Call for Submissions

Polyphony Lit invites submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction from high school students (aged 14-18) worldwide. Students may submit for publication in our annual volume, and/or  our annual writing contests.

For submission guidelines, please see the individual categories listed below.

Submission Schedule:

Submissions for Volume 19 are open on the following schedule:

Reading Period 1:  July 1 - September 30, 2022
Reading Period 2:  November 1, 2021 - January 31, 2023
Reading Period 3 :  March 1 - April 30, 2023


Submissions for our Seasonal Contests are open on the following schedule:

Latin Heritage Contest: September 15th - October 15th, 2022
Fall Contest:  October 1 - 31, 2022
Black History Month Contest: February 1 - 28, 2023
Winter Contest:  February 1 - 28, 2023
Pride Month Contest: June 1 - 30, 2023
Summer Contest: June 1 - 30, 2023


Please note that some reading periods may close early if we reach our submission cap, so we recommend submitting early during the reading period.

Student Editors Read Every Submission

We have a staff of more than 150 high school students from around the world, all of whom have successfully completed our literary editing training program.

Editorial Philosophy

It is our privilege to read every submission we receive. We relish the opportunity to participate in this personal and essential journey of the human voice. We strive to build respectful, mutually beneficial writer-editor relationships. We honor literary achievement by bringing attention to excellence through awards and publishing much of the extraordinary work we receive.

Why Submit?

Anytime you submit, your work will be evaluated for publication in our magazine and, if published, it will be eligible for the Claudia Ann Seaman Young Writers Award.

Submission Calendar

Due to high submission volume, we manage our reading periods to match our editor capacity. We have six windows during the 2021/22 submission period. To verify a reading period is still open, visit our submissions page on Submittable.

For Volume 19

Submissions during these times:

  • will receive in-depth editorial feedback from our editors
  • will be evaluated for publication in our annual volume
  • are eligible for the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards
  • Submissions are free

Contests:

  • Submissions during these contest reading periods are read by editors but do not receive feedback unless they are selected as a finalist
  • Submissions cost $5.00 each for the Fall, Winter, and Summer Contests
  • Submissions are free for Latin Heritage Month, Black History Month, and Pride Month Contests
  • Winners are:
    awarded the Polyphony Lit Writing Award (no cash value)
    published in our annual volume

English

Black History Contest 2022

In celebration of Black History Month, Polyphony Lit is hosting a special contest for Black / African submitters. The themes for the contest include Afro-Cosmology and social justice. For more details on the prize, see below!

Afro-Cosmology (which originates from Africa) centers around the idea that Black/African people had, have, and will have a cosmological connection with nature, the human spirit, and the divine. Afro-Cosmology, which can also include Afrofuturism, places an emphasis on the dynamic culture of Black/African people, arguing that it is as dynamic and diverse as the cosmos itself, a sentiment which opens itself up to a wide range of literary topics waiting to be explored, drawing from any point in history (past, present, or future) that an author may wish to include.

Simultaneously, social justice shakes the continent of Africa, from Cape Town, South Africa, where a history of apartheid has shaped the development of poetry over time, to regions of Northern Africa, such as Egypt, where the effects of colonialism are still visible in modern poetry. Social justice also echoes around the world… It is an important topic that many feel passionate about, regardless of where they come from. Do you want to talk about the struggles and strengths of Black Americans in the U.S.? The history of slavery in Haiti? Apartheid in South Africa? The historical intersection and conflict of cultures in Northern Africa? This is your chance to speak out and share your voice.

If English is your language, then send us your work in English. We will also accept submissions written in French and Arabic.

Want to read sample poems from our library of back issues? Check out “Self-Portrait As A Ship Whirling Itself Into Saltwater” and “Sorghum.”

Black History Contest Guidelines

Submissions will open on February 1st and will remain open until February 28th or until we reach our submission cap of 200 submissions. If the turnout is lower than expected, then we might extend the deadline by a couple of weeks, in order to give submitters more writing time.

Please note that this is a separate submission category from Polyphony Lit Volume 19.​ Submissions to Polyphony Lit Volume 19 will receive feedback from the editors, but for the contest category, only the winning submissions will receive feedback from the judge.

