Submissions & Guidelines
So to Speak considers unsolicited submissions of previously unpublished poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art for every issue, as well as submissions to our blog. We are looking for work that matches our intersectional feminist viewpoint. We strongly encourage you to read our most recent issue and our mission statement before submitting. In particular, we aim to platform Own Voices work (though we understand there are many nuances to identity). Please note that any submission making or perpetuating harmful stereotypes against a marginalized individual or group will be rejected outright. For more information, we recommend reading this post on our blog. Below you will find information on submissions for each genre category.
Simultaneous submissions are fine (and even encouraged!), but please withdraw your piece promptly if it is accepted elsewhere. For single poems from a packet that have been accepted elsewhere, you may send us a message on Submittable letting us know which poems have been picked up.
Please note that we do not accept submissions from George Mason MFA students or graduates within 5 years of graduating. If you have been published on our website before, please wait at least one calendar year before submitting again. If you have been featured in our print issue, please wait at least two calendar years before submitting to another issue with us. Please do not send us a piece you have sent us before unless we ask to see another version.
For the 2023 print and online issues, all contributors will receive a $100 prize.
We read for one online issue and one print issue a year — usually, one in the Spring, one in the Fall. We read for the Blog year-round, though responses may take longer over the summer months (June, July, and August). See our Submission Manager to see if we are open for submissions.
HOW TO SUBMIT
We only accept submissions through our Submission Manager. Please submit your work electronically. As mentioned, simultaneous submissions are acceptable as long as we are notified if a submission under current consideration is accepted elsewhere. We no longer accept paper submissions and do not accept email submissions. We respond to all submissions in one to five months.
Please use our online Submissions Manager and send a submission that provides:
- A single .doc or .docx document (excepting art submissions) that contains your work. Please read the genre guidelines below for information about formatting your work.
- Your Cover Letter, written in the Submittable portal, should include your name, address, phone number, email address, how you heard about So to Speak, and brief bio describing your background as a writer or artist and any applicable awards or publications.
We will notify you about the status of your submission electronically.
So to Speak Journal is looking for poetry which is (implicitly or explicitly) intersectionally feminist. Being an intersectional feminist is a commitment to lifelong learning—an intellectually open acknowledgement that systems, institutions, individual people, and places do not operate the same for every person.
We want to read poetry that excites us, that challenges our understanding of form and language. We want poetry that seeks and speaks its own embodied truth. Poetry can be a medium that invites the reader into the poet’s world, and we want to see new worlds, unexplored spaces, and strange landscapes. We’re interested in poems that dive deep into the varied images, identities, and idiosyncrasies you’re exploring. Right now, we’re particularly engaged with intersectional poetry that also explores themes of film and/or ecology. Some poets we adore are Donika Kelly, Oliver Baez Bendorf, Mary Oliver, Aracelis Girmay, Natasha Trethewey, and Claudia Rankine.
Please send up to 5 poems at a time, not exceeding 10 pages total.
The So to Speak fiction team is looking for short stories and flash fiction pieces that engage, challenge, and surprise us. We are dedicated to So to Speak’s intersectional feminist mission, and we prefer to read works that also align with that mission. We particularly love stories that tackle multiple intersections (of race, class, ability, sexuality, and/or gender identity) and allow us to hear points of view that are not often heard.
We’re inspired by many great intersectional feminist authors doing important work—for instance, we’re currently in love with the stories of Carmen Maria Machado, who uses the speculative and the surreal to investigate the lives of queer women and the complex stories of their bodies. We also admire novelist Jesmyn Ward, who brilliantly captures complex intersections with beautiful, thoughtful prose and a distinct voice; Celeste Ng, who deftly explores intersections of class, race, and privilege; and R.O. Kwon, who crafts engaging narratives that interrogate the connections between race and religion.
In our time at So to Speak, the fiction team has seen many stories that reflect the perspective of white, cisgender, heterosexual women. While this perspective is not necessarily a bad one, it is a point of view that is often featured in fiction. We would love to see more works that challenge this hegemony and feature voices and stories that are not typically heard. While we appreciate that writers can write outside their own experiences, we prefer to read stories that come from an #OwnVoices perspective—in other words, we prefer stories that feature characters who explore intersections and perspectives that the writer themself is familiar with.
What we most want to read are stories that approach intersectional feminism in new and exciting ways, that add to and further the conversation. We want stories that see tried-and-true topics—motherhood, coming of age, assault, miscarriages—in new ways, and stories that see timely topics—immigration, sexuality, disability, class, gender identity—in new ways, too.
In short, we’re looking for work that both engages with So to Speak’s intersectional feminist mission and engages us on a storytelling level. What happens in that space is up to you.
Please format all submissions in 12pt Times New Roman font, double spaced. Though we don’t have a hard word limit for every issue, we prefer pieces 4,000 words or fewer.
Thank you for submitting! We’re so excited to see what you have to show us.
For work that we admire, look to the work of Shze Hui Tjoa in our 2020 contest issue, Daniel Garcia in our 2019 contest issue, and Chelsea Hernandez in our 2019 online issue. Outside of our journal, we deeply admire the work of Melissa Febos, Jeannie Vanasco, T Kira Madden, Claudia Rankine, and Eula Biss. We also appreciate work that is distinctively voiced and that provides moments of unexpected, pathos-laden humor. A wonderful example of that is Jessica Laurel Kane’s piece in our 2021 online issue.
In the past, we have received many submissions on the topics of birth, breastfeeding, menstruation, and the male/female divide. We have also received several cis-centric submissions and work that ignores the perspectives of people who are not white, cisgender, heterosexual. While no content area is “off limits” for us, we ask that you submit work that contributes something new to the conversation.
