Lauren Davis’s The Missing Ones

Lauren Davis’s The Missing Ones is a slim but engrossing collection that reimagines disappearance of Russell and Blanch Warren. In 1929, the couple were driving home to reunite with their two young sons and to celebrate theLauren Davis - The Missing Ones 4th of July. Their route took them on Route 101 along Lake Crescent where they presumably drowned. What makes these poems work so well is that Davis doesn’t waste time recreating the ways the Warrens may have ended up driving into the lake. Instead, these poems give voice to the dead as in the very short poem that introduces the collection:

Blanch Says

There are dangers
in deep waters no one

speaks of. Like dark
that climbs the spine.

There’s a stain on the rock
Unfolding. I drink the lake,

all of it. I make it mine.

Many of the poems are in Blanch’s voice. In some, she gives advice, such as in “I’ll Tell You What Happened,” where she says: “Your husband has something to tell you— / you can sense it in the cold. Wait until you are both done / drowning. The build a new home.”

The idea of the lake as a home is one of my favorite aspects of these poems. A grave is a home of a kind, but the lake is a living ecosystem. Some poems reference the lake’s “population” which sometimes mean the fish in the water, or the birds outside, and sometimes it refers to others who have perished in the lake’s waters. In some poems, the idea of the lake as a home is expressed through its “rooms,” all of which suggests that the Warrens are still there, unable to die or be truly forgotten because they were never found. The idea is haunting in numerous ways, especially when the reader is reminded of the couple’s two young sons. This is expressed in Blanch’s voice again in the poem, “Have You Seen,” where she says,

My love haunts good as
any ghost. It is more
than lake deep. Boys—

I am never so buried,
gloated, hemorrhaged with blue
That I forget you.

My only criticism of this lovely book is that it’s too short. I wanted it to go on and on. I guess I could say that I, too, am now haunted by this story.

Britton Shurley’s Spinning the Vast Fantastic

Britton Shurley’s new collection, Spinning the Vast Fantastic, is a beautiful guide for spiritual sustainment in a complicated and down-heartening world. The first poem in the collection, “When I Think I’m Through with Beauty,” refers to the world as one that “gnaws us to gristle, if we / don’t work free from its teeth.”

Britton Shurley - Spinning the Vast FantasticMany of Shurley’s other poems make similar references. Shurley is not speaking specifically the restrictions and hardships suffered under a pandemic. He’s talking mostly about how hard life can be in general, and yet, these poems feel especially appropriate for our time. This isn’t because of the way Shurley sees how life can beat us down. It’s more so because of the ways Shurley finds solace. In so many of the poems, that solace is found by taking a breath and paying attention to our surroundings.

In “When I Think I’m Through with Beauty,” the beauty that surprises and pleases is a “boy who’s built / like a thick brick shit-house / spinning a whip of forsythia // just bursting with bright / yellow blossoms, while his // boom box floods the street / with velvet organ chords / of old-time Baptist gospel.” As evidenced in this passage, one of the other ways Shurley finds delight and gives delight to the reader is through sound. The language here and in every poem in the collection is stunning, filled with assonance and internal rhyme, all of which help bring alive these amazing images like this boy with his forsythia.

A recurring theme in these poems is the joy that children bring, as well as the promise for their ability to better the future, as seen in “The Red-Winged Blackbird.”


     Its name is a strut for the tongue.
A song that can crack the heart
     like mine did when that bird lit down

on a purpled redbud’s branch
     in Ron and Kelli’s field. This handful

of acres saved from an inland flood
     of McMansions drowning half of Indiana.
This field where chickens roam—

     Orpingtons, Wynadottes, and Rhode
Island Reds—all hunting for bugs at dusk

     by a garden of onions and melons.
And as if that’s not enough, a child’s
     on his way in fall. Now I know

I know nothing for certain, but this boy
     will be born amidst magic, in a home

where cabbage, apple, and ginger
     turn to jars of kraut so crisp
my mouth wants to shout and dance.

     I hope his name holds such a tune,
that it sings like the sound of the red-

     winged blackbird and can bare
a hyphen’s weight. Maybe Banjo-
     Nectarine or Cannonball-Daffodil Abdon.

Either way, his life will be music;
     he’ll make this cold world swoon.

