Iron Horse Literary Review  publishes short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

General Guidelines:

 • All manuscripts must be submitted online, via Submittable. We do not accept submissions via regular mail or email.

 • Our submission gates open and close on a rolling basis between mid-August and mid-April each year. Please observe our submission periods; we reject manuscripts that do not fit the theme or genre of that submission period, without comment. See the table on our website for dates and topics. If the gate is not open, do not attempt to submit by purchasing a back issue or any other item. Wait till the gate is open.

 • We do not publish previously published materials.

• Regular submissions: Prose writers should send one manuscript (5,500 words or less); poets should send 3-5 poems. Manuscripts that do not meet these parameters will be rejected, without comment.

• Longer manuscripts must be entered in our annual Trifecta Competition (Prose: one essay or story, 25-40 pages; poetry: a single poem, 10-20 pages long). We reject, without comment, any long manuscripts that come in during other submission periods.

• We review only three manuscripts by any one author during any one academic year; subsequent manuscripts by the same author will be automatically rejected.

• Iron Horse accepts simultaneous submissions but please inform us immediately if a submission is taken elsewhere. Just send us a note through Submishmash or via email: ihlr.mail@gmail.com. We'll be happy for you and will much appreciate the head's up.

• Upon publication, we provide an honorarium of $50 per poem or flash piece and $100 per story or essay. Trifecta winners (one each in poetry, nonfiction, and fiction) receive $250. The Single-Author Chapbook winner receives $1,000. Prizes for filmfest winners include $300 (Editor's Prize) and $200 (Audience Award).

• Please include a COVER LETTER with your name, email address, and the title(s) of work submitted, but paste your COVER LETTER into the appropriate field in Submittable. Do NOT include your cover letter inside the manuscript itself--not as the first or any page inside the submission. We will immediately REJECT manuscripts including cover letters.

We recommend that you familiarize yourself with IHLR before you submit your work. Find more about the current issue as well as subscription information on our website.

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For further information on any topic, send us an email.

Iron Horse Literary Review charges a $3 submission fee for each regular manuscript submitted to our office (our various competitions have entry fees). Like every literary journal in the country, we're compelled to demonstrate that we are both a fruitful project, with many benefits, as well as self-sufficient rather than a drain on limited funds. Together, with your help, we can keep the literary arts alive, and we hope you will be happy to spend $3 for your submission rather than giving that money to an office supply store and the post office. We also offer free submission days during every submission period. Follow us on social media to see those announcements and receive the hidden links.

Thank you for your continued support of Iron Horse! Without writers, we wouldn't even exist--




Time to Submit to the IHLR NaPoMo Issue!

It's been 12 years since we started publishing an annual issue dedicated to National Poetry Month! This is one of our most popular issues, and we always combine new voices with some established champions. Each fall, when we begin hunting the poems we will include, we're excited to see what poets have been working on over the summer.

Our annual NaPoMo issue is now released electronically, via ISSUU, which means anyone can download and read it for free and so our contributors' works will reach a wider audience. Secondly, we're going to be more selective. Instead of 25 poems, we will only be selecting the very best 11 poems: one winner and ten finalists--much like our annual PhotoFinish issue. The issue will be presented in full color, and each manuscript will have its own artwork.

The entrance fee is now $15, which includes a year's subscription for print issues. Plus, while the ten finalists receive our standard honorarium for poems ($50 per poem), the winner will receive $1,000.

Send up to five poems in ONE file.

Do NOT include your cover letter materials in the file with your poems. Simply paste it into the Cover Letter box on the submission form.

Do NOT include your name and address on the manuscript.

Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will be disqualified.

Once we receive 400 submissions (if we receive that many), we will close the gate. Otherwise, we simply cannot read the submissions in a timely fashion or complete our selection process for other issues.

Geffrey Davis, our Poetry Editor, will judge.


NOTE: Writers who live outside the United States are encouraged to submit their work, but their entrance fee will result in an electronic subscription--all of our usual electronic issues (three a year) plus electronic versions of our print issues (three a year). Iron Horse can simply no longer afford to ship subscriptions outside the United States.













