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Winning Writers Newsletter - May 2022

View Free Contests

We found almost four dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between May 15-June 30. In this issue, please enjoy the sixth installment of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Deadline Next Month
Deadline: June 30. 8th year. Prizes increased to $16,750, including a top award of $8,000. This year's categories: Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, Creative Nonfiction & Memoir, Poetry, Children's Picture Book, Graphic Novel & Memoir, and Art Book. Fee: $70 per entry. Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche will judge, assisted by Annie Mydla, Sarah Halper, and Lauren Singer. See the previous winners and enter here.

Also open now, our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest will award $8,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $3,000 each. Submit 1-3 poems for $20. Deadline: September 30.

View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 135,000 followers on Twitter and find us on Facebook. Advertise with us, starting at $40.

Featured Sponsor

Oprelle Masters Contest

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Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Mahnaz Badihian (featured poem: "I Am Still a Child"), Antoinette Carone, Annie Dawid, Gary Beck, Patricia Brody, Janet Aalfs, Samantha Terrell, Robert Walton, Joshua Michael Stewart, Robert Ronnow, Deborah DeNicola, J Brooke, Michael McKeown Bondhus, Sarah Kornfeld, and Dan Valenti.

Bernard Mann

Winning Writers mourns the passing of our subscriber Bernard Mann (1933-2022). Mann is the author of David & Avshalom: Life and Death in the Forest of Angels and won third prize in our 2008 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for "Morning". He was also a landscape architect, poet, and artist. Read an interview with him in ESRA Magazine by his partner, poet and artist Helen Bar-Lev, and enjoy his "Poem for the Mediterranean", published online with the Reuben Rose winning poems of 2017.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Ad: Submit Your Book Manuscript at Atmosphere Press

Atmosphere Press

Providing expert editorial, cover design, layout, distribution, publicity, audiobook, and website services, Atmosphere Press titles have been acclaimed by reviewers with Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist. We are selectively offering publishing opportunities to talented writers, providing a dedicated team of editors, designers, publicists, and avid readers to bring your books to life.

Authors maintain 100% ownership rights over their work
Authors have final veto power over content
Authors get 100% of sales proceeds

As an author-first collaborative publisher we accept book-length submissions in all genres. Whether you are super-accomplished or just-starting-out, each of our authors receives a personal experience from raw manuscript to readers' hands. From insightful editorial meetings to elegant interior design to bespoke cover design to global distribution and strategic promotion...well, we've got you covered.

Every author who submits gets a free consultation call to discuss your work, and the pathway to potential book publication with Atmosphere Press.

Ad: Announcing Refugee, poems by Pamela Uschuk from Red Hen Press


Refugee deals with refugees of many kinds—political refugees, refugees from racism, from domestic violence, from environmental destruction and disease, specifically cancer—and their stories of cruelty and courage, hardship, and hope to overcome the most daunting of circumstances.

Taking the reader across our country through the landscapes of Colorado, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arizona, Refugee addresses the nature of seeking shelter. We are all refugees looking for a haven from whatever oppresses our lives. What constitutes a refugee is at the heart of the collection that confronts and explores xenophobia, sexism, gun violence, domestic violence, corporate greed, and their ties to environmental destruction and political and economic tyranny.

An ovarian cancer survivor, the author also writes about her own courageous confrontation with death. These inspiring poems call for a change in consciousness in the forms of action and compassion. They call for the reader to thrive. This collection is steeped in rich, sensual imagery that draws inspiration and healing from the natural world. Truth lies in recognition of the interdependence of all life. Refugee is an odyssey to find grace and unity in a besieged and divided contemporary American society.


"There is a position in yoga called 'the shining heart'. This is how Pam Uschuk has approached her poems in Refugee. Pam Uschuk is on fire. She has carried her song and vision across deserts and over mountains. Witness and beauty undivided."
— Luis Alberto Urrea, author of House of Fallen Angels

"With tenderness, expansive compassion, and profound gifts of radiant description, Pamela Uschuk considers so many ways people may be estranged and lost in this precious, difficult world. With brave ferocity, her poems in Refugee navigate new vision and reconnection, so desperately longed for right now and always."
— Naomi Shihab Nye, author of The Tiny Journalist


Ad: Operaland by Ian Strasfogel


2021 North Street Book Prize, First Prize for Literary Fiction 

Operaland follows Richie Verdun, a funny, fearless little dynamo, as he enters the glamorous and treacherous world of opera facing almost impossible odds. He's in his early forties, unusually old for a beginner, and without the benefit of either musical or theatrical training. To make matters worse, this irrepressible fireplug of a man is overly fond of inappropriate, almost infantile jokes that are wildly out of place in his sophisticated new surroundings.