If you have already submitted your work to the Volume 19 category, then please do not send the same submission to the Black History Contest.

If you submit to the Black History Contest first and your work is declined, then you may submit it to the Volume 19 category after the Black History Contest is complete.

Prize

There will be one winner and two finalists. The winners/finalists will receive:

  • Publication in Polyphony Lit Volume 19.
  • Eligibility for the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards.
  • Editorial feedback from the Contest Judge, Kayla Phillips.
  • Social media posts announcing the winners.
  • An honorary emblem next to the published work on the website.
  • A full scholarship for Polyphony Lit’s "How to be a Literary Editor" course. Upon completion of the course, students will be eligible to join the editorial staff of Polyphony Lit!

A limited number of scholarships for our “How to Be a Literary Editor” training course will also be awarded to additional Black / African submitters with financial need. In order to take the course, students must be sufficiently fluent in English. Students who complete the course will be invited to join the staff of Polyphony Lit as a Junior Editor. If you are interested in the scholarship opportunity, then please submit an application here.

Please note that only the three winners will receive feedback from the Judge. However, if your work is declined for the Black History Contest, then you may submit to the Volume 19 category and receive regular feedback from our editors.

Writer Qualifications

  • High school students who identify as Black / African American / African / Afro-Latinx are eligible to submit. For ease of reference, we roughly define this as writers of Black or African origin (Eg: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc). However, we understand that people of African descent are incredibly diverse and often come from many different backgrounds, so we hope that you will not be limited in any way by these categories. In the interest of reaching a diverse array of demographics, we are also open to submissions from writers who may identify as Middle Eastern / North African. For the purpose of this contest, we simply use the term “African” in a geographic sense. If you are not fall under these demographics, but still interested in writing about the theme, then feel free to submit to our Volume 19 submission category! https://www.polyphonylit.org/copy-of-submit
  • Creative works may be written in English, French, and Arabic. Accepted submissions that are written in French or Arabic will be accompanied by an English translation.
  • Submit a maximum of three pieces.
  • Submissions must be 1,800 words or fewer, double-spaced.
  • We accept simultaneous submissions and work that has been published elsewhere. If your submission is accepted, you must note if the work was previously published. If it is accepted elsewhere after you submit to us, you must notify us immediately. In this case, if we accept it for publication, we will acknowledge the site of the original publication.
  • Pieces that have been published elsewhere are not eligible for the Claudia Ann Seaman Award for Young Writers.

Formatting​

  • Please upload only one document per submission.
  • Do not put your name on the piece, because all work is blind juried.
  • Submissions longer than one page should have the page number inserted at the top (right or left side) of every page
  • We accept submissions in .doc, .docx or .rtf formats.
  • We prefer common conventions:
    Color: Black & white
    Font Size: 12 pt throughout, including titles
    Font Type: Times or Times New Roman
    Margins: 1-inch at the top and bottom, and 1.25 inch at the left and right. One space after periods. There should be no extra returns after paragraphs unless you have a meaningful reason for the extra space.

Using Submittable

  • Submissions are free.
  • Please upload submissions through Submittable. We do not accept email submissions or hard copies via mail.
  • There is a submission cap of 200 submissions, so we may close submissions for the contest t before February 28th. We recommend submitting early to ensure that you do not miss the deadline.

French

Le concours pour l'histoire noirs 2022

En célébrant le mois de l'histoire noire, Polyphony Lit organise un concours spécial pour les Africans / les Noirs auteurs. Les thèmes du concours incluent Afro-cosmologie et la justice sociale. Consultez la section ci-dessous pour plus de détails du prix.

Afro-cosmologie (qui origine de l'Afrique) est centrée sur l'idée que les Noirs/Africains ont eu, ont et auront une connexion cosmologique avec la nature, l'esprit d'humain et le divin. L'Afro-cosmologie peut aussi inclure l'Afro futurisme. Cette idée souligne la culture dynamique des gens Noirs/Africains. Cette idée est aussi divers et dynamique que le cosmos. Cette culture suscite un sentiment qui implique un large éventail de thèmes littéraires inexplorés, y compris les contes de toute pointe d’histoire (passé, présent, ou futur) qu'un auteur peut souhaiter inclure.

