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Award-Winning Poems: Summer 2015

Jendi Reiter

Welcome to my Summer 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.
—Jendi Reiter, Editor

Deadline June 30: Our 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.

Frequently Asked Questions for the North Street Book Prize

  • Are you accepting short story and essay collections? Yes
  • Are you accepting the Young Adult genre? Yes
  • Are you accepting books with two authors? Yes
  • Are you accepting poetry? Not this year
  • Are you accepting books for children? Not this year
  • Is there a restriction on year of publication? No

In this issue:
"Make Gifts for People" by John Green, illustrated by Gavin Aung Than.

This is our last comic from Gavin, and we thank him for his gifts. Starting June 15, please welcome Julian Peters Comics!

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Follow us on Twitter at @WinningWriters.


Award-Winning Poems Selected by Jendi Reiter

by Deborah Gorlin
Winner of the 2014 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: June 30
This open poetry manuscript contest from Bauhan Publishing, an independent press in New Hampshire, awards $1,000, publication, and 100 author copies. Gorlin's Life of the Garment was the most recent winner. These poems invoke the sublime in unexpected places, from trees that mimic Hebrew prayers, to body fat singing an ode to itself for the warmth it brings.

by Margaret Ross
Winner of the 2014 Omnidawn First/Second Book Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: June 30
This contest for poets with no more than one prior published book gives $1,000 and publication by Omnidawn Publishing, a well-regarded small press with an innovative aesthetic. Ross's A Timeshare won the most recent award. This poem makes familiar words strange through repetition and wordplay, suggesting that faith and imagination contribute an unsettling amount to the body of knowledge we call scientific facts.

by Catriona Wright
Winner of the 2014 Lit POP Award for Poetry
Entries must be received by July 1
Matrix Magazine sponsors this contest with $1,000 prizes for poetry and fiction by residents of the US and Canada. Winners also receive an expenses-paid trip to read at the POP Montreal festival in September. Wright won the 2014 award for a selection of poems. These sensual, disturbing poems examine how food relates to power and intimacy.

by Amy Randolph
Winner of the 2013 Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press Poetry Chapbook Award
Postmark Deadline: July 15
This biennial award, offered in odd-numbered years, gives $1,000 and publication for a poetry chapbook manuscript by a US citizen. Randolph's A Particular Sorrow, a Tree won the most recent contest. These poems find angels in natural phenomena like rain and wind, lending their voices to express human loss, longing, and rapture, which would otherwise be beyond words.

by Rebecca Foust
Winner of the 2015 Press 53 Award for Poetry
Entries must be received by July 31
This open poetry manuscript contest for a US author gives $1,000, publication by an established independent press, and travel expenses for an award ceremony in North Carolina. Foust's Paradise Drive, a book-length sonnet sequence, won the 2015 prize (2014 deadline). These excerpts introduce Pilgrim, the protagonist who journeys from hardscrabble Pennsylvania coal country to the wealth and emotional emptiness of Marin County, California. "Waist-deep in bright ruin, she labors to sing, /wondering if wanting is, after all, all /there is."

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

On Sale: 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. Bullies in Love is on sale now at Little Red Tree and Amazon.

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

"An outstanding, impressive collection from a multiple award winner...The writing dazzles, surprises, and beguiles the reader with its unexpected vistas."

—Carol Smallwood, author, Divining the Prime Meridian (Wordtech Editions, 2015)

"Bitter, tender, contained, full of pain and hilarity, this fiercely intelligent collection begins with one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read. 'Inconsolable joy,' Reiter writes to her newborn son. 'Motherless, I mother.' Within this grace all questions resolve: 'Each glinting wavelet a day of my history,/washing my hands as I lose it.' The history to be known and released includes childhood abuse, and cruelties both familial and social...In these poems, theology becomes concrete and passionate."

—Ruth Thompson, author of Woman with Crows (Saddle Road Press, 2013), A Room of Her Own Foundation "To the Lighthouse" Prize Finalist

Read a sample poem, "Lord of the Storm", which won first honorable mention in the 2014 Utmost Christian Writers Poetry Contest.

Bullies in Love by Jendi Reiter

The Great First Impression Book Proposal

Everything You Need to Sell Your Book in Twenty Minutes or Less (and you can get it free!)
This booklet is the result of award-winning author Carolyn Howard-Johnson's extensive work with clients who hate writing book proposals and hate learning how to write them even more. She found herself coaching them through the process rather than doing it for them, for who could possibly recreate the passion an author feels for his or her own book better than the author? In doing so, she found she had written a booklet—not a tome—on how to write a proposal that is most likely to elicit the enthusiasm required for an agent or publisher to shepherd the author's idea from a dream to a real book—paper, sweet-smelling ink and all. And the best part? It took her clients only about thirty minutes to absorb the essentials. Voila! The Great First Impression Book Proposal was born.

You can get this booklet FREE with your subscription to Sharing with Writers newsletter (request yours here). For those who want it in paperback or for those who aren't much about newsletters, it is now available on Amazon for the pretty good price of $6.95. The choice is yours!

The Great First Impression Book Proposal

On Sale: Beatrice by Ellen LaFleche

Ellen LaFleche, a judge of the North Street Book Prize, explores the emotional life of a semi-cloistered nun in this new chapbook from Tiger's Eye Press. Sister Beatrice serves on a jury, bakes bread in the convent kitchen, scatters her mother's ashes in the ocean, and reflects on her friendship with another nun. Order directly from Ms. LaFleche for $10 at

"The tides of the sacred feminine seek an outlet in the cloistered body of Sister Beatrice, a working-class mystic. The convent offers both refuge and confinement—the paradox of a women-ruled society where women must de-sexualize themselves. The ascetic environment cannot quench the vitality of Beatrice's imagination, which finds golden-faced gods in copper pans and lust's soft satisfaction in a raw quahog."
—Jendi Reiter, editor, Winning Writers, and author of Bullies in Love

Please enjoy "Mirror, Mirror", a sample poem from the chapbook. This poem was chosen by Dorianne Laux to win Hunger Mountain's Ruth Stone Poetry Prize.

