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Winning Writers Newsletter - May 2021

View Free Contests

We found over three dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between May 15-June 30. In this issue, please enjoy "Choices" by Tess Gallagher, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Deadline Next Month
Deadline: June 30. 7th year. Co-sponsored by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter, and BookBaby. Prizes increased to $13,750, including a top award of $5,000. This year's categories: Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, Creative Nonfiction & Memoir, Poetry, Children's Picture Book, Graphic Novel & Memoir, and Art Book (new!) Fee: $65 per entry. Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche will judge, assisted by Annie Mydla and Sarah Halper. See the previous winners and enter here.

Also open now, our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest will award $8,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $3,000 each. Deadline: September 30.

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

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Modou Lamin Age-Almusaf Sowe, Threa Almontaser, Alicia Doyle, Mike Tuohy, Annie Dawid, Steven MayfieldArmen DavoudianAntoinette Carone, Robin Schwarz, Erika DreifusDuane L. Herrmann, Susan Stinson, The Poet Spiel, and Neil Perry Gordon.

Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter's prose-poem "Tired of My Own Vagina" will be published in the Spring 2021 issue of Quarter After Eight. Their poem "White Season" was a semifinalist in the Knightville Poetry Contest and will be published in The New Guard, Vol. X.

Winning Writers contest judge Ellen LaFleche was interviewed in April in Chris Rice Cooper's blog series "Backstory of the Poem". Ellen talked about her poem "Prayer for Weeping", which was inspired by her husband's death from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). The piece is included in her most recent collection, Walking into Lightning (Saddle Road Press, 2019).

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

Have news? Please email it to

Do Not Resuscitate, a graphic novel by Ingrid Pierre

• First Prize, Graphic Novel & Memoir, 2020 North Street Book Prize
• Grand Prize Winner, Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo Mini Grant

Do Not Resuscitate

North Street judge Ellen LaFleche writes, "The plot is compelling: a young woman having a difficult time accepting her boyfriend John's death from cancer is at first overjoyed when he comes back from the dead. But even as the reunited couple make love and bathe and continue on with daily activities, the man's body begins to decompose. The physical degradation of rot is drawn in a way that is at once horrific and respectful. The couple's efforts to control their leaky ceiling reinforces the symbolism of bodily ooze.

"As the boyfriend's re-animated body continues to vanish, the couple work hard to come to terms with how they behaved toward each other in life, grappling with urgent haste to understand and honor their lost relationship in all its complexity: the good, the bad, the mundane, the loyalties, the betrayals, the joys, the losses. Readers who have experienced grief will recognize this process."

See an excerpt from the book (PDF).

Buy it now from the author's website.

Last Call! Oprelle Masters Poetry Contest

Oprelle Masters Poetry Contest

Deadline: May 18

The Oprelle Masters Poetry Contest is an exclusive contest for previously published authors with at least one writing/poetry award. The 2021 Masters Contest is the first top-tier contest offered by Oprelle Publications LLC. Five authors will get to showcase up to 20 of their personal works in a Poetry Masters Anthology. Winners receive a Crystal Trophy, a featured position on, and $1,500, $1,000, or $500 in cash, plus one or more copies of the anthology with their picture, biography, and inspiration inside. Entry fee: $40.

See the complete guidelines and enter here.

Oprelle's mission is to share the works of those who are growing and rising in the poetry, art, and written word industries. Through ongoing contests, we provide resources and exposure for poets, artists, and authors. We hope to not only provide these opportunities, but to inspire new talents to press forward with their extraordinary gifts.

"How Much Should I Charge?"

How Much Should I Charge?

Writer's Market, the most trusted guide to getting published, is compiling its annual volume to include the chapter, "How Much Should I Charge?" Whether you freelance, edit, proofread, blog, copywrite, manage a newsletter, write scripts, or provide journalism, we would love to know how much you charge. By compiling this annual update, you assist writers everywhere in sustaining themselves on a freelance income.