One of the immense strengths of these poems is in Shurley’s ability to juxtapose the bucolic and familial against the material and trivial. With similar hope and promise, he references his own daughters, notably in “To the Harvey Weinsteins et al.” Shurley begins the poem, “Know my daughters believe in their power.” He then describes the girls performing a “spell” to bring snow and a snow day from school. “And damn, if it didn’t work,” he writes, “so that we could wake in a world / slowed and stilled for a day.” Shurley brings the end of the poem back to Weinstein—not only Weinstein but all the men he represents—warning such abusers to be careful, and to see what powers these young women have.

Spinning the Vast Fantastic is overwhelmingly an optimistic view of life. We see this in the view of young women like his daughters but also in the hope for young men like the aforementioned Banjo-Nectarine. But Shurley’s optimism is seen also by the wonders found in the world. One example is in the poem “Headless Wonder” that examines a 1945 report of a chicken who lived for 18 months without its head. Another example in the book’s title poem re-imagines an 1876 report of fresh meat falling from the sky. In “Parthenogenesis” Shurley writes, “If the ankle of the horse is holy, then so is the cow’s / cracked hoof, the sheep’s bleating tongue…” What I take away from these poems is that the world is always miraculous, even during dangerous and frightening times.

Buy Spinning the Vast Fantastic from Bull City Press.

Submission Calls for Writers 3/16/2021



Where I live in East Tennessee, it feels like the weather is finally shifting to spring in a more permanent way. Not just a flirtation but the real thing with daffodils blooming everywhere you look. I hope you’re getting a taste of this kind of reawakening wherever you are. Here are ten new submission opportunities where you should consider sending your writing. Good luck.

Cortland Review

TCR considers poetry, prose, essays, translations, book reviews. Editorial decisions are based on content and quality. TCR does not accept simultaneous submissions or previously published work. Submit 3-5 poems at a time. For fiction, submit one story only, and nothing longer than 3500 words.


South Florida Poetry Journal

We want poetry, flash fiction and essays that inspire, stimulates, evokes, emotes, shocks and surprises. We want to be transported by your words to wondrous and strange places, and familiar places that you have made new. We read year-round and publish quarterly. Send 3-5 unpublished pieces.


Summerset Review

Prose writers are invited to submit literary fiction/nonfiction of up to eight thousand words. Poets may submit up to five poems. This literary journal is primarily an online publication. We read year-round.


Ghost Ocean Magazine

Founded in Chicago in 2010, Ghost Ocean is an award-winning literary magazine whose work has been reprinted in Best of the Net, Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, Fiction Daily, and has been shortlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50. Ghost Ocean is open for submissions year-round. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere. You may submit up to 5 poems, 3 pieces of flash prose, or 1 work of fiction under 3,000 words in a single document; submissions in multiple genres are accepted, but please do so separately.


Bearings Online

Bearings Online is accepting poetry submissions. We are seeking clear, accessible poetry (30 lines or less) that addresses faith, culture, or what it means to be human. Submit as a Word document to poetry editor Susan Sink: ssink (at) collegevilleinstitute (dot) org.   


Split Lip Magazine

Split Lip Review is a literary journal of voice-driven writing with a pop culture twist. We publish online monthly and in print yearly. We accept fiction between 1,000 and 5,000 words, flash fiction under 1,000 words, and memoir up to 2,000 words.  We accept only one (yes, just one) poem at a time. Please do not send us more than one poem. Send your best poem, but only one. We mean it. Free submission in March.


The Hudson Prize in Fiction / The Hudson Prize in Poetry

Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Hudson Prize for an unpublished collection of poems or short stories. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner of this contest will receive book publication, a $1,000 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes awarded on publication. $27 Submission Fee. Deadline: March 31, 2021.


Passages North

Passages North is open for submissions for Issue 40 until April 15, 2021.



Consequence is reading submissions until May 1, 2021. We publish short fiction, poetry, non-fiction, interviews, visual art, and reviews primarily focused on the culture of war. For fiction and non-fiction: please submit one piece of no more than 5,000 words. For poetry: please submit up to five poems of any length.


The Writer’s Chronicle Seeks Articles on the Craft of Writing

The editors read submissions for the Writer’s Chronicle through September 30 of each year. All craft essays must analyze an element of creative writing. Articles should not overlap with topics covered in recent issues of the Chronicle. Craft essays should contain concrete examples to illustrate the writerly advice they offer. Many of our published essays combine appreciations with a study of elements of craft. Using more than one author to illustrate your analysis is recommended. A query on a specific topic is always welcome. Craft essays run between 2,000 and 6,000 words, depending on the topic.



