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Adroit Journal: Publication and Mentorship Guide

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Male student holding books while smiling at the camera.

Adroit Journal: Publication and Mentorship Guide

Writing for The Paris Review, Julia Berick once said: “The Adroit Journal is where I go when I want to know what the kids are reading.” That’s because ever since it started, the Adroit Journal has been the go-to literary magazine for young writers and readers.

If you want your work to be read by people all around the world, we’re here to help you out. Let’s take a look at how you can submit your work to the journal and some tips to improve your chances. We’ll also talk about some other cool stuff the Adroit Journal offers: the Adroit Prizes, their Summer Mentorship Program, and their scholarship programs for poetry and fiction.

What Is the Adroit Journal?

The Adroit Journal is a popular online literary magazine that began in 2010. It publishes poetry, prose, and art from anyone, regardless of age. Over time, it’s built a solid reputation for spotlighting new literary voices alongside award-winning authors like Ocean Vuong, Franny Choi, and Mark Doty.

View of a student writing in a table.

If you’re a student, getting published in the Adroit Journal can kickstart your literary career. The magazine has a strong presence in the literary community, and being featured can open up tons of opportunities. Contributors often get nominated for prizes like Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, and they even get noticed by the New York Times and the Best American series. It’s a great way to catch the eye of literary agents and publishers.

Besides getting published—and getting paid for it—the Adroit Journal also offers its own Adroit Prizes, mentorships, and scholarships. True to its mission, the magazine really goes all out to showcase what it sees as the future of literature.

How to Get Published in the Adroit Journal

So, you want to get published in the Adroit Journal? Let’s break down what you need to know to make that happen.

Who can submit?

Anyone! No matter your age or where you live, the Adroit Journal is open to your submissions. The key is that your work needs to be top-notch.

What can you submit?

They’re looking for original work in these categories:

Genre Requirements
Prose (fiction or creative nonfiction) Up to 3 pieces at a time, with a total of 9,000 words max.
Poetry Up to 6 poems at a time, no length limits.
Art Up to 6 pieces, in black and white or color.

Topics? Anything goes. Here’s what they’re after in literary submissions: “We love to be captivated by pieces that flow well, use language beautifully, introduce literary elements in an organic way, and are enjoyable to read. In general, our poetry is known for being lyric, while our fiction is known for being less so.”

You can submit twice per genre per reading period. They also allow simultaneous submissions. Feel free to send your work to other journals too, but let them know if it gets accepted elsewhere. Just don’t send anything that’s already been published.

Every submission should come with a cover letter and a brief third-person bio. If you’re unsure how to write these, they’ve got a guide to help you out.

When to submit?

The Adroit Journal publishes four times a year. You can submit from June 1 to April 10. They get a lot of submissions, so it usually takes about three to six months to hear back. Keep an eye on your submission for updates.

Fees and payment

Good news—submissions are free! If they accept your work, they’ll pay $100 for prose and $50 for poetry and art.

How to submit?

Ready to go? Submit through their Submittable page.

If you have disabilities or impairments, you can submit via email at [email protected]. Otherwise, no email or postal submissions.

Adroit Journal Submission Tips

It’s tough to get published in the Adroit Journal. Since their inception, they have received over 85,000 submissions and have less than a 1% acceptance rate. So how do you make your submission stand out? Here’s what you can do:

A man answering an exam.

Poetry submission tips

  • Lyricism. Your aim here is to make your poetry sing. Think about the musicality of your words. Use things like alliteration (repeating consonant sounds at the start of words), assonance (repeating vowel sounds), and consonance (repeating consonant sounds) to create a nice rhythm.
  • Beautiful language. Pick words that don’t just convey meaning but also paint vivid pictures and stir up emotions. Steer clear of clichés and tired phrases—they can make your poem feel flat. Instead, go for fresh and unique expressions that surprise and engage your reader.
  • Organic literary elements. Literary devices like metaphors, similes, and personification can add layers to your poem. But don’t force them in. They should fit naturally with your poem’s theme. Let them arise organically from your subject matter.
  • Flow. A good poem should flow smoothly, carrying your reader from one line to the next. Read your poem out loud to see how it sounds. Does it feel choppy or does it have a nice, rhythmic flow? Tweak your line breaks and punctuation to improve the overall flow.

Prose submission tips

  • Engaging narrative. When you’re submitting stories or essays to the Adroit Journal, grab your reader from the get-go with a strong hook. This could be a killer opening line, a gripping situation, or a question that makes them think. Once you’ve hooked them, keep the momentum going with a narrative that keeps them hooked till the end. Make sure your story has a clear beginning, middle, and end, with each part adding to the overall plot or theme.
  • Vivid descriptions. Paint vivid pictures with your words. Instead of just stating facts, show your readers what’s happening using sensory details. Describe the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of your setting to make the experience come alive for your readers.
  • Natural dialogue. Dialogue can really bring your characters to life and move your story forward. Make sure your dialogue sounds real by paying attention to how people actually talk. Use contractions, interruptions, and everyday language to make your characters’ speech feel natural. Also, make sure your dialogue serves a purpose in your story, whether it’s revealing info, pushing the plot along, or building relationships between characters.
  • Polished writing. Before you hit send, go over your work with a fine-tooth comb. Edit out any unnecessary words or phrases that might clutter your sentences and make them less clear. Aim for writing that’s polished and pro.

