The best free contests through January 31 |

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 RedditFind us on instagramFind us on YouTube

Winning Writers Newsletter - December 2021

View Free Contests

We found almost five dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between December 15-January 31. In this issue, we revisit an old favorite, T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", illustrated by Julian Peters.

Open at Winning Writers, co-sponsored by Duotrope
Free to enter, $3,500 in prizes, including a top award of $2,000. Judged by Jendi Reiter, assisted by Lauren Singer.

$8,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $3,000 each. $20 entry fee. We are promoting Mina Manchester to be the final judge of this contest. Congratulations, Mina!

View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 135,000 followers on Twitter. Advertise with us (buy your newsletter ads now, the price will increase from $150 to $175 on January 1).

Featured Sponsor
Last Call! Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction

First Prize: $2,500, publication in LitMag, and agency review
Finalists: Three finalists will receive $100 each

All finalists will be considered for possible agency review and publication.

Deadline: December 31

Contest Fee: $20. Entries must be unpublished short stories between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Submit through Submittable only. See the results of previous contests.

Contributors to LitMag include: John Ashbery, Paul Auster, Elvis Bego, Harold Bloom, Jamel Brinkley, Blake Butler, Kelly Cherry, William H. Gass, Tony Kushner, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ange Mlinko, Kevin Moffett, Chinelo Okparanta, Sigrid Nunez, Charles Simic, Terese Svoboda, Justin Taylor, Corinna Vallianatos, Rosanna Warren, and more.

New! The Winning Writers Critique Service

Critique Service

For years people have asked us about getting critiques of their works. At last we have a service for you!

Books and Manuscripts: $135
We have engaged contest judge and literary scholar Annie Mydla to provide expert private critiques of your books and manuscripts, published or unpublished, that have up to 200,000 words. Annie has read thousands of self-published books in her work as assistant judge for our North Street Book Prize. She is also a published literary scholar whose works can be found in Avant Literary Journal, Joseph Conrad Today, and most recently in the international journal Świat i Słowo ("World and Word"). Learn more.

Poems, Stories, and Essays: $90
After a trial run in November, we are rolling out critiques of shorter works. We have set the price at $90 so we can prepare the kind of personalized critique that authors have found to be most helpful. Annie Mydla and Lauren Singer are joining Tracy Koretsky so we can accommodate more orders. Learn more.

As always, we have set our pricing at or below that of leading competitors while aiming to provide a superior service. We also guarantee your satisfaction. If our critique does not deliver value for you, you may request a prompt refund from

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Pamela Summers (featured poem: "This Time Last Year"), Hal Niedzviecki, Gary Greene (featured poem: "While I'm Sleeping"), Linda Neal (featured poem: "The New Amazon"), Rosanne Dingli (featured poem: "Flood Delusion"), Sally BelleroseJoseph Stanton, Ruth Thompson, Rick Lupert, William Huhn, Dan Klefstad, Samantha Terrell, Eva TortoraJoanie Holzer Schirm, and Kayleb Rae Candrilli.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter was interviewed for Trish Hopkinson's Tell Tell Poetry series in November. Watch the 30-minute video on Trish's writing opportunities blog.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Ask Me Anything with ANNIE MYDLA, December 16, 12-2pm EST

Do you have questions about writing contests, journal submissions, promoting your work on social media, avoiding scams, locating resources for writers, or anything else on getting your work out there? From 12-2pm Eastern US Time, Annie Mydla, North Street Book Prize judge and moderator of r/literarycontests, the largest Reddit subreddit for submissions opportunities worldwide, will field questions on all topics, especially:

  • Writing contests
  • Journal submissions
  • Mistakes to avoid while submitting your work
  • Promoting your work on social media
  • Partnering with other organizations to promote your work
  • Avoiding scams
  • The state of publishing/self-publishing today
  • Locating the resources you need as a writer, poet, and/or self-publisher

There's no cost, so join us to ask questions, share your experiences in submissions and self-publishing, or just say hi!