I am C. Hope Clark, founder of FundsforWriters and a steadfast friend of Winning Writers, and while I write novels and produce a newsletter, I also freelance. I've used this guide for years and was honored when the Writer's Digest family asked me to compose this year's chapter for Writer's Market. And I need your help.

Please complete the survey and share. Thanks!

The Daphne Review Online Mentorship for High School Students

The Daphne Online Summer Mentorship 2021

Apply during May 17-31

Love writing but need professional guidance to help you develop your voice? Apply to the 2021 Daphne Online Mentorship Program! We will be selecting 5-7 dedicated students to work with caring, accomplished professional writers on a 1-on-1 basis.

Recent Daphne mentees have been accepted to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, and top creative writing programs, e.g., Iowa!

Session I: June 14–July 2
• 4 weeks of working 1-on-1 with a professional writer
• Zoom sessions and online editing/feedback to help hone your craft

Currently seeking online MENTORS! Please send resume to

Any questions, please email us at

The 23rd Annual Blue Lynx Prize

Explain This Corpse

Deadline: June 15

The reading period for the 2021 Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry is open. The competition awards $2,000 plus publication for an unpublished, full-length poetry collection by a US author, which includes foreign nationals living and writing in the US and US citizens living abroad. Each entrant will receive a book from our back catalog.

Past winners include Heather Sellers, Kirsten Kaschock, Joe Wilkins, Jim Daniels, Carolyne Wright, Suzanne Lummis, and Lou Lipsitz. Judges have included Yusef Komunyakaa, Melissa Kwasny, Christopher Buckley, Dara Wier, Dorianne Laux, and Robert Wrigley.

Lynx House Press has been publishing fine poetry and prose since 1975. Our titles are distributed by the University of Washington Press.

Manuscripts may include poems that have appeared in journals, magazines, or chapbooks. Poems that have previously appeared in full-length, single-author collections are not eligible. Acknowledgments pages and author names may be included. Entries must be at least 48 pages in length.

Mail your manuscript and $28 reading fee (payable to Lynx House Press) to Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry, P.O. Box 96, Spokane, WA 99210 or submit online via Submittable.

The MacGuffin’s 26th Poet Hunt Contest

MacGuffin Poet Hunt

Submit during April 1-June 15

One first place winner will receive $500 and publication in a future issue, along with up to two Honorable Mention selections. We're excited to welcome Indigo Moor to serve as this year's guest judge!

We'll accept up to five poems per $15 entry fee. Please begin your submission with a cover page listing your name, email address, mailing address (for one issue, included with entry), and poem titles. On the following pages, include your poems, with each poem beginning on a new page and devoid of any personally identifiable information to preserve the blind review. That's it!

See the full rules on our website, then enter by mail or online at Submittable.

Win $5,000 for Your Self-Published Book

North Street Book Prize

Deadline: June 30

Enter your self-published book into the seventh North Street competition, sponsored by Winning Writers and co-sponsored by BookBaby and Carolyn Howard-Johnson (author of The Frugal Book Promoter).

Choose from seven categories:

  • Mainstream/Literary Fiction
  • Genre Fiction
  • Creative Nonfiction & Memoir
  • Poetry
  • Children's Picture Book
  • Graphic Novel & Memoir
  • Art Book (new!)

The top winner in each category will win $1,000, one grand prize winner will win $5,000, and all eight winners will receive additional benefits to help market their books. Any year of publication is eligible. Entry fee: $65 per book. Submit online or by mail. Learn more.

Nimrod International Journal’s Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers: $500 Prizes

Francine Ringold Awards

Deadline: July 15

Submissions are now open for the Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers, which honor the work of writers at the beginning of their careers. The Francine Ringold Awards are open only to writers whose work has not appeared or is not scheduled to appear in more than two publications in the genre in which they are submitting. $500 prizes will be awarded in both the fiction and poetry categories, and the winning work will appear in the spring issue of Nimrod. Work by all finalists will also be published, and finalists will be paid at a rate of $10/page, up to $200.

