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Jane Martin Poetry Prize (UK)

Girton College

A UK-only competition for young poets (aged 18-30 years). The winners receive a cash prize of £700 and have an opportunity to give a reading at a celebratory event at Girton College.


Deadline March 05, 2021

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Top prize

£700

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Rhyming Poem Poetry Contest

FanStory

Share a poem with a rhyme scheme to enter this poetry contest. You can write about anything — just make sure your poem rhymes.


Deadline March 10, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Annie Balocating Undergraduate Prize for Poetry

Michigan State University

The Annie Balocating Undergraduate Prize for Poetry was established in 2011. It awards $500 for a single poem, and is open to Michigan State University undergraduate students in any major. The call for entries goes out at the end of January, and the final judge is one of the poets appearing at our Spring Poetry Festival.


Deadline March 10, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Washington Prize

The Word Works

Each year, The Word Works awards a living American or Canadian poet $1,500, a generous supply of author copies, and book publication for a volume of original poetry in English. To enter, submit a manuscript of 48 to 80 pages.


Deadline March 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Open Prize

The National Poetry Series

The National Poetry Series seeks book-length manuscripts of poetry written by American residents or American citizens living abroad.


Deadline March 15, 2021

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Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

Publication of full-length manuscript

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

Tor House Prize for Poetry

Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation

The annual Tor House Prize for Poetry is a living memorial to American poet Robinson Jeffers. The contest is open to well-crafted poetry in all styles, ranging from experimental work to traditional forms, including short narrative poems. Poems should be no longer than 3 pages.


Deadline March 15, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Keats Poetry Competition

Writers Online

The great romantic poet John Keats died on 23 February, 1821, at the age of 25. To honour his memory, Writing Magazine poets are invited to enter a competition for poems rooted in any aspect of his life or work. Entries should be no longer than 40 lines. The winner will receive £100, with £50 for the runner-up. Both poems will be published in Writing Magazine.


Deadline March 15, 2021

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Top prize

$136

Additional prizes

Publication in Writing Magazine

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

The Hudson Prize

Black Lawrence Press

Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Hudson Prize for an unpublished collection of poems or short stories. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner of this contest will receive book publication, a $1,000 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes awarded on publication.


Deadline March 31, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $27

Snowbound Chap Book Award

Tupelo Press

The Snowbound Chapbook Award includes a cash award of $1,000 in addition to publication by Tupelo Press, 25 copies of the winning title, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. Manuscripts are judged anonymously and all finalists will be considered for publication. Please read the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript.


Deadline March 31, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Tupelo Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Poetry Prize

Fish Publishing

The top ten poems of the annual Fish Poetry Contest will be published in Fish Anthology. First prize winnner will receive the cash reward and the second prize winner will receive a week in residence at Anam Cara Writers ' Reatreat.


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Fish Anthology

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $14

Frost Farm Prize for Metrical Poetry

Frost Farm Poetry

The Trustees of the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH, and the Hyla Brook Poets invite submissions for the 2021, 11th Annual The Frost Farm Prize for metrical poetry. The winner receives $1,000 and an invitation, with honorarium, to read in June 2021 as part of The Hyla Brook Reading Series at the Robert Frost Farm.


Deadline March 31, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

The Lascaux Prize in Poetry

The Lascaux Review

Poems may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication online in The Lascaux Review. The winner and all finalists will be published in the annual print journal.


Deadline March 31, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Lighthouse Poetry Series

Cleveland State University Poetry Center

The Cleveland State University Poetry Center welcomes submissions for the Lighthouse Poetry Series. The Lighthouse Poetry Series publishes contemporary poetry from poets with any history of publication. The winner will receive $1,000, publication, and a standard royalty contract. This year’s contest will be judged by Randall Mann.


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Royalty contract

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $28

Indiana Review Poetry Prize

Indiana Review

Winners of the Indiana Review poetry contest receive a prize of $1,000 and publication in Indiana Review. You may submit up to three poems. All entries are considered for publication. Each $20 fee gets you a year-long subscription of the journal.


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Indiana Review

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

The Plough Prize

The Plough Arts Centre

Now in its eighteenth year, the Plough Poetry Prize is an international open competition for a poem up to 40 lines on any subject.


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

£500, £250

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

The Caterpillar Prize

Caterpillar Magazine

The Caterpillar Poetry Prize is an annual prize for an unpublished poem written by an adult for children aged 7–11. This year’s judge is none other than Michael Morpurgo!


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in The Caterpillar

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $14

Poetry Awards Contest

TCK Publishing

The TCK Publishing Poetry Awards Contest is an international poetry contest established in 2021. Each year’s prizewinner receives a $1,000 honorarium and publication of his or her poem on the TCK Publishing website. TCK Publishing recognizes poetry writers from all countries, backgrounds, and levels of experience.