Jennifer Stewart Miller’s Thief

Jennifer Stewart Miller’s new collection, Thief, (Grayson Press 2021) begins with the poem, “My Dead,” wherein she says, “Maybe your dead / are kinder. But mine— / they won’t look you / in the eye. Won’t / say sorry or / bare their hearts.” Such are the privileges of death, one might argue. But not Miller. Instead, Thief is a collection of poems that gives voice to the deceased. They seldom say they’re sorry, but their hearts are revealed all the same.

Miller’s poems have a history of this sort of exploration. Her chapbook, The Strangers Burial Ground, recreates the lives of historical people found in New England cemeteries. But Thief hits far closer to home. These poems are more personal. In Thief, Miller explores many different forms of her own personal grief. There is the grief that follows the deaths of her father and her stepfather. But there is also the grief of a sister lost to addiction and ongoing mental health crises. In these poems are also incredible depictions of the ways that the living manage (or are forced) to endure, often because of everyday necessity. This is perhaps best explored in her poem, “The End,” where Miller writes:

I keep coming back to how my mother
left my stepfather

at Rutland Regional Medical Center
to hurry off to the bank in Granville—

thinking she could still add her name
to some account or other by

bringing in a few shaky words he’d
scribbled on a scrap of paper.

And that was that.
After all the grand passion—

just an old married couple
trying to sort things out.

One of Miller’s many strengths is the slantwise framework of her poetry as seen in “Poems I Probably Won’t Write About My Stepfather” that hints some parts of the past are better left unexplored no matter how much they haunt us. In “This poem has a highway in it” the poem takes on geographical qualities that reveal history, and yet, like the aforementioned highway, the poem and the narrative inside it move ever forward. It’s impossible to read this poem without feeling such forward momentum that you feel part of the narrative.

Another of Miller’s strengths is her knowledge of the natural world and a gift for mixing biological details with current events and elements of her own life, as in this poem:

To the Dead Striped Bass Swimming in Sunset

Swim on, beached beauty, agog
in the chilly marsh, aglow without
scales or skin. May the jut
of your jaw, your eyeless eyes,
guide you back to the sea. May
your body—filleted of flesh—
follow so lightly. Long, supple,
golden spine. Ribs vaulted with
air and light. Moony-white tail.
Even the waves lap you a prayer—
undulate, undulate. Striped bass—
gather up my newly dead, school
with them, show them the way
out of the still-dead April grass.

And the title poem, “Thief” celebrates the masked banditry of a raccoon even though its life is fleeting. “Tonight, I’ll raise a glass to what moon there is,” Miller says in this poem, “and lick up every last tongue-full of grief.” And really, this entire collection is like a celebration of that sweet taste that comes alongside grief. How would we go on without it?

Submission Calls for Writers 2/14/2021


This Valentine’s Day is maybe the coldest I ever remember. If you’re stuck inside, I hope this list of journals and contests will inspire you to start submitting. Until next time, stay safe and stay warm.

Writers are invited to submit prose and poetry to Litbreak, an online literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, book reviews, and essays on literary subjects. All prose submissions should range from 500 words to a maximum of 5,000 words. Submission is open year-round. We pay all contributors on a case-by-case basis from $25 upward. There is no submission fee. With regard to fiction, there are no specific requirements on style and content. Some literary sites suggest you look at what they publish to get an idea of what they would accept. We would rather suggest that you look at what we have published and come up with something else. We will consider excerpts from novels. For book reviews, although we are paying special attention to contemporary releases, we won’t rule out reviews of older books or critical surveys of a writer’s body of work. For poetry, we suggest but don’t require a minimum of one hundred words. We may also accept essays on literary subjects or ideas.

Western Humanities Review
Western Humanities Review accepts unsolicited submissions of original poetry, fiction, nonfiction, hybrid work, audio/visual work, essays, and reviews year round. Because of the volume of submissions we receive, we are only able to publish about 2% of them—so please send us your best work. We’re looking for dynamic writing that engages, surprises, and moves us, work that is, in fact, out to get us.

