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Welcome to Our May Newsletter

We found over three dozen quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between May 15-June 30. View their profiles now! And see below for contests we especially recommend for writers at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages of their careers.

Adam Cohen

Deadline Next Month! The 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. Categories: Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction. Judges: Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFlecheSubmit online or by mail by June 30.

In this issue:
"All the World's a Stage" by William Shakespeare, illustrated by Gavin Aung Than

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

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Anna Scotti, Valerie Nieman (featured poem, "Choice of Words"), Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, Sherry Ballou Hanson (featured poem, "The Block"), Nick Korolev, Paul Martin (featured poem, "The River in the City"), Ralph Salisbury, Jessica Goody, Shirani Rajapakse, Carol Smallwood, Andrea Hurst, Erik Christian, Mark Fleisher, John Reinhart, Roberta Beary, Rebecca Foust, Charlotte Mandel, and Lesléa Newman.

Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter was the Tattooed Poet of the Week for May 8 on Tattoosday, Bill Cohen's blog about body art and the stories behind it. The post included the poem "Trigger Warning for Sailors" from her new collection, Bullies in Love (Little Red Tree Publishing, 2015).

Learn more about their achievements and see more links to samples of their work.

Have news? Please email it to

Win a prize package from Writer's Digest, BookBaby, & Edit911

Win a prize package from Writer's Digest, BookBaby, & Edit911 - 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


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. Chosen by Writer's Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 15 years.

The Backwaters Prize

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

We congratulate our 2014 winner, Katharine Whitcomb, for her winning manuscript, The Daughter's Almanac. Final judge Patricia Smith chose her manuscript from more than 200 submissions. Katharine's book will be published in September 2015. Please enjoy a sample poem, "Vox".

The Backwaters Press

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 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 "Poems About Grace" by Courtney Kampa, winner of the 2014 Readers' Choice Award. 

Rattle Poetry Prize

Snake Nation Press: Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry and Serena McDonald Kennedy Fiction Award

Deadline: August 31. Our 2015 contests are open now. Submit electronically or by mail. We are pleased to announce that Cathy Bobb won the 2014 Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry and Jacob Appel won the 2014 Serena McDonald Kennedy Fiction Award. Each received $1,000 and publication by Snake Nation Press. Read selections from the winning entries.

Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry

  • $1,000 award and publication
  • Entry fee: $25
  • Submit a manuscript of up to 75-100 pages
  • Previously published works may be entered

Serena McDonald Kennedy Fiction Award

  • $1,000 award and publication
  • Entry fee: $25
  • Submit a novella of up to 50,000 words or a manuscript of short stories of up to 200 pages
  • Any well-written manuscript on any topic will be considered
  • Previously published works may be entered
Snake Nation Press

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
Winter Tangerine Awards. Recommended free contest gives prizes of $250 for unpublished poetry and short prose by authors who have not published a chapbook, collection, or novel. Winter Tangerine Review aims to challenge the status quo. All entrants receive critique upon request. Due June 1.

Intermediate Writers
Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Prize for best book-length collection of short fiction is $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Due June 30.

Advanced Writers
Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. $100,000 prize for a published book of poetry by a US citizen or current resident. Honors "an emerging poet, one who is past the very beginning but has not yet reached the acknowledged pinnacle of his or her career." Due July 1.

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

Spotlight Contests

Calls for Submissions

To ensure consideration, assume that the editors must receive your submission by the date specified, unless a postmark date is indicated.

PSA: ProLiteracy Announces a Graduate Gift Program to Help 29,375 Adults Realize Their Dream of Obtaining an Education


ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, has launched a crowdfunding campaign in honor of graduation season. In lieu of giving a traditional graduation gift to a high school or college graduate, contributors to the campaign can donate money to the National Book Fund in honor of a graduate they know. ProLiteracy will then notify the graduate that a gift has been made in their name. The campaign, which is hosted on Razoo, aims to raise $235,000 to put educational materials into the hands of 29,375 adult learners. The materials will help adult learners increase their literacy skills and obtain their high school equivalency degrees.

"There are 35 million adults in the United States that have low literacy skills," says Kevin Morgan, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. "The National Book Fund allows us to provide quality, evidence-based materials to local programs that serve learners that want to improve their literacy skills and get students to a level where they can successfully achieve a high school equivalency degree."

The "Honor a Graduate by Helping a Future Graduate" crowdfunding campaign will run through June 30, 2015. Learn more and support the campaign.

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"Winning Writers has been providing a valuable service to the writing community for over ten years. The listings for contests and publications are always inspiring and professional. To build community, they support writers' successes in a special section that highlights their subscribers' recent publications. As an advertiser, their support is top-notch. Responsive and creative, they service their advertisers with copy and design assistance. Overall, a great site, and a great service!"
Joan Gelfand, award-winning author of three poetry collections and the forthcoming novel, Fear to Shred (Incanto Press)

Zen Pencils: Gavin Aung Than Presents "All the World's a Stage" by William Shakespeare

Zen Pencils: Gavin Aung Than Presents "All the World's a Stage" by William Shakespeare

Zen Pencils: Gavin Aung Than Presents "All the World's a Stage" by William Shakespeare

The Last Word

The Hierophant or the Ink Blot Test
"The religious impulse is a yearning to connect with some all-encompassing source of life and wisdom that is greater than our individual perceptions. But what I seek, and where I choose to seek it, are determined by my personal psyche at this moment. So am I just finding myself, not anything 'outside' me?" [continue at Reiter's Block]

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

Jendi Reiter