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Welcome to Our February Newsletter

We found 50+ quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between February 15-March 31. View their profiles now!

See below for contests we especially recommend for writers at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages of their careers.

14th Annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (no fee)
Top prize $1,000. Ten Honorable Mentions of $100 each. Winning entries published online. Accepts published and unpublished work. Enter for free by April 1.

23rd Annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest
Two top prizes of $1,500 each. 10 Honorable Mentions of $100 each. Winning entries published online. Accepts published and unpublished work. Fee: $16 per entry. Submit online by April 30.

New! The North Street Book Prize for Self-Published Books
Three top winners will each receive $1,500, a credit towards the high-quality publishing services at BookBaby, free advertising in this newsletter, and expert marketing advice from Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter. Submit online or by mail by June 30.

In this issue:
"MFA vs. DMV"


With this issue we bid farewell to Ali Shapiro as she devotes her energies to other pursuits. We hope to see her back in our pages again soon. Starting with our March 1 newsletter, we will feature Gavin Aung Than's compelling poetry renderings from Zen Pencils.

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Follow us on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

Featured Sponsor: Enter Writing Contests at

Over 50 new writing contests every month at Participate in our active online writing community. Improve your writing and get motivated. Get detailed feedback for every poem, short story, and book chapter that you write. See how your rank compares to other writers. Our contests are always free to paid members. Participate for cash prizes. Click here to learn more. Contests open now:

Valentines Writing Contest
Submit fiction or an essay on the subject of romance. Creative approaches welcomed. Deadline February 17 (two days!)

Haiku Poetry Contest
Use three lines, but a strict adherence to syllable counts is not required. Deadline February 18.

Sonnet Poetry Contest
Write a sonnet in the traditional form, with 14 lines, iambic pentameter, and this rhyme scheme. Deadline February 25.

This Sentence Starts the Story
Write a story that begins, "The silence, filled with hope, was shattered by _____." Deadline March 3.

See all our upcoming contests...


Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Mara Adamitz Scrupe (featured poem, "Pretty Machine"), Carol Coven Grannick, Allan M. Heller, Helene Pilibosian (featured poem, "Teen-Talk Exchange"), Jude Bigley, Lois Guarino Hazel, John Stokes (featured poem, "Water-Buffalo with Concrete Freeway"), Helen Leslie Sokolsky, M.A. Hill, Cynthia Close, Donna Clark Goodrich, Jackie Smith (featured poem, "A Letter to Grandpa"), and Joan Leotta.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter won an honorable mention in the 38th Annual New Millennium Writings Awards for Poetry, for her poem "Lord of the Storm". Other Winning Writers subscribers receiving this award included Jacqueline Berger, Michelle Deatrick, Deborah DeNicola, Juley Harvey, Ruth Hill, Gunilla Theander Kester, David Lloyd, Jed Myers, Lucy Ricciardi, Jim Glenn Thatcher, Kari Wergeland, and Stephanie Zuperko.

Congratulations to Ellen LaFleche, assistant judge of the Winning Writers North Street Book Prize. Her poem "Blessing for an Imminent Death" won the nationwide first prize in the 2014 Joe Gouveia OuterMost Poetry Contest.

Learn more about their achievements and see more links to samples of their work.

Have news? Please email it to

Announcing Blood Flower by Pamela Uschuk

Wings Press of San Antonio, Texas announces the release of Pam Uschuk's new collection of poems, Blood Flower, which received a starred review in Booklist Exclusives. Order your copy today from Wings Press, Amazon, or your local independent bookstore!

"Every syllable of Blood Flower's warm and revelatory tapestry pulses with discovery—the unearthing of familial ties, the realization of strengths and frailties, the speaking of secrets out loud. The life story that springs from these lines is ultimately undaunted—but the real lessons lie in the journey." —Patricia Smith, author, Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah

"Dense with the colors of ancestral Russia and the American Southwest, the passionate, mindful poems in Blood Flower oppose to loss and sorrow and the multitudinous depredations of history their meticulous tribute to the tangible world of nature and human love. To the unspeakable wreckage of war and the irreparable harm it visits upon father, brother, husband, these poems oppose a hard-won vision of healing and renewal. Even Chernobyl, abandoned by the species that poisoned it, has spawned new herds of buffalo. Divested of illusion and euphemism, these poems have no time for easy pessimism either. They are tribute to the world we must refuse to abandon." —Linda Gregerson, author, The Selvage

Read more about Blood Flower and enjoy a sample poem, "A Siberian Cold Front Takes Over the Last Week of April".

