The best free literary contests with deadlines through April 30 |

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Welcome to Our March Newsletter

Adam Cohen

We found over three dozen quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between March 15-April 30. In this issue: Part 1 of "All Right There, Soldier?", a poem by Vincent O'Sullivan, illustrated by Julian Peters.
View Free Contests

Last Call!
Deadline: April 1. 16th year. $2,250 in prizes, including a top award of $1,000. Final judge: Jendi Reiter. Previously published work accepted. See last year's winners and enter here.

Deadline Next Month
Deadline: April 30. 25th year. $4,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $1,500 each. Fee: $18 per entry. Final judge: Judy Juanita. Previously published work accepted. See last year's winners and enter here.

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 85,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

Featured Sponsor: The 2017 Editor's Reprint Award at Sequestrum

Deadline: April 30

The 2017 Editor's Reprint Award at Sequestrum awards over $500 in prizes and publication to writers of previously-published short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Two first-prize winners (one fiction/nonfiction, one poetry) will receive $200 each. A minimum of one runner-up per genre will receive publication and a cash prize. Finalists last year included new, emerging, and award-winning writers. Finalists listed on the website. Enter online. No length or theme restrictions.

Sequestrum has an international readership of 2,500+ per month and publishes poetry and prose on a rolling basis. All publications are paired with a visual component. Past contributors include Guggenheim and NEA Fellows, Pulitzer Prize finalists, as well as many new and emerging voices. More here:

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Duane L. Hermann, John Reinhart, Patrick T. Reardon (featured poem: "Able to Choose"), Terri Kirby Erickson (featured poem: "Pixie Cut"), Diane Lockward, Mike Tuohy, Rev. Robert P. Mitchell, Robert Walton, Darrell Lindsey, Bracha Nechama Bomze, R.T. Castleberry, and Des Mannay.

Our North Street contest partner Carolyn Howard-Johnson's latest book, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically, was favorably reviewed at Bassocantor, the blog of Amazon "Hall of Fame" top reviewer Chris Lawson. "I can see that the author is a very wise person, who also understands marketing and the review process...How to Get Great Book Reviews is the BEST material I have seen on this subject—by far." Everyone who enters their self-published book in our North Street contest will receive a free PDF of How to Get Great Book Reviews.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Palmetto Poison by C. Hope Clark—Sale Ends Today!

Third in the award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series

A Governor keeping secrets. A drug lord bent on revenge. And a DEA agent out to make her case, no matter who gets hurt in the process. Once again, Carolina Slade finds herself caught in a web of lies and murder, only this time the case involves a Governor's family secret, and a history of poisonous peanuts with the ability to kill.

"Carolina Slade is the real deal—Southern charm, a steely determination, and a vulnerability she'll never admit to. Slade is at her absolute best in C. Hope Clark's Palmetto Poison so hold on for the ride!"
—Lynn Chandler-Willis, bestselling author and winner of the Minotaur Books/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Competition

"Author C. Hope Clark writes an offbeat thriller with fascinating characters. The pages crackle with energy, the heroine ever struggling to balance her job, her family, and her emotions. She doesn't like being told what to do, and repeatedly gets herself in hot water by challenging authority. She makes mistakes, any one of which could be fatal. This is the third book in the Carolina Slade series and in my opinion the best. Author Clark is maturing as an author, her writing becoming more complex, deeper and richer. Her characters are more lifelike, her plots more intriguing. You would never figure out where this one was going without knowing in advance, but in the end it all makes sense. Looking for an unusual thriller with a South Carolina setting and a marvelous cast of characters, this is one novel you need to get hold of."
—Louis N. Gruber, Vine Voice Amazon Reviewer

On sale March 1-15: $1.99 at all online venues. Winner of the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for best traditional mystery.

Buy Palmetto Poison now at Amazon

Blog Book Tour and Sale for Two Natures by Jendi Reiter—Final Three Days!

Two Natures by Jendi Reiter

2016 Rainbow Awards: First Prize, Best Gay Contemporary Fiction; First Runner-Up, Debut Gay Book

Named one of QSpirit's Top LGBTQ Christian Books of 2016

Jendi Reiter's debut novel, Two Natures (Saddle Road Press), is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBooks. This genre-bending work couples the ambitious political analysis of literary fiction with the pleasures of an unconventional love story.