Established in 1956, Nimrod is dedicated to the discovery of new voices in literature, and the Francine Ringold Awards are a special way to recognize talented new poets and fiction writers.

• Poetry: Up to 5 pages of poetry (one long poem or several short poems)
• Fiction: 5,000 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel)
• Submission Fee: $12 per entry (plus $1.70 admin fee when submitting online); includes a copy of the spring issue
• 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. Open internationally.

For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website.

Rattle Poetry Prize

Rattle Poetry Prize

Deadline: July 15 (11:59pm Pacific Time for online entries)

The annual Rattle Poetry Prize celebrates its 16th year with a 1st prize of $15,000 for a single poem. Ten finalists will also receive $500 each and publication, and be eligible for the $5,000 Readers' Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote. All of these poems will be published in the winter issue of the magazine.

With the winners judged in a masked review by the editors to ensure a fair and consistent selection, an entry fee that is simply a one-year subscription to the magazine—and a runner-up Readers' Choice Award to be chosen by the writers themselves—the Rattle Poetry Prize aims to be one of the most writer-friendly and popular poetry contests around.

We accept entries online and by mail. See Rattle's website for the complete guidelines and to read all of the past winners.

Please enjoy the first Rattle Poetry Prize winner by Sophia Rivkin, published in Rattle #26, Winter 2006:

The husband calls from two hundred miles away
to say he cannot stand it, his wife is dying
in a rented hospital bed in their living room
and he must put her away, somewhere, anywhere,
in a nursing home and she is crying looking up at him
through the bars like a caged animal—
she is an animal with foul green breath
and buttocks burnt raw with urine—
he cannot lift her, he cannot change her often enough,
and she is crying for the children’s pictures on the mantle,
she cannot leave the silver candlesticks,
the high school graduation pictures.
And I say, yes, it is time to put her away,
I am the friend and I say it,
the living conspiring with the living,
death standing like a Nazi general or a stormtrooper
with a huge cardboard chest covered with metals,
and he leans over her and pins a gold star
through her skin and it pricks us,
pricks us through the brain,
through our skin
but we do not bleed
when death is pushing her
out of her bed, marching her away,
while everyone stands white-faced
among the white-faced crowd,
blending in, blending in.

Press 53 Award for Poetry

Press 53 Award for Poetry

Deadline: July 31

The Press 53 Award for Poetry is awarded annually to an outstanding, unpublished collection of poems. This competition is open to any writer, regardless of his or her publication history, who is 18 years of age or older, provided the manuscript is written in English and the author lives in the United States or one of its territories.

Submit a manuscript that is approximately 60 to 120 pages in length. Entry fee: $30. 

Award includes: Publication by Press 53 of the winning poetry collection as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection; $1,000 cash advance; 50 copies (total prize valued at $2,000). The winner will be announced on or before November 1.

Press 53 Poetry Series Editor Tom Lombardo will be the only judge for this contest; the contest will be judged solely on the strength of the poems as a collection.

Learn more and submit online or by mail.

We congratulate our most recent winner, Chanel Brenner. Lombardo said of Brenner's manuscript, "Smile or Else is a masterpiece in the elegiac genre, a collection that examines a mother's mourning over the death of her son, and chronicles her recovery through the life of her surviving younger son. There is deep grieving, but also a contrasting sense of hope. The poet weaves through her collection excellent poems of mourning, separation, and recovery."

Asian American Poetry Chapbook Contest

Asian American Poetry Chapbook Contest

Deadline: October 30

The Southern Collective Experience is honored to host our new chapbook contest for the Asian American community. Lee Herrick is this year's judge.

  • 1st Place: $200 and 100 book copies
  • 2nd Place: $100
  • 3rd Place: $50

Winner and honorable mention announcements will be made on December 30, 2021. All place-winners will be interviewed in the Blue Mountain Review and on the NPR show, Dante's Old South.

Entry fee: $25. Authors must be Asian American or Pacific Islander. Please submit up to 20 pages of poetry (including any acknowledgements and dedication). Note any previously published poems in the acknowledgements.