 

It's Time to Submit Your Marathon-Long Stories & Essays!


Originally, the IHLR Long Story was known as The Trifecta, and it included one long winning poem, story, and essay, published in the summers. We were and are still proud to offer longer manuscripts, which most journals cannot publish because they lack the space to do so.

Recently, we've rethought the way we manage this issue. While we still open our submission gates to longer works every fall, we are only looking for longer PROSE: essays and stories between 20 and 40 pages This is the ONLY time of the year in which we consider longer works.  

We will select only ONE winner--a story OR an essay--but instead of a $250 honorarium, the winning writer now receives $1,000.

The reading fee is $15, and, as always, includes a year's subscription.

The winning story or essay will be released electronically as an e-single, with its own chic design, and it will be available for free download via ISSUU to all readers.

You may enter as many times as you wish, but you can only include one manuscript per entry.

Stories and essays must be between 20 and 40 double-spaced manuscript pages, using a 12-point font and one-inch margins.

Do not include your name or address on the manuscript itself.

Manuscripts that do not fall within these parameters will be automatically rejected, without feedback.

Once we receive 250 submissions (if we receive that many), we will close the gate. Otherwise, we simply cannot read the submissions in a timely fashion or complete our selection process for other issues. 


Note: Poets with longer manuscripts (or not longer manuscripts) should be submitting their work to our NaPoMo issue. The gate for that issue is open right now, as well.

NOTE: Writers who live outside the United States are encouraged to submit their work, but their entrance fee will result in an electronic subscription--all of our usual electronic issues (three a year) plus electronic versions of our print issues (three a year). Iron Horse can simply no longer afford to ship subscriptions outside the United States.



 

**Note about Summer Orders: Our office closes for summer break, so we will be unable to fulfill single issue and chapbook orders during this time. Although it is possible that we will send some orders out late May or early July, orders placed over the summer will most likely go out in mid-August. Thank you for your patronage and your patience!


Our editor-in-chief and founder, Leslie Jill Patterson, is on sabbatical this semester, writing in the moun- tains of Colorado and recovering from her father passing away over the summer. I’ve been IHLR’s Fiction Editor since 2014 and am thrilled to serve as Interim Editor for the fall. It’s a pleasure to be here and to think deeply about the work in this powerful Open Issue.

Since returning to campus from lockdown, I’ve been thinking back to another fall, a simpler one. A new semester was underway as the weather slowly shifted from triple-degree days to autumn’s more temperate mid-seventies. We were finalizing the stories, poems, and essays for our Selfies Issue and undergoing our own rebirth with a new design and larger trim size. We planned to debut our new look at AWP in San Antonio—the first conference location our staff could drive to in more than ten years—and in that issue’s foreword, Jill highlighted our fresh face that both honored what the journal had been and looked forward with anticipation to all it might yet become, writing: “The future, we believe, is bright.” It was October in the year 2019.

We couldn’t have known that our campus would shut down five months later. That most of us would sit out AWP. That the Selfies Issue would sit in storage until August when we finally regained ac- cess to our offices. That the next time our staff would see each other would be over Zoom, or that now, as we present this Open Issue, we’d be looking over our shoulders at the past year with such longing for casual hugs and handshakes, concerts, travel, and a general, if illusory, belief in the power of human ingenuity to solve our most pressing problems.

We’ve lost too many lives in the last year, both to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and to unrelenting systemic inequality that preexisted and set the stage for George Floyd’s murder and for so many other needless deaths. It’s staggering to consider that in the same period of time we were all learning the word coronavirus and becoming internet experts on social distancing, viral load, fomite transmission, asymptomatic carriers, contactless delivery, ICU availability, ventilators, hydroxychloroquine, and vaccine prospects, our country’s police officers killed Atatiana Jefferson, Michael Dean, John Neville, William Green, Jaquyn O’Neill Light, Lionel Morris, Ahmaud Ar- bery, Manuel Ellis, Barry Gedeus, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, Steven Taylor, Cornelius Fredericks, Maurice Gordon, George Floyd, Dion Johnson, Tony McDade, Calvin Horton, Jr., James Scurlock, David McAtee, Jamel Floyd, Kamal Flowers, Robert Forbes, Rayshard Brooks, Maurice Abisdid-Wagner, Julian Lewis, Anthony McClain, Damian Daniels, and Dijon Kizee.

