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Lyric Essay Contest For Inn

Issue 6


Marilyn Boyle prose poem - "Wisteria"
Virginia Boudreau lyric memoir - "Templates"
Rachel Chenven lyric essay - "Access to Grace"
Suzanne Cody lyric essay - "Knit One"
Lisa Dart lyric essay - "Bamboo or just a bit of prose"
Jeni De La O prose poem - "scurry scarab beetle poets"
William Doreski prose poem - "Summiting on Thanksgiving Day"
​Meg Freer prose poem - "Key Changes"
Sarah Grimes lyric essay - "Time Stoppered"
Charles Haddox lyric memoir - "Foothills"
​Kathie Jacobson lyric essay - "Old Women"
​Amy Karon prose poem - "Arizona Drought"
Kevin J. Kelley flash nonfiction - "Bask in the Color of the Table"
Mercedes Lawry prose poetry - 3 poems
Keith Lesmeister hybrid essay - "Everything Feels Far Away"
Andrea Marcusa lyric memoir - "In the Hotel Pool on the Dead Sea Road; Jordan, 2008"
​Robert Miltner prose poem series - "Narrow Roads North: Nine Haibun"
Biman Roy prose poem - "Of Moon and Washing Machine"
Jan Schmidt lyric essay - "A Glint in Parchment"
Cathryn Shea prose poetry - 2 poems
​Leeanna Torres lyric memoir - "La Madrugada"
​Travis Truax prose poetry - 2 poems
(More to come)


Submissions are open for our annual issue highlighting the lyric essay. and the prose poem. This year's issue will be online-only for at least two reasons: 1) We wish to highlight every accepted essay and prose poem we decide on, and 2) we hope to make the next issue (#7) a print collection of our best works from our previous issues, with a summer/fall 2018 expected release.

  1. Lyric & hybrid essays up to 3,000 words. For flash pieces and prose poetry, send as many as you wish as long as the total doesn't exceed 3000 words. All in one document, please, separated by page breaks. This year we have two categories: 1) Free Entry & 2) Contest Entry. Note that we consider "prose poetry" to be poetry formatted as a prose paragraph would be, not as a standard poem would be.
  2. Free Entry: No reading fee. $7 for accepted work. Submit as many times as you wish, but only after you've heard back from us. As always, work must be smart, lyrical, family-friendly, and emphasize the "good spaces" even in the midst of darker elements. You must have a Paypal account to accept payment.
  3. Contest Entry: 2018 Editor's Choice Lyric Essay Award. $5 entry fee. $100 prize. One honorable mention may also be chosen ($7 honorarium). Submit as many times as you wish, but only after you've heard back from us. As always, work must be smart, lyrical, family-friendly, and emphasize the "good spaces" even in the midst of darker elements. You must have a Paypal account to accept payment. Winner will be announced early to late-April.
  4. Cover artwork is welcome. $7 honorarium for one accepted piece. We love family-friendly contemporary, surreal, and pretty. You must have a Paypal account to accept payment.
  5. No generic poetry (only "prose" poetry), fiction, or photography. See our new fiction calls here.
  6. Send material in its final form, as we cannot allow substantial changes once we receive your work. We will edit to catch small things you may have missed, then we'll send the edits for your approval.
  7. Simultaneous submissions are fine. No multiple submissions.
  8. We reserve the right to edit an author's bio to conform it to our audience focus.
  9. We've also added a special prize called The Christine Prose Poetry Award which will be awarded to the prose poem we find most compelling and in line with our tastes and perspective.

Reading period: October 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018. Please give us several months, and up to six months, to review and respond to your submission, though generally we hope to reply within a month or so.
GENERAL INFORMATION (and far too much of it; hopefully it's helpful)
  • Information on the lyric essay you may want to explore before submitting: 
  • Information on the prose poem you may want to explore before submitting:
  • Most journals and reviews want a story; we want magic in the language & fire in the flow, a show to impress over drama to incite. Please stretch your lyrical wings. Give us the beautiful, the musical, even the odd & quirky. Think Annie Dillard meets Gertrude Stein. 
  • Free general submissions during our reading months of October through March, unless you want to enter our lyric essay contest or The Mary Hunter Austin Book Award. Tip Jar expedited submissions: $3.50 tip jar to be read within 30 days and a decision made (except for contest entries). 
  • All stories must appeal to a broad audience ("family-friendly"). Do feel free to delve into the tougher subjects, only do so carefully. We are a "journal of good spaces."
  • No identifying author details on submissions. We read "blind." We also edit all material submitted, if necessary, but the author will have final say as per usual.
  • Please do not submit again until you hear back from us.
  • We are primarily seeking lyric essays. Please NO generic nonfiction, narrative essays, standard poetry, journalistic essays, book reviews, etc. If you've not read Annie Dillard, you may not have discovered the kind of lyricism we especially love. 
  • Favorite authors: Annie Dillard, Anne Carson, Kathleen Dean Moore, Ellen Meloy, Gertrude Stein, Cormac McCarthy, Stephanie Dickinson, and others.
  • We love nature, the world, outer space. Cultures & creatures. 
  • We'd rather avoid stories of illnesses, relationship problems, and harsh family dynamics as the central focus. 
  • We would like to see the gentle or redemptive or calm within the honest, the light of the flame within the darkness; and though the flame may burn at times, show us the blue streaks within the flame, the pink of the scars, and what the healing means to you, not how loudly you screamed at the touch. 
  • Reveal the new. Be witty. Be fun or meditative or experimental with language.
  • Accepted contributors will be required to sign an author's agreement.

