The best free literary contests with deadlines through May 31.

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Welcome to Our April Newsletter

Jude Nutter and Marilyn L. Taylor

We found over three dozen quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between April 15-May 31. View their profiles now!
In this issue: "Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town" by John Philip Johnson, illustrated by Julian Peters.

JUDE NUTTER and MARILYN L. TAYLOR won the top awards of $1,500 each in our 13th annual Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. 2,435 entries were received from around the world. We received so many fine poems that we awarded three extra Honorable Mentions, 13 in all: Donald Adamson, David Hill, Justin Hunt, Laura M. Kaminski, Ray Keifetz, Eileen P. Kennedy, Allegra Keys, Kathleen McClung, Katy McKinney, Maribeth Pittman, Shoshauna Shy, Stuart J. Silverman, and Jeff Walt. Read today's press release, and read the winning entries selected by Ellaraine Lockie. Our 14th contest opens today. Soma Mei Sheng Frazier is our new final judge. Enter here.

Last Call!
Deadline: April 30. 24th year. $4,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $1,500 each. Fee: $18 per entry. Arthur Powers will judge. Previously published work accepted. See last year's winners and enter here.
Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers

Writer's Digest just named us again to their annual list of the 101 Best Websites for Writers. We appreciate your nominations!

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Upcoming contest deadlines:

3-Line Poem Contest
Write a three-lined poem. We are looking for an unrhymed poem of 17 or 19 syllables. It has the following syllable counts: 5/7/5 or 5/7/7. Winner receives $100 cash. Deadline: April 18.

Acrostic Poetry Contest
Write an acrostic poem where the first letter of each line spells out a word. $100 to the winner. Deadline: April 24.

Write a short story that includes a character that is part of the scene pictured. The winner takes away $100. Deadline: April 29.

Faith Poetry Contest
We are looking for poems that in some way pertain to the theme of faith. It doesn't matter if it's spiritual, political, intellectual or emotional as long as faith is clearly represented. Cash prize of $100 for the winner. Deadline: April 30.

See all our upcoming contests and
find out more.


Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Jeanne Julian (featured poem: "Loss and Blossom"), Laurie Klein (featured poem: "Jealous"), Gisela Woldenga, Jaime Martínez-Tolentino, Evelyn Krieger, Ruth Thompson, Dan Klefstad, Nancy Christie, Mary Lou Taylor (featured poem: "The Valley of Hearts Delight"), Lance Johnson, Kathleen Spivack, Mingzhao Xu, Alan Tarica, Mark Fleisher (featured poem: "Remembrance"), and Robin Coste Lewis.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Elk River Writers Workshop - Apply Now

Elk River Writers Workshop

The 2016 Elk River Writers Workshop is accepting applications for its August 8-11 summer workshop at Chico Hot Springs in Montana's Paradise Valley. This second annual event brings prominent writers together with advanced writing students in a small group environment. This year's faculty includes 2016 Henry David Thoreau Prize winner Linda Hogan, Pulitzer Prize nominee Craig Lesley, and New York Times bestselling fiction authors Nina McConigley and Jamie Ford. The Keynote speaker is Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air and the New York Times bestseller Blood Will Out.

Students will work with the faculty member of their choice in a traditional workshop, a generative seminar, or a master class. Classes are capped at ten students. Additional events include craft talks by each faculty member, evening lectures by award-winning authors, opportunities for student readings, meetings with publishers/editors, and a trail ride or raft trip adventure. The workshop will culminate with a gala faculty reading.

Rolling admissions will close when full or on June 1, whichever comes first. Three scholarships are available (one general, one Native American, and one for a Park County high school writer in residence). To learn more and apply, visit or email

On Sale Now: Edisto Jinx by C. Hope Clark

Edisto Jinx

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.

A Homicide in Hooker's Point by Gloria Taylor Weinberg

Winner of the 2015 North Street Book Prize (Literary Fiction) and a 2011 Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association

In 1950, eight-year-old Vicki Leigh Bayle learns that love and hate are sometimes drawn from the same well, and that some of the people she loves most keep stores of each in equal measure. In the segregated context of South Florida, she learns that prejudice is not always about color, and that truth, as people define it, is malleable. In one tragic weekend of violence, Vicki also learns that some secrets must be kept forever.

