Our favorite poems, resources, and books from the quarter |

Winning Writers - best resources for poets and writers

Having trouble viewing this email? View the web version.

Follow us on TwitterLike us on FacebookFind us on Google Plus

Award-Winning Poems: Winter 2017-2018

Jendi Reiter

Welcome to my winter 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.
In this issue: "Soir d'hiver" by Émile Nelligan, illustrated and translated by Julian Peters.
—Jendi Reiter, Editor

Did you receive this newsletter from a friend?
Subscribe here. It's free.

Would you like daily updates on contests and resources for writers?
Join our 99,000 followers on Twitter

Open at Winning Writers
Free to enter, $2,250 in prizes, including a top award of $1,000.

$20 entry fee, $5,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $2,000 each.

Award-Winning Poems Selected by Jendi Reiter

by Rachelle Escamilla
Winner of the 2014 Willow Books Literature Award for Poetry
Entries must be received by December 15
This biennial award series gives $1,000 and publication for poetry and prose manuscripts by writers of color. Escamilla describes her winning collection, Imaginary Animal, as being "about race, labor and assimilation filtered through found text and re-appropriation of language generated from specific Google searches." This playful erotic poem, at times Whitman-esque in its mode of address, is a collage of moments with men from Craigslist and reminiscences of Pittsburgh streets that the narrator will soon leave far behind.

by Nancy Chen Long
Winner of the 2016 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry
Postmark Deadline: December 31
This notable competition gives $2,000 and publication by the University of Tampa Press for a full-length poetry manuscript. Long's prizewinning collection was Light into Bodies. Using the metaphor of a rock collector, this measured poem cautions that hardness and perfection are no guarantees of security.

by Lauren Haldeman
Winner of the 2017 Colorado Prize for Poetry
Postmark Deadline: January 14
The Center for Literary Publishing at the University of Colorado offers this prestigious award of $2,000 and publication. In this excerpt from Haldeman's prizewinning collection Instead of Dying, efforts to heal the "you" addressed by the poem take on a surreal cast, suggesting a wish-fulfillment dream rather than an actual possibility of remission.

by Mark Wagenaar
Winner of the 2016 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award
Entries must be received by January 31
This long-running award for a full-length collection gives $3,000 and publication by Red Hen Press, a well-regarded independent publisher. Wagenaar's winning collection, Southern Tongues Leave Us Shining, will be published in 2018. In this meditative poem, first published in The New Yorker, the goats' indiscriminate appetite appears as a kind of mercy that salvages the debris of our imperfect lives.

by Peter Mishler
Winner of the 2016 Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Award
Postmark Deadline: March 15 (don't enter before January 1)
Sarabande Books, a prestigious literary press in Kentucky, gives $2,000 and publication for a full-length poetry collection. Mishler's Fludde was the 2016 prizewinner. The mood of this poem is anything but bucolic, though its setting is the stuff of American heartland nostalgia. The speaker seems about to undergo a fatal transformation into an alien mechanical thing, not unlike the agribusiness machinery that has crushed his way of life.

Read more award-winning poems.

FundsforWriters: Time to Get Serious About Your Writing Career

You won't be able to quit work and write, but you might find a grant to make your writing goals easier. Or a crowdfunding opportunity to fund your project. Find serious contests, too. Only those that pay in cold hard cash. No pay-per-click, $1 per blog or exposure markets either. Hope Clark writes for a living. If she wouldn't try these opportunities, she doesn't post them. Our newsletters are our world. Free or paid subscription.

Free FundsforWriters
Our most popular free newsletter. FundsforWriters provides markets that pay $200 or 10 cents/word and up. Expect 15 or more paying opportunities in the form of contests, grants, freelance markets, jobs, and publishers/agents. Delivered each weekend via Aweber.com. The newsletter also provides an editorial from editor Hope Clark and a freelance piece from a guest author. FundsforWriters is also a paying market. If you would like to pitch a 600-word piece to Hope, see the guidelines. Subscribe. View archive.

Total FundsforWriters
70+ paying opportunities per issue, which means 2,000+ paying opportunities per year. TOTAL is delivered biweekly to your email box and contains grants, competitions, freelance markets, jobs, publishers, agents. Markets and contests all pay $200 or 10 cents/word and up in payment. The same high quality as our regular FundsforWriters newsletter—and five times more of it! Delivered via Aweber. Only $18.75 per year. Subscribe. View sample.

