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Award-Winning Poems: Spring 2015

Jendi Reiter

Welcome to my Spring 2015 selection of award-winning poems, highlights from our contest archives, and the best new resources we've found for writers. These quarterly specials are included with your free Winning Writers Newsletter subscription.

14th Annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (no fee)
Top prize $1,000. Ten Honorable Mentions of $100 each. Winning entries published online. Accepts published and unpublished work. Final judge: Jendi ReiterEnter for free by April 1.

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 Accepts published and unpublished work.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, author of A Hero for the People (Press 53, 2013) and The Book of Jotham (Tuscany Press), which won the 2012 Tuscany Press Novella Award. 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:
"Ithaka" by C.P. Cavafy, illustrated by Gavin Aung Than


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Award-Winning Poems Selected by Jendi Reiter

by Caki Wilkinson
Winner of the 2014 Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor's Choice Award
Entries must be received by March 5
This poetry manuscript prize from Persea Books is open to Americans with at least one previously published full-length collection. The winner receives $1,000, publication, and a $1,000 stipend for book promotion expenses. Wilkinson's The Wynona Stone Poems was the most recent winner. The title of this satirical poem about suburban ennui refers to the household idols of the ancient Romans.

by Janine Joseph
Winner of the 2014 Kundiman/Tupelo Press Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by March 15
Two prestigious literary organizations co-sponsor this $1,000 award for a poetry manuscript by an Asian-American writer. Joseph's Driving Without a License was the most recent winner. The narrator of this trenchant poem watches herself play the role of "rootless" consumer in an upscale supermarket, while remembering her immigrant family's hardships.

by David Ray Vance
Winner of the 2012 Antivenom Poetry Award
Postmark Deadline: March 31
This long-running award for a first or second book of poetry includes $1,000 and publication by Elixir Press. In the spirit of George Orwell, this poem from Vance's prizewinning book Stupor alerts us to the power of abstracted and clichéd language to confirm our biases.

by Ed Skoog
Winner of the 2014 Washington State Book Awards
Postmark Deadline: April 1
This free contest gives $500 awards for published books by writers who were born in Washington State or have lived in the state for at least three years. Genres include poetry, fiction, biography, memoir, and literature for young people. Skoog's Rough Day (Copper Canyon Press) was the most recent winner. In this poem, he meditates on hitchhiking across the American West, a harsh environment that teaches wisdom.

by Sarah Rose Nordgren
Winner of the 2013 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: April 30
The University of Pittsburgh Press sponsors this high-profile $5,000 prize for an unpublished first book of poems. This selection from Nordgren's prizewinning Best Bones interrogates the symbols and confinements of girlhood, finding secret meanings in a sewing pattern, a dollhouse, an Easter egg hunt.

Want more? We've been selecting award-winning poems since 2005. Read them here.

You're Invited to the Launch of Bullies in Love by Jendi Reiter

Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter and Little Red Tree Publishing are pleased to announce the publication of Bullies in Love, Reiter's fourth poetry book and second full-length collection, with illustrations by fine art photographer and Massachusetts Cultural Council award winner Toni Pepe. Read and share the press release.

The book launch, with poetry reading and photography exhibit, will be held on Saturday, March 7 from 2-4 PM in the Forbes Library Community Room, 20 West Street, Northampton, MA. Please join us! For details and accessibility information, call the library at 413-587-1011.

Based in New London, CT, Little Red Tree publishes books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art that "delight, entertain, and educate". Visit their website at

"How can one voice be so raw and so refined? How can a poet so fiercely female speak more universally than those who deny our differences? The electrifying paradoxes of art and life snap from every page here as Reiter names the driving forces of her life—our lives."
—Nancy White, administrator of The Word Works Washington Prize, author of Detour (Tamarack Editions, 2010)

Read the title poem, "Bullies in Love", winner of the 2010 Anderbo Poetry Prize.

