Litmag Roadmap: Pennsylvania

June 4, 2021

We’re headed down the East Coast to the Keystone State! Pennsylvania gave us Hershey, the Liberty Bell, Rocky, and sadly the Pittsburgh Pirates, but also these incredible literary magazines!

Pennsylvania boasts a lot of history due to its status as one of the thirteen colonies. Philadelphia, in particular, was once the capital where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The history isn’t the only thing that’s rich, especially with Hershey Park and its beloved chocolate leaving many wanting more mouthwatering goodness. While there’s so many interesting facts about Keystone State, there’s also a large literary scene. There are so many literary magazines to be discovered, and these eleven are only a snippet of what Pennsylvania has to offer writers.

The Penn Review

This magazine published out of the University of Pennsylvania is over fifty years old. Published online and in print, The Penn Review looks to publish both established and emerging writers. Plus, the magazine provides payment if accepted into the print issue. That’s pretty exciting since this is an Ivy League school. Submissions will reopen on Submittable in the fall, and they will accept fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and visual art.

The Gettysburg Review

Since 1988, The Gettysburg Review has published works from many noteworthy writers, had works reprinted in “Best of” anthologies, and won numerous awards. The journal is published quarterly out of Gettysburg College. Despite its high acceptance rate, they encourage work discussing a broad range of topics and suggest reading previous issues to understand the quality of work published. Poetry, fiction, and essay submissions are accepted via Submittable from September through May only, and anything not in that range will not be read.

The American Poetry Review

This journal has been publishing poetry and prose online and in print to a worldwide audience since 1972. While the journal is called The American Poetry Review, they also accept translations, literary criticism, and essays in addition to poetry. They are also currently accepting poetry manuscripts from poets who have not published a book-length collection of poems for the Honickman First Book Prize through October. All submissions go through Submittable.

The Fourth River

Clatham University’s MFA publishes this environment and nature-based journal. Its name comes from a river that flows beneath Pittsburgh. The Fourth River publishes pieces that explore the relationships between landscape, space, nature, and/or identity and make their readers reflect or see places in new ways. They also encourage work from people of color, immigrants, and other marginalized groups. Submissions via Submittable will reopen in July and close again in September. While there is a small reading fee, they accept poetry, prose, and visual art for print and online publication.

Creative Nonfiction  

Since above is a journal focused more on poetry, here’s a quarterly journal dedicated to creative nonfiction writing. They look for work that pushes the boundary of the genre and blends different styles. This can range from immersion reportage and lyric essays to memoirs and personal essays. Submissions are accepted via Submittable, and they will be looking for pieces about water when the reading period is open.

West Branch

West Branch publishes fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews three times a year out of Bucknell University. They have both digital and print issues, and publication also provides a small monetary incentive to each writer. The submission period is closed, but they encourage writers to check their submissions manager frequently.


This thematic journal highlights writing that attacks stigmas surrounding sex, desire, intimacy, and the body. Bedfellows has published two issues in print and online every year since it was founded in 2013. The Philadelphia-based magazine just completed a special anthology issue, Little Black Book. Although the magazine works mainly by solicitation, writers who feel their work is a good fit for the theme can email an introduction.


Despite being an online publication, this Philadelphia-based magazine supports underrepresented writers and artists. With four issues each year, emerging and established writers have a chance of being published. The word “cleave” is a Janus word (or an “auto-antonym”), meaning itself and the opposite. It can also mean come together. Fiction, flash, poetry, and essays are reviewed through Submittable, but book reviews and craft or travel essays must be queried.

Pennsylvania Literary Journal 

This peer-reviewed printed journal is published three times a year. Accepted genres include critical essays, book reviews, art, short stories, and so much more. Other ideas not listed can be queried, though PLJ hopes to see primarily current research, fiction, poetry, and works of art. There are also special issues with an emphasis on specific topics that correlate to different conferences. General submissions are open year-round and can be queried via email to the editor-in-chief.

Painted Bride Quarterly 

Painted Bride Quarterly is a non-profit Philadelphia-based established in 1973 emphasizing community. They just published their 100th issue online. Print publications occur annually, but the online version features four issues. PBQ prides itself on its always changing editorial board to maintain a variety of published voices in each issue. Poems, essays, and fiction of any genre are accepted via Submittable from emerging and established writers.

Paper Dragon

This online journal from the MFA program at Drexel University aims to publish underrepresented voices in literature. They want their journal to inspire discourse and conversation surrounding the selected pieces and the overarching theme of each issue. Fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and online media can be emailed to with the submission category. They are currently closed for submissions but encourage people to follow them on social media for the new date.

by Rebecca Williamson


At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year-round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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