We are a nation in mourning. A nation in shock. A nation bearing up under the immeasurable weight of ongoing trauma with no sure end in sight. Some of us have lost faith in government, in religious leaders, in the resilience of our own bodies, in the ability of our justice system to fairly enforce our laws or mete out true and equal justice. Many of us have even lost faith in each other as debates about masks and hoaxes rage on. Our losses are incalculable, and they are still mounting.

When they submitted to this issue, our authors couldn’t know the whole picture of the developing crises of health, injustice, climate change, and conscience, but with a deadline in late February, they had no doubt learned the Australian government had declared a State of Emergency due to wildfires in New South Wales. They knew our sitting president had been both impeached and acquitted. They knew the World Health Organization had declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of Inter- national Concern. They knew Kobe Bryant’s helicopter had fatally crashed, and they would have been grieving for at least six of the extinguished lives named above. Their submissions showed the weight of all that trauma, plus the individual battles we’re always taking part in behind our social media facades. Carrie Chappell’s poem “Viola” speaks to the life and violent, early death of civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo. In “Fantasy Firearms,” Gage Saylor explores the desensitization that takes hold in a nation where mass shootings become commonplace. And work by Kelle Groom, Gustavo Barahona-López, and Jennifer Battisti wrestles with personal fears, gaps, and demons.

We’re a nation grieving, muddling through uncertainty, evacuating from hurricanes and fires, and trying to overcome a novel virus; we are a nation in pain. But we are also forward-looking, whether to November, a vaccine, protests bringing change, or simply to 2021, which we hope will be kinder to us. We’re holding on to all that could be good about the future. In this spirit, Andrew Hemmert’s poem, “Light Theory,” sends readers through a haze of worrying smoke straight into “the solar system.” Jenny Patton’s essay, “Katsu,” follows a wayward child who unexpectedly finds his path.

We have to feel our fears in order to face them, and other contributors do just that. Two AWP Intro Award winners, Audrey R. Hollis and Alexa Quezada, twist dangerous power dynamics into hard-won reckonings. Other pieces center on having loved and lost, as in poems by Kimberly Glanzman, Adam Tavel, and Carla Panciera, and in Brent Taylor’s story about the short life of the tallest man who ever lived.

All of these pieces were written before lockdowns, before the watershed moment of George Floyd’s murder, and before California began burning on a historic scale, but they are not just about “before.” The disparate pieces in this Open Issue illuminate not just the world of their conception, but offer wisdom and solace for a troubled year. To keep surviving, we’ll need reasons to trust each other again. We must document our trials so they help us become better people, a better species, on the other side.

The future was bright a year ago. The words in this issue give us hope that when the smoke clears, it will be again.

Katie Cortese

Interim Editor

Buy your copy of our Open Issue here for $5. Due to Covid-19 budget cuts, international readers will receive an electronic copy only.

Fiction by: George Bilgere | Audrey R. Hollis | Gage Saylor | Brent Taylor

Nonfiction by: Jennifer Battisti | Kelle Groom | Jenny Patton 

Poetry by: Gustavo Barahona-López | Carrie Chappell | Caroline Chavatel | Kimberly Glanzman | Andrew Hemmert | Christos Kalli | Carla Panciera | Alexa Quezada | Adam Tavel

In the Saddle: Krys Malcolm Belc



**Note about Summer Orders: Our office closes for summer break, so we will be unable to fulfill single issue and chapbook orders during this time. Although it is possible that we will send some orders out late May or early July, orders placed over the summer will most likely go out in mid-August. Thank you for your patronage and your patience!


