“Turning words into art is unnatural. It begins with a contrary attitude. It says, I am unhappy with the way things are and desire to make things different. Rather than represent the world, I will make something wildly and savagely new. I will defy logic. I will invest in new perceptions. I will combine and recombine and fabricate and juggle until something that I have never experienced is experienced. The process is alchemical. The process is violent. It goes to the heart of creativity. It disrupts and shatters. It is splendid with provocation. It is an aggression against banality. It is sharp and loud like a janitor scraping frost from a window. The hectic bounce of steam on a street after a truck roars by. The anarchy of waters, the comedy of the face, dangerous feelings vented from a cage of skin.” ~ John Olson
Poetry — We believe poetry is contrary by nature, always defying, always tonguing the tang of novelty. We look especially for plurality of meaning, for dual reverberation of beauty and concern. Contrary’s poetry in particular often mimics the effects of fiction or commentary. We find ourselves enamored of prose poems because they are naturally contrary toward form – they tug on the forces of exposition or narrative – but prose poems remain the minority of all the poetic forms we publish. Please consider that Contrary receives vast amounts of poetry and that we can publish only a small percentage of that work. Please submit no more than three poems per issue. Our poetry editor is Shaindel Beers.
Fiction — We ask our fiction writers to imagine their readers navigating a story with one finger poised over a mouse button. Can your story stay that finger to the end? We have published long stories on the belief that they succeed, but we feel more comfortable with the concise. We favor fiction that is contrary in any number of ways, but our fiction typically defies traditional story form. A story may bring us to closure, for example, without ever delivering an ending. It may be as poetic as any poem. Our fiction editor is Frances Badgett.
Lyrical commentary/creative non-fiction —“Commentary” is our word for the stuff that others define negatively as non-fiction, nominally as essay, or naively as truth. We favor commentary that delivers a message less through exposition than through artistry. The commentary we select is often lyrical, narrative, or poetic. Examples from our pages include “Plum Island” by Andrew Coburn, “Ascension” by Kevin Heath, and “A Spring Sunday” by Heywood Broun. Our commentary editor is Jeff McMahon.
Terms of Submission
Our deadline, response, and publication cycle – Contrary receives submissions throughout the year and publishes four issues per year, with the change of seasons. In Spring our deadline is March 1, and the issue appears on or about April 1. Following that cycle, our deadline for Summer is June 1, Autumn is Sept. 1, Winter is Dec. 1. We begin each issue from scratch, with completely new submissions. If your submission is accepted, you will hear from us. If not, you can always verify that it was not accepted by viewing the issue for which you submitted. We do not send rejection letters.
Rights – Upon acceptance, Contrary acquires: 1) worldwide rights to publish in any or all versions of Contrary and other Contrary-affiliated media, including domestic and foreign, whether in the English language or translated into a foreign language, including any successor, similar or replacement versions thereof; 2) exclusive worldwide rights for a period of 90 days from the date of Contrary’s first publication of the work; 3. non-exclusive perpetual rights to republish, store, syndicate or distribute the work or portions of the work in any language and in any country, and 4) the right to use your name and likeness in a fair and dignified manner and to publish information about you in connection with the advertising and promotion of Contrary and of the Work. 5) When exclusive rights expire after three months, the author is free to seek republication elsewhere, but Contrary must be credited in all subsequent publications. 6) All rights granted by this agreement are granted in perpetuity and applicable in all media including, but not limited to, all electronic media, internet, wireless or mobile platforms whether now known or hereafter created.
Payment – For original commentary, fiction, and poetry, Contrary Magazine pays $20 per author per issue, regardless of the number of works or nature of the submission, if invoiced within six months. Reviews and Contrary Blog posts are unpaid. Author must email us an invoice within six months of acceptance for the payment to be processed. If no invoice is received within six months of acceptance, author forfeits payment, and all rights remain in force. Upon receipt of invoice, payments will be made through Paypal.
Simultaneous submissions – We accept simultaneous submissions, but you must inform us when submissions are simultaneous, and you must withdraw your submission immediately if the work is accepted elsewhere (you may resubmit any parts of your submission that remain unpublished). A submission constitutes an agreement to publish in Contrary under the guidelines on this page. Accepted works go into production immediately and may not be withdrawn under any circumstances.
Mailing List — When you submit your work you will be automatically subscribed to the mailing list we use to communicate with our contributors. We use it to call for submissions no more than four times each year. You may unsubscribe at any time or otherwise manage your subscription at our list host.
Before submitting, you may wish to consult our Manuscript Suggestions.
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Contrary survives entirely on donations, which after nominal server and domain fees, go entirely to our writers. If you can manage it, please consider a donation to the writers fund.