The Masters Review Blog

Jul 21

2021 Summer Workshop: Meet the Editors

This year’s Summer Workshop opens in just under two weeks. Meet the instructors who will be providing their expertise for your manuscripts! Registration for the workshop will open on August 1st. Find out more about our Summer Workshop here.

Lauren Kane is the assistant editor at The Paris Review.

Halimah Marcus is the Executive Director of Electric Literature, an innovative digital publisher based in Brooklyn, and the Editor-in-Chief of its weekly fiction magazine, Recommended Reading. She is also the editor of Horse Girls, an anthology that reclaims and recasts the horse girl stereotype. Her short stories have appeared in Amazon Original Indiana Review, Gulf Coast, One Story, BOMB, The Literary Review, and The Southampton Review. Halimah has an MFA from Brooklyn College, and lives in the Catskill region of New York.

Autumn Watts is a fiction editor for Guernica Magazine. Her writing has been published in The Craft of Editing, Guernica, Words Beyond Borders, AGNI, Indiana Review, and Desert Voices, among others; chosen as a “Notable Essay” in Best American Essays 2019; and selected for Best New Poets and the Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions. She lives in Nevada and Turkey.

Jenny Tinghui Zhang’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Apogee, Ninth Letter, Passages North, The Rumpus, HuffPost, The Cut, Catapult, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Wyoming and has received support from Kundiman, Tin House, and VONA/Voices. Her debut novel Four Treasures of the Sky will be published by Flatiron Books in April 2022.

Jules Hogan is a writer from the blue ridge mountains and current Fiction Meets Science fellow at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg in Germany. They are the fiction editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review and a fiction reader for Split Lip Magazine. Jules’s work can be found in Pithead Chapel, Best Small Fiction 2021, Everything Change Climate Anthology, and other places. Visit them online @seektheyonder.

Be sure to check our Summer Workshop page on the 1st for a link to register!

Jul 19

New Voices: “Celestial Navigation” by Heather Marshall

Heather Marshall’s “Celestial Navigation,” this week’s New Voices story, earned an honorable mention in our 2020-2021 Winter Short Story Award for New Voices. “Celestial Navigation” is a masterclass in meditative prose. Isobel, yearning for adventure, now three years separated from her husband, returns to the Scottish island where she grew up. Read along as she rediscovers herself in this story marked by constellations over the course of one year.

Isobel took to the rivers, learned the flies, bought her own waders with money earned from her job at the mall. At first, the rivers felt small, constrained. Land, rising steeply on either side: another voice, limiting where she could go. It was the only water offered, though. Joy took her by surprise, growing in her with each step as she learned to read the river. These close waters offering multiple paths. When she discovered trout huddled under rocks, she felt as though she’d been made privy to a long-held secret. She loved being out, alone, deciding how long to rest in one place, when to move.


A cloudless night, the waters calm, stars clear: she will load the skiff. The sea, flat at first, will whip when the sun begins to make herself known. By then, Isobel will be on open water.

“No place for a girl,” her father said, decades ago.

She’d stood on the shore, watched him go. This time, toes in the water, she will look up: Ophiuchus lowering, the night preparing to depart. She will mark the brightest of its stars. Alpha Ophiuchi, Rasalhague, from the Arabic, Head of the Serpent Collector. Her father taught her how to measure from them, so that she would know where she was in the world. When she was small, he pointed them to her from the shore, then from his own boat. Later, he made her navigate, but never on her own. Before the stars, her mother had whispered the legends of the land to her—the ancient tales of the Morrigan, Queen Scáthach of Skye, of fairies and queens, warriors and goddesses. After her father pointed the constellations, though, she cared only for the truths of the skies.

Looking skyward, she will remember her father’s whisper: Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, connected to the Asclepius, the physician who learned from the snake how to heal so well as to bring the dead back to life.

* * *

Of course, she doesn’t know what she’ll do on that cloudless night a year away yet; she’s still trying to shed the past as she climbs in to the one-way hire car. Barely out of the car park at Glasgow Airport, she rolls down her own window, presses her glasses tightly to her face, lets her long, graying hair curl around the outside of the car. She tries to avoid thinking of her children; she tries not to feel she is running away from home.

