Call for submissions: ME, IN A HAT Poetry and Prose Series

The next Silver Birch Press prompt and series! Send in your poems/short prose about yourself in a hat. Love the ideas they come up with for these.

Silver Birch Press


Think of a time when you had to wear a hat — in church, during graduation, on a winter day, at a wedding, on the beach, at a baseball game, while cooking or gardening, on a date, at a rodeo, while fishing or golfing, while dressed as Santa Claus — and write a poem or prose piece about yourself in the particular hat. In the piece, you could reflect  on how the hat makes you look and feel, or the occasion where/when you wore the hat. You can also write about a favorite hat — in this case, tell us how you obtained the hat and why you love it. Yes, we are talking about actual hats — and not the metaphorical multitude of hats we all wear. If you have a photo of yourself in the hat, great — but, if you don’t, send an image of the hat…

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My poem “Offspring” in this beautiful digital broadside by Orooj-e-Zafar

My poem “Offspring,” which was originally published by Stirring in the their July 2016 issue, is featured below in this digital broadside by artist and writer Orooj-e-Zafar. I’m so pleased with the result! Many thanks to Orooj-e-Zafar for creating such a gorgeous representation of my poem. You can see more of her work on the cahoodaloodaling Facebook page.


Orooj-e-Zafar donated her time to help raise funds for the Tandem Reader Awards and offered her broadsides in exchange for donations to their IndieGoGo campaign, which has now concluded, but you can still support Tandem by donating here. Your donations will support the cash prizes given to the winning nominated chapbooks.

You can read more about the Tandem Reader Awards, watch their video, and read my in depth interview below with Tandem’s president Rhiannon Thorne.

What are the Tandem Reader Awards and how are they helping poets?

I’m blown away by the importance and the meaning packed into this project. The folks at the Tandem Reader Awards have attracted support from some outstanding literary community presses and lit mags, such as Milkweed Editions, Copper Canyon Press, Sundress Publicationsand poets and artists such as, Kaveh Akbar, Siaara Freeman, Megan Peak, Chen Chen, Sarah Blake, Heather Bell, Meggie Royer, Orooj-e-Zafar, Francesca Bell, Jeremy Gaulke, and Ruth Foley.

Poetry Workshops and Writing Groups–guest blog post by Terez Peipins

terezAs a poet, you are probably looking for support, suggestions, and some advice about getting your work published. When you decide you’re ready to share your work and join a writing group, keep a few points in mind. Poets can be a sensitive lot so try to put that aside as much as possible and be open to suggestions. In other words, develop a thick skin and don’t take everything to heart. The mere fact of having a reader to look at your work can be a godsend. At other times it can lead you astray. Criticism can be hard to evaluate whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, so think over every suggestion other poets make carefully. You are the creator of the work and the final judge.

I was lucky. The first poetry group I joined was run by two San Francisco poets who had moved to Spain. I was terrified to share my work and that was one of the reasons I never chose the route of academic creative writing. On top of that, I had been involved in a relationship with a writer who was very critical of everything I wrote. So to actually join a group took a lot of courage.

There was only one other woman in the workshop; she restored medieval manuscripts and was a gentle soul. Every session started with a relaxing glass of wine and ended with some prompts for more writing. The two poets who ran the workshop were full of praise and long comments on my poems which was exactly what I needed. That gave me confidence and their suggestions helped me get my first chapbook published. The only problem came at the end of the workshop. One of the poets said my style of poetry was not in favor and it would be hard to publish. Thankfully, I didn’t listen; in fact I protested. One of my objectives was to get my work out to the public. If I had taken that advice, I might never have been published. Believing in yourself and your work is the lesson I learned.

Next, I tried an online writing group since I was still living abroad. This was definitely a mixed bag. I had some good suggestions particularly from one participant who was the one I turned to for any suggestions. There is usually a kindred soul in any group.

What stuck in my mind from my short-lived time in the workshop was a line in a poem I wrote in a poem called “Mediterranean”. In that line I wrote about the freedom to die by being trampled by a bull. Well, that led to protests and readers saying how offended they were by the allusion to bullfighting and how they couldn’t possibly read further. The reaction shocked me. I didn’t let them censor my work, nor should you. A writer has freedom, albeit within reason. In retrospect, I feel a certain pride that something I wrote could generate such passion.