La justice sociale, en meme temps, secoue l’Afrique, du Cap, l’Afrique du Sud, ou une histoire d’apartheid a impacte le developpement de la poesie, aux regions de l’Afrique du Nord comme l’Egypte, ou le colonialisme a influence la moderne poesie. La justice sociale est un thème très important qui résonne autour du monde. Voulez-vous parler des peines et des solidités que rencontrent les Afro-Americains? L'histoire de l’esclavage en Haiti? De l’Apartheid a l’Afrique du Sud? De l’intersection historique et du conflit des cultures de l’Afrique du Nord? C’est votre chance a partager votre voix.

Si l’anglais est votre langue, envoyez-nous votre œuvre en anglais. Nous aussi accepterons les soumissions au français et a l’arabe.

Vous voulez en savoir plus sur la poésie en Afrique? Découvrez notre prochain atelier de poésie, “Around the World of Poetry in 80 Days (Autour le monde de la poesie en 80 jours)”, ou nous accueillons les écrivains/ les rédacteurs de l’Afrique du Sud, l'Egypte et le Zimbabwe.

Vous voulez lire quelques exemples des poèmes de notre bibliothèque de dernier issus? Decouvrez “Self-Portrait As A Ship Whirling Itself Into Saltwater” et “Sorghum.”

Des lignes directrices

Les soumissions ouvriront le 1er février et resteront ouvertes jusqu'au 28 février ou jusqu'à ce que nous atteignons notre plafond de soumission de 200 soumissions. Si le taux de participation est plus faible que prévu, nous pourrions alors prolonger le délai de quelques semaines, afin de donner aux auteurs plus de temps pour écrire.

Veuillez noter qu'il s'agit d'une catégorie de soumission distincte de Polyphony Lit Volume 19. Les soumissions à Polyphony Lit Volume 19 recevront des commentaires des éditeurs, mais pour la catégorie concours, seules les soumissions gagnantes recevront des commentaires du juge.

Si vous avez déjà soumis votre travail dans la catégorie Volume 19, veuillez ne pas envoyer la même soumission au Concours d'histoire des Noirs.

Si vous soumettez d'abord au Concours d'histoire des Noirs et que votre travail est refusé, vous pouvez le soumettre dans la catégorie Volume 19 une fois le Concours d'histoire des Noirs terminé.

Prix

Il y a un gagnant et deux finalistes. Les gagnant/finalistes recevront:

  • Publication dans le Volume 19 du Polyphony Lit.
  • L'éligibilité pour le Claudia Ann Seaman Awards.
  • Le commentaire éditorial du juge du concours.
  • Postes sur les médias sociaux annonçant les gagnants
  • Un emblème honorifique à côté de l'œuvre publiée sur le site.
  • Une bourse complète pour le cours Polyphony Lit "Comment être un éditeur littéraire". À la fin du cours, les étudiants pourront rejoindre l'équipe éditoriale de Polyphony Lit!

Un nombre limité de bourses pour notre cours de formation "Comment être un éditeur littéraire" sera également attribué à d'autres soumissionnaires noirs / africains ayant des besoins financiers. Pour suivre le cours, les étudiants doivent maîtriser suffisamment l'anglais. Les étudiants qui terminent le cours seront invités à rejoindre l'équipe de Polyphony Lit en tant qu'éditeur junior. Si vous êtes intéressé par l'opportunité de bourse, veuillez soumettre une candidature ici.

Veuillez noter que seuls les trois gagnants recevront des commentaires du juge. Cependant, si votre travail est refusé pour le concours d'histoire des Noirs, vous pouvez le soumettre dans la catégorie Volume 19 et recevoir des commentaires réguliers de nos éditeurs.

