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Winning Writers Newsletter - February 2022

View Free Contests

We found over four dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between February 15-March 31. In this issue, please enjoy the third installment of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Inheriting Our Names by C. Vargas McPherson

We are thrilled to announce the results from our seventh annual North Street Book Prize for self-published books. We read 2,023 entries! C. Vargas McPherson of Portland, Oregon won this year's Grand Prize across all genres for her lyrical memoir, Inheriting Our Names. Subtitled "An imagined true memoir of Spain's pact of forgetting," the book eloquently delineates how fascism establishes itself by silencing historical memory. Ms. Vargas McPherson received $5,000, a marketing analysis and one-hour phone consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, and 3 free ads in the Winning Writers newsletter (a $525 value).

We further congratulate our category winners, Nicole Kohr (Children's Picture Book), Ryan Poirier (Graphic Novel & Memoir), Thomas Sheehan (Poetry), Leslie Sussan (Creative Nonfiction & Memoir), Delores Lowe Friedman (Mainstream/Literary Fiction), Ian Strasfogel (Mainstream/Literary Fiction), Tim Stickel (Genre Fiction), and Jan Regan (Art Book). Yes, we awarded two First Prizes in Mainstream/Literary Fiction—both choices were that good! Randi Hacker, Kendra and Claire-Voe Ocampo, Deborah A. Fox, Maya Stein, Asome Bide, Mack Leonard, and Mark Osaki earned Honorable Mentions.

Final judges Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche were assisted by Annie Mydla, Sarah Halper, and Lauren Singer. Read excerpts from all the winning entries and the judges' remarks. Read the press release.

$14,750 was awarded in all, making this one of the world's most generous contests for self-published books. Our new competition opens today, with a deadline of June 30. The grand prize is increasing to $8,000, and the entry fee is now $70 per book. We have added several co-sponsors with gifts for every contestant. ENTER HERE.

View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 135,000 followers on Twitter. Advertise with us.

Featured Sponsor—Last Call!
What Do US Poet Laureate Emeritus Juan Felipe Herrera and Lemony Snicket Have in Common?


They want to read your writing. The 2021-22 Subnivean Awards are open now, but closing February 21.

Juan Felipe Herrera, final judge in poetry, wants words that grow wings to singe themselves on the sun. Not a poet, but a fiction writer? Daniel "Lemony Snicket" Handler, final judge in fiction, is ready to read a story that throws caution to the howling wind.

If your poetry is madly ablaze or your fiction is weird, wild and wonderful—or both—consider entering the Subnivean Awards. Winners in each category will receive a blurb about their work by the final judge who selected it, publication in Subnivean, and a $150 prize. Finalists and winners will also be invited to read at a virtual event featuring Herrera and Handler in public conversation.

Learn more at Subnivean.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Kathleen Spivack, Sharmagne Leland-St. John, Gary Beck, The Poet SpielRuth Sabath Rosenthal, Dan Klefstad, Karen Aurino, Jennifer Jean, John Sibley WilliamsVictoria Leigh BennettSukhnandan Singh Chauhan, Garry Garretson, Pauline Shen, James Eric Watkins, and Michael Edwin Q.

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

Have news? Please email it to


Oprelle Into Pieces Poetry Contest

Deadline: March 1

There are untold stories within each of us…of the things that shatter us into pieces.

Is there something heavy that you carry? Have you been broken, changed, and re-shaped into the person you are now?

Enter your 1-20 line poem today at

  • First Prize $200
  • Second Prize $100
  • Third Prize $50

All Winners and Finalists will receive a Certificate.

Best of Luck!
Team Oprelle

Ad: Submit Your Book Manuscript at Atmosphere Press

Atmosphere authors have sold thousands of books across five continents, received starred or featured reviews with Publishers 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: C. Vargas McPherson's Inheriting Our Names

Winner of the Grand Prize in the 2021 North Street Book Prize competition

Three years of war.
Forty years of silence.
Thirty years of forgetting.
One day of remembering.

Inheriting Our Names portrays a family trauma inherited from the Spanish Civil War, suppressed from memory, and passed through successive generations and across continents until one woman returns to Seville to reconstruct—and reclaim—her family's history. A richly layered and lush exploration of transgenerational trauma, grief, and release.