Bearings Online
Bearings Online is accepting poetry submissions. We are seeking clear, accessible poetry (30 lines or less) that addresses faith, culture, or what it means to be human. Submit as a Word document to poetry editor Susan Sink: ssink (at) collegevilleinstitute (dot) org.

Valparaiso Fiction Review
Publishing since 2011, Valparaiso Fiction Review is a biannual publication of Valparaiso University and its Department of English. Valparaiso Fiction Review is seeking submissions of short stories for its upcoming 2019 issues (Summer & Winter). Submissions to VFR should be original, unpublished works that range from 1,000 to 9,000 words. There is no set deadline, and submissions are considered on a rolling basis.

Booth was established in 2009. Our staff is comprised of MFA faculty and students in the Butler University graduate writing program. Booth publishes one new piece or author every Friday, square on our home page. We are now open to new submissions in all genres. All accepted work will appear on our website and may appear in our subsequent print issues. Submit up to 3 poems or up to 7,500 words of fiction or creative nonfiction.

Copper Nickel
Copper Nickel accepts submissions of poetry, fiction, essays, and translation folios through March 1, 2021. Please submit four to six poems, one story, or one essay at a time. For prose we do not have any length restrictions—but longer-than-normal pieces have to earn their space.

Pittsburgh Poetry Journal
Pittsburgh Poetry Journal PPJ seeks work that clangs with grit, passion, and a multitude of voices. We want poems that celebrate or break traditions and strive for progress. We do not restrict our journal to Pittsburgh poets or poetry. All writers and themes are welcome! Please submit no more than three (3) poems, or seven (7) pages total. Our open reading period runs through March 21, 2021.

The Hudson Prize in Fiction / The Hudson Prize in Poetry
Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Hudson Prize for an unpublished collection of poems or short stories. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner of this contest will receive book publication, a $1,000 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes awarded on publication. $27 Submission Fee. Deadline: March 31, 2021.

The National Poetry Review
The National Poetry Review is an annual online journal of poetry (previously a print journal published from 2003 to 2015 by our sister press, The National Poetry Review Press). Our reading period is January 1 – April 1 annually. Please submit all poems in one file. Include a brief bio with previous publications.

We love found pieces, eco-poetics, works about displacement, and stories of how your body fits (or how it doesn’t) into the world. Imagism and hybrid genres, including experimental and visual works, lyric essays, and prose poems are all welcome. Please send 3–5 poems per submission with no more than 10 pages in total. We want stories of literary quality and encourage fantastic, speculative, and weird literature. Send us your most imaginative and challenging writing in 4,000 words or less. We also encourage flash fiction of 1,000 words or less. Finally, we are especially drawn to nonfiction pieces that challenge the boundaries of the genre, incorporate fictional and poetic elements, and make us question how “creative” nonfiction can be. As far as length, we prefer under 4,000 words. Landlocked is open for submissions through April 1, 2021.

Bennington Review
Bennington Review is published twice a year in print form, Summer and Winter. For poetry, please send no fewer than three and no more than five poems per submission. For fiction and creative nonfiction, please send no more than thirty pages per submission; any excerpts from a longer project must work as self-contained essays or stories. Deadline: May 18, 2021.

Posit Journal
Posit is currently considering submissions for late 2021 and beyond. Send 1-3 pieces of prose, including fiction and hybrids, but no nonfiction please, 1000 words or less each. However, if you are submitting very short pieces, please send us at least three to choose from. Please include a minimum of five and a maximum of six poems for us to consider. Deadline: May 31, 2021. 

Sunset - February 2021

Submission Calls for Writers 1/5/2021


Happy New Year. It seems as though we have a ways to go before we escape the shadow of 2020. But the new year is really here, and I want to embrace that certain feeling of optimism that comes from the change of calendars. In that spirit, I offer you 12 submission opportunities for this month.

Last month, Bill Griffin contacted me to share his unique and super thorough submission calendar. If you struggle to keep track of so many different journals and when they do and don’t accept submissions, you’ll want to check out the pdf document on Bill’s page, here:         (Thank you, Bill!)


StorySouth accepts unsolicited submissions of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction through January 15, 2021. Authors should limit submissions to 3-5 poems, one story, or one essay. There are no word limits on submissions. Long pieces are encouraged. Please make only one submission in a single genre per reading period. Response time is approximately 2-6 months.   


