2015 Writing Contests

Pooled Ink: Celebrating the 2015 NCW Contest Winners is now available!

Winners' and Editor's Picks' copies are on their way (estimated delivery date of Dec. 21st), but you can order more now at Amazon.com.


Judge: Robert Garner McBrearty

1st: "Indigena" by Edward Hamlin ~ Boulder, CO
2nd: "A Room with a Tree" by Michael Twist ~ Boring, OR
3rd: "Some Shared Sky" by Chelsey K. Shannon ~ New Orleans, LA
HM: "Prison Games" by Josh Chaffin ~ Canon City, CO
HM: "Women with Large Dogs" by John Tait ~ Flower Mound, TX (Disqualified due to copyright issues)
HM: "Reading Water" by Carol Smith ~ Kirkland, WA
HM: "Red Hat, Yellow Hat, Blue Hat, Green Hat" by Andrew Lloyd-Jones ~ New York, NY

Judge: BK Loren
1st: "Spider Silk" by Carol Smith ~ Kirkland, WA
2nd: "Chestnuts, 1955" by Bonnie Kidd ~ Ocean Springs, MS
3rd: "Notes on Machinery" by Kelly Martineau ~ Seattle, WA
HM: "Why I Love Pineapple Express" by Emma Atkinson ~ Houston, TX
HM: "The Only Woman in the Room" by Sarah Marty-Schlipf ~ Tremont, IL

Judge:Joseph Hutchison
1st: "Klotho the Fibre Goddess Describes Fate" by Joanne M. Clarkson ~ Olympia, WA
2nd: "Town of Foolish Things" by Jennifer Givhan ~ Albuquerque, NM
3rd: "Vocabulary Lesson" by Don Hogle ~ New York, NY
HM: "Went Out for a While" by Ajay Manissery Konchery ~ Mumbai, India
HM: "When the Father of an Old Girlfriend Dies" by Zev Shanken

CLOSED: Poetry  
SUBMISSION PERIOD: July 1-September 30, 2015
Poems can be in any style, up to 250 lines. Submit up to three poems per entry fee in this category (see submission formatting instructions below). The final judge for poetry is Colorado's new Poet Laureate, Joseph Hutchison

CLOSED: Short Fiction  
SUBMISSION PERIOD: January 1-March 31, 2016

The short story can be in any genre or style and should have broad appeal. See below for word count and style guidelines. 

CLOSED: Personal Essay/Creative Nonfiction 
SUBMISSION PERIOD: April 1-June 30, 2016

The personal essay can be in any form or style, and should be evocative, thought-provoking, and sincere--and if it's humorous too, even better. See below for word count and style guidelines. 


Submission Guidelines

Open Submissions
You do not need to be a member of NCW or in Colorado to enter the contests.

Each category will be awarded the following:  
1st place: $1,000  
2nd place: $250  
3rd place: $100  
Winners, Honorable Mentions, and Editor's Picks will be published in the annual winners' anthology, Pooled Ink: Celebrating the 2015 NCW Contest Winners (due out by December 1, 2015) and receive 1 free copy. The judges' decisions are final.  

Editor's Picks
The editor may pick entries from all three categories that did not place in the top 3 or receive honorable mention according to the final judges for additional inclusion in the 2015 anthology, upon permission of the authors of such entries. Editor's picks will be contacted in October and will also receive a free copy of the anthology.

Notification of winners will be via an e-mail to all contestants and this website. Entrants will also receive an e-mail notification when this year's anthology is available. Entrants are not added to any "mailing lists" and we never sell or share your information.

Entry Fees
The entry fee for all contests is $20 per entry. Electronic submissions only. If you do not have a credit card or prefer to mail in your payment, please send an e-mail to Jennifer Top, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. There is no limit to the number of entries you may submit. You may submit up to 3 poems per entry fee in the Poetry category.

NOTE: If your payment is sent under a name other than your own (for example, as a business entity with no apparent connection to you), please make a note in the PayPal instructions whose entry you are paying for, and/or please make a note in your submission email as to what name your payment will appear under.

No Hard Copies
Please do not send hard copies of your entries. Even if you mail in your payment, entries should still be e-mailed. Any hard copies received will not be returned.

