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Welcome to Our April Newsletter

We found over two dozen quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between April 15-May 31. View their profiles now! And see below for contests we especially recommend for writers at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages of their careers.

Emily Rose Cole and B.J. Buckley It's our pleasure to announce that Winning Writers has returned to the Writer's Digest list of the 101 Best Websites for Writers. We're on page 42 of the May/June issue. We appreciate your nominations!

EMILY ROSE COLE and B.J. BUCKLEY won top awards in our 12th annual Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. 1,338 poets competed. Read today's press release, and read the winning entries selected by Ellaraine Lockie. Our 13th Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest opens today, now with $4,000 in prizes.

23rd Annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest
Two top prizes of $1,500 each. 10 Honorable Mentions of $100 each. Winning entries published online. Accepts published and unpublished work. Fee: $16 per entry. Final judge: Arthur Powers. Submit online by April 30.

New! The North Street Book Prize for Self-Published Books
Three top winners will each receive $1,500, a credit towards the high-quality publishing services at BookBaby, free advertising in this newsletter, and expert marketing advice from Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter. Judges: Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFlecheSubmit online or by mail by June 30.

In this issue:
"What Teachers Make" by Taylor Mali, illustrated by Gavin Aung Than

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Follow us on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

Featured Sponsor: Enter Writing Contests at

Over 50 new writing contests every month at Participate in our active online writing community. Improve your writing and get motivated. Get detailed feedback for every poem, short story, and book chapter that you write. See how your rank compares to other writers. Our contests are always free to paid members. Participate for cash prizes. Click here to learn more. Contests open now:

What's Your Story?
Write about a piece of your life, 500-7,000 words. $100 cash for the winner. Deadline: April 20.

Write About This
Write a story of 700-7,000 words that includes this image in some way. Winner receives $100. Deadline: April 26.

Flash Fiction Writing Contest
Write a story of 500-800 words on the topic of "Worry". What is your character worried about? $100 for the winner. Deadline: May 1.

Tanka Poetry Contest
The tanka form contains five unrhymed lines of 5, 7, 5, 7, and 7 syllables. You may submit one or more stanzas in this form. Strict adherence to the traditional form is not required. Winner takes away $100 cash. Deadline: May 7.

See all our upcoming contests...



Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Terri Kirby Erickson, J.C. Todd (featured poem: "Bud"), Bracha Nechama Bomze (see excerpt from Love Justice), David Kherdian, Jackie Maugh Robinson, Lesléa Newman, Roberta Beary, Carl Bowlby, Marsha Truman Cooper, Diana Anhalt, Charlie Bondhus, and A.M. Thompson.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter was interviewed about her new poetry collection, Bullies in Love (Little Red Tree Publishing, 2015), on Trish Hopkinson's poetry blog on March 12.

Learn more about their achievements and see more links to samples of their work.

Have news? Please email it to - Calls for Submissions

We are a free online resource to help you find paying markets for your poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Updated daily, we report on editors and publishers who are actively seeking submissions, pay standard or competitive rates, and do not charge reading fees. Founded in 2001, is edited by freelance writer Brian Scott (@busyguru).

A few of our special features include:

  1. Sci-fi/fantasy markets that are soliciting stories
  2. Anthologists who are seeking submissions for special themed anthologies
  3. Magazine editors who are accepting fiction and nonfiction articles for upcoming issues
  4. Literary agents who are seeking new authors to represent
  5. New book imprints that are seeking new authors for debut titles
  6. Literary journals with time-sensitive reading periods that are accepting limited submissions of poetry and prose
  7. Announcements of new editors at high-paying magazines and what they are currently seeking from freelance writers
Visit now

Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers

From the HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers

June Casagrande, author of Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies (Penguin) and syndicated grammar columnist guru, says, "By creating a guide designed specifically to get writers past gatekeepers, Carolyn Howard-Johnson has created something of unmatched value: usage advice that cuts through the contentious world of grammar to offer real help. Writers polishing their manuscripts and query letters will find Howard-Johnson's guide more useful than Strunk and White."

This little booklet is carry-with-you protection against grammar gremlins with a frugal price of $6.95 that includes a free ebook using Kindle’s Matchbook program. Buy now from Amazon.

Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers

FundsforWriters - Subscribe Free


FundsforWriters is a motivational and informational Friday newsletter devoured by over 30,000 readers. From markets to grants, crowdfunding to publishing, FFW leads writers to success. Chosen by Writer's Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 15 years.