Gigantic Sequins

Gigantic Sequins is a print literary arts journal whose issues come out twice a year. Twice a year, we read submissions for these issues. When our current issue debuts, we select a few pieces from the most recent past issue to publish online. Submit 3-5 previously unpublished poems, or either one long (up to 3500 words) short story/novel excerpt or up to 3 short (1000 words each) pieces of flash fiction/micro fiction. Essays may go as long as 4000 words. Deadline: January 16, 2021.


10th Annual Zocalo Public Square Poetry Prize

Zócalo is accepting submissions for the 10th annual Zócalo Public Square Poetry Prize, awarded to a U.S. poet whose poem best evokes a connection to place. “Place” may be interpreted in many ways, be it of historical, cultural, political, or personal importance; the landscape may also be literal, imaginary, or metaphorical. The deadline for entries will close on January 29, 2021. Send up to three poems to enter. There’s no submission/entry fee.


The Rumpus

We welcome essay submissions between 1500-4000 words in length. In addition to personal narrative-driven essays we are interested in non-traditional forms of nonfiction. Essays should explore issues and ideas with depth and breadth, illuminating a larger cultural context or human struggle. Regardless of topic, we are looking for well-crafted sentences, a clear voice, vivid scenes, dramatic arc, reflection, thematic build, and attention to the musicality of prose. Our Rumpus Original Poetry reading period is from January 15 through January 31, 2021.



Ecotone, the literary magazine dedicated to reimagining place, welcomes work from a wide range of voices. Our upcoming submissions windows will be open from January 26 to February 2, 2021. For Issue 30, we want to hear about gardens, be they literal or metaphorical. What do you tend? Where do you find green? We’re interested in permaculture and flower clocks, pollinators and pesticides, heirlooms and hybrids, plant poetics, the Old Farmer’s Almanac, flower reports, community gardens, food deserts, citizen science, ecological anthropology.  And don’t forget seeds—seed saving, seed banks and libraries, seeds carried across seas in the lining of people’s clothing. We’d like to see more nonfiction that delves into ecology, botany, entomology; we want stories that show us the effort and reward of gardening; we do love a good flower poem, and a bee poem is not bad either. Send one prose piece of no more than 10,000 words (ca. thirty double-spaced pages). We are also interested in brief prose works (minimum 2,000 to ca. 3,000 words), one per submission. Send three to five poems at a time.


Good Hart Artist Residency

Located in Good Hart, Michigan. The call is now open for writers and composers/songwriters. Application deadline is February 17, 2021. We will limit the number of applications for the writer residencies to 40 applicants, so we may close the application deadline early. One- week, two-week, or three-week residencies are available depending on the program selected.  Most residency time slots are two weeks long. Food is provided as well as a $500 stipend.


The Puritan

Baffle us, tangle us up, or break our hearts. We’re looking for poems of any length (including sequences and long poems). Send up to four poems at a time. Feel encouraged to push boundaries with your fiction. We have diverse tastes; try us out. Length is up to you, but a story over 10,000 words will only be considered if it is of exceptional quality (and nothing over 12,000 words, please). Only send one story at a time, unless you are writing flash fiction (or stories under 500 words), in which case you can send up to three. We accept essays as pitches–no more than 250 words–or finished essays. Deadline: March 25, 2021.


Black Moon Magazine

Black Moon is a brand-new literary magazine, and our first issue will be released in January 2021. We operate on a rolling submission basis and publish quarterly. Submissions received from January through March will be considered for our April issue. We will accept up to 3 short stories between 1,000 and 8,000 words. We will also accept up to 5 flash fiction pieces (1,000 words or less). We will accept up to 5 poems up to 5 pages each.


Quarterly West Special Feature “100 Syllables”

Quarterly West invites submissions of pieces totaling 100 syllables or fewer (excluding the title). Whether poetry, prose, hybrid, or fragment, we’re interested in texts that offer–however fragmentary or disjointed their forms–wholenesses. Whole scenes, whole stories, whole emotions all contained within a small shell. The editors will select 21 pieces by 21 separate artists. Please send no more than five individual pieces per submission packet. Deadline April 16, 2021.


Puerto del Sol

Puerto del Sol accepts submissions year round but only reads from August to April. Poetry submissions are limited to five (5) poems. Prose submissions are limited to one (1) self-contained work (no excerpts), including flash prose.


