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Winning Writers Newsletter - August 2023

View Free Contests

We found over two dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between August 15-September 30. In this issue, please enjoy "The Windhover" by Gerard Manley Hopkins, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Winners of the 2023 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest WERGLE FLOMP HUMOR POETRY CONTEST WINNERS
Congratulations to Beth Ann Fennelly, winner of our 2023 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. "Epistle to My Lord Concerning My Sons' Future Spouses" earned her $2,000 and a two-year gift certificate from Duotrope. We paired Ms. Fennelly's poem with original art by Whitney Sasaki.

We awarded runner-up Ellie Black $500 for "On Being the Glamorous Blonde Villain from All Those Nineties Kids' Movies". Josh Baumgart won a special Third Prize of $250 for "A Sex Therapist's 50 Ways to Please Your Lover (Paul Simon)". Honorable mentions and $100 went to Matt DG, K. E. Flann, Taliesin Gore, Stella-Ann Harris, Patrick Heneghan, Rob Holtom, Mark Jackett, C. E. Janecek, Riley McNutt, and Ashlen Renner. 6,304 contestants entered from around the world, the most participants ever. See our press release and read all the winning entries with comments from final judge Jendi Reiter.

Special thanks to assistant judge Lauren Singer, who read all 6,000+ poems. Annie Mydla and her team helped with contest administration and employed Shutterstock AI to make illustrations for the poems by Ellie Black and Josh Baumgart. Shutterstock compensates contributors for their roles in the generative AI process.

Our 2024 contest is now open for entries. We will award top prizes of $2,000, $500, and $250. Our co-sponsor Duotrope will give the winner a two-year gift certificate (a $100 value) to go with their $2,000 prize. As always, this contest has no fee.

Closing Next Month
21st year. We will award $3,000 for a poem in any style or genre and $3,000 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $300 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: $22 for a submission of 1-3 poems. Multiple submissions welcome. Final judge: Michal 'MJ' Jones, assisted by Briana Grogan and Dare Williams. Deadline: September 30. Submit online here.

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Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Elizabeth Lukács Chesla, John Russell, Mary Beth LauferBarbara RegenspanDuane L. Herrmann, Anita HaasEdward Ferri Jr., R.T. Castleberry, CB Anderson, Matthew E. Henry, Judy Juanita, Kip Meyerhoff, Eva Tortora, and C.A. Morningstarr.

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

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Ad: HEART Poetry Award


Deadline: August 31

Nostalgia Press will award $500 and publication in HEART 18 (Winter 2023). Honorable Mentions also published. Visit our home page to view a free digital copy of HEART 17.

Grey Held

  • Judge: Grey Held
  • $10 entry fee covers 3 poems
  • All contestants will receive the Winter 2023 issue of HEART
  • Submit prose poems and modern free verse that are insightful, immersing, poignant, and reflective
  • Submit unpublished work only
  • On each page, please include your name, address, phone number, and email address (this information will be hidden so your work can be judged blind)
  • Winners will be announced on the Nostalgia Press website
  • Submissions will not be returned

Submit online or mail your entry to:
Nostalgia Press
Attn: HEART Poetry Award
115 Randazzo Drive
Elloree, SC 29047

Please enjoy this poem by Mark MacAllister of Pittsboro, North Carolina, winner of our 2022 HEART Poetry Award:


Your friends ask if you are nervous
traveling the backcountry
what with the animals
the bears! feral dogs!
uncertain footing    steep drop-offs
the meth cookers and mushroom poachers

you tell them that you are never safer
than when you stop on an unmarked road
to eat your sandwich and Oreos
in the tailgate shade

and about the miraculous hot shower
in a jungle camp on the border
between Uganda and Rwanda
how on the way back to your tent
you weaved a flashlit route
                between sleeping hippos

how perhaps like Antaeus you grow stronger
every time you sleep on the ground
so far from the people you know

how those you have already lost
the ones you expect to lose soon
those you yourself will be lost to
how for that night at least
they are all the same safe distance away

Ad: The Vivian Shipley Poetry Award

Vivian Shipley Poetry Award 2023

Deadline: September 30

Submit up to three unpublished poems to win $1,000 and publication in Connecticut River Review and on the Connecticut Poetry Society website. Entry fee: $15. Judged by Antoinette Brim-Bell. Enter online via Submittable.

Ad: Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

Sponsored by Winning Writers

TOM HOWARD PRIZE: $3,000 for a poem in any style or genre

MARGARET REID PRIZE: $3,000 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 $300 each (any style)

Submit published or unpublished work. Top 12 entries published online.

