Issue: Issue 1


Poetry

Every week The Blue Nib brings you a selection of some of the best new poetry from emerging and established poets.

 


 

the thirst of a perfect July

Alfred Booth

I have written books on regret
tattered pages of July thunderstorms
making umbrellas of our merriment

the rhyme to scatter crowds
is clouds, big thick dark ominous
those I prefer, like rain soft
declarations
often eclipsed as we search for falling stars

I have stopped wishing
and drink rarely from my wells of love
speak before they dry
the only wrong words are silent ones

Alfred Booth is an American professional pianist who lives in France, Alfred Booth folds origami; its patience often inspires poetry. When he is not at the piano learning new arcane repertoire to stretch his horizons, he teaches would-be amateur musicians to put enough bread on the table. 

 


 

The Day Mama Slapped Satan

Micheal A Griffith

 

Let me tell you,

it was August back before The War.

Mama and me sat on the porch

watching the day pass us by

like a wounded dog.

 

Hot day,

too hot to move much.

Flies buzzing around,

outhouse smelling real ripe.

Complaining did no good,

but we done it anyhow.

 

Day kept on limping by,

we kept on fanning ourselves,

sweating there, hoping

for a breeze what might never come.

 

What came was Satan.

 

Pulled up in a long red car.

A big city car.

Shiny, real shiny in the sun.

New.

 

He waves, comes up to the porch

carrying a black suitcase bigger’n me.

Smiles so big,

white white teeth

mouth never touched chaw

or a cigarette.

But he was still a bad bad man.

 

Says he’s got all kinds of stuff for sale

in that big black case.

Jewelry, watches, toys,

perfumes, soaps and notions.

(Not sure what “notions” is,

but the way he looked up at my mama

when he said that word makes me think

they ain’t good things for her

or most any lady.)

Can he come on in and show her?

 

He comes up, hands me a tin car he has in his pocket.

“Free. Just for you.

Now, sonny, you take it and go play.”

Mama says my name like a angry pastor would

but I wasn’t really going to take it,

’cause I knew Satan when I seen him.

That white suit, black shoes what never touched mud

or never seen no dust on them. Never been in grass.

His hair so oiled, forehead wetter’n my armpits was.

Too slick, too white, too clean in the damn heat.

Man just had to be Satan.

 

Kept trying to get Mama

to take him inside,

to show her his stuff,

telling me to take the tin car –

red and shiny, just like his city car –

to go and play, he wants to talk with my mama

alone.

 

He leaned in close to her

and she never stopped fanning her face,

rocking in her chair.

He smiled real real big

whispered so quiet I could never hear.

Mama, she stopped her fanning, stopped her rocking,

looked Satan in his eyes

and slapped him so hard he went spinning.

Slap loud as a whip crack.

 

Satan’s cheek red as his city car.

Him so angry he shouted every bad word on Earth,

calling my Mama names no lady ever ought to hear.

He go storming back to his big car

thumping that black case of his,

threw that toy car off in the yard,

fast as lightning.

He drives away real loud

and there’s a big breeze.

Starts to cool off a minute later

and a nice soft rain comes,

makes Mama and me both smile and feel real good.

Day later I buried Satan’s toy car up at the church

where it ain’t done no harm

or no good ever since.

 

Sez-me

Micheal A Griffith

 

I do my praying

in a flat-pillowed bed (no nails, some coals),

in a speeding, careening, slick-road car,

or my porcelain throne

in my own ivory tower.

Why should our Father, who art in Heaven

Father Abba Ali Baba “OPEN!”, sez me

listen to sleepy, screechy, stinky me?

(Because I listened to my sleepy, screechy, stinky daughter when she was a baby, I suppose.)

 

Michael Griffith began writing poetry as a way to heal his mind and spirit as his body recovered from a life-changing injury. His writing has appeared in online and print outlets such as Teaching For Success, Lehigh Valley Woman’s Journal, Twilight Times, Dual Coast Poetry, Haiku Journal, Three Line Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Indiana Voice Journal, and Ripen the Page. He teaches and resides in central NJ….

Broken Calm

Chris Tabaca

 

Pitch black

foreboding night

distant rumbles

a sharp crash of thunder

the sky is split in two

by a white hot bolt of lighting

mighty trees bow to the wind

awakening sleeping beasts

the hearts of men race

pounding in their ears

bones rattle

teeth gnash

horripilation

as all await the next imminent strike

KABOOM!

Ann Christine Tabaka was born and lives in Delaware. She is a published poet, an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. She loves gardening, cooking, and the ocean. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her poems have been published in numerous national and international poetry journals, reviews, and anthologies….

 


 

London attack?

David Susswein

 

-shut-

a heated pressure front of air

-open-

the doppler sounds of an emergency siren

-shut-

the vestibulum registers a vertical orientation change

 

I have been diagnosed with Cotard’s Syndrome,

I believe my bones are broken inside

me, I feel like paper mache

I walk only on tissues of air

 

I know my body’s internal organs

have died, atrophied and

cankers rotting suppurating

flesh. flesh-less I only stand

 

because I have forgotten how to

fall.

-shut-

tell my wife I had loved her

-open-

tell the earth I am sorry for our race;

always treading on you, so badly.

 

When the Child Asked Me the Question.

David Susswein

 

what…

what holds

up the sky, why do

grey clouds rain sometimes,

why do we walk upright, why do

girls not have things and what do girls

things look like, the earth is it like a ball

are we standing on it or in it, why must i stay

away from strangers, who will hurt me, do they know

when I’ve been bad and will they punish me, if there are

sat.. satellites spinning around us how come they know how to

make a circle why don’t they just crash, and why do i wear shorter

trousers and lizzie wears dresses, why is it daddy I feel alone and all

lonely and when I’m with mummy, lizzie or you daddy i don’t feel lonely why,

why…

 

well the

sky is light and floats like bubbles, clouds are grey because they are full of rain,

we walk upright because that’s how God made us, girls and boys are made to

fit eachother, that’s what being grown up is all about, we are standing

on top of it, strangers don’t know when you’re bad and you’re good

almost always, some strangers though are bad and that’s why

they might hurt you, satellites spin around the earth

because they are sought of held up by gravity,

and because they have rockets that keep

them spinning properly, you wear

shorts because you’re my boy

and lizzie wears dresses,

because that’s what

girls do, and,

and…

 

…we feel lonely and we all do need,

and i feel trapped and i don’t love your mummy anymore

and i have never understood why people hurt eachother

and i was watching the news and i can’t make sense of it

and your mummy never touches me anymore and i feel so

alone and i don’t know what I’m going to do with you and

i never should have been a father and I’m so frightened of

letting you down and lizzie doesn’t hug me anymore i think

mummy doesn’t love me and she tells her not to and what

do you do when you’re forty and nothing is as it was going

to be and how do you start again with two children and a

broken marriage and I’m so frightened all the time all the

time and i don’t want to talk anymore not anymore, Talk.

I’m so tired i don’t want to talk.

 

 

and i said nothing and i stroked his hair

and his hair smelt like my life beneath my fingers

and we sat down and watched the news.

 

another Algerian massacre, an increase in the rape figures,

tundra drying to deserts, and oceans clogged with human waste

 

and at the end the inevitable cat saving a burning building

without need of any superhero’s mask or cape.

 

So. It was alright after all.

Except nothing really mattered

and there’s no point and there’s nothing to do

and there’s nothing to say and there’s no one

to answer all the questions I can’t even ask

and look:- at all the starving black children

with their swollen bellies and their mothers

with tits drained of all nourishment as they wait

for their time to die — before their child? —after?

A nature so harsh it even mocks hunger with gluttony.

 

And I know everything to tell my son,

and I know everything to tell my son:

everything is alright, every new day remakes

everything new, because every tear you’ve ever

cried has always dried and has never left a stain.

 

as everyone is raped in little ways

as everyone has their dreams broken

as everyone shuts their fucking eyes

so we can carry on and survive

 

But don’t worry, don’t worry I’ll protect you

with all my possessions,

with my hands, my body

with my fists my fists my fists  [my fists]

 

so you can carry on and survive.

 


 

They exterminate dreamers don’t they?

Andrew Lawson

 

They took all the free spirits away
in steel modern boxcars
with a diamond window
with a view of the passing hills

they were that breed of mankind
artists and dreamers
filled with childlike optimism
that gave the working drones
a nagging emptiness
like a failed marriage

they would be unloaded
and put in two groups
the willing to adapt
or the hopeless dreamers

one group would survive
and be indoctrinated
taught to just accept
the gruel of conformity

the dreamers
exterminated

Andrew Lawson hails from Connecticut USA
he pens song lyrics, poetry, children stories and ghost stories
and an eclectic mishmash

 


 

Continuous fall of deep in

Charles Carr

If I could
put it to words
it would be
the heavy breath
of light
that touches through
new leaves
on a row of trees
between where we sit
and the sun finally peaks
over a mountain
and speaks us
into a single shadow
of all the places
neither of us could reach
without the other

 


 

for the one whose final words left litter in my veins

banjolyn

 

i take the Midwest   its storms upstaging every corner of the sky
too involved with open roads    lazy lands i touch
with just a whisper   and you’re there     my undoing
practically grinning at the locusts     not a single crop

it seems a worm has worked its way into love again
consuming every sweet intention      i make Iowa  by half a day
sooner than i expected     what lives there i don’t know
i ease through dead crowds of corn     one wheel is faint

the other three still screech your name    so loud it leaves a mark
and i am stranded  with green stop signs in my eyes    hair yelling
at the wind    what a wink couldn’t fix     how gone i feel
from your flattery      how flat i am  when you don’t pursue

 


 


Featured Poet Iris Orpi

Featured Poet

Iris Orpi was born and raised in the Philippines. She’s always had two passions, writing and mathematics. She was first exposed to poetry studying the pieces written by Filipino laureates, Dr. José Rizal, Francisco Balagtas, and Amado V. Hernandez, while studying at a prestigious high school in Manila with a science-and-math-heavy curriculum.
Iris wrote what she considers her first real poems in 1996, as a high school freshman. A teacher from the Filipino Department needed original pieces for balagtasan (a form of debate where the two opposing sides as well as the moderator delivered their arguments in poetic verse), and found that Iris was quite adept with metaphor, meter, and rhyme in her native language. Iris went on to write original Tagalog pieces to be performed for sabayang pagbigkas (speech choir) and oratorical competitions, which would usually win.
Like many other young women, Iris struggled with bouts of insecurity during high school. She was not popular, and her creative nature made her overly sensitive and susceptible to bullying. There was one particular assignment during her junior year in 1998, on the topic of Shakespeare, when the students were supposed to write original sonnets in English following the Bard’s signature structure and rhyming scheme. Iris was so desperate to fit in and impress her peers, that she ended up writing the sonnets for 70 of her classmates in a single weekend. It wasn’t so bad; that was when she realized that she could think and write in iambic pentameter at will.
Still in love with numbers, Iris majored in mathematics at the University of the Philippines. It was in 2001, the summer during her freshman year in college and struggling with multivariate calculus when she first discovered the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. She stumbled upon the books Love: Poems from the Film “Il Postino” and Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair at a local bookstore she used to frequent only for its young adult novels and stationery.  She bought both books with her meager allowance, and devoured them. She fell in love with the Nobel Prize winner’s exquisite, sensual imagery and the effervescence and easy flow of free verse poetry.
Iris would later graduate in 2003 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics, with minors in European Languages and Creative Writing.
She worked as Instructor at the University of the Philippines while taking up her Master’s in Mathematics. She continued to write: poems, short fiction, and amateur political essays inspired by her first literary influences, Rizal, Balagtas, Hernandez and Neruda.
In 2008 Iris quit teaching and collaborated with the Filipina coffee painter Sunshine Plata to create the book The Espresso Effect, an illustrated work of fiction capturing the coffee-drinking culture in Metro Manila. The book was published in 2010 by Data Access Publishing of Manila, and sold around coffee shops for a year. It was a moderate success, and a great learning experience for Iris about the world of books and publishing.
The social networking site, Facebook, rose in popularity around that time. Iris found a thriving online community of poets and spoken word performers from all over the world. She voraciously read other people’s works and watched videos of poetry readings posted online. She participated in poetry forums and found the informal workshopping of poems an enriching experience. All the while, Iris continued to write her own poems and build a body of work.
Her greatest poetic influences, besides the great poets mentioned above, include Carl Phillips, Frank O’Hara, Maya Angelou, Anaïs Nin, Billy Collins and Jewel Kilcher. She also loves the lyrical style of the fiction writers Oscar Hijuelos, Gabriel García Márquez, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Alice Hoffman.
Coffee, bodies of water, busy city scenes, and the music of the jazz masters Charlie Parker and John Coltrane are Iris’s go-to triggers for writing inspiration.
In 2011, Iris and her good friend Adee Caluag, co-founded Streetscape Publishing, Inc., an independent publishing company based in artsy and glamorous Makati City, with the goal of discovering local literary talents and helping to give them a platform for their work.
Streetscape Publishing, Inc. published two books of Iris Orpi’s compiled poetry, Cognac for the Soul and Beautiful Fever in 2012. The former contained poems focusing on womanhood and sexuality; the latter was about love, identity and spirituality. Both books continue to be a moderate success and are sold on Amazon.
Iris Orpi was also a part of Lit After Dark, envisioned by its founders to be a book reading series held in prominent venues around the Metro Manila nightlife scene.
In 2013, Iris Orpi immigrated to the US to marry her fiancé, now husband, Ray Price. She currently lives in Chicago with Ray and their son, Ray Junior.
Iris continues to write and submit her poems for publication. Her writings have now appeared in over two dozen anthologies and literary journals, online and in print, all over Asia, North America, and Europe.
Iris Orpi was an Honorable Mention for the Contemporary American Poetry Prize, given by Chicago Poetry Press, in 2014.

 


 

Mizuage (水揚げ)

April
an invitation

embezzling spells
of innocence,
verges of awakening,
Gordian loopholes
from the love language of
hands quietly smoothing over
the crumpled brows of dawn
anguished over what sparse
things it is able to carry
to full term
and leaving the rest
to the condoning shadows.

Believe, somewhere,
in the dulcet hum
of airtight bud lie lyrics
to a lascivious song,
strains of scintillating sins
stroking it into bloom.

It is sometimes not enough
to flower, but to flower for
the first time. Watch her face
for the movement of moments
as if every flush and quiver
charts a map of places
in the order they are touched.
It is sometimes not enough
to sit next to the perfume
of the truth as it unravels,
but to crush the petals in
your own hands and be stained
by it. Call the hunger
what it is: a nuanced torture,
invocation of our mortality,
dark rhapsodies of ache
to remind us we are
evolved from savages.
She would wear all the labels
like a crown. The posture
of her espoused darkness
is the love language of
virgin honesty catching fire.

Becoming resplendent.
Becoming the hunger.
Skin on skin.
Divinity on desire.

And the force and eloquence
of her consent slowly
undresses the world.

 


 

Beacon

The tub is full
and the night is overflowing

I watched
the beautiful beloved
of a forgotten confession
give birth to a silent,
but infallible, compass

I saw untouched hunger
brimming with dark legacies

true north
is a rare orchid
cut open with a scalpel

grace of blade
on folds of fever

not all nocturnal songs
are lullabies—

I saw one just crouching
under the eaves of
indecisive constellations
hanging its lyrics on
the beams of porch lights,

wide awake with intention

on a garden where the rest
of the pregnant symbols
have been spared

 


 

No Help in Sight for 33 Miles

It was only now,
way too many years after
it should matter,
that I thought to call him
by that name: my abuser

back then he was merely
a painful puzzle
with rusty knife edges,
an intriguing man who
could love me so hard
it felt like my bones would
break right off the joints
with just one look
half of the time

while the rest of the time
look at me like a substance
he was getting ready to burn
just to see whether I was
made of ash or liquid air

and even his anger
was inscrutable; his voice
would change when he shouted
and he grabbed at metaphors
as if to stab himself with them.

It wasn’t poetry.

Being with him was a
confusing run-on sentence,
oftentimes he’d use parts of me
like misplaced Scrabble tiles
or verbs diluted in his Red Bull.

Once, I took too long to get out
of class, it made him so mad
he had to do me right there
on the Fairview-Alabang bus,
on the way home. I closed my eyes
when the conductor passed the aisle
because I couldn’t cover myself
and I wonder now what he knew.
Did it look like I was enjoying it
or could he maybe see that my world
had been reduced to a place smaller
than that bus, more filled with
assorted noise, and completely
at the mercy of a driver whose
hands only moved in two motions?

And I was so glad when it was
over, because it meant I had
done good, he wasn’t mad
anymore, and the love would
climb back into his heart before
we pulled into the terminal. Both
the driver and the conductor were
staring when we disembarked.
I felt their eyes finding faults
in my clothes. I wonder if they
noticed the six-days-old bruise
just peeking from under my right
sleeve, or if I wanted them to.
And could they hear that my body
was not done screaming, even
though my eyes were empty.

 


 

Sacred Message, Rough Translation 

(Montara Beach, California)

I stood there,
on the thin ribbon of chance
where the road ended,
looking down

at the sea
as it nursed a mood
of spectacular fury

the possibility of falling
replacing my heartbeat

being
and being acutely
aware of my purest form:
part search,
part leap of faith,
part averted suicide

a pilgrim
knees trembling, trying
to stand inside the whirlwind
of a miracle that
keeps on happening

a witness
and a living prayer
to nature’s awesome power

This is God, I heard
the words lifting
where the horizon is far
and the life-and-death-wide
divide from the great rocks
wave crash
and fate, bone-white
is larger than
the enduring story

core of creation
and understanding within
that authoritative
thesis of chaos

This is worship,
me weeping
and lost

reveling in my post-truth,
post-apocalyptic
irrelevance

not
sitting in a box
of the well-rehearsed
and synchronized,
black and white lines
nitpicking verses from a Book
and being afraid
of the questions
scribbled on the margins.

 


 

Still Life, Charcoal

For the thousandth time,
the sun sets
on the pile of regrets
propped up against the wall
where they have been left
untouched for a thousand days
like sacred, but cursed, relics.
They don’t take too much space,
but they take enough.
Their elongated shadows fall
for the thousandth time
on the better loved things.
The waning light engages
in conversation about reasons
as it touches their surface
made of cheating mirrors,
but there isn’t enough time.
A few moments of shifting sky
can’t unravel a tangle of
good intentions,
bad decisions,
and doubtful timing
played and replayed over
many a sleepless night before
they got abandoned on that wall.
The day ends, its torn edges
descending like ashes
and coming to rest among
the soiled memories that
regrets wear as clothes.
They smell of dust and excuses,
of burned bridges
and the stale perfume of
the quaint waking dream
they used to be before
everything went wrong.
Where the light has failed,
darkness next arrives
and they can pass
as birthmarks instead of scars.
They assume different names:
anger, hurt, yearning
wisdom, even;
and settle deeper
where the heart knows no better
and believes there is no other
way to live.


T.S Elliot Interview: The Art of Poetry

This interview is culled from the archives of The Paris Review and is shared here because I think it represents a wonderful slice of time and allows us a curtained look inside the mind of a poet who was one of the greatest of his age.
Interviewed by Donald Hall
The interview took place in New York, at the apartment of Mrs. Louis Henry Cohn, of House of Books, Ltd., who is a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Eliot. The bookcases of the attractive living room contain a remarkable collection of modern authors. On a wall near the entrance hangs a drawing of Mr. Eliot, done by his sister-in-law, Mrs. Henry Ware Eliot. An inscribed wedding photograph of the Eliots stands in a silver frame on a table. Mrs. Cohn and Mrs. Eliot sat on a sofa at one end of the room, while Mr. Eliot and the interviewer faced each other in the center. The microphone of a tape recorder lay on the floor between them.Mr. Eliot looked particularly well. He was visiting the United States briefly on his way back to London from a holiday in Nassau. He was tanned, and he seemed to have put on weight in the three years since the interviewer had seen him. Altogether, he looked younger and seemed jollier. He frequently glanced at Mrs. Eliot during the interview, as if he were sharing with her an answer which he was not making.The interviewer had talked with Mr. Eliot previously in London. The small office at Faber and Faber, a few flights above Russell Square, displays a gallery of photographs on its walls: here is a large picture of Virginia Woolf, with an inset portrait of Pius XII; here are I. A. Richards, Paul Valéry, W. B. Yeats, Goethe, Marianne Moore, Charles Whibley, Djuna Barnes, and others. Many young poets have stared at the faces there, during a talk with Mr. Eliot. One of them has told a story which illustrates some of the unsuspected in Mr. Eliot’s conversation. After an hour of serious literary discussion, Mr. Eliot paused to think if he had a final word of advice; the young poet, an American, was about to go up to Oxford as Mr. Eliot had done forty years before. Then, as gravely as if he were recommending salvation, Mr. Eliot advised the purchase of long woolen underwear because of Oxford’s damp stone. Mr. Eliot is able to be avuncular while he is quite aware of comic disproportion between manner and message.Similar combinations modified many of the comments which are reported here, and the ironies of gesture are invisible on the page. At times, actually, the interview moved from the ironic and the mildly comic to the hilarious. The tape is punctuated by the head-back Boom Boom of Mr. Eliot’s laughter, particularly in response to mention of his early derogation of Ezra Pound, and to a question about the unpublished, and one gathers improper, King Bolo poems of his Harvard days.

INTERVIEWER

Perhaps I can begin at the beginning. Do you remember the circumstances under which you began to write poetry in St. Louis when you were a boy?

T.S. ELIOT

I began I think about the age of fourteen, under the inspiration of Fitzgerald’s Omar Khayyam, to write a number of very gloomy and atheistical and despairing quatrains in the same style, which fortunately I suppressed completely—so completely that they don’t exist. I never showed them to anybody. The first poem that shows is one which appeared first in the Smith Academy Record, and later in The Harvard Advocate, which was written as an exercise for my English teacher and was an imitation of Ben Jonson. He thought it very good for a boy of fifteen or sixteen. Then I wrote a few at Harvard, just enough to qualify for election to an editorship on The Harvard Advocate, which I enjoyed. Then I had an outburst during my junior and senior years. I became much more prolific, under the influence first of Baudelaire and then of Jules Laforgue, whom I discovered I think in my junior year at Harvard.

INTERVIEWER

Did anyone in particular introduce you to the French poets? Not Irving Babbitt, I suppose.

ELIOT

No, Babbitt would be the last person! The one poem that Babbitt always held up for admiration was Gray’s Elegy. And that’s a fine poem but I think this shows certain limitations on Babbitt’s part, God bless him. I have advertised my source, I think; it’s Arthur Symons’s book on French poetry*, which I came across in the Harvard Union. In those days the Harvard Union was a meeting place for any undergraduate who chose to belong to it. They had a very nice little library, like the libraries in many Harvard houses now. I liked his quotations and I went to a foreign bookshop somewhere in Boston (I’ve forgotten the name and I don’t know whether it still exists) which specialized in French and German and other foreign books and found Laforgue, and other poets. I can’t imagine why that bookshop should have had a few poets like Laforgue in stock. Goodness knows how long they’d had them or whether there were any other demands for them.

INTERVIEWER

When you were an undergraduate, were you aware of the dominating presence of any older poets? Today the poet in his youth is writing in the age of Eliot and Pound and Stevens. Can you remember your own sense of the literary times? I wonder if your situation may not have been extremely different.

ELIOT

I think it was rather an advantage not having any living poets in England or America in whom one took any particular interest. I don’t know what it would be like but I think it would be a rather troublesome distraction to have such a lot of dominating presences, as you call them, about. Fortunately we weren’t bothered by each other.

INTERVIEWER

Were you aware of people like Hardy or Robinson at all?

ELIOT

I was slightly aware of Robinson because I read an article about him in The Atlantic Monthly which quoted some of his poems, and that wasn’t my cup of tea at all. Hardy was hardly known to be a poet at that time. One read his novels, but his poetry only really became conspicuous to a later generation. Then there was Yeats, but it was the early Yeats. It was too much Celtic twilight for me. There was really nothing except the people of the 90s who had all died of drink or suicide or one thing or another.

INTERVIEWER

Did you and Conrad Aiken help each other with your poems when you were coeditors on the Advocate?

ELIOT

We were friends but I don’t think we influenced each other at all. When it came to foreign writers, he was more interested in Italian and Spanish, and I was all for the French.

INTERVIEWER

Were there any other friends who read your poems and helped you?

ELIOT

Well, yes. There was a man who was a friend of my brother’s, a man named Thomas H. Thomas who lived in Cambridge and who saw some of my poems in The Harvard Advocate. He wrote me a most enthusiastic letter and cheered me up. And I wish I had his letters still. I was very grateful to him for giving me that encouragement.

INTERVIEWER

I understand that it was Conrad Aiken who introduced you and your work to Pound.

ELIOT

Yes it was. Aiken was a very generous friend. He tried to place some of my poems in London, one summer when he was over, with Harold Monro and others. Nobody would think of publishing them. He brought them back to me. Then in 1914, I think, we were both in London in the summer. He said, “You go to Pound. Show him your poems.” He thought Pound might like them. Aiken liked them, though they were very different from his.

INTERVIEWER

Do you remember the circumstances of your first meeting with Pound?

ELIOT

I think I went to call on him first. I think I made a good impression, in his little triangular sitting room in Kensington. He said, “Send me your poems.” And he wrote back, “This is as good as anything I’ve seen. Come around and have a talk about them.” Then he pushed them on Harriet Monroe, which took a little time.

INTERVIEWER

In an article about your Advocate days, for the book in honor of your sixtieth birthday, Aiken quotes an early letter from England in which you refer to Pound’s verse as “touchingly incompetent.” I wonder when you changed your mind.