Art submission tips

  • Strong composition. How you arrange things in your artwork is key. Aim for balance and harmony with your lines, shapes, colors, and textures. Think about the rule of thirds, leading lines, and keeping things visually interesting.
  • Expressive use of color. Colors can really set the mood in your art. Use them purposefully to create the right vibe. Think about how different colors make people feel and use that to your advantage. Whether you’re working in black and white or full color, make sure your choices add to the overall impact.
  • Attention to detail. The little things matter. Pay attention to textures, shading, and perspective to make your art pop. Every detail should contribute to the whole picture and help tell your story.
  • Unique style. Stand out from the crowd by developing your own style. It’s cool to be inspired by others, but find what makes your art yours. Try different techniques, mediums, and subjects until you find your groove. Your style will grow and change as you do, so keep experimenting.

Writer typing with retro writing machine. View from above.

Bonus tip

If you want to get a feel for what the Adroit Journal is all about, reading the works they publish is a wise move. Let’s take a look at Jade Cho’s poem “Angel Island State Park,” featured in their latest issue.

The poem dives into the persona’s experience visiting Angel Island, where her grandfather was held when he first came to the country at eighteen. It explores personal history, touching on themes like immigration and the immigrant experience.

The use of imagery really brings Angel Island to life. For example, the speaker says: the “tram makes its way around the cratered concrete / blasting commentary.” This line does two things: it sets the scene and hints at Angel Island’s past as an immigration processing center.

But what makes this poem really stand out is its emotional depth. It digs into the persona’s own feelings and family history, which adds layers to the poem. Lines like “A truck struck my grandfather down / in a Chinatown intersection,” “I am still seven sitting on the cool bathroom tiles,” and “At the casket, I held my father’s hand” really hit home.

In the end, “Angel Island State Park” is a powerful poem that mixes personal narrative with bigger themes like history and identity. Its vivid imagery, emotional punch, and use of literary elements all come together to make it a compelling read.

If you’re itching for more of these awesome pieces, check out the past issues of Adroit Journal.

What Are the Adroit Prizes?

Every year, the Adroit Journal hands out two Adroit Prizes: one for Poetry and one for Prose. Each one goes to one exceptional student. The submission process for these prizes is different from the regular journal submissions. If you’re aiming for the prizes, here’s what you need to know:

Who can submit?

The Adroit Prizes are for high school and college students only. If you’re an international student or you graduated a semester early, you’re also eligible.

What can you submit?

Each entry must contain the following:

Prize Requirements
Adroit Prize for Poetry Send in a packet of up to five poems. Maximum of ten pages, single-spaced.
Adroit Prize for Prose Submit a packet of up to three works of fiction or creative nonfiction. Don’t go over a combined total of 3,500 words.

You can send up to five separate entries for the Adroit Prize for Poetry and up to five separate entries for the Adroit Prize for Prose. That makes a total of ten allowable entries per student.

Simultaneous submissions are allowed. You may send your poems and prose pieces to other contests and publications, but make sure to mention it in your cover letter if you do. If your work gets accepted somewhere else while it’s under consideration, just update your submission on Submittable.

What can you win?

If you win, you get $200, and your work will be featured in the Adroit Journal. Runners-up and finalists will also get a copy of the judges’ latest book. For the 2024 cycle, the judges are Ocean Vuong (for poetry) and Kaveh Akbar (for prose).

If you don’t win, your entries will still be considered for publication in the journal.

A student writing her essays

When to submit?

The deadline for the 2024 cycle was May 5, 2024. Winners are usually announced in October, so keep an eye on the official Adroit Prizes page for updates on the next call for submissions.

Is there an entry fee?

Yes, there’s a $15 non-refundable submission fee. But if you need financial assistance, you can download this form and follow the instructions in it.

How to submit?

If you’re ready to submit your work, head over to their Submittable page. Good luck!

What Is the Adroit Mentorship Program?

Besides publication and prizes, the Adroit Journal has a summer mentorship program for high school students who love poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. It’s completely online, so you can join from anywhere.

During the program, you’ll get paired up with established writers who will help you learn about the writing process, from drafting to critiquing and editing. It’s personal and flexible—poetry students meet with their mentors and peers every week, and prose students meet every other week.

Who can join?

The summer mentorship program is open to high school students. They also welcome graduating seniors and gap year students.

What do you need to submit?

