Our favorite poems, resources, and books from the quarter |

Winning Writers - best resources for poets and writers

Having trouble viewing this email? View the web version.

Follow us on TwitterLike us on FacebookFind us on Google Plus

Award-Winning Poems: Fall 2018

Welcome to our fall selection of award-winning poems, highlights from our contest archives, and the best new resources we've found for writers. These quarterly specials are included with your free Winning Writers Newsletter subscription.

In this issue: A new excerpt from "Sensuka" by Alice Elm, illustrated by Julian Peters.

S. Mei Sheng Frazier and Jim Dubois Deadline This Month
16th year. We will award the Tom Howard Prize of $1,500 for a poem in any style or genre, and the Margaret Reid Prize of $1,500 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 one-year gift certificates from our co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $50 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.

Did you receive this newsletter from a friend?
Subscribe here. It's free.

Would you like daily updates on contests and resources for writers?
Join our 107,000 followers on Twitter

Featured Sponsor: Now’s the time to plan your holiday book selling strategy

BookBaby: 12 Ideas To Get Holiday Book Sales

Award-Winning Poems Selected by Jendi Reiter

by Emily Viggiano Saland
Winner of the 2017 Coniston Prize
Entries must be received by September 1
Radar Poetry awards this $1,000 prize with online publication for a group of poems by a woman. This sequence investigates how intimacy ruptures bodies and souls, through the Greek myth of Semele, mother of the god Dionysus, who was incinerated when she asked to see her lover Zeus face-to-face.

by Nicholas Friedman
Winner of the 2018 New Criterion Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: September 30
This long-running prize from a prestigious journal of arts and culture gives $3,000 and publication for a poetry manuscript that pays close attention to form. The New Criterion is known for its traditionalist aesthetic and politics. Friedman's manuscript Petty Theft won the 2017-deadline contest. This wry poem describes a street performer perfectly balanced on the line between grift and charming illusion.

by Ephraim Scott Sommers
Winner of the 2016 Patricia Bibby First Book Award
Postmark Deadline: November 1
The literary small press Tebot Bach gives this award of $500 and publication. Sommers' prizewinning collection was The Night We Set the Dead Kid on Fire. In this affecting poem, a man circles round the unspeakable news of school shootings and other disasters, trying to hold them in his mind alongside the life-affirming ordinary pleasures of nature and family life.

I-797C NOTICE OF ACTION and other poems
by Jan-Henry Gray
Winner of the 2017 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize
Postmark Deadline: November 30
This competitive award from BOA Editions gives $1,000 and publication for a first book of poetry. Gray's Documents won the 17th annual award. This selection of poems pushes back against the intrusive, impersonal nature of citizenship applications, and offers emotional vignettes about the Filipino immigrant experience.

by Grant Clauser
Winner of the 2016 Cider Press Review Editors' Prize
Postmark Deadline: November 30
This established literary journal gives a $1,000 award and publication for a first or second book-length poetry collection. There is also a $1,500 Book Award with the same rules and deadline, for authors at any stage of their career. This poem from Clauser's prizewinning Reckless Constellations depicts youths in a factory town whose pranks express their barely-understood needs for beauty and opportunity.

Read more award-winning poems.

The 2018 Gulf Coast Prize in Translation

Deadline: September 15

Gulf Coast is accepting entries for the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation. In 2018, the contest is open to poetry in translation. The winner receives $1,000 and publication in the journal. Two honorable mentions will each receive $250. All entries will be considered for publication in print or online. Ilya Kaminsky is this year's judge.

Submit up to 10 pages of poetry translated into English and a copy of the original text. Excerpts from longer works are welcome.

Entry to the contest also includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast, beginning with the issue in which the corresponding prize winners are published. Click here for full guidelines and to submit online.

Gulf Coast Prize in Translation

The 2018 Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing

Deadline: September 15

Gulf Coast is now accepting entries for the 2018 Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing. The contest awards $3,000 and publication in Gulf Coast to the winner. Two runners-up will be awarded $1,000 each. Prize winners will be featured in Gulf Coast's printed journal as well as online. This year's contest will be judged by Wendy Vogel, an independent writer, art critic and curator based in New York. A former editor at Art in America, Modern Painters and Flash Art International, Vogel has taught at Rice University, University of Houston, The New School and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Read the full guidelines and submit online.

Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing

Short Story Competition 2018, sponsored by The Short Story Project

Short Story Competition 2018

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

In addition to cash prizes and online publication, this year's top Tom Howard and Margaret Reid prizewinners will also receive one-year gift certificates from our co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $50 value).

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

Lilith Magazine Annual Fiction Contest (no fee)

Deadline: September 30

Lilith Magazine—independent, Jewish & frankly feminist—invites submissions of quality short fiction, 3,000 words or under, for our Annual Fiction Contest. The magazine proudly spotlights both emerging and established writers. When selecting what you'll submit, please remember our tagline, and familiarize yourself with Lilith by visiting our website.

Winner receives $250 and publication. No fee to enter. Please email your entry to info@Lilith.org with "Fiction Contest Submission" in the subject line.

28th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize

Deadline: October 1

$5,000 Fiction | $5,000 Nonfiction | $5,000 Poetry

Winners receive publication, invitation to a reception and reading in their honor, and a cash prize. Submit one piece of fiction or nonfiction up to 8,500 words or any number of poems up to 10 pages. Enter online or by mail. Entry fee: $25. Winners will be announced in early 2019.

Each entrant receives a one-year subscription to the Missouri Review in digital format (normal price $24) and a paperback copy of the second title in our new imprint, Missouri Review Books, Trouble in Mind: The Short Story and Conflict, an anthology of our very favorite Editors' Prize fiction winners and runners-up from the past twenty-eight years (normal price $14.95).

Questions? Email contest_question@moreview.com.

Read a prizewinning story by Melissa Yancy, an essay by Peter Selgin, and a selection from poetry winners Katie Bickham, Kai Carlson-Wee, and Alexandra Teague.

The Steve Kowit Poetry Prize

The Steve Kowit Poetry Prize

You can read the 2017-18 San Diego Poetry Annual for free! Click here

Open Now! River Styx 2019 Microfiction Contest

Deadline: December 31, 2018

$1,500 First Prize | Judged by the editors of River Styx

Enter our 2019 Microfiction Contest! Submit up to three unpublished stories with an entry fee of $10 or $20. A $20 entry fee includes a one-year subscription. A $10 entry fee includes a copy of the issue in which the winning stories will appear. Length limit per story is 500 words.

Contest results will be announced in April. Winners will be featured in Issue 102. All entries are considered for publication. Please see our website for complete details, or email bigriver@riverstyx.org.

Available Now! Pre-Order Jendi Reiter's An Incomplete List of My Wishes

An Incomplete List of My Wishes

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter's debut short story collection, An Incomplete List of My Wishes, is now available for pre-order from Sunshot Press, an imprint of the award-winning literary journal New Millennium Writings. An Incomplete List of My Wishes was a runner-up for the 2017 Sunshot Prize for Prose.

  • A middle-aged secretary finds unlikely common ground with the death row inmate who may, or may not, have murdered her daughter.
  • Superhero comics help a gay bar mitzvah boy cope with his discovery of his father's adulterous double life.
  • A suburban businesswoman learns how to grieve a long-ago bereavement through her strange attraction to the birthmother of the child she wants to adopt.
  • An elderly Russian professor crashes a stranger's wedding to prove that he is not losing his memory, inadvertently healing a decades-long rift between friends.

In these and other stories, Reiter explores the fraught relationships among queer and straight family members, the search for a post-traumatic spirituality, and the fine line between soulmates and intimate enemies.

The stories in An Incomplete List of My Wishes have won prizes from such journals as The Iowa Review, New Letters, Bayou Magazine, Solstice Lit Mag, and American Fiction. New York Times bestselling novelist Jacqueline Sheehan says of this collection, "Truth and humor are woven intricately, ripe with emotion and stripped down to the bone. You will read these again and again."

Read "Memories of the Snow Queen", a short-short story from this collection, at Grimoire.

Favorite New Resources

Here are some of our favorite newly added resources at Winning Writers. For a full list, see our Resource pages.