All submissions must be your own original work. Simultaneous submissions are okay, but please let us know if your submission is accepted elsewhere, as this may affect our ability to publish it should it be selected as a winner. Likewise, you are responsible for notifying any other contests you may be entered in should your submission win in our contest. Submissions can be previously published, however, you must own the rights to republish in the event that your submission wins. All winning entries and honorable mentions will be published in the annual anthology. NCW does not retain any rights to your work once it has been published in the anthology.

Short Fiction and Essays
All entries must be in a 12-point standard serif font such as Times New Roman or similar. Short stories and essays should be double-spaced with pages numbered and sent in Microsoft Word compatible format (Word document preferred over PDFs). The title of the document should be the title of the story or essay. Do not put your name on the story or essay. Include your name, mailing address, email address, and title(s) in the body of your email. 

Poetry format is open. You may submit up to three poems per entry fee; however, poems are judged individually, so please send each poem as a separate document (separate documents but all attached to the same email, preferably). All entries should be sent in Microsoft Word-compatible format and the name of each document should be the title of the poem. Do not put your name on the poems. Please do include your name, mailing address, email address, and title(s) of works in the body of your email.

Word Limits
Short stories:  5,000 words
Personal essays:  5,000 words
Poems*:  250 lines each  
*Entrants may submit up to 3 poems per entry fee in that category.

Pooled Ink 
Purchase the previous years' anthologies (2011-2015) online at Amazon.com.


Past Winners

2014 Bonus Editor's Pick: "Aging Out of Certainty" by Karen Harris ~ Arlington, MA

Judge: Seth Brady Tucker 
1st: "Revenants" by Lones Seiber ~ Morristown, TN
2nd: "Two Steps Back" by Lucinda Stein ~ Grand Junction, CO
3rd: "William" by Elena Stiehler ~ Rochester, NY
HM: "The Camp at Cutthroat Lake" by Tim Weed ~ Putney, VT
HM: "Out of the Nest" by S. Lawrence Paulson ~ Hyattsville, MD
HM: "Perishables" by Ashley Read ~ Fort Collins, CO
HM: "Big Book of Stains" by Kathleen Nelson ~ Santa Clara, CA

Judge: Laura Pritchett
1st: "The Run: A Memnoir" by David Oates ~ Portland, OR
2nd: "How to Make a Steve" by Steven Fowler ~ Cornwall on Hudson, NY
3rd: "Irish Hour" by Mary Roberts ~ Fort Collins, CO
HM: "With All Due Respect" by Lynn Carlson ~ Cheyenne, WY
HM: "Voice Lessons" by Katherine Valdez ~ Fort Collins, CO

Judge: Lisa Zimmerman
1st: "Ouroboros" by Nick Weaver ~ Tulsa, OK
2nd: "Inheritance" by David Watts ~ Mill Valley, CA
3rd: "Reveille" by Erika Brumett ~ Seattle, WA
HM: "Flood" by Lorrie Wolfe ~ Windsor, CO
HM: "When the Dust Settles" by Sandra McGarry ~ Fort Collins, CO
HM: "View from Shore" by Zach Miller ~ Seattle, WA

2013 Short Fiction Winners
Judge: Alyson Hagy
1st: “Man Camp” by Claire Boyles–Greeley, CO
2nd: “Simple Fractions” by Margarite Landry–Southborough, MA
3rd: “What the Tree Saw” by Jennifer Shepard–Eden Prairie, MN
HM: “Leaving Perdition” by Rebekah Shardy–Colorado Springs, CO
HM: “Evacuation” by Sonya Whitesell–Fort Collins, CO
HM: “Spirit of the Pike” by Jim Kroepfl–Grand Lake, CO
HM: “Tall Trees” by Nathan Ferguson–Denver, CO

2013 Personal Essay/Creative Nonfiction Winners
Judge: David Shields
1st: "Deeps" by Annie Dawid–Westcliffe, CO
2nd: "Back to Nature Boy" by Vyvyan Brunst–Bellvue, CO
3rd: "Easy Journey to Other Planets" by Barry Maxwell–Austin, TX
HM: "Soyleyelim" by Delaney Nolan–Winston-Salem, NC