Based on a true story, A Homicide in Hooker's Point is the debut novel of retired journalist Gloria Taylor Weinberg. It is available from and, or signed by the author at

Read a sample chapter.

A Homicide in Hooker's Point

Lauren Singer: Professional Editing and Proofreading

Finishing up your manuscript? Putting those last touches on your thesis or dissertation? Submitting application essays to your dream school? These writing projects can take a lot out of a person. Sometimes the work is so dense and the topics so subjective that it's difficult to see a clear end in sight.

Don't pull out more hair—give yourself a break! I'll help ease your typing tension so you can show that writer's block who's boss. Email Lauren Singer at or call 347-675-4877 for professional editing, proofreading, and general assistance with your current project. I have many years of experience, a bundle of great references, and am currently a staff judge at Winning Writers. Let's tackle those big ideas together!

See Lauren's six quick writing tips.

Lauren Singer

The Writer's Hotel "Mini MFA" Writers Conference 2016, June 1-7: NYC

Application deadline: April 22. The Writer's Hotel is a hybrid writers conference that meets each June at a floating campus between three hotels in Midtown Manhattan. TWH is unique. We work with each writer on their writing for months before our Midtown conference. At our hotel campus in NYC in June, writers enjoy workshops, agent speed dating, editor and writer lectures, and genre labs. And each writer gets to read their own work in the city, at KGB Bar Lit, Cornelia Street Café or Book Culture. Please see AWP's article on our "new kind of writing program" and our trailer.

TWH 2016 Faculty includes Meghan Daum, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Marie Howe, Tim Seibles and Bill Roorbach. Free to apply at

"I am blown away by the time TWH Editors dedicated to read, comment, and discuss my manuscript pre-conference. The editorial approach is unlike any I have experienced, as I seek to shape my work into book form." — Jim G.

NYC workshop at Library Hotel's Writers Den

Nimrod International Journal's Literary Awards for Fiction and Poetry

Nimrod International Journal - Awards 37

Deadline: April 30. It's time to enter the 38th 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 established writers since 1956. Nimrod is dedicated to the discovery of new voices in literature, and the Nimrod Literary Awards are a special way to reward talented new poets and fiction writers.

  • 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)

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 and any subtitles, author's name, full address, phone, and email. Entries may be mailed or submitted online. Winners will also be brought to Tulsa for the Awards Ceremony and Conference for Readers and Writers in October. All finalists will be considered for publication.

For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website:

Tupelo Press 2016 Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry

Postmark Deadline: April 30, 2016. 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. Manuscripts are judged anonymously and all finalists will be considered for publication. The final judge for the 2016 Berkshire Prize is Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Results will be announced in late July of 2016.

Submit a previously unpublished, full-length poetry manuscript with a table of contents. A length of 48-88 pages of poems is suggested. We encourage online submission via Submittable. You may also submit via postal mail: Tupelo Press Berkshire Prize, Tupelo Press, P.O. Box 1767, North Adams, MA 01247.

A reading fee of $28 payable by check to Tupelo Press or via Submittable must accompany each submission. Multiple submissions are accepted, each accompanied by a $28 reading fee.

Read the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript:

Read about past winners and more information about all Tupelo contests at:

Please enjoy this excerpt from Halve by the 2015 Berkshire Prize winner Kristina Jipson, published this year by Tupelo Press.

Tupelo Press First/Second Book Award

Dancing Poetry Festival Contest

Deadline: May 15. All Dancing Poetry Festival prize winners will receive a prize certificate suitable for framing, a ticket to the Dancing Poetry Festival, September 17, 2016, in the Florence Gould Theater at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, and an invitation to read their prizewinning poem at the festival.

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.

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 "Designs and Destinations" by Catherine Moran, a 2015 Grand Prize winner.

Dancing Poetry

Deadline Approaching: TWP Seeks Applicants for 12 Narrative Nonfiction Writing Fellowships

Deadline: May 15. Think Write Publish (TWP) at Arizona State University seeks individuals for twelve two-year, non-residential writing Fellowships.

Do you have a compelling true story to write about harmonies between science and religion? Would you like to be part of a community of talented writers also motivated by this subject? Want to meet and dialogue with publishers and editors who are interested in your work? If you answered, "yes", we want you to apply!

