us at

Illustration by Carolina Rodríguez Fuenmayor

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Carol D. Marsh, Gary Beck, Jeff Walt, Geoffrey Heptonstall (featured poem: "The Queen of Egypt"), Naila Moreira, Lori D. Johnson, Berwyn Moore, John Reinhart, Dr. Gabriella Korosi, Randall Jeffrey Pancer, Sandra Fischer, R.T. Castleberry, and Des Mannay (featured poem: "Stoned").

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter was interviewed by poet Clifford Brooks for the November 2020 issue of The Blue Mountain Review, a publication of the Southern Collective Experience. The interview covered Jendi's own work and the history and mission of Winning Writers. Read it at Issuu on pages 16-19. In other news, Jendi's poem "Eyes on the Street" was accepted by Crosswinds Poetry Journal.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Mine to Carry by Christine Mulvey

Mine to Carry

A lushly written memoir that tells the story of a woman whose indomitable spirit refuses to be trapped in a patriarchal culture. A startling and inspiring read that won the Grand Prize in the North Street competition for best self-published book of 2020.

Cris (twenty-two) is a sensual, spiritually hungry and deeply conflicted Irishwoman who has just been called home by her impatient fiancé, Marc. It is early 1981. She has been travelling alone overland to and around India. Though deeply connected to her family, she has tasted the world and she wants to continue to partake of the feast. No part of her wants to leave.

Upon her return to Ireland, Cris is faced with a set of circumstances that take her on a journey of wrenching transformation. Deserted by her fiancé, she finds herself pregnant in a country where unwed pregnancy is taboo, and is launched thereby into out-and-out war with herself, her family and her culture.

"Christine Mulvey's memoir Mine to Carry is by far the strongest book I've encountered during the years I've helped to judge this contest. The writing is a perfectly woven tapestry of lyric description, narrative, dialogue, story, and philosophical and religious musings. It's extremely hard to weave multiple strands into a perfect literary garment but Mulvey has done just that."
—Ellen LaFleche, judge, North Street Book Prize

Read the judge's full critique

Read an excerpt from Mine to Carry (PDF)

Buy this book on BookBaby

Rattle Magazine: The Neil Postman Award for Metaphor (no fee)

Rolling deadline

Rattle is proud to announce José A. Alcántara's "Divorce", which appeared in issue #70, as the winner of the 2021 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor.

We established the Neil Postman Award for Metaphor in honor and remembrance of Neil Postman, who died on October 5, 2003. The intention of the award is simple and two-fold: to reward a given writer for their use of metaphor, and to celebrate (and, hopefully, propagate) Postman's work and the typographical mind. Each year, the editors choose one poem that was published from regular submissions to Rattle during the previous year. There are no entry fees or submission guidelines involved. The author of the chosen poem receives $2,000.

For more information and to read all fourteen previous winners, please visit the award's webpage. To submit your own poems, choose any free submission option on our Submittable page.

by José A. Alcántara

He has flown headfirst against the glass
and now lies stunned on the stone patio,
nothing moving but his quick beating heart.
So you go to him, pick up his delicate
body and hold him in the cupped palms
of your hands. You have always known
he was beautiful, but it’s only now, in his stillness,
in his vulnerability, that you see the miracle
of his being, how so much life fits in so small
a space. And so you wait, keeping him warm
against the unseasonable cold, trusting that
when the time is right, when he has recovered
both his strength and his sense of up and down,
he will gather himself, flutter once or twice,
and then rise, a streak of dazzling
color against a slowly lifting sky.

José A. Alcántara

Last Call! Fiction and Poetry Contests from Snake Nation Press

Serena McDonald Kennedy Award
Deadline extended to March 31
This award was created by Barbara Passmore, friend of Snake Nation Press, to honor her grandmother. Barbara passed away this year at the age of 92 and we continue her wishes. Submit a novella (up to 50,000 words) or a collection of short stories (up to 200 pages). Previously published works may be entered. Entry fee: $25. Winner receives $1,000 and publication. We congratulate our 2018 winner Carol Roan for A Change in the Air.


Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry Award
Deadline extended to March 31
Submit a poetry manuscript of 50-75 pages. Entry fee: $25. Winner receives $1,000 and publication. We congratulate our 2018 winner Sara Claytor for Keeping Company With Ghosts.




To enter electronically, please email your entry to, then choose a link below to make your payment:

You may also mail your entry and fee (payable to Snake Nation Press) to:
Snake Nation Press
P.O. Box 98
Ray City, GA 31645

If you submitted an entry to either contest in 2019, it will be included in the contests above.

Last Call! $6,000 in Prizes: Nimrod International Journal's Literary Awards for Fiction and Poetry

Deadline: April 1

The 43rd annual Nimrod Literary Awards—The Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction—are open. Judged by Geffrey Davis and Rilla Askew, the Awards offer first prizes of $2,000 and publication and second prizes of $1,000 and publication. Winners will also take part in a virtual Awards Ceremony and Reading in October. All finalists and selected semi-finalists will be published at a rate of $10 per page.

  • Poetry: 3-10 pages
  • Fiction: 7,500 words maximum
  • Fee Per Entry: $20 payable to Nimrod, includes a one-year subscription

No previously published works or works accepted for publication elsewhere. Author's name must not appear on the manuscript. Include a cover sheet containing major title(s), author's name, full address, phone, and email. Entries may be mailed to Nimrod or submitted online.

For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website.

Last Call! Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

20th year! Sponsored by Winning Writers and Duotrope

Submit by April 1, 11:59pm Hawaii Time

Final judge: Jendi Reiter, assisted by Lauren Singer Ledoux

Both published and unpublished work accepted

Top prize doubled to $2,000

Enter now for free

Last Call! Dancing Poetry Contest

Deadline: April 15

Now in its 28th year, all Dancing Poetry Festival prize winners will receive a prize certificate suitable for framing, a ticket to the 2021 Dancing Poetry Festival at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and an invitation to read their prizewinning poem at the festival. (The festival may be held online if circumstances require.)

Dancing Poetry Contest 2020

Three Grand Prizes will receive $100 each plus their poems will be danced and filmed. Many smaller prizes. Each Grand Prize winner will be invited onstage for photo ops with the dancers and a bow in the limelight.

See video and pictures from our Dancing Poetry Festivals that show the vast diversity of poetry and dance we present each year. For poetry, we look for something new and different including new twists to old themes, different looks at common situations, and innovative concepts for dynamic, thought-provoking entertainment. Please do not feel constrained to submit a poem about dancing. The entry fee is just $5 for one poem and $10 for three. We look forward to reading your submissions. See the complete contest rules and enjoy "Beauties in a Line" by Alicia Morrison, winner of a Grand Prize in 2020.

Dancing Poetry Contest 2020

Two Poems from the Instagram of Rachael A.Z. Mutabingwa

Rachael A.Z. Mutabingwa won the First Prize for Genre Fiction in our 2020 North Street Book Prize competition. Please enjoy these poems and follow her on Instagram.

Shadow work

We are recycled souls

Closing Next Month: Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Sponsored by Winning Writers and Duotrope

Final judge: Dennis Norris II

Both published and unpublished work accepted

$8,000 in total prizes

Top 12 entries published online

Fee per entry: $20

Submit online by April 30

Curt Johnson Prose Awards

Curt Johnson Prose Awards

Deadline: May 1

DECEMBER MAGAZINE seeks submissions for our 2021 Curt Johnson Prose Awards in fiction and creative nonfiction. Prizes each genre — $1,500 & publication (winner); $500 & publication (honorable mention). All finalists will be listed in the 2021 Fall/Winter awards issue. $20 entry fee includes a copy of the awards issue. Submit one story or essay up to 8,000 words.

For complete guidelines and judge information visit our website.