We aim to be a space for voices occupying intersections that are not always heard. We deeply admire complex and sophisticated nonfiction that puts its subject under a tight lens. We appreciate the seamless integration of research as a means for diving deep into the personal.
In short, we want to read essays that are felt in the bones, that are transformative, that shy away from easy answers.
We welcome submissions of personal essays, memoir, profiles, and other nonfiction pieces. We prefer pieces under 4,000 words. All nonfiction submissions should be double-spaced with numbered pages.
So to Speak is looking for art which is implicitly or explicitly intersectional. Both formally educated and self-taught artists are welcome to submit. We strongly believe that art should be accessible to everybody, and that artists do not have to have classical training to make great art. Artists of all backgrounds and experiences are encouraged to submit work of any visual medium (though we are not able to publish video or audio art in our print issue).
We love art that challenges us to experience the world through the artist’s lens. Overtly political or activist themes are encouraged. We appreciate strong emotional content, and innovative techniques excite us.
We often see submissions which interpret So to Speak’s mission to be solely (or mostly) about cisgender women. While we welcome work from the perspective of cis women, that which focuses on anatomy, birth, and/or menstruation as the cornerstones of womanhood will generally be a poor fit for our journal; such themes can be seen as excluding trans/nonbinary people. That said, we would love to see these topics addressed through a fresh and intersectional lens.
One thing that all submissions must have is quality photos or renderings of the work. It is absolutely essential that the resolution, lighting, and framing of the piece is ready to print or publish online. It pains us to have to turn down what looks like incredible art due to image quality issues. If you need help photographing your art, here is a helpful article titled “How To Take Great Photos Of Your Artwork.”
All submissions must be in jpg or tif formats at 300 dpi.Please submit individual entries as LastName_Title, and include dimensions if applicable, the materials used as applicable, a brief description of the submission, and a brief artist’s bio. Please submit only once per reading period.
The So to Speak Blog team has been inspired by such artists as Cheryl Strayed and Ryan Van Meter. Cheryl Strayed’s vulnerable, but incredibly distinct voice sustains you as you read about her struggle with drug abuse and the loss of a parent. Ryan Van Meter’s narrative storytelling and his sentence-level craft carry us through his work as he explores his identity as a gay man. We love work that explores the complexities of experiences and identities, work that lends itself to a larger meaning in every aspect.
The So to Speak Blog is unique in that it opens itself up to multiple forms of storytelling. We love the poetry, essays, and short stories we receive and we encourage artists to continue to submit pieces that fall into those genres. However, we want to see more work that bends form and genre, work that extends outside of the personal essay or the traditional poem, and work that is visually stimulating. Hybrid works, reviews, interviews, craft essays, and visual art are welcomed submissions. We also would love to see more multimedia, like videos, spoken word, and podcasts, on the So to Speak Blog. In summary, we want to see art that tells a story in an exciting way and gives us a new perspective.
While we enjoy reading all of the pieces we receive and sincerely thank everyone who shares their work, a lot of submissions explore similar topics and issues through a similar lens. These topics include: motherhood, womanhood, sexual assault/rape, and misogyny. While these are all important to bring into conversation and can definitely be discussed in submissions, So to Speak’s mission is to explore the intersections of feminism, identity, and culture. We wish to see pieces that go deeper, offer new perspectives, and flip what has been considered the “literary canon” on its head.
Some topics we would love to see more of include: positive perspectives on gender, especially from transgender and non-binary artists, toxic masculinity, mental health, disability/ableism, and sexuality. And to go along with our mission, we love submissions that explore different intersections, like race and motherhood, economic status and healthcare, gender and immigration, and more.
Please refer to our submission manager for information about file types, word count, etc.
The So to Speak blog is now accepting submissions for its newest limited series! We invite writers to submit creative work and craft essays that explore boundaries through an intersectional lens. There are many ways to approach writing about this issue, so we’ve provided a few potential prompts that we hope will provide you with a starting point:
What does it mean to be mindful of space? What does it mean to occupy a space? What does it look like to exist freely? How do you set boundaries for yourself and others? How do you navigate physical boundaries, such as borders? What about intangible boundaries, such as languages? In what instances can boundaries help, rather than hinder? In what ways can an individual’s identity create boundaries or limit their access to/presence in spaces?
Submissions should consist of no more than 2,000 words of prose or 3 poems, and should be double-spaced with numbered pages (poems do not have to adhere to this formatting). We would also be excited to receive multimedia creative work. This could take the form of audio, spoken word, a mix of visual art and text, or anything else that you can think of. Please submit individual entries as LastName_Title, a brief description of the submission, and a brief artist’s bio. Simultaneous submissions are also welcomed, provided you notify us promptly if the piece has been published elsewhere.
So to Speak is humbled to share an online space with writers and artists who seek to produce thought-provoking work that engages diversity and inclusion. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Submissions Open on 12/2/21 and Close on 1/15/22
So to Speak acquires First Electronic, Anthology, and Archival Rights upon agreement to publish a piece. What this means for you: So to Speak will be the first outlet to publish the piece, and preserve digitally-accessible archives in which a piece may appear in perpetuity in addition for consideration in our annual print volume containing work published over the preceding academic year (which runs May – May). However, once we publish a piece, all other available rights revert back to the author and other publications that take previously-published material may print or display the piece.
As a small kindness, should the piece be accepted for further publication, we request that So to Speak: a feminist journal of language & arts be credited as the place where the piece first appeared with hyperlinks, where practical.
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Feminist journal of language + art. We publish poetry, fiction, nonfiction & visual art exploring intersections of gender, race, class & sexuality.