ELIOT

Hah! That was a bit brash, wasn’t it? Pound’s verse was first shown me by an editor of The Harvard Advocate, W. G. Tinckom-Fernandez, who was a crony of mine and Conrad Aiken’s and the other Signet* poets of the period. He showed me those little things of Elkin Mathews, Exultations and Personae.* He said, “This is up your street; you ought to like this.” Well, I didn’t, really. It seemed to me rather fancy, old-fashioned, romantic stuff, cloak-and-dagger kind of stuff. I wasn’t very much impressed by it. When I went to see Pound, I was not particularly an admirer of his work, and though I now regard the work I saw then as very accomplished, I am certain that in his later work is to be found the grand stuff.

INTERVIEWER

You have mentioned in print that Pound cut The Waste Land from a much larger poem into its present form. Were you benefited by his criticism of your poems in general? Did he cut other poems?

ELIOT

Yes. At that period, yes. He was a marvelous critic because he didn’t try to turn you into an imitation of himself. He tried to see what you were trying to do.

INTERVIEWER

Have you helped to rewrite any of your friends’ poems? Ezra Pound’s, for instance?

ELIOT

I can’t think of any instances. Of course I have made innumerable suggestions on manuscripts of young poets in the last twenty-five years or so.

INTERVIEWER

Does the manuscript of the original, uncut Waste Land exist?

ELIOT

Don’t ask me. That’s one of the things I don’t know. It’s an unsolved mystery. I sold it to John Quinn. I also gave him a notebook of unpublished poems, because he had been kind to me in various affairs. That’s the last I heard of them. Then he died and they didn’t turn up at the sale.

INTERVIEWER

What sort of thing did Pound cut from The Waste Land? Did he cut whole sections?

ELIOT

Whole sections, yes. There was a long section about a shipwreck. I don’t know what that had to do with anything else, but it was rather inspired by the Ulysses canto in The Inferno, I think. Then there was another section which was an imitation Rape of the Lock. Pound said, “It’s no use trying to do something that somebody else has done as well as it can be done. Do something different.”

INTERVIEWER

Did the excisions change the intellectual structure of the poem?

ELIOT

No. I think it was just as structureless, only in a more futile way, in the longer version.

INTERVIEWER

I have a question about the poem which is related to its composition. In Thoughts after Lambeth you denied the allegation of critics who said that you expressed “the disillusionment of a generation” in The Waste Land, or you denied that it was your intention. Now F. R. Leavis, I believe, has said that the poem exhibits no progression; yet on the other hand, more recent critics, writing after your later poetry, found The Waste Land Christian. I wonder if this was part of your intention.

ELIOT

No, it wasn’t part of my conscious intention. I think that in Thoughts after Lambeth, I was speaking of intentions more in a negative than in a positive sense, to say what was not my intention. I wonder what an “intention” means! One wants to get something off one’s chest. One doesn’t know quite what it is that one wants to get off the chest until one’s got it off. But I couldn’t apply the word “intention” positively to any of my poems. Or to any poem.

INTERVIEWER

I have another question about you and Pound and your earlier career. I have read somewhere that you and Pound decided to write quatrains, in the late teens, because vers libre had gone far enough.

ELIOT

I think that’s something Pound said. And the suggestion of writing quatrains was his. He put me onto Emaux et Camées.*

INTERVIEWER

I wonder about your ideas about the relation of form to subject. Would you then have chosen the form before you knew quite what you were going to write in it?

ELIOT

Yes, in a way. One studied originals. We studied Gautier’s poems and then we thought, “Have I anything to say in which this form will be useful?” And we experimented. The form gave the impetus to the content.

INTERVIEWER

Why was vers libre the form you chose to use in your early poems?

ELIOT

My early vers libre, of course, was started under the endeavor to practice the same form as Laforgue. This meant merely rhyming lines of irregular length, with the rhymes coming in irregular places. It wasn’t quite so libre as much vers, especially the sort which Ezra called “Amygism.”* Then, of course, there were things in the next phase which were freer, like “Rhapsody on a Windy Night.” I don’t know whether I had any sort of model or practice in mind when I did that. It just came that way.

INTERVIEWER

Did you feel, possibly, that you were writing against something, more than from any model? Against the poet laureate perhaps?

ELIOT

No, no, no. I don’t think one was constantly trying to reject things, but just trying to find out what was right for oneself. One really ignored poet laureates as such, the Robert Bridges. I don’t think good poetry can be produced in a kind of political attempt to overthrow some existing form. I think it just supersedes. People find a way in which they can say something. “I can’t say it that way, what way can I find that will do?” One didn’t really bother about the existing modes.

INTERVIEWER

I think it was after “Prufrock” and before “Gerontion” that you wrote the poems in French which appear in your Collected Poems. I wonder how you happened to write them. Have you written any since?

ELIOT

No, and I never shall. That was a very curious thing which I can’t altogether explain. At that period I thought I’d dried up completely. I hadn’t written anything for some time and was rather desperate. I started writing a few things in French and found I could, at that period. I think it was that when I was writing in French I didn’t take the poems so seriously, and that, not taking them seriously, I wasn’t so worried about not being able to write. I did these things as a sort of tour de force to see what I could do. That went on for some months. The best of them have been printed. I must say that Ezra Pound went through them, and Edmond Dulac, a Frenchman we knew in London, helped with them a bit. We left out some, and I suppose they disappeared completely. Then I suddenly began writing in English again and lost all desire to go on with French. I think it was just something that helped me get started again.

INTERVIEWER

Did you think at all about becoming a French symbolist* poet like the two Americans of the last century?

ELIOT

Stuart Merrill and Viélé-Griffin. I only did that during the romantic year I spent in Paris after Harvard. I had at that time the idea of giving up English and trying to settle down and scrape along in Paris and gradually write French. But it would have been a foolish idea even if I’d been much more bilingual than I ever was, because, for one thing, I don’t think that one can be a bilingual poet. I don’t know of any case in which a man wrote great or even fine poems equally well in two languages. I think one language must be the one you express yourself in, in poetry, and you’ve got to give up the other for that purpose. And I think that the English language really has more resources in some respects than the French. I think, in other words, I’ve probably done better in English than I ever would have in French even if I’d become as proficient in French as the poets you mentioned.

INTERVIEWER

Can I ask you if you have any plans for poems now?

ELIOT

No, I haven’t any plans for anything at the moment, except that I think I would like, having just got rid of The Elder Statesman(I only passed the final proofs just before we left London), to do a little prose writing of a critical sort. I never think more than one step ahead. Do I want to do another play or do I want to do more poems? I don’t know until I find I want to do it.

INTERVIEWER

Do you have any unfinished poems that you look at occasionally?

ELIOT

I haven’t much in that way, no. As a rule, with me an unfinished thing is a thing that might as well be rubbed out. It’s better, if there’s something good in it that I might make use of elsewhere, to leave it at the back of my mind than on paper in a drawer. If I leave it in a drawer it remains the same thing but if it’s in the memory it becomes transformed into something else. As I have said before, Burnt Norton began with bits that had to be cut out of Murder in the Cathedral. I learned in Murder in the Cathedral that it’s no use putting in nice lines that you think are good poetry if they don’t get the action on at all. That was when Martin Browne was useful. He would say, “There are very nice lines here, but they’ve nothing to do with what’s going on on stage.”

INTERVIEWER

Are any of your minor poems actually sections cut out of longer works? There are two that sound like “The Hollow Men.”

ELIOT

Oh, those were the preliminary sketches. Those things were earlier. Others I published in periodicals but not in my collected poems. You don’t want to say the same thing twice in one book.

INTERVIEWER

You seem often to have written poems in sections. Did they begin as separate poems? I am thinking of “Ash Wednesday,” in particular.

ELIOT

Yes, like “The Hollow Men,” it originated out of separate poems. As I recall, one or two early drafts of parts of “Ash Wednesday” appeared in Commerce and elsewhere. Then gradually I came to see it as a sequence. That’s one way in which my mind does seem to have worked throughout the years poetically—doing things separately and then seeing the possibility of fusing them together, altering them, and making a kind of whole of them.

INTERVIEWER

Do you write anything now in the vein of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats or King Bolo?

ELIOT

Those things do come from time to time! I keep a few notes of such verse, and there are one or two incomplete cats that probably will never be written. There’s one about a glamour cat. It turned out too sad. This would never do. I can’t make my children weep over a cat who’s gone wrong. She had a very questionable career, did this cat. It wouldn’t do for the audience of my previous volume of cats. I’ve never done any dogs. Of course dogs don’t seem to lend themselves to verse quite so well, collectively, as cats. I may eventually do an enlarged edition of my cats. That’s more likely than another volume. I did add one poem, which was originally done as an advertisement for Faber and Faber. It seemed to be fairly successful. Oh, yes, one wants to keep one’s hand in, you know, in every type of poem, serious and frivolous and proper and improper. One doesn’t want to lose one’s skill.

INTERVIEWER

There’s a good deal of interest now in the process of writing. I wonder if you could talk more about your actual habits in writing verse. I’ve heard you composed on the typewriter.

ELIOT

Partly on the typewriter. A great deal of my new play, The Elder Statesman, was produced in pencil and paper, very roughly. Then I typed it myself first before my wife got to work on it. In typing myself I make alterations, very considerable ones. But whether I write or type, composition of any length, a play for example, means for me regular hours, say ten to one. I found that three hours a day is about all I can do of actual composing. I could do polishing perhaps later. I sometimes found at first that I wanted to go on longer, but when I looked at the stuff the next day, what I’d done after the three hours were up was never satisfactory. It’s much better to stop and think about something else quite different.

INTERVIEWER

Did you ever write any of your nondramatic poems on schedule? Perhaps the Four Quartets?

ELIOT

Only “occasional” verse. The Quartets were not on schedule. Of course the first one was written in ’35, but the three which were written during the war were more in fits and starts. In 1939 if there hadn’t been a war I would probably have tried to write another play. And I think it’s a very good thing I didn’t have the opportunity. From my personal point of view, the one good thing the war did was to prevent me from writing another play too soon. I saw some of the things that were wrong with Family Reunion, but I think it was much better that any possible play was blocked for five years or so to get up a head of steam. The form of the Quartets fitted in very nicely to the conditions under which I was writing, or could write at all. I could write them in sections and I didn’t have to have quite the same continuity; it didn’t matter if a day or two elapsed when I did not write, as they frequently did, while I did war jobs.

INTERVIEWER

We have been mentioning your plays without talking about them. In Poetry and Drama you talked about your first plays. I wonder if you could tell us something about your intentions in The Elder Statesman.

ELIOT

I said something, I think, in Poetry and Drama about my ideal aims, which I never expect fully to realize. I started, really, from The Family Reunion, because Murder in the Cathedral is a period piece and something out of the ordinary. It is written in rather a special language, as you do when you’re dealing with another period. It didn’t solve any of the problems I was interested in. Later I thought that in The Family Reunion I was giving so much attention to the versification that I neglected the structure of the play. I think The Family Reunion is still the best of my plays in the way of poetry, although it’s not very well constructed.

In The Cocktail Party and again in The Confidential Clerk, I went further in the way of structure. The Cocktail Party wasn’t altogether satisfactory in that respect. It sometimes happens, disconcertingly, at any rate with a practitioner like myself, that it isn’t always the things constructed most according to plan that are the most successful. People criticized the third act of The Cocktail Party as being rather an epilogue, so in The Confidential Clerk I wanted things to turn up in the third act which were fresh events. Of course, The Confidential Clerk was so well constructed in some ways that people thought it was just meant to be farce.

I wanted to get to learn the technique of the theater so well that I could then forget about it. I always feel it’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them.

I hope that The Elder Statesman goes further in getting more poetry in, at any rate, than The Confidential Clerk did. I don’t feel that I’ve got to the point I aim at and I don’t think I ever will, but I would like to feel I was getting a little nearer to it each time.

INTERVIEWER

Do you have a Greek model behind The Elder Statesman?

ELIOT

The play in the background is the Oedipus at Colonus. But I wouldn’t like to refer to my Greek originals as models. I have always regarded them more as points of departure. That was one of the weaknesses of The Family Reunion; it was rather too close to the Eumenides. I tried to follow my original too literally and in that way led to confusion by mixing pre-Christian and post-Christian attitudes about matters of conscience and sin and guilt.

So in the subsequent three I have tried to take the Greek myth as a sort of springboard, you see. After all, what one gets essential and permanent, I think, in the old plays, is a situation. You can take the situation, rethink it in modern terms, develop your own characters from it, and let another plot develop out of that. Actually you get further and further away from the original. The Cocktail Party had to do with Alcestis simply because the question arose in my mind, what would the life of Admetus and Alcestis be, after she’d come back from the dead; I mean if there’d been a break like that, it couldn’t go on just as before. Those two people were the center of the thing when I started and the other characters only developed out of it. The character of Celia, who came to be really the most important character in the play, was originally an appendage to a domestic situation.

INTERVIEWER

Do you still hold to the theory of levels in poetic drama (plot, character, diction, rhythm, meaning) which you put forward in 1932?

ELIOT

I am no longer very much interested in my own theories about poetic drama, especially those put forward before 1934. I have thought less about theories since I have given more time to writing for the theater.

INTERVIEWER

How does the writing of a play differ from the writing of poems?

ELIOT

I feel that they take quite different approaches. There is all the difference in the world between writing a play for an audience and writing a poem, in which you’re writing primarily for yourself—although obviously you wouldn’t be satisfied if the poem didn’t mean something to other people afterward. With a poem you can say, “I got my feeling into words for myself. I now have the equivalent in words for that much of what I have felt.” Also in a poem you’re writing for your own voice, which is very important. You’re thinking in terms of your own voice, whereas in a play from the beginning you have to realize that you’re preparing something which is going into the hands of other people, unknown at the time you’re writing it. Of course I won’t say there aren’t moments in a play when the two approaches may not converge, when I think ideally they should. Very often in Shakespeare they do, when he is writing a poem and thinking in terms of the theater and the actors and the audience all at once. And the two things are one. That’s wonderful when you can get that. With me it only happens at odd moments.

INTERVIEWER

Have you tried at all to control the speaking of your verse by the actors? To make it seem more like verse?

ELIOT

I leave that primarily to the producer. The important thing is to have a producer who has the feeling of verse and who can guide them in just how emphatic to make the verse, just how far to depart from prose or how far to approach it. I only guide the actors if they ask me questions directly. Otherwise I think that they should get their advice through the producer. The important thing is to arrive at an agreement with him first, and then leave it to him.

INTERVIEWER

Do you feel that there’s been a general tendency in your work, even in your poems, to move from a narrower to a larger audience?

ELIOT

I think that there are two elements in this. One is that I think that writing plays—that is, Murder in the Cathedral and The Family Reunion—made a difference to the writing of the Four Quartets. I think that it led to a greater simplification of language and to speaking in a way which is more like conversing with your reader. I see the later Quartets as being much simpler and easier to understand than The Waste Land and “Ash Wednesday.” Sometimes the thing I’m trying to say, the subject matter, may be difficult, but it seems to me that I’m saying it in a simpler way.

The other element that enters into it, I think, is just experience and maturity. I think that in the early poems it was a question of not being able to—of having more to say than one knew how to say, and having something one wanted to put into words and rhythm which one didn’t have the command of words and rhythm to put in a way immediately apprehensible.

That type of obscurity comes when the poet is still at the stage of learning how to use language. You have to say the thing the difficult way. The only alternative is not saying it at all, at that stage. By the time of the Four Quartets, I couldn’t have written in the style of The Waste Land. In The Waste Land, I wasn’t even bothering whether I understood what I was saying. These things, however, become easier to people with time. You get used to having The Waste Land, or Ulysses, about.

INTERVIEWER

Do you feel that the Four Quartets are your best work?

ELIOT

Yes, and I’d like to feel that they get better as they go on. The second is better than the first, the third is better than the second, and the fourth is the best of all. At any rate, that’s the way I flatter myself.

INTERVIEWER

This is a very general question, but I wonder if you could give advice to a young poet about what disciplines or attitudes he might cultivate to improve his art.

ELIOT

I think it’s awfully dangerous to give general advice. I think the best one can do for a young poet is to criticize in detail a particular poem of his. Argue it with him if necessary; give him your opinion, and if there are any generalizations to be made, let him do them himself. I’ve found that different people have different ways of working and things come to them in different ways. You’re never sure when you’re uttering a statement that’s generally valid for all poets or when it’s something that only applies to yourself. I think nothing is worse than to try to form people in your own image.

INTERVIEWER

Do you think there’s any possible generalization to be made about the fact that all the better poets now, younger than you, seem to be teachers?

ELIOT

I don’t know. I think the only generalization that can be made of any value will be one which will be made a generation later. All you can say at this point is that at different times there are different possibilities of making a living, or different limitations on making a living. Obviously a poet has got to find a way of making a living apart from his poetry. After all, artists do a great deal of teaching, and musicians too.

INTERVIEWER

Do you think that the optimal career for a poet would involve no work at all but writing and reading?

ELIOT

No, I think that would be … —but there again one can only talk about oneself. It is very dangerous to give an optimal career for everybody, but I feel quite sure that if I’d started by having independent means, if I hadn’t had to bother about earning a living and could have given all my time to poetry, it would have had a deadening influence on me.

INTERVIEWER

Why?

ELIOT

I think that for me it’s been very useful to exercise other activities, such as working in a bank, or publishing even. And I think also that the difficulty of not having as much time as I would like has given me a greater pressure of concentration. I mean it has prevented me from writing too much. The danger, as a rule, of having nothing else to do is that one might write too much rather than concentrating and perfecting smaller amounts. That would be my danger.

INTERVIEWER

Do you consciously attempt, now, to keep up with the poetry that is being written by young men in England and America?

ELIOT

I don’t now, not with any conscientiousness. I did at one time when I was reading little reviews and looking out for new talent as a publisher. But as one gets older, one is not quite confident in one’s own ability to distinguish new genius among younger men. You’re always afraid that you are going as you have seen your elders go. At Faber and Faber now I have a younger colleague who reads poetry manuscripts. But even before that, when I came across new stuff that I thought had real merit, I would show it to younger friends whose critical judgment I trusted and get their opinion. But of course there is always the danger that there is merit where you don’t see it. So I’d rather have younger people to look at things first. If they like it, they will show it to me, and see whether I like it too. When you get something that knocks over younger people of taste and judgment and older people as well, then that’s likely to be something important. Sometimes there’s a lot of resistance. I shouldn’t like to feel that I was resisting, as my work was resisted when it was new, by people who thought that it was imposture of some kind or other.

INTERVIEWER

Do you feel that younger poets in general have repudiated the experimentalism of the early poetry of this century? Few poets now seem to be resisted the way you were resisted, but some older critics like Herbert Read believe that poetry after you has been a regression to outdated modes. When you talked about Milton the second time, you spoke of the function of poetry as a retarder of change, as well as a maker of change, in language.

ELIOT

Yes, I don’t think you want a revolution every ten years.

INTERVIEWER

But is it possible to think that there has been a counterrevolution rather than an exploration of new possibilities?

ELIOT

No, I don’t see anything that looks to me like a counterrevolution. After a period of getting away from the traditional forms, comes a period of curiosity in making new experiments with traditional forms. This can produce very good work if what has happened in between has made a difference: when it’s not merely going back, but taking up an old form, which has been out of use for a time, and making something new with it. That is not counterrevolution. Nor does mere regression deserve the name. There is a tendency in some quarters to revert to Georgian scenery and sentiments; and among the public there are always people who prefer mediocrity, and when they get it, say, “What a relief! Here’s some real poetry again.” And there are also people who like poetry to be modern but for whom the really creative stuff is too strong—they need something diluted.

What seems to me the best of what I’ve seen in young poets is not reaction at all. I’m not going to mention any names, for I don’t like to make public judgments about younger poets. The best stuff is a further development of a less revolutionary character than what appeared in earlier years of the century.

INTERVIEWER

I have some unrelated questions that I’d like to end with. In 1945 you wrote, “A poet must take as his material his own language as it is actually spoken around him.” And later you wrote, “The music of poetry, then, will be a music latent in the common speech of his time.” After the second remark, you disparaged “standardized BBC English.” Now isn’t one of the changes of the last fifty years, and perhaps even more of the last five years, the growing dominance of commercial speech through the means of communication? What you referred to as “BBC English” has become immensely more powerful through the ITA and BBC television, not to speak of CBS, NBC, and ABC. Does this development make the problem of the poet and his relationship to common speech more difficult?

ELIOT

You’ve raised a very good point there. I think you’re right, it does make it more difficult.

INTERVIEWER

I wanted you to make the point.

ELIOT

Yes, but you wanted the point to be made. So I’ll take the responsibility of making it: I do think that where you have these modern means of communication and means of imposing the speech and idioms of a small number on the mass of people at large, it does complicate the problem very much. I don’t know to what extent that goes for film speech, but obviously radio speech has done much more.

INTERVIEWER

I wonder if there’s a possibility that what you mean by common speech will disappear.

ELIOT

That is a very gloomy prospect. But very likely indeed.

INTERVIEWER

Are there other problems for a writer in our time which are unique? Does the prospect of human annihilation have any particular effect on the poet?

ELIOT

I don’t see why the prospect of human annihilation should affect the poet differently from men of other vocations. It will affect him as a human being, no doubt in proportion to his sensitiveness.

INTERVIEWER

Another unrelated question: I can see why a man’s criticism is better for his being a practicing poet, better, although subject to his own prejudices. But do you feel that writing criticism has helped you as a poet?

ELIOT

In an indirect way it has helped me somehow as a poet—to put down in writing my critical valuation of the poets who have influenced me and whom I admire. It is merely making an influence more conscious and more articulate. It’s been a rather natural impulse. I think probably my best critical essays are essays on the poets who had influenced me, so to speak, long before I thought of writing essays about them. They’re of more value, probably, than any of my more generalized remarks.

INTERVIEWER

G. S. Fraser wonders, in an essay about the two of you, whether you ever met Yeats. From remarks in your talk about him, it would seem that you did. Could you tell us the circumstances?

ELIOT

Of course I had met Yeats many times. Yeats was always very gracious when one met him and had the art of treating younger writers as if they were his equals and contemporaries. I can’t remember any one particular occasion.

INTERVIEWER

I have heard that you consider that your poetry belongs in the tradition of American literature. Could you tell us why?

ELIOT

I’d say that my poetry has obviously more in common with my distinguished contemporaries in America than with anything written in my generation in England. That I’m sure of.

INTERVIEWER

Do you think there’s a connection with the American past?

ELIOT

Yes, but I couldn’t put it any more definitely than that, you see. It wouldn’t be what it is, and I imagine it wouldn’t be so good; putting it as modestly as I can, it wouldn’t be what it is if I’d been born in England, and it wouldn’t be what it is if I’d stayed in America. It’s a combination of things. But in its sources, in its emotional springs, it comes from America.

INTERVIEWER

One last thing. Seventeen years ago you said, “No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written. He may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.” Do you feel the same now, at seventy?

ELIOT

There may be honest poets who do feel sure. I don’t.


Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Poetry

Written by Bill Zavatsky.

From Poets.org first published in 2001

 

Perhaps the last time you really came into close contact with poetry was for a college or graduate school term paper. You haven’t had the time or the inclination to “keep up” with poetry since then, and have found yourself avoiding the teaching of it, if you can, or gritting your teeth through the “poetry unit” when it rolls around each year. Most teachers I’ve met and worked with are in the same boat. Oh, they like poetry well enough, but their raids into twentieth century verse inevitably send them back to those few dependable poems neatly compartmentalized in the school textbooks.

That the art of poetry has become little more than “filler” in many school texts—like those odd items wedged in the daily paper that report hailstones the size of cannonballs in Missoula—is such a truism that it’s boring to discuss. For most teachers (and for all too many students) the poem has become a sideshow item, a species of literary anomaly that one walks hurriedly past with eyes half turned away, muttering, “How interesting. . . .”

How this happened to poetry remains a debatable and complicated question, and I don’t know how head-on it has been confronted in print. Literary critics write for university professors, poets don’t really want to acknowledge the situation (and most couldn’t talk about it if they wanted to), and the teacher trying to make sense of what went awry between “O Captain! My Captain!” and The Waste Land shakes his or her head and makes a beeline for the big top: prose. There, at least, things usually make sense. The aerialists continue to be daring, the elephants charming, the acrobats skillful, and the clowns are permitted their bouts of controlled nonsense. Little resembles the odd and inexplicable world we have thankfully escaped, of giants, transparent ladies, seal-boys, and half-men/half women. Like the predictable pleasures of the main arena, school anthology prose whisks away those discomfiting freaks of poetry. Reality, good old sentence-by-sentence reality, driving hard through the plot, assumes its rightful place in the spotlight. What a relief to understand what the writer is talking about, what he means! As for poetry, why, we can always take refuge in the classics. What we forget is that Shelley and Byron and Keats were legendary freaks in their own time, generally impaled by critics and deemed incomprehensible. Time, which tames all but the wildest of lions, has tamed them, too. The poetry of all but the very greatest of poets (and I include the three writers that I have just mentioned in that company) eventually turns into a kind of prose. Certainly the bad poetry of great poets does. But great poetry is like Blake‘s tyger—untamable. From its burning eye we flee, and usually our flight is a retreat into meaning.

Contemporary poetry, that is, poetry written by living poets or written in the recent past, is the biggest headache of all. And the biggest complaint about it is: “I can’t figure out what this poet is talking about. What does this mean?” The hunt for the meaning has become institutionalized as “Appreciation of Poetry 101.” Year after year this goes on, until finally (somewhere in college) we are confronted with that terror of terrors, that event we always fear would happen: the poem has grown so complicated, so ornery, that we find it impossible to put together what we have so industriously “analyzed.” We give up! What a relief, what a fantastically lucky breakdown! Never again will we have to list the “sources” of The Waste Land; never again will we be asked what the red wheelbarrow symbolizes in Williams’s little poem; nevermore will we be faced with the unfathomable references in Ezra Pound‘s Cantos. It is finished, thank God! We have graduated!