Not so very long ago, she’d thought this would be the sort of thing she’d do with her husband. The children were nearly grown, then. She had begun imagining the house empty: she and her husband would become adventurers again.

It’s been three years since he ended their twenty-five-year marriage. Four children, a house, two dogs, a cat, a scatter of bicycles, kayaks, all split in half, one way or another. He handed her a note and walked out the door.

In the car, she sighs. Isn’t this an adventure? So she’d been half right. She looks down at her hand. Three years and the mark of his ring is still there. I’ve done right by the children, haven’t I?

As she rides along, one of her children is doing a summer study in Greece. Another, a university dropout, roams the California coast. One hunches over a desk, taking summer school to graduate early, as Isobel would have done at that age. The eldest is racking up debt, doing her second post-grad. She’d be sitting on her own somewhere. She might as well go where she wants. Mightn’t she?

To continue reading “Celestial Navigation” click here.

Jul 17

Litmag Roadmap: Tennessee

We’re moving to Music City in this edition of Litmag Roadmap! B.B. Garin’s got the next roundup of incredible litmags who call the state of Tennessee home. Follow along.

From Graceland to Dollywood to The Grand Ole Opry, Tennessee is bursting with musical history. But did you know, it also boasts some deep literary roots? From one of the oldest publications in the country to Ann Patchett’s wonderful indie shop, Parnassus Books in Nashville, this is a state well worth on stop on our literary road trip!

Cumberland River Review

The English department at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville produces this quarterly online journal. Heavily poetry focused, they generally publish one fiction or non-fiction piece per issue, as well as seeking submissions for cover art. The editors favor a more contemporary traditional literary tone, though more experimental pieces have been known to appear. Cumberland River nominates for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and other anthologies.

Phoenix Literary Magazine

For over sixty years, Phoenix has been showcasing student writing and art at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Entirely student run, they welcome work from fellow students as well as faculty and alumni. The result is a vibrant mix of writing, art, and cultural commentary ranging from sly and humorous to hard-hitting emotional pieces with the occasional song or two thrown in for good measure.

The Sewanee Review

With over a century of literary excellence, the Sewanee Review is the country’s oldest, continuously published literary quarterly. Their mission of printing “the new literature of the day”, as editor Allen Tate said in 1944, made the journal an early platform for the likes of Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, Sylvia Plath and many more greats. If you’d like to join these hollowed ranks, submissions of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are open Sept.-May via Submittable with a $3 fee.


Dedicated to discovering new voices, Grist was founded by University of Tennessee Creative Writing Program graduates. Published in print every spring, they also published craft essays and reviews regularly online. The journal holds an annual “Pro Forma” Contest for work that explores the relationship between content and form. Regular submissions are open May 15th-Aug. 15th for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in a wide variety of styles.

The Pinch

The Pinch has evolved through many iterations. Originally, the Memphis State Review, it then became associated with the University of Memphis and was renamed River City. In 2005, the journal’s main focus became creative nonfiction and it was again redubbed, this time as The Pinch. The journal is published twice a year in print and online. CNF, fiction, poetry, and flash submissions are rolling and there are two yearly contests.

The Nashville Review

Published three times a year online, The Nashville Review is edited by MFA students at Vanderbilt University. The journal publishes a broad range of writing and art, including translations and comics. Generally, one or two featured artists appears in each issue alongside stories and poems that run the gamut from traditional coming of age stories to ruminations on the intelligence of pigs.

NR also publishes the winners of The Porch Prizes. The Porch is a Nashville based literary community offering workshops, events, reading groups and more. They award yearly prizes in Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction as part of a mission to support writers at all levels and stages of their careers.

New Millennium Writings

A humble, 15-word classified ad launched New Millennium Writings way back in 1996, when people still read classified ads. Since then, the journal has grown into a highly respected and enjoyable read. Maintaining that no style or subject is off-limits, NMW awards frequent prizes and prides itself on publishing first-time authors alongside more established writers. The current contest is open for submissions of fiction, nonfiction, flash and poetry until July 1.

by B.B. Garin

Jul 16

Reading Through the Awards: The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

In a continuation of our series of micro-reviews, assistant editor Brandon Williams brought together a group of ardent readers to give their quick-hit impressions of recent novels which have won major awards from the literary world. Louise Erdrich’s The Night Watchman, winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, is our next selection.