A Hero for the People, by Arthur Powers

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!

"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


A Hero for the People

Nimrod International Journal's Literary Awards for Fiction and Poetry

Deadline: April 30. It's time to enter the 37th annual Nimrod Literary Awards: The Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. The Awards offer first prizes of $2,000 and publication, and second prizes of $1,000 and publication. One of the oldest "little magazines" in the country, Nimrod has continually published new and extraordinary writers since 1956.

Winners will also be brought to Tulsa for the Awards Ceremony in October. All finalists will be considered for publication. For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website:

  • Poetry: 3-10 pages of poetry (one long poem or several short poems)
  • Fiction: 7,500 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel)
  • Fee Per Entry: $20 payable to Nimrod, includes a one-year subscription (two issues)

Learn more and read "Fukushima, March 11, 2011" by Lynn Shoemaker, the 2nd-prize poem in our 2013 contest...

Nimrod International Journal

Sequestrum: First Annual Editor's Reprint Award

Sequestrum Contests

Deadline: April 30. The 2015 Editor's Reprint Award at Sequestrum offers $200 and publication in the Summer '15 issue for one previously-published selection of fiction or nonfiction, and a minimum of one runner-up will receive publication and payment at our usual rates (plus a little extra). Finalists listed on the website. Enter online. No length or theme restrictions.

Sequestrum has an international readership of 1,000+ per month, with bi-weekly publications of poetry and prose paired with stunning visual components. Past contributors include Guggenheim and NEA Fellows, Pulitzer Prize finalists, as well as many new and emerging voices. More here:

Tupelo Press: Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry

Tupelo Press: Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry

Deadline: April 30. The Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry includes a cash award of $3,000 in addition to publication by Tupelo Press, 20 copies of the winning title, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. We suggest submitting a manuscript of 48 to 88 pages of poems, but all manuscripts will be read and considered with full respect, regardless of length.

Manuscripts are judged anonymously and all finalists will be considered for publication. Final Judge: Carol Frost. Results will be announced in late July 2015.

Learn more and read "Peachwood Pendant" by Ye Chun, winner of our 2011 contest...

Poetry of the Sacred Contest

Deadline: May 1. Poetry has been called the language of the soul, and this contest encourages poets to awaken readers to the deep meaning and beauty of life. Poems are evaluated based on literary excellence, spiritual tenor, and human authenticity.

Winning authors receive a monetary prize and their work will be published in Parabola Magazine. First Prize will receive $500 and three Honorable Mentions will receive $100 each. The winning poem will also be read on stage at the 2015 Festival of Faiths. This year's festival theme is Sacred Journeys and the Legacy of Thomas Merton. The festival will be livestreamed during May 12-17.

The Poetry of the Sacred Contest is run annually through the Center for Interfaith Relations, a nonsectarian 501(c)(3) organization located in Louisville, Kentucky, dedicated to promoting interfaith understanding, cooperation, and action. Read last year's winning contest entry by Red Hawk, "What Worship Is".


Poetry of the Sacred Contest

Dancing Poetry Festival Contest

Dancing Poetry Festival

Deadline: May 15. Three Grand Prizes will receive $100 each plus their poems will be danced and filmed. Many smaller prizes. All winners will be invited to read at our 22nd Festival at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, September 19, 2015. Each Grand Prize winner will be invited onstage for photo ops with the dancers and a bow in the limelight.

Winning poems have ranged from the travels of Matisse to a Picasso painting, falling leaves, love, Iraq, China, history, dance, current events, reverie, socially significant situations, and even some humor sprinkled here and there. Please don't feel constrained to write a poem about dancing.

Learn more and enjoy "Eve Dreaming" by Nancy Rakoczy, a 2009 Grand Prize winner...

New Letters Literary Awards

Deadline: May 18. New Letters invites you to submit fiction, essays, or poetry to the 2015 New Letters Literary Awards. Winners receive $1,500 for best essay, $1,500 for best poetry, and $1,500 for best fiction, and publication in a 2015 issue of New Letters.

All entries must be unpublished. Winners will be announced mid-September 2015. Essay and fiction entries may not exceed 8,000 words; poetry entries may contain one to six poems. $20 (postal mail) / $25 (online) for first entry; $15 (postal mail) / $20 (online) for each entry after. Entry fee includes a one-year subscription to New Letters.

