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. 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• We do not publish previously published materials.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.

• 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 long manuscripts that come in during any other submission period.

• 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.

• 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 film fest 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. Enter your cover letter into the appropriate field inside Submittable. Do not include your cover letter inside your manuscript. 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--




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






For the IHLR annual PhotoFinish, we seek well-crafted and very brief ekphrastic work that pushes beyond the absolute literal details of a photo prompt; we're looking for work that recognizes what's hidden in the world we see. We provide the photo right here every mid-May. Responses should be no longer than 500 words for prose or 15 lines for poetry, and they should be submitted electronically from June 1 to June 30. Winner receives $250. The winner and nine finalists are published in the e-edition, released at midnight on New Year's Eve--our last horse over the year's finish line. $5 fee. Or submit on our free day: June 12--the link on our website for free submissions will be live all day on the 12th!

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Thank you for supporting IHLR, our contributors, and the literary arts. Without subscribers, we wouldn't exist!
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In 2009, at AWP in Chicago, a group named MotionPoems mounted a television near the elevator bank and aired some of their cutting-edge collaborations—poets and video artists working together to animate terrific poems. While everyone was rushing around to various sessions, I stood in front of that TV, mesmorized. Then when TriQuarterly switched from print production to an electronic format, I found its collection of video literature, curated at the time by John Bresland and containing primarily video essays but also several cinepoems.

Every time I chanced upon some new video literature, I was enthralled . . . the way a good documentary or feature film can make me forget it’s daylight outside the theater. Added to that magic was the voiceover, a narrator speaking directly to me, with all the poetry and finesse and artistry that I love about great literary writers.

If you asked me in the beginning to explain what video literature is, I would have turned directly to then IHLR Managing Editor, Landon Houle, who had explained it to a local talk-radio DJ: it’s similar to Paul Harvey’s “Like a Farmer” commercial, the ad that aired during Super Bowl XLVII and was so wildly popular that it spawned a slew of “artsy” commercials in the next two Super Bowls. Now, I can also tell you that video literature involves the juxtaposition of words with surprising images—there’s a conversation happening between language and picture in these pieces. And I also know that you can produce a piece of video literature on your cell phone or using the software that comes standard on every laptop or desktop computer these days. Try it!

Since 2013, IHLR has held an annual filmfest, and for the first time last year, it sold out. Here, in our inaugural DVD issue, we’ve collected our favorite pieces from those three festivals. We include video essays from Jacob Cutler, Joe Dornich, Paul Hunton, Joseph Johnston, Laura Marostica, Kristen Radtke, and Kirk Wisland; cinepoems from Trevino L. Brings Plenty, Heid E. Erdrich, and Rebecca Gayle Howell; and one cine-story, Landon Houle’s “One of Us.” Finally, we’ve also included an experimental piece by John Bresland, a “found” video essay featuring actual clips from Peyton Place and haiku from David Trinidad’s book Peyton Place: A Haiku Soap Opera. Bresland continues to be the leading figure in the video literature movement, offering workshops on the production of such films and starting the original collection at TriQuarterly. Now, Bresland has passed the torch, and Kristen Radtke manages the video submissions to TriQuarterly.

Watching the IHLR collection will show you why we’re so enamored with this new form. And every year, between January 1 and March 30, when we’re accepting video literature entries for our annual filmfest, you’ll know what we’re looking for. Every three years, we’ll include our favorites from the filmfests in a DVD issue. We hope to see your submissions, and we hope you enjoy the show!



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!