2013 Poetry Winners
Judge:David Mason
1st: "Barking, Pt. Reyes" by Rafaella Del Bourgo ~ Berkeley, CA
2nd: "Alain" by Sara Blazevic ~ New York, NY
3rd: "Without Polish" by Sandra McGarry ~ Fort Collins, CO
HM: "U.S. Marine Aid Station at Landing Zone Baldy" by Robert Robeson ~ Lincoln, NE
HM: "Three Coyotes" by John Noland ~ Coos Bay, OR
HM: "Tell Me, Love" by Phil Ellsworth ~ Cedaredge, CO

2012 Short Fiction Winners
Judge: Antonya Nelson 
1st Place: "Amalfi" by Karen Uhlmann ~ Chicago, IL
2nd Place: "Love and Happiness" by Virginia Pye ~ Richmond, VA
3rd Place: "A Thanksgiving Memory" by Tammi Schissler ~ Austin, TX
Honorable Mention: "Honeymoon" by Karen Uhlmann ~ Chicago, IL

2012 Personal Essay/Creative Nonfiction Winners
Judge: Kim Stafford
1st Place: "Prisoners of War" by Leila Levinson ~ Austin, TX
2nd Place: "The Quietest" by Maria Wheeler
3rd Place: "Zoe" by Judson Vail ~ Austin, TX
Honorable Mention: "Coconuts" by Brenda Watterson ~ Algonquin, IL
Honorable Mention: "The N: Word: A Prayer of Thanksgiving" by Dawn Downey ~ Kansas City, MO
Honorable Mention: "Sunday at Aunt Seri's" by Katherine Fuoco Fairchild ~ Pittsboro, NC

2012 Poetry Winners
Judges: Michael Bussmann and Matthew Sage 
1st Place: "Crooked Heart Ranch" by Bob Brown ~ Fort Collins, CO
2nd Place: "In the Diner" by Sandra McGarry ~ Fort Collins, CO
3rd Place: "Oh, Bury Me, Please, on the Lone Prairie" by Janet Kamnikar ~ Fort Collins, CO
HM: "Opening Scene" by Diana Curran ~ Parker, CO
HM: "Star Fielder" by Janet Kamnikar ~ Fort Collins, CO

2011 Short Fiction Winners
Judged by Pam Houston
1st: "Clarice Johnson" by Michelle Auerbach - Boulder, CO
2nd: "Bonecrusher" by Sonya Whitesell - Fort Collins, CO
3rd: "Leaving Tomorrow" by Tammi Schissler - Austin, TX
HM: "Tulips" by Michelle Auerbach - Boulder, CO
HM: "In the Company of Doc Campilletti" by Robert Robeson - Lincoln, NE

2011 Personal Essay/Creative Nonfiction Winners 
Judged by John Calderazzo
1st: "Mahlapane's Story" by Jerry Eckert - Vail, AZ
2nd: "Naamu" by Lynn Carlson - Cheyenne, WY
3rd: "Samaritans" by Alice Ollstein - Washington, DC
HM: "What Egypt Has" by Salma Warshanna - Ellicott City, MD
HM: "Second Chances" by Kathleen Donnelly - Johnstown, CO
HM: "Take No Chances" by Leonard Ewy - Fort Collins, CO
HM: "In Praise of Water" by Hudson Spivey - Missoula, MT

2011 Poetry Contest Winners
Judged by Chris Ransick 
1st Place: "Diamondback" by Sally Clark - Fredericksburg, Texas
2nd Place: "Throwing Stones" by Sandra McGarry - Fort Collins, Colorado
3rd Place: "Poet Disappears in Japan" by Dixie J-Elder - Longmont, Colorado
HM: "The Team" by Janet Kamnikar - Fort Collins, Colorado
HM: "Hollow Heart" by Patricia Frolander - Sundance, Wyoming
HM: "Lost Cowboy" by W. A. Ewing - Loveland, Colorado
HM: "FAQ (On the Poet's Home Page)" by W. A. Ewing - Loveland, Colorado