MAYDAY is an international journal of literature, art, and commentary. We regularly publish new fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, translations, cultural commentary, interviews, reviews, and visual art.
MAYDAY is interested in exploring and engaging a wide spectrum of ideas and perspectives. We're interested in culture and history, politics regional and global, the past, present, and future. We're also interested particularly in writers who have been marginalized historically, including writers of color, queer and trans writers, disabled writers, and others who have suffered systemic discrimination.
We do not consider previously published work. Simultaneous submissions are accepted and encouraged. Please notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.
We aim to respond within two months from date of submission. If you have not received a response after two months, please feel free to query us in the Notes area at Submittable.
Rights revert to author upon publication. Please credit MAYDAY with first publication if the work is republished elsewhere.
Please see the specific genre guidelines below for more details. For interview proposals and reviews, please query the editors via the relevant department’s Submittable form below.
Submissions are open for the 2022 MAYDAY Creative Nonfiction Prize.
- Winner receives $1,000 and publication.
- Deadline: Nov. 1, 2022 11:59pm EST.
- Submit an essay (2000-7500 words) exploring the theme of Disappearance (of people, places, things, etc).
- Entries must be previously unpublished. All entries will be considered for publication at MAYDAY.
- Manuscripts must be in English. All styles, forms, and genres of creative nonfiction are welcome.
- Multiple and simultaneous submissions are welcome. Each submission must be accompanied by a separate fee, and please notify MAYDAY immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.
- We read manuscripts blind, so please exclude identifying information from the manuscript itself. All relevant contact information is included in your Submittable file.
The final judge this year is DARIN STRAUSS, bestselling author of several books, including the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning memoir Half a Life (Random House, 2011) and most recently the acclaimed novel The Queen of Tuesday: A Lucille Ball Story (Random House, 2020). Strauss is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Library Association Award, and numerous other prizes. His books have been named New York Times Notable Books, and Best Book of the Year by Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Amazon, Chicago Tribune, and NPR, among others. Strauss is a clinical associate professor of writing at New York University and lives with his wife and children in Brooklyn.
MAYDAY is excited about poetry that surprises us, that introduces images and ideas in new and strange ways. Poetry that isn’t afraid to break traditional forms, that is expansive and bold. We want poems that you’ve sweated over, poems that have achieved a balance of both craft and story so seamlessly that we cannot look away. Give us work that justifies its point of view. Give us a lyrical narrative that makes common language feel foreign/unique but remains coherent enough to transport readers to a new space. Let it be surreal; let it be uncomfortable; let it be gorgeous; let it be unforgettable. Send us the poems that consider the range, limitations, and influence of place, the poems that reveal and give voice to identities or perspectives born from the strange world we live in.
Some of our favorite poets are Maggie Nelson, Ruth Awad, Hanif Abdurraqib, Danez Smith, Jamaal May, and Nikky Finney. We enjoy found and erasure poems, visual poetry, linked poems, long poems, short poems, form poems, expansive poems.
Here is a glimpse into what each of us looks for in poetry:
- Katherine: spare, intentional, ghostly
- Emilee: unexpected, transformative, demanding
- Josh: vulnerable, urgent, gorgeous
Please submit 1 - 3 poems, no more than ten pages, as a single Word document.
In lieu of a cover letter, include a bio of up to 100 words in the appropriate field. We appreciate traditional and nontraditional bios. Please also include any social media handles in the appropriate field.
Send us your best work; we look forward to reading it.
Thanks for considering MAYDAY as a home for your fiction. We are interested in original and engaging literary short fiction. We love innovative, strong writing that trusts the reader and is true to its author regardless of genre. We are committed to featuring a diverse range of content and authors, including LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and international voices.
Popular authors we believe fit this vision include writers such as Carmen Machado, Jeanette Winterson, Maggie Nelson, Ocean Vuong, Yaa Gyasi, Ali Smith, Tommy Orange, Saeed Jones, Jhumpa Lahiri, Etgar Keret, Shelly Oria, Aimee Bender, Pedro Cabiya, China Miéville, and Olga Tokarczuk, among others.
We will carefully consider works of prose from 100-3000 words. If you choose to submit something longer than 3000 words, we will give your work a read, but only if each page is gripping, authentic, and blows our minds. Please only send one full-length submission at a time or up to three flash fiction/short-short submissions, under 1,000 words each. Your submission should be double-spaced and in standard font and style. We prefer .doc files, but .docx, .rtf, and Open Office files are okay, too. After you’ve heard back from us, feel free to submit again.
We are looking for pieces that deserve a broader audience, that excite and inspire, that honor cultural heritage and move in the liminal space between borders sketched on maps with shaky hands; pieces that encourage a reader to question and engage with the world around them. We are especially interested in contemporary work from living authors, though it's by no means a requirement.
Poetry and prose from any language translated to English will be considered. We are also interested in book reviews and essays relevant to the art of literary translation. Please include a brief translator's note if you would like to provide context, artist bio, or other information important to the submitted piece. Before submitting, please ensure that your piece is thoroughly proofread and revised the way you’d like to see it published.
The translator must have secured rights for the translations submitted, or the work must be in the public domain.
Please include both the original and the translated text in Word files. If the source text contains characters difficult for Word to present correctly, a PDF scan is fine.
The MAYDAY Culture section is looking for enthusiastic, incisive cultural commentary and critical analysis. With an emphasis on diverse or marginalized perspectives, Culture explores politics, race, gender, sexuality, and ability across literature, cinema, television, music, art, and theatre, in contemporary and historical contexts. We also appreciate arts criticism that amplifies unique perspectives and complicates our understandings, and we regard this type of writing as an art form in its own right.
We’re seeking well-rounded, literary pieces that challenge us and our readers. Please avoid academic style and tone. There's no minimum length, but we prefer submissions with fewer than 6,000 words. Please send only one Culture submission at a time.
We accept pitches, too! Review our editors’ statements below, and feel free to pitch to us via email.
Carla Bell directs MAYDAY:Black, an initiative committed to delivering a new experience for black writers, including those seeking first-time publication. Carla is interested in pitches on topics of representation, race and racism, life and death, American policing, black civil rights and American Government, and more, according to writers’ passions and prerogatives.
Sophia Kaufman is interested in pitches about literary and cinematic trends, intersectional feminism + social justice, queer histories, internet discourse, articles rooted in archival research, and anything else, as long as it’s well-argued or funny, preferably both.
Clement Obropta is interested in pitches for enthusiastic and incisive arts criticism and theory, especially focusing on film, television, video games, and music.
Lisa Ströhm Winberg is interested in pitches that center around visual art, semiotics in design, and fashion as an art form. Lisa is especially interested in pitches about fashion theories and visual analysis of photography.
We aim to pair every piece of writing published on MAYDAY with original art by working artists. Accepted visual art will be featured at the top of a story, poem, translation, or essay that highlights or engages with the image. We’re particularly interested in visual art that is critical, experimental, inclusive, progressive, and/or represents an alternative to mainstream pieces. Artists of all perspectives, backgrounds, and voices are encouraged to submit. Otherwise, there are no particular requirements.
Please submit no more than five high-resolution JPEG files that include the title in the file name, along with a brief cover letter describing your work’s intention and a 150-word max, third-person bio.