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Award-Winning Poems: Fall 2017

Jendi Reiter

Welcome to my fall 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: "I am in Bed with You, too" by Emma Barnes, illustrated by Julian Peters.
—Jendi Reiter, Editor

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Deadline This Month
15th year. We will award the Tom Howard Prize of $1,500 for a poem in any style or genre, and the Margaret Reid Prize of $1,500 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $100 each (any style). The top 12 entries will be published online. Length limit: 250 lines per poem. Entry fee: $12 per poem. Final judge: S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Jim DuBois. Deadline: September 30. Submit online or by mail.

Award-Winning Poems Selected by Jendi Reiter

by Nick Makoha
Winner of the 2016 Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize
Entries must be received by September 30
This chapbook manuscript award from Cave Canem, the leading mentoring organization for black poets, includes $500, publication, and a reading and residency in Miami. Makoha's Resurrection Man was the most recent winner. These paired poems depict, with a menacing flatness of affect, the Everyman as dictator and as the betrayers who inevitably topple him, suggesting that all are pawns in a drearily repetitive game.

by BK Fischer
Winner of the 2017 The Journal/Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by September 30
This competitive open poetry manuscript prize includes $2,500 and publication by Mad Creek Books, the literary imprint of Ohio State University Press. Fischer's Radioapocrypha, described on her website as "a suburban gospel", was the most recent winner and will be published in 2018. This prose-poem, studded with quotes from literary classics, explores the etymology and usage of the title word as a means of taming the "dreaded and feared" female.

by William Orem
Winner of the 2017 Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: October 1
This biannual poetry manuscript contest, awarding $1,000 and publication, is open to authors with at least one prior published full-length collection. Wheelbarrow Books, established in 2016, is an imprint of the RCAH Center for Poetry at Michigan State University. Orem's Our Purpose in Speaking was the most recent winner. These brief, profound formal poems illuminate two occasions when the faith learned in childhood collided with the realities of death and violence.

by Mia Ayumi Malhotra
Winner of the 2017 Alice James Award
Postmark Deadline: November 1
This open poetry manuscript contest for US authors awards $3,000, a reading at the University of Maine at Farmington, and publication by Alice James Books, a prestigious small press. Malhotra's prizewinning debut collection Isako Isako is forthcoming in 2019. In this poem, taut fragments of physical description create a double meaning, such that the workers, not only their materials, seem to be bound and pinned down.

by L.I. Henley
Winner of the 2017 Perugia Press Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: November 15
Based in Western Massachusetts, Perugia has been publishing poetry books by women for over 20 years. This prize gives $1,000 and publication for a first or second collection by a woman, which includes transgender and other female-identified writers. This sparely worded, emotionally charged poem from Henley's prizewinning Starshine Road portrays a military father trying to impart his survival philosophy to a child, who is comforted by his care and only later realizes the atmosphere of fear they lived in.

Read more award-winning poems.

Kirkus Bestows Starred Review on De Facto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland

Judy Juanita's De Facto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland was featured as Book-of-the-Month at KIRKUS REVIEWS in March. From the coveted starred review"This extraordinary set of autobiographical essays gives insight into a black woman's life in the arts: everything from joining the Black Panthers to avoiding African-American chick lit."

Cait Coker, reviewing the book in The Future Fire Reviews, writes: "Judy Juanita's collection of essays De Facto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland is a mixture of previously published material from her long career in activism, including poetry, and more recent autobiographical reminiscences that relate to her 2013 novel Virgin Soul. This work does not relate to genre per se (unless we think of being Black in America today as being a dystopian experience, which, to be honest, we might well do). The sixteen essays, half dozen poems, and a collection of digital correspondence spanning from 1967 to 2015—much of which is drawn from the online magazine The Weeklings—cover expansive territory on Juanita's career as an activist and an artist: she has been a member of the Black Panther Party, has taught in the first Black Studies program in the US, and is a playwright, poet, novelist and professor. She reminds us that creative work is activism too..."

Coker continues, "De Facto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland is a thought-provoking collection, one that should be read and taught alongside such classics as Bulkin, Pratt, and Smith's 1984 Yours in Struggle: Three Feminist Perspectives on Anti-Semitism and Racism, Alice Walker's 1998 Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer's Activism, and Patricia Hill Collins's 2008 Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Though the book was prepared for print and published prior to Trump's election in the US and the Resistance movement that has followed, its appearance when so many American readers and writers are struggling with how to incorporate political activism into their work makes the book incredibly timely and necessary. Art is survival, too."

