How to Get Published in Polyphony Lit

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of a student writing in a table.

How to Get Published in Polyphony Lit

“There’s something magical about young writers,” said Lara Katz, former editor of Polyphony Lit. They bring a raw creativity that’s not only refreshing but also inspiring. At Polyphony Lit, a renowned literary magazine, this magic is amplified as it brings together young wordsmiths from around the world.

Now, let’s get into the heart of what Polyphony Lit is all about. You’ll learn what the magazine looks for in submissions, how you can send in your work, and the many opportunities the magazine offers to budding creative writers.

What Is Polyphony Lit?

Polyphony Lit is a global online literary platform for high school students. The name “Polyphony” perfectly captures its mission—to amplify the diverse voices of young writers from around the world. Since its start in 2004, Polyphony Lit has been a special place where high school students can showcase their creative writing and connect with a dynamic community of like-minded peers.

Book in library with old open textbook

This magazine has an impressive global reach. So far, it has received over 21,000 submissions from students in 84 countries and every US state. This wide appeal highlights how well it connects with young writers from various backgrounds. Year after year, the platform continues to grow, drawing in new voices from around the world.

At the heart of Polyphony Lit is its commitment to developing young writers. The editorial team provides personalized feedback on every submission, which not only helps students improve their writing skills but also builds a supportive community and mentorship atmosphere within the magazine.

High school students also have numerous opportunities to get involved beyond just submitting their work. They can join the editorial team, write blog posts, participate in workshops, and even take on leadership roles. This involvement allows students to immerse themselves deeply in the literary world and contributes significantly to their growth as writers.

What Does Polyphony Lit Publish?

Polyphony Lit publishes a wide array of creative writing pieces, spanning genres such as poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and even visual art.

1. Poetry

Love poetry? Polyphony Lit is the place for you. You can immerse yourself in the power of language and imagery. Free verse, sonnets, or experimental poetry—there’s a space for your voice. Poetry here captures everything from fleeting moments of beauty to the depths of human emotion, providing a profound way for you to express yourself.

2. Fiction

Polyphony Lit invites submissions of short stories, flash fiction, and excerpts from longer works. Whether it’s a suspenseful story set in a dystopian future or a heartwarming narrative about friendship and resilience, the magazine is eager to showcase your storytelling skills.

3. Creative nonfiction

Here, you can share your personal stories, insights, and reflections. Whether it’s through memoirs, personal essays, or journalistic pieces, Polyphony Lit values authenticity and encourages you to write about topics that are personally meaningful.

4. Artworks

Beyond the written word, the magazine celebrates visual art as a dynamic form of expression. The magazine accepts artwork submissions in three main categories: Cover Art for website and print, T-Shirt Art for the online store, and Promotional Art for social media and workshops. Your selected artwork could be the visual centerpiece of an issue, featured on merchandise, or published on various platforms.

What Are Polyphony Lit’s Submission Guidelines?

Ready to share your work? Check out Polyphony Lit’s submission guidelines:

Author qualifications

If you’re a high schooler aged 14-18 from anywhere in the world, you can send in your original, English-written works to Polyphony Lit. You’re allowed up to three pieces per year (from July to April), but make sure to upload each one separately to avoid any mix-ups. Polyphony Lit editors can’t submit.

Acceptance criteria

Polyphony Lit is cool with you sending in work that you’ve submitted elsewhere or even pieces that have been published before. Just remember, if it’s already been published, you need to let them know the details and make sure it can be republished.

Heads up, though: previously published pieces won’t qualify for the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards.

Length and formatting

Keep poems under 80 lines. Fiction and creative nonfiction should be no longer than 1,800 words. For formatting, stick to the classics: black and white, 12 pt font, Times or Times New Roman, and keep your name off the piece to stay anonymous. Poems should be flush left unless the format is key to your poem’s message.

For creative nonfiction submissions, they should be like short personal memoirs—more casual personal writings than academic pieces. It’s all about personal discovery and human experiences, so keep it flexible and real.

