Poetry Submission Guidelines


  • Sonya Taaffe, Senior Editor
  • Adrienne J. Odasso
  • Romie Stott

What We Want and What We Don't Want

We're looking for high-quality, extraordinary SF, fantasy, horror, and "slipstream" poetry.

We're looking for modern, exciting poems that explore both the possible and the impossible: stories about human and nonhuman experiences, about dreams and reality, about the past and the future, about the here-and-now and otherwhere-and-elsewhen. We want poems from imaginative and unconventional writers; we want voices from diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

We will consider all forms, although poems that follow a standard rhyme scheme will be a hard sell. Many wonderful rhyming poems have been written, but the editors have seen too much doggerel verse, and this has admittedly soured us toward rhymes.

We want poems that have some literary depth but aren't boring; poems that are unusual yet readable; poems that balance inventiveness with traditional structures. We like serious works, as well as poems with wit and humor that don't collapse into pure silliness.

We like fantasy (especially urban fantasy and unusual settings), but please don't send us poems full of thees and thous unless you speak Middle English. Dark fantasy is fine, but we're not looking for outright horror. We like science fiction themes (especially those based in biology, linguistics, or social extrapolation), magic realism, and even a dash of the surreal now and then, as long as it's readable.

Any sex and violence in a poem should be artistically justified; no excessive gore.

Here are some of our favorite poets, in no particular order:

Naomi Shihab Nye, Miroslav Holub, Walt Whitman, J.R.R. Tolkien, Allen Ginsberg, T.S. Eliot, E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, Ovid, W. B. Yeats, Bhartrihari, C.S. Lewis, Tennyson, etc.

This is by no means a complete list, and of course your work should be in your own style, not the styles of any of these writers.

Pay Rates and Lengths

We prefer poems under 100 lines. We will consider longer submissions; however, they will be a hard sell. No simultaneous submissions, please. Also, we do not accept unsolicited reprints.

Pay rates for new poetry will be $30 per poem.

We buy first-printing world exclusive rights for two months. After that period, you are free to republish the poem elsewhere. We hope (but do not require) that you'll allow us to post the poem in our archives indefinitely after it's rotated off the front page. You have the right to remove your poem from the archives at any point.

How to submit

Email poetry to poetry@strangehorizons.com. Please submit no more than six poems per month, one poem per email. For each poem, type "POETRY SUB: Your poem title" in the subject line. It is very important that you follow this format. If you do not, your submission may be tagged as spam by our email systems, and we will not see it.

Poems should be in plain text (ASCII) format in the body of your email message, not an attachment. (One way to do this: use your word processor's Save As Text command to save the poem, then copy the resulting text and paste it into an email message.) Use two line breaks (double spacing) to indicate paragraph breaks. Place an _underscore_ at the beginning and end of a word or phrase to indicate italics; use *asterisks* to indicate boldface. Please do not put submissions or poetry titles in ALL CAPS. For any other special formatting, please include an explanatory note. Submissions which are not properly formatted may not be read.

Don't send us your poem until you have thoroughly proofread it. Accepted submissions may be edited for clarity or to correct minor errors, but submissions which do not meet minimum standards for correct spelling and grammar will be rejected, except in cases of obvious artistic license.

The Strange Horizons Poetry department does not use an auto-responder to acknowledge submissions. If you have not heard from us in eight weeks from the date of your submission, please contact us.

Material other than poetry should be submitted to the appropriate editor.

Thank you.