Qualités d'écrivain

  • Les élèves du secondaire qui s’identifient comme Noirs / Afro-Américains / Africains / Afro-Latinx sont admissibles à soumettre. Pour faciliter la référence, nous définissons cela comme des écrivains d’origine noire ou africaine (Par exemple: Afro-Américain, Jamaïcain, Haïtien, Nigeria, Éthiopien, Somalien, etc). Cependant, nous comprenons que les personnes d’ascendance africaine sont incroyablement diversifiées et viennent souvent de différents horizons, donc nous espérons que vous ne serez pas limités d'aucune façon par ces catégories. Aux fins de ce concours, nous utilisons simplement le terme « africain » au sens géographique. Si vous ne faites pas partie de ces groupes démographiques, mais êtes toujours intéressés à écrire sur le thème, alors n’hésitez pas à soumettre à notre catégorie de soumission du volume 19! https://www.polyphonylit.org/copy-of-submit
  • Les créations peuvent être rédigées en anglais, français, et arabe. Les soumissions acceptées rédigées en français, ou en arabe seront accompagnées d'une traduction en anglais.
  • Soumettre un maximum de trois pièces.
  • Les soumissions doivent être de 1 800 mots ou moins, à double interligne.
  • Nous acceptons les soumissions simultanées et les travaux qui ont été publiés ailleurs. Si votre soumission est acceptée, vous devez indiquer si le travail a déjà été publié. S'il est accepté ailleurs après que vous nous l'ayez soumis, vous devez nous en informer immédiatement. Dans ce cas, si nous l'acceptons pour publication, nous reconnaîtrons le site de la publication originale.
  • Les pièces qui ont été publiées ailleurs ne sont pas éligibles pour le prix Claudia Ann Seaman pour les jeunes écrivains.

Mise en page​

  • Téléchargez seulement un document par soumission
  • Écrivez pas votre nom sur la piece, parce que tout les pièces sont jugé aveuglément par un jury.
  • Les soumissions de plus d'une page doivent avoir le numéro de page inséré en haut (côté droit ou gauche) de chaque page
  • Nous acceptons les soumissions dans les formats .doc, .docx, ou .rtf
  • Nous preferons les conventions communs
    Couleur: noir et blanc
    La taille de police: 12 pt tout au long, y compris les titres
    La type de police: Times ou Times New Roman
    Les marges: 1 pouce en haut et en bas et 1,25 pouce à gauche et à droite. Un espace après les périodes. Il ne devrait pas y avoir de retours supplémentaires après les paragraphes, sauf si vous avez une raison valable pour l'espace supplémentaire.

Utilisation de la Submittable

  • Les soumissions sont gratuites.
  • Envoyez vos soumissions par Submittable. Nous n’acceptons pas les soumissions ni par courrier électronique ni sur papier.
  • Il y a une limite de 200 soumissions, à cause de laquelle nous pouvons fermer les soumissions du concours avant le 28 février. Nous vous recommandons de nous soumettre plus tôt afin de ne pas manquer la date limite.


Polyphony Lit Black History Mont Contest Editorial Scholarship Application
In honor of Black History Month, Polyphony Lit is hosting a special opportunity for Black / African submitters who are interested in becoming editors for Polyphony Lit. This opportunity goes hand-in-hand with our Black History Month Contest.
In order to expand and diversify our staff, Polyphony Lit is seeking out high school students who identify as Black / African. A limited number of scholarships for our “How to Be a Literary Editor” training course will also be awarded to Black / African submitters with financial need.
In order to take the course, students must be sufficiently fluent in English. Students who complete the course will be invited to join the staff of Polyphony Lit as a Junior Editor.


Polyphony Lit Black History Month Editorial Scholarship Application Guidelines
Submissions will open on February 1st and will close on February 28th.
Prize
The selected scholarship students will be offered full access to Polyphony Lit’s “How to Be a Literary Editor” editorial training course, and upon completion of the course, will be invited to join the staff of Polyphony Lit as Junior Editors.
Within the editorial staff, there is opportunity for promotion, so students may be eligible to take on leadership positions at the magazine and get an inside look at the publication process. If they show skill in crafting commentary, then editors may be offered higher positions such as Senior Editor, Contest Reader/Judge, Executive Editor, Teaching Assistant, or Genre Managing Editor.
Joining the editorial staff also offers students a chance to interact with a global network of like-minded writers.
To learn more about the “How to Be a Literary Editor” course, please see our website.
Writer Qualifications

  • High school students who identify as Black / African American / African / Afro-Latinx are eligible to submit. For ease of reference, we roughly define this as writers of Black or African origin (Eg: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc). However, we understand that people of African descent are incredibly diverse and often come from many different backgrounds, so we hope that you will not be limited in any way by these categories. In the interest of reaching a diverse array of demographics, we are also open to submissions from writers who may identify as Middle Eastern / North African. For the purpose of this contest, we simply use the term “African” in a geographic sense. If you are not fall under these demographics, but still need financial aid, you may apply for our regular editorial scholarship here!
  • Scholarship applications for editorial training must be written in English. To become an editor for Polyphony Lit, students must be sufficiently fluent in English.