December Special - A Free Gift for Yourself or a Friend!
Buy a new or renewal subscription to Total FundsforWriters in December, and receive a free book by Hope Clark. Visit Hope's website to browse the selection: The Shy Writer Reborn, The Best of FundsforWriters, Vol 1., the Carolina Slade Mysteries, and the Edisto Island Mysteries. After you subscribe to Total, email Hope with how you'd like her to autograph your book (if it's print) and where she should send it.


Rattle Chapbook Prize

Rattle Chapbook Prize

Deadline: January 15, 2018

The annual Rattle Chapbook Prize gives poets something truly special. Every year, at least one winner will receive: $2,000 cash, 500 contributor copies, and distribution to Rattle's 7,000+ subscribers. In a world where a successful full-length poetry book might sell 1,000 copies, the winning book will reach an audience seven times as large on its release day alone—an audience that includes many other literary magazines, presses, and well-known poets. This will be a chapbook to launch a career.

And maybe the best part is this: The $20 entry fee is just a standard subscription to Rattle, which includes four issues of the magazine and the winning chapbook, even if it isn't yours. Rattle is one of the most-read literary journals in the world—find out why just by entering! For more information and to read portions of last year's winning entry, The Whetting Stone by Taylor Mali, visit our website.

Please enjoy a sample poem from Mr. Mali's book, "The Second Pass".

COG Poetry Awards

Deadline: January 31, 2018

Sponsored by Cogswell College. Submit a set of 1-6 poems. The winner will receive:

  • Publication online and in the print issue of COG, as well as a $1,000 prize
  • A blurb about your poem(s) by luminary poet Major Jackson
  • Your poem(s) adapted as an animated short film, 2D animation, graphic book/ebook, or series of interpretive illustrations by students in Cogswell's celebrated Digital Art & Animation Program and Digital Audio Technology Program

Check out Cogzine and enter the contest at COG's Submittable site.

The adaptation of 2016-17's winning poem by Megan Merchant will be published online shortly. Meanwhile, please enjoy this animation made from "The Last Gun" by Anne Harding Woodworth, 2015-2016 COG Poetry Awards winner:

Grayson Books Chapbook Competition

Postmark Deadline: January 31, 2018
Prize: $500, publication of chapbook and 50 gorgeous copies
Reading fee: $20
Submit: 16-32 pages of poetry

Electronic submissions only. Submit here via Submittable.

Simultaneous submissions are permissible if we are notified immediately upon acceptance elsewhere. Multiple submissions are also permitted; a fee must accompany each entry. Including acknowledgments of previously published poems is acceptable but not required. When a manuscript is chosen for publication, we will request acknowledgments.

Daniel Donaghy, this year's judge, is the author of Streetfighting, a Paterson Poetry Prize finalist. He is assistant professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Please enjoy the title poem from Halfway-Heaven by James Crews, our 2017 chapbook winner.


Before he died, my father tried to teach me
the only language of manhood he knew—
Phillips-head, needle-nose, catalytic converter—
but I left him hunched under hoods
or sprawled on cardboard pallets beneath
stalled cars, thinking the dust of books
and blue glow of computer screens
could keep me from work like that. I hated
his oil-stink, the orange goop he used
to clean grease-black hands, and those
homemade tattoos of lightning on his biceps.
I hated the cigarette dangling from his lips,
his eyes squinting against smoke snaking up
as he scraped a deer skull clean of meat
for mounting. But now, I want it all back.
I replay every scene in my mind as if
seeing my father again could keep him alive
and tinkering in some other realm, some
halfway-heaven he'd love because everything
needs fixing there. I think of the greenstriped
tube socks pulled to his knees when he
mowed the yard, the scratch of sandpaperstubble
against my cheek each time he
kissed me goodnight. I still hear the way
he'd say sorta speak when he meant so to speak,
while explaining, for instance, why tomatoes
taste better with a kiss of salt: Brings out
the sweetness, sorta speak.

Halfway Heaven by James Crews

Honoring Indigenous Poetry from North America: A new anthology exploring and celebrating contemporary Indigenous poetry

Tupelo Press is eager to celebrate a more complete version of the story we tell—about ourselves, our past, and what is possible in language.

In this anthology of Indigenous poetry, the first of its kind, we are proud to feature new work by Natalie Diaz, Linda Hogan, Santee Frazier, Luci Tapahonso, Layli Long Soldier, Ray Young Bear, Ishmael Hope, and more. Every poet will present new poems, as well as an original essay, and a selection of resonant work chosen from previous generations of Native artists. Pledge your support today!

