Contest Five ran from March 15 to April 1, 2014, and winners were announced May 2, 2014. Check out our full list of quarterly contests for past winners and current or upcoming themes!
The Frog Who Swallowed the Moon by Renee Hall
The Second Coming of Mr. Whiskers by Katie Burgess
Clean Ice by Andrea Hoff
Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
Pillbox Rattle by Garrett Faulkner
After the Apples by Briana McGuckin
Silky Mouse and Kookaburra by Josh Morrey
Special Mention by Guest Judges (in no particular order)
Butterflies by Stephen Koster
The Giving Lake of her Backwashed Tears by Leo Norman
Maker of Birds by Cassandra Arnold
By unanimous decision of the judging panel, there is no poetry award for this contest as there were fewer than three qualified finalists. See Rules and Restrictions below.
The theme for this contest was “Fables.”
Fables have been a part of storytelling as long as we’ve been telling stories. Fables do more than entertain: they also present a lesson or attempt to teach a moral. Traditionally, fables feature anthropomorphic animals as main character(s).
For the best chance of winning this writing contest, your story or poem should feature at least one animal as a primary character—does not have to be the protagonist, and does not have to speak, but certainly can do both—and should contain a lesson or moral. The lesson or moral may be humorous or somber.
You asked, we listened. The original artwork for Contest Five: “Fables”, custom designed by Goodloe Byron, is now wearable as tattoos and T-shirts!
Contest entries were accepted from March 15 to April 1, 2014.
Winners were announced May 2, 2014.
No fee is required for this contest. You will have an opportunity to make an optional donation once your entry is submitted. Your tax-deductible contribution helps keep our contests free.
Spark’s production costs are covered and contributing writers are paid in part through sales of the anthology and in part by generous donations from people like you. Funds for all remaining expenses are donated by Brian & Amy Lewis.
We will award one prize at each level for poetry, and one at each level for prose.
- Publication in Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume VI, as the first (poem) or second (prose) piece in the collection
- Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers
- One-year subscription to Duotrope
- One-year print subscription to American Poetry Review or Poets & Writers magazine or The Writer magazine
- Complimentary print & digital copies of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volumes I through IV
- Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile
- One-year digital subscription to American Poetry Review
- Complimentary digital copies of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volumes I through IV
- Complimentary print copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume I
- One-year Premium Membership at Scribophile
- Complimentary digital copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology Volumes I through IV
- One-year digital subscription to American Poetry Review
About the Guest Judges
Helena Bell is a poet and writer living in Raleigh, North Carolina where she is an MFA candidate in Fiction at NC State University. She has a BA, another MFA, a JD, and an LLM in Taxation which fulfills her lifelong ambition of having more letters follow her name than are actually in it. She is a graduate of the Clarion West Workshop and her fiction and poetry have appeared in Clarkesworld, Shimmer, Electric Velocipede, the Indiana Review, Margie Review, Pedestal Magazine and Rattle. Her story “Robot” was a nominee for the 2012 Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Learn more by following her blog at http://www.nuetcreations.com/blog/.
Brittani Sonnenberg has an MFA from the University of Michigan and lives in Berlin, where she is a frequent contributor to Berlin Stories on NPR. She is currently a visiting lecturer at the MFA program of the University of Hong Kong. Her award-winning fiction has been widely published in magazines such as Ploughshares, anthologized in the O’Henry Short Story Prize Series, and received distinguished story recognition by Best American Short Stories. Her non-fiction has been published by Time Magazine, the Associated Press, NPR, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and elsewhere. She studied English literature with a citation in Mandarin Chinese at Harvard University. She was a European Journalism Fellow at Berlin’s Freie Universität from 2009-2010. Her novel Home Leave will be available in June, 2014.
Contest entries will be accepted from March 15, 2014 until the stroke of midnight, U.S. Pacific Time, on April 2, 2014. (In other words, make sure your entries are in before 11:59 pm on April 1).
There are no genre restrictions for this contest, and content guidelines are similar to our standard submission guidelines, including what we are not accepting.
Contest Five awards prizes for poetry and prose according to our contest judging criteria.
Prose includes both fiction and creative nonfiction, but we have not divided the category further because we believe that well-written creative nonfiction should tell a story so well that the result is indistinguishable from fiction. Prose must be less than 12,000 words.
Poetry includes all styles, meters, and rhyme schemes, or may be free-form. Poetry must be less than 150 lines.
Rules & Restrictions
- Publication Rights remain with the author or poet. Grand Prize winners are not obligated to publish their winning entry in Spark, but if our publication offer is accepted, the cash portion of the prize serves to purchase First Publication rights as outlined on our Rights & Rates page. All other entrants retain full rights to submit and publish their entries as they wish.
- Prose limits: We are looking for excellent writing and storytelling, not length. A compelling and well-written “flash fiction” piece has equal chance against a novelette. Prose must be less than 12,000 words.
- Poetry limits: We are looking for evocative imagery that paints a small story in a poem. A haiku or tanka has equal chance against a sonnet or epic. Poetry must be less than 150 lines.
- Only previously unpublished works will be considered.
- You may enter a previously-written piece if you feel that it satisfies the prompt for this contest, so long as it has not been published.
- There are no age restrictions for this contest other than legal restrictions imposed by your local jurisdiction.
- In the event that a winner is ineligible for the Scribophile prize because of age or chooses to decline the membership, a three-year print and eBook subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology will be substituted.
- Spark: A Creative Anthology contest judges and their immediate families are not eligible.
- Because entries are blindly judged, authors and poets who have previously had work accepted for any volume of Spark: A Creative Anthology may enter this contest. In the event that a Grand Prize winner is an author or poet whose work has been accepted for Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume V, we may choose to postpone or decline publication of either the previously-accepted work or the winning contest entry.
- You may enter multiple pieces in this contest, and you may enter both poetry and prose, but each entrant can win at most one prize, no matter how many entries are made.
- Spark: A Creative Anthology reserves the right to post “No Award” for either category in the event that fewer than 30 total entries are received or fewer than three qualified entries can be selected for the final round of judging.
- Because this contest is judged blindly—that is, the author’s name is withheld from the judges—please omit personal information (such as author name or contact details) from the manuscript.
- Judges will be unable to provide feedback on specific pieces.
About the Awards
Scribophile is the largest online writing workshop and discussion group, boasting over 202,000 peer critiques written by community members ranging from amateur writers to professional authors and editors. Learn more at Scribophile.com.
Duotrope is a subscription-based service for writers that offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets, a calendar of upcoming deadlines, submissions trackers, and useful statistics compiled from the millions of data points they’ve gathered on the publishers they list, including Spark.
Cash Prizes are made possible by generous supporters like you. Sign up as a sponsor today and join these contest patrons:
- Brian & Amy Lewis
Notes & Disclosures
The Lifetime and one-year Scribophile Premium Memberships were donated by Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers. Learn more at Scribophile.com.
The one-year Duotrope subscriptions were purchased at a discount by Brian Lewis.
Spark: A Creative Anthology is administered and published by the Empire & Great Jones Creative Arts Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.