Tag Archives: #Writerslife

Literary Contest Now Open: $500 Prize

Submissions are now open for the Julia Peterkin Literary Awards in Flash Fiction and Poetry.

Established in 1998 by the Creative Writing program at Converse College, the Julia Peterkin Award is a national contest honoring both emerging and established  writers. The award is named for Converse graduate Julia Mood Peterkin, whose 1929 novel,  Scarlet Sister Mary, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in literature.

South 85 Journal seeks submissions of unpublished flash fiction of 850 words or fewer and previously unpublished poems of 50 lines or fewer.  We are especially interested in stories and poems that demonstrate a strong voice and/or a sense of place, but consider all quality writing.

The winning selection in each category will be awarded $500 and publication in the December issue of South 85 Journal. Contest finalists will also be selected and published alongside the winning selection.  Submissions are read blind by an outside judge.


Judges for this year’s contest are Cary Holladay for flash fiction and Ashley M. Jones for poetry.

Cary Holladay has published six short story collections, including Horse People, The Quick-Change Artist, and most recently, Brides in the Sky, as well as two novels and over 100 short stories and essays in journals and anthologies, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Arkansas Review, Five Points, The Georgia Review, The Hudson Review, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Sewanee Review, Southern Review, and Tin House. Her awards include an O. Henry Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is Professor Emeritus at the University of Memphis. She lives in Virginia.

Submit Flash Fiction Here


Ashley M. Jones is Poet Laureate of the state of Alabama (2022-2026). She received an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University (FIU), where she was a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fellow. She is the author of three poetry collections: REPARATIONS NOW! (Hub City Press, 2021); dark // thing (Pleiades Press, 2019), winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry; and Magic City Gospel (Hub City Press, 2017), winner of the silver medal in poetry in the Independent Publishers Book Awards. Her poems and essays appear or are forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including CNN, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry magazine, Tupelo Quarterly, Prelude, and The Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, among others.

Submit Poetry Here

SUBMISSIONS CLOSE AUGUST 15, 2022

[Lately when sorrows come]

by Susan Laughter Meyers

                                                —with a line from Sappho

Spring 2012

Lately when sorrows come—fast, without warning—
whipping their wings down the sky,
I know to let them.
Not inviting them, but allowing each
with a deep breath as if inhaling a wish I can’t undo.

Some days the sky is so full of sorrows
they could be mistaken for shadows of unnamed
gods flapping the air with their loose black sleeves:
the god of head-on collisions,
the god of amputated limbs,
the god of I’ll-dress-you-in-mourning.

Is the buzz in the August trees,
that pulsing husk of repetition, an omen?
I hear it build to a final shaking. I hear it build
louder and louder, then nothing.
Like a long, picaresque novel that’s suddenly over.
Like the last inning of kickball until the rain.

What falls from the sky is not always rain
or any kind of weather. Call it precipitous.
I’m fooling myself, of course. Wearing sorrow
is nothing like skin shedding water.
It’s more like the weight of a cloak of crows.

And yet the sun still shines on the honey locust
arching its fringe over grass. Lit, too,
the pasture and its barbwire strung from post
to leaning post. See how the stump by the road
is rotting and how the small yellow leaves, twirling,
catch light on their way to the ground.

Susan Laughter Meyers, of Givhans, SC, is the author of Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press), winner of the inaugural SC Poetry Book Prize, the SIBA Book Award for Poetry, and the Brockman-Campbell Book Award. Her poetry has also appeared in The Southern ReviewBeloit Poetry Journal, and other journals, as well as Poetry Daily, and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry column. Her blog is at http://susanmeyers.blogspot.com.

Twenty-four Hours in Vladivostok

by Michelle Matthees

Fall 2013

It is tempting not to speak.
Rather, to breathe in cold catacombs
with eyes wide open.
I think I understand the way you hope.
In your mind, above, crisped spring:
white plum blossoms
icing up saplings. Belief is like this, getting
carried away by progress.
I cannot believe in history.
Still, the fisted buds flare
into wicks burning atop stone-
cold facades tipping deeper into silence.

Michelle Matthees lives and writes in Duluth, Minnesota. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s MFA program in Creative Writing. Recent work of Michelle’s can be found in PANKThe Prose Poem ProjectCider Press Review22 MagazineProofMemoriousAnderboDefenestrationism5 QuarterlyHumber PieSpecsThird WednesdayParadise ReviewThe Mom EggSou’westerThrice Fiction, and elsewhere.

Building Blocks for Home

by Starr Herr

Summer 2017

Chipped plaster, termite-infested walls, cockroaches—
that which is worn, desecrated, lived in; ghosts,
overtaken gardens, tilted fences, scattered tool pieces—
that which is overwrought, still growing; tree houses,
sibling truces, midnight pillow forts, mailboxes—
that which we build together, try maintaining; grief,
malicious gods, tsunami aftershocks, gravestones—
that which we dread, yet still want to cling to; cradles,
mothers’ eyes, fathers’ hands, port dock posts—
that which nurtures us, kept us tethered; toy ships,
beached debris, tropical hurricanes, scorched sand—
that which topples, adapts to destruction; moving trucks,
interstate traffic, 80s rock & roll, cardboard boxes—
that which is in motion, sequences go, going, gone.

Starr Herr

Starr Herr recently graduated with a BFA Creative & Professional Writing and BA Philosophy at Converse College. She worked on her high school literary magazine staff as editor-in-chief and her college literary magazine staff as a poetry editor.

Curlie Blue

by Valerie Smith

Summer 2017

The Blues down south would cut you
like a paper mill and let your rotten stink
blow all the way north on a hot summer breeze.
That’s how she left, you know.

She was the second oldest of thirteen,
stocky as a sawed-off shotgun, red hair,
freckles and plump green eyes that traced
an un-retraceable line.

When I met her, she was Sunday dressed
in a full-length cashmere coat and matching
camel-colored hat. The wide brim tilted over
her right eye leaned into each heavy stride.

Legend has it, she snatched a black snake
out an oak tree in mid conversation and
ripped his head off in the street. She gripped
my hand and pulled a knife one night –

we stayed too late at Menlo Park Mall
and had to walk out the service exit.
I was just tall enough to see the blade
flash in the corner of my eye.

Her anointed hands could rub a rash clean
and make me believe the Blues
were always one bitter snuff can away
from spittin’ out the truth.

Valerie Smith

Valerie Smith delights in writing poetry and creative nonfiction. She is currently studying Creative Writing in the Master of Arts in Professional Writing program at Kennesaw State University where she is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant of first-year composition. Most recently, she presented her poems at the 2016 Decatur Book Festival. Her poetry has also appeared in Exit 271: Your Georgia Writers Resource and BlazeVOX15.