February is a short month, but it packs a punch. This month there are more than four dozen contests calling for every genre and form, from poetry, to creative nonfiction, to completed novels. Prizes range from $100,000 to publication. None charge entry fees.
If you want to get a jump on next month’s contests go to Free Contests. Most of these contests are offered annually, so even if the deadline is past, you can prepare for next year.
Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards. Genre: Poetry, up to five poems per person. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: February 1, 2020.
Tales from the Moonlit Path: Bloody Valentine’s Challenge. Genre: Dark fiction with an element of love. Prize: $50. Deadline: February 1, 2020.
Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. Genre: 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, 2020.
Paterson Poetry Prize. Genre: Poetry book published in 2018. Prize: $1000. Deadline: February 1, 2020.
The Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award. Genre: 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, 2020.
Gannon University Poetry Contest. Restrictions: 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, 2020.
$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, 2020.
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, 2020.
North Carolina Student Poetry Contest. Restrictions: Open to student poets from 3rd grade to university undergraduates attending schools in North Carolina. Genres: Unpublished poems (submit one poem). Prizes: 1st Place winners will receive a $60 check, an NCPS award certificate, and a free copy of Pinesong. 2nd Place winners receive $40, an NCPS award certificate, and a free copy of Pinesong. 3rd Place winners receive $25, an NCPS award certificate, and a free copy of Pinesong. Deadline: February 1, 2020. Snail mail entries only.
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 the previous calendar year. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: February 1, 2020.
Charles Crupi Memorial Poetry Contest. Restrictions: 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 1, 2020.
Wednesday Club Junior Poetry Prize. Restrictions: High School Students in Grades 9 through 12 in the St. Louis Area. Genre: Poetry. Two individual poems. Prizes: $200, $150, $100, $80, $50, and up to five $25 honorable mentions TEACHER AWARDS: $200, $150, $100. (Applies to teachers of first three student winners.) Deadline: February 1, 2020.
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 2018. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: February 1, 2020.
Wednesday Club Poetry Prize. Restrictions: Adults over 18; living within a 50-mile radius of St. Louis. Genre: Poetry. Two individual poems. Prizes: $500, $300, $150. Deadline: February 1, 2020.
Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Award. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $100. Deadline: February 1, 2020.
The Waterman Fund Essay Contest. Genre: Personal essays between 2000 and 3000 words. The topic is, simply, changes in the wild. Prizes: The winning essayist will be awarded $1500 and publication in Appalachia Journal. The Honorable Mention essay will receive $500. Deadline: February 2, 2020.
Life Writing Prize. Restrictions: Open to UK residents. Genre: Life writing. The Prize defines life writing as ‘intended to be true’, reflects someone’s own life journey or experiences and is not fiction. Prize: Winner will receive £1,500, publication on Spread the Word’s website, an Arvon course, two years’ membership to the Royal Society of Literature and a development meeting with an editor and an agent. Deadline: February 3, 2020.
Zocalo Public Square Poetry Prize. Restrictions: Open to US poets only. Genre: Poetry that evokes a connection to place. Prize: $500. Deadline: February 3, 2020. Note: Winning author gives up all rights.
The University of Chester Flash (Youth). Restrictions: Open to Scottish students aged 16–19 who are studying in the UK. Genre: flash fiction of up to 360 words. Prize: Up to £100. Deadline: February 7, 2020.
Bethesda Poetry Contest. Genres: Poetry. Adult and high school student categories. Restrictions: Residents of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are eligible. Prizes: First place: $350, published on The Writer’s Center’s blog and magazine, and a free class and membership to The Writer’s Center. Second Place: $250. Third Place: $150. Honorable Mention: $75. All winners will be published on the Bethesda Urban Partnership website and honored at a special event during the Local Writer’s Showcase, April 16–17, 2020. Deadline: February 7, 2020.
Luminarts Creative Writing Fellowship. The Creative Writing Fellowship awards two $7,500 grant Fellowships for excellence in creative writing in the categories of prose and poetry, in fiction and nonfiction. Applicants submit a two-page written piece (either a stand-alone piece or an excerpt of a larger piece such as a novel or short story). 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: $7,500. Deadline: February 7, 2020.
White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails. Restrictions: 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. (Residency will be verified before prize winner is announced.). Writers who have published 2 or more full-length collections of poetry or who do not meet the residency requirements are NOT eligible. Genre: Poem on topic of “Shared Spirit.” Prize: $1,500. Deadline: February 7, 2020. Note: Winning author gives up all rights.
Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Restrictions: 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, 2020.
Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards. Restrictions: Open to authors who either are citizens or permanent residents of Western Australia. Genre: Book published during the preceding calendar year in a variety of genres. Prize: A$15,000. Deadline: February 10, 2020.
Writers’ Trust / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. Restrictions: Only works from writers who are Canadian citizens, whether living in Canada or abroad, or permanent residents of Canada are eligible. Genre: Short story or excerpt from a fiction work-in-progress first published by a Canadian magazine or annual anthology during the previous calendar year. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: February 12, 2020.
Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition. Genre: Short story. All entries must be original unpublished prose of 2,000 words or fewer. Prize: £500 and publication. Deadline: February 13, 2020.
Lex Allen Literary Festival Prizes. Restrictions: Open to undergraduate college students. Genres: Poetry and fiction. Prize: $100. Deadline: February 14, 2020.
Scotiabank Giller Prize. Restrictions: Open to books published in Canada in English. Books must be published in Canada in English between October 1, 2019 and February 29, 2020 to be eligible for the 2020 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 14, 2020.
Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry is an annual regional prize. Restrictions: Open to residents of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, or Michigan. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $10,000 as well as a contract for publication to the author of the winning manuscript. Deadline: February 14, 2020.
Bala Kids/Khyentse Foundation Children’s Book Prize. Genre: Children’s book on Buddhist themes and values. Prize: $5,000 and publication by Bala Kids, an imprint of the Buddhist magazine and publishing house Shambhala. Deadline: February 15, 2020.
Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. Genre: Poetry collection translated from any language into English and published in the previous calendar year. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: February 15, 2020.
Ambroggio Prize. Restrictions: Poet must be a U.S. Citizen; Resident of the United States for the ten-year period prior to the submission deadline, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Legal Permanent Status (LPS), or any subsequent categories designated by the U.S. authorities as conferring similar enhanced status upon non-citizens living in the United States. Genre: Book-length poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and with an English translation. Prize: $1000 and publication. Deadline: February 15, 2020.
Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards for Excellence in Published Haiku, Translation, and Criticism. Genre: Published book. Books must have been published in 2019 and must clearly contain a printed 2019 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, 2020.
Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Award. Genre: Poetry — translation into English of a significant work of modern Italian poetry. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: February 15, 2020.
New England Youth Outdoor Writing Contest. Restrictions: Open to students in grades 6–12 in the New England states. Genre: Nonfiction essay about the outdoors. Prize: Up to $150. Deadline: February 15, 2020.
Nelson Algren Literary Award 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: February 17, 2020.
Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers. Restrictions: The nominee must self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. The nominee must have written and published at least one but no more than two books of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Genre: Fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Prize: $1000. Deadline: February 17, 2020.
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 19, 2020.
Gaithersburg Book Festival Poetry Contest. Restrictions: Open to high school students (grades 9–12) from across the Washington Metropolitan Area (Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC). Genre: Poetry. Prize: First, 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive $250, $100 and $50 gift certificates. Deadline: February 20, 2020.
RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Restrictions: Candidates must be: A Canadian citizen or permanent resident; Under the age of 35; Unpublished in book form and without a book contract. Genre: Poetry. Prizes: Winner: $5,000; Finalists: $1,000. Deadline: February 25, 2020.
500 Words BBC Radio 2 Contest. Restrictions: Open to any child who is aged between 5 and 13 years old on 12th June 2020 who is a full time resident of the UK. Genre: Short story of no more than 500 words. Prize: Child’s height in books! Deadline: February 28, 2020.
Black Caucus of the American Library Association Self-Published E-Book Literary Award. Restrictions: Open to African-Americans. Genre: Self-Published E-Book in fiction and poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: February 28, 2020.
The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multi-Lingual Texts. Genre: Literary translations and multi-lingual texts. Prize: $200. Deadline: February 28, 2020.
Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative Nonfiction. Genre: Essay, maximum 5,000 words. Prize: $250 top prize. Deadline: February 28, 2020.
Wiley-Silver Prize in Civil War History. Genre: 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 28, 2020.
Creative Capital Award. Restrictions: Entrants must be US citizens or permanent residents, aged 25+, with 5+ years’ professional writing experience, and not be full-time students. Genre: Poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels. Grant: Up to $50,000. Deadline: February 28, 2020.
The Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction. Genre: Novel published in 2019 (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: February 28, 2020.
Frank O’Connor International Short Story Fellowship. Restrictions: Writers working in English from outside Ireland. Must have at least two full-length works of fiction published of which at least one must be a short story collection. Genre: Short fiction. Fellowship: €2,500, totaling €7,500 and self-catering accommodation. The costs of travel to and from Cork would also be covered. Writer must reside in Cork for 12 weeks. Deadline: February 29, 2020.
The Kelpies Prize (Scotland). Restrictions: Open to Scottish authors. Genre: Children’s fiction and illustration. Prize: £1,000, a publishing contract, a writing retreat, and a year of mentoring by an editorial team. Deadline: February 29, 2020.
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 29, 2020.
Quantum Shorts Competition. Genre: Fiction stories, under 1,000 words, that are “clearly inspired by some aspect of quantum physics.” For 2020, entries also must contain the phrase “Things used to be so simple.” Prize: $1,500 and online publication. Deadline: February 29, 2020.
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