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So To Speak considers unsolicited submissions of previously unpublished poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art for every issue, as well as submissions to our blog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. 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. We also recommend checking out a recent issue to get a feel for what we’ve published as of late.

Please note that we do not accept submissions from George Mason MFA students or graduates within 5 years of graduating.

READING PERIODS

We read for one online issue and one print/contest 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. We no longer accept paper submissions and do not accept email submissions. We respond to all submissions in one to five months.

SUBMISSIONS

We only accept submissions through our Submission Manager. Please submit your work electronically. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable as long as we are notified if a submission under current consideration is accepted elsewhere. Aside from our contest issue, which currently features an honorarium for the winner of each genre, we are unable to compensate writers at this time. Literary magazines are a labor of love, and we will passionately promote your piece and your future work on social media! 

HOW TO SUBMIT

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.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Click on the tabs below to learn about the submission guidelines for each category.
So to Speak Journal is looking for poetry which is (implicitly or explicitly) intersectionally feminist. If you’re looking to read writers whose work embodies the kinds of poetry that we’re inspired by, we suggest you read up on the work of Ada Limón, Danez Smith, Meg Day, and Victoria Chang
 
We select poems that encounter the world embodied. We select poems that, lyrically and politically, are razor-sharp and bold. 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 poetry that does not make claims towards an erasing universal philosophy. We want poetry that seeks and speaks their own embodied truth, and speaks it loud.
 

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—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. Also, please pay careful attention to our word count limit—though our online edition is more flexible in terms of space, we can’t guarantee we will read submissions over 4,000 words.

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 FebosJeannie VanascoT Kira MaddenClaudia Rankine, and Eula Biss. 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.

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. Moreover, 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, and does not ignore complications of  narrative.

We welcome submissions of personal essays, memoir, profiles, and other nonfiction pieces not exceeding 4,000 words. All nonfiction submissions should be double-spaced with numbered pages.

So to Speak Journal is looking for art which is implicitly or explicitly intersectionally feminist. Whether you are a classically trained painter, sculptor, photographer; graphic designer, digital artist; or a self taught artist you are welcome and encouraged to submit. Visual art should be accessible to all people and the work of those who have been historically marginalized must be upheld in the canon—this is essential So to Speak’s mission. There are numerous artists we love, but there are a few artists whose work we’d like to highlight as work that embodies So to Speak’s mission as example:

Sculptor Leilah Babirye crafts incredible and innovative structures out of reclaimed objects—welding, weaving, whittling, and assembling pieces which address and challenge tradition, cultural identity, gender, and power structures.

Instagram digital illustrator and typographer, Hello My Name is Wednesday is an incredible queer activist. Their work is a visual delight, which captures an unbreakably hopeful and resilient spirit.

Kehinde Wiley creates highly naturalistic portraits with ornate floral backdrops which often parallel historical portraits in modern settings. His work purposefully disrupts the tropes of traditional portrait painting and examine critically the intersections of gender and race.

We often see submissions which interpret So to Speak’s mission to be solely about the cis-woman’s body. This interoperation leaves out the experiences and work of so many artists. We would love more submissions that examine multiple intersections of identity or go beyond acknowledging the commodification of cis-women’s bodies—or if this is what the art is focused on, to go beyond the generalizations around these ideas. We’d love to see more work which is explicitly activist in tone or subject. We’d love to see more visual art in a diversity of mediums.

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.”

We are open to any form of artwork. Past issues have included photography, sketches, paintings, digital media, and images of various installations and sculpture. 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. 

PUBLICATION RIGHTS

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.

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS

If you have additional questions or comments that aren’t answered anywhere on the site, please drop us a line at sotospeak@sotospeakjournal.org.