South Florida Poetry Journal

We want poetry, flash fiction and essays that inspire, stimulates, evokes, emotes, shocks and surprises. We want to be transported by your words to wondrous and strange places, and familiar places that you have made new. We read year-round and publish quarterly. Send 3-5 unpublished pieces.


The London Magazine

We publish literary writing of the highest quality. We look for poetry and short fiction that startles and entertains us. Reviews, essays, memoir pieces and features should be erudite, lucid and incisive. We are obviously interested in writing that has a London focus, but not exclusively so, since London is a world city with international concerns. Non-Fiction pieces should be between 800 and 2,000 words. For Short Fiction, above all we look for elegance in style, structure and characterization. We are open to both experimental and traditional forms, although we do not normally publish genre fiction such as science fiction or fantasy writing, or erotica. Please make sure they are no more than 4,000 words in length. Poetry should display a commitment to the ultra-specificities of language, and show a refined sense of simile and metaphor. The structure should be tight and exact. Poems should be no longer than 40 lines.

Linda Parsons’ Candescent

Linda Parsons’ fifth collection of poetry, Candescent, begins as a three-legged story of grief. There is the loss of a 24-year marriage that she describes as an utter surprise after so many years. There’s the loss of her fourteen-year-old German shepherd, an ever-watchful presence that views the narrator as his sole sheep to protect until the end. And then there is the loss of her aged father.

The question of memory is just as important in these poems as the pure element of grief. How the two twist and turn upon each other! Before her father’s death, there is the earlier insult of lost memory. When Parsons visits him in his hospital, she must introduce herself. Often, he asks his daughter if they’re kin, recognizing a familiarity but unable to name her or their true relationship. Memory and its many tricks enter the poems again in the aftermath of divorce. Perhaps no poem sums up the absence of a lover better than these lines from “Phantom.”

Ghost pain, phantom pain, a limb lopped
clean, the dead bee’s sting. We are good
amputees, efficient little starfish and lizards,

regenerating feet and tails in the shadows
where no one watches us spin and weep,
where no one sees me turn a corner

in the dark before bed, giving wide berth,
my body’s radar still beeping and flashing
to sidestep a bookcase no longer there.

In “The Only Way” Parsons writes, “Honor your grief with ragged breath and privation / in the body’s dark cell despite how the blithe / world cries enough.” And that is exactly what Parsons does in these poems. She honors her grief, but she also works her way through it.

As in real life, grief doesn’t disappear in these poems in any single instant. Rather, there are many shifting moments. One of the most exciting shifts occurs in the poem, “Stand Up.”

                                   Lo these many years,
I the peacemaker, the walker on eggshells,
the biter of lips, the please pleaser, the clay
not the molder, the stream not the bank,
the moss not the rock, the stern not the bow,
queen of if only I’d said, if only I’d done.
Lo I say unto you, I’m done with sit down,
sit down, done with the broom and its dust,
old love and its rust, the future walking right
out the door. Hear me, I’m here with a voice
from the gloom, the moon-filled room, rise
of wing to beat the band, however long
I must stand is how long I’ll rock,
rock, rock the boat.

Aside from the powerful narrative that emerges in this collection, Parson’s language is always delightful. She has a knack for sounds and rhythm, and she has the skill to employ all of these elements of craft without ever taking away from the poems’ accessibility. Candescent is a power collection, a perfect beacon to help readers enter into the new year.


Submission Calls for Writers 12/8/2020


After a long hiatus, here are a dozen submission opportunities for writers to consider before the end of the year. I hope to return to regularly posting submission opportunities in 2021. If these listings are helpful to you, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to share with others.

Adirondack Review

The Adirondack Review accepts submissions year-round in poetry, short stories, art, photography, creative nonfiction, book reviews, and translations from the French, German, and Russian. We do not accept simultaneous submissions.

Free State Review

We are looking for poetry, fiction, personal essay, and one-minute plays. Prose should be 500-4,000 words; poetry can be any length or style. Poetry submissions can include 3-5 poems in a single document. Strange is not always better; simple and clear are not always memorable. Try to split the difference between the abstract and the concrete.

