Since we teach a course on the lyric essay, we decided to put together a list of where to submit this hybrid form, which combines elements of essay, poetry and memoir. We looked for journals that either explicitly welcome lyric essays or that demonstrate an appreciation of the qualities that characterise the form, such as compression, attention to sound and use of poetic techniques. Almost all of the journals on our list also accept other forms of creative nonfiction, fiction and/or poetry (as highlighted below) so there’s a little something for pretty much everyone.
The list is ordered very roughly according to acceptance rate – from highest to lowest. Unless otherwise noted, these journals are OK with simultaneous submissions. If no submissions fee is noted, submissions are free (at least at the time of posting).
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.
Bending Genres publishes creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry. As their name implies, they appreciate writing that blends genres and crosses creative lines. Send in your essays of up to 1500 words. They don’t accept simultaneous submissions but they make a decision quickly – generally in less than a week.
The Spotlong Review is a new online litmag founded in 2021 with a mission to champion innovative work that “packs a punch, questions conventional mores, and, most of all, explores human connection from surprising angles”. They accept essays, narrative nonfiction, fiction and poetry with a 5000 word limit for prose. They ask for 2 months to make a decision.
Eastern Iowa Review publishes essays, fiction and poetry online plus occasional print anthologies. Their favourite forms are the lyric essay and the prose poem. They want language that sings! The editors ask for 6 months to make a decision but often respond within a week or two. They are open to fiction submissions until 15 October 2021. Their window for nonfiction and poetry just closed 31 August but check back in a few months.
JMWW is a weekly online journal publishing creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry. They prefer work under 3000 words and love “flash CNF, unusual forms, and deeply personal narratives”. They generally get back very fast – in under a week.
X-R-A-Y is an online magazine of creative nonfiction and fiction. They love experimental work, preferably in their sweet spots of 500-1200 or 3000-6000 words. They ask for 60 days to make a decision but often take considerably fewer.
The Journal for Compressed Creative Arts is an online weekly dedicated to very short creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry. The editors want to know what “compressed” means to you, but the prose pieces they publish are generally 600 words or fewer. Their submissions windows are 15 September – 15 December 15 & 15 March – 15 June. They pay $50 per accepted piece and generally respond very quickly – often in under a week.
Fourth Genre is a well-respected biannual print and online journal devoted to creative nonfiction. The editors are looking for works that are “lyrical, self-interrogative, meditative, and reflective, as well as expository, analytical, exploratory, or whimsical”. They charge a $4 reading fee and have a single submissions window – from September through November. They generally reject within a couple of months but take longer to accept.
Birdcoat Quarterly is an online journal featuring lyric essays (up to 5000 words), poetry and original art. All work accepted is also considered for their biannual print anthology. They charge a $3 submissions fee and pay $20 per poem and $25 per essay. The editors generally respond within a couple of months.
Contrary Magazine is a quarterly online journal for creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry. The nonfiction they accept “is often lyrical, narrative, or poetic”. They offer a token payment of $20 per issue. The editors ask for 90 days to make a decision – if you haven’t heard back within 90 days assume your work wasn’t a good fit.
phoebe is a 50-year old journal that has managed to stay cutting edge. They publish creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry in two issues per year – fall/winter in print and spring/summer online. They welcome lyric essays of under 4000 words, as well as other forms of creative nonfiction. Their submissions fee is $3 – you can send up to 3 flash pieces in a single submission. The editors generally make a decision within a couple of months. Note that the submission window for their fall/winter print issue closes 15 October 2021.
Salt Hill is a biannual print journal featuring top-notch creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry by established and emerging writers. For nonfiction they’re interested in work that “pushes the boundaries of the genre, making use of the techniques of fiction and poetry to tell a true story”. You can send in your essays (of up to 7500 words) year-round; they have set submissions periods for fiction and poetry. The editors aim to make a decision within 6 months and often manage in fewer.
Gulf Coast is a biannual print journal of creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry. It was founded by Donald Barthelme and Phillip Lopate in 1986. Their word limit for prose is 7000 words. They charge a $3 submissions fee and pay $50 per page for accepted work. The editors ask for 6 months to make a decision and often succeed in considerably fewer.
Pank, co-founded by Roxane Gay, publishes online quarterly and in print annually. They accept fiction and poetry as well as creative nonfiction and are looking for fresh, innovative work of up to 7500 words. They offer limited windows for free submissions but the “tip jar” option ($5) is usually open. The editors tend to accept relatively fast – within a couple of months – and reject more slowly.
Brevity is a long-running online magazine devoted to the short-form essay – 750 words or fewer. The editors pride themselves on the magazine’s international scope and for offering opportunities to as yet unpublished writers. The editors are looking for the best of the best – and regularly publish heavy-hitters such as Roxane Gay and Sherman Alexie. Payment is $45 for accepted essays. They generally respond within 2 or 3 months.
Creative Nonfiction publishes true stories in many forms – everything from immersion reportage to personal essay to memoir – quarterly in print. They solicit work from established writers but also have regular calls for unsolicited submissions aimed at specific groups (e.g., writers over 60), subjects and types of CNF. Non-subscribers are charged a $3 reading fee. Be prepared for a long wait – response times of over a year are common.
Hippocampus exclusively publishes creative nonfiction. They are looking for flash (up to 800 words), personal essays and memoir excerpts (up to 4,000 words) for their 6 online issues per year. There are 2 regular submission windows (submissions fee $3): March through May and September through November, plus a submission-fee free period from December 1 through 23. They pay $40 per piece accepted. They aim to make a decision within 4 months but often take considerably longer.
Seneca Review is a biannual print poetry journal published by Hobart and William Smith Colleges Press. They have been promoting the lyric essay since 1997. They have two reading periods 1 February – 15 March and 1 September through 15 October. There’s a $3 charge for electronic submissions (submissions sent by post are free). Send in your lyric essays of up to 20 pages (around 5000 words) or 3 – 5 poems, just be prepared to wait a while for a response – they ask for 9 months to make a decision and sometimes take even longer.