From the poet’s end of it, this hunt for the symbol means the death of poetry. Would you discuss the movements of a ballerina by taking your students to an anatomy class and have them watch leg muscles being dissected? It might help to understand the twists and turns, but dead parts don’t get up and dance. Neither does the poem after autopsy. The poetry-by-autopsy method may be seen in action in most high school English classes studying Shakespeare. The Bard is picked clean, and Hamlet, the fierce and philosophical dramatic poem, crashes to the stage in a pile of bones, all curiously resembling scansion marks. Shakespeare has died more deaths than any of his bloody characters, either because he wrote in blank verse, a kind of wind-up ta-BOOM, ta-BOOM machine that can be scored, or in spite of it, in which case the hunt for the meaning is on, and poetry be damned. In “interpreting” poetry, too many teachers have forgotten the great unwritten law of its mathematics: a good poem is always more than the sum of its parts. It is first and last the document of a human experience.

Let me put it another way. The same sensibility that kicks poems around until they stand up like man and mean also flattens butterflies under glass and mounts animal heads on den walls. I am not sentimentalizing. I am not being the dreamy, wishy-washy thinker that poets are expected to be. When wildness is once and for all nailed, it becomes an ornament with trophy status. When all the mystery is crushed out of a poem, when its wings are pinned forever, when it no longer makes weird noises in the night, when it has grown harmless in the collection book of the school text, the poem will have attained the state of perfect meaning which is death. It becomes another prize in a landscape of stuffed birds. The saddest part of this education, for students and teachers alike, is that it’s much easier to trap a stuffed bird than to skin your knees chasing a live one. We train ourselves by this method of “analysis” to seek out examples of poetry that, because of their museum-piece status, are safe stuffed owls. This accounts for the preponderance of so much bad poetry even in anthologies that seem to be searching for something so much better, collections like Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle and Some Haystacks Don’t Even Have Any Needle. Most books of this kind display the same old trophies, leaking sawdust, gussied up with a veneer of contemporary typefaces and flashy layout.

My point is that poetry lives now, and now can be as confusing as this morning’s headlines. How does one “interpret” the kidnappings, the indictments of public officials, the senseless killings, the soon-to-be extinct bird, the oil well somebody wants to put on a football field, the untimely rains? Now is poetry territory—dangerous, infested, infectious, maddening. We’d much prefer to click off Dan Rather in mid-sentence than force ourselves to pull all the mayhem together. But if a poem does not fully partake of the now of its author’s life, it will never survive that moment, and it will never penetrate the heart of the reader. Now is also the territory of what is truly alive, fresh, delightfully unpredictable, thrilling, joyous.

Because of this engagement with the now, whatever that now may mean to him or her, the poet has often been typed as a loony, a misfit, a dreamer, or a plain waster-of-time. Poets have certainly been all of these things, and more. But no more so than others who have never written a line. Some of the weirdest people I have ever known I met in a factory where I worked in the yard gang and as a janitor when I was eighteen. None of them wrote poetry or read it.

While an Eliot or a Pound may drive readers away with their difficulty, other poets find themselves dismissed as “unpoetic” because of their straightforward clarity. I will never forget the reaction of one teacher during a workshop that I was giving at a Brooklyn school. I was trying to stress that many recent poets have worked hard to bring everyday American speech into their work, and read the following poem by William Carlos Williams:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold [1]

“But that sounds just like my husband!” cried one of the teachers. “You mean to stand there and tell me that that’s a poem?”

Indeed I did. In my private scenario, Williams had eaten the plums, left a note in the empty bowl in the icebox, and had started to climb the stairs to bed when, in a flash of intuition that I am willing to call genius, he stopped himself and ran back downstairs to retrieve the poem he knew he had just written. [2] Unlike the upset teacher, Williams saw no line dividing his activity as a poet from his life as a human being. In “This Is Just to Say,” he captured one of the daily experiences that are as liable to poetic treatment as any other, and he knew it. Rescuing this short, scribbled testament to married life and household order (as well as to temptation), he made permanent a poetic act of the first magnitude.

Another poet whose preoccupation with everyday life cast his literary career into obscurity was Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976). In poem after poem this writer captured the essence of city life in language so clear and simple that it could be mistaken for prose. Like Williams, Reznikoff is a master of the seemingly insignificant encounter, the anecdotal experiences all of us have but fail to write down:

Due to copyright restrictions, we are unable to include the poem “The new janitor is a Puerto Rican” by Charles Reznikoff. We apologize for the inconvenience. [3]

Reznikoff does not spare us the hard facts. After all, he has to live in this apartment house where nothing gets fixed properly. But on the level of human interaction, his poem is full of compassion. He understands the despair of the young janitor, and in his clarity of approach to the subject, makes us feel it, too.

Williams and Reznikoff wrote hundreds of poems fashioned directly from their daily lives. Williams could have established his physician’s practice in New York City or in Paris, but chose instead to set up in Rutherford, New Jersey, where he was born and where he died. Reznikoff lived most of his life on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, walked the streets for miles every day, wrote articles on the law to make a living, and published most of his books himself. Through work like theirs, teachers who are willing to chance the unfamiliar will discover much that they can bring to their students which concerns the human heart.

II

There must be as many reasons why poetry is written as there are poets writing it. Surely poets mean to tell us something about themselves and their world, if only in the most oblique ways, by recording what they deem important enough to pluck from their field of vision with a pen point. This field of vision contains both the inner and outer lives of the writer. Some poets prefer to concentrate on the reality that exists independently of themselves—the “real world” we call it, of people, places, and things. By selecting what they do select to present to us, they tell us who they are. Other poets seem to exist completely in their own spiritual interiors. The world “out there” pales in comparison to their inner lives, their thoughts and feelings. Trees and people seem to exist only as comments on what is taking place inside them. We can call the first group “extroverts,” the second “introverts,” if we wish. Whatever the poet’s attitude toward himself and the world may be, there is a continual struggle within him to be true to his own vision. Teachers and students should be aware of it. To seize her vision in language as accurately as she can, the poet takes chances, stabs in the dark of the world and the self, both of which are finally unknowable. Teachers and students should likewise be aware of this chance-taking so essential to the making of any art. The French poet Paul Valéry claimed that a poem is never finished, only abandoned. The poet, then, can never be positive he has got it down “right” for all time. In this light, how much more careful should those who study poetry be in fixing “final” interpretations to poems. In fact, the virtue of a great poem is that it can be interpreted inexhaustibly, from generation to generation, century to century, and even from culture to culture. No one has stopped writing about the Odyssey; the last word on Hamlet has yet to be said. The poem reads us as much as we read the poem.

A great work of art, like the figures on Keats’s Grecian urn, is an artifact of time, yet timeless. This is exactly why those cut-and-dried interpretations of poems we present to our students turn them away from the life of poetry, a life which is intimately connected to the mysteries of the human soul. Instead of facing the poem as a living document of human experience (Keats studying the urn in the British Museum, Williams looking out the window at the red wheelbarrow), the “symbols” of the poem are served up for memorization and regurgitation—for the final exam. Instead of being an encounter with feeling, poetry becomes a task like places and dates. As teachers of poetry, and as students of these methods, we have paid dearly. A vehicle of wonderment that should draw us closer has been turned into simply another academic job. Is it any wonder that I have seen third and fourth graders, who don’t know the first thing about poetry, cry “Ugggh!” when the word was mentioned?

I want to suggest that students be allowed to discover a poem. Rather than having it force-fed to them, there is a way of reading a poetic text that will allow both teacher and student to encounter it as something living. At first I am going to generalize about this method; then I am going to proceed to a specific reading of a poem that I have walked through with classes that have ranged from third grade to high school to teacher workshops.

The first idea I have of how to offer a poem to students is for the teacher to make sure that he or she likes the poem that will be discussed. We like lots of things without being able to intellectualize about them—olives, the clouds, music. Some things (poems included) we can speak quite feelingly and intelligently about right off the bat. There might even be only one little phrase or line in a poem that we like, but that can be a place to begin. (And by the way, this is why it is important for teachers to read poetry that isn’t in the school anthologies. If you hate all the William Carlos Williams poems in your textbook, there are hundreds of poems to choose from that he wrote. Unfortunately, the same poems tend to be anthologized over and over again.)

As a teacher presenting a poem to students for the first time, one must be humble and curious. The humility comes in the intentional holding back of one’s own interpretation of the poem at hand and realizing that the poem can never be completely understood. It is a salutary thing for students to hear their teacher say, “I like this poem, but I don’t really know what this part of it means,” when we really don’t. Some poems can be investigated exhaustively; others, completely or in part, leave us baffled. The first important step in humanizing the study of poetry is to recognize this. We cannot always explain what attracts us—in poetry or in life. “Why do you love me?” says the husband to the wife. Beyond what can be put into words, we must be silent.

Usually the admission by the teacher that he is not omnipotent will send the students rushing to the rescue. They want to help; they have their own wonderful ideas about what the confusing passage means. This is where we learn from our students, and as any good teacher knows, this is one of the great gifts of the profession.

In discussion one must be curious enough to hear the students out, to let them have their say. Humility again comes into play when a student points out something in the poem that the teacher has never noticed. This has happened to me hundreds of times, and it is always thrilling. (I even admit to hoping that it will happen, and sometimes to rigging my questions so that it will happen!) For example, I and a fourth grade class were discussing Williams’s poem “The Last Words of My English Grandmother.” In it, Williams (or a character very much like him) is trying to persuade his dying grandmother to go to the hospital; she doesn’t want to go. When I asked the students why the old woman didn’t want to go to the hospital, I was expecting them to say something like, “Because she knows that if she goes to the hospital, she’ll die.” (This is a very sophisticated response, actually; an adult response. Most children experience the hospital as an enforced separation from their loved ones. They do not go to hospitals to die, but to have their tonsils out.)

A boy raised his hand, and I called on him. “She doesn’t want to go to the hospital,” he said, “because in the hospital all the people wear these white robes, and she might wake up and think that angels were all around her.” I was astounded at his insight. He had made an association between whiteness and heaven that I never would have located in a hospital ward. (Unwittingly, of course, he was speaking metaphorically: doctors and nurses in a hospital resemble the angels in heaven.) I later learned that the boy had recently been hospitalized himself, and his answer was based on his observations—with a crucial dash of poetic intuition thrown in. Later, when I discussed the boy’s response with several teachers who had been observing the class, one told me that hospitals have actually done extensive psychological research in this area, and as a result the majority of hospital staffs may now be found clothed in green—the color of life and growth—rather than in white, the pallor of death, the color of the angels. And yes, the idea of death lurked behind what that boy said, but his poetic response gave the kind of luminous answer that teachers have to be ready for.

Virtuously humble and curious, the teacher can now afford to be practical by making sure that each and every student has a copy of the poem or poems to be discussed. As a poet myself, I beg you, please, please give the poem some breathing space when you reproduce it for class use. (Poems look different than prose on the page, and that is one of the reasons they are shaped the way they are, in lines.) Don’t crush twelve poems onto one page; and for goodness sakes don’t treat the poem as if it was a wilting violet or a new form of disease by fancying it up in Neo-unctial script. Type it up neatly, and credit the author.

Before we proceed to some ideas that will help you to talk about poems as if they were recordings of human experience and not terrifying masterpieces of world literature, let me lean on one important point. Students will frequently depart from the text of the poem and begin making up a lot of nonsense about “what the poem is saying.” When they slip off the track (unless the new track is of particular interest), direct them back to the poem itself to see if what they are saying in any way corresponds to what the poem is saying. I find it necessary in the course of a discussion to do this again and again, no matter the grade level of the participants. The “answers” that may exist (if any) to the problems of the poem, the pith of “what the poem means,” are either in the poem or we are guessing. Guesswork can be exciting, germane, and is in fact absolutely necessary. But our guesses (call them intuition, if you prefer) should always be balanced against the data contained in the poem. In entering any poem, we first want to find out what is going on. (Meaning ascribed to what is going on has a secondary function.) Experience is our objective; the interpretation of experience, a natural and laudable human activity, still comes afterwards.


Free Writing Contests

Free Contests

You have much to gain from entering writing contests: 1) Having a deadline forces you to finish editing, and 2) Many contests require you to write a synopsis and a pitch, both of which are essential for approaching publishing houses and/or agents. And if the contest is free, what have you got to lose?

An additional bonus is that winning a contest really boosts your chances of getting published.

Many of these contests are held every year, so if you missed one you’d like to enter, you may catch it next year.

NOTE: For further information about each contest, including submission instructions, click on the name of the contest. (It’s a link.)

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Good sites to find contests (both free and paid):

Free Writing Events

Winning Writers – Best Free Literary Contests

Freelance Writing – Creative Writing Contests with No Entry Fees

Poets & Writers – Writing Contests, Grants & Awards

Creative Writing Contests

NewPages Big List of Writing Contests

Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog

Write Jobs

Cathy’s Comps and Calls

The Poetry Kit

Please note: Months correspond to deadlines.

Related posts:

How to Win Writing Contests and Big Publishing Contracts

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Recurring Awards

Monthly

Hennessy New Irish WritingRestrictions: Open to writers who are Irish or resident in Ireland. Prize: The winner of each category will receive a Hennessy trophy and €1,500. Winners drawn from published stories in The Irish Times on the last Saturday of each month.

The Worldwide Flash Fiction Competition. Entries must be 500 words max. Prize: First prize is £100.00 ($122.50) paid through Paypal.

Getting Sexy with Food. Entries must be 500 words or less. No profanity, vulgarity, or actual sex. Prize: $50. Enter from the 1st to the 20th of each month.

Zero Flash. Flash fiction contest, 300 words max. Enter from the 1st to the last day of every month. Prize: £10.

Weekly

Life of Writers holds a weekly contest. In order to enter, writers must register. (It’s free.) Writers must also agree to reply to comments. Prize: (Nominal ?)

Poetry Nook offers a free weekly contest. Prize: $100, with $10 for honorable mentions. You must register to enter, but registration is free. (Thanks to John Reinhart for this tip.)

Open

Camera Obscura awards a $1000 prize to the writer of a story selected for publication in each issue as determined by the editors. There is no fee for this award. All stories are eligible.

JANUARY 2017

Tony Hillerman Prize. Sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. Genre: Debut mystery novel set in Southwest. Prize: $10,000 advance against royalties and publication, Deadline: January 2, 2017. Read guidelines HERE.

Christopher Doheny Award. The award recognizes excellence in fiction or creative nonfiction on the topic of serious physical illness. The award is presented annually for a completed manuscript that has not yet been published. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 2, 2017.

Nuff Said Publishing’s annual Speculative Writing Contest to Promote Diversity (SWCPD)Restrictions: The contest is open to United States residents. Genre: Speculative fiction less than 10,000 words. Prize: $100 and publication in anthology. Deadline: January 3rd, 2017.

Texas Institute of Letters Literary AwardsRestrictions: Entrants must have resided in Texas for at least 2 consecutive years, or have been born in Texas. Genre: Book (published). 11 different categories. Prize: $6,000. Deadline: January 3, 2017.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. Restrictions: The contest is open to United States high school students in grades nine through twelve attending public, private, parochial, or home schools; US students under the age of twenty enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program; and US citizens attending schools overseas. Genre: Essay on an act of political courage by a US elected official who served during or after 1956. Prize: The first-place winner receives $10,000 comprised of a $5,000 cash award and $5,000 from John Hancock. The second-place winner receives $1,000. Up to five finalists receive $500 each. Deadline: January 4, 2017.

Stop the Hate: Youth Speak Out Essay Contest Grades. Stop the Hate® is designed to create an appreciation and understanding among people of differing religions, races, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. Genre: Essay, 500 words. Restrictions: Northeast Ohio 6-12th Graders. Prize: $40,000. Deadline: January 6, 2017 for Grades 6-10, January 20, 2017 for Grades 11-12.

Japan Center-Canon Essay Competition. The aim of the Japan Center Essay Competition is to promote awareness and understanding of Japan in the United States and to help young Americans broaden their international horizons. Genre: Essay. Contestants should write, in English, one or more aspects of Japan including art, culture, tradition, values, philosophy, history, society, politics, business, and technology in relation to their personal views, experiences, and/or future goals.  (Contestants do not need to have any experience in visiting Japan or studying Japanese. Prize: Best Essay Award in the High School Division: 1st Place: $3,000 and a Canon camera, 2nd Place: $1,500 and a Canon camera, 3rd Place: $750 and a Canon camera; Best Essay Award in the College Division: $3,000 and a Canon camera; Uchida Memorial Award: $1,000 and a Canon camera; Merit Award: $200 (each) for up to five awards. Deadline: January 8, 2017.

New York Times “Win a Trip with Nick Kristof” ContestGenre: Essay (700 words max) on why you should win this prize. Prize: A reporting trip in the developing world with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Restriction: Open to US college and graduate school students. Deadline: January 8, 2017.

The Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award introduces emerging writers to the New York City literary community. The prestigious award aims to provide promising writers a network for professional advancement. Since Poets & Writers began the Writers Exchange in 1984, 85 writers from 33 states and the District of Columbia have been selected to participate. Restrictions: Open to Maine residents. Genre: Poetry and Fiction. Prize: A $500 honorarium; A trip to New York City to meet with editors, agents, publishers, and other writers. All related travel/lodgings expenses and a per diem stipend are covered by Poets & Writers. Winners will also give a public reading of their work; and One-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming. Deadline: January 9, 2017. For guidelines click HERE.

Moving Words Poetry ContestRestrictions: People who live within the DC Metro transit area (the Northern Virginia counties Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun and the cities Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church; the District of Columbia; and the Maryland counties Montgomery and Prince George’s) and who are over 18. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $250 honorarium. Deadline: January 12, 2017.

Orwell PrizeGenre: Political writing published between 1st January and 31st January 2016. All entries must have a clear British link. Fiction and non-fiction. Prize: £3,000.00. Deadline: January 12, 2017. (Their website is impossible to figure out, which is ironic.)

The Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers was established in 2005 to honor the memory of Ellen Meloy. The Fund provides support to writers whose work reflects the spirit and passions embodied in Ellen’s writing and her commitment to a “deep map of place.” Ellen’s own map-in-progress was of the desert country she called home. Genre: Only literary or creative nonfiction proposals will be considered. No fiction or poetry proposals will be reviewed. Prize: $3,000. Deadline: January 15, 2017.

French-American Foundation Translation PrizesGenre: Book – best English translation of French in both fiction and non-fiction. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 15, 2017.

Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet AwardRestrictions: Open to poets who have published no more than two books of children’s poetry. Genre: Children’s poetry (for children and young adults up to grade 12). A book-length single poem may be submitted. The award is for published works only. Poetry in any language may be submitted; non-English poetry must be accompanied by an English translation. Poetry copyrighted from 2016 to 2018 may be submitted. Prize: $500. Deadline: January 15, 2017.

The Mogford Prize for Food And Drink WritingGenre: Short story which specifically includes the subjects of food and/or drink within the plot. 2500 words. Prize:£7,500 to be awarded during the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival in April 2016. Deadline: January 15, 2017.

Women Artists DatebookRestrictions: Women. Genre: 4 poems. Peace and Justice. Prize: $70. Deadline: January 15, 2017. See more details HERE.

VCU Cabell First Novelist AwardGenre: First novel published July–December 2016. No self-published books. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: January 14, 2017.

Posen Society of Fellows AwardsGenre: Jewish-themed dissertation. Prize: $40,000 fellowship. Deadline: January 15, 2017.

Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry AwardGenre: Poem, 3-10 pages long, that demonstrates a “truly inventive spirit.” Prize: $500. Deadline: January 15, 2017.

Bethesda Literary Festival Essay and Short Story Contest. The Bethesda Urban Partnership & Bethesda Magazine have partnered to honor local writers at the Bethesda Literary Festival held April. Genres: Essays and short stories. Restrictions: Residents of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are eligible. Prizes: First Place: $500 and published in Bethesda Magazine. Second Place: $250. Third Place: $150. Honorable Mention: $75. Deadline: January 20, 2017. For more details click HERE.

James White AwardRestrictions: Non-professional authors from anywhere in the world. Genre: Previously unpublished science fiction stories of 6000 words or less, but the stories must be written in English. Prize: £200 plus publication in Interzone. Deadline: January 20, 2017.

IGGY/Litro Young Writers’ PrizeRestrictions: Open to 13–18 year olds. Genre: Short story. The theme is Memory. Prize: £1,000 and publication. Deadline: January 20, 2017. Read submission guidelines HERE.

Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay PrizeRestrictions: Open to authors aged 18-35. Genre: Scholarly or journalistic essay on a topic of your choice. 3,500 words max. Prize: £1,000, e-publication with Bodley Head, a mentoring session with the Financial Times/Bodley Head editorial staff, a subscription to FT.com, and a selection of books from Bodley Head. Deadline: January 29, 2017.

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest. “The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America.” Genre: previously unpublished work of short fiction. Prize: $100.00. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

College Undergraduate Poetry and Florence Kahn Memorial AwardRestrictions: Undergraduates working toward a degree in an accredited U.S. college or university. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize. The annual Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize is awarded each spring to honor an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the USA the previous year.  Genre: Published fiction or non-fiction, may include: novels, novellas, short stories, plays, poetry, biographies, essays and correspondence. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

14th Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Awards. Restrictions: Only undergraduates currently enrolled in accredited United States medical schools are eligible. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000 top prize. Deadline: January 31, 2017. Note: Winners do not retain copyright.

The Danuta Gleed Literary Award for best first collection of short fiction in the English language was initiated by John Gleed in honour of his late wife to promote and celebrate the genre of short fiction, which she loved. Restrictions: Canadian residents only. Prize: A $10,000 prize will be awarded for the best first collection of published short fiction in the English language. Two finalist will also be awarded $500 each. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

Imagine Little Tokyo. Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) seeks fictional short stories in Japanese or English for its second annual “Imagine Little Tokyo” writing contest. The setting of the story should be in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA– either past, present or future. Prize: $600. The winner of the youth division (18 or younger) will receive $400. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

Caine Prize for African WritingRestrictions: Open to writers born in Africa, or nationals of an African country, or with a parent who is African by birth or nationality, Genre: Short fiction (published). Prize: £10,000. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

Nelson Algren Literary Awards is a short story contest sponsored by the Chicago Tribune. This contest is open to residents of the United States. All entries must be: fiction, less than 8,000 words, double spaced, written in English. Prize: One grand prize winner will receive $3,500. Four finalists will each receive $1,000. Five runners-up will each receive $500. Total value of all prizes: $10,000. Deadline: Closing date January 31, 2017.

Walter Rumsey Marvin GrantRestrictions: Open to authors under 30 years of age who have not had a book published. Applicant must have been born in Ohio or have lived in Ohio for a minimum of five years. Genre: Short fiction and creative non-fiction. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

Words and BrushesGenre: Fiction inspired by artwork. Prize: $300 top prize. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

El Chapo Review Essay Contest 2017Genre: Creative non-fiction. Prize: $500 top prize. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

Outlet Publishing Young Writers’ Short Story CompetitionRestrictions: Open to ages 16-25, UK residents only.  Genre: Short story. Prize: £150 top prize. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

FEBRUARY 2017

Thirdspace Short Fiction ContestGenre: Short fiction stories that center on experience(s) of medical education. Prize: First prize: $350 and publication in Thirdspace. Deadline: February 1, 2017.

United States/Japan Creative Artists Residencies. This is a 3-5 month residency in Japan. Grant: $24,000. Deadline: February 1, 2017.

The John Gardner Fiction Award is sponsored by the Binghamton Center for Writers-State University of New York with support from the Office of the Dean of Binghamton University’s Harpur College of the Arts & Sciences. Genre: Novel or collection of fiction published in 2016. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: February 1, 2017. How to enter: Read submission guidelines HERE.

Wednesday Club Junior Poetry ContestRestrictions: High School Students in grades 10 through 12 in High Schools in St. Louis and the St. Louis area. Genre: Poetry. Two individual poems. Prizes: $100, $80, $60, $40, $20, $10 for all honorable mentions. Deadline: February 1, 2017.

Hektoen Grand Prix Essay CompetitionGenre: Essay. Length: 1600 words max. Prizes: Military Prize—on a medical topic related to wars and veterans, $1500. General Prize—Physicians of Note, and Famous Hospitals, $1500. Deadline: February 1, 2017.

Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award is sponsored by the Binghamton Center for Writers-State University of New York with support from the Office of the Dean of Binghamton University’s Harpur College of the Arts & Sciences. Genre: Poetry book in English published in 2016. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: February 1, 2017. How to enter: Read submission guidelines HERE.

Wednesday Club Poetry PrizeRestrictions: Adults over 18; living within a 50-mile radius of St. LouisGenre: Poetry. Two individual poems. Prizes: $500, $300, $150. Deadline: February 1, 2017.

Paterson Fiction PrizeGenre: Published novel or collection of short fiction.  Prize: $1,000.  Deadline: February 1, 2017. More details are HERE.

Allen Ginsberg Poetry AwardsGenre: Poetry, up to five poems per person. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: February 1, 2017. 

Paterson Prize for Books for Young PeopleGenre: Most outstanding book for young people published in 2016. There is a $500 award in each category: Pre-K – Grade 3;  Grades 4 – 6;  Grades 7 – 12. Prize: $500. Deadline: February 1, 2017. 

Gannon University Poetry ContestRestrictions: Entrants must be a US high school student or a home-schooled student in grades nine through twelve.Genre: Poetry. Each student may enter 1 or 2 poems; each poem may be no longer than 50 lines. Prize: First Place: $100.00 Second Place: $75.00 Third Place: $50.00. Deadline: February 1, 2017.