These days, I am involved in yet another poetry workshop. It’s funny how the word has become a verb and yes, that is what happens. Poems are work shopped, line by line. Obviously, the positive aspect of getting good feedback outweighs the negatives or I wouldn’t continue. After each meeting I go over the suggestions I’ve received and find many of them helpful to fine tune my writing.

One of the negatives of writing groups in poetry there are often members who don’t understand what a poem is. It is obviously far more than a collection of words and though I may struggle coming up with a definition, most of us can recognize a poem immediately. I have found many writers of prose who think they are writing poems when in fact, the work resembles a flash fiction piece more than a poem. That isn’t an issue unless this writer gives you suggestions to pad out you poem with more words and explanations. This has happened to me more than once. I don’t want my poem to be indecipherable yet I don’t want to lose any magic of sound or rhythm it might possess. Watch out for feedback that wants more and more explanations. You don’t want your poem to be converted into something else.

My final advice is to listen to critiques, but the final decision is always yours. Polish it and write the best you can while keeping the integrity of your poem.


Do you have something say about poetry? An essay on being a poet, tips for poets, or poetry you love? is now accepting pitches for guest blog posts. 

Contact me here if you are interested! 

102316-peipinsThe poetry, fiction, and essays of Terez Peipins have appeared in publications both in the United States and abroad including Anak Sastra, Barcelona Ink, The Barcelona Review, The Buffalo News, Conte, The Kentucky Review, Melusine, and Pedestal, among many others. She is the author of three chapbooks of poetry. Her novel, The Shadow of Silver Birch is published by Black Rose Writing.  She won the 2016 Natasha Trethewey Prize in poetry from the Atlanta Writers Club.

FREE Poetry contest, $100+ in prizes, and interview–The Fitzgerald Museum, DEADLINE: Nov. 11, 2016

fitgeraldcontestThis poetry contest is sponsored by 501c3 nonprofit The Fitzgerald Museum, which operates out of the last extant house the Fitzgeralds lived in as a family during their lives.

Before he became a famous novelist, before he met the intrepid Zelda Sayre, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a poetic lyricist writing for Princeton University’s Triangle Club. It was his failure to get his poems published in magazines that led him to give up writing poetry and turn to novels.

To mark Fitzgerald’s humble beginnings in poetry, the Museum hosts an annual Poetry Contest. CASH PRIZES in the $100s of dollars are awarded to the top three poems in the following categories: High School, College, and Other. Specific prize amounts are yet to be determined.

I wondered how and why this poetry contest came to be, so I asked museum director Will Thompson a few questions to find out. See my interview with Thompson and a link to their contest guidelines below.

HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about The Fitzgerald Museum.

THOMPSON: The Fitzgerald Museum operates out of the last extant house the Fitzgeralds lived in as a family during their lives. Construction of the home was completed c. 1910, and the Fitzgeralds lived here from the fall of 1931 through the spring of 1932. In the late ’30s, the home was divided into a boarding house, and remained such until 1986 when it was saved from demolition by local residents Julian and Leslie McPhillips.

There is no other place in the world a lay person can visit to learn of Scott and Zelda’s legacy. Julian McPhillips, a Princeton graduate, co-founded the Museum on the grounds that, though Scott and Zelda never bought a home nor settled down, they deserved one.
Twenty-nine years later, the Museum is an attraction loved and cherished by both tourists the world over, and our local community. The Jazz Age lives on between our walls, as does the Great Depression that followed.

HOPKINSON: How/why did this poetry contest come to be?

THOMPSON: The Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Contest began in 2013 when one of our most ardent volunteers (who asks to remain anonymous), brought the idea to me in hopes that the contest would compliment our annual Short Story Contest. The volunteer had seen books in our research library that contained the poems of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and she subsequently learned that Fitzgerald’s first passion was poetry. Being an accomplished poet, the volunteer offered to put up substantial cash prizes for the contest–all that was left after that was to draw up the guidelines.

HOPKINSON: What type of poems are you looking for; is there a theme?