"I love that this book is described as 'an imagined true memoir' and, indeed, it is both searingly honest and richly imagined. I was utterly engrossed by this lyrical, profound story of secrets and revelations, trauma and transformation, and am so glad to have discovered this writer."
     —Abigail DeWitt, author of three novels: Lili (WW Norton), Dogs (Lorimer Press), and News of our Loved Ones

"An intensely rich and beautiful book written with the poetic touch of a writer whose heart unmistakably beats with Andalusian blood. This is a story of grief and pain, but also of healing and identity, of three women separated by time and war who weave together in a stunningly passionate examination of hidden history and its effects on the past, present, and future."
     —SPR Publishing Review

Read an excerpt from Inheriting Our Names (PDF)

Read the Winning Writers critique

Buy now from Amazon and other fine booksellers worldwide.

Ad: Pre-Order Jendi Reiter's NEW Poetry Collection Made Man

Made Man
Full of fun and full of anguish, superbly conscious of every rule they break, Jendi Reiter's latest poetry collection from Little Red Tree Publishing explores female-to-male transition and gay masculine identity through the voices of unusual objects and fictional characters with some aspect that is constructed, technological, or hybrid. From a surrealist's eggbeater discovering feminist consciousness, or a pastry box enforcing omertà, to the Nicene Creed as interpreted by Frankenstein, these startling life studies open up onto a broader consideration of humanity's relationship with technology and the shadow side of male dominance of nature. Illustrated with original paintings by graphic designer and multimedia artist Tom Taylor.

Release date: March 1. Pre-order now from Amazon.

Please enjoy this sample poem:

Studying Magick on Zoom

"And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate"  —John Keats

Now is the year of swords.
All friendship mediated through the eye,
each face a fractured element
as moist skin and sanguine heat
are pulverized and re-formed
by dots of light.

Reality's a virtue,
as in: Platonic, as in:
soul made square, like the cardstock scenario
daily we pull, unmoving dance.

If muffled song indeed
is sweeter, cover our esoteric mouths
with hospital-grade sigils
that we not let slip
a particle of despair
in our salt circle, yield in weariness
to the dead crowd.
The candle whose warmth we cannot feel
still burns. Therefore, cold pastoral,
stream on.

Ad: My Pants, North Street First Prize for Children's Picture Book

My Pants follows Celana, a relatable and quirky little girl who is obsessed with pants and struggling with everyday social interactions. Her parents take her to multiple doctors who can't seem to give a good explanation for her anxiety.

With eye-catching, brightly colored illustrations, My Pants is a story about inclusivity, advocating for yourself or others, and well, pants. It teaches children new coping mechanisms and includes fun activity pages at the end of the book. It's a must-have for every home and classroom. Fun for all ages (but best suited for ages 3-8).

"As a parent and a self-diagnosed person on the spectrum, I've read a lot of picture books about kids with autism and related conditions, but none were as satisfying, or full of love, as Nicole Kohr's My Pants. Chelsea Rosado's cozy and colorful illustrations show that neurodiversity can be a source of pleasure, a talent for finding wonder in the mundane." [read the full critique]
     —Jendi Reiter, judge of the 2021 North Street Book Prize

Read an excerpt from My Pants (PDF)

Buy this book on Amazon

Ad: Fourth Genre Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize Now Accepting Submissions

Fourth Genre

Deadline: March 15

The Fourth Genre Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize welcomes your unpublished essays up to 6,000 words long. The winning author will receive $1,000 and publication in the issue that's featured at AWP. Fee: $20 per entry. Learn more on our website and submit via Duosuma.

Our 2022 contest judge is essayist Mary Cappello. A Guggenheim and Berlin Prize Fellow, a recipient of the Dorothea Lange/Paul Taylor Prize from Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, and the Bechtel Prize for Educating the Imagination from Teachers and Writers Collaborative, Cappello is a former Fulbright lecturer at the Gorky Literary Institute (Moscow, Russia) and currently Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Rhode Island.

Cappello's six books include a memoir; a detour; an anti-chronicle (or "ritual in transfigured time"); a lyric biography; a speculative manifesto; and, a meditative fantasia on "mood."

Ad: $6,000 in Prizes: Nimrod International Journal's Literary Awards for Fiction and Poetry

Nimrod Literary Awards

Deadline: April 1

The 44th annual Nimrod Literary Awards—the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction—are open. The Awards offer first prizes of $2,000 and publication and second prizes of $1,000 and publication. Winners will also take part in a virtual Awards Ceremony and Reading in fall 2022. All finalists and selected semi-finalists will be published at a rate of $10 per page up to $200.