From the North Street critique by Jendi Reiter:

"The story is given depth and tension by the complexity of Richie's psyche. He is not as simple a man as he thinks he is. One side of him is the aw-shucks American boy, contented to the point of laziness—a sore point for his coaches. He's still dazzled by the miracle of music, where his fellow performers and theater executives might be too jaded and ambitious. The other side of Richie, though, is the martial, virile power of his voice, which transforms him from a ridiculous to a heroic presence."

Read an excerpt from Operaland (PDF)

Buy this book on Amazon

Ad: Registration Half Off! 8 Weeks to Writing a Commercially Successful Novel

8 Weeks to Writing a Commercially Successful Novel

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Throughout the course, you'll be mastering:

  1. High moment and character change
  2. Microtension on every page
  3. Nuances of deep POV
  4. Sensory detail
  5. Emotional manipulation
  6. High stakes
  7. Purposeful backstory
  8. Tight, distilled dialogue

Enroll by May 31 with the coupon code EARLYBIRD and receive half off registration.

Ad: Carve Magazine Raymond Carver Short Story Contest - Deadline Tomorrow!

Raymond Carver Contest

Deadline: May 16, 11:59pm Eastern Daylight Time

Now in its 22nd year, the Carve Magazine Raymond Carver Short Story Contest is one of the most renowned fiction contests in the world. The contest opens each year on April 1 and offers $3,000 across five prizes.

Prizewinners will appear in the fall issue of Carve in October alongside in-depth interviews of the authors. Additionally, Carve will forward the winning stories to three literary agencies. Dariel Suarez, author of The Playwright's House, is the 2022 guest judge.

Visit our website to read the full guidelines and submit.

Ad: ENDING SOON: Two Sylvias Press Poetry Chapbook Prize

Two Sylvias Press Poetry Chapbook Prize

Deadline: May 31, 2022 (Tuesday)

  • Judge: Pulitzer Prize Winner Diane Seuss (author of frank: sonnets from Graywolf Press)
  • Prize: $500 and publication by Two Sylvias Press, 20 copies of the winning book, and an amethyst Depression-era glass trophy (circa 1930)

The Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize is open to all poets (previously published or not). Manuscripts should be 17-24 pages long. Simultaneous submissions are accepted. All manuscripts will be considered for publication.

Past Winners: Saúl Hernández, Meg Griffitts, Cecilia Woloch, Jasmine An, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Hiwot Adilow, Stella Wong, and Christopher Salerno.

Created with the belief that great writing is good for the world, Two Sylvias Press is an award-winning publisher that has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, NPR, and other noted outlets. Two Sylvias Press offers the popular National Poetry Month Writing Prompts and an Online Poetry Retreat created for writers who would like to generate new work with daily poetry prompts and creative inspiration. They also sell the nationally recognized Poet Tarot Guidebook: A Deck of Creative Exploration and just began the Weekly Muse, a project to help poets write and publish more poems.

Click here for full guidelines for the Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize

Thank you for your support of our indie press during this time! Looking forward to reading your poems!

Ad: The Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry

The Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry 2022

Ad: Memoir and Fiction Contest sponsored by IML Publications

IML Publications with judge Jacqueline Gay Walley

Deadline extended to June 15

IML Publications is a boutique publishing company dedicated to amplifying the voices of contemporary writers who are nomads and explorers of language, form, and the psyche. We're currently looking for high-quality, 50-page submissions of memoir and fiction.

To enter, please visit our contest guidelines page and submit the first 50 pages of your manuscript with a one-page synopsis. You will be invoiced for the $35 entry fee via PayPal, and you may pay with a credit card, debit card, or PayPal.

Recommended by Reedsy

Five finalists in each category will be contacted by email and asked to submit complete manuscripts up to 100,000 words. These will be judged by our esteemed author, Jacqueline Gay Walley. The winner will receive $1,000 and possible book publication in print and digital editions.

This contest is recommended by Reedsy and has been advertised in Poets & Writers.

Questions? Please email

Ad: The MacGuffin's 27th Annual Poet Hunt Awards $500 and Publication

Deadline: June 15

Lynne Thompson judges the MacGuffin's Poet Hunt 27! One grand prize winner will receive $500 and publication. Up to two Honorable Mentions will also be published. Each entrant will receive one free issue of The MacGuffin that includes the winners of this contest.

Send up to five poems per $15 entry fee. Include a cover page that lists your contact info and poem titles. On the following page(s), include your poem(s), beginning each poem on a new page devoid of personally identifiable information to preserve the blind review process.

Enter via Submittable or visit our website for the full rules and for instructions on submitting by email and mail.

North Street Book Prize for Self-Published Books

North Street Book Prize

Deadline: June 30

Winning Writers will award a grand prize of $8,000 in the eighth annual North Street competition for self-published books. Choose from seven categories:

  • Mainstream/Literary Fiction
  • Genre Fiction
  • Creative Nonfiction & Memoir
  • Poetry
  • Children’s Picture Book
  • Graphic Novel & Memoir
  • Art Book

$16,750 will be awarded in all, and the top eight winners will receive additional benefits to help market their books. Books published on all self-publishing platforms are eligible. Any year of publication is eligible. Entry fee: $70 per book, with free gifts for everyone who enters.