Blood Flower by Pamela Uschuk - Calls for Submissions

We are a free online resource to help you find paying markets for your poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Updated daily, we report on editors and publishers who are actively seeking submissions, pay standard or competitive rates, and do not charge reading fees. Founded in 2001, is edited by freelance writer Brian Scott (@busyguru).

A few of our special features include:

  1. Sci-fi/fantasy markets that are soliciting stories
  2. Anthologists who are seeking submissions for special themed anthologies
  3. Magazine editors who are accepting fiction and nonfiction articles for upcoming issues
  4. Literary agents who are seeking new authors to represent
  5. New book imprints that are seeking new authors for debut titles
  6. Literary journals with time-sensitive reading periods that are accepting limited submissions of poetry and prose
  7. Announcements of new editors at high-paying magazines and what they are currently seeking from freelance writers
Visit now

FundsforWriters - Subscribe Free


Under the hand of C. Hope Clark, FundsforWriters is a motivational and informational Friday newsletter devoured by over 30,000 readers. From markets to grants, crowdfunding to publishing, FFW leads writers to success.

"Each time I read your newsletters, I feel that itch to write. Thanks to you, I just received an acceptance to write a magazine feature. You got me started again."

The Muse and The Marketplace 2015: Write What You Love, Sell What You Write

GrubStreet's 14th annual Muse & The Marketplace conference takes place May 1-3, 2015 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. The Muse 2015 features over 110 craft and publishing sessions with an amazing lineup of authors, including Lynne Barrett, Charles Baxter, Richard Blanco, Rafael Campo, Joy Castro, Robert Cohen, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Rebecca Goldstein, Joe Henry, Alice Hoffman, Ann Hood, Maya Shanbhag Lang, Elinor Lipman, Sue Miller, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Celeste Ng, Qais Akbar Omar, Steven Pinker, Heidi Pitlor, Roxana Robinson, Anita Shreve, Brando Skyhorse, Justin Torres, and many more, including the GrubStreet National Book Prize winner in Fiction, to be announced in early March. These authors will join over thirty "A La Carte" presenters from around the country who proposed a wide range of "muse" and "marketplace" topics from writing the graphic novel to understanding book sales algorithms.

Agents, Editors, and Industry Professionals joining for the first time in 2015 include Noah Ballard, Laura Biagi, Vicky Bijur, Libby Burton (Twelve), Cynthia Cannell, Cherise Fisher, Kate Gale (Red Hen), Laura Gross, Amaryah Orenstein, Megan Reid (Simon & Schuster), and Douglas Stewart. Manuscript Mart agents and editors returning to the conference this year include editors Peter Blackstock (Grove), Lindsey Schwoeri (Penguin), Leah Miller (Rodale), Lane Shefter Bishop (Vast Entertainment), and agents Miriam Altshuler, Regina Brooks, Ayanna Coleman, Shaun Dolan, April Eberhardt, Sorche Fairbank, Robert Guinsler, Kathleen Nishimoto, Jessica Papin, Mitchell Waters, Kent Wolf, and many more. This conference typically reaches capacity. Register now to ensure your place.

The Muse and the Marketplace 2015

Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival Poetry & Short Story Contest

Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival Poetry & Short Story Contest

Deadline: February 16. The Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival is currently accepting previously unpublished poetry and short story manuscripts for its 2015 Poetry & Short Story Contest. The contest is open to any living writer writing in English anywhere in the world. See the juror bios.

The 41st Annual Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival takes place July 2-5, 2015 at Twin Lakes Park near Greensburg, PA. Winning entries will be on display at the Festival where up to 150,000 patrons will have the opportunity to read the works.

Each author may enter one story (up to 4,000 words) for $10. Each poet may enter two poems (any length) for $10. Enter both contests for $20. All genres are accepted. Awards for both contests total $1,000.

Questions? Please email Adam J. Shaffer or call 724-834-7474. For more information, visit the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival website,, and click here for an official entry form. Follow us on Twitter at @WAHFPA.