  • Poetry: 3-10 pages
  • Fiction: 7,500 words maximum
  • Fee Per Entry: $20 payable to Nimrod, includes a one-year subscription

No previously published works or works accepted for publication elsewhere. Author's name must not appear on the manuscript. Include a cover sheet containing major title(s), author's name, full address, phone, and email.  Entries may be mailed to Nimrod or submitted online. Open to international submissions.

For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website.

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Wergle news! An illustration we commissioned for "LSD"—Justine Hudock's winning entry in our 2020 contest—is featured on the 2022 cover of Best of the Net. We congratulate artist Marta Zubieta!

Ad: Dancing Poetry Contest

Dancing Poetry Contest 2020 Grand Prize Winner Garrett Murphy

Postmark deadline: April 15

Now in its 29th year, all Dancing Poetry Festival prize winners will receive a prize certificate suitable for framing, a ticket to the 2022 Dancing Poetry Festival at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and an invitation to read their prizewinning poem at the festival. (The festival may be held online if circumstances require.)

Three Grand Prizes will receive $100 each plus their poems will be danced and filmed. Many smaller prizes. Each Grand Prize winner will be invited onstage for photo ops with the dancers and a bow in the limelight.

See video and pictures from our Dancing Poetry Festivals that show the vast diversity of poetry and dance we present each year. For poetry, we look for something new and different including new twists to old themes, different looks at common situations, and innovative concepts for dynamic, thought-provoking entertainment. Please do not feel constrained to submit a poem about dancing. The entry fee is just $5 for one poem and $10 for three. We look forward to reading your submissions. See the complete contest rules and enjoy "Through You" by Deborah Tash, winner of a Grand Prize in 2021.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Ad: $8,700 IN PRIZES AND PUBLICATION FOR CLIMATE FICTION sponsored by Fix, Grist’s solutions lab

Deadline: May 5, 2022 | No entry fee

Submissions are now being accepted for Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors, the annual climate fiction contest from Fix, Grist's solutions lab. There is no fee to enter. Submit your short story by May 5, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. PST.

Imagine 2200 seeks original short stories of 3,000 to 5,000 words that envision the next 180 years of clean, green, and just futures. Judges include Hugo Award-winning writer Arkady Martine, esteemed editor and author Sheree Renée Thomas, and professor Grace L. Dillon, who coined the term "Indigenous futurism". Imagine 2200 draws inspiration from Afrofuturism, as well as Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, disabled, feminist, and queer futures, and the genres of hopepunk and solarpunk.

While we're looking for hopeful stories, we also don't expect you to be overly optimistic or naive. One hundred and eighty years of equitable climate progress will require hard work, struggle, and adaptation, and we invite you to show those as well.

In addition, we're especially interested in cultural authenticity (a deep sense of place, customs, cuisine, and more), rich characters with intersecting identities, and stories that challenge the status quo in which wealth and power are built on extraction, oppression, and violence.

The top three winners will be awarded $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 respectively, and nine finalists will receive a $300 honorarium. Those 12 authors will be published in an immersive digital collection this fall. Conjure your wildest dreams for society—all the justice, resilience, and abundance you can imagine—and put those dreams on paper.

There's no fee to enter, so if you're ready to get writing, you can find our submissions portal here. If you'd like to get in touch, you can reach us at

Ad: The Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry 2022

The Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry 2022

Ad: The Montreal International Poetry Prize

The Montreal International Poetry Prize

Submit by the early-bird deadline of May 1 for a reduced entry fee.

Ad: The Table Read Magazine—FREE Promotion for Writers, Artists, and Creatives

The Table Read
The Table Read Magazine was established in June 2021 to celebrate creativity, arts, and entertainment. We want to offer a platform to creatives around the world to share their work with our audience, and excite our readers with their stories. We work with writers, podcasters, artists, musicians, actors, and more. As long as you're creative and passionate about what you do, we want to celebrate everything you're doing with the people who are excited by it.

Each article is edited to fit the layout and SEO style of The Table Read, and graphics are created to our own style. Posts are then shared across social media, both in quote form and infographics.

If you have a book, blog, magazine, or newsletter that you want to promote then this is the platform for you. Share details of what motivates you, how you use writing to accomplish your goal, and what you have achieved so far. Reach a new audience of excited readers, and inspire a new generation of passionate writers.