As Layli Long Soldier tells us, "Everything is in the language we use." Among peoples whose stories have been forcibly withheld, each poem contains a trace of that erasure, a record of what is lost as well as made more whole.

Our anthology is intended to embody the dynamic and ongoing conversations that take place in Indigenous poetry through writerly craft across generational, geographic, and stylistic divides. This anthology will showcase a broad range of Indigenous writers working today and will offer an invitation to enter the richness of their explorations as these continue to unfold around us.

How You Can Help

Join Tupelo Press in publishing this necessary anthology of contemporary Indigenous writing. Your contributions will be applied directly to the production costs for what promises to be a stunningly made volume, one that celebrates the work that appears in its pages through the beauty of its design, and even more importantly, the care with which it is brought to life as a printed book.

Donate any amount by December 13, 2017 and we will proudly post a public thank you via social media. Other rewards include: letterpress broadsides and bookmarks, Tupelo Press t-shirts, 2018 gift subscriptions, poetry manuscript reviews from our editors, writer's retreat weekends for two, and of course, copies of our beautiful anthology!

Click here to read more & support this project.

Wayfarers by Winfred Cook

From the author of Uncle Otto, winner of the 2016 North Street Book Prize for literary fiction, comes a story of perilous love during the conflagration of the Civil War. Kirkus Reviews writes:

"Jerry Hawthorne and Daniel Cook are an unlikely pair of lovers. They are both men, and in 19th-century America, theirs is a dangerous union. They share intense memories of growing up together on the Hawthorne plantation, with Daniel a slave and Jerry the scion of the family that owned him. When they are still boys, Jerry’s father dies, throwing the future of the plantation in doubt...

"...the leads are compelling, and the investigation of interracial and homosexual relationships in the Civil War period should keep audiences invested in their struggles. The book is well-crafted and will likely please readers beyond those who are fans of gay fiction."

An affecting story of two souls separated by slavery and war.

Read a sample and buy it now on Amazon.

Beatrice by Ellen LaFleche

Beatrice Ellen LaFleche, a judge of the North Street Book Prize, explores the emotional life of a semi-cloistered nun in this 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 ElLaFleche@aol.com.

"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 "Bliss" and "Forbidden Fruit", sample poems from the chapbook.

Jendi Reiter's Two Natures: Best Book Awards Finalist

Two Natures by Jendi Reiter

Set in New York City in the early 1990s, Two Natures (Saddle Road Press) is the coming-of-age story of Julian Selkirk, a fashion photographer who struggles to reconcile his Southern Baptist upbringing with his love for other men.

Two Natures was recently named a finalist for the American Book Fest Best Book Awards.

In a review for A&U: America's AIDS Magazine, T.J. Banks writes: "Julian Selkirk gets under our skin. Immediately… Reiter has created a funny, astute, self-deprecating hero, and we care tremendously about what happens to him."

Julian would like to tell our newsletter subscribers: "December 1 is World AIDS Day. Please support GMHC, the world's first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy!"

Buy Two Natures on Amazon.

Favorite New Resources

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

The Big BiList: Bisexual Writers, Books, and Resources
Novelist A.M. Leibowitz's curated list of bisexual representation in fiction

Damonza Book Design
Book cover design and interior formatting

Do Daily Deal Services Work?
Case study at Writer Unboxed compares 19 services for advertising discounted e-books

Don't Make Violence and Abuse Just Another Plot Device in Your Novel
Bestselling novelist Rene Denfeld's advice on responsible writing about trauma

Food Timeline
Resources and free Q&A service about the history of food

The Lovecraft Reread at Tor.com
Critical appreciations of classic and new tales in the Lovecraft Mythos tradition

Reedsy's Best Book Review Blogs of 2017
List of book review blogs searchable by genre

Romantic Comedies: When Stalking Has a Happy Ending
Real-life negative consequences of rom-com tropes

ShoutAbout's Top 30 Book Review Blogs
Product review site's top picks for book review sites in various genres

The Big BiList

Favorite New Books

Calling a Wolf a Wolf Kaveh Akbar
Calling a Wolf a Wolf
This fierce, dazzling debut poetry collection describes the difficult path out of alcoholism and into the disciplined joy of being present in the moment. Simultaneously self-lacerating and grandiose, the speaker leaps from one aphoristic observation to another, through the ecstasies of Islamic mysticism, his devouring relationships with lovers both male and female, and self-annihilation as the ultimate extreme of pleasure. Yet he discovers that sobriety has its own nearly unbearable intensity, the rupture of his isolation by genuine connection with others.