For the 2024 cycle, you’ll need to send in:

Requirement Specifics
Application essays You’ll have to respond to three different essay prompts, with lengths ranging from 150 to 600 words. You can check out the questions and other instructions on their template.
Writing sample If you’re going for poetry, your sample should include four or five poems—10 pages max, single-spaced, with each poem starting on a new page.

 

For prose, submit a sample of 8 to 12 pages, double-spaced. You can apply for both genres, but you’ll need to choose your First Choice and Second Choice in the application form.

Academic transcript (optional) This is just to verify your student status when you apply. If you get accepted, you’ll need to submit this.
Additional information (optional) You can also include up to 2 pages of additional info about yourself, like a resume or any situational background you want the screening committee to know about.

When to submit?

The deadline for the 2024 cycle was March 31, 2024. For updates on the next round of applications, keep an eye on the official Adroit Summer Mentorship page.

How much is the program?

There’s no application fee. If accepted, the tuition is $450 per student. If you can’t afford it, though, financial aid is available. Don’t worry, needing financial aid won’t affect your admission chances.

Does the mentorship program offer academic credit?

The Adroit Mentorship Program doesn’t offer academic credits. It’s all about getting you familiar with the writing process and improving your craft. Take note, though, that more than 65% of mentorship alumni go on to Ivy League and other top universities.

How to submit?

If you’re ready to apply, proceed to their Submittable page and send in your application.

What Scholarships Does the Adroit Journal Offer?

The Adroit Journal awards two distinguished scholarships: the Gregory Djanikian Scholars in Poetry and the Anthony Veasna So Scholars in Fiction. They’re named after these late writers to honor their legacies and to support emerging writers from all backgrounds and places.

a student writing in her notes on a table with a white laptop

Gregory Djanikian Scholars in Poetry

This scholarship is named after Gregory Djanikian, a talented poet born in Alexandria, Egypt, who made a big impact in the literary community. He authored several poetry collections and been featured in top publications like the American Poetry Review and Best American Poetry.

Every year, the Adroit Journal picks six emerging poets for this scholarship. They receive $200 and publication in the journal. Finalists also get a copy of Djanikian’s book “Sojourners of the In-Between,” and semifinalists are recognized as well.

To apply, here’s what you need to know:

  • You shouldn’t have published any full-length poetry collections yet.
  • Your entry should have up to six poems, with a maximum of ten single-spaced pages. You can only submit one entry.
  • They accept simultaneous submissions, previously published work, and pieces recognized by other organizations. However, you need to include a full publication history for all poems in your submission, and at least one poem must be unpublished. If any of your unpublished work gets accepted elsewhere, make sure to update your entry on Submittable.
  • There’s a $15 non-refundable application fee, but if you need help with that, you can request a fee waiver.

Ready to apply? Head over to their Submittable page. Check out their official page for updates on when applications open.

Anthony Veasna So Scholars in Fiction

This scholarship celebrates the work of Anthony Veasna So, a writer known for his vibrant and darkly comedic short stories about the Cambodian American experience. His debut collection, “Afterparties,” gained posthumous critical success.

To honor his legacy, the Adroit Journal awards six emerging fiction writers with this scholarship each year. Winners receive $200 and publication in the journal. Finalists get copies of “Afterparties,” and the editors also highlight semifinalists.

If you’re ready to jump in, here’s what you need to do:

  • You shouldn’t have published any full-length short story collections or novels yet.
  • Your entry should include up to three stories, totaling a maximum of 9,000 words. You can only submit one entry.
  • They accept simultaneous submissions, previously published work, and pieces recognized by other organizations. Just make sure to include a full publication history for all your stories, and at least one story must be unpublished. If any of your unpublished work gets accepted elsewhere, update your entry on Submittable.
  • Pay a $15 non-refundable application fee. You can request a fee waiver if you need to.

Ready to apply? Proceed to their Submittable page. And don’t forget to keep an eye on their official page for updates on when applications open.

Conclusion

The Adroit Journal offers a place to help you grow and showcase your literary talent. Aside from publishing opportunities, they’ve got everything from prizes, mentorships, and scholarships—all aimed at supporting emerging writers from diverse backgrounds. It’s where new voices can be heard and celebrated in the literary world.

a female student thinking/studying

FAQs

What is the Adroit Journal’s acceptance rate?

It’s less than 1%! This makes the journal one of the most competitive. So, submitting outstanding work is really important.

How much does the Adroit Journal pay?

They offer $100 for prose and $50 for poetry and art. Also, there’s no submission fee.

Who can submit to the Adroit Journal?

The Adroit Journal welcomes anyone, regardless of age and location. As long as you’ve got an amazing piece of poetry, prose, or art, feel free to submit.

Who can join the Adroit Prizes?

High schoolers and undergrads can compete. Winners receive $200, and their works get published in the journal.

When can you submit to the Adroit Journal?

The reading period is usually June to April. The response time is about 3 to 6 months due to the high volume of submissions.

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