The Journal, a Literary Magazine (formerly The Ohio Journal)

We are interested in quality fiction, poetry, nonfiction, photo essays, author interviews, and reviews of new books of poetry and prose. We impose no restrictions on category or type of submission for fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.   Fiction and essays: All prose submissions should be double-spaced. We are happy to consider self-contained excerpts of novels and long stories and essays, but please note that historically it is unusual for us to publish stories longer than 10,000 words and essays longer than 6,000 words.   Poetry: Please limit poetry submissions to 3 – 5 poems grouped in a single .doc or .pdf document.    Reviews and Interviews: Reviews should double-spaced be no more than 1,200 words. We are particularly interested in reviews of new books that have been published within the last two years. Interviews should be double-spaced and between 6 – 12 pages.


Submit 4-6 original, previously unpublished poems through Submittable. All poems should be included in a single .DOC/.DOCX or PDF file with one poem per page (eight pages maximum). Enter a cover letter with a brief third-person bio in the space provided by Submittable. We do not consider translations. Submissions are free.

Frontier Poetry

Submissions for our New Voices poetry category are open year round to any new and emerging poet who has not published more than one full-length collection of poetry. New Voices are published online only and will feature a number of poems from new authors each month. We also warmly invite under-represented and marginalized voices to submit. All submissions must be no more than 10 pages and no more than 5 poems.

Cosmonauts Avenue

For poetry, send 5 poems or less, no matter the length. For prose, submit up to 8,000 words. We do accept novel excerpts. We are open to reading writing in any genre, including multi-media and experimental. Send us original work; get our attention.

Mississippi Review Contest

Our annual contest awards prizes of $1,000 in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Winners and finalists will make up next summer’s print issue of Mississippi Review. Fiction and nonfiction entries should be 1000-8000 words; poetry entries should be three to five poems totaling ten pages or less. Please attach as one document. There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit. Online entry fee is $16 per entry. Each entrant will receive a copy of the prize issue. All submissions will be read anonymously. Please remove or redact any contact information from your submission. Contest deadline is January 1, 2021.

Cincinnati Review

The Cincinnati Review welcomes submissions from writers at any point in their careers. We read through January 1, 2021. Please submit up to five poems, which should total no more than ten manuscript pages, at a time. Fiction submissions should be no more than forty double-spaced pages. We’re interested mostly in pieces of nonfiction less than twenty double-spaced pages, though you can try us for longer pieces if you think they’ll knock our socks off.

Rattle’s Tribute to Appalachian Poets

Our Summer 2021 issue will be dedicated to Appalachian Poets. The poems may be any subject, style, or length, but must written by poets who themselves identify with Appalachia and were born or have lived in the region for a large portion of their lives. The poems need not be about Appalachia—our goal is to honor these poets by sharing the diverse creative work that they’re producing. Deadline: January 16, 2021.

Parabola / Theme issue: “Young & Old”

Parabola welcomes original poetry, essays and translations. We look for lively, penetrating material unencumbered by jargon or academic argument. We prefer well-researched, objective, and unsentimental pieces that are grounded in one or more religious or cultural tradition; articles that focus on dreams, visions, or other very personal experiences are unlikely to be accepted. All articles must be directly related to the theme of an issue. Poetry submissions should be limited to a maximum of five (5) poems per author. Deadline: Mar 1, 2021.

The Account

We are open to a diverse range of styles, including experimental and hybrid work. We require that you send us not only your creative work, but also an account of that work. The account is an opportunity for the artist to lift the curtain and say something that might not be present on the page. We are interested in exploring the relationship between what is known (the work on the page) and what is often left unknown (the artist’s intentions behind that work). Poets: Send 3-5 poems, with your 150-500 word account. Creative nonfiction writers: Send us your essay of no more than 6,000 words. Include your 150-500 word account as the last page of the file. Fiction writers: Send us your short stories of 1,000-6,000 words. Include your 150-500 word account as the final page of the file. Deadline: Mar 1, 2021.

Green Mountain Review

Green Mountain Review is currently accepting submissions for the Black Voices issue, guest edited by Naomi Jackson and Keith Wilson. Please submit a cover letter and include up to 5 poems or up to 25 pages of prose. We publish poetry, essays, fiction, interviews, book reviews, and art. We are also always looking for work that pushes these boundaries and are open to audio and video submissions; we’re also happy to be surprised. Surprise us.