Janet Heidinger Kafka PrizeRestrictions: Open to women, US citizens only. Genre: Novel. All entries must be submitted by publishers who wish to have the work of their authors that were published in the year 2015 considered. No self-published works or works from vanity presses will be accepted. Prize: $7,500. Deadline: February 1, 2017.

The Levis Reading Prize is sponsored by the Department of English and its MFA in Creative Writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Restrictions: The prize is given annually for the best first or second book of poetry published in the previous calendar year. Genre: Poetry.  Prize: $5000.  Deadline: February 1, 2017.

The Jim Baen Memorial Short Story AwardGenre: Short story of no more than 8,000 words that shows the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration. Prize: Publication as the featured story on the Baen Books main website paid at the normal paying rates for professional story submissions. Deadline: February 1, 2017.

$1000 for 1000 Words Creative Writing Contest is sponsored by the Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation. Restrictions: Students enrolled in grades 6-12. Genre: Short fiction of exactly 1000 words. Prize: Two $1,000 scholarship prizes will be awarded, one for grades 6-8 and one for grades 9-12. Seven $100 cash prizes will also be awarded for winning entries, one per grade level. Deadline: February 1, 2017. How to enter: Read submission guidelines HERE.

Paterson Poetry PrizeGenre: Poetry. Book of poems, 48 pages or more in length, published in 2016. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: February 1, 2017.

‘Philosophy Through Fiction’ Short Story CompetitionGenre: Speculative fiction short story. The aim of this competition is to encourage philosophers to use fiction to explore philosophical ideas, thereby broadening our scope and toolkit. Prize: $500 top prize and publication. Deadline: February 1, 2017. Questions/submissions: [email protected]

Central PA Writing ContestRestrictions: Open to legal residents of Pennsylvania who are at least 18 years old. Genre: Short fiction, 1500 words max. Original, unpublished, work of fiction only; no poetry or nonfiction. Prize: $500, runner-up $200. Deadline: February 3, 2017.

Charles Crupi Memorial Poetry ContestRestrictions: Open to high school students in Michigan. Genre: Poetry. Prize: 1st place – $250 and publication in The Albion Review, 2nd place – $150 and publication in The Albion Review; 3rd place – $100 and publication in The Albion Review. Deadline: February 4, 2017.

White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails Prize in Southern PoetryRestrictions: Open to all poets who currently reside in and have had residency in one of the following states for a minimum of 12 consecutive months: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia. Genre: Poetry. “WOKC invites poets from across the South to explore the depths of nature this Valentine’s Day.” Prize: $1,500. Deadline: February 5, 2017.

Bethesda Literary Festival Essay and Short Story Contest. The Bethesda Urban Partnership & Bethesda Magazine have partnered to honor local writers at the Bethesda Literary Festival. Genres: Essays and poetry. Adult and high school student categories. Restrictions: Residents of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are eligible. Prizes: First Place: $500 and published in Bethesda Magazine. Second Place: $250. Third Place: $150. Honorable Mention: $75. Deadline: February 10, 2017. For more details click HERE.

Library of Virginia Literary AwardsRestrictions: Open to writers who were born in or are residents of Virginia or, in the case of nonfiction, books with a Virginia theme, are eligible. Genre: Books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction published in the previous year. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: February 10, 2017.

AP 2017 New Year Writing ContestGenres: Fiction/Poetry/Art: Max 5000 words for Anthology “Rules of Life.” No non-fiction. Prize: FIRST PRIZE: $200 CASH plus 2017 WRITER’S MARKET (print) plus publication and 2 copies of published anthology. SECOND PRIZE: $100 CASH plus publication and 2 copies of published anthology. THIRD PRIZE: $50 CASH plus publication and 2 copies of published anthology. OTHER PRIZES: $10 CASH plus 2 copies of published anthology for other submissions that have been chosen for publication. Deadline: February 10, 2017.

Federation of BC Writers Literary Writes AwardsGenres: Short fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and writing for children. Prize: $100 top prize per category. Deadline: February 12, 2017.

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Short Story CompetitionGenre: Short story. All entries must be original unpublished prose of 2,000 words or fewer. Prize: £500 and publication. Deadline: February 13, 2017.

Harold Morton Landon Translation AwardGenre: Poetry collection translated from any language into English and published in the previous calendar year. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: February 15, 2017.

The Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry is an annual regional prize, presented in partnership by Milkweed Editions and the Lindquist & Vennum Foundation. Restrictions: Open to residents of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $10,000 as well as a contract for publication to the author of the winning manuscript. Deadline: February 15, 2017.

New York City Emerging Writers FellowshipRestrictions: “Applicants must be current residents of one of the five boroughs, and must remain in New York City for the entire year of the fellowship. Students in degree-granting programs are not eligible to apply, even if the focus of study is not directly related to writing. This program supports emerging writers whose work shows promise of excellence. Applicants can be of any age, but must be in the early stages of their careers as fiction writers and will not have had the support needed to achieve major recognition for their work. We define “emerging writer” as someone who has not yet had a novel or short story collection published by either a major or independent publisher and who is also not currently under contract to a publisher for a work of fiction. Eligible applicants may have had stories or novel excerpts published in magazines, literary journals or online, but this is not a requirement.” Genre: Fiction. Grant: $5,000. Deadline: February 15, 2017.

New England Youth Outdoor Writing ContestRestrictions: The contest is open to students in New England. Submissions from students in grades 6-8 will be entered in the Junior Division; grades 9-12 will be entered in the Senior Division. Genre: Prose or poem, The topic must be outdoor-oriented (fishing, hunting, boating, canoeing, hiking, camping, nature, ecology, etc.). 500 words max. Prize: $125, $150. Deadline: February 15, 2017.

Raiziss/de Palchi Translation AwardGenre: Poetry – translation into English of a significant work of modern Italian poetry. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: February 15, 2017.

Scotiabank Giller PrizeRestrictions: Open to books published in Canada in English. Books must be published in Canada in English between October 1, 2016 and February 28, 2017 to be eligible for the 2017 Prize. Must  be nominated by publisher. Genre: Fiction. Full-length novel or collection of short stories published in English, either originally, or in translation. Prize: $100,000 to the winner and $10,000 to each of the finalists. Deadline: February 15, 2017.

Al Smith Individual Artist FellowshipsRestrictions: Open to Kentucky poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Genre: Literary arts. Prize: $7,500. Deadline: February 15, 2017.

Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards for Excellence in Published Haiku, Translation, and CriticismGenre: Published book. Books must have been published in 2016 and must clearly contain a printed 2016 copyright. A member, author, or publisher may submit or nominate more than one title. At least 50 percent of the book must be haiku, senryu, or haibun, or prose about these subjects (books mostly of tanka, for example, are not eligible). Prize: $500. Deadline: February 15, 2017.

Black Caucus of the American Library Association Self-Published E-Book Literary AwardRestrictions: Open to African-Americans. Genre: Self-Published E-Book in fiction and poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: February 17, 2017.

Wiley-Silver Prize in Civil War HistoryGenre: First book or monograph in Civil War history published in the previous year. Books or monographs published by scholarly or popular presses are eligible. Prize: $2,000. Deadline: February 17, 2017.

Christopher Tower Poetry CompetitionRestrictions: Open to UK students between 16-18 years of age. Genre: Poetry, one poem, maximum 48 lines. Theme is “wonder.” Prize: £3,000. Deadline: February 17, 2017.

Lex Allen Literary Festival PrizesRestrictions: Open to undergraduate college students. Genres: Poetry and fiction. Prize: $100. Deadline: February 21, 2017.

The Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award supports the work of a promising early-career nonfiction writer on a story that uncovers truths about the human condition. Genres: Nonfiction journalism works in progress with “strong, character-driven narratives with detailed scene writing and lyrical description.” Restrictions: The award will not fund proposals to report on armed conflicts where journalists are already imperiled, nor projects that are mainly investigatory. Prize: $12,500 grant and use of the NYU library. Deadline: February 21, 2017.

“It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story ContestRestrictions: Open to Grades 6-12. Genre: Short story, and flash fiction, unpublished. Prize: 1st Place $250, 2nd Place $150, 3rd Place $100. Deadline: February 24, 2017.

The Lakefly Writers ConferenceRestrictions: Open to residents of Wisconsin. GenresShort story fiction:  1500 words or less. Any genre. Theme: Wisconsin Choices. Flash fiction:  500 words or less. Any genre. No theme. Poetry:  All poems, free verse to formal and everything in between—75 lines max. Theme: Wisconsin Choices. The Jean Nelson Essay for Young Adults: For young adult writers (ages 12 through 17). 2500 words or less. Theme: Notable Wisconsin figure (living or dead) who most inspires me. Prize: First place winners will receive a cash prize of $100; second place winners will receive $75; and third place winners will receive $50. Winners must be able to attend an awards ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday, May 13, 2016 at the Oshkosh Public Library. Deadline: February 27, 2017.

Emily Dickinson First Book AwardRestrictions: Open to any American citizen forty years of age or over who has not previously published a book-length volume of poetry. Genre: Poetry collection. Prize: In addition to publication and promotion of the manuscript by Graywolf Press, the winner will receive a prize of $10,000. Deadline: February 27, 2017.

Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant WritingRestrictions: Open to first-generation residents of the United States. “First-generation” can refer either to people born in another country who relocated to the U.S., or to American-born residents whose parents were born elsewhere. Genre: Unpublished fiction and nonfiction books. Prize: $10,000 and publication. Deadline: February 28, 2017. Read details HERE.

Outlet Publishing Young Writers’ Short Story CompetitionRestrictions: Open to ages 16-25, UK residents only.  Genre: Short story. Prize: £150 top prize. Deadline: February 28, 2017.

The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multi-Lingual TextsGenre: Literary translations and multi-lingual texts. Prize: $200. Deadline: February 28, 2017. How to enter: Read submission guidelines HERE.

Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative NonfictionGenre: Essay, maximum 5,000 words. Prize: $250 top prize. Deadline: February 28, 2017.

Poetry Matters Literary PrizesRestrictions: Several categories, from middle-school to senior citizens. Genre: Poetry. Prize: 1st prize- $75; 2nd prize- $50; 3rd prize-$35; Honorable Mention- $25. Deadline: February 28, 2017.

SLF Working Class Writers Grant is sponsored by the Speculative Literature Foundation. Genres: Speculative fiction, magical realism. Restrictions: Applicants must be working class (see guidelines page for definition) and demonstrate financial hardship. Available to international writers. Prize: $750. Deadline: February 28, 2017.

MARCH 2017

Balticon Poetry Contest. Sponsored by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Genre: Speculative poetry. Prize: 1st prize: $100; 2nd prize: $75; 3rd prize: $50. Deadline: March 1, 2017. How to enter: Read submission guidelines HERE.

Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest for High School StudentsRestrictions: High school students living within 100 miles of St. Louis. Genre: Poetry. Prize: First prize $200, Second prize $125, Third prize $75. Deadline: March 1, 2017.

Madeline P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency PrizeRestrictions: Open to an emerging poet under forty years old—with no major book publication. Genre: Poetry – manuscript in progress. Prize: Stipend of $10,000 with a housing suite and campus meals provided by the College, and three weeks in residence on the Lake Forest College campus during the Spring 2017 term. Possible publication. Deadline: March 1, 2017.

The Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award is sponsored by Broadside Lotus Press. Restrictions: This competition is open to African American poets only. If you have already had a book published by Lotus Press, you are ineligible. However, inclusion in a Lotus Press anthology does not disqualify you. Genres: Poetry collections of approximately 60-90 pages. Prize: $500 in cash and publication  by Broadside Lotus Press within the first three months of 2017 as well as free copies and discounts. Deadline: March 1, 2017.

Natan Book AwardGenre: Nonfiction. The book should address one or more of Natan’s grant areas. Broadly understood, these are: the reinvention of Jewish life and community for the 21st century; changing notions of individual and collective identity for 21st century Jews; and the evolving relationship between Israel and world Jewry. The award is open to non-fiction books that have an existing publishing contract with a recognized commercial publisher. (Academic publishers are also acceptable in certain cases where the book is intended to appeal to mainstream audiences.) Prize: The Award is a two-stage award, offering at most a total of $25,000, to be divided as follows: a cash award to the author of $10,000, to be used during the writing process; and customized support for the marketing and publicity strategy for the book, up to $15,000. This is a pre-publication award and the prize winner will be announced prior to the book’s publication date. Deadline: March 1, 2017.

New Welsh Writing AwardsRestrictions: Open to all residents of the UK and Ireland, plus those who have been educated in Wales for at least six months; the Novella Prize is also open to writers based in the US and Canada. Genres: Novella and memoir. Works may be a single, long-form piece or a book divided or structured as the author sees fit. No simultaneous submissions. Deadline: March 1, 2017.

William Foster-Harris Prizes for Young WritersRestrictions: High school and undergraduate students currently enrolled in US schools. Prizes: Two $500 prizes for short stories by high school students (maximum 1,000 words) and undergraduate students (maximum 2,000 words). Deadline: March 1, 2017.

The Ungar German Translation Award is bestowed biennially in odd-numbered years. Genre: Book-length literary translation translated from German into English and published in the United States between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016. Prize: $1,000, a certificate of recognition, and up to $500 toward expenses for attending the ATA Annual Conference in San Francisco, California. Deadline: March 2, 2017.

The Premises: SPACES. Write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story in which the idea of “space” plays an important role. You may interpret “space” any way you want, as long as your readers can figure out how you’re using it.. Genre: Short story. Length: Between 1,000 and 5,000 words. Prize: Between US$60 and US$220, and publication. Deadline: 11:59 PM Eastern US time, March 2, 2017.

Roswell Award for Short Science FictionGenre: Science fiction, 1500 words max. Prize: $500. Finalists have their stories read by celebrities in Hollywood. Deadline: March 3, 2017.

The Irish Post’s Creative Writing CompetitionRestrictions: Open to Irish residents of UK. Genre: Poetry, fiction on an Irish theme. 1000 words max. Prizes: €500, publication in the Irish Post, and a trip to the Listowel Writers’ Week in Co. Kerry. Deadline: March 3, 2017.

Austin Chronicle Short Story ContestGenre: Short story(2500 words max). Prize: $1,500 to be divided among the five winners. Manuscript to be published in The Austin Chronicle in June 2017. Deadline: March 3, 2017.

Thresholds International Feature Writing CompetitionGenre: Nonfiction feature in one of two categories: Author Profile: exploring the life, writings and influence of a single short story writer. We Recommend: personal recommendations of a collection, anthology, group of short stories or a single short story. Prize: 1st prize of £500, runner-up prize of £100 Deadline: March 5, 2017.

RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging WritersGenre: Short fiction. Restrictions: Candidates must be: A Canadian citizen or permanent resident; Under the age of 35 as of March 6, 2017; Previously published in an independently edited magazine or anthology; Unpublished in book form and without a book contract. Prizes: Winner: $5,000; Finalists: $1,000. Deadline: March 6, 2017.

BBC National Short Story Award 2017Restrictions: Open to UK residents or nationals, aged 18 or over, who have a history of publication in creative writing. Genre: Short fiction. Prize: £15,000 to the winner, £3,000 for the runner-up and £500 for three further shortlisted writers. Deadline: March 6, 2017.

NEA Literature Fellowships are sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Prize: $25,000 grants in prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) and poetry to published creative writers that enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement. Deadline: March 8, 2017.

Nantucket Directory Poetry Contest.  Genre: poem about Nantucket Island. Prize: $250 and publication in the print and online editions of the 2016-2017 Nantucket Directory. Deadline: March 10, 2017.

North Carolina Poetry ContestRestrictions: Open to residents of North Carolina (including students). Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: March 13, 2017.

Jo-Anne Hirshfield Memorial Poetry AwardsRestrictions: Open to all adult and high school age Chicago area poets. There is also an elementary and middle school category open to Evanston elementary and middle school students. Genre: Poetry. Prize: First Place: $100; Second Place: $50; Third Place: $25. Deadline: March 13, 2017.

Online Writing Tips Short Fiction PrizeGenre: Short story of 2000-5000 words. Prize: £150Deadline: March 15, 2017. How to enter: Read submission guidelines HERE.

Limnisa Short Story CompetitionGenre: Short story under 3,000 words. Prize: One-week, all-inclusive writers’ retreat or workshop in 2017 or 2018 in Limnisa, Greece and online publication, or five online personal tutoring sessions instead. Deadline: March 15, 2017.

Prospero PrizesGenre: Poems of philosophical and imaginative heft, haft, and polish. Prize: $150 and feature publication in their digital magazines. Deadline: March 15, 2017.

The Critical Junior Poet’s AwardRestrictions: Open to students between the ages of 13 and 18. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $100. Deadline: March 15, 2017.

Hodson Trust–John Carter Brown Library FellowshipGenre: Nonfiction (includes creative nonfiction). A book-in-process  relating to the literature, history, culture, or art of the Americas before 1830. Award: $20,000. Deadline: March 15, 2017.

Governor General’s Literary Awards. Restrictions: Books must have been written or translated by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. They do not need to be residing in Canada. Genre: The Governor General’s Literary Awards are given annually to the best English-language and the best French-language book in each of the seven categories of Fiction, Literary Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Young People’s Literature (Text), Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books) and Translation (from French to English). Prize: $25,000. Deadline: March 15, 2017.

Iris N. Spencer Undergraduate Poetry AwardRestrictions: Open to undergraduate poets who are enrolled in a United States college or university. Genre: Poetry composed in the traditional modes of meter, rhyme and received forms. Prize: First prize $1,500, and a runner-up prize $500. Deadline: March 15, 2017.

Myong Cha Son Haiku AwardRestrictions: Open to undergraduate poets who are enrolled in a United States college or university. Genre: Haiku. Prize: First prize $1,500, and a runner-up prize $500. Deadline: March 15, 2017.

Rhina P. Espaillat Poetry AwardRestrictions: Open to undergraduate poets who are enrolled in a United States college or university. Genre: Original poems written in Spanish and translations of English poems to Spanish. Prize: First prize $1,500, and a runner-up prize $500. Deadline: March 15, 2017.

Lynn DeCaro Poetry ContestRestrictions: Open to Connecticut Student Poets in Grades 9-12. Genre: Poetry. Prize: 1st $75, 2nd $50, 3rd $25. Deadline: March 15, 2017.

Binnacle Ultra-Short CompetitionGenre: Short story of 150 words as well as poetry of sixteen lines or fewer and 150 words or fewer. All works should have a narrative element to them. Prize: A minimum of $300 in cash prizes will be awarded, with a minimum prize of $50. Deadline: March 15, 2017.

ESME (Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere) ContestRestrictions: Open to current or former single mothers. Genres: Poetry, fiction, memoir, essay, blog post. Prize: First ($500), second ($350) and third ($150). Deadline: March 15, 2017.

The Tomorrow PrizeRestrictions: Open to high school students in Los Angeles. Genre: Science fiction, 1500 words max. Prize: $250. Deadline: March 17, 2017.

Sunken Garden Poetry Festival’s Fresh Voices CompetitionRestrictions: New England high school students. Prize: Reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 and publication. Deadline: March 17, 2017.

Jane Martin Poetry Prize (UK)Restrictions: Open to  UK residents between 18 and 30 years of age. Genre: Poetry. Prize: £700, second prize, £300. Deadline: March 17, 2017.

The Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award seeks to elevate the written arts in Indiana. Restrictions: Any living published writer who was born in Indiana or has lived in Indiana for at least five years will be eligible. Authors who have published works of fiction, prose, poetry and/or non-fiction are eligible; reference works, scholarly monographs and books of photography will not be considered. Self-published authors are considered. Prize: National Author: $10,000 cash prize and $2,500 grant for his or her hometown Indiana public library. Regional Author: $7,500 cash prize and $2,500 grant for his or her hometown Indiana public library. Emerging Author: $5,000 cash prize and $2,500 grant for his or her hometown Indiana public library. Deadline: March 17, 2017.

Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia PoetsRestrictions: Open to Virginia poets. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: March 17, 2017.

Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition for High School StudentsRestrictions: Open to students in Grades 7-12. Genre: Haiku. Prizes: $50. Deadline: March 25, 2017.

Southern Pacific Review Short Story Contest 2016. Located in Chile. Genre: They are not sure what they want, but they’ll know it when they see it. Length: 1600 words max. Prizes: $100 USD and publication in Southern Pacific Review. Deadline: March 30, 2017.

EIR Longform Lyric Essay AwardGenre: 2000 to 10,000 words of a longform lyric essay only. No personal essays, generic creative nonfiction, etc. Prize: $250 top prize.  Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Striking 13Genre: Flash fiction on theme of “Journeys.” Prize: Three Amazon voucher prizes, for the top 3 entries ($25, $15, $10). Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Archibald Lamp­man AwardRestrictionsOpen to residents of Canada’s National Capital region (Ottawa). Genre: Book of any genre published by a recognized publisher. Prize: $1500. Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Foley Poetry ContestGenre: One unpublished poem on any topic. The poem should be 30 lines or fewer and not under consideration elsewhere. Prize: $1000. Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Loft Literary Center Minnesota Emerging Writers’ Grants. Grants of up to $8,000 each are given annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers who have lived in the state of Minnesota for at least one year. Writers who have published no more than two books in any genre are eligible to apply. Submit 15 to 20 pages of poetry or 20 to 30 pages of prose, an artist proposal, a brief bio, a preliminary budget, and a résumé. Deadline: March 31, 2017.

The Gover Story PrizeGenre: Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction. Works of short prose must be less than 10,000 words, previously unpublished, or published with a circulation of less than 500. Prize: $250.00. Deadline: March 31, 2017. No reprints or simultaneous submissions.

The Willie Morris Award for Southern FictionGenre: Novel published in 2016 (50,000 words minimum). Book has to be set in one of the original eleven states in the Confederacy. (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.) Prize: $2,500.00, and an expense paid trip to New York City. (The winner must come to NY to receive the award, attend a luncheon with the contest judges and a reception in his/her honor.) Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Speculative Literature Foundation Older Writers GrantRestrictions: Open to writers who are fifty years of age or older at the time of grant application. Genre: Speculative fiction. Prize: $500. Deadline: March 31, 2017.

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future ContestRestrictions: open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Genres: Science fiction, fantasy and dark fantasy up to 17,000 words. Prizes: Three cash prizes in each quarter: a First Prize of $1,000, a Second Prize of $750, and a Third Prize of $500, in US dollars. In addition, at the end of the year the winners will have their entries rejudged, and a Grand Prize winner shall be determined and receive an additional $5,000. Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ ContestsRestrictions: Open to writers between14 and 18 years of age as of May 29 in the contest year who reside in, or attend school in Maryland. Genre: Science fiction or fantasy, 2,500 words max. Prizes: $150, $100 and $75. Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Gary Fincke Creative Writing PrizeRestrictions: Open to undergraduates. Genre: Poetry and prose. Prize: $100. Deadline: March 31, 2017. 

Spank the Carp – ‘Up Jumped Spring’ Genre: Poetry. What does Spring mean to you? Why would it Jump Up? Can’t it just sit still? You tell us! Prize: A coffee mug! (And publication) Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary TranslationGenre: Poetry or literary prose. Translation of modern Arabic literature into English. Books must have been published between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 and be available for purchase in the UK via a distributor or online. The source text must have been published in the original Arabic in or after 1967. Must be submitted by publisher. Prize: £3,000. Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Sarah Mook Poetry Prize for StudentsRestrictions: Students in grades K-12. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $100. Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Loft Literary Center: Minnesota Emerging Writers’ GrantsRestrictions: Open to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers who have lived in the state of Minnesota for at least one year. Writers who have published no more than two books in any genre are eligible to apply. Grant: $8,000 Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Fall Lines: Saluda River Prize for Poetry / Broad River Prize for ProseGenres: Poetry, flash fiction, essays, short fiction. Prizes: Two $250 cash prizes, and publication. Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Betsy Colquitt Award for Poetry/Frank O’Connor Award for Short FictionGenres: Short stories and poetry. Prize: $500 Frank O’Connor Award for fiction. $500 Betsy Colquitt Award for poetry. Deadline: March 31, 2017. 

Shenandoah Literary Review

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APRIL 2017

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Now in its 16th year, this contest seeks today’s best humor poems, published and unpublished. Please enter one poem only, 250 lines max. Prize: $2,250 in prizes, including a top prize of $1,000, and publication on Winning Writers. Deadline: April 1, 2017. Submission form HERE.

Bill Hallberg Award in Creative Writing. Restrictions: Open to undergraduate students at colleges and universities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. Genre: Single poem. Prize: $150. Deadline: April 1, 2017. Submit poem to Christy Hallberg as [email protected]

The Scythe PrizeRestrictions: Open to college students. Genre: Short stories, creative nonfiction. Prize: $200. Deadline: April 1, 2017. Submission guidelines are HERE.

The Penny Fiction Flash Fiction CompetitionGenre: Flash fiction stories told in exactly 15 words. Prize: $25 and publication. Deadline: April 1, 2017. How to enter: Read submission guidelines HERE (scroll down).

Bop Dead CityGenres: Prose, poetry. Prize: $20. Deadline: April 1, 2017. More details are HERE.

Graphix Publication ContestRestrictions: US residents only. Genre: Graphic novel for children and teens. Prize: Up to five (5) winners will receive an offer to publish their work with Scholastic and a $15,000 advance, with $5,000. Deadline: April 1, 2017.

Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-FictionRestrictions: The writer must be Canadian, and an entry must be the writer’s first or second published book of any type or genre and must have a Canadian locale and/or significance. Genre: Print books and ebooks of creative non-fiction published in the previous calendar year. Prize: C$10,000.00. Deadline: April 1, 2017.

The Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers. Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians awards fellowships for writers to spend time in McCullers’ childhood home in Columbus, Georgia. The fellowships are intended to afford the writers in residence uninterrupted time to dedicate to their work, free from the distractions of daily life and other professional responsibilities. Award: Stipend of $5000 to cover costs of transportation, food and other incidentals. Fellowship recipients will be required to introduce or advance their work through reading or workshop/forum presentations. The Fellow will work with the McCullers Center Director to plan a presentation near the end of the residency. Deadline: April 1, 2017. 