Ad: HowToDoItFrugally with Carolyn Howard-Johnson

The frugal ticket for writing, editing, and marketing your books
“Nothing demonstrates professionalism like a well-edited submission. Follow Carolyn Howard-Johnson's clear, step-by-step editing approach for putting your best book forward and you'll submit like a pro." — Gregory A. Kompes, conference coordinator, Las Vegas Writer's Conference

"The Frugal Book Promoter. I love it. Most authors don't have deep pockets for publicity, promotion, and marketing; this is the kind of information we need! The chapter on the perks available on Amazon is a perfect example of the kind of practical advice offered—the kind that took me months to discover." — Rolf Gompertz, author, veteran publicist for NBC and 30-year UCLA Extension instructor in marketing

See how Carolyn's books can help you with your critical publishing needs. You'll learn how to get your book noticed and stop wasting money.

Ad: Submit Your Book Manuscript at Atmosphere Press

Atmosphere authors have sold thousands of books across five continents, received starred or featured reviews with Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist, and have even appeared on a giant billboard in Times Square. Atmosphere has had books with 1,000+ first-month sales in four different genres, and their Author Connect program unites their authors with each other like no other press. And they're just getting started.

Atmosphere Press currently seeks great manuscripts, and they'll be the publisher you've always wanted: attentive, organized, on schedule, and professional. They use a model in which the author funds the initial publication of the book, but retains 100% rights, royalties, and artistic autonomy. From an exceptional editorial team through book design and into promotion, partnering with Atmosphere is the way to do your book right.

So, send your manuscript their way. Submissions are free and open to everyone and in all genres.

Ad: Last Call! Oprelle's 2021 Holiday "COMING HOME" Poetry Contest

Oprelle Coming Home Poetry Contest

Deadline: December 20

What does home look like to you? Is it an old farmhouse, a certain person, a childhood bedroom, a river you run to? Think about when you feel most rooted. Where in the world do you feel most at peace, most yourself? Write a poem that takes us there with you.

A home doesn't have to be a building with four walls. It can be a state of being. We want to know what exactly "home" means to you!

  • First Prize: $200, poem published on, certificate
  • Second Prize: $100 and certificate
  • Third Prize: $50 and certificate

The contest is open to anyone age 14 and up who writes poetry. Parents and guardians may submit on behalf of children who are 14-17. Each poem must have 1-20 lines (220 words maximum). Entry fee: $15 per poem. Submit up to two entries. Judge: Susan (Manchin) Dines. Learn more and submit via Submittable or by mail.

Ad: Last Call! Two Sylvias Press WILDER POETRY BOOK PRIZE for Women Over 50

Deadline: December 31

Attention Women Poets:

Two Sylvias Press is looking to publish Full-Length Poetry Manuscripts by Women Over 50
(Open to both established and emerging poets)

Prize: $1,000 and print book publication by Two Sylvias Press, 20 copies of the winning book, and a vintage art nouveau pendant

The Wilder Series Poetry Book Prize is open to women over 50 years of age (born on or before December 31, 1971). Women submitting manuscripts may be poets with one or more previously published chapbooks/books or poets without any prior chapbook/book publications. (We use an inclusive definition of "woman" and "female" and we welcome trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people who are significantly female-identified.) All manuscripts will be considered for publication. See the complete contest guidelines.

Learn more about the prize and Two Sylvias Press. Previous winners & manuscripts chosen for the Wilder Poetry Book Prize include Michelle Bitting, Gail Martin, Kelly Cressio-Moeller, Erica Bodwell, Adrian Blevins, Dana Roeser, Molly Tenenbaum, and Carmen Gillespie.

Simultaneous submissions allowed.

NOTE: Our mission at Two Sylvias Press is to support poets. Your manuscript will NOT be disqualified if it was submitted incorrectly. We will not penalize you for trying and making a mistake. If we have a question or concern about your manuscript format, we will contact you and allow you to resubmit. Please know that we are on your side. Thank you for trusting us with your work.

Ad: Discovery Poetry Contest
The Joan Leiman Jacobson Poetry Prizes

92Y Unterberg Poetry Center Deadline: January 11, 2022, 5pm Eastern US Standard Time

For over 60 years 92Y's Discovery Contest has launched the careers of major poets like John Ashbery, Lucille Clifton, Mark Strand, Larry Levis, Mary Jo Bang, Solmaz Sharif, and Diana Khoi Nguyen, to name but a few. Will you be next?

