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Nightmare Melodies Writing Contest

Aspiring writers of the world,

Greetings from the editor of Nightmare Melodies! It is with immense pleasure that I share with you all a tiny chunk of my soul—this anthology. I had the incredible honour of reading each piece of horror writing submitted to this collection, and I kid you not when I say every single work stole a portion of my soul. It was an incredibly humbling and beautiful experience to give pieces of my soul to these poems. You will find that this anthology carries not only a fragment of my soul but also the souls of all the poets who made this potpourri of precious poems possible. Our souls were brought together by the darkness of the real world, the dreamscape of nightmares, and the darkness within. There is a haunting beauty in the absence of light, and these poets captured it perfectly. (Their spine-tingling horror poetry had me checking under my bed before going to sleep!)

As an aspiring writer myself, I understand that writing can sometimes feel like an uncertain journey through a dark dreamscape of dictionaries and thesauruses, what-ifs, structuring creativity to conform to conventional forms, and confusing commas, but fear not, for if you harbour a keen interest and love for writing, you are already on the right track!

I encourage you to continue exploring the genre of horror poetry. It is one with intricate nuances about the human psyche, terrifying jump scares, and high chances of scaring the living daylights out of yourself, but it is also one that will spark in you the satisfaction of creating something that speaks to people and stimulates them to delve deeper into their minds and confront the darker corners.

If you ever feel discouraged, remember this: writing is like a horror movie marathon. It is scary, it is thrilling, and sometimes you must take a break and eat some popcorn. Please keep writing, exploring, and scaring the pants off of us with your nightmare melodies. You never know who you might inspire or whose nightmares you might haunt.

Congratulations and sweet dreams! (If you dare)

Your (slightly spooked but mostly impressed) judge and editor, Hamsini Mangalampalli

The Maestro of the Nightmare Melodies has been awakened to haunt your dreams!

The Maestro of the Macabre Melodies has been awakened to haunt your dreams! The Victor of The Nightmare Melodies Poetry Contest is...

Let us raise our goblets in solidarity to toast the hauntingly good poetry we received for our Nightmare Melodies Poetry Contest. The submissions serenaded us with spooky symphonies while making us scream (with delight, of course!). For allowing us to bear witness to your spooktacular skill, we say thank you!

(Bows so low that the horns on her head graze the eternal pits of damnation!)

Choosing the Macabre Maestros was a nightmare, thanks to the terrific talent of all our participants and the indecisiveness of the judge because all the poems were just that good! Alas! We were able to make it through these dark and hellish times. Oh! The horror of picking only one fiendishly fantastic poet out of an orchestra of them!

(Shudders! Somebody write a poem about that!)

And without further ado, adorn the dreamscape of nightmares with devilish decorations, throw a fiendish feast, prepare the ceremonial crown of darkness, and behold the Virtuoso Victorious!


Shailey Bellamkonda is a poet and a fiction writer from Hyderabad, India. She won honours from F. Scott Fitzgerald Museum and Himalayan Writing Retreat for her literary works. Her works are published/forthcoming in various anthologies - The Elpis Letters ‘Womanhood', Whimsical Press ‘Seasons’, Auroras & Blossoms Publishing ‘Positive Art’ and journals like Fahmidan Journal, Setu Bilingual, The Wise Owl, Teen Ink, TWP Quarterly, The Battering Ram, Iris Youth Lit Magazine. Besides her literary and academic engagements, Shailey can be found immersed in her home library of YA literature, playing piano or sketching. She is also a travel vlogger occasionally and enjoys Indian film music. Social: Twitter.

First runner-up for Virtuoso Victorious, behold!


Gavin Bourke grew up in the suburb of Tallaght in West Dublin. Married to Annemarie living in County Meath, he holds a B.A. in Humanities from Dublin City University, an M.A. Degree in Modern Drama Studies and a Higher Diploma in Information Studies from University College Dublin. His work broadly covers nature, time, memory, addiction, mental health, human relationships, the inner and outer life, creating meaning and purpose, politics, contemporary and historical social issues, injustice, the human situation, power and its abuse, absurdism, existentialisms, human psychology, cognition, emotion and behaviour, truth and deception, the sociological imagination, illness, socio-economics, disability, inclusivity, human life, selfishness and its consequences as well as urban and rural life, personal autonomy, ethics, commerce, science, grand schemes and the technological life in English and to a lesser extent in the Irish Language

Second runner-up for Virtuoso Victorious, behold!


Brandon Shane is an alumni of California State University, Long Beach, where he majored in Creative Writing. He is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry, all-while working as a writing instructor and substitute teacher. You can find him at:

Now onto the Top Finalists!


Annie Williams is a writer based in Fraser, Michigan who is currently studying creative writing at Oakland University. She has been writing ever since she was little, and loves to write poetry, horror, nonfiction, and gothic stories. When she is not writing she is rocking out at a concert or staying at home watching a movie.


Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University—Los Angeles in 2015. He was a former Statement Magazine editor who currently writes about literature, film, and culture. He has written hundreds of film reviews for MovieBoozer, and has contributed articles to Mindfray. His writing has appeared in The Bookends Review and The Society of Classical Poets. Alex wants to inspire others, and he was published for the first time while earning his Associate of Arts in English at Pasadena City College the same year that he graduated in 2013. Emma Stone inspired Alex to submit writing actively to publications after hearing the Oscar-nominated song, “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from the “Best Picture” nominee La La Land (2016). Currently residing in Alhambra, California, he now writes with the sincerest hope to inspire readers while fully supporting the ones who dare to pursue their dreams.


Crystal E. Barker grew up on a farm in the hills of Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Berea College and went on to earn her Master’s in Nursing at California State University, Los Angeles. She serves Veterans as a Registered Nurse in the VA Medical Center, residing in Nevada. She is a member of the Kentucky State Poetry Society and the Nevada Poetry Society. She writes in the desert’s glow of sunrise. Recently she published a collection of poems entitled: “Homelessness Through the Eyes of a Nurse In the City” through Poet’s Choice.


Louise Holland is a Scottish writer based in Glasgow. Her work has appeared in From Glasgow to Saturn, Skirting Around, Split Lips and All Becomes Art Pt2, an anthology based on the works of artist Joan Eardley. Lou is a shamelessly massive nerd.


Shamik Banerjee is a poet and poetry reviewer from the North-Eastern belt of India. He loves taking long strolls and spending time with his family. His deep affection for Solitude and Poetry provides him happiness.


Ava Tabler is a student at Brightpoint Community College. She is interested in becoming a writer or poet. Poetry gives her a channel to express her creativity and emotions in a way others may be able to relate to.


Molly Hanna (she/her) is a Queer Appalachian Poet. She majored in Environmental Studies and minored in Creative Writing at The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. Her poetry explores emotion and experience through imagery drawn from nature and her environment - both the beautiful and the ugly. She is passionate about poems becoming experiences and time capsules for herself and others; a storytelling of emotions. Her most recent focus has been on neurodivergence as well as inhabited and uninhabited places in the world and within the body. Her poems have been published in various magazines and journals and can be accessed through her Instagram @mollyhannawrites.


Kathleen Powers-Vermaelen earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Literature from Stony Brook Southampton. Her work has been published in Grim & Gilded, OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters, The Bangalore Review, and other publications. She teaches literature and writing at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island. Find her on social media: @kpvermaelen.

We are not just singing your praise; we are howling at the moon in devilish delight! Bravo! You have given us all goosebumps! Eagerly await our anthology release, and keep writing, wicked writers! Until next time...

(Disappears, leaving behind a puff of red smoke!)

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