Using Submittable

  • Submissions are free.

Please upload submissions through Submittable. We do not accept email submissions or hard copies via mail.
"How to Be a Literary Editor"
This course teaches high school and college students how to edit poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Our editorial method, developed over 15 years of teaching our own staff the craft of editing, offers a standard approach for tackling each submission and gives an overview of the specific editing vocabulary useful for giving meaningful feedback. Students who complete the course will be prepared to join the staff of their school literary magazine, ace an internship at a real-world lit magazine, and/or join Polyphony Lit.   Features of this course:

Students who pass the mini-quizzes and complete the final assignment will receive a Certificate of Completion and an invitation to join the Polyphony Lit editorial staff.
For High School Literary Magazine Advisers: If your school is interested in using the workshop to train your high school editorial staff, please contact us for more information and a discount on volume purchases.
Scholarship Qualifications

  • High school student or equivalent.
  • Financial need: public school students who qualify for free/reduced lunch; private school students receiving financial aid; students whose family financial situation has been affected by the pandemic.
  • Has access to computer/device and Wifi to take the online workshop.
  • Plans to complete the online workshop, which takes 3-5 hours, by June 2023.






(Banner artwork created by Sean Lee)

Polyphony Lit Fall Contest 2023:
Motion / Movement

The theme for the contest is “Motion / Movement.” There will be one winner and two finalists. For more details on the contest prize, see below!

Human beings are always on the move, searching for the things they need most, from purpose, to love, to security… Social movements gain ground and traction, as ideas spread through word of mouth and through technology. The fabric of the universe is expanding as we speak, like a puddle of spacetime, spreading ever outwards… As people and writers, we are relentless machines, persistent in our constant motion… So what drives us?

If you choose you interpret “mobility” in a literal sense, then you might write about physical motion; from dance and sports, to travel and immigration, to social movements and protests… You may consider recent events such as the pandemic, protests for various causes, and displacement of refugees… and how these events have all stirred the world into motion. However, you may also choose to interpret “mobility” in a more figurative sense, without necessarily tracking a person’s or an object’s physical path… And this is where the fun begins. Do you want to write about coming of age? An internal change or realization?

What does movement or motion mean to you?

Looking for examples that Polyphony Lit has published already? Then check out “Nine Million Californians as Ocean Resuscitation” “Migrating” and “(un)natural.”

Polyphony Lit Winter Contest Guidelines

Submissions will open on February 1st and will remain open until February 28th or until we reach our submission cap of 200 submissions.

Please note that this is a separate submission category from Polyphony Lit Volume 19.​ Submissions to Polyphony Lit Volume 19 will receive feedback from the editors, but for the seasonal contests, only the winning submissions will receive feedback from the judge.

If you have already submitted your work to the Volume 19 category, then please do not send the same submission to the Winter Contest category.

If you submit to the Winter Contest category first and your work is declined, then you may submit it to the Volume 19 category after the Winter Contest is finished.

Writer Qualifications

  • High school students from anywhere in the world are eligible to submit.
  • Works must be written in English.
  • Submit a maximum of three pieces.
  • We accept simultaneous submissions and work that has been published elsewhere. If your submission is accepted, you must note if the work was previously published. If it is accepted elsewhere after you submit to us, you must notify us immediately. In this case, if we accept it for publication, we will acknowledge the site of the original publication.
  • Pieces that have been published elsewhere are not eligible for the Claudia Ann Seaman Award for Young Writers.
  • All submissions that have not been previously published are eligible for both the Polyphony Lit Editors Choice Award and the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards.

Length

  • Submissions must be 1,800 words or fewer, double-spaced.