Please enjoy our judges' remarks on the winners of the seventh contest:

Grand Prize winner C. Vargas McPherson's Inheriting Our Names is a lyrical memoir with magical-realist elements, reconstructing her grandparents' lives as a young working-class leftist couple in Sevilla during the Spanish Civil War. Subtitled "An imagined true memoir of Spain's pact of forgetting," the book eloquently delineates how fascism establishes itself by silencing historical memory.

Children's Picture Book winner My Pants by Nicole Kohr is a funny and heartwarming story about an autistic little girl with a special interest in fashion. This colorful tale does double duty as a primer for parents on how to advocate for their neurodivergent child...

[click to read all the remarks]

Ad: BLR Prizes: Submit Writing on Illness, Health, and Healing

Bellevue Literary Prizes

Deadline: July 1

Bellevue Literary Review's annual prizes recognize exceptional writing about health, healing, illness, the body, and the mind.

Goldenberg Prize for Fiction
Judged by Toni Jensen

Felice Buckvar Prize for Nonfiction
Judged by Rana Awdish

John and Eileen Allman Prize for Poetry
Judged by Phillip B. Williams

Each category offers a $1,000 First Prize and $250 Honorable Mention. Winners and honorable mentions will be published in the Spring 2023 issue of BLR.

Poetry: 3 poems per submission
Fiction and Nonfiction: 5,000 words maximum
Only previously unpublished work will be considered.
Entry fee $20.

Visit BLR's website for complete guidelines.

Ad: Nimrod International Journal's Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers: $500 Prizes

Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers

Deadline: July 15

Submissions are now open for the Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers, which honor the work of writers at the beginning of their careers. The Francine Ringold Awards are open only to writers whose work has not appeared or is not scheduled to appear in more than two publications in the genre in which they are submitting. $500 prizes will be awarded in both the fiction and poetry categories, and the winning work will appear in the spring issue of Nimrod. Work by all honorable mentions will also be published, and honorable mentions will be paid at a rate of $10/page up to $200.

Established in 1956, Nimrod is dedicated to the discovery of new voices in literature, and the Francine Ringold Awards are a special way to recognize talented new poets and fiction writers.

  • Poetry: Up to 5 pages of poetry (one long poem or several short poems)
  • Fiction: 5,000 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel)
  • Fee Entry: $12 per entry (plus $1.70 processing fee if submitted online); includes a copy of the spring issue
  • 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 internationally.

For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website.

Ad: Rattle Poetry Prize

Rattle Poetry Prize

Deadline: July 15 (11:59pm Pacific Time for online entries)

The annual Rattle Poetry Prize celebrates its 17th year with a 1st prize of $15,000 for a single poem. Ten finalists will also receive $500 each and publication, and be eligible for the $5,000 Readers' Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote. All of these poems will be published in the winter issue of the magazine.

With the winners judged in a masked 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 this poem by Susan Browne, one of last year's Rattle Poetry Prize finalists, published in Rattle #74, Winter 2021:


she asks as we walk off the tennis court
& someone starts up a chainsaw behind the fence

in the parking lot so I have to shout no!
& I'm suddenly tired, never been this tired

of this question that's always asked if you're a woman,
chunks of air falling around us

like wildfire monsoon oily ocean machine-gunned
atomic mushroom babies on a shriveled planet

& she yells that she has three & her first grandchild!
while we stand on the hot asphalt with that chainsaw tearing

a log to pieces & just won't quit. She opens her car door,
shows me the quilt she's made, little lambs on it

& when I touch the softness I want to be born
into a world where I say yes.

Ad: Jendi Reiter's Made Man "will leave you spinning and exhilarated"

Made Man by Jendi Reiter

In a review in Solstice Lit Mag (Spring 2022), poet and critic Robbie Gamble calls Jendi Reiter's new poetry collection from Little Red Tree Publishing "a comitragic, day-glo accented, culture-hopping, snort-inducing, gender-interrogating rollercoaster of a ride."

Titles like "It's Not Sensory Processing Disorder, You’re a Werewolf," "My Longest Female Relationship Is With My Subaru," "Don't Get Your Penis Stuck In The Bubble Wand," "Dreaming Of Top Surgery At The Vince Lombardi Rest Stop," and "Buzz Aldrin Takes Communion On The Moon" erupt from the pages with a fierce irreverent energy, and we know at once that this is not a collection to be savored quietly by the fireside in slippers with a cup of herbal tea. We also sense we will be entering a smart, challenging, multifaceted world.