The contest is open to poets who have not published a full-length poetry collection. Submit one entry of up to 10 pages of poems. At least two of the poems must be one page or shorter. Include a cover letter and $15 entry fee.

Four winners receive a reading at 92Y, publication in The Paris Review Daily, a two-night residency at the ACE Hotel, and $500 each. Winners will be contacted by telephone in April 2022; all contest entrants will be emailed the names of the winners shortly thereafter.

The 2022 preliminary judges are Sumita Chakraborty and Timothy Donnelly. Final judges are Victoria Chang, Brian Teare, and Philip B. Williams.

Read selections by last year's winners: Kenzie Allen, Ina Cariño, Mag Gabbert, and Alexandra Zukerman.

To apply, please follow the complete guidelines and submit here.

This contest is endowed by Joan L. and Dr. Julius H. Jacobson, II.

Ad: Last Call! Lilith Magazine Annual Fiction Contest (no fee)

Lilith Summer 2021

Deadline extended to January 15, 2022

Calling all gifted fiction writers! Lilith Magazine—Independent, Jewish & frankly feminist—seeks quality short fiction full of heart, soul and chutzpah, 3,000 words or under, for our Annual Fiction Contest. First prize is $250 and publication. We especially like work with both feminist and Jewish content, and are eager to read submissions from writers of color and emerging writers of any age.

Please submit to with "Fiction Contest" and your name in the subject line and full contact information on your manuscript.

No fee to enter. Please mention you saw our ad in the Winning Writers newsletter.

Ad: Rattle Chapbook Prize

Deadline: January 15, 2022

The annual Rattle Chapbook Prize gives poets something truly special. Every year, three winners will each receive: $5,000 cash, 500 contributor copies, and distribution to Rattle's ~8,000 subscribers. In a world where a successful full-length poetry book might sell 1,000 copies, the winning book will reach an audience eight 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 $25 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, visit our website.

We congratulate our three winners from our 2021 contest:

Please enjoy a poem from Amanda Newell's winning chapbook, just published this month:


When I see how swollen and purple it is
and how the skin, like a film of dried glue,
stretches over the bones
of his foot—so clearly now not a foot,
curled as it is like a parenthesis,
already half-afterthought—I wonder if it would be
less painful if it crumbled
onto his white sheets like rain-soaked wood
since it's just one limb
and no longer, he says, any good to him.

Ad: The DISQUIET Literary Prize

Disquiet Literary Prize

Deadline: January 24, 2022

Submit now to the DISQUIET Literary Prize! This contest is for writing in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry by a writer who has not yet published more than one book with a major press. The first prize winners in each genre will be published:

One grand prize winner will receive a full scholarship including tuition, lodging, and a $1,000 travel stipend to Lisbon in 2022 (June 26-July 8). Genre winners will receive a $500 cash prize in addition to publication. Reading fee: $15.

Read the full contest guidelines and enter at Submittable.

Ad: 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

William Saroyan Prize for Writing

Entries must be received by January 31, 2022

Submissions are now being accepted for the 10th William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Two prizes of $5,000 each are given for works of fiction and nonfiction. The awards, co-sponsored by Stanford Libraries and the William Saroyan Foundation, are intended to encourage new or emerging writers and honor the Saroyan legacy of originality, vitality, and stylistic innovation.

Submit five copies of your work published between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021, with a $50 entry fee by January 31, 2022. Writers who have published four or more books are ineligible. Visit the Saroyan Prize website for complete eligibility and submission details.

Congratulations to our 2020 Fiction Winner Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah for Friday Black, and our 2020 Nonfiction Winner Jennifer Croft for Homesick. View our complete list of 2020 winners and finalists.

Ad: On The Premises Short Story Contest (no fee)

On The Premises

Deadline: Friday, March 4, 2022, 11:59pm Eastern US Standard Time

Last time we checked, 77% of web-based fiction magazines pay their fiction writers nothing.

So did 60% of print-only fiction magazines!

