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Winning Writers Newsletter - August 2020

View Free Contests

We found over two dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between August 15-September 30. In this issue, please enjoy "Juke Box Love Song" by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Winners of the 2020 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest WERGLE FLOMP HUMOR POETRY CONTEST WINNERS
Congratulations to Justine Hudock, winner of our 2020 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. "LSD" earned her $1,000. We awarded runner-up Andrew Maust $250 for "The Challenge". David Leo Sirois won a special Third Prize of $150 for "I Hear the Bank of America Singing". Honorable mentions and $100 went to Ty.Brack, Mike Cecconi, Deborah L. Davitt, Matt DG, Patty Holloway, Ethan Lesley, Christopher Lessick, Karen Rockwell, Amy St Johnwood, Carol Sanders, David Webb, and Miles Wilson. 5,072 contestants entered. Besides the United States, winners came from Canada, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Read all the winning entries with comments from judges Jendi Reiter and Lauren Singer Ledoux. Read the press release.

Our 2021 contest is now open for entries. We are doubling the top prize to $2,000 and the second prize to $500. Our co-sponsor Duotrope will give the winner a two-year gift certificate (a $100 value) to go with their $2,000 prize. As always, this contest has no fee.

Deadline Next Month
18th year. We have increased the Tom Howard Prize to $3,000 for a poem in any style or genre, and the Margaret Reid Prize to $3,000 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $200 each (any style). The top 12 entries will be published online. The top two winners will also receive two-year gift certificates from our co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $100 value). Length limit: 250 lines per poem. Entry fee: $15 per poem. Final judge: S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Jim DuBois. Deadline: September 30. Submit online here.

View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 135,000 followers on Twitter. Advertise with us, starting at $40.

Featured Sponsor: Enter Dozens of Contests for One Low Price

Don't miss these contests. All have cash prizes. At FanStory, you can enter dozens of contests, get feedback for everything you write, and have fun with your writing. Membership is only $9.95 per month. Discounts available! View the discounts.

True Story Contest
Share a true story from your life. Write a story that shares a moment, an object, a feeling, etc. This does not have to be a profound memory, but should allow readers insight into your feelings, observations and/or thoughts. Win cash!
Deadline in 4 days! August 19th

Rhyming Poetry Contest
Write a poem that has a rhyme scheme. How it rhymes is up to you. Cash prize to the winner.
Deadline in 8 Days! August 23rd

Write a Script
Write a script of any size (can be a small script as shown in the example) for any medium on any topic. The winner takes away a cash prize.
Deadline August 30th

Haiku Poetry Contest
Haiku is a form of poetry that only uses three lines. A popular format is to have syllable counts of 5-7-5, however, strict adherence to this is not required in this contest. The winner takes away a cash prize.
Deadline August 31st

Non-Fiction Writing Contest
Submit personal essays, memoirs, and works of literary non-fiction on any topic. Cash Prize!
Deadline September 5th

ABC Poetry Contest
Write a one-stanza, five-line poem. The first letter of each of the first four lines follows the order of the alphabet while the last line can be any letter whatsoever. For example, a poet might choose to use the following letter combination: D-E-F-G-A. Cash prize to the winner.
Deadline September 10th

These are just a few of our contests. View the listing.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Harry Bauld (featured poem: "The Eyes"), Ellen Birkett Morris, Claire L. Frankel (featured poem: "Deskbound"), Kate Szegda, C.L. Nehmer (featured poem: "The Gallaghers of Derry"), Carol Coven Grannick, Annie Dawid, Lu Stone, John Backman, Geri Spieler, Deborah LeFalle, Karin Aurino, Judy Juanita, Fred Cohn, and Ellaraine Lockie.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter's poem "Should I Send You a Picture of My Butthole?" was published in Wicked Gay Ways, Summer 2020 issue. Their poem "Made Man" will be published in ArLiJo, the online literary journal of Gival Press. "A Tarantella" was accepted by Oberon Poetry Magazine. RoundPier, a global education community, recently published an interview with Jendi to provide "insight into what an Editor-in-Chief’s day looks like on a digital only platform."