There is no cost to you for this opportunity.

Apply to feature on The Table Read.

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
Myong Cha Son Haiku Award. West Chester University will award prizes up to $1,500 for unpublished haiku by US undergraduate students. Submit 1-3 poems via email. Due February 21.

Intermediate Writers
NEA Literature Fellowships. The National Endowment for the Arts will award up to 60 $25,000 grants to published creative writers that enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement. 2022 applications are for poetry. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents. Due March 10.

Advanced Writers
Natan Notable Books Award. Natan will award $5,000 and marketing support for a recen­t­­ly-pub­­lished or about-to-be pub­lished nonfic­­tion title that will cat­alyze con­ver­sa­tions aligned with the themes of Natan's grant­mak­ing: rein­vent­ing Jew­ish life and com­mu­ni­ty for the twen­­ty-first cen­tu­ry, shift­ing notions of indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive Jew­ish iden­ti­ty, the his­to­ry and future of Israel, and the evolv­ing rela­tion­ship between Israel and world Jewry. Due April 1.

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.

bath magg
(innovative contemporary poetry - February 28)

(creative writing, art, and music by LGBTQ creators in NYC - February 28)

Prospectus: A Literary Offering
(poetry and stories by authors with no published books - February 28)

Terrapin Books: Poetry Open Submission Period
(full-length poetry manuscripts - February 28)

Arena Fantasy Magazine: "The Evil Twin"
(speculative short fiction on this theme - March 1)

Flowers & Vortexes
(poetry and artwork - April 4)

Rattle: "Tribute to Translation" Issue
(poems translated into English - April 15)

PSA: ProLiteracy Reports Students' Achievements for 2021

ProLiteracy Statistical Reports

ProLiteracy is honored to be included in The Washington Post's advice column: Ask Amy. Columnist Amy Dickinson recognized ProLiteracy as a highly rated and worthy organization in her annual Charity Roundup this past December. Funding from federal sources increased 5% from 2020 to 2021, but private donations are needed. Support ProLiteracy.


Highlights from Our Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest Archives

Here are some of our favorite poems from past Wergle Flomp contests. They may not have all won a top prize, but we still remember them fondly. To see more winning poems, visit our Contest Archives.

by Charles Doyle
Second Prize, 2011 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

by Janette Berry
Honorable Mention, 2011 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

by Catherine Affleck
Finalist, 2011 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

by Luke Archer
Honorable Mention, 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

by Mary McLean
Finalist, 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Winning Writers Will Critique Your Book or Manuscript for $180, Satisfaction Guaranteed

Winning Writers Critique Service

Our customers say:

"Oh, my goodness, have you made my day! Thank you so much for your insight into this memoir. You have brought forth so many inspiring comments about this that I shall be able to trudge on; I certainly had hit a writer's block as to how to make the memoir better. I am so pleased that Winning Writers offered this service! I thank you from the bottom of my heart." -Geraldine Birch

"Both your initial feedback and your follow-up feedback on my questions were sensational. I've done a lot of writing courses & feedback sessions etc. and the insight you've given has been genuinely great, so just wanted to say thank you again." -Jake Egan

"Wow! I just got finished reading through your critique. It is extremely helpful! I'm not sure what I was expecting, but you assuaged my largest fears, and gave me concrete suggestions on how I can fix the weak parts. I really, really appreciate the time and effort you put into my manuscript." -DK Coutant

"Thank you for the critique of my draft novel, it was exceedingly helpful..." -John Anderson

"Thank you so much for your critique of my book. I find all of your comments most helpful as I write my next book and as I continue to brainstorm ways to use the book to help others in situations similar to ours..." -Myrtle Russell

Learn more and order your book or manuscript critique today.

Also available: critiques for poems, stories, and essays.

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

Here is the third installment of Julian Peters' 24-page comic-book adaptation of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot. We will reprint all 24 pages over the next several newsletters. See the previous installment.

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

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
 - Page 7

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot - Page 8
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot - Page 9

To be continued in our March 15 newsletter

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterGo Ahead, Break That Dish
When the pandemic started, my spiritual guide Julian said to me, "We're all going to die, darling—wear your good shoes." (For more advice from an imaginary fashion photographer, read this book.) The sudden closeness of death and impermanence brought home to me that there may be no "later" that we're saving our luxuries for.

Read more

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