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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Updated: 18 Sept. 2022
(On 21 July 2022,
added Reedsy Badge)
News: 5 July 2022

MacQ-15 Ekphrastic Writing Challenge:
“The Question of Questions”


[Updated 18 September 2022: Challenge is closed.
See Results in Issue 15.]


Best Writing Contests Reedsy Recommended by Reedsy in
The Best Writing Contests of 2022
(For folks who are curious about such things, this is our tenth contest in seven years. For a list of links to winners and finalists of our previous writing challenges, see MacQ’s Contest Portal.)

Prize: $200 (USD) to Winner, plus publication
  (Several finalists will also be published.)
Entry Fee: $4 (USD) for one piece; or
$6 (USD) for two pieces; or
$8 (USD) for three pieces
(Any proceeds remaining after the $200 prize has been awarded, will be donated to humanitarian aid for Ukraine.)
Entry Period: 30 days
Opening Date: 23 July 2022
Closing Date: 21 August 2022
Results: Announced by 22 September 2022

For a chance to win $200 (USD) and publication online in Issue 15 of MacQueen’s Quinterly (aka MacQ-15): Submit original, unpublished literary work(s), no longer than one thousand words each, including title, epigraph, and any author footnotes.

NOTE: Critical essays, reviews, and interviews may run up to three thousand (3,000) words each, including title, author-provided footnotes, and any epigraphs.

Up to three pieces will be considered from each person.

All qualifying entries will be considered for publication: Depending on the number and quality of entries received, MacQ founder Clare MacQueen hopes to publish more than a dozen finalists along with the Winner in MacQ-15.

THEME: “The Question of Questions,” that is, “How was the image on the Turin Shroud produced?” See Clare MacQueen’s commentary to view several images and to learn more specific information about this challenge.

Plus, each piece entered must include at least one English word that begins with the letter q. (Details also available in Clare’s commentary.)

Multiple short-form genres will be happily considered, including fiction, CNF, personal essays, poetry, prose poetry, short-form sequences, and hybrid forms such as cheribun, haibun and haibun stories, haiga, taiga, tanka prose and tanka tales, etc.

(To reiterate, critical essays, reviews, and interviews will also be considered, but their length may run to three thousand words each.)

Entries may be serious, humorous, or a combination of both, although they should also be polished literary works.

No simultaneous submissions, please: Clare is committed to announcing results as soon as possible, which will be no more than five weeks beyond the closing date of this challenge.

Nuts-and-Bolts Guidelines:

Electronic Submissions Only, Via Submittable: Entries in the English language will be considered from writers 18 years of age and older, from countries worldwide. (Our link to Submittable follows below these guidelines.)

Submission period is open for 30 days: from 23 July 2022 through 21 August 2022. No entries can be uploaded via MacQ’s Submittable portal after 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on 21 August.

Entry Fee: $4 (four USD) for one piece, uploaded within a single file; or $6 (six USD) for two pieces, uploaded within a single file; or $8 (eight USD) for three pieces, uploaded within a single file.

Any proceeds from entry fees remaining after the $200 First Prize has been awarded, will be donated to humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Entry fees cannot be refunded, so please read the guidelines before selecting your entry category at Submittable.

Files may be submitted in .doc or .docx format. Visual artworks such as haiga, taiga, and photo-poems may be embedded within a Word document.

Submissions must be “anonymous.” Please do NOT include your name, address, and other identifying info within your document.

The same is true for the name of your file: No author info. Instead, please name your file with the title of the piece (or one of the pieces) in your entry. This will help ensure that all entries will be considered as impartially as possible.

Author’s name, contact info, and bio should be entered in the boxes provided at Submittable. And Submittable keeps things nicely organized by assigning a number to each entry.

Requests to Edit Entries: If you discover a typo, factual error, etc. in your work after uploading your file, please send Clare MacQueen a note thru Submittable and request an edit. Please do not withdraw your entire entry just to resubmit an updated version. Doing so would not only waste your time and money (in part because entry fees cannot be refunded), but also would negatively impact her crazy-busy schedule, as well as skew MacQ’s submission stats. Huge thanks for your understanding and co-operation!

