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Winning Writers Newsletter - August 2019

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 "Pleasure", an excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Winners of the 2019 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest WERGLE FLOMP HUMOR POETRY CONTEST WINNERS
Congratulations to Jody Mason, winner of our 2019 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. "Failure to Triangulate" earned her $1,000. We awarded runner-up Taylor Richard $250 for "At a Meeting of the Queer Women Filmmaker's Association". Zach Klebaner won a special Third Prize of $150 for "Sestina: Bruh!". Honorable mentions and $100 went to Henry Crawford, Jo Angela Edwins, David Galef, Reuven Goldfarb (a past War Poetry Contest honoree), Jackie Hostetler, Kathy Keating (last year's runner-up), Lee Kisling, Shawn Klimek, Melissa Morano, Linda Muhlhausen, Eylie Sasajima, and Sarah Totton. A record 5,539 contestants entered. Read all the winning entries with comments from judges Jendi Reiter and Lauren Singer Ledoux. Read the press release. Our 2020 contest is now open for entries. Our co-sponsor Duotrope will give the winner a two-year gift certificate (a $100 value) to go with their $1,000 prize. As always, this contest has no fee.

Deadline Next Month
17th year. We have increased the Tom Howard Prize to $2,000 for a poem in any style or genre, and the Margaret Reid Prize to $2,000 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $100 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: $12 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 122,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters. Interested in advertising? Learn more.

Featured Sponsor: Enter Dozens of Contests for One Low Price

Don't miss these contests. All have cash prizes. At FanStory you can enter all these contests with upgraded membership ($9.95 per month or less). View the full listing.

5-7-5 Poetry Contest
This poem follows the syllabic structure of a Haiku but without any limitation on the topic. Cash prize to the winner.
Deadline: August 17 (two days!)

ABC Poetry Contest
Write a one-stanza, five-line poem. The first letter of each of the first four lines follow 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. See the example in the guidelines. This contest has a cash prize. Deadline: August 19 (four days!)

Flash Fiction
Write a story (on any topic) using exactly 150 words. Omit the title from the word count. Cash prize to the winner. Deadline: August 23

Cinquain Poetry
The format for this type of poem is simple. Each line has a specific number of syllables:
• Line 1: 2 syllables
• Line 2: 4 syllables
• Line 3: 6 syllables
• Line 4: 8 syllables
• Line 5: 2 syllables
Choose any subject. Rhyme is optional. Cash prize for the winning entry. Deadline: August 28

3 Line Poetry Contest
In this poem, the first line should have 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, and the third line 5 syllables again. Cash prize to the winner. Deadline: September 3

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

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Gregory Ashe (featured poem: "Memories of You"), R. Bremner, Darrell Lindsey, David Holper (featured poem: "Objective Correlative"), Garret Keizer, Danny Thomas, Nina Macheel, Kathleen McCormick, Frank Prem (featured poem: "new heat"), Konstantin Nicholas Rega, and Nigel J. Bennett.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter was a finalist for the 2019 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize from Ruminate Magazine, judged by Craig Santos Perez. Their poem "Buzz Aldrin Takes Communion on the Moon" will be published in the December issue. The most recent deadline for this $1,500 award was May 15.

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

Have news? Please email it to

$3,000 Summer Short Story Award

Summer Short Story Award

Deadline: August 31—Sponsored by The Masters Review

The Summer Short Story Award judged by Tope Folarin is open for submissions! The winning story will be awarded $3,000 and publication online. Second and third place stories will be awarded publication and $300 and $200 respectively. All winners and honorable mentions will receive agency review by Sobel Weber, The Bent Agency, Writers House, Fletcher & Company, and Compass Talent. It's been our mission to support emerging writers since day one. Submit your work today!

Tope Folarin is a Nigerian-American writer based in Washington, DC. He was recently named to the Africa39 list of the most promising African writers under 40. He was educated at Morehouse College and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Masters degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. His debut novel, A Particular Kind of Black Man, was just published by Simon & Schuster.

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

Sponsored by Winning Writers

TOM HOWARD PRIZE: $2,000 for a poem in any style or genre

MARGARET REID PRIZE: $2,000 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 $100 each (any style)

Top 12 entries published online

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

Enter via Submittable by September 30

2019 contests at Cutthroat

Just Released: Ellen LaFlèche's Poetry Collection Walking into Lightning

Walking into Lightning

Winning Writers contest judge Ellen LaFlèche's debut poetry collection, Walking into Lightning, has just been published by Saddle Road Press of Hilo, Hawai'i. This book explores the dying of the poet's husband of ALS in 2014, and the first years of widowhood. With profound sensuality and intense imagery, these poems speak of the physicality of love and loss, and the whole territory of grieving: its violence and its ordinariness, the interplay of memory, desire, and sorrow.