The 23rd Annual Blue Lynx Prize

Explain This Corpse

Deadline: June 15

The reading period for the 2021 Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry is open. The competition awards $2,000 plus publication for an unpublished, full-length poetry collection by a US author, which includes foreign nationals living and writing in the US and US citizens living abroad. Each entrant will receive a book from our back catalog.

Past winners include Heather Sellers, Kirsten Kaschock, Joe Wilkins, Jim Daniels, Carolyne Wright, Suzanne Lummis, and Lue Lipsitz. Judges have included Yusef Komunyakaa, Melissa Kwasny, Christopher Buckley, Dara Wier, Dorianne Laux, and Robert Wrigley.

Lynx House Press has been publishing fine poetry and prose since 1975. Our titles are distributed by the University of Washington Press.

Manuscripts may include poems that have appeared in journals, magazines, or chapbooks. Poems that have previously appeared in full-length, single-author collections are not eligible. Acknowledgments pages and author names may be included. Entries must be at least 48 pages in length.

Mail your manuscript and $28 reading fee (payable to Lynx House Press) to Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry, P.O. Box 96, Spokane, WA 99210 or submit online via Submittable.

The MacGuffin’s 26th Poet Hunt Contest

MacGuffin Poet Hunt

Submit during April 1-June 15

One first place winner will receive $500 and publication in a future issue, along with up to two Honorable Mention selections. We're excited to welcome Indigo Moor to serve as this year's guest judge!

We'll accept up to five poems per $15 entry fee. Please begin your submission with a cover page listing your name, email address, mailing address (for one issue, included with entry), and poem titles. On the following pages, include your poems, with each poem beginning on a new page and devoid of any personally identifiable information to preserve the blind review. That's it!

See the full rules on our website, then enter by mail or online at Submittable starting on April 1.

An Incomplete List of My Wishes: Stories by Jendi Reiter

An Incomplete List of My Wishes

Winner of the 2017 Sunshot Book Prize for Fiction, Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter's debut story collection explores the fraught relationships among queer and straight family members, the search for a post-traumatic spirituality, and the fine line between soulmates and intimate enemies.

Novelist John Shore (Everywhere She's Not, American Fiction Award winner) says in his 5-star Amazon review, "You will never read a better, more fully realized collection of short stories. This is a masterful work."

Reviewer Meghan O'Neill at Mom Egg Review says, "This short story collection is the product of a wonderful mixing of novelist and poet. For each of Jendi Reiter’s stories, the tension is expertly built but never released. By exposing the fraught nature of different relationships, the reader must sit in their own discomfort, wondering about the things never said."

Learn more and read "Memories of the Snow Queen", a story from the book.

Buy the book at Sunshot Press.

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
Great American Think-Off. The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center invites US writers to submit essays up to 750 words on a selected philosophical theme. Four finalists will receive $500 and an expenses-paid trip to New York Mills, MN in June for debate to determine the contest winner. The 2021 topic is: "Which is more important: to win or to play by the rules?" Due April 1.

Intermediate Writers
James Laughlin Award. For a US poet's second book of 48-100 pages, under contract to a US publisher and forthcoming in 2022. The Academy of American Poets will award the winner $5,000, a weeklong residency in Miami Beach, FL, and buy 1,000 copies of the winning book for distribution to its members. Publisher should submit entry form and upload PDF of manuscript with author's name removed. Due May 15.

Advanced Writers
Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant. Eight grants of $40,000 each will be awarded to US writers completing creative nonfiction books (e.g., biography, memoir, history, cultural or political reportage, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, graphic nonfiction, personal essays, etc.) that are currently under contract with US publishers. Submit sample chapters (25,000 words maximum), the original proposal that led to the book contract, a budget, a schedule for completion, a signed and dated contract with the publisher, a resume, a list of other funding received for the book, and a letter of recommendation from the book's publisher or editor. Due April 26.

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.

