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General Submission Guidelines for Poetry, Fiction and Literary Non-Fiction

Authors may submit as many poems, essays, or stories as desired. But generally speaking, no author will have more than three pieces published in any one issue of Polyphony HS.

If you stick with the format guidelines below, it’ll make it much easier on us if we accept your submission.

  • Each poem, story, or essay must be entered as a separate submission. The mechanism we use for receiving and acting on submissions does not allow for us to respond to more than one poem per file. Submissions entered more than one to a file will be withdrawn.
  • Please keep your stories and essays to 1,500 words or less. We won’t fuss over the word count, but please be aware that we get hundreds of submissions a year. We won’t complain if you take advantage of our 300-word cushion, but we get grumpy once you get past that. All fiction and creative nonfiction pieces over 1800 words (even one word over!) will be withdrawn. Please limit poetry to 80 lines.
  • Double-space Fiction and Creative Nonfiction.
  • Font: keep it conventional. If you want to be taken seriously out there in the publishing world, stick to conventional fonts, styles, and sizes.
    •  Color: Black

    •  Size: 12

    • Type: Times or Times New Roman

    • No crazy colors. No giant titles.
  • Keep your margins conventional as well. Word Documents are typically formatted with one-inch at the top and bottom, and 1.25 inch at the left and right. One space after periods. There should be no extra returns after paragraphs unless you have a fictive reason for the extra space.
  • Before you log into Submission Manager, make sure that your name is not written on the manuscript you send to us. All of the works submitted to us are blindly juried, which is to say, our editors should not be made aware of the author.
  • Hard Copy Submissions: Please don’t send them. But rest assured that we will recycle them the minute we receive them.
  • Payment: Polyphony HS authors are not paid in actual money. Maybe someday we’ll be so loaded with cash that this may change. As it is, contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the issue in which they are published; extra copies can be purchased at a discounted price.
  • If you want to send us college essays, they shouldn’t sound like college essays. They should stand on their own as personal essays.
  • Regarding Classroom Assignments: By all means, feel free to send us classroom assignments if they fit within the parameters of our writer’s guidelines, but make sure they stand on their own as poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Advice and Guidelines Specific to Poetry Submissions

  • A word about centering: It’s mostly the mark of a rookie writer. If you choose to center your poem, you should have a pretty compelling reason for centering it. If your reason is because you think it looks good that way, it’s not a good enough reason.
  • Avoid clichés. Please.
  • Read your work out loud before submitting it.
  • A word about profanity in poetry: one swear word goes a heckuva long way. Think carefully before using it. Ask yourself: does the poem gain anything with the word? Does it lose anything with its subtraction.

Advice and Guidelines Specific to Literary Non-Fiction

This is a rudimentary checklist you might consider before submitting to Polyphony HS. It attempts to condense the philosophies of Phillip Lopate, author of The Art of the Personal Essay.

☐   the personal essay has an APPARENT subject and a DEEPER subject

☐   the personal essay is intimate (close authorial distance)

☐   the effect of the piece is artful, literary

☐   the voice of the essay is conversational

☐   the essay is not afraid to be emotional

☐   the personal essay struggles in revealing the truth

☐   the narrator of the personal essay is reliable

☐   the essay shares a range of emotions and not just one

☐   explores what it doesn’t know

☐   is not afraid to examine the small things in life

☐   examines limitation and inconsistency

☐   leans toward the comic

☐   isn’t out to be loved by the reader

☐   the essay thinks against itself, challenges its own conventional thought

☐   is flexible in form and style

☐   tells a good story, even if the story is the writing of the story

☐   is elaborate, explanatory, thorough

☐   is digressive, associative

☐   is individual and universal

A student-run national literary magazine for high school writers and editors