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 • We do not publish previously published materials.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.

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




For the IHLR NewsFlash, we seek brief essays, stories, or poems that respond to immediate current events. We will not publish work that supports hate or racism, that disrespects science or journalism, or promotes falsehoods and/or bigotry. Prose should be no longer than 800 words; poetry should be no longer than 25 lines.


We will receive only 20 submissions per week in this category, but will read them year-round--because the world never rests, even if our office is closed. The submission gate for NewsFlash opens every Monday morning at 10 a.m. CST, and closes as soon as we hit submission twenty. We'll reopen the gates the following Monday.


We will accept the best ones. Maybe 20 in some weeks, but maybe none in others--though we're hoping to accept at least two a week. 


We do not pay for every manuscript we publish as part of our NewsFlash series--the series will move too quickly, and the payment process is so laborious--but we will select the best one we publish in a year's time and award that writer $200.   





Ends on November 25, 2018$10.00
$10.00

Each summer, when we all need a good vacation read, IHLR releases—for free!—three e-singles, each with its own chic design. One long poem, one long story, one long essay. This is your chance to place your marathon manuscripts. One mss. per submission.   

Poets, please keep your manuscripts--a single poem or sonnet crown, etc.--between 10-20 pages. Manuscripts that do not fall within these parameters will be automatically rejected, without feedback.

Winner receives $250, plus publication as an e-single.

Ends on November 25, 2018$10.00
$10.00

Each summer, when we all need a good vacation read, IHLR releases—for free!—three e-singles, each with their own chic design. One long poem, one long story, one long essay. This is your chance to place your marathon manuscripts. One manuscript per submission.   

Nonfiction writers, please keep your manuscript--a single essay--between 25-40 double-spaced pages, with one-inch margins. Manuscripts that do not fall within these parameters will be automatically rejected, without feedback.

Entry fee: $10 (includes a subscription)

Winner receives $250 plus publication as an e-single.

Ends on November 25, 2018$10.00
$10.00

Each summer, when we all need a good vacation read, IHLR releases—for free!—three e-singles, each with their own chic design. One long poem, one long story, one long essay. This is your chance to place your marathon manuscripts. One manuscript per submission.   

Fiction writers, please keep your manuscript--a single story--between 25-40 double-spaced pages, with one-inch margins. Manuscripts that do not fall within these parameters will be automatically rejected, without feedback.

Entry fee: $10 (includes a subscription)

  Winner receives $250 plus publication as an e-single.

There seems to be an abundance of sorrow and loss everywhere we look these days--the cost of the current White House administration, the loss of environmental and social justice protections, most definitely, but also some deeply felt personal shifts in our lives: relationships ending, loved ones struggling to stay healthy, careers taking key team members in new directions. In her poem "I measure every Grief I meet" (#561), Emily Dickinson talks about the many forms heartbreak and mourning can embody. "The Grieved--are many," she writes, and "There is the various Cause--": Death; the Grief of Want; the grief of Cold, which we call Despair; and even Banishment. We struggle with our lamentations and always hope, ironically, horribly, that someone somewhere harbors afflictions like our own. Because, then at least, we're not alone.


Because we're faced with upheaval here, we're not surprised to learn that the contents of this issue mirror our emotions these days--that somehow, mysteriously, in ways that editors cannot always explain and sometimes we even fail to notice, we were drawn to and ultimately elected a set of manuscripts that all dwell in grief of one sort or another. There's the emptiness of stardust and infinity in Todd Follett's "UFO Fever"; a runner's path through the countryside, an abandoned house, the ghost of traumatic memories in Dana Chellman's "I remember, I re-re-remember"; a mother cow calling desperately for her calf across a dark pasture in Elijah Burrell's "Reverberations"; the odd obsession humans develop for tragedies and horrors they do not really own in Jake Zucker's "Her Holy Days"; a mother dicing, boiling, baking, her furious activity blocking out the mumblings of her autistic son in Jacob Boyd's "Easter Sunday at United Baptist Church, Battle Creek"; and the idea that we might pay good money to binge on sorrow for the benefit of relief afterward, the high that comes when desolation finally lifts, in Marc  Sheehan's "The Sorrow Vendor." We close on a note of hope: in Sivani Babu's essay, "Like Dust in a Storm," we witness a catastrophic multi-car accident but follow the storyline through to the hours afterward when humans pull together to save those who might otherwise lose their grip on this world to reach for the other side.


I struggled to find some cover art appropriate for the content of this Open Issue, and remembered my tour of The Heidelberg Project in Detroit this summer, as part of the annual Soros Justice Conference. In 1986, Tyree Guyton returned home to the street where he was raised on Detroit's East Side and was distressed to see the neighborhood riddled with drugs and growing poverty. He had lost three brothers to the streets, and his grandfather asked him to arm himself with a paintbrush instead of a gun, and so Guyton set about transforming the abandoned houses, and the garbage piled in the streets, into "gigantic art sculptures." He integrated entire blocks, and visitors travel there every day to see what can happen when humans reclaim the devastation of our lives by transforming them back into beauty. I remembered being taken by a plastic toy horse, ridden by an abandoned, bruised baby-doll; I remembered trying to capture it on film--the children that the toys implied, the resilience, the insistence of survival when we want to live so badly. And so, I asked our cover artist, my father, to incorporate the photograph into this issue's cover. A tribute to Guyton, the city of Detroit, his grandfather, my friends, my loved ones, and all of us who find a way to stay on top of the surf despite the bucking waves perpetually rolling over our heads.


Leslie Jill Patterson, Editor






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!


Sincerely,
Leslie Jill Patterson, Editor









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There are four categories of Iron Horse sponsors:

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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