Bullies in Love by Jendi Reiter

The Frugal Book Promoter

Give your book the best possible start in life with The Frugal Book Promoter, available as an ebook for $9.95. It's full of nitty-gritty how-tos for getting nearly free publicity. Carolyn Howard-Johnson, former publicist, journalist, and instructor for UCLA's Writers' Program for nearly a decade, shares her professional experience and practical tips gleaned from the successes of her own book campaigns. She tells authors how to do what their publishers can't or won't and why authors can often do their own promotion better than a PR professional. The first edition was a multi-award winner. The second edition, updated and expanded by more than 100 pages, is a USA Book News winner.

"This book is like the Energizer just keeps going and going and going..."
—Kristie Leigh Maguire, CEO of Star Publish

"The Frugal Book Promoter is excellent...It has given me ideas that would never have occurred to me before and has changed the way I think about book promotion."
—Mark Logie, poet and short-story writer, winner of the "most promising author" prize from

Learn more about The Frugal Book Promoter on Carolyn Howard-Johnson's website, or buy it now at Amazon. (All contestants for this year's North Street Book Prize will receive a copy of this book for free!)

The Frugal Book Promoter - 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

FundsforWriters - Subscribe Free


Under the hand of C. Hope Clark, 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.

"I entered a contest you referenced and won first place! It was a tough competition and this experience empowered me! Thank you so much for the encouragement and resources." ~Dorit Sasson, Giving Voice to Your Story

Where the Meadowlark Sings, a new chapbook from Ellaraine Lockie

Where the Meadowlark Sings by Ellaraine Lockie

Winner of the 2014 Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest. On sale now!

"Ellaraine Lockie's poems emerge from her Montana homeland...Lockie captures the elegance of the landscape in its 'ripened wheat, cheatgrass and wildflowers', but steers clear of romanticism as she addresses the racism, sexism, and loss of young life in the rural West. In these poems, the history of one-room schoolhouses, vigilantes, cattle rustlers, and depression-era thrift run close to the surface, only a few generations removed from the headlines and newscasts of a disconnected world."
—Tami Haaland, Montana State Poet Laureate; winner of the Nicholas Roerich Prize for Breath in Every Room; author of When We Wake in the Night.

"Ellaraine Lockie's Where the Meadowlark Sings takes us on a journey to another place away from the urban sprawl, the spread of modern technology that works the world into a fever we call progress. She takes us to the life of nature and real people who would stomp the stuffing out of you if you cross them but give you their last bite if they thought you were hungry. We who live in crowded cities where freeways serve as parking lots will almost yearn."
—J. Glenn Evans, Founder, Director, and radio show host of PoetsWest; poet; novelist; author of Broker Jim.

Ellaraine Lockie is a widely published and awarded poet, nonfiction book author, essayist, and judge of the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. Her recent work has been awarded the Women's National Book Association's Poetry Prize, Best Individual Collection from Purple Patch magazine in England for Stroking David's Leg, and the San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest winner for Red for the Funeral. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh. Where the Meadowlark Sings is her eleventh collection of poems.


Please enjoy "Abandoned Garden" from Where the Meadowlark Sings. This poem won the 2012 Women's National Book Association Writing Contest for Poetry.

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

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

Dancing Poetry Festival Contest

Dancing Poetry Festival Contest

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 "Music as Scripture" by Diana Woodcock, a 2014 Grand Prize winner.

Favorite New Resources

Here are some of our favorite newly added resources at Winning Writers. For a full list, see our Resources pages.

Adrienne: A Poetry Journal of Queer Women
Sibling Rivalry Press literary journal

Black Poets Speak Out
Video series protesting police violence

Online literary journal highlights voices of survivors of abuse and discrimination

The Masters Review
Paying market for literary fiction and nonfiction by new writers

Orison Books
Inclusive, faith-inspired literary press

Submishmash Weekly
Submittable's free weekly e-newsletter with opportunities for writers, filmmakers, and artists

TOON Books
High-quality comic books for young readers


Favorite New Books

See our Books page for all of our recommended poetry, fiction, and nonfiction books.