Basic Formatting: An 11- or 12-point, easy-to-read-onscreen font such as Verdana is preferred. Times New Roman 12-point is okay, too.

Word Count: With the exception of critical essays, reviews, and interviews, no more than 1,000 words per piece, including a mandatory title at least one word in length. Total word count also includes any epigraphs and author footnotes. The thousand-word max per piece applies to fiction, CNF, personal essays, prose poems, and poetic hybrids, as well as to poems, since we do not count lines.

Note: For this challenge, critical essays, reviews, and interviews may run up to three thousand (3,000) words each, including title, author-provided footnotes, and any epigraphs.

Submissions of multiple genres as well as hybrid forms are welcomed. MacQ is looking for polished and evocative literary works that balance “music and meaning” (to borrow from poet Richard Hugo), using forms such as these:

  1. Prose poetry

  2. Micro and flash fiction

  3. Poetic hybrids such as cheribun, haibun (and variations thereof), haibun stories, haiga, taiga, tanka prose, tanka tales, etc.

  4. Nonfiction such as CNF, personal essays, and memoir

  5. Lineated poetry

    Just a tip: For this writing challenge, individual micro-poems are pretty much a long shot. Sequences and hybrid combinations of multiple micro-poems such as haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka, and cherita will have a better chance.

No matter the genre, each piece entered must include at least one English word that begins with the letter q. You’re encouraged to incorporate additional “q” words, too, if you would like—so long as the result is a seamless, well written piece of literature that also addresses the theme of this challenge.

Restrictions: Works in translation cannot be considered.

Other restrictions:

  1. No hateful rants, self-righteous screeds, and/or personal attacks. Literary works from a range of spiritual traditions will be considered.

  2. No gratuitous obscenities; judicious usage is okay.

    NOTE: Clare made a promise to a loved one eight years ago not to publish words or phrases in this journal that “take the Lord’s name in vain.” This means, for instance, that she cannot publish the word “damn” and variations when associated with the words “God” or “Jesus” or related names. Many thanks for understanding.

  3. No gratuitous violence; remember, less is more.

  4. No children’s stories.

  5. And for this particular challenge, no erotica.

Original Works Only: Entries must be unpublished, and must not have been chosen as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest. Works that have appeared on an author’s website or blog, and/or on social media like Facebook and Twitter and sites such as Fictionaut, are considered published and thus not eligible for this contest.

Previously published works will be disqualified.

Please, NO simultaneous submissions. Clare promises that your work will not be “held in limbo” for long. She’s committed to announcing contest results as soon as possible, or no more than five weeks beyond the closing date of this contest.

No cover letters necessary: As a one-person production army, Clare has very little time to read or respond to letters. Folks with specific questions or concerns that are not addressed in these guidelines are welcome to leave her a brief note at Submittable.

Publication Rights: Authors whose works are selected will be asked to approve an agreement which grants exclusive first-time worldwide publication rights to MacQueen’s Quinterly. (For more information, see Contract: Publishing Rights.)

By entering this contest, you certify that:

  1. the work(s) you’re submitting is/are your own original writing(s);

  2. they have not been published in print or electronically (including on social media);

  3. they have not been submitted nor accepted for publication elsewhere; and

  4. they are not in the public domain.

Results will be announced by 22 September 2022, with the publication of MacQ-15 online (i.e., Issue 15 of MacQueen’s Quinterly).

Clare MacQueen, founding editor and publisher of MacQ, will select the Winner and, she hopes, at least a dozen finalists (and maybe a few others), contingent on number and quality of entries received. She will notify the Winner and finalists by email just before announcing results officially. Judge’s decisions are final.

Payment of Prize:

  1. A cash prize totaling $200 (United States Dollars) will be awarded.

  2. Winning writer will receive payment via PayPal.

  3. If a collaborative work is selected as Winner, then the $200 will be split evenly between the writers.

  4. Any taxes due on contest winnings are the sole responsibility of the prize winner(s).

  5. Any proceeds from entry fees remaining after the $200 First Prize has been awarded, will be donated to humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

This competition is void where prohibited by law.

A world of thanks for accepting “The Question of Questions” Challenge—Clare hopes you find it interesting, enjoyable, and rewarding. And she eagerly looks forward to reading your work!

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