Deadline March 31, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication on TCK Website

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Nowhere Emerging Travel Writers' Prize

Nowhere Magazine

We are looking for never-been-published travel writers from anywhere in the world to send us stories—fiction, nonfiction, essay or poetry—that possess a powerful sense of place, people and time.


Deadline March 31, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Nowhere Magazine

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Nimrod Literary Awards

Nimrold International Journal of Prose and Poetry

The Awards are among the most distinguished literary prizes in the country. Past judges include Karen Russell, Stanley Kunitz, Marvin Bell and Mark Doty. Poetry submissions should be 3-10 pages of poetry (one long poem or several short poems), and fiction submissions should be 7,500 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel).


Deadline April 01, 2021

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Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Winning Writers

This contest seeks today's best humor poems. No fee to enter. Submit published or unpublished work. $2,250 in prizes.


Deadline April 01, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Humor, Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Geminga: $500 for Tiny Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Art

Sunspot Literary Journal

Geminga is a neutron star so small it was difficult to detect. It was named, in part, for a transcription of gh’è minga, meaning “it’s not there.” For 2021, Sunspot Lit is launching "Geminga" to honor the power of the small. No restrictions on theme or category. Word limit is 100 for fiction and nonfiction. Micropoetry is limited to 140 characters.


Deadline April 01, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Sunspot Lit for winner, runners-up & finalists

Genres

Fiction, Poetry, Essay, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

Dream Quest One Poetry

Dream Quest One

This poetry contest is open to everyone and international. We hope that you are inspired to display the beauty and art of poetry for the entire world to see your "gift of a dream."


Deadline April 05, 2021

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Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

The Pinch Literary Awards

The Pinch Literary Journal

Pinch is a literary journal run by the MFA students at the University of Memphis. In their annual contest, two winners are selected from each category of fiction and poetry. Only unpublished entries are considered.


Deadline April 07, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Pinch

Genres

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

University of Pittsburgh Press

The University of Pittsburgh Press announces the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize for a first full-length book of poems. Named after the first director of the Press, the prize carries a cash award of $5,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press in the Pitt Poetry Series under its standard royalty contract. The winner will be announced in the fall; no information about the winner will be released before the fall announcement. The Starrett Prize is our only venue for first-book poetry manuscripts.


Deadline April 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize

Marsh Hawk Press

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Marsh Hawk Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Manuscripts should be between 48 to 84 pages. [Submissions open December 1, 2020]


Deadline April 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Marsh Hawk Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Cave Canem Poetry Prize

Cave Canem

Launched in 1999 with Rita Dove 's selection of Natasha Trethewey 's Domestic Work, this first-book award is dedicated to the discovery of exceptional manuscripts by black poets of African descent. Manuscripts should be 48-75 pages in length.


Deadline April 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by University of Pittsburgh Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry

Beloit Poetry Journal

Submit 1-3 unpublished poems on any subject in any style up to a maximum of 10 pages per entry. (We enjoy long poems!)


Deadline April 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Louise Bogan Award

Trio House Press

The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence is open to ALL poets, regardless of publication history.


Deadline April 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

F(r)iction Poetry Contest

F(r)iction

You may submit up to five poems in the same document, and each poem can be up to three pages long. We are particularly drawn to poetry that capitalizes on three main elements: narrative trajectory, central imagery, and a strong content-to-structure relationship. We want to be challenged to dig deeper, but not so much that we have no idea what you’re saying.


Deadline April 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Considered for publication in F(r)iction

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

The Peseroff Prize

Breakwater Review

Submit up to three poems and a $10 entry fee. There are no restrictions on content or form: it 's all poetry. Poems should be previously unpublished. The winner and finalists will be published in Breakwater Review.


Deadline May 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in spring issue

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize

Kent State University

This prize is offered annually to a poet who has not previously published a full-length collection of poems. The prize awards the winner with $2,500 and publication of their first full-length book of poetry by the Kent State University Press. The winner and the competition's judge will give a reading together on the Kent State campus.


Deadline May 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

Publication by Kent State University Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

The Loraine Williams Poetry Prize

The Georgia Review

The Loraine Williams Poetry Prize is an award for a single poem, to be published in The Georgia Review. The winner will receive $1,500 and an expenses-paid trip to Athens, Georgia, to give a public reading with the judge. Submissions must be sent either online or by mail from March 1 through May 1. All submitted poems will be considered for publication in The Georgia Review; any selected will be paid $4 per line.


Deadline May 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Expenses-paid trip to Athens, Georgia

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition

Writer's Digest

Enter our 89th Annual Writing Competition for your chance to win and have your work be seen by editors and agents! Almost 500 winners will be chosen. The top winning entries of this writing contest will also be on display in the 89th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition Collection. [$20 for a poetry entry, $30 for a manuscript entry]


Deadline May 07, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

Emerging Writer's Contest

Ploughshares

In the spirit of the journal 's founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal. Authors are considered "emerging" if they haven 't published or self-published a book.