Quick Book Summary (from the official blurb): “Thomas Wazhashk is the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a Chippewa Council member who is trying to understand the consequences of a new “emancipation” bill on its way to the floor of the United States Congress. It is 1953 and he and the other council members know the bill isn’t about freedom; Congress is fed up with Indians. The bill is a “termination” that threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land and their very identity. How can the government abandon treaties made in good faith with Native Americans “for as long as the grasses shall grow, and the rivers run”?

Since graduating high school, Pixie Paranteau has insisted that everyone call her Patrice. Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Patrice, the class valedictorian, has no desire to wear herself down with a husband and kids. She makes jewel bearings at the plant, a job that barely pays her enough to support her mother and brother. Patrice’s shameful alcoholic father returns home sporadically to terrorize his wife and children and bully her for money. But Patrice needs every penny to follow her beloved older sister, Vera, who moved to the big city of Minneapolis. Vera may have disappeared; she hasn’t been in touch in months, and is rumored to have had a baby. Determined to find Vera and her child, Patrice makes a fateful trip to Minnesota that introduces her to unexpected forms of exploitation and violence, and endangers her life.”

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich tells the story of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa’s effort to save their tribe and land during the Termination Era, when the US government set out to end its recognition and support of native tribes under the guise of “emancipation.” Tribes that were deemed “successful” would be terminated, their members no longer considered native by law, and “relocated.”

The novel’s main protagonists are Patrice (Don’t Call Her “Pixie”) Paranteau and Thomas Wazhashk, the latter based on Erdrich’s grandfather, who was integral to preventing their band’s termination. Despite stating in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that she tried to fictionalize him as much as possible, you can feel the lens of love through which Thomas is written. He is characterized by his kindness and devotion to his family and people. His compassion contrasts nicely with Patrice’s stubborn determination, who refuses to let anyone define her, by name or otherwise.

Above all, Patrice wants to find her sister, Vera, who left for Minneapolis under a government relocation program and hasn’t been heard from again. Patrice’s search for her feels surreal, partly as a consequence of her naivete. However, we learn through others in the tribe that Vera’s fate is all too common, and it’s an indicator of what could become of their people if they are terminated and sent to live in the cities.

Perhaps some readers will find themselves wanting more from Vera’s mystery, which is resolved fairly quietly, but Erdrich’s scope is wider. She weaves in multiple voices, even animals and ghosts, to create a sweeping narrative, one that gets to the heart of the community and shows the reader what is at stake.

Cassidy Colwell

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich envelops readers with its stories, themes and structure. Based off her grandfather’s own experience of putting together a delegation to fight against the House Concurrent Resolution 108, Erdrich’s writing reminds readers that even when life’s big moments come along, day-to-day life never stops. When Thomas, one of the main characters, puts it upon himself as a tribal council member to stop the bill from passing Erdrich writes his story with all the daily struggles as well like staying awake during his graveyard shift and caring for his family. The other main character, Patrice, is similarly fleshed out. While she is searching for her missing sister, Patrice is experimenting with her sexuality, worries about time off from work, and wonders if she will be able to save up for a watch. These scenes and character thoughts cleverly allow the characters to move the story forward instead of relying on an action packed plot. At times this style slowed the pace of the novel, but overall, it allowed readers to get to know every character very intimately, and they are worth getting to know.

The Night Watchman is set in 1953, but the two main plotlines of the book (the fight against the bill and Patrice’s search for her sister) are heartbreakingly relevant to today and the way Native American communities are still treated. Erdrich easily marries history with the fictional characters and the details of what they and the minor characters go through are distressing and at time horrifying when it’s realized the Native American communities are still dealing with these same issues. However, another way Erdrich embeds the Ojibwe culture is by sprinkling Ojibwe words and phrases throughout the book. At no point are translations provided, but instead readers are meant to take in the context of the dialogue and do their best to decipher the Ojibwe language. It reminds one of the writing rule to resist explaining things to the readers, and Erdrich definitely succeeds at using the Ojibwe language effectively and leaving it at that.

