Penned: Literary Contest

Attention, writers! We are seeking submissions for the literary section in our February 2021 issue. Entries will be accepted in the following categories: Poetry, Fiction and Creative Nonfiction. Working on a novel? Please submit the first paragraph of your novel for a chance to be featured in the magazine. Submission deadline: December 11



Only submissions from Kentucky writers will be considered for publication. Our definition of a Kentucky writer is anyone who currently lives in Kentucky, has lived in Kentucky or uses Kentucky as subject matter. Submissions must adhere to our literary guidelines. Please thoroughly review these guidelines before submitting your stories or poems. Submission of stories and/or poems indicates you have read and agree to the terms outlined in the guidelines. See below for complete literary guidelines. 

Submission fees

Fiction and creative nonfiction submissions  Writers may submit one fiction and one creative nonfiction story at no charge. Each additional submission requires a $10 entry fee. A maximum of eight entries in each category (fiction, creative nonfiction) may be submitted.

Poetry submissions – Writers may submit up to three poems at no charge. Each additional poetry submission requires a $10 entry fee. A maximum of 10 poems may be submitted.

Written submissions – Our preferred method for receiving literary submissions is via the electronic form. However, we will accept submissions by mail. There is a $10 fee for each mailed submission (even if all submissions are included in the same envelope). Please make checks payable to Kentucky Monthly, note in the memo field of the check “literary submissions” and mail to Kentucky Monthly, Attn: Literary Issue, PO Box 559, Frankfort KY, 40602-0559.

Literary Guidelines

Kentucky Monthly is seeking high-quality poetry, fiction and nonfiction prose by Kentucky writers for its 13th annual literary issue in February 2021. Our definition of a Kentucky writer is anyone who currently lives in Kentucky, has lived in Kentucky or uses Kentucky as subject matter. Deadline for entries is December 11, 2020. 

Each submitter may electronically submit a maximum of one fiction story, one nonfiction piece, and/or three poems free of charge. Please see submission fees (above) for costs incurred for additional and non-electronic submissions.

Submissions should be no more than 1,000 words (fewer for poetry submissions). Submissions should be typed and double-spaced (poems may be single-spaced). Submissions exceeding 1,200 words will not be reviewed. 

The writers of selected works will not be notified prior to publication, but will be notified by January 22, 2021. If you are not notified by that date, please assume that your work did not fit our current needs. Due to the sheer volume of literary submissions we receive in addition to general magazine queries and submissions, we regretfully are unable to contact every submitter. Please do not contact the magazine to inquire about your literary submission. You will be notified by January 22 if your work is appearing in the literary issue.

Submission of works indicates writer’s warranty that to the best of his/her knowledge, the submitted material is original and does not infringe any other proprietary right of any other person, or contain any scandalous, libelous or unlawful matter.

It is strongly suggested that you take the time to read an issue of Kentucky Monthly. The majority of rejections are because the work is not suited to the tone and aesthetic of the magazine. Reprints are fine, but please let us know if your submission is a reprint so that we can provide appropriate credit. Simultaneous submissions also are fine, but you must let us know if the work is accepted elsewhere. The author retains the rights to the work. Please credit Kentucky Monthly if your work is republished.

What we are seeking:

Poetry – We are looking for poems that are extraordinary for their originality, craftsmanship and vision. Poems of any length and form are welcomed.

Creative Nonfiction – We are seeking personal essays/short stories, journal entries and memoir excerpts that read like fiction.

- A fresh topic or a surprising take on life in Kentucky

- Character development

- Amusing narrative

- Rich details with a distinctive personal voice

Fiction – We are looking for short stories with rich prose and plot.

Please keep in mind submissions exceeding 1,200 words will not be considered.

Thank you for your interest! We look forward to reading your work.

Opening Paragraph of Novel – We are seeking an intriguing first paragraph that would immediately draw the reader in and make him/her anxious to continue the book.