8 themed calls and contests for spring

Themed literary journals and contests for poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction

Themed journals and contests can inspire new work or help you find the perfect home for an existing piece. For this month’s line up we looked for opportunities open to international writers that represented a range of themes – from cats to relationships to remixed fairy tales to WTF?!. We’d be surprised if you don’t have anything in your unpublished portfolio that fits. Most of the publishers on our list don’t charge fees and a few will even pay you.


Note: We are a creative writing school and compile these lists for the benefit of our students. We’re happy to answer questions about our courses but please don’t send us your publishing queries or submissions :). Instead, click on the green links to go to the publication’s website and look for their submissions page. For more great places to submit as well as our best tips on getting published, check out our other lists and resources.


Coin Operated Press, based in Scotland, publishes monthly themed zines, available from their online shop in full-color print and PDF. They’re open to all kinds of material, including poetry, essays, flash and short stories, as long as it fits on 1 to 2 A5 pages. Their upcoming calls deadlines: SEX EDUCATION (29 February 2024), GARDENING (31 March 2024), SUSTAINABLE FASHION (30 April 2024) and QUEER PHOTOGRAPHY (31 May 2024). There’s no submission fee.

Pure Slush is an Australia-based publisher of themed print anthologies (also available in digital formats). Quite a few of our students have found a home for their work with Pure Slush. There’s an open call for prose poetry and flash fiction up to 500 words on the theme of RETIREMENT (deadline: 29 February 2024) for their Lifespan series. Stay tuned for upcoming calls on OLDER and DEATH. There’s no submission fee and no payment. Note: no simultaneous submissions but editor Matt Potter is usually able to get back to you within a couple of weeks.

Mslexia is a long-running UK-based print quarterly that publishes writers who identify as women. They’re looking for poetry, fiction (including flash) and creative nonfiction on the themes of CATS (deadline: 11 March 2024) and RED (deadline 10 June 2024). They don’t charge a submission fee, and they do pay contributors (minimum payment is £30 and a copy of the issue in which your work appears). The editors try to decide within 3 months but sometimes take a bit longer.

Bermuda Triangle Prize is awarded annually to three poems. This year’s theme is RELATIONSHIPS. The author of each winning poem will receive $50 and the poem will be published and displayed in the Poet’s Billow Literary Art Gallery. Up to five finalists will be considered for publication. They nominate for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net Anthology, and the Best New Poets Anthology. For your $10 entry fee up can submit up to 3 poems via their website or Duosuma. Deadline: 15 March 2024.

The Parliament Literary Journal was founded in 2020 in the US. They publish quarterly themed digital editions (and sometimes print) of poetry, short stories, flash fiction, personal essays, art, photography, and creative combinations of these. Their current theme is WTF?! by which they mean work that is weird, strange, dark, surreal (deadline: 17 March 2024). They nominate work for the Pushcart Prize. There’s no submission fee or payment. The editors are usually able to decide within a couple of months.

The Black Fox Prize, a project of US-based Black Fox Literary Magazine, awards $300 and publication to the strongest short fiction, nonfiction, or poem that the editors feel interprets the theme best. The theme for Winter 2024 is FAIRY TALE REMIX – reshape a classic fairy tale or invent your own spellbinding version. For the entry fee of $12 you can submit 1 fiction or nonfiction story of up to 5000 words, 2 flash pieces, or 3 poems. Deadline: 31 March 2024. The winner will be announced by the end of July.

The Muleskinner Journal is a US-based online quarterly founded in 2021. They accept poems, flash, short stories (up to 3K words), and creative nonfiction (up to 3K) that meet their theme. The current theme is RECKLESS! They’re looking for “writers and characters who take chances, damn the torpedoes, abandon wildly, love irresponsibly, and are willing to jump into the icy stream to save the drowning dog.” Submission is free but they appreciate a $4 donation to defray their costs and help them work towards being able to pay contributors. Deadline: 31 March 2024. The editors try to decide within a month and usually succeed.

Ninth Letter Online is a themed companion to the award-winning print journal. You can submit 3 poems or a piece of short prose up to 3500 words. Their current theme is CARETAKING (deadline: 31 March 2024). They charge a $3 submission fee and pay contributors $25/poem and $75/prose. The editors are usually able to get back to you within a couple of months.


Photo courtesy of Gratisography

16 February 2024

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