The Great American Think-OffGenre: Essay on the theme: “Has the 2016 election changed our perception of truth?” Entrants should take a strong stand agreeing or disagreeing with this topic, basing their arguments on personal experience and observations rather than philosophical abstraction. Essay should be no more than 750 words. Prize: One of four $500 cash prizes. Deadline: April 1, 2017.

Washington State Book AwardsRestrictions: Open to Washington State writers. Genre: Published book, all genres. Prize: $500. Deadline: April 1, 2017. 

The Waterston Desert Writing PrizeGenre: Literary nonfiction, desert theme. Prize: $1,500. Deadline: April 1, 2017.

William Saroyan Writing ContestRestrictions: Open to students in 1st grade through college. Genre: Short story, 2 pages. Prize: $50 – $100. Deadline: April 1, 2017.

B4ME Short Story CompetitionRestrictions: Open to UK & IRELAND residents of black, Asian minority ethnic background, and will need to provide this information in the sign up form. Genre: Short story, unpublished. Prize: £1,000, and the story will be published on the Guardian website. Deadline: April 2, 2017.

Harold U. Ribalow PrizeGenre: Fiction on a Jewish theme, published books onlyPrize: $3,000. Deadline: April 7, 2017. More details are HERE.

Radiating YouGenre: Letter. “Tune out the noise of the world for a few minutes and write the letter that could really inspire others, but more importantly, inspire yourself.” Prize: 1st place $100, 2nd place $75, 3rd place $50. Publication on blog and in a compilation book in 2018. Deadline: April 7, 2017.

The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation PrizeGenre: Book-length translation of Asian poetry into English. Both translators and publishers are invited to submit titles. Book must have been published in previous year. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: April 7, 2017.

American Literary Translators Association Italian Prose in Translation AwardGenre: Translation of a recent work of Italian prose (fiction or literary non-fiction). Both translators and publishers are invited to submit titles. Book must have been published in previous year. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: April 7, 2017.

A Voice for Animals Teen Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to students between the ages of 14-18. Genre: Essays on an animal rights topic.  In the 16-18 year olds category, essays must be 800-1,000 words long and be accompanied by a photograph; in the 14-15 year olds category, essays should be between 1,400-1,500 words. One climate change prize (both age categories compete) will be awarded for an essay on how climate change affects a particular animal species. Prize: $500. Deadline: April 10, 2017.

Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing. “Now in its sixth year, the Prize is a significant literary award for new and emerging writers. The prize is open to both Australian and New Zealand university students, enrolled in either an undergraduate or honours degree. All types of creative writing will be accepted, including short stories, non-fiction narrative and narrative verse.” Prize: $4000.  Deadline: April 12, 2017. 

Wikipedia: Leading Edge and Harold B. Lee Library ContestRestrictions: Wikipedia content creators and article writers. Genre: Improve upon an article within the guidelines to enter. Prizes range from $25-50 for the first four placers, plus various copies of Leading Edge Magazine. Articles improved must involve Utah and the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre in some way (the website gives a few suggested articles). Pages must be improved to at least double their current character count. Prize: $25 – $50. Deadline: April 12, 2017. 

Hiett Prize in the Humanities. The Hiett Prize in the Humanities is an annual award aimed at identifying candidates who are in the early stages of careers devoted to the humanities and whose work shows extraordinary promise and has a significant public component related to contemporary culture.  Restrictions: All applicants must reside in the United States. Prize: $50,000. Deadline: April 14, 2017.

Scotiabank Giller PrizeRestrictions: Open to books published in Canada in English. Books must be published in Canada in English between March 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017 to be eligible for the 2017 Prize. Must  be nominated by publisher. Genre: Fiction. Full-length novel or collection of short stories published in English, either originally, or in translation. Prize: $100,000 to the winner and $10,000 to each of the finalists. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

Galtelli Literary Prize. Genre: Short fiction up to 5000 words that reflects the themes of Canne al Vento, a book by Grazia Deledda (such as identity, class, and religion). Prize: 1st – 5th place, travel and accommodations to Sardinia. grand prize winner, €1000. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

Great Plains Emerging Tribal Writer AwardRestrictions: Open to writers enrolled in a Native American tribe from the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Nebraska who have not published a book of creative writing. Genres: Short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or drama/screenplays. Prize: $500. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

Wick Poetry Center High School Poetry CompetitionRestrictions: Open to Ohio high school seniors. Genre: Poetry. Prize: One-time $1,500 scholarship to Kent State University. Second and third prize winners receive $1,000 and $500 one-time scholarships. Deadline: April 15, 2017.

The Waterman Fund Essay ContestGenre: Essay. “Emerging writers are asked to offer and explore stories of what humans build in wild places, considering the ecological and emotional integrity of wilderness and wildness. From trails and bridges to communities and visitor service facilities, humans have an undeniable impact on the wild places we love, even as we seek to steward these most meaningful landscapes for their own sakes, ourselves and future generations. How do we strike a balance—personally and culturally—between discovering and sustaining the spirit and substance of wilderness and wildness?” Prizes: The winning essayist will be awarded $1500 and publication in Appalachia Journal. The Honorable Mention essay will receive $500. Deadline: April 15, 2017. 

Common Good Books Poetry Contest is sponsored by Common Good Books, proprietor Garrison Keillor. Genre: Poetry. The poem must be a Poem of Experience. Prize: Grand prizes of $1000 each, and four poets will receive $500 for poems of particular meritDeadline: April 15, 2017. 

Enterprise Through Literature Contest for High School StudentsRestrictions: Open to high school students teams (up to four people). Genre: Video and essay. “The theme of this year’s ETL contest is Individual Identity in Utopia and Dystopia. In a utopia/dystopian society, how does the restriction of an individual’s rights impact their role in society and therefore entrepreneurial spirit? Cite examples from both your chosen piece of literature and real world examples. The essay should be between 250 and 500 words and should concisely explain the link between the video and the work of literature.” Prize: $2,000. Deadline: April 17, 2017. 

The Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest is open to 12th grade, undergraduate and graduate students. To be eligible for this contest, you must write an essay of no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words in length, double-spaced, on one of three topics related to Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. Essays are judged on both style and content. The winning essay must demonstrate an outstanding knowledge of the book Atlas ShruggedPrizes: 1st – $10,000, 2nd – $2,000, 3rd – $1,000. Also prizes for finalists, and semi-finalists. Deadline: April 28, 2017. Entry form and details here.

Luminarts Creative Writing Program. The Creative Writing Competition awards five $5,000 grant awards and Luminarts Fellowships across categories of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Open to writers between the ages of 18 and 30 years old at the time of application; be enrolled in, or have graduated from, a degree program; and live within 150 miles of the Union League Club of Chicago. Genre: Poetry or prose, fiction and nonfiction. Prize: $5,000 and publication in Luminarts Review, a literary journal. Deadline: April 28, 2017.

McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns First Novel Prize is awarded to the author of the best first novel published in the previous calendar year. Restrictions: Only American authors publishing in English are eligible. Non-eligible books include short story collections, flash fiction, memoirs, biographies and books published solely in electronic format. Prize: $500. Deadline: April 28, 2017.

Writer’s Center Emerging Writer Fellowship. “We welcome submissions from writers of all genres, backgrounds, and experiences in the following genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Emerging Writer Fellows will be featured at The Writer’s Center as part of a special celebration and reading. Fellows living within a 250-mile radius of the center in Bethesda, MD will receive a $250 honorarium, and all others will receive $500.” Deadline: April 28, 2017.

Toronto Book AwardsGenres: All genres accepted. Restrictions: Submission “must evoke the city itself, that is, contain some clear Toronto content (this may be reflected in the themes, settings, subjects, etc.). Authors do not necessarily have to reside in Toronto. Ebooks, textbooks and self-published works are not eligible. Prize: A total of $15,000 CD will be awarded. Each shortlisted author (usually 4-6) receives C$1,000 and the winning author is awarded the remainder. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry FellowshipsRestrictions: Applicants must reside in the U.S. or be U.S. citizens. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and no older than 31 years of age as of April 30, 2016Genre: Poetry. Prize: $25,800.  Deadline: April 30, 2017.

SA Writer’s College Short Story AwardRestrictions: Open to unpublished writers in South Africa. Genre: Short stories. Prizes: 1st – R 10 000; 2nd – R 5 000; 3rd – R 2 000. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

Lake Superior State University High School Short Story PrizeRestrictions: Open to high school students students residing in the Midwestern United States (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) or Ontario, Canada. Genre: Short realistic fiction. Prize: $500 and publication. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

Wax Poetry and Art Poetry ContestGenre: Poem. (Enter 1 poem for free. There is a charge for additional poems.)  Prize: $120. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

Friends of Falun Gong, Poetry ContestGenre: Poem Submit one or two poems of no more than 50 lines each. Poems must encompass at least one of the following themes: Advocate for Falun Gong practitioner’s fundamental human rights. Expose the crimes against Falun Gong perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party. Share in the beauty, peacefulness and good nature of Falun Gong.Prizes: $500, $250, $100. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Writing CompetitionGenre: Play. Only full-length works (dramas, comedies, musicals, screenplays) will be considered. One entry per author. Scripts must be original. Must be in English. All must concern LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) life and be based on, or directly inspired by, a historical person, culture, work of art, or event. Prize: First Prize, $3,000. Second Prize, $1,500. Honorable Mentions, $500. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

MAY 2017

Crucible: Poetry and Fiction Competition is sponsored by the Barton College Department of English. Genres: Fiction (limited to 8,000 words or less) and poetry (limited to five poems). Restrictions: All work must be original and unpublished. Prizes: $150.00 First Prize. $100.00 Second Prize. Publication in the CrucibleDeadline: May 1, 2017. 

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay ContestRestrictions: Children aged 18 and under. Entrants must reside within a Commonwealth country or territory, or the Gambia, the Maldives, and Zimbabwe. Max word count is 1500 for entrants aged 14-18, and 750 for entrants younger than 14. Prizes are not stated explicitly but “have included certificates, resources for winner’s school, visits to Cambridge University, a trip to London and a week of activities, work experience at international organisations, and having your entry featured in worldwide media.” Genre: Essay. The theme of the contest is “A Commonwealth For Peace.” Deadline: May 1, 2017.

“My Mother, My Hero.” Genre: Essay. “In the world of addiction, it is often the families who help pull a loved one out of the clutches of substance abuse. It’s through their support that many people find healing, and quite often it is a mom (or a mother figure) who is always there in a time of need. Of course, it’s also likely that a mom has been hurt most in watching her child suffer the pain of addiction, which doesn’t just affect the addict, it touches everyone in their life. In 250 words or less, tell us why your mother is your hero.” Prize: $200. Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Alpine Fellowship Genre: Pieces of any genre up to 2500 words on the theme of “landscape.” Prize: The first place winner receives £3000 and an invitation to enter the symposium in Venice (two runners-up also receive the invitation). Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Questions Writing PrizeRestrictions: Open to authors aged 18-30. Genre: Short stories of any genre or nonfiction between 1500 and 2000 words. Prize: First place winners (or prize pool for a tie) is $2000. The work will also be published in a book. Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Grant MacEwan Creative Writing Scholarship is sponsored by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Genres: Poetry, Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction, Drama, or Graphic Novel. Restrictions: Authors must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate creative writing program of study or mentorship. (Max age 25) Alberta residents only. Prize: $5000 (CAN). Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction GrantGenre: Creative nonfiction. Whiting welcomes submissions for works of history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, and personal essays, among other categories. Writers must be completing a book of creative nonfiction that is currently under contract with a publisher. Writers who signed a contract before May 1, 2015, are eligible. Prize: $40,000. Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Polari First Book PrizeGenres: The prize is for a first book which explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction published in English. Self-published works in both print and digital formats are eligible for submission. Restrictions: Writer must be born in UK or resident in the UK. Prize: £1,000.00. Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

West Virginia Fiction CompetitionRestrictions: Open to West Virginia residents or students. Genre: Short fiction, 5,000 words max. Prize: $500. Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers ProgramRestrictions: Debuting authors and writers with fewer than three previously published books who have yet to receive a major literary award are eligible for consideration. Exceptions are sometimes made for authors who have published more titles, but have yet to break out to a larger audience. Submissions must be original publications, penned by one author. Self-published works not allowed. Genres: Published or scheduled to be published fiction and literary nonfiction. Prize: $10,000 in each genre and in-store marketing/merchandising from Barnes & Noble. 2nd Place $5,000 in each genre, 3rd Place $2,500 in each genre. Deadline: May 4, 2017.

Maine Arts Commission Individual Artist FellowshipsRestrictions: Open to writers who have lived in the state of Maine for at least one year. Genre: Fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: May 4, 2017.

Daily Mail/Penguin Random House New Crime Novelist CompetitionRestrictions: Open to residents of the UK or Republic of Ireland. Unpublished authors only. Genre: Crime book. Prize: £20,000.00 advance on a publishing contract. Deadline: May 5, 2017.

Creative Comedy ProjectGenre: Comedy. ‘We want you to write a piece of comedy that’s no longer than 500 words. It could be experimental, satire, spoof, wit or wordplay. The choice our friends is up to you! We’re looking for all formats of written comedy. It could be the opening to a sitcom, a scene of a play or just a silly story. All that we ask is that it deals with one or more of the themes from Anita and Me, including family, coming-of-age, migration, racism, love and friendship, cultural and social change. Prize: The winning piece will be crowned Comedy Gold and awarded a prize of £300. Runner-up positions include Silver and Bronze and will receive prizes of £150 and £50 respectively. Deadline: May 7, 2017.

The James Laughlin Award is sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Genre: A second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year. Must be under contract with US publisher. Restrictions: Open to US citizens and residents only. Prize: $5,000, an all-expenses-paid week long residency in Florida, and the Academy will purchase approximately 1,000 copies of the book for distribution to its members. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Artist Trust. Restrictions: Open to poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers who are residents of Washington State. Students enrolled in a degree-granting program are ineligible. Submit a writing sample of up to 12 pages with a project description, synopsis, budget, and résumé. Grant: $1,500. Deadline: May 15, 2017. 

St. Francis College Literary PrizeGenre: Novel. Third, fourth, or fifth published book of fiction. Self-published books and English translations are eligible. Prize: $50,000 is given biennially. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Leeway Foundation: Transformation AwardRestrictions: Women and transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, or otherwise gender-nonconforming poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers in the Philadelphia area who have been creating art for social change for five or more years. Writers who have lived for at least two years in Bucks, Camden, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, or Philadelphia counties, who are at least 18 years of age, and who are not full-time students in a degree-granting arts program are eligible. Award: $15,000. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing ContestGenre: Essay. “Professionals, freelancers, and aspiring writers are encouraged to write articles that describe their experience living, moving, and working abroad. Often your experience living abroad may be extended by working or studying in the host country, so living/working/studying/and traveling abroad are often inextricable—and we are interested in exploring these interconnections.” Prize: The first-place winner’s entry will receive $500, the second-place winning entry $150, and the third-place winner $100. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Kindle Storyteller Award (UK)Restrictions: The prize is open to all authors who publish their book through Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon.co.uk between 20th February and 19th May 2017. Genre: Book. Prize: £20,000. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction PrizeGenre: Fiction. Restrictions: Titles must be published in Canada and written by Canadians. No self-published works. Prize: $25,000 will be awarded to a novel or short-story collection published between March 22, 2016 and May 23, 2017. Prizes of $2,500 will be awarded to each of the finalists. Deadline: May 24, 2017.

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-FictionGenre: Literary non-fiction. Restrictions: Titles must be published in Canada and written by Canadians. Prize: $60,000 will be awarded to a literary nonfiction book published between March 23, 2016 and May 24, 2016. Deadline: May 24, 2016.  Read guidelines HERE.

Stony Brook Short Fiction PrizeRestrictions: Only undergraduates enrolled full time in United States and Canadian universities and colleges for the academic year 2016-17 are eligible. Genre: Fiction of no more than 7,500 words. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: May 25, 2017. 

Sapiens PlurumGenre: Stories that personalize the consequences of climate change so readers feel as well as know them. But stories must offer hope, at least a possibility, for without hope people rarely act. Your job, as author, is to inspire scientists and states-persons around the world to live up to the promise of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Prize: 1ST PRIZE: $1000; 2ND PRIZE: $500; 3RD PRIZE: $300. Deadline: May 27, 2017. Submission details available after registration.

Be a Hero ContestGenre: Flash fiction up to 50 words about a hero. Title is not included in the word count, and the hero can be from your life, from history, or fictional. Stories will be sent to all senators and members of the House of Representatives, urging them to be heroes in these times of United States political strife. “At this precarious time in the United States, we need people to be heroes. This isn’t a battle between Republicans and Democrats. This is a battle between right and wrong. And we need heroes who are willing to fight for what is right—across this country and around the world.” Prize: The winner will receive a Gotham Writer’s Workshop class of their choosing. Limit one entry per person. Deadline: May 29, 2017.

Claudia Ann Seaman Awards For Young Writers. Restrictions: High school students. Genre: Stories and poems. Prize: $200.00. Deadline: May 30, 2016.

Nick Darke Writers’ Award. Genre: Stage play. Prize: £6,000. Deadline: May 30, 2017.

Eden Mills Teen Poetry ContestRestrictions: Open to Canadian teens. Genre: Poetry. This year’s theme: Time and all its gifts.  Prize: Two $50 prizes, 2 $25 prizes. Deadline: May 30, 2017.

bpNichol Poetry Chapbook AwardGenre: Published poetry chapbook. Restrictions: Canadian publishers only. Prize: The author receives $4,000 and the publisher receives $500. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

The Wolfe Pack Black Orchid AwardGenre: Mystery novellas in the style of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novellas. Manuscript length: 15K-20K words. Prize: $1,000, plus recognition and publication in a forthcoming issue of AAMM. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

Cromwell Article PrizeGenre: Articles published in 2015 in the field of American legal history. Restrictions: Open to early career scholars. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction ContestGenre: Unpublished fiction approximately 1,000 – 5,000 words. Story should pertain to music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America. Prize: $100 and publication in Jerry Jazz MusicianDeadline: May 31, 2017.

Save the Earth Poetry PrizeGenre: Poem (1). Poems submitted should, in any way possible, evoke humankind’s awareness of the natural world and nature as such. Restrictions: Open to High school students, grades 11 & 12. Prize: $200 awarded to seven winners. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

ABA Journal/Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction. Sponsored by the American Bar Association. Restrictions: Entrants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.  Genre: Original works of short fiction that illuminate the role of the law and/or lawyers in modern society. 5000 words max. Prize: $3,000 and publication in ABA Journal. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

James Bartleman Aboriginal Youth Creative Writing AwardsRestrictions: Open to aboriginal youth, 18 years or younger, residing in Ontario, Canada. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

I Must Be Off! Travel Writing ContestGenre: Travel articles, travel anecdotes and travel reflectionsPrize: $200. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

Bacopa Literary ReviewGenres: Fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry. Prizes: First ($200) and Runner-Up ($160) prizes in each genre. All published will receive $20 and a copy of the print journal. After publication, Bacopa 2017 will be promoted online. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

JUNE 2017

Amy Awards. Poets & Writers presents the Amy Award each year to recognize promising women poets, age 30 and under, living in the New York City metropolitan area or on Long Island. Winners receive a modest honorarium and give a reading in New York City. The award was established in 1995 by Paula Trachtman and Edward Butscher of East Hampton, New York, in memory of Ms. Trachtman’s daughter, Amy Rothholz, an actor and poet. Genre: Poetry. Deadline: June 1, 2017.

The Society for Humanistic Anthropology Fiction CompetitionGenre: Stories that relate to the four fields of anthropology. Restrictions: Stories should not exceed 20 pages typed double-spaced. There is a limit of one story submission per applicant. Prize: The first place story will be published in the Society’s journal, Anthropology and Humanism. The first place winner(s) will receive a certificate and award of $100. Deadline: June 1, 2017. Read guidelines HERE. (Scroll down the page.)

Singapore Poetry ContestGenre: Poetry. The poem may be about any aspect of Singapore. Prize: 1st Prize $100. 2nd Prize $50, 3rd Prize $20; all winners will be published online. Deadline: June 1, 2017.

Governor General’s Literary Awards. Restrictions: Books must have been written by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. They do not need to be residing in Canada. Genre: The Governor General’s Literary Awards are given annually to the best English-language book in each of the seven categories of Fiction, Literary Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Young People’s Literature (Text), Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books). Prize: $25,000. Deadline: June 1, 2017. 

Fraser Student Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to high school, undergraduate and graduate students. International. Genre: Essay. Topic: Regulating the Sharing Economy: Do the Costs Outweigh the Benefits? Prizes: $500 – $1500. Deadline: June 1, 2017.

Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors. Created by the Missouri Humanities Council, the Warrior Arts Alliance, and Southeast Missouri State University Press, this series of anthologies preserves and shares military service perspectives of our soldiers and veterans of all conflicts and of their families. It is not only an outlet for artistic expression but also a document of the unique aspects of wartime in our nation’s history. Genres: Poetry, Short Fiction, Essay, Photography, Interview with a Warrior. Prize: $250 and publication. Deadline: June 1, 2017 (postmarked).

Texas Book Festival Youth Fiction Writing Contest. Hosted by the Texas Book Festival and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) at the University of Texas at Austin. Restrictions: Junior and high school Texas students. Genre: Original fiction, no more than 2,000 words in length on theme of “Funny Running Into You Here.” Prize: Winners receive a cash prize: $250 for first place, $100 for second, and $50 for third. In addition, winners are awarded a plaque, have their stories published on the TBF website, and are invited to participate on a panel during the Texas Book Festival weekend. Deadline: June 1, 2017.

“When I think of My Dad…” Essay ContestGenre: Essay “We want to know what your father means to you and how he has made your life better. What has he done to lift you up and keep you on the right track? How has he influenced you? How has he helped you stay on the path towards healing?” Prize: $200. Deadline: June 5, 2017.

The Pandeism Collegiate Writing CompetitionRestrictions: Open to undergraduate and graduate collegiate students of philosophy, theology, religious studies, social sciences, arts, literature, applied sciences, or comparable disciplines. Genre: Article presenting original thought in exploring implications of the modern theological theory of Pandeism (pantheistic Deism, belief in a Creator wholly becoming our Universe, proposed to be discernible by application of logic and reason). Papers written for course credit are acceptable. Submissions do not need to take a position in favor of or opposed to Pandeism as a theory, but must present original thought about its relative possibility, relation to other areas of theology, or implications for areas such as epistemology, ethics and morality, or science. Submissions must be a minimum of 3,000 words and a maximum of 6,000 words. Only one (1) article may be submitted by each student. Prize: $250 Amazon gift card and publication. Deadline: June 9, 2017.

Peter Blazey Fellowship.  Restrictions: Applicants must either be an Australian citizen or have Australian residency. Genre: Non-fiction in the fields of autobiography, biography or life writing. Prize: $15 000, and a one-month writer-in-residency at The Australia Centre. Deadline: June 12, 2017.

IUPUI Poetry ContestRestrictions: High school age students. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $300. 2nd Prize $200, 3rd Prize $100. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award. Sponsored by Sisters in Crime. Restrictions: Open to emerging writers of color. An unpublished writer is preferred, although publication of one work of short fiction or academic work will not disqualify an applicant. Prize: $1,500. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Bard Fiction PrizeGenre: Published fiction book. Prize: $30,000 and a one-semester appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Scotiabank Giller PrizeRestrictions: Open to books published in Canada in English. Must  be nominated by publisher. Genre: Fiction. Full-length novel or collection of short stories published in English, either originally, or in translation. Prize: $100,000 to the winner and $10,000 to each of the finalists. Deadline: Books published between May 1, 2017 and June 30, 2017 must be received on or before June 15, 2017.

Norton Writer’s Prize. Sponsored by W.W. Norton & Company. “The Norton Writer’s Prize will be awarded annually for an outstanding essay written by an undergraduate. Literacy narratives, literary and other textual analyses, reports, profiles, evaluations, arguments, memoirs, proposals, mixed-genre pieces, and more: any excellent writing done for an undergraduate writing class will be considered.” Genres: Creative Nonfiction, Scholarly Essay. Prize: $1,500. Two runner-up prizes of $1,000. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation PrizesGenre: English translations of poetry, fiction, drama, or literary prose originally written in Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, or Swedish by a Scandinavian author born after 1800. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Fred Otto Prize for Oz Fiction/Warren Hollister Prize for Oz NonfictionGenre: Short Fiction, Art & Creative Nonfiction. All work must be related to the world of Oz. Prize: $100 in each genre. 2nd Prize $50 in each genre. Deadline: June 15, 2017 (electronic submissions only).

Goi Peace Foundation International Essay Contest for Young PeopleRestrictions: Open to people 25 years of age or less. Genre: Essay (max 700 words). Theme: “Education to Build a Better Future for All.” Prize: 1st US$840, 2nd US$420. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Vermont Studio Center – Full Fellowship Awards. The Vermont Studio Center offers 54 fellowships; open to anyone in the world. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Towson University Prize for LiteratureRestrictions: Open to Maryland writers. Genre: Book-length manuscript of fiction, poetry, drama or imaginative non-fiction. The work must have been published within the three years prior to the year of nomination or must be scheduled for publication

within the year in which nominated. Self-published works will not be considered. Prize: $1,000.  Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Baltimore Science Fiction Society Amateur Writing ContestRestrictions: Author must be a Maryland resident or a student at a Maryland 2- or 4-year college. Genre: Speculative fiction short story. Prize: 1st place is $250, 2nd place is $100, 3rd place is $50. Deadline: June 16, 2017.