Buy De Facto Feminism at Amazon

The Inaugural Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing (no fee)

Deadline: September 1

Gulf Coast is now accepting entries for the inaugural Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing. The contest awards $3,000 and publication in Gulf Coast to the winner. The Prize will consider submissions of work that has been written (or published) within the last year. A variety of creative approaches and formats to writing on the visual arts are encouraged, and can include thematic essays, exhibition reviews and scholarly essays. Two runners up will be awarded $1,000 each. Prize winners will be featured in Gulf Coast's printed journal as well as online. There is no entry fee. Darby English will judge. Click here for full guidelines and to submit.

The Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing

The Barthelme Prize for Short Prose

Deadline: September 8

The Barthelme Prize for Short Prose is open to pieces of prose poetry, flash fiction, and micro-essays of 500 words or fewer. Established in 2008, the contest awards its winner $1,000 and publication in the journal. Two honorable mentions will receive $250, and all entries will be considered for paid publication on our website as Online Exclusives. Roxane Gay is this year's judge.

All entrants to the Barthelme Prize receive a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast, beginning with the year in which the corresponding prize winner is published. We will accept submissions both via our online submissions manager and via postal mail. Click here for full guidelines and to submit.

The Barthelme Prize for Short Prose

The 2017 Gulf Coast Prize in Translation

Deadline: September 8

Gulf Coast is now accepting entries for the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation. In 2017, the contest is open to prose (fiction or nonfiction) in translation. The winner receives $1,000 and publication in the journal. Two honorable mentions will each receive $250. All entries will be considered for paid publication on our website as Online Exclusives. John Keene is this year's judge.

Entry to the contest also includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast, beginning with the issue in which the corresponding prize winners are published. We will accept submissions both via our online submissions manager and via postal mail. Click here for full guidelines and to submit.

The 2017 Gulf Coast Prize in Translation

Return of the Slacker: Original poetry by Jim DuBois

Jim DuBois

To slack:
1. to make loose, or less tense or taut, as a rope; loosen.
2. to become less tense or taut, as a rope; to ease off.

1. an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.

A slacker:
1. a person without ambition.
2. a person who gives up the idea of ambition in order to become less tense or taut, and to make the world less tense.

Return of the Slacker—read it online now!

Extended Deadline: September 30

We are delighted to have Philip Schultz judge the 13th Mudfish Poetry Prize. Founder and director of The Writers Studio in New York, Schultz grew up in Rochester, New York. He earned a BA from San Francisco State University and an MA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. He is the author of numerous poetry collections, among them Like Wings (1978), winner of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award in literature; Deep Within the Ravine (1984), awarded the Academy of American Poets Lamont Prize; The Holy Worm of Praise (2002); Living in the Past (2004); the Pulitzer Prize-winning Failure (2007); and The God of Loneliness: Selected and New Poems (2010).

Each entry should include a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope), a cover page with the poet's name, address, and titles of poems. The author's name should not appear on the poems. You may submit 3 poems for a $20 fee. Each additional poem is $3. Checks should be made out to Box Turtle Press. Postmark your entry by September 30 and mail it to:

     Mudfish Poetry Prize
     184 Franklin Street
     Ground Floor
     New York, NY 10013

We are reading entries for this contest NOW! Don't miss out.

Mudfish, a journal of art and poetry (and some fiction), takes its title from the storyteller's stool in Nigerian art. The poems each tell a story. They are resonant, and visceral, encapsulating our unique human experiences. There is a wide range to the subject matter and style, but the poems all have breath and life, a living voice.

Mudfish has featured work from the best established and emerging artists and poets—including John Ashbery, Charles Simic, and Frank Stella—since it burst onto the poetry scene in 1984.

World famous, with a cult following, the journal contains the passionate, edgy, intimate voice of the 21st century. Mudfish is a memorable read, a handsome and generous journal that will surprise and delight and last.

Edisto Stranger by C. Hope Clark, On Sale Now

Just released! Book Four in the series. A cold case heats up...