"Walking into Lightning is a tender, fierce, raging, stunning book that left me breathless. How generous of Ellen LaFlèche to share this intimate love story with the world! Her metaphors go straight to the heart: seagulls hover 'like crosses over the waning tides'; dawn is 'a languid unfurl, / a woman releasing her hair pin by pin from her nape'; and an IV bag is 'a goblin's bobbling head'. The tension between the sensual and the sorrowful makes this book stand out from other poetry collections about loss and death. Walking into Lightning is an extraordinary collection that teaches us how to live each moment to the fullest."
—Lesléa Newman, author of I Carry My Mother and Lovely

Please enjoy this poem from Walking into Lightning:

Because the dead cannot tell us what it's like to die

That time our yard was a blurred gyroscope of snow
and our driveway a gloss lake of ice. 
Your breath: a momentary ghost on our bedroom window.
Snow shivered the pine needles
and a maple branch snapped off at the elbow.
A blue jay slung a blur of sky across the storm
and somehow, somehow
the sun slipped through that momentary blueness.
Your breath on the glass glowed hot with light.
Dying might be like that.

That time we watched the ocean roll, ancient with salt,
with boneless creatures bobbing through the breakers.
The sun lulled our muscles like a hot stone massage.
The waves unfurled their bolts of lace
and you peered into a quahog's pink-lined jewel box.
Sunset turned the water to Sauvignon wine
and sailboats to palettes of van Gogh mauve.
But you said there was nothing so beautiful
as my long white hair lifting into a squall.
Dying might be like that.

That time in the shower
when you slid an oval of jasmine soap down my right arm,
then my left.
I slid the mauve oval down your left leg,
then your right. Our breaths added the smell of fermented grapes
to the gathering mist. After the lathering,
steam lifted off your shoulders like a departing spirit.
My eyes wept away the soap's jasmine burn
and for a moment
I saw you pass through the frosted glass door.
Dying might be like that.

Buy Walking into Lightning at Amazon.

An Incomplete List of My Wishes by Jendi Reiter

An Incomplete List of My Wishes

  • 2017 Sunshot Prize Runner-Up
  • 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist (LGBTQ Fiction)
  • 2019 Book Excellence Award Finalist (LGBTQ Fiction)

"An Incomplete List of My an example in tension. The push and pull of one's own sexuality, family relationships or friends and enemies, but most poignantly the tension between what is said and not said...Each story in this collection is its own entity, so much so that many have won prizes from journals like The Iowa Review, New Letters, Bayou Magazine, and American Fiction. They span a wide range of perspectives and settings, everything from a reminiscing World War II solider in 'Waiting for the Train to Fort Devens, June 17, 1943' to a grieving suburban business woman in 'Taking Down the Pear Tree'."
—Meghan O'Neill, Mom Egg Review

Buy An Incomplete List of My Wishes on Kindle for $1.99.

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
L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest. Emerging writers of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror can win quarterly prizes of $1,000 plus an annual $5,000 grand prize for one of the four winners. Send only one story per quarter, maximum 17,000 words. Due September 30.

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 6.

Advanced Writers
Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship. US poets can win a fellowship of about $60,500 to fund a year of travel outside North America. 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

PSA: Africa Educational Trust

ProLiteracy highlights exciting educational initiatives from around the world in its blog. From a July post:

Africa Educational Trust Africa Educational Trust supports individuals across the continent who have been excluded from educational opportunities due to conflict, discrimination, inequality, and poverty. The program provides services in a number of difficult and conflict-affected areas, including Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, and Kenya.

With the help of local communities, employees, and political structures, Africa Educational Trust designs and implements new innovative solutions to educational challenges faced by marginalized people, and improves the quality and availability of education for its communities. Africa Educational Trust facilitates a number of programs, including those for girls and women. The program works with women and girls to address specific challenges, including:

  • making schools female-friendly with proper sanitation facilities and private, safe places to study
  • training women to provide mentorship and life skills to young girls
  • providing scholarships for struggling families
  • helping women prepare for careers
  • combining literacy and numeracy training with vocational skills

Additionally, Africa Educational Trust also hosts a variety of projects including Radio Education, a way to provide pre-recorded lessons via the radio; Libraries and Literacy, a project designed to provide mobile libraries via donkeys, etc. throughout the community; Recovering from Street Life, to help street children re-enter education and build a life away from the streets; and many more.

Learn more about this amazing program and the many opportunities it provides here.

