The best free literary contests with deadlines through April 30.

Winning Writers - best resources for poets and writers

Having trouble viewing this email? View the web version.

Follow us on TwitterLike us on FacebookFind us on Google Plus

Welcome to Our March Newsletter

Adam Cohen

We found over 50 quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between March 15-April 30. View their profiles now! See below for contests we especially recommend for writers at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages of their careers, and our selection of calls for submissions. In this issue: "Witch-Wife" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Last Call!
Deadline: April 1. 15th 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. 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.

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 63,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

Featured Sponsor: 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 - Science & Religion

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Gil Fagiani (featured poem: "Speed (Sean)"), Karen Hunt, Lisa Rhodes-Ryabchich, Jane Fuller, Terry Severhill, Elizabeth Marchitti, Johnmichael Simon (featured poem: "Romantic"), Helen Bar-Lev (featured poem: "Samson's Saga"), Bruce Golden, Christopher Bernard, Robert Gilbert, Nancy Shiffrin, R. Bremner, and R.T. Castleberry.

Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest judge, is about to publish her short fiction chapbook Salve. Pre-order it now from Nomadic Press. Our outgoing poetry contest judge, Ellaraine Lockie, had a selection of her poems published on City Creatures Blog, a project of the Center for Humans and Nature. Tracy Koretsky, who has contributed many poetry critiques to Winning Writers, had her poem "A Prayer for Enough" published by Ascent, the journal of Concordia College.

Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter is offering advance reading copies of her novel, Two Natures, forthcoming from Saddle Road PressLike Two Natures on Facebook.

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.

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, 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.

Announcing: Elephants in the Room by Charlene Wexler

Elephants In The Room is award-winning author Charlene Wexler's latest collection of short fiction and essays examining life, love, and the tragedy and comedy of the human condition. Buy now for $2.99 at Amazon.

Five-star reviews from readers:

"What a delightful story! Charlene Wexler's work is always fun and full of warmth and wit!"

"I've been waiting for Charlene Wexler to do another book of short stories and essays. Great to be able to read one of her books in short bursts and come back to it again and again. There's a lot of funny in this book, and a lot that makes you think, too. People of all ages can enjoy her light and breezy style. Thanks, Char, for your latest gem!"

Please enjoy this excerpt from the book, "A Letter to My Parents from a Woman Approaching Seventy".

Elephants in the Room

Waking the Bones by award-winning author Elizabeth Kirschner

Waking the Bones

Winner of the 2015 North Street Book Prize in the category of creative nonfiction, Waking the Bones was released by The Piscataqua Press in Portsmouth, NH in 2015. A poetic tour de force, this memoir is bookended by Kirschner's years in her cottage, Sea Cabin, on Spruce Creek in Kittery Point, ME. Order your copy today from The Piscataqua Press at RiverRun Bookstore, Amazon or at

"A poet by trade, Kirschner has created a book so lyrical, so gorgeously styled, so filled with metaphor and meaning, so filled with magic and painful reality, that it transcends the genre of memoir." ~Ellen LaFleche, assistant judge of the North Street Book Prize

"Waking the Bones is one of those memoirs one dreams about reading—a gutsy, shameless, prose poem of the highest lyrical order that leaves one in awe of the process and the talent put out by the author." ~Alessandra Domina

Read an excerpt from Waking the Bones.

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 adults 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

COG Page to Screen Awards

"A literary contest is like a full moon. It casts a striking and comforting glow across the bleak sky, and turns a small number of people into werewolves."
Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, COG contest judge

Deadline: March 31. Submit unpublished short stories and creative nonfiction pieces no longer than 7,000 words. Entry fee: $17.

Winner receives:

  • $250 prize
  • Publication online and in the print issue of COG
  • A blurb about your short story by Daniel Handler
  • 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.

Learn more and enter here.

COG Logo

Gulf Coast Prizes in Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction

Deadline: April 9. Gulf Coast will award $6,000 in prizes to poets, essayists, and fiction writers. This year's judges are Ayana Mathis (Fiction), David Shields (Nonfiction), and Rick Barot (Poetry)!

