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Winning Writers Newsletter - August 2022

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 a vidiette of "May My Heart Always Be Open to Little Birds" by ee cummings, illustrated by Julian Peters, compiled and read by James Avis.

Winners of the 2022 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest WERGLE FLOMP HUMOR POETRY CONTEST WINNERS
Congratulations to Leila Murton Poole, winner of our 2022 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. "Minnie and Dick's Gender Reveal—Take Two" earned her $2,000 and a two-year gift certificate from Duotrope. We awarded runner-up Hillary Smith $500 for "Delilah, My Boss". Alex Barr won a special Third Prize of $250 for "Catalog Capers". Honorable mentions and $100 went to Jane Ayres, Noah Berlatsky, John Paul Davies, Megan Falley, Amanda Kelly, Roxanne Peralta, Maria Picone, Peter Schmitt, Mark Thalman, Wendy Tooth, and Daniel Waters. 5,187 contestants entered from around the world. See our press release and read all the winning entries with comments from the final judge Jendi Reiter. Special thanks to assistant judge Lauren Singer, who read all 5,000+ poems. Annie Mydla helped with contest administration.

Our 2023 contest is now open for entries. We will again award top prizes of $2,000 and $500. Our co-sponsor Duotrope will give the winner a two-year gift certificate (a $100 value) to go with their $2,000 prize. As always, this contest has no fee.

Deadline Next Month
20th year. We will award $3,000 for a poem in any style or genre and $3,000 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $200 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: $20 for 1-3 poems. Multiple entries welcome. Final judge: S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Michal 'MJ' Jones. Deadline: September 30. Submit online here.

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Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Carol D. Marsh, Jill Dearman, Meg Eden Kuyatt, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, Gary BeckBarbara de la CuestaKatherine Arnup, Alan Perry, Shobana Gomes, Valerie Dimino, The Poet Spiel, John OllomSamantha Terrell, Eva Tortora, and Beverley Chalmers.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Ad: Two Contests from 13th Annual Contest in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction
Deadline: September 5

$1,000 grand prize in each genre and $200 to finalists.

• Poetry: Sean Hill
• Nonfiction: Janisse Ray
• Fiction: Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Our online, place-based journal seeks material that reaches deep into the earth’s fiery core, or humanity’s incalculable core, and brings forth new insights and wisdom. We are seeking work in English (or translation) from around the world, and particularly Indigenous, Native, Black, Brown, and other historically marginalized and underrepresented voices as we expand contributions relating to social, environmental, and climate justice.

Entry fee: $20.

Sowell Emerging Writers Prize for a Nonfiction Book Manuscript
Deadline: October 31

Win $1,000 and publication by Texas Tech University Press.

The Sowell Collection at Texas Tech University, in partnership with and Texas Tech University Press, invites book-length manuscript submissions of nonfiction in English on themes about and related to the natural world by writers who have published no more than one book in any genre.

We are especially interested in submissions that explore the relationship between human communities and nature and may be informed by scientific inquiry and/or personal experience.

The Sowell Emerging Writers Prize will accept submissions in nonfiction, poetry, and fiction on a rotational basis and in that order: nonfiction in 2022, poetry in 2023, fiction in 2024, and so on.

Entry fee: $25.


92Y Advanced Workshops in Poetry, Fiction, Memoir, and more

Ad: Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

S. Mei Sheng Frazier will judge the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest, assisted by Michal 'MJ' Jones

Sponsored by Winning Writers

TOM HOWARD PRIZE: $3,000 for a poem in any style or genre

MARGARET REID PRIZE: $3,000 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 $200 each (any style)

Submit published or unpublished work. Top 12 entries published online.

Judged by S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Michal 'MJ' Jones.

Recommended by Reedsy as one of The Best Writing Contests of 2022.

Submit 1-3 poems for one $20 entry fee.

Enter via Submittable by September 30

Ad: The 2022 Vivian Shipley Poetry Award

The 2022 Vivian Shipley Poetry Award

Ad: Lilith Annual Fiction Contest (no fee)

Frankly Feminist

Deadline: December 31

Gifted fiction writers! Lilith magazine—independent, Jewish & frankly feminist—seeks quality short stories with heart, soul and chutzpah, 3,000 words or under, for our Annual Fiction Contest. First prize: $300 and publication. No entry fee! We especially like fresh fiction with feminist and Jewish nuance, and are eager to read submissions from writers of color and emerging writers of any age. Submit to with the subject line "Fiction Contest" and your last name. Include full contact information on manuscript.

And check out FRANKLY FEMINIST: Short Stories by Jewish Women from Lilith Magazine, coming this fall and available now for preorder wherever you buy books or directly from Brandeis University Press.

Ad: Jendi Reiter's Made Man Braids Poetry with the Embrace of Later-in-Life Transition

Made Man by Jendi Reiter

Award-winning essayist J Brooke commended Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter's new poetry collection, Made Man (Little Red Tree, 2022), in eir recent piece in Electric Literature, "My Earliest Self is a Boy Who Wasn't Treated Like a Boy".

