May/June 2021

Our annual Writing Contests Issue features a stress-free guide to seventy-five writing contests with no entry fees; Diane Seuss’s notes on order in poetry and in life; Sarah Ruhl on writer’s block during the pandemic; Kavita Das on copyediting as a process for (or against) social change; J.T. Bushnell on building a novel; advice from agent Iwalani Kim; interviews with New York Times book critic Jennifer Szalai and Writer Mother Monster podcast host Lara Ehrlich; writing prompts; and more.


Restless Herd: Some Thoughts on Order—in Poetry, in Life

by Diane Seuss
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The author of five poetry collections, most recently frank: sonnets, meditates on the idea of order and revisits her past to consider how shaping a book is like forging and acknowledging a self.  

Special Section

Free Writing Contests: Your Stress-Free Guide to Seventy-Five Contests With No Entry Fees

by Staff
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A selection of writing contests and grant opportunities that charge no entry fees along with submission tips and advice from contest administrators and editors.

News and Trends

Saddle Up and Read

by Arriel Vinson

To foster a love of reading among kids in North Carolina, Caitlin Gooch started a program through which children can read books to horses.


The Practical Writer

The Literary Life

The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises

by Staff
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Write a poem dedicated to a single person, a story about a key life experience without explicitly naming that experience, and an essay inspired by the landscape of Mars.

Not Writing Right Now: Writer’s Block During a Pandemic

by Sarah Ruhl
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With daily life so affected by the pandemic, the author and playwright offers suggestions for staying creative such as writing letters, trying a short form, and letting yourself take a break.