Jesse Graves’ Merciful Days

In his third solo poetry collection, Merciful Days, Jesse Graves returns to the East Tennessee farm of his youth. The land Graves writes about is also his ancestral home. Sense of place is almost a requirement for Tennessee writers, but Graves’ abiding connection to place gives exquisite life and meaning to his work. Many poems center around the loss of the author’s father and brother. Those poems are poignant in their own right, but they speak to a larger theme that flows throughout the collection: that we as individuals are only a fleeting part of something much larger and more mysterious than we can fully comprehend. This idea is evident in “Mossy Springs” where the narrator revisits a watering hole on the family farm:

…you wonder at the bloodlines
that drank here before you,
dating as far back as time records.

Hunters from the original tribes,
trackers chasing game upstream,
farmers drawn over from the fields,

and now you, looking for the lost
kingdom of your ancestors,
their eternal thirst to be found.

For Graves, this big examination of generations extending “as far back as time records” is inseparable from his own personal experience. His life is tied to the past in ways that are not completely understood even though they are tangibly felt. “Come Running” depicts this, and it is perhaps my favorite poem in this collection:

Come Running

They amble across the field, drawn to shade,
sniffing for uncropped clover and sprout,
their slowness measurable by galactic tilt.
From a distance the calves look identical,
but watch closely, and the shadings around
white faces range from salmon to maroon,
and the little curls on their foreheads
twist in tighter and looser tangles.
If a baby separates from its mother,
she calls for it like a foghorn, the lowing
anyone can tell means “find me now.”
But listen closer, and a mother can signal
her child with the slightest grunt
from the other side of the field—
no other calf will move or even look up,
yet one comes running, summoned home.

In many ways, Merciful Days is simply about the idea of memory—how memory keeps the past connected to the present and the future, and how memory sustains us through loss and sadness. Merciful Days is an elegy, but it’s not a dirge. These poems are full of joyous moments, as well as of the deepest sense of love, the kind that only expands and grows.

Merciful Days cover

Larry Smith’s Mingo Town & Memories

In “Mingo Town & Memories,” Larry Smith has compiled some of his best work from past books along with new pieces to paint the perfect elegy of not only a place, but the lives lived in that particular place during a particular time. Smith mixes genres here by including traditional poetry along with short prose pieces. Sometimes, the town is given a voice. Sometimes the river, depicted clearly as the heart of the town, is also allowed to speak. Smith shows it from several different perspectives. One of my favorite poems is “The River.”

The River

And we went down
boys and girls together
in our school clothes
along the smelly creek
all the way to the river.
Brambles and stones
beneath our feet,
we passed rails and mill gates.
And there we stood
looking out in silence
at the great river
too wide to swim across
though some might have tried
and drowned too young.
And our teacher stepped in
allowing her skirt to rise
to her hips like a cloud
with her inside, and
lifting her arms she beckoned
one by one to her side
where she blessed aloud
our baptism, not to God,
but to the waters,
and we the fish
that lived inside
and it inside of us,
“Forever and forever,”
she simply said,
“You are one.”
And some laughed for joy
and some bowed their heads
and cried.

The idea of work is central in these poems. And if the river is the heart of this town, then the work and workers are the town’s lifeblood. In “Delivering Papers” Smith recalls that early job of his, the people on his route, the extra jobs he took along the way each morning. Rather than being too sentimental, the poem is a vehicle for showing how this job, one of the first a young boy could get and therefore lowly in one sense, made him a king in another sense. More so, a sense of belonging emerges in the poem, a sense that encapsulates the drive for much of this collection: “I would survey the town as dawning light / spread along the streets, on houses and trees, / down to the mill’s steaming cauldrons and rails / and I would know somehow, I owned this town, and / what’s more this town owned me.”

Some of the poems that resonate the most with me are the ones where Smith writes about his father. In “Cutting Down the Maple in My Father’s Yard” Smith writes, “I’ve come to love his act of work, the surest thing I know.” In shifting from the town to this personal relationship, Smith simultaneously connects all the dots. The love Smith has for his town is no more diminished than the love he has for his father throughout their respective dying.

But if not diminished, everything is still changed. Even the sense of belonging felt in “Delivering Papers” evaporates into something else. In “Hometown Immigrant—2020” Smith writes, “What I write of this place / lives in memory now, / like an old love affair or divorce.” And therein lies the heat in this work: the friction between what was and what is and the ever-shifting distance between the two.

You can listen to Smith read some poems from the book here:

You can purchase your own copy of “Mingo Town & Memories” here: