Submissions are closed for the summer! We’ll open up again on August 15. Thank you!
If you’re gearing up to submit this summer and fall, read on for our guidance below.
What will NORTHWEST REVIEW look to publish?
We want to expand the frontier of American literature. What does that mean, exactly? Insofar that literary boundaries exist, we want you to break them. If, in your mind as a writer, you hear a voice saying, don’t break that rule, that is the rule you should break. We are eager to read works that are formally inventive, experimental in voice or form; we want to read work from writers of marginalized communities and voices. We want to read work from writers who have never been published; we want to read work from Nobel Prize winners still trying to reach that literary nightcap of a decades-long career.
We are especially interested in art that defends the Earth, the environment,
Cover letters are optional. We’re happy to read submissions blindly. However, we do like establishing relationships with our community and getting to know you over the course of your writing career, and if you send us a cover letter that helps us get to know you.
In terms of what to include, think of your cover letter as our editors’ introduction to you and your work. Tell us where you’re from, your schooling (if applicable), job situation, your favorite writers, any publications, your favorite books. Here’s an example of a cover letter that has come into The Paris Review, The Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review recently. You can follow this template if you find it helpful:
Date of your submission, so, for instance:
Dear Readers (but ideally, the name of the Genre Editor reading your work):
I’m reaching out to see if you’d consider my LITERARY CONTRIBUTION [description of translated work, poem(s), fiction, etc].
I am submitting this because my poem/story/interview/book review explores topics of interest in the Frontier of American Letters. My work has previously been published in [name of publications]; or if this is your debut publication, describe what your story would be like if it were published here, as your first.
Some of my favorite authors are X, Y, and Z–So and So is an artist who inspires my work.
Thank you for reading my submission!
The above is the sort of cover letters that help our readers have some context for your work. Many emerging writers submit five, even ten works over the course of a few years, before a story or poem breaks through–but we remember the near-misses and enjoy reading them and watching the development of writers as they work on their craft.
The art of translation provides a critical avenue into new literary forms and psychological landscapes: if you are a translator working on an original work in a non-English language, we want to see it. Here’s the thing: if we’re not able to publish the English side-by-side, it may not showcase your skill as a translator. To that end, if you are able to translate an existing work of English in the Public Domain, such as a poem written by Emily Dickinson, or a scene out of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, into a non-English language, we’d love to see it and publish it side by side. If you would like to study the art of translation, consider our publisher’s interview with the legendary translator Gregory Rabassa, who translated One Hundred Years of Solitude and Hopscotch into English, to get a clear idea on how to pursue life as a translator. The shorter the manuscript, the more likely we’ll be able to publish it. If you need a limit, try to stay within five double-spaced pages or less.
We reject the notion that any guidance can be given about poetry. However, if you desire specifics:
We seek poetry that is singular in both its vision and voice, regardless of form, style, or content. You are invited to submit between 3 to 5 unpublished poems. If you are working on longer or book-length projects, feel free to submit an excerpt up to 5 pages. Before sharing your work with us, please familiarize yourself with recent issues of NWR.
We would encourage writers of fiction to read The Art of Fiction with Ralph Ellison. Ellison provides invaluable guidance on life as a writer. For submissions, there are no restrictions on content or style or word-count, but we will read more favorably stories that are submitted in a clean, publishable format. Editors are most familiar reading work in Times, Georgia, Calibri, Arial, or other readable fonts, double-spaced. Please be sure to include page numbers.
We welcome submissions of literary criticism, book reviews of current or forthcoming titles, personal essays, and creative non-fiction. For essays and criticism, try to stay within 5,000 words if possible. Book reviews can usually succeed within 1,000 words or less. And for creative non-fiction, allow your story to dictate the length, while keeping in mind that the shorter the work the more space we’ll have for it.
If you want to interview an artist, writer, musician, sculptor, you-name-it whose work you admire, let us know! If, for instance, you had the good fortune to study with a creative writing professor whose work you admire, consider asking that professor 10 or more questions, transcribing them, and submitting the exchange as an interview. Follow the format of this interview with New York Times best-seller Lauren Groff.
Art and Photography
We are looking for formally inventive black-and-white illustrative portraits. Think of this as a hand-drawn, or hand-painted sketch of someone in black and white; label it if you feel like a word or two adds to the beauty of your drawing; we’d like to include as many instances of visual self-expression along with written forms of literature as well. This is not a photographic selfie; think Morisot, Manet, Picasso, Krasner, DeKooning; draw someone who inspires you. Additionally we’d love to see your black and white photography that is: experimental in technique, environmental in spirit, but also anything that raises a gigantic middle finger to the global capitalist industrial military complex and says ENOUGH.
We are open to graphic narratives, comics, or other works that blur the line between illustration and narrative. Think Persepolis, Habibi, Maus. Send it over!
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