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.
Payment for work published at MAYDAY is according to the following flat rates:
- Book Reviews and Interviews: $20
- Creative Nonfiction: $20
- Culture: $20
- Fiction: $20 (traditional stories), $10 (flash fiction)
- Poetry: $10
- Translation: $20 (stories), $10 (poems),
- Visual Art: $10
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.
What we’re looking for:
At MAYDAY, we want to publish poems that teach us their language and how to read them. We seek to cultivate a poetry section that moves readers through the expressive and fresh–the weird yet intentional. We value subversive poems that engage critically with the world, that are specific yet embrace the mess of complexity. We want poems that make us laugh, poems that make us cry, and those that manage both. We enjoy poems that invite readers to connect with their speakers, and leave us transformed by the poet’s voice. We want poems that engage in or break received forms and those that create new ones. We’d love to see poetry that uses space imaginatively, including projective, concrete, visual, erasure, and documentary forms, as well as forms we haven’t seen yet! Show us what a poem can be and do. Send us your best.
What we aren’t looking for:
- Poems that pat yourself on the back for being kind to houseless people.
- Poems that fetishize or romanticize the working class (the window-washer is not your muse).
- If your poem is shaped like flowers or fruit, it better be the best one we’ve ever seen.
- In general, we do not wish to read poetry that reflects racist, sexist, ableist, transphobic, homophobic, or otherwise discriminatory attitudes. There are, of course, ways to thoughtfully engage with difficult subjects, especially through lived experience, and we welcome poetry that does so with care.
Some poets we like or have been reading lately:
Douglas Kearney, Don Mee Choi, Ilya Kaminsky, Robin Coste Lewis, Olivia Gatwood, Dionne Brand, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Ruefle, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Dolores Dorantes, Layli Long Soldier, Katie Condon, Mary Szybist, Peter Cole, John Keene, Mai Der Vang, Renee Gladman, Danez Smith, Aracelis Girmay, Wendy Xu, Leila Chatti, Chen Chen, Maggie Millner, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Maggie Nelson, Anne Carson, Lucille Clifton, Nikki Giovanni, Adrienne Rich, Raúl Zurita, Paul Celan, and Mahmoud Darwish.
Please submit 1 - 3 poems, no more than ten pages, in a single document.
In lieu of a cover letter, include a bio of up to 100 words in the appropriate field, as well as any social media handles where indicated in the Submittable form.
By submitting you confirm that the work is your own and has not been previously published. We accept simultaneous submissions; however, please message us via Submittable immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.
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 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.
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 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.
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.