The contest is judged blind. Do not put your name or any identifiers on your manuscript. Former students and close friends of the judge are not eligible.

Learn more and enter.

Hollis Summers Poetry Prize: Call for Manuscripts

Hollis Summers Poetry Prize

Deadline: December 1

Named for the distinguished poet who taught for many years at Ohio University and made Athens, Ohio, the subject of many of his poems, this annual competition invites writers to submit unpublished collections of original poems.

Ohio University Press will publish the winning manuscript and the author will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

Submissions are being accepted now at Submittable. There is a $30 entry fee. Previous winners include Idris Anderson, Fleda Brown, Michelle Y. Burke, Joseph J. Capista, Kwame Dawes, Jason Gray, Julie Hanson, Joshua Mehigan, Alison Powell, Roger Sedarat, and Michael Shewmaker.

For further details and instructions, please visit our website.

Two Natures by Jendi Reiter

Two Natures

Jendi Reiter's 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.

In her 5-star Goodreads review, award-winning fiction writer Sandra Hunter (Trip Wires: Stories) writes: "Jendi Reiter has delivered a complex, nuanced, heartbreaking, and intellectually engaging novel about life in the 90s for the gay man, along with a wittily scathing putdown of the fashion industry and its fragile pretentious foibles."

Read an excerpt from the novel.

Buy it now at Saddle Road Press.

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
Speculative Literature Foundation Older Writers Grant. The foundation will issue one grant of $1,000 for an unpublished writing sample (poetry, drama, fiction, or nonfiction) by a writer aged 50+ who is just starting to write professionally. Submit a sample of up to 10 pages of poetry or drama, or 5,000 words of fiction or creative nonfiction. Along with your writing sample, send a 500-word personal statement as well as a one-page bibliography of any previously published work. If sending a segment of a novel or novella, include a one-page synopsis. Due May 31.

Intermediate Writers
bpNichol Poetry Chapbook Award. Meet the Presses will award C$4,000 to the Canadian author and C$500 to the publisher of the best English-language poetry chapbook, 10-48 pages long, published in Canada in the preceding year. Author or publisher should submit 3 copies of book plus author's curriculum vitae and completed submission form by Canada Post or courier. Named for the late poet, novelist, and indie publisher bpNichol. Due May 31.

Advanced Writers
Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing. The Society of Professional Journalists will award one $75,000 fellowship to an outstanding mid-career editorial writer or columnist to have time away from daily responsibilities for study and research by taking courses, pursuing independent study, traveling, and participating in other endeavors that enrich their knowledge of a public interest issue. Candidate must currently be a part-time or full-time editorial writer or columnist at a US news publication and have worked in this capacity for three years minimum. Freelancers are also eligible. The recipient must provide a post-fellowship written report on how funds were used, and work resulting from the fellowship must be published within 18 months of receiving the award. The fellow must agree to become a mentor to the following year's recipient. Complete nomination form online and upload your application materials (cover letter, editor's endorsement, professional biography, and five samples of editorials/columns). Due June 22.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

Winning Writers finds open submission calls and free contests in a variety of sources, including Erika Dreifus' Practicing Writer newsletter, FundsforWriters, Trish Hopkinson's blog, Erica Verrillo's blog, Authors Publish, Lambda Literary, Lit Mag News RoundupPoets & Writers, The Writer, Duotrope, Submittable, and literary journals' own newsletters and announcements.

Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality and the Arts
(poetry, fiction, essays, art, and translations - May 15)

Queer Survivor e-Zine
(creative writing and art from LGBTQ survivors of sexual violence - May 24)

Cider Press Review
(poems, translations, and brief reviews of poetry books - May 31)

Tint Journal
(creative writing and art by non-native English speakers - May 31)

World Enough Writers: Cephalopod Anthology
(poems and flash prose about octopus and related species - May 31)

The Best New True Crime Stories: Partners in Crime
(narrative journalism about lawbreaking couples - June 1)

Sequestrum "Family" and "Place" Issue
(poetry, fiction, and essays on selected themes - June 15)

Black Lawrence Press: Black Womanhood Anthology
(essays critiquing the "strong Black woman" stereotype - June 30)

Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest
(poems on "If Life Were A Game Show, What Would Poets Say?" - July 20)

Uncharted Magazine
(speculative, mystery, and horror fiction - July 31)

Flowers & Vortexes
(unpublished poems - August 30)

The Best New True Crime Stories: Unsolved Crimes and Mysteries
(narrative journalism about cold cases - September 1)

PSA: Low Literacy Is a Global Crisis

A Snapshot of Literacy Worldwide

ProLiteracy's mission extends beyond the United States to create a more literate world. To do this, we work directly with 21 partner programs in 35 countries to bring literacy training to local programs through teacher training, technical assistance with materials, and by using our Literacy for Social Change model. By framing literacy instruction around topics relevant to the learners such as health, economic empowerment, human rights, the environment, or other social needs, we are able to also give people the knowledge they need to improve their lives.

In an effort to serve adult literacy programs worldwide, we strive to be aware of the global state of adult literacy. Recently we re-examined our statistics to provide a snapshot of where literacy stands worldwide. Some of the most staggering statistics include:

  • 750 million adults around the world lack basic reading and writing skills
  • Women are disproportionately burdened by low literacy and account for two-thirds of the world's low-literate population
  • As of 2019, only 47 percent of people in developing countries had access to the internet
  • 49 percent of the world's low-literate population can be found in one place—southern Asia
  • Nearly 200,000 maternal deaths could be avoided if girls completed primary school

As we work to improve these statistics and advance literacy around the world, our approach will continue to focus on equipping programs with the training and materials they need to address literacy in the areas of fundamental skills, critical thinking, cultural expression, and learner-initiated action. By meeting people where they are and addressing their basic needs, we can empower them to improve their lives.

Learn more about our international initiatives on our website.

To help literacy programs worldwide take advantage of all of ProLiteracy's available resources, we offer an International Membership option.

Favorite Books

This month, editor Jendi Reiter presents selected books that deserve your attention. There are many more in our Books resource section.

How To Paint a Dead Man

Harry Bauld
With mordant wit and erudition, the poems in this chapbook dissect artistic masterpieces from Rembrandt to Basquiat, to analyze the nature of fame, genius, and mortality. Several pieces are from the perspective of cogs in the commercial art machine—docents, consumers, or anonymous assistants to the famous painter (who are actually doing most of the work). Others remix words from news stories, textbooks, and artists' monographs, as if to warn that no body of work is immune to being decomposed.

Jackie Kay
Lyrical writing distinguishes this multivocal novel about a trans male jazz musician in 1950s-'90s Scotland and the many ways that people process the revelation of his queer identity after his death.

Joshua Michael Stewart
This poetic autobiography is a blues song for the dead-end economy of Midwestern towns and the family wreckage they harbor. His characters crackle with energy that could find its outlet in verses or fists, parenting your own children or stealing someone else's, a guitar or a bottle. As the one who escaped, Stewart plays through all the octaves of emotion, from gratitude to judgmental pride, to survivor guilt, to wary compassion: "of loving/the lost with raucous praise, of letting the gone go."

John Allen Taylor
Bold, tender poetry chapbook depicts a Southern childhood marked by sexual abuse from his Sunday school teacher, and the grace and gratitude he finds in reclaiming his body as part of the natural world.

"Choices" by Tess Gallagher, 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 "Choices" from the book.

The Last Word

Jendi Reiter

Here Comes Mommy-Man
Several of my trans male and nonbinary acquaintances were mothers before they transitioned, and are now exploring alternative ways for their children to address them. I've started to introduce myself to new people as "Shane's parent" but I haven't asked him to call me anything different. On his own, my creative boy decided to call me "Mommy-Man", or sometimes "Mommy-Sir".

Read more

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