The IHLR Feast Issue 2021 (23.1)


Fiction by: Zane Biebelle | Emily Pegg | Gionni Ponce 

Nonfiction by: Peter-Adrian Altini 

Poetry by: Joe Betz | Leah Falk | Anthony Thomas Lombardi | Chloe Martinez | Josh Myers | Clara Bush Vadala 

In the Saddle: Gabrielle Bates

From the Horse's Mouth: Gionni Ponce


We love all of our projects and publications here at Iron Horse, but one of our favorite activities is regularly feeding our Instagram account, @lunchwithironhorse, some of the delicious meals we’re munching alongside the equally delectable books we’re devouring. There’s just something simpatico in the language of eating and reading. We consume the words of a good book, savor fresh concepts and images, digest their significance, chew over ideas, and are nourished by the contents, and perhaps, most importantly, we tend to enjoy what we read even more when we share and discuss it with friends, loved ones, and even strangers. And anyone who belongs to a great book club knows that meetings feel incomplete without a spread of scrumptious snacks.


For this issue, we asked writers to send us flash, stories, essays, and poems focused on meals, feasts, cooking, hunger, recipes, sustainable agriculture, foot stamps, food deserts, food porn, last meals, and anything else related to eating, foraging, enjoying, avoiding, or experimenting with food. As always happens with our themed issues, the submissions addressed the concept of food, feasts, and hunger in ways we hadn’t anticipated. For instance, when we released the call for submissions, we couldn’t have known the full impact that COVID-19 would have on restaurants and their staff, food insecurity and the supply chain in general, the health and safety of delivery drivers, grocery stores and their vulnerable workers, farmers, harvesters, employees of meat-packing plants, or the risks suddenly posed to shoppers and drivers for Instacart, DoorDash, Favor, and other such services. Since our submission period extended into April of 2020, a few of the pieces in this issue were already grappling with those implications. In particular, Chloe Martinez’s poem, “Nazar na Lage,” directly addresses the new terror of waiting in a socially distanced line to enter a grocery store.


Other submissions spoke to the ethics of eating, as in Josh Myers’s poem, “ I miss eating meat so much I want to cry,” or the social graces involved with serving and being served in a restaurant, as in Clara Bush Vadala’s poem, “Waitress,” whose title persona uses lime juice to mask rolling her eyes at a table of obnoxious customers. In her story, “Elkhart’s China Boo-fay,” Gionni Ponce exposes the cultural assumptions diners and restaurateurs sometimes make about each other. The young narrator of that story marvels over “every kind of Chinese food” available in the restaurant’s buffet line, a list that includes chicken nuggets, French fries, and crab legs, plus the donuts “fried toasty and rolled in cinnamon sugar.” But while the proprietors of China Buffet have worked to make their cuisine, and their customer service, fit the changing demographics of Elkhart, Indiana, their assumptions about the narrator’s mother send an unsettling ripple through the entire concept of America’s supposedly harmonious melting pot.


Other pieces go straight to the source of our food: the land and people who produce it. Joe Betz’s poems peer through the lens of agriculture to examine the lives and sometimes untimely deaths of those who work the land. And in the story “Lemon Seed,” Emily Pegg’s narrator wrestles with her heart and conscience in the midst of a lemon orchard “dripping with yellow fruit.”


Food and motherhood feature in Leah Falk’s poem, “41. Is there a belief that the request of a pregnant woman must not be refused? What is the reason for this?” For one expecting mother, sustenance makes her a “fort of fiber and starch,” while another offers her unborn child the “poor comforts” of scrambled eggs and soup. Comfort is also at issue in Anthony Thomas Lombardi’s persona poem when the speaker, Amy Winehouse, uses chain-smoking to get her through the long hours in an imagined stay at a rehabilitation center.


