The best free literary contests with deadlines to August 31 |

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Winning Writers Newsletter - July 2019

View Free Contests We found nearly three dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between July 15-August 31. In this issue, please enjoy "Reason and Passion", an excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Open Now
17th year. We have increased the Tom Howard Prize to $2,000 for a poem in any style or genre, and the Margaret Reid Prize to $2,000 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. 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: $12 per poem. Final judge: S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Jim DuBois. Deadline: September 30. Submit online here.

Coming Next Month
We'll announce the winners of our 18th Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest.

View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 120,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters. Interested in advertising? Learn more.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Roberta George, Katherine J. Leisering, Cathy L. Young, Karin Aurino, Alan Lowe, Farai Diza, J. Weintraub, Adrie Kusserow, Charlie Bondhus, Dean Kostos, R.T. Castleberry, and Anna Scotti.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Last Call! The Rattle Poetry Prize Will Award $10,000 for a Poem

Rattle Poetry Prize

Deadline: July 15 (today!)

The annual Rattle Poetry Prize is once again offering $10,000 for a single poem to be published in the winter issue of the magazine. Ten finalists will also receive $200 each and publication, and be eligible for the $2,000 Readers' Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote.

With the winners judged in a blind review by the editors to ensure a fair and consistent selection, an entry fee that is simply a one-year subscription to the magazine—and a runner-up Readers' Choice Award to be chosen by the writers themselves—the Rattle Poetry Prize aims to be one of the most writer-friendly and popular poetry contests around.

We accept entries online and by mail. See Rattle's website for the complete guidelines and to read all of the past winners.

Please enjoy "Equilibrium" by Tiana Clark, our 2015 winner:

Took me
thirty years to say
I'm glad
I don't pass for white.
those words into the dark
in my palm like a fortune:
a life line
of futures I wanted to begin.
Like the way
the haze of summer heat
a drive home different.
Right now
even the streetlights
have a misty
orb to them. Even
the cigarette butt
flicked out
of the window
on the highway
plumes with embers
toward me
like the tail
of a backyard
bottle rocket.
I wanted my
hair straighter,
nose thinner,
skin lighter.
I thought this
is what my white
wanted as their hands
each European request,
a Russian
nesting doll I kept
until there was only illusion
of beauty
split open. Like the Great
Gatsby cover
with the disembodied head
of a crying
flapper over the neon-scape
of city. All
the green beacons we chase
as thoughts
of people who don't love us
are left back
drifting on the roads as we
drive. But
every muscle knows how
to get home.
How the smallest part
of ourselves
cannot be divided.
The last doll
is still whole in my hands.
Even the car
can still purr from energy
after it's been
turned off. What is left
in us, once we have
stopped trying
to become the other?

Cutthroat and The Black Earth Institute Seek Submissions for an Anthology of Contemporary Chicanx Writing

Cutthroat, A Journal Of The Arts

Diode Editions Book & Chapbook Contests

Diode Editions Deadline: August 15

The Diode Editions Book & Chapbook Contests are now open. Winners will be announced by September 15, 2019. Open to all poets over the age of 18 who write in English. We consider translations, welcome collaborations and hybrid work. Visit our website for submission information.

Winners of the full-length contest will receive $500, 20 author copies, and select poems from the book(s) will appear in Diode Poetry Journal. Winners of the chapbook contest will receive $250, 20 author copies, and select poems from the book(s) will appear in Diode Poetry Journal. If the winners attend AWP 2020 they'll have the opportunity to participate in author signings and an off-site reading.

On The Premises Short Story Contest (no fee)

On The Premises

OTP's short story contest #34 launched on June 9. Its premise is "Tradition". For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which some kind of tradition(s) play(s) an important role.

DEADLINE: 11:59 PM Eastern Time, Friday, August 30, 2019

One entry per author. There is no fee for entering this contest. Winners receive between US$60 and US$220, and publication.

GENRE RULES: No children's fiction, no exploitative sex, no over-the-top grossout horror, and no stories that are obvious parodies of well-known fictional worlds/characters created by other authors.

Click for details and instructions on submitting your story.

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,, and other short story marketing resources.

S. Mei Sheng Frazier will judge the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest, assisted by Jim DuBois

Sponsored by Winning Writers

TOM HOWARD PRIZE: $2,000 for a poem in any style or genre

MARGARET REID PRIZE: $2,000 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 $100 each (any style)

Top 12 entries published online

Judged by S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Jim DuBois

Enter via Submittable by September 30

Jendi Reiter's An Incomplete List of My Wishes Is a Book Excellence Awards Finalist

An Incomplete List of My Wishes

Jendi Reiter's story collection An Incomplete List of My Wishes (Sunshot Press, 2018) was a finalist in the LGBTQ Fiction category of the 2018 Book Excellence Awards.