Snowbound Chapbook Award from Tupelo Press

Deadline February 28. The Snowbound Chapbook Award includes a cash award of $1,000, publication by Tupelo Press, 25 copies of your book, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. The final judge for this year's contest is Lia Purpura. All finalists will be considered for publication. Results announced in late spring 2015.

Submit a previously unpublished, chapbook-length poetry manuscript (20-36 pages). Entries are accepted via Submittable and postal mail. Fee: $25 per entry. See the complete guidelines and enjoy "Luminary" by Deborah Flanagan, winner of the 2012 Snowbound Chapbook Award.

Snowbound Chapbook Award

Last Call: Utmost Christian Poetry Contest

Utmost Christian Writers

Deadline: February 28. Christian writers are invited to compete for $3,000 in cash prizes, including a grand prize of $1,000 and a second prize of $500. Special awards for rhyming poems.

This contest has run annually for more than 10 years and is sponsored by the Utmost Christian Writers Foundation, a non-profit organization. See rules and entry form. Enjoy "New Day" by Chuck Collins, our 2014 winning poem.

Utmost Christian Writers Foundation exists to encourage and support poets of Christian faith by providing them with resources and awards, and to promote the creation of excellent poetry by Christians.

42 Miles Press Poetry Award

Deadline: March 1. Indiana University South Bend's 42 Miles Press Poetry Award will be given to an emerging or established poet for a book-length manuscript of at least 48 pages. Winner receives $1,000, 50 copies, and will be invited to give a reading in South Bend. David Dodd Lee, Series Editor, will judge. Entry fee: $25 made payable to Indiana University.

For complete guidelines, go to

Please enjoy these two excerpts from our most recent releases, The Bottom by Betsy Andrews and Precarious by Allan Peterson.

David Dodd Lee

Deadline Extended: Robert Frost Foundation Poetry Award

Robert Frost Foundation

Deadline extended to March 1. The Robert Frost Foundation welcomes poems in the spirit of Robert Frost for its Annual Award. The winner will receive $1,000 and the opportunity to read at a Frost Foundation event. Up to ten runners-up will be shortlisted at the discretion of the judge.

Online submissions are now welcome via Submittable. Otherwise, please submit two copies of each poem, one copy with contact information (name, address, phone number, email address) and one copy free of all identifying information. Reading fees are $12 per poem. Make your check payable to The Robert Frost Foundation. Mail your entry to: Lawrence Library, Attn: Robert Frost Award, 51 Lawrence Street, Lawrence, MA 01841. Email submissions are accepted at if you send your entry fee by regular mail.

You may submit up to three poems of no more than three pages each. Both published and unpublished works are accepted. See the complete contest guidelines and enjoy "Eulogy Composed by the Moon" by Hayden Saunier, an Honorable Mention recipient in our 2014 contest.

Call for Submissions: upstreet (no fee)


Deadline: March 1. 
Award-winning literary annual upstreet seeks quality submissions of short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry for its eleventh issue. Past issues feature interviews with Jim Shepard, Lydia Davis, Wally Lamb, Michael Martone, Robin Hemley, Sue William Silverman, Dani Shapiro, Douglas Glover, Emily Fragos, and Robert Olen Butler. Distributors: Ingram, Media Solutions, Disticor (Canada). Chains: Barnes & Noble, Hastings, Books-A-Million.

For new guidelines, including payment, and to submit, see

Please enjoy "Oxbow" by Jeffrey Harrison, published in upstreet number ten.

Announcing the 2015 Gulf Coast Prizes in Poetry and Prose

Deadline: March 22. The Gulf Coast Prizes award $6,000 to poets, essayists, and fiction writers. The judges for this year’s Gulf Coast Prizes are Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (Fiction), Maggie Nelson (Nonfiction), and Carl Phillips (Poetry).

The contest awards publication and $1,500 each to the best poem, essay, and short story, as well as $250 to two honorable mentions in each genre. Entry fee: $23. The winners will appear in Gulf Coast 28.1 in Fall 2015, and all entries are considered for paid publication on our website as Online Exclusives. Visit for details.

Please enjoy last year's winning poem, "Engagement Party, Georgia", by Raena Shirali.