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

Have news? Please email it to

Special Feature: A Booklist for Black Lives Matter

Winning Writers presents our third round of topical books written or recommended by our subscribers. We are also offering a selection of subscriber poems inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement on our website.

Cynthia Harris-Allen

Cynthia Harris-Allen
The Cricket Cries, the Year Changes
An honorable mention winner in our 2017 North Street Book Prize, this historical novel chronicles the life stories and resistance efforts of twenty slaves on a plantation in Monroe, Georgia. The narrator is the quilt fashioned from the slaves' clothing.

Alyssa Cole
An Extraordinary Union
Cole's "Loyal League" trilogy of historical romance/adventure novels, of which this is the first, is based on true accounts of African-Americans who conducted espionage for the Union during the Civil War.

Ibram X. Kendi
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
A National Book Award winner, this masterful study challenges the popular thesis that racism is primarily driven by ignorance and hate. Rather, Kendi shows how white intellectuals and theologians for the past 400 years have applied their genius to justify slavery and discrimination because it served their economic interests.

Jennifer R. Farmer
First and Only: A Black Woman's Guide to Thriving at Work and In Life
Leadership guide for surmounting racism and sexism in the workplace and healing the emotional wounds of the struggle. (Forthcoming in February 2021, available for pre-order)

Ashley Bryan
Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace
Bryan, who turned 97 this year, is the first black creator ever to both write and illustrate a book for children. His acclaimed picture books include Beautiful Blackbird and Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life. His new memoir, appropriate for middle-grade readers and up, features his original illustrations, letters, and diary entries. See examples in the book trailer.

Closing Tomorrow! The Voyage Journal's First Chapters Competition for Young Adult Fiction

Judged by NYT Bestselling Author, Dhonielle Clayton

Voyage wants to see those first chapters of your Young Adult novels! One of the most difficult challenges in writing a book is getting that first chapter just right—and we're aiming to challenge you. Can you write a first chapter that captivates your audience enough to make them want to keep reading? If the answer is yes, then send it to us.

The 1st Place winner will receive $3,000, publication, and an hour-long consultation with literary agent Eric Smith of P.S. Literary Agency.

2nd Place will receive $300 and publication. 3rd place will receive $200 and publication.

All finalists will receive written feedback from one of our partner literary agents, either Leah Pierre or Thao Le.

  • Voyage submissions are open to all writers working in English
  • International submissions are welcome
  • Submissions must be the first chapter of a Young Adult novel (the full novel does not need to be completed), and from the point-of-view of a young adult
  • The chapter doesn't have to be standalone
  • 5,000 words maximum
  • $20 reading fee

Click to enter now! 11th Annual Contest in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction 11th Annual Contest

Deadline: September 7 (Labor Day) is the world's first online journal of place, publishing since 1998. Our renowned contest judges this year are: Poetry: Arthur Sze; Nonfiction: Julian Hoffman; Fiction: Joy Castro. $15 entry fee for $500 prize and publication in each genre. Finalists receive $100 and publication. All submissions considered for publication. Learn more and submit online.

Lay of the Land—Our North Street Grand Prize Winner—Download it for free

Lay of the Land

From the Winning Writers critique by Ellen LaFleche:

The poetry was highly imagistic, with a good dramatic rhythm, and some passages that were linguistically quite beautiful. The book in whole or in part would make an excellent play for a high school drama club or a college class. I can also see this book being used as a text in literature or history classes. I especially liked the device of a Greek chorus to provide background information in a dramatic way.

Jendi and I both loved this entry for the importance of the story it tells, and the nuanced portrayal of different Native American factions—some trying to hang on to the old ways, others trying to assimilate for survival. The white immigrant farmers were also depicted compassionately, as they tried to hang onto land that wasn't rightly theirs because they wanted a way out of oppression in Europe.

Read the full critique.

Download Lay of the Land as a free PDF for a limited time.