Two Natures is currently touring two dozen book review and M/M fan blogs thanks to Embrace the Rainbow, a blog book tour site specializing in LGBTQ authors.

To coincide with the tour, the Amazon Kindle and iBooks editions of Two Natures are on sale for $0.99 now through March 17.

See the tour dates on

Truth To Power: Writers Respond To The Rhetoric Of Hate And Fear

"Faster than a speeding NRA bullet after the election, Cutthroat, A Journal of the Arts, assembled and published this collection of works, as powerful, compelling, and incisive as they are timely. Individually and collectively, they trumpet a stirring call to action on today's most crucial issues. Although President Trump is the primary focus, he serves as a prism for these inflamed issues, but is hardly the sole theme of Truth To Power. Pace yourself while reading this intense and intensive 340-page anthology so you can savor the works, and not be overwhelmed. You'll want to refer to Truth To Power often throughout the next four, or eight years, and beyond."
Marsha Dubrow, Consequence Magazine

COG Page to Screen Awards—Last Call

Deadline: March 31. Sponsored by Cogswell College. Submit an unpublished short story or work of creative nonfiction, up to 7,000 words. The winner will receive:

  • Publication online and in the print issue of COG, as well as a $1,000 prize
  • A blurb about your short story by NPR/PRI's Snap Judgment host Glynn Washington
  • Your story adapted as an animated short film, 2D animation, graphic novel, or series of interpretive illustrations by students in Cogswell's celebrated Digital Art & Animation Program and Digital Audio Technology Program.

Check out the details—including a link to the full submission guidelines—at

Please enjoy this animation made from "The Last Gun" by Anne Harding Woodworth, a 2015-2016 COG Poetry Award winner:

The Last Gun

Attn Screenwriters: Apply for CineStory's Feature Retreat

Deadline extended to April 5

CineStory's Feature Retreat is dedicated to the advancement of fresh voices in screenwriting by selecting 25 screenwriters for a four-day program held in the Fall. One writer will receive $10,000 and a 12-month mentorship from Industry Mentors.

Attendees are selected from our submission process. Do that here: SUBMIT.


The Mentors – For every writer that attends the 4-day Retreat, they will sit down with 3 industry professionals in 90 minute one-on-one sessions and receive feedback on their projects, as well as general advice on how to navigate a career in the entertainment industry. Writers also participate in "informal rooms". These interactive sessions with panels of 3-4 mentors cover topics such as pitching like a pro, the state of filmmaking, what agents/managers look for, among others.

The Writers – We create an environment where writers have a chance to bond and create their own writing community. We pride ourselves that many writers have left with lifelong friendships. Writers from around the world (Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan) attend the CineStory Retreat.

Idyllwild – Two hours outside of Los Angeles, Idyllwild is the perfect location for a writer's getaway. Surrounded by the nature's beauty of the San Jacinto mountains, Idyllwild's rustic charm allows creatives to be creative!

And that's the CineStory experience!


Dancing Poetry Festival Contest

Deadline: April 15

Now in its 24th year, all Dancing Poetry Festival prize winners will receive a prize certificate suitable for framing, a ticket to the Dancing Poetry Festival, September 16, 2017, 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.

Please look at photos of our Dancing Poetry Festivals to see 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. We look forward to reading your submissions. See the complete contest rules.

Please enjoy "Just Breathe" by Toni Poll-Sorensen, a 2016 Grand Prize winner.

Gulf Coast Prizes in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

Deadline: April 15

Gulf Coast is now accepting entries for the 2017 Gulf Coast Prizes in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. Cate Marvin, Chinelo Okparanta, and Diane Roberts will judge. The contest awards $1,500 and publication in Gulf Coast to the winner in each genre. Two honorable mentions in each genre will be awarded $250. All entries will be considered for publication and the entry fee includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast. Check out for full guidelines.

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on "Dangerous Creations: Real-life Frankenstein Stories"

Deadline extended to April 17

In the summer of 1816, in response to a challenge from friends to write the most terrifying possible ghost story, the young Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley dreamed up the story of a young scientist and his monstrous creation. The "Frankenstein monster" has fascinated the imagination ever since.