Erdrich writes about the Chippewa tribe with love and pride. It pours out of each chapter and with every character that is introduced. The Night Watchman is painstakingly intentional with its details and stories in order for the readers to understand the significance of the novel as a whole. It’s that kind of authorial dedication that makes The Night Watchman so moving, and keeps readers coming back for more from Louise Erdrich.

Melanie Spicer

To be deprived of sleep is to experience a different type of delirium: one that is slippery, a bleary strangeness you feel in your mind and your bones. In Louise Erdrich’s novel, The Night Watchman, the prose takes on a restless fluidity that blurs the lines between not only the earthbound and the spirit world, but also the certainty of logic and the uncertainty of heart. The novel’s protagonist, Thomas Wazhashk, is the sleep-deprived, perpetually working tribal chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and a night watchman at a jewel bearing factory. Based on Erdrich’s grandfather, Thomas spends his evening shifts writing letters to protect his people from the effects of House Concurrent Resolution 108 (HCR 108), a bill passed in 1953 that alleged Indians would be “freed” from their marginal status. Thomas recognizes the bill for what it truly is: a government-sanctioned way to strip Indigenous people of their lands and tribal affiliations.

Meanwhile, Thomas’s niece, Pixie (or is it Patrice?) is on a journey to find her sister, support her family, and grow into a stronger sense of self along the way. At the beginning of Pixie’s journey, after she begins working at a bar in Minneapolis, she reflects on the harder, bolder person she has become in such a short time. “This was again the sort of feeling and thinking that could only be described in Chippewa, where the strangeness was also humorous and the danger surrounding this entire situation was of the story that you might laugh at,” she thinks. The duality between danger and humor exists throughout The Night Watchman from the poverty-stricken people of the Turtle Mountain Reservation to the jokes Pixie shares with her friends during their lunch at the jewel bearing factory. Although Pixie and Thomas are the core of the novel, we seamlessly move into other forms and points of view, not unlike the movement of spirits in and out of the waking world—like Roderick, the ghost of Thomas’s childhood friend, who travels with the Turtle Mountain delegation to Washington, D.C.

The Night Watchman is distinctly political, even though the hearing takes just one chapter. The hearing is just a formality; Erdrich drives the story with intention, immersing the reader in the lives of those who would be affected by the legalese in HCR 108. Ultimately, Erdrich’s latest work is a love story, a mystery, and a masterful kaleidoscope of experiences that come together to guide the narrative toward a commentary on community, family, and resilience.

Rebecca Paredes

It is no surprise that Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, The Night Watchman, won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The book is rich with dynamic and unique characters while also perfectly balancing historical facts with Erdrich’s family’s past to create a compelling narrative that demands audience engagement from the first page. The Night Watchman is not the type of novel that one reads purely for pleasure. Notably, the story based around Erdrich’s maternal grandfather in many ways demands readers to engage, make considerations about this moment and the lasting impacts all through the eyes of the array of fictional characters belonging to the historical Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe.

From a writing perspective, the use of third-person omniscient was key to executing this story so well. Seamlessly Erdrich’s narrative voice moves from one character to another while simultaneously creating distinct, witty, and unique voices to each. The choice to use this flexible point of view allowed Erdrich to bring to life day-to-day living on the Turtle Mountain Reservation. This choice also enabled her to highlight more than one perspective to the main plot, enhancing the reader’s understanding of the heartache and complexity of what tribal members were facing if their tribe was terminated by House Concurrent Resolution 108. Moreover, this choice for narration empowered Erdrich to explore intricate relationships and meaningful subplots such as Patrice’s, Vera’s, and Wood Mountains. My only criticism with this choice was some points of view slowed the novel’s pacing and didn’t (and perhaps to my fault as not reading closely enough) contribute to the story in a meaningful way, such as the missionaries and Barnes.

Overall, I rarely tell anyone they must read a novel. But The Night Watchman stands as one of those few where I think anyone should because there was much to take away long after I turned the last page.

Cassandra Wagner

Curated by Brandon Williams

Jul 13

July Book Review: The Root of Everything and Lightning by Scott Alexander Hess

In our next book review in July, Dan Mazzacane turns to Scott Alexander Hess’s novellas, The Root of Everything and Lightning, out today from Rebel Satori Press. “Hess’s world is wild and dangerous,” Mazzacane writes, “its nature characterized with the same simple elegance of his prose.” Read the full review below.

