By David Sennema
I subscribe to Poets and Writers magazine, not because of all the high-toned “success” and “how-to” stories, but because of their multi-page “deadlines” section which is up-to-date and thorough enough to be useful. After reading the July/August, 2011 version, I thought it might be interesting to do an analysis of the descriptive summaries. I counted 42 of them stating entry fees, prize amounts, eligibility, and a few with free trips to lecture to students or attend writing seminars.
Twelve of them were for poets only, and ten wanted only short stories. Seven were interested in receiving poems, short stories or creative non-fiction; four wanted only novels; two wanted only creative non-fiction; two wanted essays; one wanted only short-short stories; one wanted memoirs; and three wanted some combination of the above.
Thirteen of them described limitations on who should submit. Some of those were limited to people from a particular city, region or state, others were limited by gender or by publication experience or by the length of the work to be submitted. The most interesting limitation was stated by the Leeway Foundation of Philadelphia which indicated that grants are given “to women and transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, and Two-Spirit poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers in the Philadelphia area who need financial assistance to work on a project involving art and social change.”
Most of the 42 are located in the USA, with two from England and one from Ireland.
According to the policy of the magazine, “We list only prizes of $1,000 or more, prizes of less than $1,000 that charge no entry fee, and prestigious nonmonetary awards.” I found that entry fees ranged from “0” to $25.00, and that prizes ranged from $500 to $40,000, with most of them around $1,000.
Some of the summaries call for chapbooks or collections of poems or short stories, rather than single entries. One of them offers an all-expense-paid trip to several colleges in Michigan, “each of which pays an honorarium of at least $500, to give readings, meet with students, and lead discussions and classes.”
I’m looking for places to send a 6,147-word short story, which is longer than most places are looking for, so with all the limitations taken into consideration, of the 42 summaries I found, there were only three for which my submission would be appropriate. Most of those asking for short stories want no more than 3000 words. Looks like my story just forgot to tell me when to quit!