Zane Biebelle’s story, “The New You,” tackles America’s value system as it relates to food, feasting, fasting, and appearances, interrogating the notion that one’s inherent worth must be inextricably linked to the ability to achieve impossible beauty standards. Here, the cycle of poverty, capitalism, reality television, and female friendships all come under the microscope, revealing a series of ugly truths.


While food can divide us, it can also be the language by which families communicate, cultures survive, and treasured memories surface. Peter-Adrian Altini’s essay, “The Chocolate Room,” paints a picture of his mother in fragments of handcrafted candy and cracked eggshells, and the result is an indelible portrait of a person whose legacy lives on in the places where she worked her culinary magic.


We make and consume feasts to celebrate our successes, mourn the dead, honor our origins, and also, sometimes, to try and forget them. Too, in this issue, we were struck by the ease with which speakers and characters move through the world and all its populated places—restaurants, hotels, bars—without fear of contamination, a relic of our past behavior that can’t help but bring on nostalgia for those of us longing for a return to some semblance of “normal” life. As we move further into a year of new hopes and new beginnings, we invite you to fill yourself with the works in this issue, to sample the sour and bitter along with the salty and sweet, and to be as enriched by the variety in this smorgasbord of experiences as we were.


Buy your copy of our Open Issue here for $5. 

Due to Covid-19 budget cuts, international readers will receive an electronic copy only.



**Note about Summer Orders: Our office closes for summer break, so we will be unable to fulfill single issue and chapbook orders during this time. Although it is possible that we will send some orders out late May or early July, orders placed over the summer will most likely go out in mid-August. Thank you for your patronage and your patience!


We've just released our 2020 chapbook winner, Brigitte Lewis's Origin Stories.

About this beautiful chapbook by Brigitte Lewis, the 2020 judge, Kerry Beth Neville, wrote: “I read Origin Stories with enormous pleasure from the first to the last sentence. Origin Stories is an intimate, ambitious and witty collection that delves into the tangled domestic lives of famous Biblical couples: Adam and Eve (wife #2), Lot and Edith, David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah, and Adam (again) and Lilith (wife #1). In ‘Adam + Eve + Eukaryotes,’ the first story of the collection, Adam asks Eve, ‘Don’t you think we’re in this story together?’ This double-negative query reveals Adam’s hope for Eve’s easy reassurance. After all, she is born of his rib so forever of his body. Eve, however, cryptically responds, ‘I know who I am.’ This brief Q & A echoes across this collection. I love the surprising and satisfying way these stories interrogate our mythical and mundane meet-cute beginnings, where men are ‘raised to be earthquakes’ and women are ‘raised to be split.’ The author is acutely observant of how we have been shaped and misshaped by our desires and shame, fidelities and infidelities, and independence and interdependence since our first self-conscious naked longings for each other. 

Buy your copy here for $10.

Due to budget cuts after Covid-19, we can no longer support international postage costs. Readers outside the United States will receive an electronic copy only. 






**Note about Summer Orders: Our office closes for summer break, so we will be unable to fulfill single issue and chapbook orders during this time. Although it is possible that we will send some orders out late May or early July, orders placed over the summer will most likely go out in mid-August. Thank you for your patronage and your patience!


Iron Horse Literary Review has been in print for 20 years! In that time, we've published 76 issues, including 825 poems, 207 stories, and 97 essays. 


Here, in this double issue, we're including our most beloved selections: our favorite 7 stories, 4 essays, and 26 poems:

  • Best of IHLR Fiction: shane castle | aaron gwyn | gina ochsner | lucas southworth | e.m. tran | anne valente | kennedy weible   
  • Best of IHLR Nonfiction: lina maria ferreira cabeza-vanegas | gary fincke | elizabeth horneber | michelle valois
  • Best of IHLR Poetry: nin andrews | lauren berry | nickole brown | m. soledad caballero | ching-in chen | tiana clark | chad davidson | erica dawson | stephen dunn | ryler dustin | jaclyn dwyer | carolina ebeid | bob hicok | carrie jerrell | tyehimba jess | ted kooser | barbara lau | li-young lee | paige lewis | juan j. morales | cecily parks | katie peterson | carl phillips | saara myrene raappana | karrie waarala | afaa michael weaver

 

Celebrate with us! Read this double issue, featuring these terrific writers, and learn how we selected the works we've included--which will give "insider" insight into our overall preferences and editorial selection process!