Carmine Dandrea, In a Kept World
This noteworthy chapbook from Finishing Line Press is a unified 17-poem cycle voiced by a solitary older man inside a house in Michigan in deep winter. As the "prime suspect" of his own examinations, he reflects on mortality and time wasted. Women from his past reappear as nameless sirens and ghosts, arousing both desire and regret that he did not value their intimacy enough. Despite the assaults of unforgiving weather and the temptation to succumb to darkness, he also finds moments of sensual joy and radiance in the ordinary furnishings of his monastic cell. The recurring image of the garden comes to represent not only the literal promise of spring but the "seeds of love" and "sureness of life" that he wants another chance to cultivate in his soul.

Danez Smith, [insert] boy
This debut full-length collection is a furious love song to black men, whom he embraces as lovers and mourns as brothers slain by racist violence. An award-winning slam poet, Smith is superlatively skilled at translating the rhythms of spoken word to the page, with double-entendre line breaks that snap from comedy to tragedy, or back again, in the space of a single breath. These poems are inspired in the religious sense of the word, revealing the sacred in the body's earthiest moments, and sounding a prophetic call against injustice.

Pamela Uschuk, Blood Flower
Uschuk is a shamanic poet, invoking the spirits of animals, mountains, and forests, to heal a world that humans have spoiled with war and greed. This poetry collection from Wings Press also gives a voice to her family's ghosts, starting with her Russian immigrant ancestors, and moving on to her late brother and first husband, who were permanently scarred by their service in Vietnam. Nature imagery is a great strength of Uschuk's writing. These are not stylized, sentimental birds and flowers. They are "cliff swallows taking needles of twilight/into their open beaks, stitching/sky's ripped hem." They are the "red velvet vulva of roses" and "yellow ginkgo leaves/waxy as embalmed fans warm[ing] grave stones". Their specificity helps the reader believe that these sparks of life are just as real as the scenes of atrocities that surround us in the news media. Their beauty pulls a bright thread through the darkest stories she tells.

In a Kept World

Selections from Our Contest Archives

by Paul Garrety
Third Prize
2008 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest

by Karima Alavi
Most Highly Commended
2008 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest

by Mike Burch
Most Highly Commended
2007 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest

by Bernard Mann
Third Prize
2008 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse

by Benjamin Taylor Lally
First Prize
2008 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

by Lytton Bell
Honorable Mention
2008 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Paul Garrety

PSA: Apply Now for Grants from the National Book Fund


ProLiteracy's National Book Fund gives grants to organizations providing service in the following areas: basic literacy, adult basic education, English as a second language (ESL), and family literacy. New Readers Press, the publishing division of ProLiteracy, provides the books and materials distributed through the NBF.

Applications are available starting today and are due by April 15. To date, ProLiteracy has distributed more than 1,500 grant awards totaling more than $2.9 million worth of materials to organizations in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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Tom Laverty, Business Development Manager, BookBaby

Zen Pencils: Gavin Aung Than Presents "Ithaka" by C.P. Cavafy

Gavin Aung Than illustrates "Ithaka" by C.P. Cavafy

Gavin Aung Than illustrates "Ithaka" by C.P. Cavafy - Part 2 of 2

Remembering Philip Levine and Rod McKuen

Winning Writers notes with sadness the passing of two well-loved American poets, Philip Levine (January 10, 1928-February 14, 2015) and Rod McKuen (April 29, 1933-January 29, 2015).

Born in Detroit to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Levine spent his youth working in auto factories, which informed his lifelong passion to give a voice to working-class men and women through his poetry. Edward Hirsch called him the "Whitman of the industrial heartland". His many honors included a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Ruth Lilly Prize in Poetry. In 2011 he was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States. Read the title poem from his collection What Work Is (Alfred A. Knopf, 1991).

McKuen was one of the best-selling American poets in the 1960s, writing about nature, love, and spirituality. He was also a singer-songwriter and musician who received two Academy Award nominations for film soundtracks: "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" and "A Boy Named Charlie Brown". Enjoy his hit song "Love's Been Good to Me".