Judged by Michal 'MJ' Jones, assisted by Briana Grogan and Dare Williams.

Recommended by Reedsy as one of The Best Writing Contests of 2023.

Submit 1-3 poems for one $22 entry fee.

Enter via Submittable by September 30

Ad: Grandpa Comes Home: A Heartwarming Tale of Love Beyond Miles

Excerpt from Happy Harper: Grandpa Comes Home

First Prize, Children's Picture Book, 2022 North Street Book Prize

Dive into Brooklyn's bustling streets with the Happy Harper series! Meet Happy Harper, a vivacious Haitian-American girl with boundless curiosity, a heart as vast as the city itself, and an endearing wish for a pet chicken. In the first heartwarming tale, excitement bubbles as Harper prepares for a special arrival—her beloved grandfather, all the way from Haiti! Vibrant illustrations sweep readers into a tale that bridges miles and melts hearts. Grandpa Comes Home isn't just a story—it's an experience that resonates across generations. Tailored for ages 6-8, but a delight for all. Add this timeless treasure to your child's shelf today!

North Street Book Prize judge Jendi Reiter writes,

There was so much to appreciate about this book, from the genuine New York feel of her illustrated neighborhood, to the storyline that was tightly structured and perfectly pitched to the concerns of this age group. My co-judge Ellen LaFleche said, "I love that Grandpa is in a wheelchair but it's not made into a big deal—so much dignity." Screener Annie Mydla observed, "The book will stir feelings of joy in readers who remember the magic of having loving grandparents, or being a loving grandparent." Stories that appeal to the adults as well as the kids in the family are a guaranteed re-read.

Read an excerpt from Happy Harper: Grandpa Comes Home (PDF)

Click to buy this book

Ad: Barbie at 50 by Jendi Reiter


Jendi Reiter's poetry chapbook Barbie at 50 is the perfect chaser to the smash-hit movie. Winner of the Červená Barva Press Poetry Prize, this collection "is a lush collection of poems with lines embroidered with the craft of a studied life," according to contest judge Afaa Michael Weaver. Naugatuck River Review editor Lee Desrosiers says, "Barbie at 50 contains an inventive re-imagining of the fairytale woman as well as iconic images of women, including Barbie. The poems are replete with surprise and peppered with humor."

Enjoy the title poem from the book:

Barbie at 50

Her little girls no longer bite their nails,
the stubby hands that undressed her
have moved on to trouser buttons.
Pink polish, bitten to the quick,
or younger still, drawn on with purple marker —
now French tips and a diamond or later
an untanned line where the ring once was.
Barbie knows the world by hands and feet.
Her own are forever arched for heels,
hot pink, one sandal and one pump.
Barbie's been buried in the sand
beside mother's toes, splayed in flip-flops,
chunky piglet barefoot girls
who dunked her in a bucket,
drew on her nipples, cut and stroked her hair.
Head down in seawater,
she could have told them that midlife nirvana
doesn't need a plane ticket.
Barbie's naked as the widows
floating in the Ganges.
She wasn't there when Ken died.
A lady of her age steers clear of most events
involving small boys and firecrackers.
Pink is the color of mourning
for Barbie, who wore it on every occasion
when there was someone to dress her.
Plump hands brush pink on lined and powdered cheeks.
Barbie is carried out in a box.
Hands turn over tags,
hunting garage-sale bargains.
Nude, she lies back on the picnic table,
points her inked-on breasts to the sky.

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
Nan Shepherd Prize for Underrepresented Voices in Nature Writing. Unpublished, underrepresented nature writers based in the UK or Ireland may submit a book synopsis, chapter outlines, and sample chapter(s) from a narrative nonfiction book that "deals with nature or the environment in some form". Canongate Books will award the winner 10,000 pounds, a publishing contract, and agent representation with Portobello Literary. Exclusive submission requested. Must be received by August 25.

Intermediate Writers
Young Lions Fiction Award. The New York Public Library will award $10,000 for the best published book of fiction (novel, short story collection, or graphic novel) by a US author age 35 or under. Books must have been published or scheduled for publication during the current calendar year. Must be submitted by publisher. Must be received by September 8.

