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Better Than Starbucks 2021 Sonnet Contest

The Better Than Starbucks Sonnet Contest 2021 Top Ten are:

First Place:

Cartier Bresson photograph on Pont des Arts by Ian Enters

Second Place:

Reading the Obituaries by Marilyn L. Taylor

Third Place:

Coming to Terms by Catherine Chandler

Honorable Mentions:

Suppose by Rhina P. Espaillat

Looking Back by Michael Cantor

Far Fields by Kit Rohrbach 

2nd Honeymoon by Valerie Nieman

Penelope on Broad Street by Charmaine Smith

Upstate by Marc Alan Di Martino

Left Behind by Devon Balwit

Congratulations to all! Thank you to the over 500 poets who submitted, to those who donated to help fund the prizes, and to judges Sally Thomas and Tom Merrill.

December 22, 2021

Short listed (or long listed if you will), and in no particular order, are the following poets:


Marilyn L. Taylor

Brittany Hause

Devon Balwit

Eileen Trauth

Jane Boxall

Kit Rohrbach

Catherine Edmunds

John Francis Istel

Ian Enters

Royal Rhodes

Marc Alan Di Martino

Wendy Videlock

Mel Goldberg

Allan Lake

Rhina P. Espaillat

Valerie Nieman

Alarie Tennille

Robert Gamble

Meghan Sterling

Michael Cantor

Tony Steven Williams

Michael Kellicher

L. Shapley Bassen

Elizabeth Hulick

Catherine Chandler

John McGrath

Siobhán Flynn

Paula Reed Nancarrow

Zach Goldberg

Ferral Willcox

Catherine Harnett

Peggy Landsman

Thomas A. Thrun

Ruth Holzer

Michael Stalcup

Kristin Van Tassel

Susan Delaney Spear

Laura Schulkind

Diane Lee Moomey

Charmaine Smith

Gil Hackel

Areesha Shakil

Sarah Sassoon

Jean L. Kreiling

Tim Taylor

Rob Cook

Laura Plummer

Claudio Perinot

Trevor Alexander

Lee Nash

November 30, 2021 11:59 pm: Submissions are now closed.

Submissions are open from September 30th to November 30th, 2021.

Please read and follow our submission guidelines below.

First Prize $500

Second Prize $100

Third Prize $50

Shortlist will be announced at the end of December, 2021, and the winners in January, 2022.

All prizes payable, via PayPal only, upon publication, which will be on February 1, 2022.

Winners will be announced in January and published on February 1st, 2022.

We will also publish up to seven honorable mention sonnets.


​No entry fee and no simultaneous submissions please.

Prize payment via Paypal only.


​This contest is for a metrical sonnet.

Your sonnet can be shakespearean, petrarchan, spenserian, rhymed, or slant-rhymed.

Blank verse is eligible, as long as the sonnet form is clearly identifiable.

We’ll consider tetrameter, hexameter, etc. as well as pentameter.

Some metrical variation is fine, but don’t forget the volta!


As always, we do accept previously published work.
Please let us know where the poem was previously published.

If previously published, make sure you have the rights to it. Most publications do not keep the rights to poetry.  We do not, we retain the right to use them in anthologies or promotional material as we see fit in the future, but we do not retain any copyright to your work.

Submit one sonnet only.

Please include your entry in the body of your email, put “Sonnet Contest” into the subject line of your email, and send to

We do not open attachments.

Any possible loss of formatting in email transmission will be corrected if your sonnet is chosen as a winner or for publication, as you will be asked to proof before publication, but you are welcome to mention special formatting in your submission.

Please include a third person bio of 30 (max 40) words, as well as name and contact information.

An introduction is welcome but not required.

You will receive an acknowledgement of your entry within 24 hours. This is the only communication you will receive unless your sonnet is selected for publication, either as winners or honorable mentions, or for subsequent publication.

If you do not receive an acknowledgement then we did not receive your entry. Check your spam folder if you have not already whitelisted Better Than Starbucks. Check the email address your entry was addressed to. Try again.

Unlike general submissions to the journal, we do not respond further to contest entries unless they are selected as winners, honorable mentions, or for subsequent publication. If your sonnet is on the 'short list' (of up to 50 sonnets from which ten will be chosen and winners or honorable mentions) you will be notified by email.

Entries are read blind.​ The poems alone are copied into reading files as they come in. Address your entry only to Better Than Starbucks editors.


We look forward to reading your entries!

All entries are eligible for publication in Better Than Starbucks. By submitting your work you grant us the non-exclusive right to publish it. Copyright remains with the author/poet. 


Judges are Sally Thomas, Tom Merrill, and Vera Ignatowitsch.


This contest is not open to volunteer workers at Better Than Starbucks (or their family members.)

Our heartfelt thanks to the many supporters who donated toward the prizes for this contest.

They include Richard Wakefield, Barbara Loots, Peter Mladinic,, and others who wish to remain anonymous.

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