If you'd like to try getting paid for your fiction, why not consider us? Since 2006, On The Premises magazine has aimed to promote newer and/or relatively unknown writers who can write creative, compelling stories told in effective, uncluttered, and evocative prose. We've never charged a reading fee or publication fee, and we pay between $75 and $250 for short stories that fit each issue's broad story premise. We publish stories in nearly every genre (literary/realist, mystery, light/dark fantasy, light/hard sci-fi, slipstream) aimed at readers older than 12 (no children's fiction).

The premise of our 39th contest is "Arrival". For this contest, write a well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which... IN THE FIRST SENTENCE... one or more characters arrive at a location and find something unexpected. Remember, this action has to happen in the story's first sentence!

Any genre except children's fiction, exploitative sex, or over-the-top gross-out horror is fine. We will not accept parodies of another author's specific fictional characters or world(s). We will accept serious literary drama, crazy farces, and any variation of science fiction and fantasy you can imagine. Read our past issues and see!

You can find details and instructions for submitting your story here. To be informed when new contests are launched, subscribe to our free, short, monthly newsletter.

"On The Premises" magazine is recognized in Duotrope, Writer's Market,, the Short Story and Novel Writers guidebooks, and other short story marketing resources.

Ad: Three Funerals for My Father by Jolie Phuong Hoang

Three Funerals for My Father

From the author of Anchorless, winner of the 2020 North Street Book Prize for Literary Fiction

What would you risk to save your children?

Jolie Hoang grew up as one of ten children, part of a loving, prosperous Vietnamese family. All that changed when the communists took over in 1975; the family lived in constant fear of being sent to the dreaded "new economic zone". Desperate to ensure the family's safety and to provide a future for his children, Jolie's father arranged three separate escapes. The first was a failure that cost most of their fortune, but the second was successful—six of his children reached Indonesia and ultimately settled in Canada. He and his youngest daughter drowned during the disastrous third attempt.

Jolie Hoang's escape and the aftermath, which included nine days on a boat and 14 months in an Indonesian refugee camp before coming to Canada, was left out of Anchorless because her father wasn't there. However, in Three Funerals for My Father, she shares the harrowing story.

Alternately told from the author's perspective and that of her father's ghost, Three Funerals for My Father is a poignant story of love, grief and resilience that spans three countries and fifty years. It is an intimate story of one family, a testament to the collective experience of the "boat people" who escaped communist Vietnam, and a plea on behalf of the millions of refugees currently seeking asylum across the globe.

"This is a story of familial love in its purest and finest form...a modern classic...should be required reading in any secondary school."
—Alexander McGlashan, 5-star Goodreads review

Buy now from Tidewater Press, Amazon, and other fine booksellers worldwide.

Ad: Jendi Reiter's Two Natures: "Engaging and Real"

Two Natures

Recent 5-star reviews on Amazon are praising Jendi Reiter's debut novel Two Natures as "engaging and real" and "a very satisfying read [that] goes to the roots of human nature". Winner of the Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction, Two Natures is the spiritual coming-of-age story of a NYC fashion photographer during the 1990s AIDS crisis.

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
Ezra Jack Keats Children's Book Award. The University of Southern Mississippi will award $5,000 in New Writer and New Illustrator categories for published picture books that portray the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family, and the multicultural nature of our world. Books must have been first published in North America and in the English language. Authors may be of any nationality. Winners must attend a ceremony at the University of Southern Mississippi to receive award. No self-published titles. Only original stories qualify for the New Writer award; no folktales or retellings. Publisher must send 11 copies of book for consideration to the various addresses specified on sponsor's website. Due December 31.

Intermediate Writers
Neil Postman Award for Metaphor. Rattle will award $2,000 for the best use of metaphor in a poem published in the journal. Submissions are accepted year-round. Send up to 4 unpublished poems, any length. Wait for a decision on your first entry before submitting more. All poems published in Rattle in a given year are automatically considered for this award. No separate application process. Due December 31 (rolling deadline).

Advanced Writers
Four Quartets Prize. The Poetry Society of America will award $21,000 for a unified and complete sequence of poems, 14 pages minimum, published in the US in a print or online journal, chapbook, or book during the current year. Self-published works are ineligible. Poet, publisher, or agent may send entry form, four copies of the sequence of poems, and four copies of a paragraph-length statement describing its aims. Due December 31.