Jendi Reiter's Two Natures: "An Enlightening and Challenging Novel"

Two Natures

Jendi Reiter's debut novel Two Natures (Saddle Road Press) is the spiritual coming-of-age story of a NYC fashion photographer during the 1990s AIDS crisis. Two Natures won the Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction and was a finalist for the Book Excellence Awards, the Lascaux Prize for Fiction, and the EPIC e-Books Awards.

British literary critic and fiction writer Jack Messenger says:

"Jendi Reiter's wise and ambitious novel Two Natures is the story of young gay man Julian Selkirk who, Crusoe-like, finds himself washed ashore in New York in 1991 and 'dependent on the kindness of strangers'. Julian is an aspiring fashion photographer whose career lows and highs quickly alternate, mirroring his personal exploration of the gay scene and his search for love. The spiritual and the carnal, the beautiful and the sordid, interweave in complex patterns, overshadowed by the gathering AIDS crisis, as the years to 1996 become increasingly hostile to difference. The intensely personal is the politically fraught, and Julian has to cope with the vagaries of love and ambition while mourning friends and lovers.

"Two Natures is an all-encompassing work that plunges us into New York's rent-controlled apartments, gay bars and nightclubs, and the overlapping world of fashion shoots and glamour magazines, in pursuit of the spirit of the times."

Read the full review.

Buy Two Natures on Amazon.

40 Short Poems by Jim DuBois

40 Short Poems by Jim DuBois

From long-time poet Jim DuBois comes a volume called "relentlessly dramatic" by one reader and "perfectly put together" by another.

"A short poem doesn't leave room for error. You must condense everything down to one point, and economically yet dramatically aim for it. You either make it, or you miss it." —Jim DuBois

I like
   to save

the worst
   for last

And then
         skip right over it


Buy 40 Short Poems now from Lulu.

S. Mei Sheng Frazier will judge the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest, assisted by Jim DuBois

Sponsored by Winning Writers

TOM HOWARD PRIZE: $3,000 for a poem in any style or genre

MARGARET REID PRIZE: $3,000 for a poem that rhymes
or has a traditional style

The top two winners will also receive two-year gift certificates from our co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $100 value)

Honorable Mentions: 10 awards of $200 each (any style)

Submit published or unpublished work. Top 12 entries published online.

Judged by S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Jim DuBois.

Recommended by Reedsy as one of The Best Writing Contests of 2020.

Enter via Submittable by September 30

Spotlight Contests (no fee)

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
Sator New Works Award. Two Dollar Radio, an Ohio-based literary press, will award $2,500 and publication for a debut book of fiction or nonfiction by a transgender or nonbinary author. Due September 1.

Intermediate Writers
Young Lions Fiction Award. The New York Public Library will award $10,000 for the best published book of fiction (novel or short story collection) by a US author age 35 or under. Books must have been published or scheduled for publication during the current calendar year. Must be submitted by publisher. Due September 11.

Advanced Writers
Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship. The Amy Lowell Trust will award a fellowship of about $60,500 to a US poet, to fund a year of travel outside North America. Entrants must be US citizens by virtue of birth in the US, or birth outside the US to an American citizen parent who was born in the US. While contest is open to all, poets with significant publishing credits have the best chance. Due October 15.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

Exposit Books: Domestic Violence Anthology
(essays and screenplays by domestic violence survivors - August 31)

Six Word Wonder Contest
(six-word stories - August 31)

Paper Dragon
(creative writing and art about "recovery and resilience" - September 1)

Insecure Writers' Support Group: Sci-Fi Anthology
(sci-fi stories with theme "Dark Matter" - September 2)

The Best New True Crime Stories: Well-Mannered Crooks
(narrative journalism about charming rogues and con artists - September 15) Writing Contest
(100-word blurb for your book project - September 15)

Wicked Gay Ways
(poetry and short prose about queer desire - September 15)

Atelier of Healing: Poetry About Trauma and Recovery
(anthology about transforming trauma - October 2)

Rattle "Neurodiversity" Issue
(poetry by writers with ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and similar conditions - October 15)

PSA: Half of US residents have post–high school education—it's not enough

The Lumina Foundation works to ensure 60% of US residents—by 2025—will obtain post–high school education, whether achieved through college degrees, industry certifications, workforce certificates, or other credentials to meet individual, economic, and social demands. The US has shifted from an industrial economy to a knowledge-based economy, a system where the vast majority of jobs require education beyond high school.