Buy your copy right here for $10. Due to Covid-19 budget cuts, we can only send electronic copies to international subscribers.


Sincerely,
Leslie Jill Patterson, Editor









A year's subscription, for only $18, includes a complete volume of Iron Horse: 3 print issues and 3 electronic issues. International subscribers will receive electronic copies only of all issues; due to Covid-19 budget cuts we can no longer support international postage.


Complete the form in order to ensure that you receive your subscription in a timely and accurate fashion. 


Thank you for supporting IHLR, our contributors, and the literary arts. Without subscribers, we wouldn't exist!

 A 2-year subscription, for only $30, includes two complete volumes: 6 prints issues and 6 electronic issues. International subscribers will receive electronic copies only.

To receive your subscription in a timely, accurate fashion, make sure you complete the form.

Thank you for supporting IHLR, our contributors, and the literary arts! Without subscribers, we wouldn't exist!


**Note about Summer Orders: Our office closes for summer break, so we will be unable to fulfill single issue and chapbook orders during this time. Although it is possible that we will send some orders out late May or early July, orders placed over the summer will most likely go out in mid-August. Thank you for your patronage and your patience!

You are purchasing a single back issue.

Back issues are $5 each. International readers will receive an electronic copy only.

Complete the form to make sure you receive the issue you want in a timely fashion.

Thank you for supporting IHLR, our contributors, and the literary arts!

*Please note that if you would like to purchase the Best of IHLR Anniversary Double Issue (20.1 & 20.2), there is a dedicated form for that issue on the main Submittable page.

**Note about Summer Orders: Our office closes for summer break, so we will be unable to fulfill single issue and chapbook orders during this time. Although it is possible that we will send some orders out late May or early July, orders placed over the summer will most likely go out in mid-August. Thank you for your patronage and your patience!


You are choosing to purchase two back issues from Volumes 1 through 22. 

International readers will receive electronic copies only. 

Make sure you complete the order form as well as providing your billing information.

Thank you for supporting IHLR, our contributors, and the literary arts! We appreciate it!

*Please note that if you would like to purchase the Best of IHLR Anniversary Double Issue (20.1 & 20.2), there is a dedicated form for that issue on the main Submittable page.

**Note about Summer Orders: Our office closes for summer break, so we will be unable to fulfill single issue and chapbook orders during this time. Although it is possible that we will send some orders out late May or early July, orders placed over the summer will most likely go out in mid-August. Thank you for your patronage and your patience!


You are choosing to purchase three back issues of IHLR, from volumes 1 through 22.

International readers will receive electronic copies only.

Besides entering your billing information, please make sure to complete the sales form to ensure the timely delivery of the issues you want.

Thank you for supporting IHLR, our contributors, and the literary arts! We appreciate it! 

There are four categories of Iron Horse sponsors:

Friends (at the $50 level)

Patrons (at the $100 level)

Benefactors (at the $300 level)

You are choosing to join the Benefactors list! Thank you so much for your generous support! Without our sponsors, Iron Horse would not be the journal it is today. We are so appreciative!

There are four categories of Iron Horse sponsors:

Friends (at the $50 level)

Patrons (at the $100 level)

Benefactors (at the $300 level)

You are choosing to join the Patrons list! Thank you so much for your generous support! Without our sponsors, Iron Horse would not be the journal it is today. We are so appreciative!

There are four categories of Iron Horse sponsors:

Friends (at the $50 level)

Patrons (at the $100 level)

Benefactors (at the $300 level)

You are choosing to join the Friends list! Thank you so much for your generous support! Without our sponsors, Iron Horse would not be the journal it is today. We are so appreciative!

Iron Horse Literary Review