The Tusculum Review Submission Guidelines

Four Genres | We seek well-crafted writing that takes risks. We publish work in and between all genres: poetry, fiction, essays, and plays. We appreciate work in experimental and traditional modes. We accept prose submissions of less than 7,000 words (24 double-spaced pages) and poetry submissions under five pages. We publish scripts in the 10-minute format (10 pages). Our issues feature the work of 20-35 writers chosen from our general submissions (Only one or two pieces may be by a contributing editor or author we’ve queried.).

Poetry Editor Josh Martin is most intrigued by poems that harness rhythm and imagery to carry compelling narratives. He admires poets Phillip Levine, Ross Gay, Kim Addonizio, and others working in the post-Confessional narrative tradition. He also values surreal/experimental poetry and is open to poems of all schools/traditions that work toward a sense of structural unification and demonstrate an awareness of form’s collusion with function.

Nonfiction Editor Desirae Matherly is partial to nonfiction that tips toward essay rather than straightforward memoir. She is most interested in work that grapples with the emotional facts of being human and admires a writer who is vulnerable and capable of creating intimacy between reader and writer. She looks for formal experimentation and speculative content. She prefers the Montaignean essay to the Baconian, literary over journalistic prose.

Drama Editor Wayne Thomas appreciates plays helmed by characters with deep yearnings. He prefers provocative political plays to feel-good skits. He looks for drama that challenges the status quo and leaves the audience with tough questions rather than easy answers.


Fiction Editor Kelsey Trom seeks stories that are lush, immersive, and urgent. She admires tales led by characters in immediate danger who have something essential at stake. She enjoys all styles and genres but always prefers humor to cleverness; well-paced prose to expository stretches; and a distinct narrative voice to a detached or disaffected one. The Tusculum Review loves fiction situated in rich cultural milieus with palpable environs, dialogue, and people.

Book Reviews, Translations, Illustrations | We publish book reviews of under two pages. We go to press in September, so books reviewed should be published between June and December. Submit reviews to Essay and signal as a review in your cover letter. We publish original translations into English. We only accept work that has not been previously published elsewhere, electronically or in print. We showcase illustrators in every issue: send your portfolio to to be considered for a commission.

Reading Period | We read year round. We go to print annually in September, so work received after August 1 will be considered for the following year’s volume. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please alert us via Submittable in the event of acceptance elsewhere. We would love to pay you with money, but our current budget only allows for payment in copies (2).

Cover Letter | Please include your name, address, phone number, email address, and title(s) of your submissions in your cover letter. A short bio is optional.

Award Nominations | We nominate for the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Awards, Best New Poets, and The Best American Series. Irene O’Garden’s “Glad to be Human: A Joie de Coeur,” published in Volume 6 of The Tusculum Review, won a 2012 Pushcart Prize. Robin Storey Dunn’s “Gimme Shelter” and Jamie L. Smith’s “Mythology Lessons,” published in Volume 16, were recognized as Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2020 in The Best American Essays 2021. In The Best American Essays 2022, Priscilla Long’s “After Long Silence” and Suphil Lee Park’s “An Escape Clause” (Volume 17), were recognized as Notables of 2021. Katrin Arefy’s “Blowing Dandelions” (Volume 18) was honored by Series Editor Robert Atwan as a Notable Essay of 2022 in The Best American Essays 2023

Publication Rights | Except for second printings of the journal due to demand, all rights to material in The Tusculum Review revert to the individual authors and artists after publication (first serial rights). We request that you acknowledge us if you reprint work we published first. The ideas and opinions expressed in The Tusculum Review are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or ideas of Tusculum University, its administration, faculty, or staff. Tusculum University does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, identity, religion, ethnic origin, or disability.

Online Submission Manager  |  Find us on Submittable: We do not generally accept mailed or e-mailed submissions, but if you are incarcerated or Submittable is a hardship, email your manuscript to If you do not have internet access, please mail your manuscript to The Tusculum Review, P.O. Box 5113, 60 Shiloh Rd., Greeneville, TN 37745-0595 with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for our reply.

2024 Issue – Volume 20 | Our 20th Anniversary Issue will be thicker than usual. It will feature the winner of the 2024 Nonfiction Chapbook Prize selected by contest judge Mary Cappello, original illustrations of the written work, and texts in all four genres chosen from our general submissions.

Questions? | | (423) 636-7300 ext. 5420