What we seek: Place-based themes, literary vitality, moral consequence, the sharply beautiful and achingly honest but without a lingering on the darkness. Your submission should be considered "crossover" work: that is, suitable for most ages, though certainly not dumbed down or soft or overtly religious.

What we hope to avoid: purple prose, genre/mainstream writing, erotica, horror, bawdy and base elements, base humor, predictability, swearing, gratuitous sexuality, preaching / conversion attempts / agenda in religious work, political works without story and literary bent, racial or sexual bias, bigotry, name-calling.  Excessive and unnecessary drama for drama's sake. Darkness for darkness' sake. Find better ways to employ strong emotion in your writing.

If you're not sure about a work or a topic, please send it anyway. Though we can't absolutely promise input, in some cases we may jot a suggestion if we have to decline a piece that's close to our ideal.

Miscellaneous Facts
Simultaneous submissions are fine but please let us know immediately if you receive an acceptance before you hear back from us.
NO reprints.
Every submission must be family-friendly, that is, work without swearing, gratuitous sex and violence, and other activities that might be considered "adult." We will ask you to edit out all instances of such.
Any writer from any country in the world is welcome to submit. All submissions must be in English.
Include a short 50 word bio in the space allowed on the Submittable form.
This will be an online-only issue; accepted work will be posted online monthly through the summer.
Our final decisions will be based on work quality and current needs (though we may occasionally solicit work). We eschew favoritism in all its insidious forms. 
Suitable submissions may be nominated for the Pushcart award.
Please do not ask about a free submission until 180 days have passed. 

Terms of Publication
By submitting your work to the Eastern Iowa Review, you agree, should your work be accepted, to grant the Eastern Iowa Review exclusive print and electronic rights to your work until the time of print publication, as well as a non-exclusive right to maintain a copy of the published work in the literary journal archives indefinitely, online included; this includes the right to republish your work in anthology form without further remuneration, if any, to you. Any subsequent publication should include the credit “originally published in the Eastern Iowa Review.”

“Exclusive print and electronic rights” means that you agree not to re-publish your work elsewhere in print or online until the time of print publication, or in the case of online-only issues, until official online release. “Publish” means any public display of your work, and includes your personal website and posting to message boards. You are welcome to link to the page featuring your work instead, if sample excerpts or the complete work is featured online. Once the issue your work appears in has been published in print, you are free to republish your work in print or online. We have the right to display your work, in part or the whole, for promotional purposes online, in flyers, in anthology form, etc., in perpetuity. This includes on various online sales channels, in perpetuity.

Effective 2014, you also grant the Eastern Iowa Review the perpetual right to post an audio version (podcast) of your work on this or another site using our choice of reader. 

You retain all other rights, including the right to re-publish the work in electronic or non-electronic form once the print issue has been released.

Letters to the editor(s) from any party may be published in whole or in part here or elsewhere on line. Names and other identifying information will be withheld unless the author’s express permission is obtained. We welcome letters to the editor. Send to:

While no longer a member of CLMP, we strive to achieve a similar level of ethical standards: " connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically."

Further, as is often the case with CLMP journals and presses, Eastern Iowa Review uses a blind judging system to arrive at writing acceptances and contest winners. This is how we do it:

1.    We accept submissions via Submittable and use its tools to ensure that all identifying information is hidden from our readers throughout the selections process.

2.    We ask entrants not to include their names or contact information within the document they upload to Submittable or its title; those who neglect this requirement will be disqualified.

3.   Close friends, relatives, students, and former students of the readers/judges, are excluded from participation in any contest/award scenario. If an author falls under any of these categories they will be disqualified, and a replacement will be chosen from among the finalists. Anyone wondering if they might be a “close friend” probably is. It seems silly to define friendship, but for our purposes, we'll call a “close friend” anyone with whom we have direct and regular correspondence (either written or verbal). And please remember that if a written work is recognizable to the judge, it will be disqualified.

Submissions are currently open for Seneca Review’s inaugural Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize. An award of $2,000 and publication by Hobart and William Smith College Press will be given biennially for a lyric essay collection. The winner will also be invited to give a reading at Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, New York. John D’Agata will serve as final judge.

The contest accepts “cross-genre and hybrid work, verse forms, text and image, connected or related pieces, and ‘beyond category’ projects.” Using the online submission manager, submit a manuscript of 48 to 120 pages with a $27 entry fee by August 15. The contest is open to both emerging and established writers.

Sponsored by Seneca Review in conjunction with the TRIAS residency program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the new biennial book series intends to “encourage and support innovative work in the essay.” Visit the website for complete guidelines.

For more upcoming prizes in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, visit our Grants & Awards Database and Submission Calendar.