Deadline May 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Ploughshares

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $24

The Kurt Brown Prizes

Association of Writers & Writing Programs

AWP will offer three scholarships of $500 each to be awarded to three first-place winners in the genres of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. These scholarships must be used to attend a writers’ conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency at one of the AWP member programs in the Directory of Conferences & Centers. All winners and six finalists will also receive a one-year individual membership.


Deadline May 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500 scholarship

Additional prizes

one-year membership

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Novel, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Discover the finest writing contests of 2021 for fiction and non-fiction authors — including short story competitions, essay writing competitions, poetry contests, and many more. Updated weekly, these contests are vetted by Reedsy to weed out the scammers and time-wasters. If you’re looking to stick to free writing contests, simply use our filters as you browse.

Why you should submit to writing contests

Submitting to poetry competitions and free writing contests in 2021 is absolutely worth your while as an aspiring author: just as your qualifications matter when you apply for a new job, a writing portfolio that boasts published works and award-winning pieces is a great way to give your writing career a boost. And not to mention the bonus of cash prizes!

That being said, we understand that taking part in writing contests can be tough for emerging writers. First, there’s the same affliction all writers face: lack of time or inspiration. Entering writing contests is a time commitment, and many people decide to forego this endeavor in order to work on their larger projects instead — like a full-length book. Second, for many writers, the chance of rejection is enough to steer them clear of writing contests. 

But we’re here to tell you that two of the great benefits of entering writing contests happen to be the same as those two reasons to avoid them.

When it comes to the time commitment: yes, you will need to expend time and effort in order to submit a quality piece of writing to competitions. That being said, having a hard deadline to meet is a great motivator for developing a solid writing routine.

Think of entering contests as a training session to become a writer who will need to meet deadlines in order to have a successful career. If there’s a contest you have your eye on, and the deadline is in one month, sit down and realistically plan how many words you’ll need to write per day in order to meet that due date — and don’t forget to also factor in the time you’ll need to edit your story!

For tips on setting up a realistic writing plan, check out this free, ten-day course: How to Build a Rock-Solid Writing Routine.

In regards to the fear of rejection, the truth is that any writer aspiring to become a published author needs to develop relatively thick skin. If one of your goals is to have a book traditionally published, you will absolutely need to learn how to deal with rejection, as traditional book deals are notoriously hard to score. If you’re an indie author, you will need to adopt the hardy determination required to slowly build up a readership.

The good news is that there’s a fairly simple trick for learning to deal with rejection: use it as a chance to explore how you might be able to improve your writing.

In an ideal world, each rejection from a publisher or contest would come with a detailed letter, offering construction feedback and pointing out specific tips for improvement. And while this is sometimes the case, it’s the exception and not the rule.

Still, you can use the writing contests you don’t win as a chance to provide yourself with this feedback. Take a look at the winning and shortlisted stories and highlight their strong suits: do they have fully realized characters, a knack for showing instead of telling, a well-developed but subtly conveyed theme, a particularly satisfying denouement?

The idea isn’t to replicate what makes those stories tick in your own writing. But most examples of excellent writing share a number of basic craft principles. Try and see if there are ways for you to translate those stories’ strong points into your own unique writing.

Finally, there are the more obvious benefits of entering writing contests: prize and publication. Not to mention the potential to build up your readership, connect with editors, and gain exposure.

Resources to help you win writing competitions in 2021

Every writing contest has its own set of submission rules. Whether those rules are dense or sparing, ensure that you follow them to a T. Disregarding the guidelines will not sway the judges’ opinion in your favor — and might disqualify you from the contest altogether. 

Aside from ensuring you follow the rules, here are a few resources that will help you perfect your submissions.

Free online courses

On Writing:

On Editing:

Blog posts

Bonus resources

After you submit to a writing competition in 2021

It’s exciting to send a piece of writing off to a contest. However, once the initial excitement wears off, you may be left waiting for a while. Some writing contests will contact all entrants after the judging period — whether or not they’ve won. Other writing competitions will only contact the winners. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind after you submit:

  • Many writing competitions don’t have time to respond to each entrant with feedback on their story. However, it never hurts to ask! Feel free to politely reach out requesting feedback — but wait until after the selection period is over.

  • If you’ve submitted the same work to more than one writing competition or literary magazine, remember to withdraw your submission if it ends up winning elsewhere.

  • After you send a submission, don’t follow it up with a rewritten or revised version. Instead, ensure that your first version is thoroughly proofread and edited. If not, wait until the next edition of the contest or submit the revised version to other writing contests.