THOMPSON: The guidelines stipulate that submissions must capture “any aspect of Scott and Zelda’s lives, works, passions, ambitions, desires, failures, etc.” Basically, when you’re dealing with Scott and Zelda, they had their artistic fingers in so many pies and their lives ran such an amazing gamut from high and mighty to meek and lowly that we felt we needed to just blow off the doors and say, “Here are Scott and Zelda, poets. Have at it.”

HOPKINSON: Who are some of your favorite poets?

THOMPSON: Personally, I’m a Romantic pastorlist when it comes to poetry. Yeats–especially his early stuff. I could eat Wordsworth from sun-up to sun-down. And I like the poetry of modern songwriters, arguably Romantics themselves, like Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, and Andrew Bird.

HOPKINSON: Where can poets send submissions?

THOMPSON: Poems must include the cover page posted on our website (, and must be received prior to 11:59 p.m. on November 11.

HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?

THOMPSON: For more information about the contest, email

F. Scott Fitzgerald courtesy of The Fitzgerald Museum

F. Scott Fitzgerald courtesy of The Fitzgerald Museum

Click here to read contest guidelines.

DEADLINE: November 11, 2016 


PRIZES: CASH PRIZES in the $100s of dollars are awarded to the top three poems in the following categories: High School, College, and Other. Specific prize amounts are yet to be determined.

NOTES: Subject matter must capture some aspect of Scott and Zelda’s lives, works, passions, ambitions, desires, failures. . .etc.

FORMS: poetry


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If I Was Your Nemesis, poem by Shloka Shankar (IF I Poetry and Prose Series)

If you read one thing today… this engaging poem by friend and fellow poet Shloka Shankar up on Silver Birch Press this month.

Silver Birch Press

magritteIf I Was Your Nemesis
by Shloka Shankar

If I was your nemesis,
you’d see me every day

in a cloud shaped
like your confession.

Or see my reflection
when you stand up straight

and preen before the mirror.
If I was your nemesis,

you would worship me
where the softness of your cheek

meets the cool side of a pillow;
robbing you of a good night’s sleep

as I pitch my tent
in your subconscious.

IMAGE:“The Future of Statues” by René Magritte (1937).

shloka-shankarABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Shloka Shankar
is a freelance writer from Bangalore, India. She loves experimenting with Japanese short forms of poetry, as well as found/remixed pieces. She enjoys singing and creating abstract art/mixed media in her free time. Her work has most recently appeared in Failed Haiku, Red Bird, NOON, Erstwhile, The Ham Free Press, and other publications. She is the founding editor of…

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NO FEE Submission call & interview–Lunch Ticket, DEADLINE: Oct 31, 2016

I really can’t say enough great things about the staff at Lunch Ticket. They are kind, responsive, and organized. They are a twice-yearly literary and art journal published by the MFA community of Antioch University of Los Angeles, a program that is devoted to the education of literary artists, community engagement, and the pursuit of social justice. They are currently seeking submissions of Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Flash Prose (any genre), Young Adult (13+), Literary Translation & Multi-Lingual Texts, and Visual Art (painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, installation, performance, and video).

Click here to read my interview with Editor-in-Chief Arielle Silver.


Lunch Ticket submission guidelines.

DEADLINE: October 31, 2016



FORMS:  poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, flash prose (any genre), young adult (13+), literary translation & multi-lingual texts, and visual art (painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, installation, performance, and video)

DUOTROPE: (includes interview with the editors)




If you like this post, please share with your writerly friends and/or follow my blog or like my Facebook page.

17 FREE Poetry Contests (5 for high schoolers)–DEADLINES: Oct. 31, 2016 – Jan. 31, 2017


Below are the details for 17 free poetry contests in the order of the upcoming deadlines in October 2016 – January 2017. The contests are listed in order of deadline and in two sections: 1) open to most, 2) open to specific region, age, have a theme, etc. (including 5 contests for high schoolers).

Also listed are links to other sites who list creative writing contests on a regular basis.

FREE Contests open to most

Print Express Haiku Competition

DEADLINE: October 31, 2016


FORMS: Haiku

PRIZE: 100 pounds Amazon gift card and publication online

Jane Lumley Prize
DEADLINE: November 1, 2016


PRIZE: $300, publication, & Duotrope subscription

FORMS: poetry 

Scarborough Fair Creative Writing Contest
DEADLINE: November 30, 2016


FORMS: poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction

PRIZE: Prizes of C$150 will be awarded to the winner in each of the three genres (fiction and nonfiction short stories, poetry, and flash fiction). Fiction and nonfiction compete together within the short story genre.

