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.

NOTE: The Micro-Chapbook Poetry Contest will open for submissions May 1. Winner receives $1000. The winning micro-chapbook will be published online at MAYDAY and available for download along with an interview with the poet. Submissions should be 8-12 pages, and may consist of multiple short pieces or 1-2 long poems. Regular Poetry submissions will reopen on August 1. 

MAYDAY is excited about poetry that surprises us, that isn’t afraid to break traditional forms, that is expansive and bold. We love innovative, strong writing that trusts the reader and is true to its author regardless of genre. Let it be surreal; let it be uncomfortable; let it be gorgeous; let it be unforgettable. Send us a manuscript filled with poems that have achieved a balance of both craft and story so seamlessly that we cannot look away. 

We enjoy weirdness, discomfort, punchiness, brevity or a winding, tethered path. All this being said, we often don’t know we like something until we see it, so send us your best work. We look forward to reading it! We are committed to featuring a diverse range of content and authors, including LGBTQ+, BIPOC and international voices.

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
  • Rhienna: raw, maudlin, stunning
  • Kari: passionate, honest, weird

Submission Guidelines:

  • Submission period is May 1 - July 31.
  • The early bird submission fee is $10 (May 1-June 15).
  • The regular submission fee is $15 (June 16-July 31).
  • To submit, please send a manuscript with 8-12 pages of poetry. Please also include a title page, dedication/epigraph, and acknowledgements.
  • Manuscripts should be a single Word or PDF document. Please use the title of your micro chapbook as the document name.
  • Individual poems from the manuscript may have been published previously in magazines or anthologies, but the collection as a whole must be unpublished.
  • In your cover letter, please include your name, contact information, a brief third-person bio, and a list of acknowledgments for previously published chapbook poems.
  • Simultaneous submissions are encouraged. Please let us know immediately if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere while under our consideration.
  • MAYDAY poetry editors will select the winning manuscript. Manuscripts centered around a unifying theme will be given preference.
  • Winner receives the Editor's Choice Award of $1000 prize. The micro chapbook will be published at MAYDAY along with an interview with the winning poet.
  • All rights revert to the author after publication.

Thanks for considering MAYDAY as a home for your fiction. The length of your submission is up to you, but we’re most interested in stories under 5,000 words. Please only send one full-length submission at a time or up to three flash fiction/short-short submissions, under 1,200 words each. After you’ve heard back from us, feel free to submit again.

MAYDAY is 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.

Please type and double-space your submission. We prefer .doc files, but .docx, .rtf, and Open Office files are okay, too. Please do not upload .pdf files.

There's no minimum size, but we're most interested in fiction under 5,000 words. Please only send us one full-length submission at a time. You may send up to three flash fiction/short-short submissions. Each of these pieces tends to be 800-1200 words.

We seek personal, critical, and hybrid essays that move, engage, and transport us and our readers. We are sure to respond to many things, but a strong authorial voice, a clear thought or experiential arc grounded in a sense of place, and some connection with a writer’s risk in approaching their story are often most resonant. And while we are open to work of all lengths, we prefer submissions of 5,000 words or less.

Please type and double-space your submission. We prefer .doc and .docx files, but .rtf, and Open Office files are okay, too. Please do not upload .pdf files. Please only send one submission at a time.

Ends on

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, founding director of MAYDAY:Black, is committed to delivering a new experience for black writers, including those seeking first-time publication. Carla is interested in pitches that range across 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.

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.

MAYDAY Magazine