Advanced Writers
American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prizes. The American-Scandinavian Foundation will award the $2,500 Nadia Christensen Prize for unpublished English translations of modern poetry, fiction, drama, or literary prose originally written in Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, or Swedish by a Nordic author born after 1900; the $2,000 Leif & Inger Sjoberg Prize will be awarded to an individual whose translations have not previously been published; the $2,000 Wigeland Prize will be awarded to a Norwegian translator; and the $2,000 Inger and Jens Bruun Prize also will be awarded for the best Danish translation. Must be received by September 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, Erica Verrillo's blog, Authors Publish, Lit Mag News Roundup, Poets & Writers, The Writer, Duotrope, Submittable, and literary journals' own newsletters and announcements.

Cursed Morsels: "Why Didn't You Just Leave" Horror Anthology
(short stories about why people remain in haunted and dangerous situations - August 31)

Nat 1 Publishing: $h!tpOsT Shorts Project
(speculative fiction novelettes based on deliberately bad book cover prompts - August 31)

Necronomi Romcom Anthology
(stories that mash up romantic comedy and Lovecraft Mythos - August 31)

Scribner Poetry: Manuscript Reading Period
(new imprint from Simon & Schuster is open to full-length collections - August 31)

Acedian Review
(student-edited poetry journal seeks poems on theme of "Trace" - September 1)

Black Warrior Review
(poetry, fiction, essays - September 1)

fourteen poems
(writing by LGBTQ poets - September 1)

Nimrod International Journal: "Refuge" Issue
(poetry, fiction, and essays on this theme - September 1)

The Passionfruit Review
(poetry, prose, and visual art about love - September 30)

Award-Winning Poetry from Around the Web

This month, editor Jendi Reiter highlights poems from books that have won prizes recently. See our selections from past issues.Woman at the Crossing

by Susan Okie
Winner of the 2023 Off the Grid Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by August 31
This contest for full-length poetry manuscripts by authors aged 60 and older gives $1,000 and publication by Off the Grid Books in print and audiobook formats. Okie's collection Woman at the Crossing was the most recent winner. The speaker of this narrative poem imagines inhabiting a body that has been brought to a pitch of heightened energy and sensations, a state that may be medically induced but overlaps with the mental discipline of poetry.

by Sara Daniele Rivera
Winner of the 2023 Academy of American Poets First Book Award
Entries must be received by September 1
This prestigious award for a first full-length collection by a US citizen or legal resident gives $5,000, publication by Graywolf Press, and a writing residency in Italy. The title poem of Rivera's prizewinning book weaves back and forth between English and Spanish stanzas, past and present events, as the narrator tends a family member whose memories are slipping away.

by Stacy Gnall
Co-winner of the 2022 Juniper Prize for Poetry
Entries must be received by September 30
This long-running poetry series from the University of Massachusetts Press gives two prizes of $1,000 and publication, one for a debut full-length collection and the other for a collection by a poet at any stage of their career. An epithalamium is a wedding poem, but in this poem from Gnall's winning book Dogged, the human couple does not appear directly; rather, their passion seems to have brought them into psychic union with animals, plants, and other beings that communicate without human language.

DEEP SOUTH GRAFFITI and other poems
by Éric Morales-Franceschini
Winner of the 2022 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry
Entries must be received by September 30
This prestigious poetry manuscript contest from Fresno State University gives $2,000 and publication by Anhinga Press. Morales-Franceschini's debut book, Syndrome, was the most recent winner. This vivid poem jump-cuts between moments of familial love and racist attacks on his Puerto Rican family, giving the lie to the patriotic ideals whose imagery pervades their Southern town.

"The Windhover" by Gerard Manley Hopkins, illustrated by Julian Peters

The Windhover

Mr. Peters writes, "A little experimentation with oil pastels. My conclusion is that they are very messy. Windhover is another name for a kestrel, a type of small falcon. Gerard Manley Hopkins, a reclusive Jesuit priest, was wildly ahead of its time in terms of form, to the point that, when his poems were first published, three decades after his death, people could scarcely believe they had been written in the Victorian period. It has been suggested that Hopkins's poetry, ostensibly written for the greater glory of God, in fact channeled a suppressed homoerotic yearning, and to be sure, rarely has a bird been the object of so ardent a gaze as in this stunning poem."

A guide to this poem can be found at Poetry Foundation.

The Windhover
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
    dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
    As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
    Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
   No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
    Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterHot Pink Heteropessimism
I would have enjoyed "Barbie" far more if it hadn't tried to say Something Serious About Feminism, because what it came up with was a very 1990s gender-binary utopia where all women are girlbosses and all men are idiots. That a film about male uselessness also has zero queer pairings, either in Barbie Land or the Real World, feels like both a failure of nerve and a bleaker assessment of gender relations than you'd expect from its relentlessly inspirational vibes.

[Read more]

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