Reiter's poem "They Say Don’t Say They" offers the most eloquent exploration I've encountered of the [pronouns] issue. Beginning, "My pronoun is Oliver Wendell Holmes' dog. It knows the/difference between being stumbled over and being kicked." and later in the same poem "…Yes my / antecedent is unclear…." And "…I could remind you language is a table that of course/ sets no place for those not allowed to exist…My pronoun is the seder's open door for Elijah at the end…"

If there exists a common denominator for the nonbinary, for those of Reiter's and my generation and those just coming up now, perhaps this is it. Not a pronoun, but a presence; not for all nonbinary people, not for all trans folks, not even for all queers—but for all humans. Are we not all, upon reading these lines, ignited somewhere deep within ourselves? Pointing excitedly to the poem on page 97 and screaming within our own heads, "YES! EXACTLY! 'they' and 'their' is not the point—we are all Elijah hoping a door is left ajar and a seat awaits!"

Please enjoy the poem:

They Say Don't Say They

My pronoun is Oliver Wendell Holmes' dog. It knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked. Yes I'm third person plural. I grow another shadow each time you deadname me to your pious circle. My pronoun is the friend they think you have. It's a man who loved so much that another man bloomed from his gushing side and their embrace after death became a flame-tongued homing pigeon. Yes grammar clicks her teaspoons and scolds the spill of words beyond cup and saucer. I could remind you language is a table that of course sets no place for those not allowed to exist. My pronoun is the seder's open door for Elijah at the end. It drinks the wine in the extra cup only when no one blasphemes by measuring it. Yes my antecedent is unclear. I was overshadowed and I said to that bird of yours, let Them be unto me.

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
Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award. The Society of Authors will award up to 10,000 pounds for a published or self-published book of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction (all genres compete together) by an author aged 18-35 as of December 31 of the deadline year. Books must have been first published in the UK and/or the Republic of Ireland, in the English language, between September 1 of the preceding year and October 31 of the deadline year. Authors must be UK or Irish citizens, or residents for the three years preceding the award. Due August 31.

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 9.

Advanced Writers
Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship. The Amy Lowell Trust will award a fellowship of about $66,500 for US poets to fund a year of travel outside North America. Entrants must be US citizens by virtue of birth in the US, or birth outside the US to an American citizen parent who was born in the US. While contest is open to all, 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

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

Galileo Press: Open Submission Period
(poetry and prose chapbooks or full-length manuscripts - August 31)

Green Linden Press: "Essential Queer Voices" Anthology
(poetry by authors outside mainstream sexual and gender norms - October 1)

Rattle: Irish Poets Issue
(poetry by authors who lived in Ireland for a significant period - October 15)

Under a Warm Green Linden: Indigenous Ecopoetry
(poetry about nature and ecology by Native American authors - November 15)

BLF Press: Black Joy Unbound Anthology
(poetry, fiction, essays embodying the vivacity of Black life - December 31)

Dyskami Publishing: Superhero Fiction Anthology
(stories based on the RPG "Absolute Power" - December 31)

Award-Winning Poetry from Around the Web

This month, editor Jendi Reiter highlights poems that have won prizes recently.

Benjamin Garcia

by Benjamin Garcia

Winner of the 2021 Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: August 31
This free contest from Utica University awards $2,000 to a poetry collection by a resident of Upstate New York that was published between July 1 of the previous year and June 30 of the deadline year. Garcia's debut collection, Thrown in the Throat, won the most recent contest. In this brash and humorous poem, he defies those who would make him desexualized and tame: "I won't be anyone's nosegay…never let a man speak for you or call you//what he wants".

by Kweku Abimbola

Winner of the 2022 Academy of American Poets First Book Award
Entries must be received by September 1
Formerly known as the Walt Whitman Award, this prestigious contest offers $5,000 and publication by Graywolf Press for a debut collection. Abimbola's Saltwater Demands a Psalm was the most recent winner. This imaginative elegy for Trayvon Martin, part of a series commemorating Black men and boys killed by police, allows grief to arise from the gap between what is and what could have been.

by Michael McGriff

Winner of the 2021 Miller Williams Poetry Series
Entries must be received by September 30
This prize from the University of Arkansas Press, for writers at any stage of their career, gives $5,000 and publication for a full-length poetry manuscript. This compressed, tense poem from McGriff's winning collection Eternal Sentences places a child in a rural landscape filled with omens of death.

by Janine Certo

Co-winner of the 2022 Longleaf Press Book Contest
Entries must be received by December 15
This full-length book contest from a well-established small press gives $1,000 and publication. Certo's O Body of Bliss shared the most recent prize with Christopher Buckley's One Sky to the Next. This wry, nostalgic poem contrasts Biblical prohibitions with the everyday sacraments of a Gen-X childhood, finding more transcendence in girls' sports and the ritual of family dinners at Red Lobster than in the pronouncements at Mass.

Vidiette: "May My Heart Always Be Open to Little Birds"

Julian Peters returns with more ways to open poetry to a wide audience. Please enjoy this short vidiette of "May My Heart Always Be Open to Little Birds" (vidiette, text) by ee cummings, illustrated by Mr. Peters and compiled and read by James Avis.

You can find more such adaptations in Poems to See By by Mr. Peters, on sale at Plough Publishing and Amazon.

May My Heart Always Be Open by ee cummings

The Last Word

Jendi Reiter Neutrality Is a Value Judgment
In centrist liberal discourse (Democratic or mainline Christian), the worst sin is being "just like them", a comparison that always happens at the level of methods, not ends. If "they" are fervently certain, we must be open-ended. If their policies are guided by prayer, mysticism, or tradition, we must be superior rationalists. And if they see America as a spiritual battleground between good and evil, we have to behave as though they're our valued colleagues—even while they're destroying the institutions of democracy.

[Read more]

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