Scott Alexander Hess’s two novellas are hauntingly emotional, written with elegantly simple sentences that unfold layers of complication in emotion, theme, metaphor. Characters live, grow, and die alongside generational trauma, unkept promises, forbidden love, violence, and haunting, beautiful landscapes. But, beneath that, there is a persistence of hope. The Root of Everything follows three generations of a family as they build their lives in America across slowly converging timelines. Richard makes the journey from Germany with his brother; his son, Cal, is the first generation born on new soil; and his son, Stanford, finds himself in the wreckage of his parents’ marriage. Lightning follows Bud through forbidden love as he finds who he is truly meant to be, a man of the earth in the same way as his father.

Read more.

Jul 12

New Voices: “Psalms of a Charred Summer” by Monica Brashears

In a trailer park in an East Tennessee Valley, Scooter Brown and Dewy Cash prepare to dig a hole to hell so they can fight the devil. In a coming-of-age tale punctuated by prayer and country music, Monica Brashears explores ideas of identity, masculinity and race. Burrow in to “Psalms of Charred Summer” below.

They creep into her trailer. A fog of Marlboro smoke blankets the living room. The cheap perfume of air freshener beads—sharp, chemical, lilac. Beneath that: the dull, raw meat scent of sick. Hot-glued puzzles of rivers and creeks hang on fake wood wall panels. Miss Mae rests gaunt in a wooly recliner pocked with burn holes. She sucks her cigarette. The red glow of her cherry throbs.

The Better Tomorrow Trailer Park sprouts deep in an East Tennessee valley, kneels at the gnarled feet of House Mountain. And in the Better Tomorrow Trailer Park, two eleven-year-olds prepare for their trip to hell. Scooter Brown sits against the butt of a rusted trailer and talks to God in a panic.

Thank you, Lord, for my good
breathing, don’t let the devil win.
I do repent for my sins,
In Jesus’s holy name I pray.

It is morning, before the teens slink into sunlight and work on their tin can trucks. They will blare David Allan Coe, Guns N’ Roses. In the pastel dawn, the only music: distant windchimes. A funereal tune. I do repent for my sins I do I do. The repetitive prayers first infested Scooter’s mind last year, 1997 it was, when his mama and daddy shipped off to Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary.

“You ain’t listening.” Dewy Cash bangs a stick against the trailer. “Goat fucker.”

Scooter knows Dewy only says this because he feels big in his older sister’s absence. Today is the first of the month. Sissy shops in the bowels of IGA. If she had been here, she would lean out the window above their heads, blow out tobacco smoke. She would thump Dewy on the skull with a flyswatter.

“Am too,” Scooter says.

When Sissy and Dewy picked him up, he wanted to ask if he could go somewhere else. But he knew his mama trusted Dewy’s sister. They worked together for a couple of years at K-Mart. He also knew that his mama once warned him that some white people are sensitive to things Black boys do, especially hicks.

“What did I say then?” Dewy asks. He digs in the dirt. A mud-stained wifebeater hangs loose over taut skin. His hair is the color of wet sand. It drapes over his eyes.

“You was saying I need to help,” Scooter says.

When they first awoke, Dewy whispered his plan in a puff of hot morning breath: They will dig a tunnel so deep they can go straight to hell and fight the devil. They crept outside and scooped up buttercup roots with water-spotted teaspoons.

The necks of the spoons crook under pressure. The boys toss them aside and stab the ground with sticks. Stubborn clumps of rock and red clay hurtle. Dewy sings “Daddy Sang Bass” as soil flies.

“Johnny Cash is my daddy,” Dewy says.

“No, he ain’t,” Scooter says.

“We got the same last name.”

Scooter likes when Dewy sings. His eyes get fat. His sugared voice conjures up a want in Scooter. What that want is, he does not know.

The boys hold weapons for their upcoming battle with the devil. Dewy: a pair of kitchen shears. Scooter: a heavy soup ladle. When the hole is big enough to cradle an early baby, Dewy huffs. “I’m tired of all this.” His eyes gloss with tears.

Scooter spits in the shallow grave. “Dewy, he knows,” he whispers. He pounds the hole with a stick. “I hate you and your red butt.”

To continue reading “Psalms of a Charred Summer” click here.