Alien Pub
Online journal edited by Queen's University students has a mission to uplift marginalized voices

Blanket Sea
Free online journal showcases artists and writers with mental illness, chronic illness, and disability

Fiction Southeast
Online journal of short fiction and literary criticism

FLARE: The Flagler Review
Literary journal of Flagler College in Florida

InTranslation at The Brooklyn Rail
Literary journal The Brooklyn Rail hosts this web-exclusive section for literary translations

Pop Sonnets
Popular song lyrics paraphrased as Shakespearean sonnets

Richard Jeffrey Newman
Poet and essayist, trauma activist, and translator of classical Persian literature

The Sea Letter
Contributors get paid at this journal of poetry, fiction, and art

Serial Box
App featuring serialized fiction by prominent authors

Seven Miles of Steel Thistles
Novelist and scholar Katherine Langrish's blog analyzes fairy tales and classic fantasy literature

Torrey House Press
Pacific Northwest small press with focus on environmental awareness

University of Arizona Poetry Center
Contests, basic publishing advice, and articles

UnLost: A Journal of Found Poetry
Online journal features poetry made from other texts and collage art

The Web of Language
Newsworthy articles about developments in language and technology

Writing Resources for Veterans at the Iowa Review
Links to journals, workshops, and contests for veterans

Online and print journal of short fiction that appeals to both children and adults

Alien Pub

Favorite New Books

Mosaic of the Dark

Lisa Dordal
A Christian girl wondering where her emerging lesbian-feminist consciousness fits into her faith. A woman grappling with the legacy of her alcoholic, possibly closeted mother. In her debut collection from Black Lawrence Press, Dordal makes these "confessional" themes fresh and strange again by centering her poems on a tangential detail which, after careful rereading, telescopes out into a larger narrative. The technique is reminiscent of those close-up photo puzzles in science magazines, where you must guess the whole animal from an abstract shimmer of scales or feathers.

Theodora Goss
Suspenseful but basically light-hearted, this series opener is a fun feminist talkback to the Victorian literary tradition of mad scientists who viewed women as raw material for monstrosities. The daughters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team up with the Bride of Frankenstein, Nathaniel Hawthorne's poisonous Beatrice Rappaccini, and other not-quite-human women from Gothic fiction to track down a secret society that is performing murderous experiments. The third-person narrative includes frequent first-person intrusions by the characters, teasing each other or disputing how the story is framed. Some might find this editorializing a little too cutesy, as it does lower the dramatic stakes by reassuring the reader that the whole team survives to the end of this adventure. However, the style has the serious purpose of offering an alternative to the solitary hegemonic perspective of the male genius, as well as highlighting its monstrous heroines' common origins in the Victorian Gothic fear of hybridity. Not enough plot threads are resolved at the end, in order to leave an opening for the next book—a structural weakness, but one that does not unduly diminish the reader's warm feelings as the book closes.

Norbert Hirschhorn
These wise, good-humored poems explore Jewish legends and mysticism, the blessings and pains of approaching one's ninth decade, and the author's experiences as both physician and patient.

Carmen Maria Machado
This splendidly original collection of feminist horror and magical realist stories literalizes the metaphors for women's oppression, going to extremes that break through our numb familiarity with these everyday dangers. Women fade, fall apart, are haunted by cast-off parts of themselves. Yet intimacy and sensual pleasure remain alive like flowering weeds pushing through the cracked cement of the most murderous city.

Valerie Wallace
Winner of the Four Way Books Intro Prize, this poetry collection inspired by British fashion designer Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) captures the meticulousness and melancholy of his oeuvre, though lacking the messiness and horror that gave his work its raw energy. The standout quality of this book is Wallace's innovative use of erasure and recombination of found texts to produce beautifully coherent new poems, some of them in demanding forms like the sonnet sequence. Her collage aesthetic references McQueen's penchant for constructing clothes out of unlikely materials such as seashells, microscope slides, and dried flowers.