Support independent bookstores! Buy Made Man from the Bureau of General Services-Queer Division bookstore at the LGBT Center in New York City.

Read a sample poem.

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
Celebrating Black Writers Student Writing Contest. The National Council of Teachers of English in partnership with Medgar Evers College's Center for Black Literature will award up to $4,000 to US high school and college students for previously unpublished fiction, prose, or essays (all genres compete together), 750-4,000 words, on "various themes raised by Black writers—poets, novelists, literary activists, public intellectuals, civil rights leaders, and historians—who have advocated for social justice". Due May 23.

Intermediate Writers
PEN/Phyllis Naylor Grant for Children's and YA Novelists. PEN America will grant $5,000 to an author of children's or young adult fiction for a novel-in-progress. An eligible candidate is a writer of children's or YA fiction who has published at least one novel for children or young adults which has been warmly received by literary critics, but has not generated significant sales. The writer's previously published book(s) must have been published by a US trade publisher (self-published works are ineligible). Candidates can self-nominate or be nominated by a fellow writer. Due June 1.

Advanced Writers
Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing. The Society of Professional Journalists awards one $75,000 fellowship to an outstanding mid-career editorial writer or columnist to have time away from daily responsibilities for study and research by taking courses, pursuing independent study, traveling, and participating in other endeavors that enrich their knowledge of a public interest issue. Candidate must currently be a part-time or full-time editorial writer or columnist at a US news publication and have worked in this capacity for three years minimum. Freelancers are also eligible. Due June 20.

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

just femme & dandy: "Sustain" Issue
(creative writing by queer authors about fashion - May 15)

OutWrite Chapbook Competition
(LGBTQ literary festival in DC seeks poetry and prose manuscripts - May 15)

Tint Journal
(creative writing by non-native English speakers - May 31)

RHINO Poetry
(poetry, flash fiction, translations - June 30)

Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest
(poetry by adults and youth on theme "People Are..." - July 21)

Lethe Press: "Brute" Anthology
(dark speculative short fiction about gay desire - August 1)

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

Favorite Books

This month, editor Jendi Reiter presents selected books that deserve your attention. There are many more in our Books resource section.

Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders

Joy Ladin
Lyrically written, introspective, and mystical, this soul-searching and honest memoir explores the freedom, costs, and responsibilities of becoming your true self. Poet and English professor Joy Ladin describes how she became the first openly transgender professor at an Orthodox Jewish college, Yeshiva University in New York City. Through the silent suffering of growing up as the wrong gender, and the breakup of her marriage and family when she came out, Ladin drew strength from her deep connection to the enigmatic but ever-present God of the Torah, and she developed creative interpretations of Jewish tradition to make space for queer flourishing.

Sue Macy
This inspiring picture-book biography of Aaron Lansky, founder of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, is enhanced with Chagall-inspired paintings of Jewish history. A good story in its own right, the book can also prompt educational conversations about heritage and assimilation, for children of Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds alike. Illustrated by Stacy Innerst.

Jerry Pinkney
Hans Christian Andersen's tragic fairy tale is reconceived by acclaimed author-illustrator Pinkney as an empowering fable about friendship, exploration, and the power of a girl's voice. Lush paintings in gold and blue tones, featuring Black characters, make this one of the most delightful retellings of a famous story. Definitely superior to the Disney version, or at least an essential text to have on hand when your child watches the movie.

Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, translator
This artistically designed, bilingual picture book features 20 poems by Japanese haiku masters such as Issa and Basho. Each poem has breathing room in its own two-page spread featuring the original Japanese verse (in script and Romaji), Ramirez-Christensen's translation, a dreamy painting reminiscent of Magritte's surreal images, and a prompt for imaginative reflection on the pairing of art and text. Illustrated by Tracy Gallup.

Jessica Young
This tender story, illustrated by Rafael López in rich, soothing colors, follows a brown-skinned mother and son as he grows up, has a child of his own, and feels her presence among the stars after she has become an ancestor.

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Winning Writers Critique Service

Winning Writers Critique Service

Guarantee: If you're not satisfied with your critique, we'll return your money. Learn more and order your critique for $180.

We also offer critiques of poems, stories, and essays and children's picture books for just $90.

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

Here is the sixth 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 16

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot - Page 17
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot - Page 18

To be continued in our June 15 newsletter

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterThe Reactionary Pull of Sacred Texts
The Religious Right's legal theories and Biblical interpretive method are identical. Notwithstanding the anarcho-communist messages you can easily draw from Jesus's words and actions in the gospels, the primacy of Scripture in Christianity is structurally reactionary for the same reasons that Constitution-worship produces slow, stingy, and inconsistent recognition of the civil rights of people who aren't white Christian male citizens. In both cases, empathy and political representation are circumscribed by how much permission you can wring out of a text from an era when you weren't considered fully human.

[Read more]

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