Linda Flowers Literary AwardRestrictions: Entrants must live in North Carolina. “The North Carolina Humanities Council invites original, unpublished entries of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry for the Linda Flowers Literary Award. Submissions should detail examinations of intimate, provocative, and inspiring portraiture of North Carolina, its people and cultures, bringing to light real men and women having to make their way in the face of change, loss, triumph, and disappointments.” Prize: $1,500. Deadline: June 16, 2017.

A Midsummer Tale Narrative Writing ContestTheme: Summer Love. Length: 1,000 words minimum; 5,000 words maximum. Prize: $35 – $50 Amazon gift card. Deadline: June 21, 2017.

Ocean Awareness Youth ContestRestrictions: Open to students in grades 6 – 12. Genre: Art, poetry, prose, film. “We want your submission to make viewers reflect on the impact of ocean pollution, inspire them to consider possible solutions, and challenge them to take action.”  Prizes: $100 – $1,500 Deadline: June 19, 2017.

Utah Division of Arts and Museums Original Writing CompetitionRestrictions: Utah writers. Genres: Poetry and prose. Prize: $1,000 top prizes for book-length manuscripts of novels, creative nonfiction & history, collection of poetry or short stories, and juvenile book; $300 top prizes for individual poems, short stories, and personal essays. 2nd Prize $500 for the book-length categories, $150 for poetry. Deadline: June 23, 2017.

Blue Mountain Poetry Card Contest. “Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better. We suggest that you write about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write.” Prize: First prize $300. Second prize $150. Third prize $30. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Drue Heinz Literature PrizeRestrictions: The award is open to writers who have published a book-length collection of fiction or a minimum of three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals of national distribution. Online and self-publication does not count toward this requirement. Genre: A manuscript of short stories; two or more novellas (a novella may comprise a maximum of 130 double-spaced typed pages); or a combination of one or more novellas and short stories. Novellas are only accepted as part of a larger collection. Prize: $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press under its standard contract. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Oregon Literary Fellowships. Fellowships of $3,000 each are given annually to Oregon writers to initiate, develop, or complete literary projects in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. One Women Writers Fellowship and one Writer of Color Fellowship of $3,000 each are also given annually. Submit three copies of up to 15 pages of poetry or 25 pages of prose with the required entry from. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future ContestRestrictions: Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment and at least 5,000 copies (or 5,000 hits for online publication). Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Horror.  17,000 words max. Prize: $1,000 1st Prize awarded each quarter; one of those winners also receives the $5,000 annual “Golden Pen Award” grand prize. 2nd Prize $750, 3rd Prize $500. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Best New Writing (Gover Story Prize)Genre: Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction. Works of short prose must be less than 10,000 words, previously unpublished. Prize: $250.00. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Costa Book AwardsRestrictions: Prize is for books first published in the UK or Ireland by authors who have lived in the UK or Ireland for at least six months of each of the preceding three years. Books must be published between November 1 of the previous year and October 31 of the current year. Self-published works not allowed. Genre: Five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. Prize: £30,000.00 across all genres. 5,000 pounds in each category (poetry, novel, first novel, biography, children’s book). Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Ekphrasis: A Journal of Transformative VerseGenre: Poem. Prize is awarded to the best poem submitted to Ekphrasis during the year. Each poem must address a work of art. Prize: $500. Deadline: June 30, 2017. Snail mail only.

Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, Griffin Poetry PrizeRestrictions: One prize goes to a living Canadian poet or translator, the other to a living poet or translator from any country, which may include Canada. Genre: Poetry. Books must have been published in English during the calendar year preceding the year of the award. Prize: C$200,000, is awarded annually in two categories – International and Canadian. Each prize is worth C$65,000. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Words and BrushesGenre: Short story inspired by artwork. Prize: $350 top prize. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

The Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans. This creative writing contest for U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel is hosted by The Iowa Review and made possible by a gift from the family of Jeff Sharlet (1942–69), a Vietnam veteran and antiwar writer and activist. The contest is open to veterans and active duty personnel writing in any genre and about any subject matter. Prizes: First place: $1,000 plus publication in the Spring 2017 issue of The Iowa Review. Second place: $750. Three runners-up: $500 each. DeadlineJune 1, 2018

RBC Taylor PrizeRestrictions: Open to citizens or residents of Canada. Must be published author. Genre: Literary nonfiction. Prize: $25,000 (CAN). Deadline: June 5, 2016 for books published between April 2 and May 29, 2016. 2018 submission guidelines will be posted on June 1, 2017.

JULY 2017

Bop Dead CityGenres: Flash fiction, poetry. Prize: $20. Deadline: July 1, 2017. More details are HERE.

Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Sponsored by Claremont Graduate University. Restrictions: Poets must be citizens or legal resident aliens of the United States. Genre: Poetry. The work submitted must be a first book of poetry published between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. Manuscripts, CDs, and chapbooks are not accepted. Prize: $100,000. Deadline: July 1, 2017.

Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Sponsored by Claremont Graduate University. Restrictions: Poets must be citizens or legal resident aliens of the United States. Genre: Poetry. Book must be author’s first full-length book of poetry, published between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. Self-published books are accepted. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: July 1, 2017.

Richard J. Margolis AwardGenre: Journalism. Prize is awarded annually to a promising new journalist or essayist whose work combines warmth, humor, wisdom and concern with social justice. Prize: $5,000 and one month of residency at Blue Mountain Center. Deadline: July 1, 2017.

Frieze Writers’ PrizeGenre: Essay: Art Criticism. Aspiring art critics are invited to submit one unpublished review of a recent contemporary art exhibition, which should be 700 words in length. Prize: The winner will be commissioned to write a review for frieze magazine and will be awarded GBP£2,000. Deadline: July 18, 2017.

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionRestrictions: Books must be English-language, first-edition trade books published by a Canadian press, written by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Titles must be published between May 24, 2017 and September 30, 2017.  Genre: Literary nonfiction including, among other forms, works of personal or journalistic essays, memoirs, commentary, criticism both social and political, history, and biography. Prize: Winner: $60,000; Finalists: $5,000. Deadline: July 19, 2017.

Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction PrizeGenre: Fiction. Restrictions: Titles must be published in Canada and written by Canadians. No self-published works. Prize: $25,000 will be awarded to a novel or short-story collection published between May 24, 2017 and September 30, 2017. Prizes of $2,500 will be awarded to each of the finalists. Deadline: July 19, 2017.

Foyle Young Poets of the Year AwardRestrictions: Open to young poets age 11 – 17. Genre: Poetry. Prize: Publication. Deadline: July 31, 2017.

Platt Family Scholarship Prize Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to students who are FULL TIME, undergraduate students in an AMERICAN COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY during the Spring 2015 semester. Genre: Our Topic for 2017:  Several American presidents, including ideological opposites George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have stated that they have either admired or sought inspiration from the life and times of Abraham Lincoln. What is it about Lincoln that appeals to a wide range of political leaders?  What lessons from Lincoln’s presidency might be useful to our new president? Prize: 1st Prize $1500 | 2nd Prize $750 | 3rd Prize $500. Deadline: July 31, 2017.

Louise Meriwether First Book Prize. The Feminist Press has partnered with TAYO Literary Magazine to launch a contest seeking the best debut books by women and nonbinary writers of color. Genres: Fiction, including novels and short story collections, or narrative memoir, of 50,000 to 80,000 words. Prize: $5,000 and a publishing contract from the Feminist Press. Deadline: July 31, 2017.

SLF Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds GrantsRestrictions: Open to writers from underrepresented and underprivileged groups, such as writers of color, women, queer writers, disabled writers, working-class writers, etc. — those whose marginalized identities may present additional obstacles in the writing / publishing process. Genres: Book-length works (novels, collections of short stories) of speculative fiction. Prize: $500. Deadline: July 31, 2017.

Landfall Essay CompetitionRestrictions: Open to New Zealand writers. Genre: Essay about New Zealand. Prize: The winner will receive $3000 and a year’s subscription to Landfall. Deadline: July 31, 2017.

JULY 2016

Emmy Awards – Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting AwardRestrictions: Non-US citizens under the age of 30 only. Prize: $2,500, a trip to New York City, and an invitation to the International Emmy® Awards Gala in November. DeadlineJuly 1, 2016.

John Glassco Translation Prize. Sponsored by Literary Translators’ Association of Canada. Restrictions: Open to Canadian citizens or permanent residents only. Genre: The work submitted must be the translator’s first published book-length translation into English or French. The book must have been published between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. Prize: $1000. Deadline: July 1, 2016.

Stone CanoeRestrictions: Open to people who live or have lived in Upstate New York (not New York City). Genres: Drama, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art. Prize: $500 and publication. Deadline: July 8, 2016 (poetry), July 22, 2016 (fiction), July 29, 2016 (non-fiction).

Ethnographic Poetry Award. Sponsored by The Society for Humanistic Anthropology. Genre: Poetry associated with any of the five fields of anthropology: Archaeological, Biological, Linguistic, Sociocultural and Applied. Prize $100. Deadline: July 15, 2016.

FutureScapes Writing ContestGenre: Short fiction up to 8,000 words, written in accordance with prompt: Cities of Empowerment. Prize: $2,000 prize for first place, $1,000 prize for second place, and $500 prize to each of the four runners-up. Deadline: July 15, 2016.

The Undergraduate No-Fee Contest. Sponsored by Sandy River Review. Restrictions: Undergraduates enrolled in college or a Spring 2016 graduate. Genres: Fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Prize: $100. Deadline: July 15, 2016.

Mash StoriesGenre: Short story based on three prompt words. Prize: $100. Deadline: July 15, 2016.

Norman Mailer Writing Award for Middle and High School TeachersRestrictions: Middle and High School Teachers. Genre: Creative Non-fiction. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: July 18, 2016.

The New Writers Award. Sponsored by the thirteen members of the Great Lakes Colleges Association. Genre: First published volume of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. Prize: $500. Deadline: July 25, 2016.

Black Country Museum Poetry CompetitionGenre: “Poetry in any style which explores the concepts of earth and air, whatever they may suggest to you. Whether you think of the earth scarred and bespoiled by industry or the ‘Green borderlands’ that Elihu Burritt spoke of; whether the choke of foundry dust and the searing of the lungs by chemicals, or the weekend’s walk in the countryside; whether it is the town or the country; the realm of worms or of the birds; of the highs or the lows; of the freedoms or the internments: earth and air are central to our experience, they are at the very core of us, the place from which we write.” Prize: £100 first prize. Deadline: July 29, 2016. Read terms and conditions here. Entry form is here.

Love: A Better Way to Work with People Essay ContestGenre: Personal essay of up to 750 words that shares a true story about how Love and Compassion helped solve a specific work or business problem. Prize: First Place: $100.00 money order. Second Place: $75.00 money order. Third Place: $50.00 money order. Deadline: July 30, 2016.

Rachel Wetzsteon Chapbook AwardGenre: Fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, or prose poetry of about 7,000-12,000 words. “The manuscript may be a collection of mixed pieces–short stories, flash fictions, prose poems, essays, or a stand-along excerpt from a longer work–but should be unified by a common theme. We seek new, original work, though individual pieces that have been previously published elsewhere may be included.” Prize: $250.00 honorarium and 25 copies of the winning chapbook, which will be printed and sold on Amazon.com. Deadline: July 30, 2016.

Library Journal ‘s Self-Published Ebook AwardsGenres: Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy. Open to all English-language self-published ebooks. No restrictions on date of publication. Prize: $1,000.00 USD plus review in Library Journal. Deadline: July 31, 2016.

USNI Naval History Essay ContestGenre: Essay: Identify individual women and their contributions that have made it possible for the United States to build and maintain the world’s finest military.  Prize: First Prize: $5,000. Second Prize:$2,500. Third Prize: $1,500. Deadline: July 31, 2016.

Bastiat Prize for Journalism. Established in 2002 by the International Policy Network. Genre: Journalism. Articles must have been published in English for the first time June 30, 2015 and July 31, 2016. Prize: The total prize fund is $16,000, divided between first ($10,000), second ($5,000) and third ($1,000) prize winners. Deadline: July 31, 2016.

AUGUST 2017

Winter Tangerine AwardsRestrictions: Submissions will only be accepted from writers who have not yet published a chapbook, novel, or collection of any type. Genres: Poetry, Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction. Prize: $250 apiece for poetry and prose (fiction and essay compete together), plus trophy, used books, box of cookies, and one-year WTR subscription. Deadline: August 1, 2017. 

The Ballade (Not Ballad) Contest! Genre: Poetry. This contest is for the best poem written in the ballade form. Prize: $100.Deadline: August 1, 2017. 

Montgomery County Writing ContestRestrictions: Open to Montgomery County residents only. Genre: Fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Prize: $250 and publication in Montgomery Magazine. Runners-up will receive $100 and have their work published on montgomerymag.com. Deadline: August 15, 2017.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales Poetry PrizeRestrictions: Poets living in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D.C., or West Virginia. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500, publication by Broadkill River Press, ten author copies, and two cases of Dogfish Head craft beer. Deadline: August 15, 2017.

AUGUST 2016

The Governor General’s Literary AwardsRestrictions: Books must have been written, translated or illustrated by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Genre: Best English-language and the best French-language book will be chosen in each of the seven categories of Fiction, Literary Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Children’s Literature (text), Children’s Literature (illustrated books) and Translation (from French to English). Prize: $1,000 – $25,000. Deadline: Books and bound proofs published between 16 May 2016 and 30 September 2016 must reach the Canada Council no later than 1 August 2016.

Milwaukee Irish FestGenre: Poetry. Entries should have a culture/literary relation to either Ireland, Irish-America, or to Irish poetry. Prize: $100. Deadline: August 1, 2016.

Boardman Tasker PrizeRestrictions: Books published between 1st August 2015 and 31st July 2016 in the UK. Genre: Books with mountain,not necessarily mountaineering, theme whether fiction, non-fiction, drama or poetry, written in the English language. Prize: £3,000.00. Deadline: August 1, 2016.

Delaware Division of the Arts Individual Artist FellowshipsRestrictions: Delaware poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers who have lived in Delaware for at least one year prior to application and who are not enrolled in a degree-granting program. Genres: Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Prize: Established Professional Fellowships of $6,000 each and Emerging Artist Fellowships of $3,000 each. Deadline: August 1, 2016.

Leeway Foundation Art and Change GrantsRestrictions: Writers living in Bucks, Camden, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, or Philadelphia counties Delaware who are 18 years of age or older and who are not full-time students in a degree-granting arts program are eligible. Genres: Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Prize: $2500.  Deadline: August 1, 2016.

Costa Short Story AwardRestrictions: Residents of UK and Ireland. Genre: Short story. Prize: £3,500.00. Deadline: August 5, 2016.

Harvill Secker Young Translators’ PrizeRestrictions: Open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 34. Genre: Short story translation from Norwegian to English. Prize: £1,000.00. Deadline: August 5, 2016.

RBC Taylor PrizeRestrictions: Citizens or residents of Canada. Must be published author. Genre: Literary nonfiction. Prize: $25,000 (CAN). Deadline: August 7, 2016 for books published between May 30 and July 31, 2016.

Blue Earth ReviewGenre: Flash Creative Nonfiction. 750 words max. Prize: $500. Deadline: August 12, 2016.

Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary ExcellenceRestrictions: Emerging African American writers.  Genres: Short story collection or novel published in the current year. Prize: $10,000.  Deadline: August 15, 2016.

PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer FellowshipRestrictions: Candidates must have published one or more novels for children or young adults that have been warmly received by literary critics, but have not generated sufficient income to support the author. Genre: Book-length children’s or young-adult fiction. Prize: $5000. Deadline: August 15, 2016.

Pockets Fiction ContestGenre: Children’s fiction. Stories should be 750–1,000 words. Prize: $500 and publication. Deadline: August 15, 2016.

Scotiabank Giller PrizeRestrictions: Open to books published in Canada in English between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016. Must  be nominated by publisher. Genre: Fiction. Full-length novel or collection of short stories published in English, either originally, or in translation. Prize: $100.000 to the winner and $10,000 to each of the finalists. Deadline: August 15, 2016.

Unplag Plagiarism Busters ContestRestrictions: Open to students. Genre: Short story (up to 300 words) describing your actions in the following situation – the army of ghosts is overrunning your school/college/university – and don’t forget to add the hashtags #Unplag and #PlagiarismBusters. Prize: $150 Amazon gift card. Deadline: August 18, 2016.

Michael Marks Awards for Poetry PamphletsRestrictions: Book must be published in the UK between July 2015 and the end of June 2016. resident Genre: Published Poetry Book. Prize: £5000. Deadline: August 26, 2016.

Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry PrizeRestrictions: Author must be resident of Upstate New York. Genre: Book of poems in English, at least 48 pages long, published between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. Prize: $2,000.  Deadline: August 31, 2016.

Epigram Books Fiction PrizeRestrictions: Authors must be Singaporean, Singaporean permanent resident or Singapore-born. Genre: A full-length, original and unpublished novel written in the English language. Prize: $20,000. Deadline: August 31, 2016.

Holland Park Press’s Poetry and Politics CompetitionGenre: Political poetry. Prize: £200 top prize. Deadline: August 31, 2016.

Jacques Maritain Prize for NonfictionGenre: Essay, Catholic themes. Prize: $500 top prize. Deadline: August 31, 2016.

Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative NonfictionGenre: Essay, maximum 5,000 words. Prize: $250 top prize. Deadline: August 31, 2016.

Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation or Multi-Lingual TextsRestrictions: Translators and authors of multi-lingual texts. Genres: Poetry and prose. Prize: $200. Deadline: August 31, 2016.

Lilith Magazine Fiction CompetitionGenre: Story of interest to Jewish women. Prize: $250. Deadline: August 31, 2016.

Holland Park Poetry and Politics CompetitionGenre: Political poem. Prize: £200. Deadline: August 31, 2016.

Rotting Post Humor CompetitionGenre: Humor. Prize: $250. Deadline: August 31, 2016.

Verbolatry Laugh-a-Riot ContestGenre: Humor. Prize: £50. Deadline: August 31, 2016.

SEPTEMBER 2016

PEN Prison Writing ContestRestrictions: Anyone incarcerated in a federal, state, or county prison in the year before the September 1 deadline is eligible to enter. Genres: Poetry, fiction, drama, creative nonfiction. Prize: $200 top prize per category. Deadline: September 1, 2016.

Cheshire Prize for LiteratureRestrictions: The writer must have been born, live or have lived, study or have studied, work or have worked, in Cheshire, UK. Genre: Original and previously unpublished poem or collection of poems. Prize: £2,000. Deadline: September 1, 2016.

Helen Schaible Shakespearean/Petrarchan Sonnet ContestGenre: Poetry. Prize: $50, 2nd Prize $35, 3rd Prize $15, three Honorable Mentions, three Special Recognitions. Deadline: September 1, 2016.

Young Lions Fiction AwardRestrictions: Open to US citizens 35 years of age or younger. Genre: Novel or a collection of short stories published between January 2016 and December 2016. Prize: $10,000.00. Deadline: September 2, 2016.

On The Premises Short Story Contest. “For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which the concept of “darkness” plays an important role. You may interpret “darkness” any way you want–literally, metaphorically, or any other way. Darkness doesn’t have to have a value judgment attached to it, and it doesn’t have to be symbolic in any way, although it can.” Prize: Winners receive between US$60 and US$220, and publication. Deadline: September 2, 2016.

Jerwood Awards for NonfictionRestrictions: Those who have been resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland for the past three years are all eligible. Genre: First commissioned works of non-fiction. Prize: £10,000. Deadline: September 5, 2016.

So You Think You Can Write held by Wattpad. Write your Canadian romance story on Wattpad. Send a 3-7 page synopsis and first chapter to the Ooooh. . . Canada! blitz. Prize: Grand Prize is a 2-book contract with Harlequin. Deadline: September 12, 2016. Read details here.

Key West Literary Seminar Emerging Writer AwardsRestrictions: Poets and writers living in the United States who have not yet published a book with a major publisher are eligible to apply. Genre: Poetry, fiction. Prize: $500. Deadline: September 12, 2016.

Princemere Poetry PrizeGenre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: September 12, 2016.

Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political WritingGenre: Book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on contemporary Canadian political life. Book must be published in Canada. Prize: CAN$25,000.00.  Deadline: Books published between June 15 and September 13 must be received by September 14, 2016.

Concis Pith of Prose and Poem ContestGenre: Poems, prose poems, visual poems, flash fiction, micro-essays or what-have-you. Prize: $150 and 75 postcards featuring the winning work.  Deadline: September 15, 2016.

Kathy Fish Fellowship for Emerging WritersRestrictions: All writers previously unpublished in SmokeLong Quarterly and who do not have a published chapbook or book-length work in any genre (or are not under contract for such) are eligible to apply. Genre: Flash fiction. Prize: $500. Deadline: September 15, 2016.

Student Travel Writing ContestRestrictions: Currently enrolled high school, undergraduate, graduate students, student interns, and volunteers (including Peace Corps). Genre: Essay. Prize: $500. Deadline: September 15, 2016.

Past Loves Day Story ContestGenre: Short personal essay. “Nearly everyone has memories of a former sweetheart. Write your true story of an earlier love, in no more than 700 words. Tell us about someone whose memory brings a smile or a tear.” Prize: $100 top prize. Deadline: September 17, 2016.

Life Lessons Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, age 19 or older at time of entry. Genre: Personal essay. Would your world now be completely different—even unthinkable—if, at some point in the past, you hadn’t made a seemingly random choice? Tell us about it. Prize: $3,000. Deadline: September 19, 2016.

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers ProgramRestrictions: Publishers recommend writers making a strong literary debut. Authors cannot submit their own work to the program; self-published writers and titles published via print-on-demand or available only as NOOK books are also ineligible for submission. Genres: Literary fiction, short story collections and literary non-fiction, such as travel essays, memoirs, or other non-fiction with a strong narrative will be considered. Books should be intended for an adult or a young adult audience. Prize: $35,000 to six writers. Deadline: September 22, 2016.

Baileys Women’s Prize for FictionRestrictions: Female authors of any nationality. Genre: Novel first published in the UK between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017. Must be in English. Prize: £30,000 and a limited edition bronze statue known as a ‘Bessie’, created by the artist Grizel Niven. Deadline: September 23, 2016.

Sunday Times EFG Short Story AwardRestrictions: The award is open to any novelist or short story writer from around the world who is published in the UK. Genre: Short story. Prize: £30,000.  Deadline: September 29, 2016.

Best New Writing’s Gover Story PrizeGenre: Unpublished fiction and creative nonfiction under 10,000 words. Prize: $250 top prize. Deadline: September 30, 2016.

Off the Beaten Track Travel Writing CompetitionGenre: Articles about a fascinating, relatively unknown place near to where you live or that you came across by chance when travelling around, or it may be a totally fictional place. Prize: £100 top prize. Deadline: September 30, 2016.

Intergeneration Short Story ContestGenre: Short story (400 words.) Stories must include characters from more than one generation. Prize: $500. Deadline: September 30, 2016.

Iowa Short Fiction and John Simmons Short Fiction AwardsGenre: Short story collection. The manuscript must be a collection of short stories in English of at least 150 word-processed, double-spaced pages. Prize: Publication by the University of Iowa Press, royalties. Deadline: September 30, 2016.

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction ContestGenre: Short fiction. Prize: $100. Deadline: September 30, 2016.

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest is held four times a year. Restrictions: The Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment of at least six cents per word, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits. Genre: Short stories or novelettes of science fiction or fantasy. Prizes: $1,000, $750, $500, Annual Grand Prize: $5,000.  Deadline: September 30, 2016.

Lee & Low Books New Voices Award is sponsored by Lee &Low Publishers. Restrictions: The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a children’s picture book published. Genre: Children’s books – fiction, nonfiction or poetry. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: September 30, 2016.

WOLFoundation Writing CompetitionGenre: Essay on theme: Connecting Politics With People. Prize: $1,500. Deadline: September 30, 2016.

OCTOBER 2017

FutureScapes Writing ContestGenre: Short fiction up to 8,000 words, written in accordance with prompt: ‘Blue Sky Cities.’ Prize: $2,000 prize for first place, $1,000 prize for second place, and $500 prize to each of the four runners-up. Deadline: October 13, 2017.

Benjamin Franklin HouseRestrictions: Writers, aged 18-25, residing in the UK. Genre: Essay on quote exploring Franklin’s relevance in our time,1000-1500 words. Prize: £750, and a second prize of £50. Deadline: October 31, 2017.

OCTOBER 2016

The Marfield Prize, also known as the National Award for Arts Writing, is given annually by the Arts Club of Washington to nonfiction books about the arts written for a broad audience. Genre: Non-fiction book. Self-published books not accepted. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: October 1, 2016. Read details here.

Red Dragonfly New Writing CompetitionRestrictions: Open to UK residents from British East Asian, South Asian and South East Asian communities. Genre: 30-minute play. Prize: £1000. Deadline: October 1, 2016. Read details here.

Bop Dead CityGenre: Prose and poetry on theme of Apologies. Prize: $20. Deadline: October 1, 2016. Read details here.

RBC Taylor Prize for Literary NonfictionRestrictions: Open to published Canadian authors. Genre: Nonfiction book. Prize: CAN$25,000.00. Deadline: October 2, 2016 for books published between August 1 and September 30, 2016.

The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, sponsored by the African Poetry Book Fund and in partnership with the literary journal, Prairie Schooner, is the only one of its kind in the world and was established to promote African poetry written in English or in translation and to recognize a significant book published each year by an African poet. A standard edition is 48 pages or more in length. Genre: Open to any book of original poetry, in English, published during 2015 in a standard edition by a full-length collection of poetry. Restrictions: African nationals, African residents, or poet of African parentage with roots from any country, living anywhere in the world. Prize: USD $5,000. Deadline: October 1, 2016. Read details here.

