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: Fiction submissions are temporarily closed while we read submissions for our 2022 March Madness Flash Fiction Contest. We plan to reopen general Fiction submissions in March 2022.

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 is interested in pitches ranging across topics of representation, race and racism, life and death, American policing, democracy, and more, according to writers’ passions and prerogatives.

Clement is interested in pitches for enthusiastic and incisive arts criticism and theory, especially focusing on film, television, video games, and music.

Sophia 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.

Black Writers

Pew Research has found that almost 80% of editorial staff,  “those who work as reporters, editors, photographers and videographers in the newspaper, broadcasting and internet publishing industries,” are white.

This is one reason why countless stories written by, for, and about black people don’t make it to publication.

MAYDAY Culture Editor Carla Bell founded the Black Writers program to end this longtime discrimination and the white-washed media  it produces.

Carla is committed to delivering a new experience for black  writers, including those seeking first-time publication. With  authenticity, curiosity, compassion, well-rounded criticism, and  courageous storytelling, submitted works may 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. Writing may take the form of  personal, first-person, braided, or reported essay; opinion, or  analysis, all in contemporary or historical context. (Subjects and  formats may be considered on a case-by-case basis.)

Writers may be of any citizenship status and reside anywhere in the world. Submissions written in English only, please.

Story ideas may be submitted by pitch and works may be submitted on speculation by email to You may also submit using the Culture submission form here at Submittable. Please check the "Black Writers" box when you submit.

There is no pay for published stories at this time.

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. 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.

MAYDAY is currently accepting submissions for Art and Art-related writing. We’re seeking contemporary and challenging work to share with MAYDAY readers, with no real limitations on content or presentation outside of being related to Art. We’re particularly interested in work that is critical, experimental, inclusive, progressive, and/or alternative to, or under-represented by the mainstream of Contemporary Art. People of all perspectives, backgrounds, and voices are encouraged to submit.

In addition to a cover letter giving us a brief introduction to you and your proposed work, we also ask for the following:

Artwork - Up to five Images (JPEG, under 5 MB each) of the work, process, or documentation. In addition, please include a word file describing the work, its intention, and/or relation to you.

Art Writing - A word document of a completed version of the work. This does not have to be the final version, but must express a full vision of the concept. You may also include up to five images (JPEG, under 5 MB each) related to the written content.

Thank you for your interest in working with MAYDAY!

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
  • Robin: weird, awkward, uncomfortable
  • 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.

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.

NOTE: Fiction submissions are temporarily closed while we read for the March Madness Flash Fiction contest. We plan to reopen regular Fiction submissions in March 2022.

We are currently accepting submissions for the MAYDAY March Madness Flash Fiction Contest!

  • Entry is free.
  • The first place winner will receive $100 and second place $50.
  • The Final Four contenders will be published and receive prize boxes including books and other goodies from our co-sponsors, including New American Press, Milkweed Editions, Copper Canyon, the Colorado Review, Moon City Press, f(r)iction, Orison Press, Unnamed Press, Autumn House Press, Unsolicited Press, and others.

To participate, follow us on social media and like or share one of our posts before submitting your story. Then send one flash fiction story (about 100-500 words) by March 1. The top 16 contenders will be selected by MAYDAY fiction editors and the winners will be determined by popular vote on social media platforms beginning March 14.

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.

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.

MAYDAY Magazine