Our first submissions period of the season is officially open as of this morning! Over the years, we’ve been asked a lot of really great questions about our submissions process, so today on the blog, we thought we’d take some time to answer a few of the most frequently asked. First time sending us work? Or new to lit mag submissions in general? Before you head on over to check out our official guidelines on Submittable, we encourage you to take a quick read through the following.
1. What types of poems do you publish?
We love poems that surprise and challenge us, that are musical and filled with vivid, concrete imagery; that play with language in new and interesting ways; that take risks; that have something distinct to say. We tend to prefer unrhymed, free verse poems. We no longer publish translations. To get the best idea of what we publish, we encourage you to read through a few of our past issues.
2. What kind of art are you looking for?
For visual art, we’re looking for paintings in traditional mediums (like watercolor, oil, acrylic); lino or woodblock prints; collage; and abstract photos that we can juxtapose with poems and maybe even use as cover art. We’re fond of moody, monochrome color palettes, striking contrast, and interestingly textured play with shadow and light. As stated above, the best way to get an idea of the type of art we publish is to look at our past issues.
3. How many times can I submit? Can I submit to both the poetry and visual art categories? Can I send you work during both reading periods this year?
You’re welcome to submit to both categories in a given reading period! However, please submit only once per category during that period. Additionally, this year, our second reading period (Mar/Apr) is reserved for Asian American writers and artists aged 14–24 only, while our current reading period (Jan/Feb) is for Asian American poets and artists of any age. We ask that you please respect these categories and only submit during the appropriate reading period.
4. If I’ve been published by LR before, can I submit again?
We ask contributors to wait one calendar year/season after publication before submitting again. (This means that anyone we published in 2020 should not submit this year.) Otherwise, past contribs are welcome to submit again!
5. Do I have to be Asian American for you to publish my work?
Our mission is to highlight Asian American poetry and art. At the present moment, that means we’re prioritizing work from writers and artists who identify as Asian American. We also realize that “Asian American” is a broad and complex category—but bottom line, if you self-identify as Asian American, we want to see your work! (And if you don’t, we’d ask you to respectfully refrain from submitting.)
6. How many poems should I send?
Our guidelines specify a maximum of four poems totaling no more than than eight pages. (Please don’t send more than that; we won’t be able to read the extra poems.) But within that limit, feel free to send as many or as few as you’d like! It is often a good strategy to send at least a couple if you’re also sending your work to other journals, however—that way, if one of your poems gets snapped up by another magazine first, we still have something to choose from if we want to publish your work.
7. Can I email you my work instead of using Submittable?
Unfortunately, we don’t accept unsolicited submissions via email. If you experience a problem with our Submittable forms, feel free to ask us about it via email, but we’ll still eventually ask you to submit your work via Submittable. This is actually a good thing for submitters—it’s easier to keep track of submissions when they’re all in one place, so by sending your work via Submittable only, you help ensure that we won’t accidentally miss or lose your work!
8. Your guidelines say that a poem can’t be previously published. What counts as “previously published”?
“Previously published” means that a piece has previously appeared in a published periodical (such as a literary journal), anthology, chapbook, or collection (book), whether in print or online. This includes self-published chapbooks and books. (As a literary magazine, we claim standard first North American serial rights, and rights revert to you upon publication.) However, if you’ve simply performed the poem at an event, posted it on your blog, or shared it on your personal social media, we don’t consider it published. We realize there are lots of ambiguous cases out there, though, so if you’re ever unsure whether a piece that you intend to submit counts as “previously published,” please don’t hesitate to send us an email and ask!
9. What are simultaneous submissions? What if my work gets accepted somewhere else while it’s still being considered by Lantern Review?
Simultaneous submissions are pieces that are currently being considered by more than one journal or contest. LR allows submitters to send in simultaneous submissions, but should a piece be accepted elsewhere, you must immediately contact us to withdraw it. The easiest way to do this is to message us on Submittable or to add a note to your submission indicating which piece is no longer available.
10. Submittable says that you are not accepting submissions, but the deadline hasn’t passed yet. What’s going on?
This probably means that we’ve maxed out our submissions limit for the month. Submittable limits small publications like ours to a certain number of total submissions per calendar month. Once we’ve received that number of submissions, the form automatically shuts down for a time. Unfortunately, this is not something we have control over—but the good news is that the form will always reopen (and the counter will reset) with the start of the next calendar month. Should this happen before the end of January/March, we are so sorry—but please don’t worry! The form will be up and running again on February 1st/April 1st.
11. How soon will you get back to me?
We aim to get back to you within about eight weeks’ time after the submissions period ends. However, we’re a very small team, and occasionally, there may be delays. We ask for your patience while we go through the pile; please know that we haven’t forgotten you if you don’t hear from us right away after submitting—we’re working through as quickly as we possibly can.
12. Given the theme, “Asian American futures,” does my work have to be about the future? Does it have to be about being Asian American?
Your work never has to be “about” being Asian American. We love getting to highlight the enormous diversity of topics and themes that contemporary Asian American poets are writing about—we’re so much more than boba and rice! Regarding the “future” part of the 2021 season theme, if you’re submitting to our Jan/Feb open submissions period, then, yes, we ask that the pieces you send have the future in mind in some way. If you’re 14–24 and submitting to our Youth Folio (Mar/Apr), then your work does not need to specifically be about the future—we consider that you (and your perspectives) already are the future of Asian America.
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We hope this helps to clarify our submissions process a bit! We encourage you to send in your work early and to carefully read both our general guidelines and the guidelines for your category (poetry or art) before hitting “Submit.” And as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out via email (editors [at] lanternreview [dot] com) or on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (@LanternReview) should you have any questions. We look forward to reading your work!
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Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf, 2017)
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As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.