In conjunction with the ASU Frankenstein Bicentennial Project, Creative Nonfiction magazine is daring writers (as Mary Shelley was dared in Geneva) to write original and groundbreaking stories in the spirit of Frankenstein—but nonfiction. That is to say, we're looking for true stories that explore humans' efforts to control and redirect nature, the evolving relationships between humanity and science/technology, and contemporary interpretations of monstrosity.

Essays must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with an informative or reflective element and reach beyond a strictly personal experience for some universal or deeper meaning. We're open to a broad range of interpretations of the "Frankenstein" theme, with the understanding that all works submitted must tell true stories and be factually accurate. Above all, we're looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice.

Submissions must be 4,000 words or fewer.

$10,000 for Best Essay and two $2,500 prizes for runners-up.

Guidelines at

Creative Nonfiction

Nimrod International Journal's Literary Awards for Fiction and Poetry

Deadline: April 30

It's time to enter the 39th 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. Winners will also be brought to Tulsa for the Awards Ceremony and Conference for Readers and Writers in October.

Established in 1956, Nimrod is dedicated to the discovery of new voices in literature, and the Nimrod Literary Awards are a special way to recognize 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(s), author's name, full address, phone, and email. Entries may be mailed to Nimrod or submitted online at All finalists will be considered for publication.

For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website:

We are proud to present "Grandmother Ruth—Last Day of School", published in our Awards 38 issue.

2017 Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry

Postmark Deadline: April 30
Final judge: Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Prize:  $3,000

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. Results will be announced in late summer.

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 "The Outer Core" by 2014 Berkshire Prize winner Jenny Molberg, from Marvels of the Invisible, published this year by Tupelo Press.

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
Speculative Literature Foundation Older Writers Grant. Awards two grants of $500 apiece for unpublished writing samples (poetry, drama, fiction, or nonfiction) by writers aged 50+ who are just starting to write professionally. Due March 31.

Intermediate Writers
Governor General's Literary Awards. Awards prizes up to C$25,000 for best English-language and French-language books in each of 7 categories: Fiction, Literary Nonfiction, Poetry, Drama, Young People's Literature (text), Young People's Literature (illustrated books), and Translation (from French to English or from English to French). Books must be first foreign or first Canadian edition trade books that have been written, translated, or illustrated by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Submission by publishers only. Due June 1.

Advanced Writers
Harold U. Ribalow Prize. Hadassah, the women's Zionist organization of America, awards $3,000 for a published book of fiction on Jewish themes. Due April 7.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

PSA: A Conversation with Ruth Colvin, Founder of Literacy Volunteers of America

Literacy as a global mission interested Ruth Johnson Colvin for years. In 1961, she learned that more than 11,000 people in her adopted hometown of Syracuse, New York, were illiterate. "Why doesn't somebody do something?" she wondered. In 1962, she did something—she started Literacy Volunteers of America, one of the founding organizations of ProLiteracy. Her legacy is the country's largest literacy program. See the video.

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"All Right There, Soldier?" by Vincent O'Sullivan, illustrated by Julian Peters

On the request of the Canadian High Commission to New Zealand, Julian Peters created a comics adaptation of Canada's most iconic poem of the First World War, John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields". He also created this adaptation of a poem by Vincent O'Sullivan, New Zealand's then current Poet Laureate. "All Right There, Soldier?" can be read in part as a response to McCrae's poem. This is Part 1. Part 2 will appear in our April 15 newsletter.

Hokitika is a town on the West coast of New Zealand's South Island, and Newtown and Aro Street are traditionally working-class areas of Wellington.

Reprinted by kind permission of Julian Peters. Visit his website.

To be concluded in our April 15 newsletter.

The Last Word

Race and Repentance
Among the topics of my soul-searching this year is racism and my complicity in it as a white person... In the words of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, white privilege is partly about the "unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know." We have no reason to question popular narratives of American history that could be dangerously wrong. We might fall for hate-mongering political strategies against a marginalized group without recognizing that they're right out of the KKK's playbook. [read more]

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

Jendi Reiter
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