Jul 9

The Masters Review Volume X Shortlist!

Here at last: the thirty stories shortlisted for The Masters Review Volume X! These thirty stories are now in the hands of Diane Cook, who has the incredibly difficult job of narrowing this list to just ten. Those ten selected stories will be included in our tenth anthology, alongside essays from a few of our former contributors about their careers in the time since their TMR publication! Congratulations to all of the writers on our shortlist! Check back in a month for the finalist selections.

The Bird Rattle by Chelsy Diaz Amaya

Atlas, Bayonet, (War) Correspondence: An Abecedarian by Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt

Limbs by Megan Callahan

Waiting for the Bees by Trisha M. Cowen

Bellerophon by Natasha D’Amours

Nuoc mam Requiem by Diem Dangers

Do Not Duplicate by John Darcy

Resurrection by Hilary Dean

All This Could Be Yours by Rodrigo Duran

Comfort Animals by Travis Eisenbise

Scrapbooking for Necromancers by Jeff Frawley

Bad Croissant by Ally Glass-Katz

Walking to Camano by Clemintine Guirado

A Pinned Moth Under Glass Still Breathes by Lesley Hart Gunn

Persimmon by Elissa C. Huang

Burning Desire by Zilla Jones

My Vows by Alissa Joseph

Abandon Ship by Mary Kuryla

The Abandoned House by Nathan Alling Long

So Long, Gregor by Mehdi M. Kashani

Peer Melvin by Lily Meyer

Imagine This, Thaddeus by Brad Aaron Modlin

The Highest Form of Love by Shannon Perri

How To Stay in Touch With People You Love When You Live All Over the World by Erin Pesut

All That Is or Ever Was or Ever Will Be by Eliana Ramage

The Patchwork Map by Rebecca Reynolds

A String of Lapis Beads by Greg Schutz

The Rubber Band by Liz Shulman

Platinum and Salt by Sarah Tanburn

Sugar by Francis Walsh

Jul 7

July Book Review: Living Dolls and Other Women by S. Montana Katz

In our first book review of July, reviewer Dan Mazzacane dives in S. Montana Katz’s novel, Living Dolls and Other Women. Mazzacane calls the novel “fast” but “carefully articulated” and “meticulously planned.” Dig into the full review at the link below.

S. Montana Katz’s mid-80s New York art scene is rendered in a fast-paced blur of POV shifting complexity, populated with the intricacies of women—their lives, relationships, desires, dreams. She creates her New York with a precise eye for detail, laying out its crowded streets, traffic, and people in a style that edges towards claustrophobic in a way to those familiar with the bustle of a city. Living Dolls is at once a romance novel, a crime drama, and a tragedy, twining together its characters stories with an insidious string of violence and activism carried out among the New York streets.

Read more.

Jul 2

Litmag Roadmap: Michigan

Buckle up! We’re headed to the Wolverine State, home of Motor City, and a peninsula that should belong to Wisconsin. Rebecca Williamson’s got the round up of the wonderful literary magazines that call Michigan home.

As of the states that borders four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan is divided into the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Considering Michigan is where Henry Ford created the infamous assembly line, it’s no wonder that Detroit is known as the “Motor City.” The state’s brutal winters must be a perfect time for members of the literary community to gather around the fire with a hot drink and their writing weapon of choice. If you’re feeling ready to submit something, then check out some of these literary magazines of the Great Lakes State.

Passages North 

This annual literary journal has been sponsored by Northern Michigan University since 1979 publishing online and in print. Passages North declares itself an ally to LGBTQIA+, Black Lives Matter, and other BIPOC communities, encouraging writers of these groups to submit. They accept fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and hybrid genre submissions are opening again in the fall on Submittable.

Michigan Quarterly Review 

Published out of the University of Michigan, Michigan Quarterly Review is an international and interdisciplinary literary journal that challenges conventions, encourages cultural commentary, and begins necessary conversations. They want submissions from emerging and established writers with diverse experiences. They accept poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, translations, reviews, and interviews. Michigan Quarterly Review publishes two themed issues a year in addition to general submissions. Checking their Submittable is the best way to understand what they’re currently looking for.

Third Coast 

Graduate students from Western Michigan University founded this magazine in 1995. Third Coast has published award-winning fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and drama while distributing across the country. Many of their pieces have also been included in “Best of” anthologies. They are currently on a hiatus and aren’t accepting submissions, but they hope to open again soon.

Pithead Chapel 

This independent journal and small press began in 2012 on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Work from emerging and established writers is published online every month, and underrepresented artists are encouraged to submit. Pithead Chapel wants fiction, art, nonfiction, and prose poetry that stirs emotions and makes them want more. Submissions are capped at 300 on Submittable but reopen at the start of a new month.

Pank Magazine 

Pank was founded in 2006 by M. Bartley Seigel and Roxane Gay. The journal seeks innovative writers with promise for their annual print magazine, quarterly online issues, and contests. They prefer prose and nonfiction but also accept poetry that is honest and strange on Submittable. The magazine has also started Future Fridays for writers and artists under eighteen years old.

Walloon Writers Review 

Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula serve as inspiration for Walloon Writers Review. They seek work that depicts the natural environment and experiences of these areas. Contributors are mainly based in Michigan, but anyone who has been impacted by the area is encouraged to share their work—even if they live across the country and have only visited. They accept stories, photography, poetry, and any creative writing.

Red Cedar Review 

Red Cedar Review has been published out of Michigan State University in 1963. The magazine is currently the longest-running undergraduate-managed journal. They accept writing from undergrads in schools around the United States. Their latest issue was produced and published by the staff remotely. Submissions are currently closed, but writers should keep an eye on Submittable for when they reopen.

by Rebecca Williamson

Jul 1

The 2021 Summer Short Story Award for New Writers is Now Open!

In case you missed it, this year’s Summer Short Story Award for New Writers will be judged by the spectacular Kristen Arnett! The contest is now open for your submissions. As always, our finalists will receive publication, cash prizes ($3000 for the winner!) and agency review. The contest will remain open for submissions through August 30th! You can find the full details below.

Open Through August 30th!


Welcome to our 2021 Summer Short Story Award for New Writers, an annual contest that recognizes the best fiction from today’s emerging writers.  Judging this year’s contest is author of With Teeth and Mostly Dead Things Kristen Arnett! The winning story will be awarded $3000 and publication online. Second and third place stories will be awarded publication and $300 and $200 respectively. All winning stories and any notable Honorable Mentions will receive agency review by the following: Nat Sobel from Sobel Weber, Victoria Cappello from The Bent Agency, Andrea Morrison from Writers House, Sarah Fuentes from Fletcher & Company, Heather Schroder from Compass Talent, and Siohban McBride from Carnicelli Literary Management. We want you to succeed, and we want your writing to be read. It’s been our mission to support emerging writers since day one.


  • Winner receives $3000, publication, and agency review
  • Second and third place prizes ($300 / $200, publication, and agency review)
  • Stories under 6000 words
  • Previously unpublished stories only
  • Simultaneous and multiple submissions allowed
  • Emerging writers only (We are interested in offering a larger platform to new writers. Self-published writers and writers with story collections are welcome to submit. Writers with novels published with small circulations (around 5000 copies) can also submit.)
  • International English submissions allowed
  • $20 entry fee
  • Deadline: August 30th, 2021
  • Please, no identifying information on your story
  • All stories are considered for publication
  • If requesting an editorial letter, please indicate on your cover letter if the submissions is fiction or creative nonfiction
  • A significant portion of the editorial letter fees go to our feedback editor, according to the rates established by the EFA

We don’t have any preferences topically or in terms of style. We’re simply looking for the best. We don’t define, nor are we interested in, stories identified by their genre. We do, however, consider ourselves a publication that focuses on literary fiction. Dazzle us, take chances, and be bold.

Kristen Arnett is the NYT bestselling author of the debut novel Mostly Dead Things (Tin House, 2019) which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in fiction. She is a queer fiction and essay writer. She was awarded Ninth Letter’s Literary Award in Fiction and her work has appeared at The New York Times, The Cut, Guernica, Buzzfeed, Electric Literature, McSweeneys, PBS Newshour, The Guardian, Salon, and elsewhere. Her story collection, Felt in the Jaw, was published by Split Lip Press and was awarded the 2017 Coil Book Award. She was a Spring 2020 Shearing Fellow at Black Mountain Institute. Her next two books (With Teeth: A Novel and an untitled collection of short stories) will be published by Riverhead Books (Penguin Random House). She has a Masters in Library and Information Science from Florida State University and currently lives in Miami, Florida.