"Their book of poetry, Bullies In Love, showed Jendi Reiter is a truly gifted poet. Their book of short stories, An Incomplete List of My Wishes, shows they are adept in the short story form as well. Whether juggling the multiple points of view in 'The House of Correction', the introspective airplane flight to a funeral—and an execution—in the title story, or the wonderfully surreal fairy tale of 'Memories of the Snow Queen', Reiter shows tremendous skill and imagination. Several stories relate to the lead character in Reiter's novel, Two Natures, filling in his family's story and struggles with sexual identity. Reiter handles the Southern background with a welcome, comfortable sense of the region's character. An Incomplete List of My Wishes earns a place on your reading list and in your collection of Reiter's work."
—R.T. Castleberry, Amazon 5-star review

Buy An Incomplete List of My Wishes on Kindle for $1.99.

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
Submerging Writer Fellowship. Fear No Lit will award a top prize of $1,000 ($500 prize and up to $500 to be used toward expenses associated with attending a conference, workshop, class, or retreat) for writers who have never published a book or won any major writing awards, and who are not currently studying in an MFA or PhD program. Winner will also receive chapbook publication in a limited print run of 125 copies, plus event planning and marketing help for winner's book launch. Fellowship is meant to assist talented writers "who are sinking in the giant sea of the writing industry." Due July 31.

Intermediate Writers
Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation will award $15,000 and a travel-expenses-paid trip to a Baton Rouge award ceremony for a book of fiction (novel or short story collection) by an emerging African-American author published in the US during the current calendar year. Winner must participate in educational activities and small creative writing workshops with local students during the week of ceremony. No self-published books. Due August 15.

Advanced Writers
Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing. The Writers' Trust of Canada will award C$25,000 for literary nonfiction books about Canadian politics by Canadian citizens or permanent residents and first published in Canada during the calendar year. Deadline varies depending on when the book was published: Books published between January 1 and July 30 must be received by July 31.

See more Spotlight Contests for emerging, intermediate, and advanced writers within The Best Free Literary Contests database.

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

PSA: From No English to Nursing School-Bound

A Student Story: From No English to Nursing School-Bound

A student story from ProLiteracy:

Dolma Tsering moved to the US three years ago from a small village in Tibet. She and her family moved here to open their now successful shop in Blacksburg, Virginia, the Himalayan Curry Café.

"When I came here and didn't speak English…" Dolma said in an interview. "It's very hard to communicate to people." She does just about everything at the café, from taking orders to cooking and cleaning.

To help her with her communication skills, Dolma sought the help of tutor Emily Smith, owner of the freelance editing service Editing by Emily. With Emily's help, Dolma developed her literacy and English language skills and obtained her driver's license.

"It's been a really rewarding experience for me," Emily said in an interview. "It's really only two hours a week, plus planning. Not that much, but it can make such an impact on a person's life and give them independence to achieve their goals and dreams. So, I definitely recommend it to other people."

Now Dolma is ready to conquer new dreams, including becoming a nurse. She wants to make an impact and help people the way people like Emily have helped her.

"She is a great person," Dolma said, referring to Emily. "Sometimes I don't understand the big words and she explains for me slowly and she makes sentences that work."

Read other great student stories at ProLiteracy Blogs.

Favorite New Resources

Cyree Jarelle Johnson

Here are some of our favorite resources at Winning Writers added in the first half of the year. For a full list, see our Resource pages.

Cyree Jarelle Johnson
Queer black poet-activist writes about neurodiversity, faith, and social justice

Delacorte Review
Long-form narrative nonfiction magazine published by the Columbia University School of Journalism

Compares documents to reveal differences. Great for showing changes made by an editor. Works with PDFs, Word documents, and PowerPoint documents

Jewish Storyteller Press
Small press revives classics of Yiddish literature in English translation

Polyphony Lit
Nonprofit sponsors a lit mag and contest for high school students

Online literary community for short fiction writers, with free contests and resource links

Public Books
Online journal features scholars writing for a general audience about art, ideas, and culture

PublishDrive Free E-book Converter
Turn MS Word documents into ePub or Kindle mobi files

Radical Copyeditor
Evolving style guide to writing about marginalized communities

The Savvy Self-Publisher
Poets & Writers series of case studies on successful self-published authors

Tint Journal
Online literary journal for ESL (English as a Second Language) writers

Writer Beware's Guide to Selecting Reputable Literary Agents
Guidelines for weeding out agent scams

Reason and Passion: An excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

The Prophet

And the priestess spoke again and said: Speak to us of Reason and Passion.

And he answered saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against passion and your appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.

Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows—then let your heart say in silence, "God rests in reason."

And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky,—then let your heart say in awe, "God moves in passion."

And since you are a breath in God's sphere, and a leaf in God's forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.

Read The Prophet on Wikisource

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterTwo Varieties of Post-Christian Experience
I'm a Christian the same way I'm a New Yorker. Manhattan, like Christendom, is a place that fundamentally shaped who I am, but I couldn't live there anymore. There are things I miss about it that I can't find anywhere else. When a certain song plays, or a characteristic smell reaches me (incense, burnt soft pretzels, the subway grating after rain), I feel satisfied and whole–for a maximum of 48 hours in the city, or 45 minutes in church, before something predictably makes me overwhelmed and stressed.

[read more]

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

One of the 101 Best Websites for Writers (Writer's Digest)