In 2018, the national average of US residents, ages 25-64, who obtained education post-high school was 51.3%. Since 2008 this number has increased by over 10 percentage points, proving steady growth across the 10 years. Although the growth shows promise, if it remains steady the national average will not reach 60% by 2025.

Black, Native American, and Hispanic citizens who achieved a certificate of associate degree or higher are well below the national average. Today's educational system fails to meet the needs of many minority racial and ethnic groups because of historical polices, practices, and beliefs that linger today.

The Lumina Foundation does important work to advance education in the US. Together, ProLiteracy and the Lumina Foundation can work toward providing better opportunities for millions.

To learn more about the Lumina Foundation and its efforts to raise the national average of citizens who obtain post–high school education, visit the Lumina website.

Award-Winning Poetry

This month, editor Jendi Reiter highlights poems from around the web that have won recent prizes.

Katie Peterson

by Katie Peterson
Winner of the 2019 Omnidawn Open Poetry Book Contest
Entries must be received by August 31
This contest for full-length manuscripts by poets at any stage of their career includes a $3,000 prize and publication by Omnidawn, a well-regarded publisher of innovative and experimental work. Peterson's Life in a Field, which will be her fifth book, was the most recent winner. This thoughtful poem about the commemorative coin series 50 State Quarters moves almost imperceptibly from feelings of security to unease.

by Karina Borowicz
Winner of the 2019 Ex Ophidia Press Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by August 31
This open poetry manuscript prize gives $1,000 and publication by a literary press in Washington State. Borowicz's Rosetta was the most recent winner. Tinged with the wonder and dread of a fairy tale, this poem captures an immigrant child's vague understanding of the homeland her parents fled.

by Carlos Andrés Gómez
Winner of the 2021 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry
Entries must be received by September 15
The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers this long-running open poetry manuscript prize of $1,000 and publication. Gómez's Fractures won the 2019-deadline contest. This powerful poem imagines alternate scenarios for a violent assault on the narrator's friend.

by Steven Kleinman
Winner of the 2019 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry
Entries must be received by September 30
This open poetry manuscript contest from Fresno State University awards $2,000 and publication by Anhinga Press. Kleinman's Life Cycle of a Bear was the most recent winner. This resonant poem uses a magical-realist scenario to examine how human communities are bonded through ceremonial violence.

by Chessy Normile
Winner of the 2020 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize
Entries must be received by November 1
This prestigious award for a first full-length poetry manuscript gives $3,000 and publication by Copper Canyon Press. Normile's Great Exodus, Great Wall, Great Party won the 2019-deadline contest. With the playful logic of a dream, this poem explores whether tenderness can fill the space between people who live in different realities.

"Juke Box Love Song" by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Julian Peters

Poems to See By features 24 classic poems with visual interpretations by comic artist Julian Peters. Mr. Peters has graciously allowed us to reprint "Juke Box Love Song" from the book. See the YouTube video based on these illustrations.

Juke Box Love Song

Juke Box Love Song

Juke Box Love Song

Juke Box Love Song

The Last Word

Jendi Reiter

August Links Roundup: Love and Work
When I was a Christian, I worried a lot about what made my creative work "Christian poetry" or "Christian fiction". (Fun fact, naming your gay butt sex novel after the hypostatic union is a good start.) Does it have to be uplifting? Didactic? Contain a Christ-like character—but if it does, will this promote the misconception that human beings are our own saviors? Is it a Christian book simply because I, a Christian, am writing it? And if the book doesn't turn out Christian-ish, does that mean I'm not a believer? (Well, in my case, yes.) In retrospect, I think I was concerned about this because I'd just become a full-time writer and I didn't know if I deserved that privilege.
[read more]

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