The contest awards publication and $1,500 each to the best poem, essay, and short story, as well as $250 to two honorable mentions in each genre. The winners will appear in Gulf Coast 29.1, due out in Fall 2016, and all entries will be considered for paid publication on our website as Online Exclusives. The $23 reading fee includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast. Only previously unpublished work will be considered. The contest will be judged blind.

Online Submissions Accepted via Gulf Coast's Submittable Page

  • Poetry: Submit up to five poems (ten pages max) in a single .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf file.
  • Prose: Submit one story or essay (twenty-five pages max) in a single .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf file.
  • Your uploaded entry should not contain your cover letter, your name, or any contact information.

Postal Submissions
Mail to Gulf Coast, ATTN: Gulf Coast Prize in [Genre], Department of English, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204-3013. Please include your $23 reading fee payable in US dollars to Gulf Coast. Contact information should appear only on your cover letter.

Please enjoy this excerpt from "Apricots" by Aurvi Sharma, winner of the Gulf Coast Prize in Nonfiction.

Gulf Coast

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:

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 2016, and an invitation to read their prizewinning poem at September's Dancing Poetry Festival in the Florence Gould Theater at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA.

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 "Hellzapoppin'" by Daniel Ari, a 2015 Grand Prize winner.

Dancing Poetry

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

The Backwaters Prize

The Backwaters Press

Submission period: April 1-May 31. The Backwaters Prize is an annual award given to the author of the best manuscript of original poems. All poets working in the English language may enter. The prize is $2,000 cash and publication of the winning manuscript. Our judge this year is Henri Cole. We adhere to the CLMP code of ethics for administering a literary contest. Submit online through Submittable.

We congratulate our 2015 winner, Kim Garcia, for her winning manuscript, DRONE. Final judge Heid E. Erdrich chose her manuscript from more than 200 submissions. Kim's book will be published in September 2016. Ms. Erdrich said,

"Kim Garcia's DRONE imagines the contemporary paradox of war in which we can pilot an 'unpiloted' aircraft. These compassionate poems reveal as much concern for our presumed enemies as for those listening and watching at a distance. We sense a great humanity behind this beautifully crafted book-length meditation centered on a woman's perspective on war."

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
Speculative Literature Foundation Older Writers Grant. 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
James Laughlin Award. For a US poet's second book of 48-100 pages in length, under contract to a US publisher and forthcoming in 2017. 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. Due May 15.

Advanced Writers
Harold U. Ribalow Prize. Hadassah, the women's Zionist organization of America, will award $3,000 for a published book of fiction on Jewish themes. Due April 1.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions


PSA: Literacy and International Women's Day


Learn more about ProLiteracy

Advertise in This Newsletter

Advertisers: We send this newsletter to over 50,000 subscribers. Ads are just $150 each. On a tight budget? Pressed for time? Advertise to our 63,000 Twitter followers for just $40 per tweet or less.

Buy Advertising


Solo mailings available—get maximum exposure for your message. Inquire with Adam Cohen at

For website advertising at affordable rates, please buy through Litbreaker.

"We were very pleased with the results of our solo blast with Winning Writers. It generated a significant volume of leads for us at a competitive cost."
-Tom Laverty, Business Development Manager, BookBaby

Julian Peters: "Witch-Wife" by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Witch-Wife by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Witch-Wife by Edna St. Vincent Millay

See this poem and other work by Edna St. Vincent Millay at the Academy of American Poets website. See more comics by Julian Peters.

The Last Word

Reading "The Lorax" in Lent
On about the tenth re-read, my 4-year-old asked me why the Once-ler is only ever shown as a pair of green hands. This is actually pretty unusual for Dr. Seuss, who never seemed to run out of ideas for depicting unique creatures...I said maybe the Once-ler did not feel connected to anything around him. He just made things without listening to his head or his heart, or paying attention to his environment. He didn't take responsibility for what his hands were doing. He let himself become part of the machine of consuming, producing, and selling. [continue at Reiter's Block]

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

Jendi Reiter