Solstice Lit Mag: Graphic Lit
(literary comics and graphic narratives - rolling deadline)

Wicked Gay Ways
(LGBTQ literary erotica - March 15)

20.35 Africa Anthology
(poetry by young African writers - March 16)

(short fiction - March 31)

Sequestrum: "Optimism" Issue
(poetry and short fiction with a hopeful outlook - April 15)

Sequestrum "Slipstream" Issue
(poetry and short fiction in magical realist, fantasy, or sci-fi genres - April 15)

Sinister Wisdom: "Trans/Feminisms" Issue
(lesbian-feminist journal seeks creative writing exploring the intersection of transgender experience and feminism - April 15)

Black Lawrence Press: Black Womanhood Anthology
(essays on stereotypes that burden Black women - June 30)

Flowers & Vortexes
(poetry - August 30)

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

Aesthetic Press
(commercial fiction book manuscripts by BIPOC - January 1, 2022)

PSA: Important Information about the Citizenship Test

Important Information about the Citizenship Test

ProLiteracy, along with many other organizations, submitted comments to the federal government outlining ways in which the newly implemented 2020 civics test content, process, and procedures would make it more difficult for an individual to achieve citizenship.

On February 2, President Biden signed an executive order, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans. The order directs a review of the naturalization process in order to eliminate barriers and ensure accessibility by all eligible individuals.

Students who filed their naturalization applications on or after December 1, 2020, but before March 1, 2021, with an interview scheduled before April 19, 2021, will be able to choose to take either the 2008 or the 2020 civics test. USCIS has indicated that they will notify applicants who are affected. Students whose interviews are scheduled on or after April 19, 2021, will take the 2008 civics test.

Details about the civics test can be found on USCIS' Citizenship Resource Center page. In addition, New Readers Press' Citizenship Passing the Test is available for citizenship preparation for ELL students.

Thank you to everyone who submitted comments to USCIS about these test changes. Our advocacy efforts have created change!

Award-Winning Fiction & Nonfiction from Around the Web

Tryphena L. Yeboah

This month, editor Jendi Reiter highlights fiction and nonfiction that have won recent prizes.

by Tryphena L. Yeboah

Third Prize Winner of Narrative Magazine's 2020 Spring Story Contest
Next deadline: March 31
This quarterly award from Narrative, a well-regarded online journal, gives prizes up to $2,500 for unpublished short fiction and creative nonfiction. The Winter 2021 contest is open through March 31. In this searing and poetic personal essay, a young Ghanaian woman studying in America confronts her lifelong body dysmorphic disorder when she rents an apartment full of mirrors.

by Candy Lavender

Winner of the 2020 Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest
Entries must be received by March 31
This long-running award from online poetry and prose journal Gemini Magazine gives prizes up to $1,000 for short stories, 6,000 words maximum. Lavender's timely and disturbing tale is narrated by a CDC researcher visiting a tropical island that has remained mysteriously untouched by a global pandemic.

by Suzanne Samples

Winner of the 2020 Prime Number Magazine Award for Short Fiction
Entries must be received by March 31
Press 53's literary journal gives $1,000 apiece and publication for a poem and a short story. In this darkly comic story, a brain cancer survivor's problems are compounded by a chaotic ex-girlfriend.

by Gregory Jeffers

Winner of the Winter 2019 Sixfold Short Story Award
Entries must be received by April 23
Online literary journal Sixfold offers several $1,000 prizes a year for fiction and poetry, with the winners voted on by the writers who enter. This wry, gritty story follows a resourceful single mother who runs an unusual business out of her trailer-park home.

"Invictus" by William Ernest Henley, illustrated by Julian Peters

Poems to See By features 24 classic poems with visual interpretations by comic artist Julian Peters. Mr. Peters has graciously allowed us to reprint "Invictus" from the book.





The Last Word

Jendi ReiterUnseen on Mulberry Street
I wonder whether editing the past also perpetuates racism, by giving children the false impression that literature has always been morally pure—or ever can be. Surely today's books have other flaws that we haven't yet recognized. Are we setting kids up to be defensive about their future problematic faves, instead of teaching them from an early age to tolerate moral ambiguity?

Read more

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