We will award twelve $10,000 two-year Think Write Publish Science & Religion Fellowships.

Fellows will participate in three intensive workshops focusing on developing, writing, marketing, and publishing their creative nonfiction stories about harmonies between science and religion.

Fellows' work will be mentored throughout by experienced writers, editors, and teachers, and will be featured in a series of regional and national events.

All Fellows' domestic (US) travel and accommodation expenses related to their participation will be covered by the project.

Guidelines at

Think Write Publish

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on "Joy"

Creative Nonfiction

Deadline: May 16. Creative Nonfiction magazine is seeking new essays for an upcoming issue dedicated to JOY.

Too often the moments that move us to write are bleak ones—stories of loss, hardship, or learning through painful interactions. For this issue we're looking for well-crafted narratives that explore the brighter moments in life, those that teach and enlighten us through their beauty or humor.

Your tale of joy need not revolve around ecstatic delight or a once-in-a-lifetime moment; we are equally interested in thoughtfully-written pieces about finding pleasure in small things or unexpected places, and in works that highlight moments of joy in the midst of otherwise difficult circumstances. We also welcome less common approaches to this topic: the science of happiness, the history of some particularly joyful event, pop-cultural manifestations of bliss, and so on.

Submissions must be 4,000 words or fewer.

$1,000 for best essay; $500 for runner-up.

Guidelines at

New Letters Literary Awards

New Letters

Deadline: May 18. New Letters invites you to submit fiction, essays, or poetry to the 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 New Letters.

All entries are considered for publication and must be unpublished. Winners will be announced mid-September 2016. 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. $20/$25 entry fee includes a one-year subscription to New Letters.

Previous judges have included Philip Levine, Joyce Carol Oates, Rishi Reddi, Mary Jo Salter, Carole Maso, Cornelius Eady, Margot Livsey, Benjamin Percy, Robin Hemley, and Kim Addonizio. For complete guidelines, visit, or send an S.A.S.E. to Ashley Wann, Contest Coordinator, New Letters, 5101 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110.

The MacGuffin's 21st National Poet Hunt Contest

Postmark deadline: June 3. The MacGuffin is once again on the hunt for a winning poem for our 21st National Poet Hunt Contest! One first place winner will receive $500 and publication in a future issue. Every entrant will receive a complimentary issue that features the winning poem(s). This year, we've brought in Li-Young Lee to act as our guest judge. 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).

Mail your entry to:

The MacGuffin
Attn: Poet Hunt Contest
Schoolcraft College
18600 Haggerty Road
Livonia, MI 48152-2696

For full rules, see the Contest Rules page over at If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us at Good luck!

The MacGuffin

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
Anna Boswell Memorial Prize for Young Writers. Writers aged 13-19 can win $100 for an unpublished poem submitted to Teenage Wasteland Review. Due April 30.

Intermediate Writers
Black Orchid Novella Award. Submit a traditional mystery novella to win $1,000 and publication in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Due May 31.

Advanced Writers
Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. Top prize of C$60,000 for nonfiction published in Canada between September 18, 2015 and September 30, 2016 by Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Due dates: March 23, May 25, July 27.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions


PSA: The Hunger for Literacy in America


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Julian Peters: "Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town" by John Philip Johnson

Reprinted by kind permission of Julian Peters and John Philip Johnson. Visit their websites at and
Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town by John Philip Johnson
Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town by John Philip Johnson
Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town by John Philip Johnson
Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town by John Philip Johnson
Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town by John Philip Johnson

Coming in our May 15 newsletter:"The Given Note" by Seamus Heaney.

The Last Word

The Dark Door: C.M. Royer's Spiritual Abuse Survivor Memoir
Royer is only in her mid-20s but she is strong and wise beyond her years. The Dark Door recounts her break for independence at age 18 when she dared to fall in love with and marry a young man against her parents' wishes, and her subsequent de-conversion from Christianity as she processed the ways that religion had been used to keep her under her abusive father's thumb. Unlike some of the other bloggers in this genre, she did not become a rationalist or atheist, but instead is developing a personal spiritual practice based on psychic intuition, spirit guides, Tarot, and universal values of love and fairness. [continue at Reiter's Block]

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

Jendi Reiter