Royal Institute of Philosophy Essay PrizeTopic: Can there be a credible philosophy of history? Prize: £2,500 top prize. Deadline: October 3, 2016. Read details here.

American Antiquarian Society Fellowships for Creative Writers is calling for applications for visiting fellowships for historical research by creative and performing artists, writers, film makers, journalists, and other persons whose goals are to produce imaginative, non-formulaic works dealing with pre-twentieth-century American history. Successful applicants are those whose work is for the general public rather than for academic or educational audiences. The Society’s goal in sponsoring this program is to multiply and improve the ways in which an understanding of history is communicated to the American people. Prize: A stipend of $1,150 to $1,350 and on-campus housing is provided; fellows residing off-campus receive $1,850. Deadline: October 5, 2016. Read details here.

Man Booker International Prize. The Man Booker International Prize for fiction translated into English is awarded annually by the Booker Prize Foundation to the author of the best (in the opinion of the judges) eligible novel or collection of short stories. Prize: £50,000 divided equally between the author and the translator. There will be a prize of £2,000 each of the shortlisted titles divided equally between the author and the translator. Deadline: October 7, 2016. Read details here.

Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation PrizeGenre: A translation-in-progress from German into English of a work of Austrian poetry or prose published after 1945. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: October 10, 2016. Read details here.

The NC State Short Story ContestsRestrictions: Open to all North Carolina residents except 1) tenured/tenure-track professors in the University of North Carolina system or 2) writers with a published book, 3) previous winners. Genres: An unpublished SHORT STORY of no more than 20 double-spaced pages; limit 5000 words OR an unpublished SHORT-SHORT FICTION story of no more than 5 double-spaced typed pages; limit 1200 words. Prizes: James Hurst Fiction Prize for the winning story is $500. There will also be some Honorable Mention awards. Prize for short-short is $250. Deadline: October 11, 2016. Read details here.

Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling ScholarshipRestrictions: Poet must be born in the United States. Genre: Poetry. The sample must not exceed either (1) 40 typed pages or (2) one printed volume plus no more than 20 typed pages of your most recent work. There is no minimum page requirement. Prize: $54,000 for a year of travel and study abroad. Deadline: October 15, 2016. Read details here.

Arrowhead Regional Arts Council Career Development GrantsRestrictions: Writers who are U.S. citizens and have lived in Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, or St. Louis counties in northeastern Minnesota for at least six months are eligible. Genre: Poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Prize: $3,000 grant. Deadline: October 28, 2016. Read details here.

Penguin Random House – Daily Mail UK New Novelist CompetitionRestrictions: Open to anyone aged 16 or over who is a resident of the UK or Republic of Ireland, except for employees (and their families) of the Penguin Random House UK group, Associated Newspapers Ltd and any other company associated with the competition.Genre: Entrants must never have had a novel published before (in any format, including ebook or self-published) and must be 16 or over. Prize: £20,000 top prize (advance fee). Submissions: Daily Mail First Novel Competition, c/o Penguin Random House Group, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA. Deadline: October 30, 2016

The Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest is sponsored by Hollins University. Restrictions: Open to young women who are sophomores or juniors in high school or preparatory school. Genre: Poetry. Prize: Up to $5,000 renewable annual Creative Talent Scholarship in creative writing if winner enrolls at Hollins. Free tuition and housing for the university’s Hollins summer creative writing program. $200 cash prize. Publication in Cargoes, Hollins’ award-winning student literary magazine. Ten copies of CargoesDeadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.

PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is the most prestigious literary award in the US. Restrictions: Authors must be living American citizens. Self-published works not accepted. Genres: Novels, novellas, and collections of short stories. Prize: $15,000. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here

The Benjamin Franklin House Literary PrizeRestrictions: Entrants must be aged 18-25 years and living in the UK. Genre: Fiction and nonfiction. Each year a question or quote exploring Franklin’s relevance in our time is open for interpretation in 1000-1500 words. Prize: First prize of £750, second prize of £500. Winning entries will be posted on the website and also published online by The TelegraphDeadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.

Burt Award for Caribbean LiteratureRestrictions: Caribbean authors age 12 through 18. Genres: Published books, previously self-published books, and unpublished manuscripts are eligible for the Award. Prize: First Prize of $10,000 CAD, a Second Prize of $7,000 CAD and a Third Prize of $5,000 CAD.  Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.

The Eric Gregory AwardsRestrictions: Applicants must be under 30 and a British subject by birth and must ordinarily be resident in the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland. Genre: Poetry collection. Previously published work accepted. Prize: £4,000.00. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.

McKitterick PrizeRestrictions: Open to authors over age 40 on December 31, 2015. Genre: First novel. The work must have been first published in the UK in the year in which the deadline falls (and not first published abroad), or be unpublished. Prize: £4,000.00. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.

Tom-Gallon Trust AwardRestrictions: Open to citizens of the United Kingdom, Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland with at least one short story published or accepted for publication. Genre: Short story, maximum 5,000 words. May be unpublished. Prize: £1,000.00. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.

Lee & Low Books New Visions AwardRestrictions: Open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a middle grade or young adult novel published. Genre: Middle grade or young adult novel. Prize: $1,000 and their standard publication contract, including their basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $500. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Read details here.

Ouen Press Short Story Competition 2016Genre: True story about a journey. Prize: £300 top prize. Deadline: October 31, 2016.

The Print Express Haiku CompetitionGenre: Haiku. Deadline: October 31, 2016. Prize: £100 in Amazon vouchers. Deadline: October 31, 2016.

NOVEMBER 2016

Commonwealth Short Story PrizeRestrictions: Open to citizens of the British Commonwealth. Genre: Unpublished short fiction (2,000-5,000 words) in English. Short stories translated into English from other languages are also eligible. Prize: Regional winners receive £2,500 (US$3,835) and the overall winner will receive £5,000 (US$7,670). Deadline: November 1, 2016. Read details here.

A Public Space Emerging Writer FellowshipsRestrictions: Open to writers who have not yet published or been contracted to write a book-length work. Prize: $1,000, 6-month fellowship, and a mentorship from an established author. Deadline: November 1, 2016.

Drake University Emerging Writer AwardGenre: First book of short stories (collections). Prize: $1000 plus travel and lodging expenses to read at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Deadline: November 1, 2016.

William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grants Program for Unpublished Writers.  Restrictions: Writers must not have published a book, short story, or dramatic work in the mystery field, either in print, electronic, or audio form. Genre: Mystery stories of the Agatha Christie type—i.e., “traditional mysteries.” These works usually feature no excessive gore, gratuitous violence, or explicit sex. Prize: Each grant may be used to offset registration, travel, or other expenses related to attendance at a writers’ conference or workshop within a year of the date of the award (no later than May 2016). In the case of nonfiction, the grant may be used to offset research expenses. Each grant currently includes a $1,500 award plus a comprehensive registration for the following year’s convention and two nights’ lodging at the convention hotel, but does not include travel to the convention or meals. Deadline: November 1, 2016. Read details here.

Vermont Writers’ PrizeRestrictions: Open to residents of Vermont. Genres: Short story, poem, play or essay on the theme of Vermont – its people, places, history or values. Entries must be unpublished and fewer than 1,500 words long. Writers may submit only one entry per year. Prize: $1,500 and publication in Vermont MagazineDeadline: November 1, 2016. Read details here.

Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Prizes in Nonfiction and PoetryRestrictions: Undergraduates. Genre: Awards will be given to the best piece in each genre that addresses the experience of being Muslim in America. Winning pieces will speak to the experience — joys and challenges — of being Muslim in America today in ways that educate and inform our readers. Winning pieces may also demonstrate an understanding of Islamic history, culture, contributions, and / or its influence on society. Deadline: November 1, 2016.

Jane Lumley Prize for Emerging WritersRestrictions: The Jane Lumley Prize will only be awarded to writers who have not already published a full length book. However, they may have published a chapbook, and/or found a home for their works in other literary journals. Genre: Poetry. Maximum of eight poems (totaling not more than ten pages). Prize: $300 and winning entries will be featured in the January issue of Hermeneutic ChaosDeadline: November 1, 2016. 

Glamour Magazine “My Real-Life Story” Essay ContestGenre: Essay—no more than 3,500 words. Prize: $5,000, publication in Glamour, and meeting a top New York literary agent. Deadline: November 1, 2016. Read details here.

New York Encounter Poetry ContestGenre: Poetry on the theme “Reality Has Never Betrayed Me.” Prize: Cash prizes of $300, $200 and $100 will be awarded to first, second and third place poems. Deadline: November 1, 2016.

Unified Caring Association Student Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to High School Juniors and Seniors. Genre: Creative nonfiction on theme of caring. Prize: $333. Deadline: November 1, 2016.

RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-FictionRestrictions: Canadian citizens only. Genre: Nonfiction book. Prize: C$25,000. Shortlisted authors receive $2,000. Prize: Deadline: November 2, 2016 for books published between October 1 and October 30, 2016. Read details here.

Dylan Thomas PrizeRestrictions: Authors must be aged 39 or under. Eligible books must have been commercially published for the first time in the English language between January 1 and December 31 of the year in which the deadline falls. Genre: Published books of poetry, fiction (novel, novella, or short story collection), radio scripts, or screenplays. Eligible books must have been commercially published for the first time in the English language between January 1 and December 31, 2016. Prize: 30,000 pounds, plus 1,000 pounds for shortlisted authors. Deadline: November 4, 2016. Read details here.

Baileys Women’s Prize for FictionGenre: Published book by a woman. Entrants must be writing in English and must be published in the UK. Novels must be published in the United Kingdom between 1 April 2016, and 31 March 2017. All subject matters and women of any age, from any nationality or country of reisdence are eligible. Prize: £30,000.00. Deadline: November 9, 2016.

The PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging WritersGenre: First published short story. Authors may not submit their own work. Prize: $2000 and publication in The PEN America Best Debut Short StoriesDeadline: November 11, 2016.

Neltje Blanchan/Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial AwardsRestrictions: Wyoming writers. Genres: The Frank Nelson Doubleday Award is given for the best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or script written by a woman writer. The Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award is given annually for the best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or script which is informed by a relationship with the natural world. Prize: $1,000.00. Deadline: November 14, 2016.

Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize is sponsored by the Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival. Genre: Non-fiction essay between 4 to 10 pages, set in Brooklyn about Brooklyn and/or Brooklyn people/characters. (Up to 2500 words). Prize: $500. Deadline: November 15th, 2016.

Flo Gault Student Poetry PrizeRestrictions: Full-time undergraduate college students in Kentucky. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: November 15th, 2016.

Pushcart Press Editors’ Book AwardGenres: Fiction or nonfiction manuscript that has been rejected by a commercial publisher. The award recognizes “worthy manuscripts that have been overlooked by today’s high-pressure, bottom-line publishing conglomerates.” Each manuscript is nominated by an in-house editor who has seen his or her literary enthusiasms rejected by a U.S. or Canadian publishing company. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: November 15th, 2016.

Santa Ana Dramatic Works ContestGenre: Ten-minute dramatic works (12 pages or less) of any medium (play, screenplay, teleplay). Prize: $100. Deadline: November 15th, 2016.

Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political WritingRestrictions: Titles must be published in Canada between September 9, 2015 and December 31, 2015. Self-published books are not eligible. Genre: A book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on contemporary Canadian political life. Prize: Winner: $25,000; Finalists: $2,500. Deadline: November 16, 2016: For books published between September 14, 2016 and December 31, 2016 Read details here.

Payton James Freeman Essay PrizeRestrictions: U.S. citizens. Genre: Essay on the subject of change and changes. Prize: $500. Deadline: November 21, 2016.

Arts & Letters AwardsRestrictions: Residents of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Genre: Original creative work in literature, music, visual art and digital multi-media may be entered. Prize: $1,000.00 CAN. Deadline: November 25, 2016.

Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School StudentsRestrictions: Student writers in the 11th grade. Prizes: First Prize – $500, Second Prize – $250, Third Prize – $100. Deadline: November 27, 2016.

Build Your Own Blog New Writer ScholarshipRestrictions: Students aged 16 years and up. Genre: Unpublished short story/poem/blog post/(Any written material you are proud of). Prize: $4,000.  Deadline: November 29, 2016.

Best Translated Book Awards for FictionGenre: All original translations published between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016 are eligible. Reprints and retranslation are ineligible. Prize: $5,000.00. Two awards of $5,000: one apiece for the author and translator of the winning book in fiction. Deadline: November 30, 2016.

Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young WritersRestrictions: Open to writers aged 16-18. Genre: Poem (1). Prize: Full scholarship to The Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop, an intensive two-week summer seminar for writers aged 16-18. Deadline: November 30, 2016. Read details here.

Somerset Maugham AwardsRestrictions: Open to writers under the age of 35. Genre: Published work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Prize: 2,500 pounds apiece to four winners. Prize money must be used for travel. Deadline: November 30, 2016. Read details here.

UNT Rilke PrizeRestrictions: US citizens or residents. Open to authors with at least two prior published books of poetry. Genre: Book of poetry published between November 1, 2015 and October 31, 2016. Prize: $10,000.00. Deadline: November 30, 2016.

Betty Trask PrizeRestrictions: Author must be a Commonwealth citizen. Genre: First novels, published or unpublished, written by authors under the age of 35 in a “traditional or romantic, but not experimental, style.” Prize: Awards totaling 20,000 pounds. Top prize 10,000 pounds. The prize money must be used for foreign travel. Deadline: November 30, 2016. Read details here.

Encore AwardRestrictions: Open to British or Commonwealth citizens. Genre: Second published novel. Book must have been first published in the UK. Prize: 10,000 pounds. Deadline: November 30, 2016.

New Roscommon Writing AwardRestrictions: All entrants must have a connection with the county of Roscommon (born in, living in, currently working in, went to school in, etc). Genres: All. Prize: €500.00. Deadline: November 30, 2016.

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry and Short Story CompetitionsGenre: Poetry, short story. (No limericks.) Prize: Poetry: $200 in each language category (Welsh and English). Short Story: $200.00 (one English-language entry) Deadline: November 30, 2015. Read about the poetry competition here.

DECEMBER 2016

Brunel University African Poetry PrizeRestrictions: Open to poets who were born in Africa, or who are nationals of an African country, or whose parents are African. Genre: 10 poems exactly. Prize: 3,000 pounds. Deadline: December 1, 2016. Read details here.

Arnold Adoff Poetry AwardsGenre: Poetry books for children and young adults. Novels in verse, memoirs in verse, collections of original poetry, and edited collections are all acceptable formats for the awards. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 1, 2016.

Poetry Center at Smith College PrizeRestrictions: Open to sophomore or junior high school girls in New England. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 1, 2016. 

The David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction is offered annually to the best book in American historical fiction that is both excellent fiction and excellent history. Prize: $1.000. Deadline: December 1, 2016.

The Lyric College Poetry ContestRestrictions: Open to undergraduates enrolled full time in an American or Canadian college or university. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 1, 2016.

The W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction honors the best fiction set in a period when the United States was at war. It recognizes the service of American veterans and military personnel and encourages the writing and publishing of outstanding war-related fiction. Genre: Military fiction. Prize: $5000. Deadline: December 1, 2016.

The Pushcart Prize honors the best “poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot” published in small presses and literary magazines. Magazine and small press editors may nominate up to six works. Pushcart Press publishes yearly anthologies of the winning submissions. Prize: Publication.  Deadline: December 1, 2016.

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African PoetryRestrictions: Open to African poets who have not yet published a collection of poetry. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000 and book publication through the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal. Deadline: December 1, 2016.

Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Contest for Canadian YouthRestrictions: Canadians, grades 7-12. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $400. Deadline: December 1, 2016.

Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian WritingRestrictions: Open to published writers who are writing from the region. Genres: All. Prize: $1000. Deadline: December 1, 2016.

The Schneider Family Book Award is sponsored by the American Library Association. The award honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Prize: Three annual awards each consisting of $5000 and a framed plaque, will be given annually in each of the following categories: birth through grade school (age 0-10), middle school (age 11-13) and teens (age 13-18). (Age groupings are approximations). Genre: May be fiction, biography, or other form of nonfiction. Deadline: December 2, 2016.

Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) provides direct support to individual Bronx artists who create literary, media, visual, and performing works of art. Prize: 25 BRIO grants of $3,000 each are awarded to Bronx artists. BRIO award winners complete a one-time public service activity. Deadline: December 9, 2016.

White River Environmental Law Writing Competition is sponsored by the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law and Vermont Law School. Restrictions: Open to all students currently pursuing a degree (J.D. or LL.M) at an accredited law school in the United States. Submissions written as a class component, as a journal requirement, or otherwise for academic credit are acceptable. Genre: Original essays addressing any relevant topic in the fields of environmental law, natural resource law, energy law, environmental justice, land use law, animal law, and agricultural law. Prize: $1000 cash prize and an offer of publication with the Vermont Journal of Environmental LawDeadline: December 9, 2016.

Friends of American Writers. Restrictions: The author must be a resident (or previously have been a resident for approximately five years) of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin; or the locale of the book must be in a region identified above. The author must not have published more than three books under his/her own pen name. Genres:Books can be fiction or creative non-fiction and published in 2015. Self-published and e-Books are not eligible. Prize: $4000. Deadline: December 10, 2016.

Rider University Annual High School Writing ContestRestrictions: Open to high school students. Genres: Essays, poetry, fiction. Prizes: 1st-$100, 2nd-$50, 3rd-$25. Deadline: December 11, 2016.

J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress AwardGenre: Uncompleted work of nonfiction on a topic of American political or social concern. Prize: $30,000 fellowship. Deadline: December 12, 2016.

Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Novel CompetitionRestrictions: The Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any published novel (except that authors of self-published works only may enter, as long as the manuscript submitted is not the self-published work) and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a novel. Genre: Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: December 12, 2016.

Spark Award: Held by SCBWI open to members of SCBWI who are self-published. Genres: Fiction and nonfiction. Prize: Envy. The SCBWI is our most prestigious national organization (US) for children’s book and YA writers. Deadline: December 15, 2016.

Authors.me Romance Novel ContestGenre: Romance novel. Prize: $200. Deadline: December 15, 2016.

Women Artists Datebook. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $70. Deadline: December 15, 2016.

Black Caucus of the American Library Association. BCALA presents four awards to an African American writer published in the United States during the previous year: one for adult fiction, one for nonfiction, one for a first novelist and one for poetry. These awards acknowledge outstanding achievement in the presentation of the cultural, historical and sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora. Prize: Four $500.00 awards. Deadline: December 16, 2016.

Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay ContestRestrictions: Registered undergraduate full-time Juniors or Seniors at accredited four-year colleges or universities in the United States during the Fall 2015 Semester. Genre: Essay Topic: Articulate with clarity an ethical issue that you have encountered and analyze what it has taught you about ethics and yourself. 3,000 to 4,000 words. Prize: $5,000. 2nd Prize $2,500, 3rd Prize $1,500, two Honorable Mentions $500 each. Deadline: December 19, 2016. Read details here.

Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award.  Restrictions: Only Poetry Society of America members may enter. Genre: Poetry, unpublished and published. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 22, 2016.

Lucille Medwick Memorial AwardRestrictions: Only Poetry Society of America members may enter. Genre: Poetry, unpublished and published. Original poem in any form on a humanitarian theme. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 22, 2016.

Cecil Hemley Memorial AwardRestrictions: Only Poetry Society of America members may enter. Genre: Poetry, unpublished and published. Lyric poem that addresses a philosophical or epistemological concern. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 22, 2016.

Lyric Poetry AwardRestrictions: Only Poetry Society of America members may enter. Genre: A lyric poem on any subject. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 22, 2016.

The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson AwardRestrictions: Only Poetry Society of America members may enter for free. Genre: A poem inspired by Dickinson though not necessarily in her style. Prize: $250. Deadline: December 22, 2016.

Robert H. Winner Memorial AwardRestrictions: Only Poetry Society of America members may enter for free. There is a charge of $15 for non-members. Open to mid-career poets who have not had substantial recognition, and is over forty, and who have published no more than one book. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: December 22, 2016.

George Bogin Memorial AwardGenre: Poetry that takes a stand against oppression. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 22, 2016.

Commonwealth Club of California Book AwardsRestrictions: Open to residents of California. Genre: Book of poetry, fiction or nonfiction. Prize: Medal. Deadline: December 23, 2016.

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognizes outstanding works that contribute to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. Awards are given for both fiction and nonfiction. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016. The winners are announced in the spring.

Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, Griffin Poetry PrizeRestrictions: One prize goes to a living Canadian poet or translator, the other to a living poet or translator from any country, which may include Canada. Genre: Poetry. Books must have been published in English during the calendar year preceding the year of the award. Prize: C$200,000, is awarded annually in two categories – International and Canadian. Each prize is worth C$65,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.

Gover Story PrizeGenres: Short fiction and creative nonfiction. Prize: annual cash prize ($250) and publication in Best New Writing for the best fiction and creative nonfiction under 10,000 words. Finalists are also published in Best New Writing. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Submit HERE.

Kansas Book AwardRestrictions: Author must establish a connection to Kansas by birth, education, employment, residence or other significant claim. Genre: Book of fiction. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future ContestGenre: Speculative fiction prose, up to 17,000 words. Prize: $1,000 with $5,000 grand prize. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.

SPS Studios Poetry Card ContestGenre: Poem. Prize: $300. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.

William Carlos Williams Poetry CompetitionRestrictions: Open to students attending allopathic or osteopathic schools of medicine in the United States and Canada. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $300. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.

Society of Classical Poets, Poetry CompetitionGenre: Poetry. Three to five poems, each of which does not exceed 50 lines. The poems must be within the four themes used by the Society (at least one poem must be in the Issues of Our Age theme.) Prize: First Prize: $500. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Read details HERE.

Best Translated Book Awards for PoetryGenre: Published poetry book. Prize: $5,000: one apiece for the author and translator of the winning book in poetry. Deadline: December 31, 2016.

Caribbean Writers PrizesGenre: Short fiction, nonfiction, books. Prize: $400 – $500. Deadline: December 31, 2016.

Fountain Magazine Essay ContestGenre: Essay. 1,500 – 2,500 words. “In the context of this current moment in history, The Fountain’s 2016 Essay Contest invites you to consider the issues facing today’s immigrants. Are you an immigrant, too? Were your parents or grandparents immigrants? Are we all immigrants in this world? How do immigrants contribute to your society? How do they cause problems in your society? How would you help immigrants thrive?” Prize: 1st Place – $1,500, 2nd Place – $750, 3rd Place – $300, Two Honorable Mentions – $200 each. Deadline: December 31, 2016.

Goldstein, Lawrence, and Clayton Prizes in Poetry and Short Fiction. Sponsored by Michigan Quarterly Review. Genres: Poetry, short fiction. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016

Neil Postman Award for Metaphor. Sponsored by Rattle. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016.

Northern California Book AwardsRestrictions: Open to residents of northern California. Genre: Published books of all genres. Prize: $100. Deadline: December 31, 2016.

USNI Naval History Essay ContestGenre: Essay.  Prize: First Prize: $6,000. Second Prize:$3,000. Third Prize: $2,000. Deadline: December 31, 2016.

Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American HistoryGenre: Essay on early American history (up to 1825), not previously published, with preference being given to New England subjects. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: December 31, 2016.

Eastern Iowa ReviewRestrictions: For writers who have fewer than two publications (any kind). Genre: Fiction, poetry, CNF. Prize: $100. Deadline: December 31, 2016.

From the Horse’s Mouth Short Story and Poetry CompetitionsGenres: Poetry, short fiction up to 5,000 words. Prize: £100 top prize. Deadline: December 31, 2016.

Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust Article Prize Competition 2016. Genre: Nonfiction of 7,000-10,000 words about the Holocaust. Prize: $1,000 top prize. Deadline: December 31, 2016. Questions/submissions: [email protected]

December 2017

Tony Quagliano Poetry Fund, International Poetry AwardRestrictions: Open to poets who have a published body of work over a period of years. Poems must be in English. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 1, 2017.


34 Writing Contests in June 2017 – No entry fees!

 So You write poetry. But what do you do if with it. Entering contests is a great way to showcase your work and there are no shortage of contests to enter.

Here are three dozen free contests running in June. They cover the full range of topics, styles and genres, from essays, to poetry, to full-length works.

In addition to the prestige of winning a contest, some of the monetary prizes this month are substantial.

Be sure to check the submission requirements carefully, as some have age and geographical restrictions.

Many contests are offered annually, so if you miss a contest you may be able to catch it next year. For a full month-by-month listing of contests see: Free Contests.

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Amy Awards. Poets & Writers presents the Amy Award each year to recognize promising women poets, age 30 and under, living in the New York City metropolitan area or on Long Island. Winners receive a modest honorarium and give a reading in New York City. The award was established in 1995 by Paula Trachtman and Edward Butscher of East Hampton, New York, in memory of Ms. Trachtman’s daughter, Amy Rothholz, an actor and poet. Prize: “Modest”, but an award from Poets & Writers is prestigious. Genre: Poetry. Deadline: June 1, 2017.

The Society for Humanistic Anthropology Fiction CompetitionGenre: Stories that relate to the four fields of anthropology. Restrictions: Stories should not exceed 20 pages typed double-spaced. There is a limit of one story submission per applicant. Prize: The first place story will be published in the Society’s journal, Anthropology and Humanism. The first place winner(s) will receive a certificate and award of $100. Deadline: June 1, 2017. Read guidelines HERE. (Scroll down the page.)

Singapore Poetry ContestGenre: Poetry. The poem may be about any aspect of Singapore. Prize: 1st Prize $100. 2nd Prize $50, 3rd Prize $20; all winners will be published online. Deadline: June 1, 2017.