FREE Contests open to specific region, age, themed, etc.

Eric Gregory Awards

DEADLINE: October 31, 2016


NOTES: Collection of poems, published or unpublished, by a poet under the age of 30. Must be a British subject by birth but not a national of Eire or any of the British Dominions or Colonies, and must ordinarily be resident in the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland

FORMS: Collection of poems

PRIZE: Total prize 20,000 pounds (average per poet has been 4,000 pounds, though exact amount not guaranteed)

Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest

DEADLINE: October 31, 2016


NOTES: Must be a Sophomore or Junior high school girl

FORMS: poetry

PRIZE: Top prize of $200, publication in Cargoes (Hollins’ student literary magazine), as well as expenses paid to the summer creative writing program

Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Prizes in Nonfiction and Poetry

DEADLINE: November 1, 2016


NOTES: Theme of the experiences of being Muslim in America, do not have to identify as Muslim to enter

FORMS: nonfiction and poetry

PRIZE: Two $500 prizes will be awarded (one in each genre), and the two winners will be published in the Oakland Arts Review / 2nd Prize $300 (one in each genre) and possible publication in OAR

New York Encounter

DEADLINE: November 1, 2016


NOTES: Theme “Reality as Never Betrayed Me.”

FORMS: poetry

PRIZE: $300, $200, and $100

The Vermont Writers’ Prize

DEADLINE: November 1, 2016


NOTES: Story, essay, or poem that celebrates the state of Vermont

FORMS: story, essay, or poem

PRIZE: $1,500

Neltje Blanchan/Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Awards

DEADLINE: November 14, 2016


NOTES: Wyoming residents only. The Neltje Blanchan Award is for the best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or script that is informed by a relationship with the natural world. The Frank Nelson Doubleday Award is open-theme, but only women writers may enter.

FORMS: poems, fiction, nonfiction, essays, drama

PRIZE: $1,000 each for the Blanchan and Doubleday awards

Flo Gault Student Poetry Prize

DEADLINE: November 15, 2016


NOTES: Full-time Kentucky undergraduates only.

FORMS: poetry

PRIZE: $500, broadside and online publication

Arts & Letters Awards

DEADLINE: November 15, 2016


NOTES: Residents of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador only.

FORMS: poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, dramatic script, and French language

PRIZE: C$350 – C$1,000

Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students

DEADLINE: November 27, 2016


NOTES: Entrants must be high school juniors during the 2016-17 academic year

FORMS: poetry

PRIZE: 1st Prize $500, 2nd Prize $250, 3rd Prize $100; winners published online

Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

DEADLINE: November 30, 2016


NOTES: Entrants must high school sophomores and juniors throughout the world.

FORMS: poetry

PRIZE: Full scholarship to The Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop, an intensive two-week summer seminar for motivated writers aged 16-18

Lyric Magazine’s College Poetry Contest

DEADLINE: December 1, 2016


NOTES: Must be a college student in the US or Canada to enter

FORMS: poetry

PRIZE: $500

The H.S. Poetry Prize

DEADLINE: December 1, 2016


NOTES: Must be a Sophomore or Junior high school girl in New England

FORMS: poetry

PRIZE: $500

The Society of Classical Poets – 2017 Poetry Competition

DEADLINE: December 31, 2016


NOTES: “The poems must be within the four themes used by the Society, and at least one poem must be in the Issues of Our Age theme.” Read guidelines carefully. No age restrictions.

FORMS: poetry

PRIZE: First place $500, High School Prize: $100, Translation Prize: $100, Hudson Valley, New York Poetry Prize: $100

NFSPS 2016 College Undergraduate Poetry Competition

DEADLINE: Submit between December 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017


NOTES: “Undergraduates working toward a degree in an accredited U.S. college or university during the contest submission period are eligible to enter the CUP Competition.”

FORMS: 10 previously unpublished poems

PRIZE: $500, chapbook publication, 75 printed chapbooks, $300 traveling stipend

Other Contest List Links