Gulf Coast

Dancing Poetry Festival Contest

Dancing Poetry Festival

Deadline: May 15. Three Grand Prizes will receive $100 each plus their poems will be danced and filmed. Many smaller prizes. All winners will be invited to read at our 22nd Festival at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, September 19, 2015. Each Grand Prize winner will be invited onstage for photo ops with the dancers and a bow in the limelight.

Winning poems have ranged from the travels of Matisse to a Picasso painting, falling leaves, love, Iraq, China, history, dance, current events, reverie, socially significant situations, and even some humor sprinkled here and there. Please don't feel constrained to write a poem about dancing.

Learn more and enjoy "Artistry" by Judy Davies, a 2014 Grand Prize winner...

4th Women Inspirational Poetry Contest

Deadline: June 24. This poetry contest is a celebration of inspirational women. Our journey as people and writers is to recognize those who display great attributes, those who endure through diverse challenges, and those who enrich us with their words. This contest is dedicated to all those women who have added to our lives, and made it easier for us to have hope. We encourage all writers to commemorate their loving memories of a phenomenal woman.

You may use a character depiction, a triumphant situation...surprise us with your talent. All writers welcome; written in English, original and unpublished entries. Prizes in US dollars:

  • First Place: $500 and interview
  • Second Place: $300
  • Third Place: $200

Submit by mail or email. See the complete guidelines at


Women Inspirational Poetry Contest

Snake Nation Press: Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry and Serena McDonald Kennedy Fiction Award

Deadline: August 31. It's our pleasure to announce that Cathy Bobb won the 2014 Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry and Jacob Appel won the 2014 Serena McDonald Kennedy Fiction Award. Each received $1,000 and publication by Snake Nation Press. Read selections from the winning entries. Our 2015 contests are open now. Submit electronically or by mail.

Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry

  • $1,000 award and publication
  • Entry fee: $25
  • Submit a manuscript of up to 75-100 pages
  • Previously published works may be entered

Serena McDonald Kennedy Fiction Award

  • $1,000 award and publication
  • Entry fee: $25
  • Submit a novella of up to 50,000 words or a manuscript of short stories of up to 200 pages
  • Any well-written manuscript on any topic will be considered
  • Previously published works may be entered
Snake Nation Press

Spotlight Contests

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
Great American Think-Off (for US writers, "Does technology free us or trap us?" due April 1)

Intermediate Writers
New England Poetry Club Student Contests (for New England college students and Massachusetts grade school and high school students; due March 18)

Advanced Writers
John Gardner Fiction Book Award (awards $1,000 to best book of fiction from 2014; due March 1)

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

Spotlight Contests

Calls for Submissions

To ensure consideration, assume that the editors must receive your submission by the date specified, unless a postmark date is indicated.

PSA: Inspiring Literacy Quotes and People


From ProLiteracy's Pinterest board:

"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us." -Franz Kafka

"A classic is a book that never finished saying what it has to say." -Italo Calvino

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." -B.B. King

"I love walking into a bookstore. It's like all my friends are sitting on the shelves, waving their pages at me." -Tahereh Mafi

See more.

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"Winning Writers has been providing a valuable service to the writing community for over ten years. The listings for contests and publications are always inspiring and professional. To build community, they support writers' successes in a special section that highlights their subscribers' recent publications. As an advertiser, their support is top-notch. Responsive and creative, they service their advertisers with copy and design assistance. Overall, a great site, and a great service!"
Joan Gelfand, award-winning author of three poetry collections and the forthcoming novel, Fear to Shred (Incanto Press)

Comics by Ali Shapiro

Ali Shapiro: MFA vs. DMV

The Last Word

Two Poems from Carmine Dandrea's "In a Kept World"
This 17-poem cycle is voiced by a solitary older man inside a house in Michigan in deep winter. As the “prime suspect” of his own examinations, he reflects on mortality and time wasted. Women from his past reappear as nameless sirens and ghosts, arousing both desire and regret that he did not value their intimacy enough. Despite the assaults of unforgiving weather and the temptation to succumb to darkness, he also finds moments of sensual joy and radiance in the ordinary furnishings of his monastic cell. [continue at Reiter's Block]

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

Jendi Reiter