Rene Denfeld
The Child Finder
This beautifully written thriller goes deep into the minds of survivors of intergenerational trauma: some who become healers and heroes, pitted against others who pass on the evil that was done to them. In the snowbound mountain forests of the Pacific Northwest, a famed investigator with her own barely-remembered abuse history searches for a little girl who was kidnapped three years ago. Meanwhile, this resilient and imaginative child tries to maintain her sanity in captivity, by reliving her favorite fairy tale and forming a bittersweet survival bond with her captor.

em jollie
A Field Guide to Falling
This poetry collection is like a stained-glass cathedral window: even in scenes of suffering, the glorious colors give joy and uplift. Much of the book processes the aftermath of breaking up with a beloved woman, though at the end, the narrator seems to find a new beginning with another partner and a greater sense of herself as complete and sufficient. But this therapeutic summary can't do justice to the mystical meaning of her journey. The speaker bravely walks up to the edge of everything we consider permanent, looks into the clouds swirling above the bottomless gulf, and finds a way to praise their ever-changing shapes. These poems imply that the value of falling—in love, out of love, out of Eden into a world of loss—is in how it challenges us to keep our hearts open, to say Yes despite it all.

Ellaraine Lockie
Tripping with the Top Down
Prolific poet Ellaraine Lockie has a gift for revealing the spirit of a place with a perfectly chosen character sketch or a quirky interaction that invites us to think twice about how we move through the world. In her work, travel produces enlightening friction between an unfamiliar environment and the unnoticed edges of ourselves. This collection, her 13th chapbook, takes us along on her tour of the American West, from her Montana birthplace to her native California and points between.

Diane Lockward, ed.
The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop
This anthology, suitable for both individual and classroom use, features craft essays and exercises for poets of all skill levels. It includes model poems and prompts, writing tips, and interviews contributed by 56 well-known American poets, including 13 former and current state Poets Laureate. Volume II is also available. Lockward is the editor of Terrapin Books, an independent publisher of poetry collections and anthologies.

Selections from Our Contest Archives

"The Leather Suitcase"
by Tom Berman
Most Highly Commended
2006 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest

"Fragments from Crete"
by Jacqueline Cooke
Third Prize
2006 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse

"The Right Eye of Justice"
by Dixon Hearne
Fourth Prize
2009 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

"The Train to Harare"
by Lance Mason
Most Highly Commended
2010 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

"And Now, the News"
by Ed Coonce
Third Prize
2007 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

"In Memory of W.H. Gates"
by Benjamin Taylor Lally
Honorable Mention
2007 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

See the complete archive of winning entries from our contests.

Tom Berman

PSA: Support ProLiteracy

ProLiteracy, the largest literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, believes that a safer, stronger, and more sustainable society starts with an educated population. For more than 60 years, ProLiteracy has been working across the globe to create a world where every person can read and write. Learn more.

Advertise in This Newsletter

Advertisers: We send this newsletter to over 50,000 subscribers. Ads are just $150 each. On a tight budget? Pressed for time? Advertise to our 99,000 Twitter followers for just $40 per tweet or less.

Buy Advertising


Solo mailings and website advertising available. Inquire with Adam Cohen at adam@winningwriters.com.

"Soir d'hiver" by Émile Nelligan, illustrated by Julian Peters

Julian Peters writes, "These are possibly the most famous lines in the history of Quebec poetry, from 'Soir d’hiver' (c.1898) by Émile Nelligan." Please see the English translation below. Visit the website of Julian Peters Comics.

Here is the complete poem, translated by Julian Peters:

Winter Night
by Emile Nelligan

Oh! How the snow's been snowing!
My window pane is a garden of frost.
Oh! How the snow's been snowing!
What's the spasm of living
Next to all the pain that I have, that I have!

All the ponds lie frozen
My soul is black: Where do I live? Where am I going?
All its hopes lie frozen:
I am the new Norway
From which the blonde skies have departed.

Weep, you February birds
At the sinister shivering of things,
Weep, you February birds,
Weep out my tears, weep out my roses,
Upon the branches of the juniper tree.
Oh! How the snow's been snowing!
My window pane is a garden of frost.
Oh! How the snow's been snowing!
What's the spasm of living
Next to all the ennui that I have, that I have!

Writer's Digest: 101 Best Websites for Writers