Jen Wang
In this perfectly heartwarming graphic novel, set in "Paris at the dawn of the modern age", a special friendship blossoms between a cross-dressing teenage prince and the working-class seamstress who guards his secret. By day, Prince Sebastian dodges his parents' efforts to set him up with eligible young ladies, while by night, he dazzles as fashion icon Lady Crystallia. Meanwhile, Frances wonders how she can achieve her dreams of success as a fashion designer without exposing her royal client's secret. All ends happily in a tale that is suitable for both YA and adult readers.

Scott A. Winkler
Old-fashioned and wholesome, this Vietnam War era coming-of-age novel reminds us that there was more to America in the late 1960s than the coastal counterculture. The eldest son of small-town Wisconsin dairy farmers, high school graduate Walt Neumann is torn between his dreams of becoming a college-educated writer and his rugged, taciturn father's demand that his sons carry on his legacy of military service. Not your typical rebel, Walt deeply honors his family's traditions of hard manual labor and service to the place they call home, but grows to understand that the traumatic stories locked inside the stolid "Greatest Generation" veterans may be preventing an entire nation from learning from its errors. Beautiful writing and sensitive character portraits make this meditative novel a good opener for blue- and red-state Americans to start understanding each other.

Selections from Our Contest Archives

"Hickory Dickory Dock"
by Joanne Lau

Most Highly Commended
2008 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest

by Rollin Lasseter

Honorable Mention
2007 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse

"The Remembering Dreams"
by Judy Willman

Most Highly Commended
2010 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

"The Color of Tomorrow"
by Rajdeep Paulus

Most Highly Commended
2012 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

by Jason Schossler

Honorable Mention
2010 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

"Ode to a Friend"
by Diana Chickosky

2010 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

See the complete archive of winning entries from our contests.

Joanne Lau

PSA: Library Tutors Show the Way to Literacy

How Supporting Literacy in Public Libraries Changes Lives

When she was in school, she was passed along. Nyla was a pleasant student—a "teacher's pet"—and showed skill in art, in addition to having sisters who did her homework for her. Her lack of skills wasn't discovered until high school when she couldn't pass the proficiency test. She was placed in special education where she memorized the answers to the test in order to graduate. After high school, she lived her life like so many learners do—in the shadows—avoiding social activities and parties where she could be discovered, and taking jobs like dishwashing and cleaning that didn't require reading and writing. She fed her children frozen TV dinners because they had pictures on the box to show what was inside.

Now, after having worked with volunteer tutors, not only have her skills increased, but her confidence has blossomed! She has had so many accomplishments—too many to list here—including graduating from a leadership institute for adult learners, facilitating that same institute a year later, writing letters for a writing challenge, speaking at various county-wide events, and developing and presenting a conference workshop on goal-setting. One of her most significant achievements is helping her grandchildren read by writing, illustrating, and publishing her own children's books!

ProLiteracy, the largest literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, believes that a safer, stronger, and more sustainable society starts with an educated population. For more than 60 years, ProLiteracy has been working across the globe to create a world where every person can read and write. Learn more.

Advertise in This Newsletter

Advertisers: We send this newsletter to over 50,000 subscribers. Ads are just $150 each. On a tight budget? Pressed for time? Advertise to our 107,000 Twitter followers for just $40 per tweet or less.

Buy Advertising


Solo mailings and website advertising available. Inquire with Adam Cohen at adam@winningwriters.com.

An excerpt from "Sensuka" by Alice Elm, illustrated by Julian Peters

We present a new excerpt from "Sensuka" by Alice Elm, illustrated by Julian Peters. According to Wikipedia, Sehnsucht is "sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call 'home'."

Sensuka, illustrated by Julian Peters

An excerpt from Sensuka

My body thrown out of the belly of my mother, there, on the old city, mother who had found only this immersion to relieve her of my weight, perhaps she wanted me to learn to sail early.
Besides, this birth still makes children laugh. It is tightened when the teeth hurt, when one is hungry. And I laugh with them imagining this human tadpole trying to flee to the open sea, held back by its cord.

My body had therefore known the salt of the sea before that of the bodies.

Sensuka drowned standing in the hot rain.

The hand of the storm rinses the city in a swirl of cup bottom.

[read the complete poem]

Reprinted by kind permission of Julian Peters. Translated from French to English by Google. Learn more at Mr. Peters' website.

Writer's Digest: 101 Best Websites for Writers