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   Poetry Contests, listed by deadline date

Nota bene: this list is for your convenience only! This website should not be construed as endorsing or supporting these contests in any way; while many of them are both reputable and prestigious, poets should read the rules and conditions carefully before entering. Discussions of poetry contest scams can be found at sfwa.org/beware/contests.html and literature-awards.com/bookawards/poetry_contests.htm.

Re accuracy: This site is maintained as a public service in the webmaster's oh-so-copious spare time, and receives no funds to support it, other than through the extremely sporadic kindess of individuals. Entities wishing to contribute may donate through PayPal to demiurge@fibitz.com, or press unmarked bills upon Jeannie when you see her at the poetic venues of Madison. For incredibly complete and up-to-date listings, pay for a WinningWriters.com subscription.

Reasons for which competitions might not be listed include:

  1. geographically restricted to non-Wisconsin locations (this website is maintained as a local, i.e. Madison, Wisconsin, poetry public service).
  2. has no website—we've become suspicious of entities that can't even manage to put up a free blog.
  3. the entry fee exceeds 2% of the prize value without furnishing significant other compensation, e.g. a copy of the winning book, a subscription, a cool t-shirt, massive prestige, etc. We are somewhat more lenient when entries can be sent electronically, saving postage and other resources.
  4. We haven't heard of it—send info to arachne@madpoetry.org.
  5. We're thinking of also not listing—and recommending that you boycott—contests that fail to name the judge, give a notification date, or provide contact info other than a P.O. box. Entities sponsoring contests, take note. Poets, spend your $ on contest with user-friendly policies. More of my rants on this subject in the 2008 Poet's Market, on PoemFactotum.com, and at Disorient Express.
  6. We also tend not to list promotional “contests.”
January February March April
May June July August
September October November December

   Local Contests

January 2: Wis. Fellowship of Poets STUDENT POETRY CONTEST
The Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets annual poetry contest for students attending public, private or parochial schools in Wisconsin: JUNIOR DIVISION (grades 6-8) and SENIOR DIVISION (grades 9-12). Prizes in each division: 1st $50, 2nd $30, 3rd $20, Honorable Mentions. The winners from each division will be published in the Wisconsin Poets' Calendar. For rules: http://wfop.org/contests/student.html
January 15: OddContest $500 for 500 SF Prose Poem/Flash Fiction Contest
Submit 500-words-or-less unpublished speculative prose poems or flash fiction for the $500 OddContest. $10 adult entry fee; $50 prize with no entry fee for youth. 2014 judge: Laurel Winters. Results posted by March 15. See http://odysseycon.org/contest/contest.html for guidelines.

February 1: Wis. Fellowship of Poets Muse Prize for Excellence in Poetry
Wisconsin poets. First Prize $200; Second Prize $100; Third Prize $75. Contest opens December 1; deadline February 1. For rules and entry form http://wfop.org/contests/muse.html or send an SASE to: WFOP/Muse/Jagielski, 572 Berwyn Drive, Fontana, WI 53125-1556

June 15 (biennial): William Staffford Award for Poetry.The winning poem will be awarded $1,000, publication of the poem in Rosebud, and three copies of the contest issue. Four poets whose poems are judged to be "runnerups" will be awarded $100, publication and three copies of the issue. Send 3-5 original unpublished poems, any style or theme, (one copy of each poem, each no longer than one page, may not be handwritten) and the required entry fee of $10 (check payable to Rosebud/Stafford Prize; cash also accepted). The poet's name and address should be on the upper right-hand corner of each page. Include a cover letter with a brief bio. Enclose SASE. See http://rsbd.net/stafford2008rules.htm. Send to the judge:

R. Virgil Ellis
c/o Stafford Poetry Award
P.O. Box 614
Cambridge, WI 53523

August 1: Milwaukee Irish Fest Poetry Contest
• The Donn Goodwin prize is named after a Wisconsin poet, linguist, and educator who was active in supporting Irish and Irish-American writing and poetry. An award of $100 will be given to the winning poem. This contest is open to all.
• The Joseph Gahagan prize of $100 will be awarded in memory of the man who served as poetry consultant to Irish Fest for many years and was a lecturer in the English department of the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. Only current residents of Wisconsin are eligible for this prize.
The awards will be given to the entries best reflecting Irish or Irish-American poetry traditions. While the poems do not necessarily need to have direct Irish or Irish-American themes, the winning entries should have a cultural/literary relation to either Ireland or Irish-America. Each contestant should submit no more than one poem; however, Wisconsin residents may submit one poem for each contest. Entries must be received between June 15 and August 1. All entries must be typewritten and mailed. No handwritten, faxed, or e-mail submissions will be accepted. All entries should be mailed to: Milwaukee Irish Fest, 1532 Wauwatosa Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53213, Attention: Poetry Contest. Each entry should have a cover sheet that contains the poet’s name, address, telephone number, and/or FAX and/or e-mail address. It should indicate whether the poem is being submitted for the Goodwin or for the Gahagan Prize, and it should be stapled to the entry. The poet’s name or other identifying information should not appear on the poem.
Each entry should be the poet’s original work and should not have appeared previously in any publication. No entries will be returned. Contestants are urged to keep copies of their submissions and to put a clear return address on the envelope in case of non-delivery. http://www.irishfest.com/festival/atthefest/contests/poetrycontest.php

October 1 (received): Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation/ Vermont Studio Center Fellowship for Madison, WI area visual artists & writers The Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center are pleased to announce the availability of three Residency Fellowships available to visual artists and writers who are residents of the Madison, WI area. Each Fellowship provides a month-long Residency at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT and includes: Uninterrupted working time in a private studio, Access to the counsel of seven Distinguished Visiting Artists and Writers (3 painters/ 2 sculptors/ 2 writers) per month, Three meals a day, Comfortable, private accommodations, The companionship of a national and international community of talented working artists and writers. The Residency period: any month between January and May. Applications must be received by October 1. Notification of results December 1. For more information and to apply:

  • Download an application at www.vermontstudiocenter.org
  • email: info@vermontstudiocenter.org
  • call: (802) 635-2727
  • write: VSC, PO Box 613, Johnson, VT 05656.

Be sure to clearly mark "Rowland—Madison award" on the restricted fellowship line provided on the application.

December 15: Wisconsin People & Ideas Poetry Contest
Wisconsin People & Ideas regularly publishes some of the best poetry and fiction from around the state, and now it's your chance to become a part of Wisconsin's new literary canon. Enter your poems and short stories in our annual contests, which have deadlines of December 15, and receive up to $500 and other prizes along with publication in Wisconsin People & Ideas and a reading at the 2011 Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison. In addition, first-place winners will receive a one-week stay at a venue TBD. Poetry contest winners receive prizes of $500 (first place, the John Lehman Poetry Award), $100 (second place), and $50 (third place). Winning poems appear in Wisconsin People & Ideas, with 10 runners-up in the summer and fall issues. The first-prize poet receives a three-hour CD recording/editing session at Abella Studios. For details and rules, visit http://www.wisconsinacademy.org/poetrycontest