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So To Speak considers unsolicited submissions of previously unpublished poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art for every issue, as well as submissions to our blog.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.
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. 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 four months.
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 Cover Letter, followed by your work. Please read the genre guidelines below for information about formatting your work.
- Your Cover Letter 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. Below are some poets that we love and why we love their work:
Maggie Nelson combines research, genre-bending poetry in another kind of intersection while examining the self and identity in respects to her place within the world and LGBTQ communities.
Ada Limon’s work addresses intersections of womanhood, ethnicity, and the complications of building identity in poetry that is often autobiographical tinged with reproach for societal expectations.
Natasha Tretheway dwells in spaces that allow her to balance many intersections within her work—research, race, the domestic work of women—and creates thought-provoking poems that elevate lost voices.
We receive a lot of poems about menstruation and motherhood that can all start to blend together when you read so many submissions; this typically means we don’t hold onto those unless they are adding something new to the topic/conversation in a fresh way. Other topics this happens with can include coming out stories, revisionist myths that just retell the story that’s already well established, and discussions of the generalized negative versions of men—the politicized listing of the crimes of men. Feel free to submit poetry on these topics, but be sure to ask your poems: “What is this adding to the conversation? What new perspective is here?” We want to read your joy and your trauma, but we also want to learn something or see something in a new way while we do so.
We love work from poets in the LGBTQIAP+ community. We would love to see more work from immigrants and children of immigrants that celebrate the cultures they represent. There is also often a lack of poetry by poets who are in multiple marginalized groups that talk about those experiences, especially the positive and joyful parts of existence. Of course, we also welcome poetry from people of multiple intersections that interrogates, exposes, and challenges societal norms, the political climate, or racism/misogyny/ableism/etc. Seeing more implicitly intersectional work that embraces emotion and feeling, rather than using the poem as an agenda for politicization would be truly wonderful for us as well. Poetry is pain and pleasure in equal parts, so more voices, and more ideas that need a platform like ours are the things we want to see.
Please send up to 5 poems at a time, not exceeding 10 pages total.
So to Speak 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 align (explicitly or implicitly) with that mission. We particularly love stories that tackle multiple intersections and allow us to hear points of view that are not often heard.
We’re inspired by many great feminist authors doing important work—for instance, we love the stories of Carmen Maria Machado, who uses the speculative and the surreal to investigate the lives of women and the complex stories of their bodies. We also admire novelist Tayari Jones, who brilliantly captures complex intersections with beautiful, thoughtful prose and a distinct voice; and Gillian Flynn, who unflinchingly examines the darkness and violence of her female characters in fresh and captivating ways.
So to Speak 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 perspective 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.
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—in new ways, and stories that see fresh topics—immigration, sexuality, disability—in new ways, too. 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 are part of the writer’s own identity.
In short, we’re looking for work that both engages with So to Speak’s intersectional feminist mission and engages us on a craft level. What happens in that space is up to you. Thank you for submitting! We’re so excited to see what you have to show us.
Please submit one prose piece at a time, not exceeding 4,000 words. All fiction submissions should be double-spaced with numbered pages.
To find work that we admire, look to the work of Elizabeth Brina in our 2018 Contest Issue. Her essay blends a collective narrative with the individual story of her parents. Outside of our journal, we love the world of Elissa Washuta, a writer whose work encompasses intergenerational ties and the trauma we carry in our lineage. We love experimental forms, and blended essays that look to the smallness to get at the largeness of theme and their respective topics.
While we love to read about a spread of topics, we often receive multiple submissions which explore the same topics in similar angles over and over again. Some of these are: birth, breastfeeding, sexual assault, rants against [insert topic here], and on the male/female divide. While it is perfectly okay to include these topics in a piece about something bigger, we hope that the scope of your nonfiction work will approach these topics from new angles, and offer new perspectives and ideas on the topic in a literary lens.
Areas where we don’t receive enough content, that we would LOVE to read about in fresh and effective ways are: toxic masculinity, mental health, and positive perspectives on sexuality. We also love work that occupies multiple intersections (addresses race and gender, or perhaps Socioeconomic Status and incarceration, or sexual identity and immigration or… you get it).
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, and visual art are welcomed submissions. We also would love to see more multimedia, like videos 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.
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.