Previous final judges have included Philip Levine, Joyce Carol Oates, Rishi Reddi, Mary Jo Salter, Floyd Skloot, Carole Maso, Margot Livsey, Benjamin Percy, Robin Hemley, and Kim Addonizio. See website for guidelines or mail an S.A.S.E. to Ashley Wann, Contest Coordinator, New Letters, 5101 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110.

New Letters

The Backwaters Prize

Deadline May 31. The Backwaters Prize is an annual award given to the author of the best submitted manuscript of original poems. All poets working in the English language may enter. The prize is $1,000 cash and publication of the winning manuscript. Our judge this year is Heid Erdrich. We adhere to the CLMP code of ethics for administering a literary contest. Submit online through Submittable.

We congratulate our 2014 winner, Katharine Whitcomb, for her winning manuscript, The Daughter's Almanac. Final judge Patricia Smith chose her manuscript from more than 200 submissions. Katharine's book will be published in September 2015. Please enjoy a sample poem, "Vox".

The Backwaters Press

The MacGuffin's 20th Annual National Poet Hunt Contest

The MacGuffin's 20th Annual National Poet Hunt Contest

Postmark deadline: June 3. The MacGuffin is once again on the hunt for a winning poem for our 20th annual National Poet Hunt Contest! One first place winner will receive $500 and publication in our Winter 2016 (Vol. XXXII, No. 2) issue. See the complete guidelines on our website.

We've brought in poet Laura Kasischke to act as guest judge this time around. Please submit no more than 3 poems, an index card with your name, poem titles, and contact info, and a $15 check/cash entry fee. Make checks payable to Schoolcraft College and mail your entry to:

      The MacGuffin

      Attn: Poet Hunt Contest

      Schoolcraft College
18600 Haggerty Road

      Livonia, MI 48152-2696

Spotlight Contests

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
Norman Mailer College Writing Awards. Prizes are $5,000 for 4-year college essay competition, $2,500 for 2-year college essay competition, and $2,500 for the poetry competition. Winners also receive lodging and travel expenses (within the US) to attend award ceremony. Due April 30.

Intermediate Writers
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program. Prizes up to $10,000 in each genre for books of literary fiction and nonfiction that have been accepted for publication by a US publisher. Due June 18.

Advanced Writers
St. Francis College Literary Prize. $50,000 for an author's third, fourth, or fifth published or self-published book of fiction (novel or short story collection). Due May 1.

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

Spotlight Contests

Calls for Submissions

To ensure consideration, assume that the editors must receive your submission by the date specified, unless a postmark date is indicated.

PSA: The Price of Illiteracy


A child's reading proficiency by the end of third grade is the most important predictor of his or her high school graduation rate and career success. Currently, 80 percent of children from low income families miss this milestone.

More than 39 million adults aged 16 and older in the United States lack a high school credential and are not enrolled in any educational program.

Adult men and women in the United States who have fewer than twelve years of education have life expectancies not much better than those of all adults in the 1950s and 1960s, while their highly educated counterparts have experienced a dramatic increase in life expectancy.

Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3-4 times more likely to drop out in later years.

High school dropouts from the class of 2006-07 will cost the United States $329 billion in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over their lifetimes.

ProLiteracy believes that a safer, stronger, and more sustainable society starts with an educated population. For more than 50 years, we've been working with passionate people and organizations across the globe to build that society—and to create a world where every person can read and write. Learn more.

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"Winning Writers has been providing a valuable service to the writing community for over ten years. The listings for contests and publications are always inspiring and professional. To build community, they support writers' successes in a special section that highlights their subscribers' recent publications. As an advertiser, their support is top-notch. Responsive and creative, they service their advertisers with copy and design assistance. Overall, a great site, and a great service!"
Joan Gelfand, award-winning author of three poetry collections and the forthcoming novel, Fear to Shred (Incanto Press)

Zen Pencils: Gavin Aung Than Presents "What Teachers Make" by Taylor Mali

Zen Pencils: Gavin Aung Than Presents "What Teachers Make" by Taylor Mali

The Last Word

Leah Umansky's "Mad Men" Inspired Poetry
Leah Umansky's poetry chapbook Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press, 2014) sustains [the show's] lingering atmosphere of cigarette smoke, perfume, and unfulfilled dreams...Umansky understands that "Mad Men" is fundamentally about how our identities are constructed by what we desire. And what we desire—such is the promise of advertising—links us to whom we desire. Or, as Peggy Olson said in her career-defining pitch for the Burger Chef fast food chain at the end of last season, "We can have the connection that we're hungry for." [continue at Reiter's Block]

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

Jendi Reiter