Beatrice by Ellen LaFleche - 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.

"Thanks to you, I entered a contest, landed a top-shelf agent, acquired a publishing contract, and recently published a short story in a renowned mystery magazine. Bless you for your good intentions and hard work to indeed help in the success of your readers."

The MacGuffin's 20th Annual National Poet Hunt Contest

The MacGuffin's 20th Annual National Poet Hunt Contest

Postmark deadline: June 3. The MacGuffin is once again on the hunt for a winning poem for our 20th annual National Poet Hunt Contest! One first place winner will receive $500 and publication in our Winter 2016 (Vol. XXXII, No. 2) issue. See the complete guidelines on our website.

We've brought in poet Laura Kasischke to act as guest judge this time around. 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 and mail your entry to:

      The MacGuffin

      Attn: Poet Hunt Contest

      Schoolcraft College
18600 Haggerty Road

      Livonia, MI 48152-2696

The 2015 Autumn House Press Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction Contests

Postmark deadline: June 30. The winner in each genre will receive book publication, a $1,000 advance against royalties, and a $1,500 travel/publicity grant to promote his or her book.

For our 2015 poetry contest, the preliminary judges are Alison Taverna and Christine Stroud, and the final judge is Dorianne Laux. For fiction, the preliminary judge is Heather Cazad, and the final judge is Sharon Dilworth. For nonfiction, the preliminary judges are Michael Simms and Heather Cazad, and the final judge is Dinty W. Moore.

Congratulations to our 2014 winners!

See our complete contest guidelines and enjoy "The Word That is a Prayer", a poem from Practicing the Truth.

Autumn House Press

The Masters Review Short Story Award for New Writers

The Masters Review Short Story Award for New Writers

The Rattle Poetry Prize

Deadline: July 15. In honor of its 10th anniversary, we're doubling down: The annual Rattle Poetry Prize has doubled, now offering $10,000 for a single poem to be published in the winter issue of the magazine. Ten finalists will also receive $200 each and publication, and be eligible for the $2,000 Readers' Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote.

With the winners judged in a blind 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 for the complete guidelines and to read all of the past winners. Enjoy "The Night Relies" by Wendy Videlock, a finalist for the 2014 Rattle Poetry Prize. 

The Rattle Poetry Prize

Favorite New Resources

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

Museum of Bad Art
Curated collection of unintentionally humorous art

Online journal of poetry by queer writers of color

Paris Press
Small press specializing in feminist literature

TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics
Chapman University journal of creative and critical writing

The Fem: A Feminist Literary Magazine
Online journal of creative writing that promotes diversity and justice

The Independent Publishing Magazine
Online magazine covers trends in indie and self-publishing

The Offing
Online journal of creative writing and art that "challenges, experiments, provokes"

Museum of Bad Art

Favorite New Books

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

Ellaraine Lockie

This widely published writer (and judge of our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest) is known for narrative poems that capture the unique character of a place and its people. In her eleventh chapbook, winner of the 2014 Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, she returns to her native Montana to honor the land that her parents and grandparents farmed. The collection includes humorous character sketches, elegies for towns hollowed out by economic collapse, and love songs to the landscape that revives her spirit.

Vikas Menon, Dan Goldman, and Ram Devineni

This graphic novel is a collaboration between poet and playwright Vikas K. Menon, artist Dan Goldman, and filmmaker Ram Devineni. The provocative story portrays an Indian female super-hero who fights against sexual violence in a Hindu-inspired mythic reality. The comic's creation was prompted by the December 2012 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in Delhi. The story can be downloaded for free from the website, which also features videos and information about supporting anti-rape activism.

Catherine Sasanov

This exquisite, penitent chapbook unearths lives overlooked by official histories. Upon discovering that her Missouri forebears had owned slaves, the poet undertook the task of reconstructing the latter's stories from the scraps of information in local records. The incompleteness of the narrative stands as an indictment of white America's lack of care for black lives. Suburban development appears as the latest form of erasure of the graves on which civilization is built.

Leah Umansky

Inspired by the hit TV drama "Mad Men", this chapbook captures the show's lingering atmosphere of cigarette smoke, perfume, and unfulfilled dreams. Rather than recapping events from the series, the subject of these poems is the cultural ambience of the 1960s advertising agency and the America it created. Catchphrases, images, and snippets of dialogue are layered atop one another like the collage of peppy poster girls and noir silhouettes in the show’s opening credits. Umansky understands that "Mad Men" is fundamentally about how our identities are constructed by what we desire. And what we desire–such is the promise of advertising–links us to whom we desire.

Where the Meadowlark Sings

Selections from Our Contest Archives

by Susan Keith
Most Highly Commended
2009 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest

by Margo Frazier
Highly Commended
2009 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest

by Wolstan Brown
Fourth Prize
2008 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest

by Aliene Pylant
Honorable Mention
2008 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse

by Randy Cousteau
First Prize
2009 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

by Paul Hlava
Honorable Mention
2009 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Susan Keith

PSA: Teach an adult to read - Inspire the world to change


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Zen Pencils: Gavin Aung Than Presents "Make Gifts for People" by John Green

Gavin Aung Than illustrates "Make Gifts for Pepole" by John Green