Formatting​

  • Do not put your name on the piece, as all work is blind juried.
  • Submissions longer than one page should have the page number inserted at the top (right or left side) of every page, as it would help our Judge specify the location for their commentary.
  • We accept submission in .doc, .docx or .rtf formats.
  • We prefer common conventions:
    • Color: Black & white
    • Font Size: 12 pt throughout, including titles
    • Font Type: Times or Times New Roman
    • Margins: 1-inch at the top and bottom, and 1.25 inch at the left and right. One space after periods. There should be no extra returns after paragraphs unless you have a meaningful reason for the extra space.

Using Submittable

  • Please upload submissions through Submittable. We do not accept email submissions or hard copies via mail.
  • Upload only one piece per submission file; to submit more than one piece, make more than one submission file.
  • There is a $5 submission fee.
  • There is a submission cap of 200 submissions, so we may close submissions for the Winter Contest before the deadline of February 28th if we receive 200 submissions. We recommend submitting early in the month, to ensure that you do not miss the deadline.

Prize

There will be one winner and two finalists. The winners/finalists will receive:

  • Publication in Polyphony Lit Volume 18
  • Eligibility for the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards
  • Editorial feedback from the Contest Judge, Grace Marie Liu
  • Social media posts announcing the winners
  • An honorary emblem next to the published work on the website
  • A full scholarship for Polyphony Lit’s "How to be a Literary Editor" course. Upon completion of the course, students will be eligible to join the editorial staff of Polyphony Lit!

Please note that only the three winners will receive feedback from the Judge. However, if your work is declined for the Winter Contest, then you may submit to the Volume 18 category and receive regular feedback from our editors.

To meet our Contest Judge, and Readers, see their bios below!

Meet the Judge

Grace Marie Liu is a high school sophomore from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Minnesota Review, Kissing Dynamite, and Vagabond City Lit, among others. In her free time, Grace enjoys binge-watching Studio Ghibli movies and eating her weight in almond butter.

Meet the Readers

Cloris Shi is a Chinese-American poet and editor from Southern California. Her works have been recognized by Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, The New York Times, and other journals. In her free time, you can find her playing piano, walking along the ocean, or dancing in her bedroom. She is excited to read the contest submissions.

Demarie Hao, who often goes by Basil, is currently a sophomore at Hunter College High School in New York City. They have written for various creative writing and scientific school magazines, and hopes to submit more to contests and publications in the future. When they aren't at their desk writing or reading cancer articles, they love watching K-Pop dance videos or playing video games.

Diya Sreedhar

“How to Be a Literary Editor” Scholarship Application

Students who fill out this form will be offered a full scholarship for the “How to Be a Literary Editor” course, if they qualify for financial aid.

We are a nonprofit with aim to reach all students. In order to open our staff to students from low-income communities, we offer to waive the $75 enrollment fee for students who qualify for financial aid.

You may apply for the scholarship by filling out the form below or by emailing david@polyphonylit.org.

"How to Be a Literary Editor"

This course teaches high school and college students how to edit poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Our editorial method, developed over 15 years of teaching our own staff the craft of editing, offers a standard approach for tackling each submission and gives an overview of the specific editing vocabulary useful for giving meaningful feedback.

Students who complete the course will be prepared to join the staff of their school literary magazine, ace an internship at a real-world lit magazine, and/or join Polyphony Lit.  The course also includes a guide for literary magazine interns published by the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses [clmp] which will introduce students to the administrative and business aspects of producing a literary magazine.

Features of this course:

Students who pass the mini-quizzes and complete the final assignment will receive a Certificate of Completion and an invitation to join the Polyphony Lit editorial staff.

For High School Literary Magazine Advisers: If your school is interested in using the workshop to train your high school editorial staff, please contact us for more information and a discount on volume purchases.

Scholarship Qualifications

  • High school student or equivalent.
  • Financial need: public school students who qualify for free/reduced lunch; private school students receiving financial aid; students whose family financial situation has been affected by the pandemic.
  • Has access to computer/device and Wifi to take the online workshop.
  • Plans to complete the online workshop, which takes 3-5 hours, by June 2022.
Polyphony Lit