To thank you for your continued support of The Masters Review, we’re excited to offer you the following opportunities with your submission: is offering 15% off any of their classes this year, and the discount code will be included in the confirmation e-mail when you submit.

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The Writing Salon is offering every submitter a 10% off discount code on a writing class with a discount code included in your confirmation e-mail!



Jun 29

June Book Review: The Actual True Story of Ahmed & Zarga by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Our final book review in June looks back at Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s The Actual True Story of Ahmed & Zarga, published in February from Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writing Series. Reviewer Peter Dziedzic writes that the novel “offers a fablelike perspective on humans’ relationships with the environment through a journey into West African Bedouin culture.” Read the full review at the link below:

Many today experience a strong disconnect between their daily lives and the natural world which surrounds them. In The Actual True Story of Ahmed & Zarga, Mauritanian author Mohamedou Ould Slahi—with editorial assistance from Larry Siems—offers a fablelike perspective on humans’ relationships with the environment through a journey into West African Bedouin culture. Well-known for his Guantánamo Diary, which documented his experience being held in the military prison without charge, this is Slahi’s debut novel. Inspired by his father’s stories and his own experience growing up among Mauritanian camel herders, Slahi tells a captivating tale of one man’s search for his prized camel and his reckoning with tradition, duty faith, and death along the way.

Read more.

Jun 28

New Voices: “Husband, Lover, He” by Shastri Akella

In a rite of passage, Sita is warned by a priest to avoid mirrors. He’s told, “Mirrors steal your manhood.” But there are secrets he is keeping from his family, secrets about his true identity. “Husband, Lover, He” by Shastri Akella is a story about love and tradition set against the backdrop of colonial India. Dive in below:

The men in Sita’s family—his brother, and before that, their father, and his father—are weavers. The rhythm of their fates may vary: Sita’s brother clothes the weapons of the Sultan’s army—scabbards for the swords, for canons rainproof covers (sewn from oilcloths), for shields sweaters made of microfiber; his father is the village chief’s employee. But the undertow of their lives is the same: a needle moving through fabric.

  1. Husband

Mirrors steal your manhood. That’s why the boy is in the temple. He stands shivering in the dark, colonnaded entrance, his eyes hot with sleep. It is the hour between the moth and the butterfly: One has slept, the other hasn’t risen. The hour without flutter. The temple doesn’t smell like a temple. It secretes not the scent of frankincense but the mossy odor of damp stone.

A flickering light floats up the steps. The priest and his acolyte appear at the entrance, washed in the halo of a lantern. They walk past the boy and unlock the Deity’s Chamber. The Eternal Lamp burns bright at the foot of Hanuman, illuminating his muscled, vermilion body.

The godmen commence the ceremony, the rite of passage that, before him, his brother was subjected to, and before him, their father, and their father’s father, when they each turned sixteen. It begins with the bellow of a conch (how could so small a shell, contained within the cupped palms of the acolyte, produce a note so plangent?); then comes the electric contact of ash against his flesh: the second acolyte flings at him a gritty fistful; and finally, the renunciation itself: the boy hands over his mirror, wrapped in wool, to the priest.

“Mirrors steal your manhood,” the priest warns him. “Don’t look into one again.”

* * *

He enters the room of his parents. His mother naps on the floor with her forehead pressed to the cool cement wall. He unveils the mirror and looks at himself. His presence unlocks the mirror like it’s a door, his manhood steps out of his body, crosses that passage, and leaves. He’s certain. Why would a priest lie? He veils the mirror once more. He steps over his mother and exits the house. He renames himself Sita. His body is ready for the game of Wife.

* * *

The farmer’s boy and the boy meet in the cowshed. Sita slips a small bale of hay under his shirt. The inanimate unborn tickles his flesh as he massages Husband’s farmer feet.

Later, the cow eats the hay, warm with Sita’s heat.

“You wasted my seed,” Husband says.

“The cow will have your baby,” Sita says. “We’ll take your surname, the calf and me.”

Husband rewards him with a kiss.

To continue reading “Husband, Lover, He” click here.