The William Wantling Prize for Poetry: Sponsored by John D. Robinson


I found the bee as it fumbled around the ground
Its leg mangled, its wing torn, its sting
I picked it up, marveled at its insistence
   to continue on, despite the dumb brute
   thing that occurred
I considered, remembered the fatal struggle
   the agony on the face of wounded friends
   and the same dumb drive to continue
I became angry at the unfair conflict suffered
   by will and organism
I became just, I became unreasoned, I became
I observed the bee, there, lying in my palm
I looked and I commanded in a harsh and angry shout —
Then it ceased to struggle and somehow suddenly
   became marvelously whole, and it arose
   and it flew away
I stared, I was appalled, I was overwhelmed
   with responsibility, and I knew not where to begin.
© 2015 Ruth Wantling. Reprinted from In the Enemy Camp, published by Tangerine Press’

From John D Robinson:

William Wantling: 1933 – 1974 was an ex-Marine and an ex-convict. He was addicted to drugs and alcohol. He also was in possession of a unique literary/poetic genius: even now, 45 years later, his work resounds with an often disturbing and lyrical beauty. Life’s events are mirrored in his poems. He takes you into a world that is terrifying but also is full of moments of tenderness. The poems convey a deep sense of compassion and humanity and openness. They offer a glimpse into the poet’s vulnerabilities as a flawed human being and a unique poetic voice.

As Judge of the William Wantling Prize for Poetry, John D. Robinson will be looking for poems that exhibit the lyrical beauty and tenderness, honesty and openness often found in Wantling’s poetry.


  1. The winning poem will receive a $200 award.
  2. 5 additional poems will receive $25 honorable mention awards.
  3. First Prize winners will be presented on the RAR home page as a Featured Writer.
  4. There are no rules of form and content. The sole criteria for selecting a winner is the power of the emotional/psychological/spiritual impact on editors reading the poem.
  5. There are no particular trade-craft requirements. Single or double space, left-center-right justification, long lines/short lines, standard use of punctuation or not, etc.
  6. TYPOS – we understand it is difficult to catch all typos. NOTE: we will presume a typo is volitional, so for the purpose of maintaining your intent for the poem it is in your best interest to review carefully, get help from other readers, etc.
  7. Review of poems is blind. Please do not put your name or any other identifying information on your pages.
  8. No BIO needed at this time. You can use the cover letter space provided on the submission form to discuss your poem or skip the cover letter entirely. What you write as a cover letter will have no bearing on selection for the prize but may help us to understand and change our focus on your submission.
  9. Editors are prohibited from rejecting a poem on first read. All poems get at least 2 reads before a decision is made.
  10. Editors assume you are smarter than we are. We will strive to understand your intention ; stay open-minded and avoid imposing our presumptions on your work.
  11. We will never use irresponsible and self-aggrandizing language to describe your work like “purple writing” or “center justification is a gimmick”.
  12. We will accept poems on a revolving basis during the submission period as blog posts on The Raw Art Review’s front page and for inclusion in The Raw Art Review’s next journal volume. This first acceptance will include the writer’s work on the short-list for the contest winner.
  13. We value the slush pile. (Not a derogatory term among our editors). A poem that is declined is returned to the slush pile for future consideration.
  14. 3 poems per entry. Multiple entry submissions are fine but fee applies to each additional submission.
  15. Simultaneous submission is fine.
  16. Previously published poems are eligible provided the submitter owns the rights to republish. We are happy to recognize the original publisher upon your request.
  17. Submission Deadline is May 31, 2018.
  18. You must use Submittable for submissions