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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature

The MacQ Chains Ekphrastic Challenge

[Updated March 2021: Challenge is closed. See Results in Issue 7.]

Entry fee:
$3 (USD) for a single entry
$4 (USD) for two entries
$5 (USD) for three entries
1 February 2021
21 February 2021
To be announced by 31 March 2021

Entries must be written in response to our visual prompt:

The Chains That Free Us, a photograph by Cindy L. Sheppard, which she shot in 2017 on the Hidden Canyon Trail in Zion National Park, Utah (USA).

For a chance to win $75 (USD) and publication online in our seventh issue: Submit an unpublished ekphrastic work written in the English language and no longer than a thousand words—whether fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or a poetic hybrid.

A max of three entries will be considered from each person, and each entry of one piece must be accompanied by a payment of $3 (USD) for the entry fee. Or, if you have multiple entries, feel free to save a few dollars by using one of our additional submission categories, “2 Entries for $4 (USD)” or “3 Entries for $5 (USD).”

To reiterate, each piece must be no longer than a thousand words, including the title and any author notes.

Two Winners will be selected, one by the photographer and one by MacQ’s publisher, Clare MacQueen. Each Winner will receive $75 (USD) and will be published in Issue 7 of MacQueen’s Quinterly (MacQ-7).

Several Finalists will also be selected for publication.

Results will be announced at the end of March, with the publication of MacQ-7.

(For clues about the kind of ekphrastic works we like to publish, be sure to see our tips for word artists, Ephective Ekphrastics: A Guide to Verbalizing Art.)

MacQ-7 Contest Guidelines:

Submission Period: From 1 February 2021 thru 21 February 2021 (closing just before midnight). No entries can be uploaded after 11:59 p.m. EST on 21 February.

Electronic Submissions Only: Entries in the English language will be accepted from writers worldwide, via Submittable.

Entry Fee: $3 (three USD) per piece. A max of three separate entries (i.e., a total of three pieces) may be submitted by each person. You can submit up to three entries (or pieces) individually for $3 each—or you might like to save a few dollars by submitting two pieces for $4, or three pieces for $5 (USD).

Submission files should be in .doc or .docx format.

Submission Documents Must Be “Anonymous”: Do NOT include your name, address, and other identifying info within your work. The same is true for the name of your file(s): NO author info. Instead, please name individual files with the title of the piece within the file. This will help ensure that all entries will be considered “blind” and as impartially as possible.

Author name, contact info, and bio should be entered in the boxes provided at Submittable. To keep things organized, each entry will be assigned a unique id number by Submittable.

Basic Formatting: 11- or 12-point, easy-to-read-onscreen font such as Verdana. At least one-inch margins. Double space most prose works, but prose poems, haibun, and tanka prose may be single-spaced. Please single space lineated poems, with line and stanza breaks as you wish them to appear on-screen.

Please, No Simultaneous Submissions! We’re committed to announcing results as soon as possible, which will be no more than five weeks beyond the closing date of the contest.

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

Word Count: No more than 1,000 words per piece, including a mandatory title which is at least one character in length, and any footnotes from the author. The thousand-word max per piece applies to all genres, including hybrids and poetic works, since we do not count lines and line breaks, but words only.

Cover Letters: None needed, since our publisher has so little time to read or respond to letters. And please, no letters that explain the works upfront or give away any surprises—we strongly prefer that works speak for themselves. If you have specific questions or concerns about this contest that are not addressed in these guidelines, then please leave us a brief note at Submittable.

Genres: We’re looking for polished and evocative literary works that balance “music and meaning” (to borrow from poet Richard Hugo) within a max of 1,000 words (including the title and any author notes), and using forms such as these:

* Prose poetry
* Micro-fiction (up to 500 words)
* Flash fiction (501–1,000 words)
* Nonfiction (essays, CNF, memoir, reviews)
* Poetry (free verse as well as structured)
* Poetic hybrids such as haibun, haibun stories, and tanka tales

For this ekphrastic challenge, we will also consider sequences of micro-poems like haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka, and cherita, as well as hybrid combinations of such poems. Please note that we do not count lines and breaks, but only words. Each sequence of micro-poems must be no longer than a thousand words, including the title and any author notes.

Tip: As we consider submissions to our journal, awards such as the Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, Best Microfiction, and Best of the Net loom over the decisions we make. We look for works that Knock Your Socks Off, that is, prize-worthy material. Regardless of the genre, we cherish a unique voice, fresh language, and the sly use of literary devices such as metaphor and irony. We hope to be side-swiped, poked in the ribs, and otherwise smitten by an arresting idea, a compelling narrative, an exquisite lyric, or a moving account—all of which thread the perfect line between the personal and the universal.

[And for more clues about the kind of ekphrastic works we like to publish, be sure to see our tips for word artists, Ephective Ekphrastics: A Guide to Verbalizing Art.]

Restrictions for This Challenge:

  1. No works in translation.
  2. No visual artworks; written works only.
  3. No gratuitous violence; remember, less is more.
  4. No gratuitous obscenities, but judicious usage is okay.
  5. No children’s stories, but we will consider fables or fairy tales for adults.
  6. No pornography, although literary erotica and works containing sexual themes will be considered.
  7. No political screeds and/or religious rants—however, literary works from all spiritual traditions are welcomed.

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.

By entering this contest, you certify that: the work(s) you’re submitting are your own original writings, they have never been published in print or electronically (including on social media), they have not been submitted nor accepted for publication elsewhere, and they are not in the public domain.

Results: Winners of the MacQ-7 Chains Ekphrastic Challenge will be notified by email just before results are announced officially, which will be at the end of March 2021. All decisions by the judges are final.

Payment of Prizes: Winners will receive electronic payment via PayPal in USD (United States Dollars). Only one cash prize per person. Any taxes due on contest winnings are the sole responsibility of the prize winners.

This competition is void where prohibited by law.

Thanks so much for considering MacQueen’s Quinterly! We look forward to reading your entries. Best wishes!

[Previously linked to Submittable here. See Issue 7 for Results of The Chains Writing Challenge.]

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