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 Roundup, Poets & Writers, The Writer, Duotrope, Submittable, and literary journals' own newsletters and announcements.

(poetry, fiction, essays, drama - December 15)

OpenDoor Magazine: "Alternatives" Issue
(poetry, stories, articles, artwork, or songs on this theme - December 15)

Poetry Magazine: "Exophony" Issue
(poetry by non-native English speakers - December 16)

Bluu Books Anthology: "Letters I'll Never Send"
(women's first-person accounts including letters, prose poems, journal entries - December 31)

The Best New True Crime Stories: Crimes of the Famous and Infamous
(narrative journalism about celebrity crimes - January 1)

Rain Fiction Pod: "Curiosity Killed the Cat"
(stories about an exciting discovery gone wrong - January 4)

Abandoned Mine
(accessible poetry that makes an emotional impact - January 15)

Flowers & Vortexes
(poetry and artwork - April 4)

PSA: The Gift of Literacy

ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the US, believes that a safer, stronger, and more sustainable society starts with an educated adult population. For more than 60 years, ProLiteracy has been working across the globe to change lives and communities through the power of literacy.

"In the last year, I couldn't spell green," says Henry, an adult student. "If I saw a word like perfect I'd just pass it up. In the last eight months, I haven't had to ask for as much help. Reading changes lives. It makes you more responsible for your life. Not reading can hurt you."

Share the gift of literacy today.

Award-Winning Poems

Meredith Stricker THE KINDREDS
by Meredith Stricker
Winner of the 2020 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize
Postmark Deadline: December 31
This prestigious award for a full-length manuscript gives a $3,000 cash prize, publication, and a week-long residency at MASS MoCA, a modern art museum in North Adams, MA, valued at $1,500. Stricker's re-wilding won the 2020 contest. This philosophical poem-sequence suggests that humans' family members include animals, plants, and so-called inanimate natural features such as rocks and rivers. "if a corporation is a person does it wake up/in dread like a person sometimes does", she queries half in jest, concluding that "if trees/have no soul/then neither/do we".

by KB
Winner of the 2021 Saguaro Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by December 31
This poetry chapbook prize from Kallisto Gaia Press gives $1,200 and publication. In the title poem of their winning collection, the speaker re-creates the memory of a playground fight with a frenemy who called them a homophobic slur, holding the painful sensations alongside a broader view of the oppressions that stressed both participants: "I saw her/biting into my arm, wishing that justice would come spilling out."

by Leonora Simonovis
Winner of the 2021 Colorado Prize for Poetry
Postmark Deadline: January 14
This long-running award from Colorado State University gives $2,500 and publication for a full-length collection. Simonovis' debut collection Study of the Raft won the most recent contest. This poem recounts the tragic heroism of a young Venezuelan man who was tortured by the Maduro regime for playing his violin at a protest.

by Paul Hlava Ceballos

Winner of the 2021 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry
Entries must be received between January 1-February 28
This competitive award for a full-length poetry manuscript is sponsored by AWP and includes $5,500 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Ceballos won the most recent contest with his collection banana [ ], an expansion of his chapbook about the brutal exploitation of South American workers and land by the Del Monte fruit company. In this visionary selection from his long poem "Hospital Pamphlet", an organ transplant technician muses about the lives that exist inside other lives, as past and future are superimposed on each other.

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", illustrated by Julian Peters (part one)

Here begins the complete 24-page comic-book adaptation of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot, illustrated by Julian Peters. We will reprint all 24 pages over the next several newsletters.

Need a last-minute holiday gift? Order Poems to See By, a handsome book of 24 classic poems with illustrations by Mr. Peters.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
 - Epigraph
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot - Cover
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot - Page 3

To be continued in our January 15 newsletter

The Last Word

Jendi Reiter Why Witchcraft?
As I've made a safer life for myself, and opened up to the experience of embodiment, divinity no longer seems remote and capricious. Witchcraft teaches me to attune to the presence of benevolent consciousnesses and accessible spiritual gifts in every aspect of the physical world. My individual self begins to feel more porous and continuous with the earth's cycles of death and renewal—a great comfort during this pandemic.

Read more

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