Award-Winning Poetry

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

Antonio Lopez AULLO
by Antonio Lopez
Second Prize Winner of the 2018 Palette Poetry Emerging Poet Prize
Entries must be received by August 15
This contest from a sophisticated online literary journal gives prizes up to $3,000 for a poem by an author with fewer than two full-length collections published. Lopez's bilingual riff on Ginsberg's classic "Howl" expresses fierce pride in Hispanic immigrant culture, and denounces Texas legislation that banned sanctuary cities.

by Ioanna Carlsen
Winner of the 2019 Off the Grid Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by August 31
This contest for poets aged 60+ awards $1,000 and publication for a full-length manuscript. Carlsen's Breather was the most recent winner. These brief poems open up the ordinary details of a winter scene into moments of deep self-confrontation.

INVESTIGATION and other poems
by Erin Malone
Winner of the 2018 Coniston Prize
Entries must be received by September 1
This contest from Radar Poetry, judged by prominent authors, gives $1,000 for a suite of 3-6 unpublished poems by a woman. Paired with artwork by Emily Chase, Coniston's enigmatic poems about a murdered boy use white space and scattered line breaks to suggest missing clues and inexplicable losses.

by Christina Pugh
Winner of the 2019 Juniper Prize for Poetry
Entries must be received by September 30
This long-running poetry manuscript contest from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst gives two prizes of $1,000 and publication, one for a first book and one for a subsequent book. Pugh's Stardust Media was the most recent winner of the latter prize. This philosophical prose-poem considers the aesthetic consequences of believing that attention, like compassion, is a limited resource.

by Allison Hutchcraft
Editor's Choice in the 2019 New Issues Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by December 30
This competitive first-book series from Western Michigan University gives a top prize of $1,000 and publication by New Issues Press, and an Editor's Choice prize of publication. Hutchcraft's Swale was the most recent winner of the latter prize. Titled after a phenomenon in which sailors hallucinate a landscape on the ocean's surface, this poem imagines the joy of having one's deepest yearning satisfied, even if only for an illusory moment.

Read more award-winning poetry and prose.

Pleasure: An excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

The Prophet

Then a hermit, who visited the city once a year, came forth and said, Speak to us of Pleasure.

And he answered, saying:

Pleasure is a freedom song,

But it is not freedom.

It is the blossoming of your desires,

But it is not their fruit.

It is a depth calling unto a height,

But it is not the deep nor the high.

It is the caged taking wing,

But it is not space encompassed.

Ay, in very truth, pleasure is a freedom-song.

And I fain would have you sing it with fullness of heart; yet I would not have you lose your hearts in the singing.

Some of your youth seek pleasure as if it were all, and they are judged and rebuked. I would not judge nor rebuke them. I would have them seek.

For they shall find pleasure, but not her alone:

Seven are her sisters, and the least of them is more beautiful than pleasure.

Have you not heard of the man who was digging in the earth for roots and found a treasure?

And some of your elders remember pleasures with regret like wrongs committed in drunkenness.

But regret is the beclouding of the mind and not its chastisement.

They should remember their pleasures with gratitude, as they would the harvest of a summer.

Yet if it comforts them to regret, let them be comforted.

And there are among you those who are neither young to seek nor old to remember;

And in their fear of seeking and remembering they shun all pleasures, lest they neglect the spirit or offend against it.

But even in their foregoing is their pleasure.

And thus they too find a treasure though they dig for roots with quivering hands.

But tell me, who is he that can offend the spirit?

Shall the nightingale offend the stillness of the night, or the firefly the stars?

And shall your flame or your smoke burden the wind?

Think you the spirit is a still pool which you can trouble with a staff?

Oftentimes in denying yourself pleasure you do but store the desire in the recesses of your being.

Who knows but that which seems omitted today, waits for tomorrow?

Even your body knows its heritage and its rightful need and will not be deceived.

And your body is the harp of your soul,

And it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it or confused sounds.

And now you ask in your heart, "How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?"

Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,

But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.

For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,

And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,

And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.

People of Orphalese, be in your pleasures like the flowers and the bees.


Read The Prophet on Wikisource

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterThe Poet Spiel: "birdchild" and "witness"
The Poet Spiel, a/k/a/ the visual artist Tom Taylor, has had a long career of creating work that celebrates nature and sexuality while mocking militarism, conformity, and commercialism. His poetry often delves into sensitive topics like child abuse and homophobia. His most recent book is the illustrated retrospective Revealing Self in Pictures and Words (2018). In his author bio, he writes, "Amidst his 8th decade on earth, coping with losses associated with vascular dementia, art is the friend which has withstood the petty and the foolish, the graceful, the garish and the grand of a diverse career in the arts."

Spiel says "birdchild" is his favorite poem in his vast body of work. Out of the other strong poems he recently shared with me, I chose "witness", which speaks of the wounds of mother-son abuse—a phenomenon too long denied or ignored even by early feminist writers who broached the taboo subject of incest.

[read "birdchild" and "witness"]

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

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