A dead man in Big Bay Creek, spring break, and a rogue FBI agent would be enough to drive Chief Callie Jean Morgan to drink...if she hadn't already quietly crawled inside a bottle of gin to drown her sorrows over a life ripped apart by too many losses. When her investigation into the stranger's death heats up an unsolved abduction case, Callie finds herself pitted against the town council, her son, the agent, and even the raucous college kids enjoying idyllic Edisto Beach. Amidst it all, Callie must find a way to reconcile her grief and her precious taste for booze before anyone else is killed.

"Those who haven't read any of C. Hope Clark's books are short-changing themselves. You can't begin a C. Hope Clark book and then put it down." - Clay Stafford, author and filmmaker, founder of Killer Nashville and publisher of Killer Nashville Magazine.

"Hope Clark has created another fascinating heroine in former Boston PD detective Callie Morgan. Her books are fast-paced mysteries set against the backdrop of a tiny South Carolina island where murder never happens—or so the locals would like to believe. I'm happy to recommend it." - Kathryn R. Wall, author, the Bay Tanner mysteries

Buy now at Amazon

The Missouri Review’s 27th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize

Deadline: October 2

$5,000 for the winner of each category! Send our editorial staff your best fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Winners and select runners up will be published in the Missouri Review. Your entry fee includes a one-year digital subscription to the Missouri Review and a paperback copy of Jane Gillett's new story collection Trail of the Demon. For complete guidelines and to enter, please visit missourireview.com/contests/jeffrey-e-smith-editors-prize/

Read a prizewinning story by Melissa Yancy, an essay by Peter Selgin, and a selection from poetry winners Katie Bickham, Kai Carlson-Wee, and Alexandra Teague.

Bullies in Love by Jendi Reiter

Bullies in Love

Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter's fourth poetry book and second full-length collection, Bullies in Love, is available from Little Red Tree Publishing, with illustrations by fine art photographer and Massachusetts Cultural Council award winner Toni Pepe. Poems in this collection have won prizes from Atlanta Review, Anderbo, Alligator Juniper, Descant, New Millennium Writings, Solstice Literary Magazine, Wag's Revue, and others.

Based in North Platte, NE, Little Red Tree publishes books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art that "delight, entertain, and educate", as well as the print and online literary magazine Peacock Journal.

Please enjoy this sample poem and purchase Bullies in Love on Amazon.

When Should You Tell Your Children About Satan?

First they took away the goats, then the pictures of goats.
When the little ones cried, our teachers
said we'd left the gate open for them to wander,
and then no one said anything.
The three gruffs became lambs
in the blue and yellow drawings in our new books,
and the troll smiled at their softness
with no red ink teeth in sight.

The stars on our papers were the right way up
and turned to F's if we drew circles around them.
In the cafeteria, there was no mustard
in our hard-boiled eggs, and the cake
was white as a good princess's heart.
Biology posters stopped at the neck.
Our teachers wouldn't tolerate the pirate flag
skull-face jawing at them, not even for science.

They were very kind to us. We felt fine
without noodles in our alphabet soup,
skipping number six and thirteen
when we counted off who was It.
The kids who didn't get their turn
under the new system — let's call them Lucy and Nick,
only we couldn't, because those names weren't allowed —
weren't crying. They went to play someplace else.
We heard the screech of the swing set,
the happy thumps of a rubber ball.
Anyway we had to stop calling them "kids"
because that's what a goat is, to start with.
When the mother left her seven little ones
at home in the storybook
and the wolf came, the way our teachers told it
no one was really there, no one got eaten.

Favorite New Resources

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

American Literature
Classic books to read online for free

Beta reader management platform

The Bind
Online journal reviews poetry books by women and nonbinary authors

Find freelance writers and editors for your book or website 

Enigma Public
World's largest collection of public databases 

Jane Friedman's Self-Publishing Tutorial
Step-by-step guide to self-publishing process 

Site matches writers with freelance editors for online workshopping 

The Latino Author
Networking website for Hispanic/Latino authors and readers 

The Rejection Survival Guide
Creative resilience for authors 

Writing Better Trans Characters
Science fiction critic Cheryl Morgan's advice on authentic representation

American Literature

Favorite New Books

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Roxane Gay

In this starkly honest and courageous memoir, the bestselling fiction writer and feminist commentator shares her complex and ongoing story of childhood trauma, eating disorders, and navigating prejudice against fat bodies. After being gang-raped at age 12, Gay self-medicated her emotional pain with food and became obese as armor against the world. She offers no easy answers or tales of miracle diets, but rather something more valuable: a role model for learning to cherish and nourish yourself in a genuine way despite society's cruelty toward "unruly" bodies.

