Deadline October 30, 2021

Divisiveness has become a hallmark of life in the United States, shaping the way we interpret social justice, identity, the ecosystem, the visual arts, and--as the pandemic has laid bare--even our health and mortality.

The "old normal," much as we might crave returning to it in some ways, was rife with anti-intellectualism, police violence against Black people, racial antipathy toward people of color, broad-based social inequity, and a collision course with global warming? What might a "new normal" look like?

"NEXT: Visions Towards a Less Divided America" will be a Pangyrus book publication, due to come out in 2022. We're looking for your best essays taking on the problems of today, and the potential of tomorrow. Whether lyric, braided, journalistic or flash, the strongest essays will find their way into publication, and the contest winner earns both publication and a prize of $1,000.

OUR JUDGE is Jabari Asim, an accomplished poet, playwright, and writer. Asim is the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Emerson College, where he is also the Elma Lewis Distinguished Fellow in Social Justice. A Guggenheim Fellow, he is the author of 13 books for children and 7 books for adults. His recent book, We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival, was a finalist for the PEN Diamondstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay in 2019. His next novel, Yonder, will be published in January 2022.


We encourage you to read us at to get a sense of what we're looking for.

We publish well-crafted, thought-provoking writing, comics and visual art in every genre online and in one or two print editions per year.

Some of the work we will accept will appear in our 10th print issue!  As we discussed possible themes to mark this  milestone, we kept gravitating to the environment, and the need (and opportunity) to restructure more sustainable systems for both democracy and the planet.

We'll be keeping an extra sharp eye out for your pieces that reimagine our relationship to place and history and ecosystem, that challenge our ideas, that offer both warnings--and solutions.

These could be essays, stories, poems, artwork, and comics that touch upon themes of environmental justice, climate change, environmental impact on communities, pollution, food, garbage, everyday life, energy -- its value and cost, biodiversity, extinction, the future and the fate of our planet. We leave it up to your interpretation.

Along with general submissions -- environmentally themed or not -- we are interested in a few specific categories: Zest!;  In Sickness and In Health; Field Notes; and Schooled – themed pieces in every genre. 

“Lightning” pieces are nonfiction essays that have immediate relevance or connect to a current event. They are for online publication and may or may not be right for the print edition. Word limit: 600 – 3,500. If you have a proposal for a nonfiction Lightning piece, please email us at We will respond within a week.

By Prior Arrangement and Discovery is always open. Please do not use unless you have been asked to submit in this category.

Please make sure that Pangyrus messages via Submittable about your submission aren't going into your spam folder. Here's what Submittable suggests:

Should Pangyrus accept your work for publication, here's the relevant fine print:

1. You warrant and represent: i) that the Work is wholly original and does not violate or infringe upon the copyright, right of privacy or any other rights of any person or company whatsoever; ii) that you are the sole owner and creator of the Work; and iii) that you have not assigned nor licensed any rights in and to the Work to any other party or entity which would violate this agreement.

2. If Pangyrus editors choose your Work to be published in a print edition, you will receive a small payment (via PayPal) and one copy of the print publication in which it appears.  Pangyrus expects to publish your Work online and/or in a print edition within one calendar year of the date of acceptance.  You will receive prompt social media distribution through our publicity department. We will work with you to make sure that your networks are aware of your publication in Pangyrus.

3. You grant Pangyrus  a non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free license for the option to do the following:  i) publish it on; ii) publish it in a single print issue of Pangyrus, alongside other works; iii) publish excerpts to promote the piece on social media sites; iv) include it in library and other archival settings as part of the body of work published by Pangyrus.

The Contest Winner wins a cash prize of $1,000, publication of the piece in an upcoming special-themed Pangyrus book, and extensive display advertising and publicity. 

Guidelines. The guidelines and requirements are as follows:

  1. Pangyrus seeks nonfiction essays on topics in American life for a forthcoming book titled: "Next: Visions Towards a Less Divided America".  We're looking for your best non-fiction pieces touching on the themes that make America, America.  Help us look into this moment and understand it better.  What divisions stand between us as people?  What sources of hope do we see, for a society that can move forward?  We're looking for deep dives into your neighborhood political signage, personal takes on what it feels like to come out of pandemic isolation and re-meet your fellow citizens, histories that show us what we've overlooked or forgotten, landscapes that make you ache with possibilities too painful to believe in.  In other words: make us feel something.    
  2. There are no citizenship requirements or limitations. Online submissions are accepted from around the world.
  3. Essays must be in English, although it is perfectly acceptable to include some text in other languages.
  4. Essay submissions must be original. (If you include quotes from other works in your essay, please be sure they are clearly attributed to the author either on the same page or in a “Notes” section at end.)
  5. Essays must be previously unpublished.
  6. Simultaneous submissions to other contests and multiple submissions to this contests are perfectly acceptable. You DO need to notify us if your essay is taken elsewhere. 
  7. If you are submitting an essay that includes photographs or other graphic images please request additional guidelines by sending an email to
  8. Revisions are not allowed to an essay after it has been submitted to the contest. 
  9. Past or present “students,” “colleagues,” or “close friends” of the judge, Jabari Asim, are NOT ELIGIBLE. Email us if you need clarification on any of these terms!
  10. If the contest entry fee represents a hardship, please email us at Our donors have generously offered to help. 

Errors in Your Submission. If our staff find a serious error in your entry (your submission file won't open, is locked so we cannot remove identifying info, is unreadable, or is missing pages, or your credit card info is incorrect or your payment is missing, etc.) we will contact you to obtain a correction at no cost to you, so your error will not disqualify you. Nor will a few smaller errors in your essay, including spelling, punctuation, formatting, or typographic errors, disqualify you or reduce your chances of winning. (We fully understand that such errors sometimes occur for everyone, and that these can be easily corrected later.)

This category is only for submissions that have been authorized by an editor, or are being submitted under our Get An Author Discovered Program.

For prose the word limit is 3,500. For poetry, please submit no more than three poems.

Pangyrus LitMag