Governor General’s Literary Awards. Restrictions: Books must have been written by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. They do not need to be residing in Canada. Genre: The Governor General’s Literary Awards are given annually to the best English-language book in each of the seven categories of Fiction, Literary Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Young People’s Literature (Text), Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books). Prize: $25,000. Deadline: June 1, 2017. 

Fraser Student Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to high school, undergraduate and graduate students. International. Genre: Essay. Topic: Regulating the Sharing Economy: Do the Costs Outweigh the Benefits? Prizes: $500 – $1500. Deadline: June 1, 2017.

Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors. Created by the Missouri Humanities Council, the Warrior Arts Alliance, and Southeast Missouri State University Press, this series of anthologies preserves and shares military service perspectives of our soldiers and veterans of all conflicts and of their families. It is not only an outlet for artistic expression but also a document of the unique aspects of wartime in our nation’s history. Genres: Poetry, Short Fiction, Essay, Photography, Interview with a Warrior. Prize: $250 and publication. Deadline: June 1, 2017 (postmarked).

Texas Book Festival Youth Fiction Writing Contest. Hosted by the Texas Book Festival and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) at the University of Texas at Austin. Restrictions: Junior and high school Texas students. Genre: Original fiction, no more than 2,000 words in length on theme of “Funny Running Into You Here.” Prize: Winners receive a cash prize: $250 for first place, $100 for second, and $50 for third. In addition, winners are awarded a plaque, have their stories published on the TBF website, and are invited to participate on a panel during the Texas Book Festival weekend. Deadline: June 1, 2017.

“When I think of My Dad…” Essay ContestGenre: Essay “We want to know what your father means to you and how he has made your life better. What has he done to lift you up and keep you on the right track? How has he influenced you? How has he helped you stay on the path towards healing?” Prize: $200. Deadline: June 5, 2017.

The Pandeism Collegiate Writing CompetitionRestrictions: Open to undergraduate and graduate collegiate students of philosophy, theology, religious studies, social sciences, arts, literature, applied sciences, or comparable disciplines. Genre: Article presenting original thought in exploring implications of the modern theological theory of Pandeism (pantheistic Deism, belief in a Creator wholly becoming our Universe, proposed to be discernible by application of logic and reason). Papers written for course credit are acceptable. Submissions do not need to take a position in favor of or opposed to Pandeism as a theory, but must present original thought about its relative possibility, relation to other areas of theology, or implications for areas such as epistemology, ethics and morality, or science. Submissions must be a minimum of 3,000 words and a maximum of 6,000 words. Only one (1) article may be submitted by each student. Prize: $250 Amazon gift card and publication. Deadline: June 9, 2017.

Peter Blazey Fellowship.  Restrictions: Applicants must either be an Australian citizen or have Australian residency. Genre: Non-fiction in the fields of autobiography, biography or life writing. Prize: $15, 000, and a one-month writer-in-residency at The Australia Centre. Deadline: June 12, 2017.

IUPUI Poetry ContestRestrictions: High school age students. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $300. 2nd Prize $200, 3rd Prize $100. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award. Sponsored by Sisters in Crime. Restrictions: Open to emerging writers of color. An unpublished writer is preferred, although publication of one work of short fiction or academic work will not disqualify an applicant. Prize: $1,500. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Bard Fiction PrizeGenre: Published fiction book. Prize: $30,000 and a one-semester appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Scotiabank Giller PrizeRestrictions: Open to books published in Canada in English. Must  be nominated by publisher. Genre: Fiction. Full-length novel or collection of short stories published in English, either originally, or in translation. Prize: $100,000 to the winner and $10,000 to each of the finalists. Deadline: Books published between May 1, 2017 and June 30, 2017 must be received on or before June 15, 2017.

Norton Writer’s Prize. Sponsored by W.W. Norton & Company. “The Norton Writer’s Prize will be awarded annually for an outstanding essay written by an undergraduate. Literacy narratives, literary and other textual analyses, reports, profiles, evaluations, arguments, memoirs, proposals, mixed-genre pieces, and more: any excellent writing done for an undergraduate writing class will be considered.” Genres: Creative Nonfiction, Scholarly Essay. Prize: $1,500. Two runner-up prizes of $1,000. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation PrizesGenre: English translations of poetry, fiction, drama, or literary prose originally written in Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, or Swedish by a Scandinavian author born after 1800. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Fred Otto Prize for Oz Fiction/Warren Hollister Prize for Oz NonfictionGenre: Short Fiction, Art & Creative Nonfiction. All work must be related to the world of Oz. Prize: $100 in each genre. 2nd Prize $50 in each genre. Deadline: June 15, 2017 (electronic submissions only).

Goi Peace Foundation International Essay Contest for Young PeopleRestrictions: Open to people 25 years of age or less. Genre: Essay (max 700 words). Theme: “Education to Build a Better Future for All.” Prize: 1st US$840, 2nd US$420. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Vermont Studio Center – Full Fellowship Awards. The Vermont Studio Center offers 54 fellowships; open to anyone in the world. Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Towson University Prize for LiteratureRestrictions: Open to Maryland writers. Genre: Book-length manuscript of fiction, poetry, drama or imaginative non-fiction. The work must have been published within the three years prior to the year of nomination or must be scheduled for publication within the year in which nominated. Self-published works will not be considered. Prize: $1,000.  Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Baltimore Science Fiction Society Amateur Writing ContestRestrictions: Author must be a Maryland resident or a student at a Maryland 2- or 4-year college. Genre: Speculative fiction short story. Prize: 1st place is $250, 2nd place is $100, 3rd place is $50. Deadline: June 16, 2017.

Linda Flowers Literary AwardRestrictions: Entrants must live in North Carolina. “The North Carolina Humanities Council invites original, unpublished entries of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry for the Linda Flowers Literary Award. Submissions should detail examinations of intimate, provocative, and inspiring portraiture of North Carolina, its people and cultures, bringing to light real men and women having to make their way in the face of change, loss, triumph, and disappointments.” Prize: $1,500. Deadline: June 16, 2017.

A Midsummer Tale Narrative Writing ContestTheme: Summer Love. Length: 1,000 words minimum; 5,000 words maximum. Prize: $35 – $50 Amazon gift card. Deadline: June 21, 2017.

Ocean Awareness Youth ContestRestrictions: Open to students in grades 6 – 12. Genre: Art, poetry, prose, film. “We want your submission to make viewers reflect on the impact of ocean pollution, inspire them to consider possible solutions, and challenge them to take action.”  Prizes: $100 – $1,500 Deadline: June 19, 2017.

Utah Division of Arts and Museums Original Writing CompetitionRestrictions: Utah writers. Genres: Poetry and prose. Prize: $1,000 top prizes for book-length manuscripts of novels, creative nonfiction & history, collection of poetry or short stories, and juvenile book; $300 top prizes for individual poems, short stories, and personal essays. 2nd Prize $500 for the book-length categories, $150 for poetry. Deadline: June 23, 2017.

Blue Mountain Poetry Card Contest. “Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better. We suggest that you write about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write.” Prize: First prize $300. Second prize $150. Third prize $30. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Drue Heinz Literature PrizeRestrictions: The award is open to writers who have published a book-length collection of fiction or a minimum of three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals of national distribution. Online and self-publication does not count toward this requirement. Genre: A manuscript of short stories; two or more novellas (a novella may comprise a maximum of 130 double-spaced typed pages); or a combination of one or more novellas and short stories. Novellas are only accepted as part of a larger collection. Prize: $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press under its standard contract. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future ContestRestrictions: Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment and at least 5,000 copies (or 5,000 hits for online publication). Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Horror.  17,000 words max. Prize: $1,000 1st Prize awarded each quarter; one of those winners also receives the $5,000 annual “Golden Pen Award” grand prize. 2nd Prize $750, 3rd Prize $500. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Best New Writing (Gover Story Prize)Genre: Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction. Works of short prose must be less than 10,000 words, previously unpublished. Prize: $250.00. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Costa Book AwardsRestrictions: Prize is for books first published in the UK or Ireland by authors who have lived in the UK or Ireland for at least six months of each of the preceding three years. Books must be published between November 1 of the previous year and October 31 of the current year. Self-published works not allowed. Genre: Five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. Prize: £30,000.00 across all genres. 5,000 pounds in each category (poetry, novel, first novel, biography, children’s book). Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Ekphrasis: A Journal of Transformative VerseGenre: Poem. Prize is awarded to the best poem submitted to Ekphrasis during the year. Each poem must address a work of art. Prize: $500. Deadline: June 30, 2017. Snail mail only.

Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, Griffin Poetry PrizeRestrictions: One prize goes to a living Canadian poet or translator, the other to a living poet or translator from any country, which may include Canada. Genre: Poetry. Books must have been published in English during the calendar year preceding the year of the award. Prize: C$200,000, is awarded annually in two categories – International and Canadian. Each prize is worth C$65,000. Deadline: June 30, 2017.

Words and BrushesGenre: Short story inspired by artwork. Prize: $350 top prize. Deadline: June 30, 2017.


How To Read Poetry

Reading poetry well is part attitude and part technique. Curiosity is a useful attitude, especially when it’s free of preconceived ideas about what poetry is or should be. Effective technique directs your curiosity into asking questions, drawing you into a conversation with the poem.

The goal of careful reading is often to take up a question of meaning, an interpretive question that has more than one answer. Since the form of a poem is part of its meaning (for example, features such as repetition and rhyme may amplify or extend the meaning of a word or idea, adding emphasis, texture, or dimension), questions about form and technique, about the observable features of a poem, provide an effective point of entry for interpretation. To ask some of these questions, you’ll need to develop a good ear for the musical qualities of language, particularly how sound and rhythm relate to meaning. This approach is one of many ways into a poem.

Getting Started: Prior Assumptions

Most readers make three false assumptions when addressing an unfamiliar poem. The first is assuming that they should understand what they encounter on the first reading, and if they don’t, that something is wrong with them or with the poem. The second is assuming that the poem is a kind of code, that each detail corresponds to one, and only one, thing, and unless they can crack this code, they’ve missed the point. The third is assuming that the poem can mean anything readers want it to mean.

William Carlos Williams wrote a verse addressed to his wife in the poem “January Morning,”:

     All this—
was for you, old woman.
I wanted to write a poem
that you would understand.
For what good is it to me
if you can’t understand it?
but you got to try hard—

Williams admits in these lines that poetry is often difficult. He also suggests that a poet depends on the effort of a reader; somehow, a reader must “complete” what the poet has begun.

This act of completion begins when you enter the imaginative play of a poem, bringing to it your experience and point of view. If a poem is “play” in the sense of a game or a sport, then you enjoy that it makes you work a little, that it makes you sweat a bit. Reading poetry is a challenge, but like so many other things, it takes practice, and your skills and insight improve as you progress.

Literature is, and has always been, the sharing of experience, the pooling of human understanding about living, loving, and dying. Successful poems welcome you in, revealing ideas that may not have been foremost in the writer’s mind in the moment of composition. The best poetry has a magical quality—a sense of being more than the sum of its parts—and even when it’s impossible to articulate this sense, this something more, the power of the poem is left undiminished.

Poems speak to us in many ways. Though their forms may not always be direct or narrative, keep in mind that a real person formed the moment of the poem, and it’s wise to seek an understanding of that moment. Sometimes the job of the poem is to come closer to saying what cannot be said in other forms of writing, to suggest an experience, idea, or feeling that you can know but not entirely express in any direct or literal way. The techniques of word and line arrangement, sound and rhythm, add to—and in some cases, multiply—the meaning of words to go beyond the literal, giving you an impression of an idea or feeling, an experience that you can’t quite put into words but that you know is real.

Reading a Poem Aloud

Before you get very far with a poem, you have to read it. In fact, you can learn quite a few things just by looking at it. The title may give you some image or association to start with. Looking at the poem’s shape, you can see whether the lines are continuous or broken into groups (called stanzas), or how long the lines are, and so how dense, on a physical level, the poem is. You can also see whether it looks like the last poem you read by the same poet or even a poem by another poet. All of these are good qualities to notice, and they may lead you to a better understanding of the poem in the end.

But sooner or later, you’re going to have to read the poem, word by word. To begin, read the poem aloud. Read it more than once. Listen to your voice, to the sounds the words make. Do you notice any special effects? Do any of the words rhyme? Is there a cluster of sounds that seem the same or similar? Is there a section of the poem that seems to have a rhythm that’s distinct from the rest of the poem? Don’t worry about why the poem might use these effects. The first step is to hear what’s going on. If you find your own voice distracting, have a friend read the poem to you.

That said, it can still be uncomfortable to read aloud or to make more than one pass through a poem. Some of this attitude comes from the misconception that we should understand a poem after we first read it, while some stems from sheer embarrassment. Where could I possibly go to read aloud? What if my friends hear me?

The Line

What determines where a line stops in poetry? There is, of course, more than one answer to this question. Lines are often determined by meaning, sound and rhythm, breath, or typography. Poets may use several of these elements at the same time. Some poems are metrical in a strict sense. But what if the lines aren’t metrical? What if the lines are irregular?

The relationship between meaning, sound, and movement intended by the poet is sometimes hard to recognize, but there is an interplay between the grammar of a line, the breath of a line, and the way lines are broken out in the poem—this is called lineation. For example, lines that end with punctuation, called end-stopped lines, are fairly simple. In that case, the punctuation and the lineation, and perhaps even breathing, coincide to make the reading familiar and even predictable. But lines that are not end-stopped present different challenges for readers because they either end with an incomplete phrase or sentence or they break before the first punctuation mark is reached. The most natural approach is to pay strict attention to the grammar and punctuation. Reading to the end of a phrase or sentence, even if it carries over one or several lines, is the best way to retain the grammatical sense of a poem.

But lineation introduces another variable that some poets use to their advantage. Robert Creeley is perhaps best known for breaking lines across expected grammatical pauses. This technique often introduces secondary meaning, sometimes in ironic contrast with the actual meaning of the complete grammatical phrase. Consider these lines from Creeley’s poem “The Language”:

     Locate I
love you some-
where in

     teeth and
eyes, bite
it but

Reading the lines as written, as opposed to their grammatical relationship, yields some strange meanings. “Locate I” seems to indicate a search for identity, and indeed it may, but the next line, which continues with “love you some-,” seems to make a diminishing statement about a relationship. On its own, “eyes bite” is very disturbing.

Hearing Creeley read his poems can often be disquieting, because he pauses at the end of each line, and these pauses create a kind of tension or counterpoint in relation to the poem’s sentence structure. His halting, hesitant, breathless style is immediately recognizable, and it presents writers with new ideas about meaning, purely through lineation. But many poets who break lines disregarding grammatical units do so only for visual irony, something that may be lost in performance. Among metrical, free verse, and even experimental poets of today, there are those who do not interrupt grammatical sense when reading a poem aloud as much as they interrupt it in the poem’s typography. What to do as a reader? Try a variety of methods. It’s fun to “Creeleyize” any poem, just to hear what the lineation is doing. But if the results seem to detract from the poem’s impact, in terms of its imagery or concept, drop the literal treatment of line breaks and read for grammar or visual image. Reading a poem several ways allows you to see further into the poem simply through repetition.

With poets who use techniques drawn from music—particularly jazz, such as Michael S. Harper or Yusef Komunyakaa—or poets like Walt Whitman who employ unusually long lines, there may be another guiding principle: breath. Some poets think of their words as music flowing from a horn; they think of phrases the way a saxophonist might. Poems composed in this way have varied line lengths but they have a musicality in their lineation and a naturalness to their performance. They may have a recognizable sense of measure, an equivalent duration between lines, or, for the sake of contrast, one rhythmic pattern or duration that gives way to successive variations.

For some poems, visual impact may also be important. In “shaped poetry,” as well as many other types of writing that are meant to be seen as a painting might be seen, the line is determined by its placement in space. Some visually oriented poets present real challenges in that the course of the poem may not be entirely clear. Visual choices presented by the poet may be confusing. Sometimes the arrangements of words on a page are intended to represent different voices in a dialogue, or even a more complex discourse on a subject. Overlapping and layering might be the poet’s intent, which no single voice can achieve. It’s best to be aware that poems with multiple voices, or focuses exist and, again, looking for the inherent rules that determine the shape of the poem is the best approach.

Remember that the use of these techniques, in any combination, pushes the words of the poem beyond their literal meanings. If you find more in a poem than the words alone convey, then something larger is at work, making the poem more than the sum of its parts.

Starting the Conversation

We mentioned earlier that encountering a difficult poem is like a game or sport, say rock climbing, that makes you work a bit. The idea of finding handholds and footholds and ascending one bit at a time is apt. But some climbs are easier than others; some are very easy. You may enjoy an easy climb for a while, but you may also find that you want a bigger challenge. Reading poetry works the same way, and, fortunately, poets leave trails to help you look for the way “up” a poem. You’ll have to do some work, hard work in some cases, but most of the time, the trails are there for you to discover.

The best way to discover and learn about a poem is through shared inquiry discussion. Although your first experience of the poem may be private and personal, talking about the poem is a natural and important next step. Beginning with a focus question about the poem, the discussion addresses various possible answers to the question, reshaping and clarifying it along the way. The discussion should remain grounded in the text as much as possible. Responses that move away from what is written into personal anecdotes or tangential leaps should be gently urged back into analyzing the text. The basis for shared inquiry is close reading. Good readers “dirty the text” with notes in the margins. They make the inquiry their own.

Talking Back to a Poem

It would be convenient if there were a short list of universal questions, ones that could be used anytime with any poem. In the absence of such a list, here are a few general questions that you might ask when approaching a poem for the first time:

• Who is the speaker?

• What circumstances gave rise to the poem?

• What situation is presented?

• Who or what is the audience?

• What is the tone?

• What form, if any, does the poem take?

• How is form related to content?

• Is sound an important, active element of the poem?

• Does the poem spring from an identifiable historical moment?

• Does the poem speak from a specific culture?

• Does the poem have its own vernacular?

• Does the poem use imagery to achieve a particular effect?

• What kind of figurative language, if any, does the poem use?

• If the poem is a question, what is the answer?

• If the poem is an answer, what is the question?

• What does the title suggest?

• Does the poem use unusual words or use words in an unusual way?

You can fall back on these questions as needed, but experience suggests that since each poem is unique, such questions will not go the necessary distance. In many instances, knowing who the speaker is may not yield any useful information. There may be no identifiable occasion that inspired the poem. But poems do offer clues about where to start. Asking questions about the observable features of a poem will help you find a way in.

We’ll now bring inquiry to bear on two very different poems, each of which presents its own challenges:

• “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams

The Red Wheelbarrow
so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens
—William Carlos Williams

• “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich

Diving into the Wreck
by Adrienne Rich
First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.
There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
Otherwise
it’s a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.
I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.
First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.
And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.
This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he
whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Text and Context

Some people say that a poem is always an independent work of art and that readers can make full sense of it without having to use any source outside the poem itself. Others say that no text exists in a vacuum. However, the truth lies somewhere in between. Most poems are open to interpretation without the aid of historical context or knowledge about the author’s life. In fact, it’s often best to approach a poem without the kind of preconceived ideas that can accompany this kind of information. Other poems, however, overtly political poems in particular, will benefit from some knowledge of the poet’s life and times. The amount of information needed to clearly understand depends on you and your encounter with the poem. It’s possible, of course, even for someone with a deep background in poetry to be unaware of certain associations or implications in a poem. This is because poems are made of words that accumulate new meanings over time.

Consider this situation, a true story, of a poet who found a “text” at the San Mateo coast in northern California. As she scrambled over rocks behind the beach, near the artichoke fields that separate the shore from the coast highway, she found a large smear of graffiti painted on the rocks, proclaiming “La Raza,” a Chicano political slogan meaning “the struggle.” She sat down and wrote a poem. Why? her poem asked. I understand, she wrote, why someone would write La Raza on the side of a building, or on public transport. There it would be seen and would shout its protest from the very foundations of the oppressive system. But why here, in nature, in beauty, so far from that political arena. Couldn’t you leave the coast unspoiled? Then, one evening while reading the poem in Berkeley she got her answer. A man came up to her and asked her, “Do you want to know?” “I beg your pardon,” she said. “Those fields,” the man went on, “were where Chicanos had been virtually enslaved, beaten, and forced to live in squalor for decades.” The landscape was not innocent of political struggle. The text was not out of place.

Embrace Ambiguity

Here’s a tricky issue: the task is to grasp, to connect, to understand. But such a task is to some degree impossible, and most people want clarity. At the end of class, at the end of the day, we want revelation, a glimpse of the skyline through the lifting fog. Aesthetically, this is understandable. Some magic, some satisfaction, some “Ahhh!” is one of the rewards of any reading, and particularly the reading of poetry. But a poem that reveals itself completely in one or two readings will, over time, seem less of a poem than one that constantly reveals subtle recesses and previously unrecognized meanings.

Here’s a useful analogy. A life partner, a husband, a wife—these are people with whom we hope to constantly renew our love. Despite the routine, the drone of familiarity, the daily preparation of meals and doing of dishes, the conversations we’ve had before, we hope to find a sense of discovery, of surprise. The same is true of poems. The most magical and wonderful poems are ever renewing themselves, which is to say they remain ever mysterious.

Too often we resist ambiguity. Perhaps our lives are changing so fast that we long for stability somewhere, and because most of the reading we do is for instruction or information, we prefer it without shades of gray. We want it to be predictable and easy to digest. And so difficult poetry is the ultimate torment.

Some literary critics would link this as well to the power of seeing, to the relationship between subject and object. We wish the poem to be object so we can possess it through our “seeing” its internal workings. When it won’t allow us to “objectify” it, we feel powerless.

Torment, powerlessness—these are the desired ends? Well, no. The issue is our reaction, how we shape our thoughts through words. We have to give up our material attitude, which makes us want to possess the poem. Maybe we’ve bought the book but we don’t own the poem. We have to cultivate a new mindset, a new practice of enjoying the inconclusive.

Embracing ambiguity is a much harder task for some than for others. Nothing scares some people like the idea (even the idea) of improvisation as a writing or analytical tool. Some actors hate being without a script; the same is true of some musicians. Ask even some excellent players to improvise and they start to sweat. Of course, actors and musicians will say that there is mystery in what they do with a script or a score, and it would be pointless to disagree. The point, after all, is that text is mysterious. Playing the same character night after night, an actor discovers something in the lines, some empathy for the character, that he or she had never felt before. Playing or listening to a song for the hundredth time—if it is a great song—will yield new interpretation and discovery. So it is with great poetry.

Written by Edward Hirsch


Writing An Author Bio 101

1. Keep your bio short

Your author bio isn’t the place to tell your whole life story. 250 words is a good starting place. Once you’ve got that version firmed up, you can create a slightly longer version for PR purposes, or cut it down to 50 or 100 words for other uses such as contributor pages in a print publications, social media profiles, etc. Many poetry journals have asked me to send them a bio as short as 25 words, which is the same length as this very sentence.

 

2. Write in the 3rd person

Telling your story in the 3rd person may seem a little pretentious at first, but it does make it easier to talk confidently about your achievements. Give it a try.

 

 

3. A little history goes a long way

Ask yourself, “does anyone care where I’m from?”

If you’re writing a series of poems set in San Francisco and you were born and raised in the Bay Area, sure — that detail could be crucial to your bio. But if your work is a paranormal romance set in Russia, do we really need to know you were born in Iowa and now live in Maryland? 

Mentioning your birthplace, your year of birth, your parents’ occupation, they’re just some of the  default things we put in bios: Mary was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1953.

We begin at the beginning by habit. Boring! Cut to the good stuff that really matters to your audience. Maybe your parents’ occupations are crucial to your own story. Just be sure of that before taking up any extra words in what should be a succinct bio.

4. Your older publishing credits may not matter

Again, this isn’t a dictum, merely a consideration — but mentioning the work you’ve already published MIGHT BE a waste of words.

Think about it: if you’re Ezra Pound, everyone already knows what you’ve written; if you’re a relatively unknown poet, no one cares what you’ve written.

If you’re in the later camp, the only thing that matters is that the details of your life which you choose to include in your bio make the reader want to check out your work.

5. List SOME of your literary achievements

It’s usually wise to mention any big literary prizes or awards you’ve won, plus the most impressive moments from your publication history. This sort of stuff establishes credibility.

If you’re a highly celebrated writer, no need to be exhaustive (and probably no need to read this article further, since I’m assuming your author bio is already killer).

One thing that is common in the poetry world is to mention where you currently teach, since many poets are also academics. While this does establish credibility, that detail is so ubiquitous in bios that it’s rendered somewhat meaningless. Plus, the way things are going in higher education, you might be adjunct-ing at a new school in a new city every 12 months anyway. If you write for fun then it’s fine to mention that in your bio too.

6. Mention the most relevant professional, educational, travel, or personal experiences

Once again, it’s about pulling in the details which will resonate with your readers and which fit snuggly with the topics you’re writing about. If you’re a poet who writes about the sea, your background as a navy seal is going to interest people. If you’re a cancer survivor writing about healthy attitudes towards aging, mentioning your personal medical history is crucial. Writing Mediterranean based poetry? Talk about how you spent a year going back and forth between  Spain, France, Italy, and Greece.

7. Get some outside perspective

It’s tough to see your own life and career objectively. So ask your friends, family, and fans what they consider to be the most important or interesting aspects of your life story. Get the advice of your editor, agent, or writing group. And be sure to take good notes on what they suggest!

8. Write multiple bio versions

 I always recommend writing a few different versions of your bio. Pass them around and ask for feedback. Then combine the most compelling sections from each version to create an unbeatable Voltron of an author bio!

9. Don’t forget the human touch

Whether you write fiction, essays, or poetry, you’re hoping to make a connection with your reader. Your bio is also a chance to make a connection, so be sure the thing doesn’t read like a Wikipedia entry. Give it some quirk and character. Make the vibe match your aesthetic. Light and chatty. Dark and brooding. Urbane, but with a weak spot for Wendy’s hamburgers. Remind us that you’re human.