Johann Hari

This meticulously researched history book reads like a thriller, with vivid characters and political intrigue. British journalist Hari unearths the junk science and racist panic behind the criminalization of addictive substances, exposes the brutality of American prisons, and profiles communities from Vancouver to Portugal where legalization is working. His takeaway findings: Drugs don't cause addiction, trauma and isolation do. Prescribing maintenance doses to addicts in safe medical settings not only cuts crime dramatically, it even reduces addiction over the long term.

Naila Moreira

This poet and science journalist's second chapbook marries the majesty of High Modernist style with a humble attention to our nonhuman neighbors on the planet. Like Yeats and Eliot, she speaks with prophetic sureness about cosmic themes, but where they might have recoiled from nature's messiness into the cool chambers of intellect, Moreira shows us the fatal consequences of such detachment. She quickens our conscience to protect our fragile environment, then invites us to be awestruck by meteor showers and comforted by the cycle "of being and of killing, of eating and of rot", as our tiny breaths "fuse with the world's bedlam of respiration".

Selections from Our Contest Archives

by Lynn Veach Sadler

Third Prize
2005 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest 

"Du Temps Perdu"
by Raymond Southall

Second Prize
2005 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse 

"Phantom Feelings"
by Lissa Byers

Third Prize
2006 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest 

"In the Realm of Mercy"
by Karima Alavi

Most Highly Commended
2008 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest 

"Masculine Message from Damion McGraw"
by Jim Neill

Second Prize
2006 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest 

"The Diet Song of J. Anna Prufroski"
by Tammi Reynolds

Honorable Mention
2006 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest 

See the complete archive of winning entries from our contests.

Lynn Veach Sadler

PSA: Support ProLiteracy

ProLiteracy, the largest adult 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.

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"I am in Bed with You, too" by Emma Barnes, illustrated by Julian Peters

Julian Peters writes, "As part of New Zealand's National Poetry Day in 2016, Victoria University of Wellington's Wai-te-ata Press hosted Transpositions, an event celebrating New Zealand women poets and their translators. One of the event's organizers, Francesca Benocci (my 'Partner in Rhyme' in my recent Oscar Wilde poem adaptation), asked me to contribute an image illustrating a passage from the work of one of the featured woman poets that could be projected during some of the presentations. I chose a couple of lines from Emma Barnes's startlingly image-rich poem 'I am in Bed with You, too', which you can read in its entirety here." Read more poems by Ms. Barnes, and visit Mr. Peters' website to learn more.

I am in Bed with You, too

I am in bed with you. I'm always on the left.
I am left of myself. I am creasing up in time.
Folded in two and three. Paper can be folded
in half seven times. I've got the folded creases
of thirty three years worth of nimble fingers in
my skin. I am better than origami. I am better.
I was always trying to reach you. I was calling
by phone, in the old dial style set. I punched
numbers and tapped screens. My finger traversed
the front of the sun. The number is 660-
816. 660-816. I was always calling you to tell
me how to keep myself alive. But none of you
knew. And so I had to invent myself out of a
paper bag without letting anyone know what
I was doing. Walking up the very longest street
in my body alone, knowing it would take forever.
Here's the final brick to slot into the mud house
I've made. It's the brick that tells you I didn't
die just yet. It's the brick that says I slaughtered
myself from the inside out taking each tiny
dead figure that no longer worked then
attaching it to a hook in the sky. Empty as a
golem I woke up next to you. Empty as bed
I walked around until I got here. I have refilled
myself like a pen. I have recalibrated
the frequency at which I vibrate. I have sent
out a search party for myself and they returned
triumphant with the you that's me on their
shoulders. We hugged together alone in a
room for hours. And then debuted ourselves
as one single person. A single person who
is almost 12000 shells inside a bone cage.

Writer's Digest: 101 Best Websites for Writers