Submit to Our Contests

Each year, So to Speak holds annual contests in the genres that we publish: visual art, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Each contest is judged by a renowned writer in that genre. In the past, judges have included Claudia Rankine, Emily St. John Mandel, and Jeannie Vanasco. Please read instructions for your specific genre below before submitting. We also recommend reviewing the Submissions page on our website.

So to Speak accepts submissions using our Submittable submissions manager. Each contest charges a reading fee per entry. Submissions are free for Black and Indigenous writers, who may use the genre-corresponding submission portal designated as free submissions for Black and Indigenous writers. If you are not a Black or Indigenous writer but the fee poses a serious barrier to you, please reach out to us via rather than using this submission portal.

Multiple submissions are welcome in the same or other genres, but they must be in separate entries, and a writer can only win one genre.

We only accept previously unpublished work as submissions to our contests and magazine. This means submissions must not be published on any platform.

The winner of each genre will be awarded a monetary prize and publication; finalists may also be selected for publication.

If you win a contest, you must wait three years to submit to that contest again. If you are a runner-up, you must wait one year to submit to that contest again. If you are a finalist but your piece is not printed in the contest issue, you may submit again as soon as you’d like (when submissions are open).

Current and former students of the judges are disqualified from entering corresponding contests, as well as students of George Mason University’s MFA program and graduates within 5 years of graduating. In addition, judges will be reading finalists as selected by the So to Speak editorial staff. The payment of a monetary prize is subject to U.S. laws and regulations, including those that prohibit payments to persons from or who reside in countries subject to U.S. sanctions.

We look forward to reading your entries! Feel free to reach out with questions and concerns. You can purchase last year’s contest issue on our Submittable page. You can find out more about our submission guidelines on our website and/or on our Submittable page.



We’re looking for 3-5 of your best poems per submission; the winner will be awarded a $500 prize and publication in the journal. Up to three finalists may also be featured in the journal.

JUDGE: Susannah Nevison

Susannah Nevison is the author of three collections of poetry: Teratology, Lethal Theater, and, with writer Molly McCully Brown, the collaborative collection In the Field Between Us. She teachings at Sweet Briar College, where she is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing. Originally from Massachusetts, she now lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter, and their two raucous dogs.
What Susannah is looking for: I admire poetry that navigates risk: in voice, in sound, in form. I’m always taken with poems that push the envelope, that challenge my notion of what a poem can do or how a poem works. A poem that shows me something new and surprising, regardless of how it gets there, is a poem I’ll follow almost anywhere.


September 10- November 14, 2021


Send your single best work of fiction up to 4,000 words; the winner will be awarded $500 and publication in the journal. Up to three finalists may also be featured in the journal.

JUDGE: Krys Malcolm Belc

Krys Malcolm Belc is the author of the memoir The Natural Mother of the Child (Counterpoint) and the flash nonfiction chapbook In Transit (The Cupboard Pamphlet.) His work has been featured in Granta, The Rumpus, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in Wigleaf Top 50, Best of the Net 2018, and in the anthology The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction. Krys lives in Philadelphia with his partner and their three young children and works as an educator in a pediatric oncology clinic.

What Krys is Looking For: I have to admit that I read–and love–widely. What I love most in fiction is getting to be fully immersed in something else that is not my kitchen counter where I sit to read. Whether that’s immersion in plot, character, form, or something entirely different, I want to be transported.


September 10- November 14, 2021


Send your single best work of nonfiction up to 4,000 words; the winner will be awarded a $500 prize and publication in the journal. Up to three finalists may also be featured in the journal.

JUDGE: Alysia Sawchyn

Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn is a Senior Features Editor for The Rumpus and lives in the DC area. Her debut essay collection, A Fish Growing Lungs, was a finalist for The Believer Book Awards. She has been awarded fellowships to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop. You can often (too often) find her on Twitter.
What Alysia is Looking For: I love nonfiction that incorporates research, and I think of research as a wildly expansive term. There is so much “world” out there—secondary sources, yes, but what about buying a kilo of clementines and methodically peeling off the skin so that it remains whole again and again and again making sure that we’ve got the right language for the action? What about how the structure of a fairytale can help us to make sense of our messy experiences? I am looking for nonfiction that is paying close attention, regardless of where it fixes its gaze.


September 10- November 14, 2021


So to Speak is open to review any form of visual artwork. Past issues have included photography, drawing, painting, digital media, and images of various installations and sculpture. We welcome submissions including performance, digital and new media, photography and all 2D and 3D visual art forms.

The winner will be awarded a $500 prize and publication in the journal. Up to three finalists may also be featured in the journal.

JUDGE: Ghislaine Fremaux

Ghislaine (Ghi) Fremaux holds her MFA from the Pennsylvania State University, conferred in 2012. Her undergraduate studies began at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in 2003, and culminated in a BFA from Tufts University with SMFA, Boston, in 2007. She is Associate Professor of Art and Area Chair of Painting at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. Current and nascent projects examine erotic perception, bioethics, aging, the gut-brain axis, and body image culture within intentional communities. In the service of these, Fremaux has collaborated with sociologists, gerontologists, and gastroenterologists. She has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, with curators such as Omar Lopez-Chahoud, Carter E. Foster, Juana Williams, Leslie Moody Castro, and Katie Pfohl. Fremaux is presently working in collaboration with her partner, Tony Orlando (Lando) Valdez. Heavily collaged and physically immense, their work emphasizes the making and unmaking of the body through surgery, desire, and grief. They live and work in Lubbock, TX.
What Ghislaine is Looking For: A compelling artwork is, to me, one that shows conviction–both in the conceptual intent and in the handling of the medium. I am interested in artworks with slow hands, that act on me incrementally, in both physical and intellectual ways. I appreciate works that enable me to know with parts of myself other than my brain, to know without recourse to language or reason.


September 10- November 14, 2021