For artworks, you can submit multiple ones for different categories like Cover Art, T-Shirt Art, and Promotional Art. Your images must be at least 2700 x 1800 pixels with a resolution of 300 DPI. Portrait orientation is preferred, and for t-shirt printing, your artwork may be edited for a printer-friendly color palette.

Submission process

Everything goes through Submittable, and there’s no fee to submit. If you’re revising something they’ve already checked out, just add “(REV)” after your title. By submitting, you agree to publish your work under the magazine’s copyright policies.


When Polyphony Lit accepts your piece, they hook you up with a copy of the publication. Plus, your accepted work gets you a shot at the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards for Young Writers.

These awards offer cash prizes and are judged by professional authors. Every year, they pick one winner from each genre to receive $200, and they also shout out two honorable mentions.

Submission schedule

You can send in your submissions during three periods each year: from July 1st to September 30th, November 1st to January 31st, and March 1st to April 30th. After you submit, expect to hear back in about 3 to 6 months. So, keep an eye on your inbox and good luck!

Tips for Getting Published in Polyphony Lit

To increase your chances of getting published in Polyphony Lit, consider the following tips tailored to each genre.

Poetry tips

When it comes to poetry, keep it real. Instead of crafting abstract verses, draw from your own life—those moments that stick with you, like childhood memories, meaningful relationships, or your observations of the world around you. Paint those scenes with vivid imagery and sensory details that pull your reader right into the experience.

Don’t be afraid to mix up your style and structure. Try out different poetic forms like free verse, sonnets, or haikus to see what best suits your message. And when you’re revising, focus on the rhythm and flow. Make every word count, stripping away anything that doesn’t add to the impact you want to make.

Fiction tips

For fiction, dive deep into character development. Give your characters unique traits, motives, and imperfections that make them feel real. Show who they are through what they say, how they act, and their interactions with others—show, don’t tell.

Plot-wise, keep things moving. Set clear goals and conflicts, and make sure there are real stakes involved to keep the story driving forward. Use descriptive language to build a world that feels tangible.

Aim for originality. Try to bring something new to the table with unusual plots or fresh perspectives. And keep your writing tight: trim the fluff to keep your readers hooked from start to finish.

Different books for the education of students

Creative nonfiction tips

In creative nonfiction, it’s all about getting vulnerable. Think about the experiences that have shaped you, and share these stories with openness and honesty. Organize your piece in a way that makes sense, whether it’s chronological, thematic, or built around a particular narrative arc. This structure should help build tension and lead to a satisfying resolution.

Describe your moments in a way that makes them come alive, with vivid details that appeal to the senses. And while your story is yours, try to touch on universal themes—things like love, loss, or overcoming challenges—that will resonate with others. Keep your form and style flexible to let your personal voice shine through.

Sample work published by Polyphony Lit

You can read “Memories of the Boy I Didn’t Know” by Samantha Stagmier to know what Polyphony Lit is looking for.

The creative nonfiction piece offers a glimpse into the tangled world of teenage relationships and the profound effect of unexpected loss. Through a series of vignettes, Stagmier paints a vivid picture of her interactions with a classmate, touching on identity, memories, and just how brief our connections with others can be.

Stagmier’s knack for blending moments of connection with reflective insights really shows what Polyphony Lit is all about. Her evocative storytelling and rich prose highlight the magazine’s goal to give young writers a platform to share their diverse experiences.

If you’re thinking of submitting, take a cue from Stagmier: bring authenticity, emotional depth, and attention to detail. These are the big hits that Polyphony Lit loves to showcase.

Why Publish in Polyphony Lit?

Publishing in Polyphony Lit comes with a bunch of cool perks for budding writers like you:

1. Exposure

Getting your work featured in Polyphony Lit puts your writing out there for a global audience to see. It’s a fantastic way to increase your visibility and let readers from all sorts of backgrounds and places discover your talent.

2. Validation

Having Polyphony Lit pick your piece is a big thumbs up for your writing skills and creativity. It’s proof that a respected literary magazine digs your work, which can really boost your confidence and establish you as a serious emerging writer.

3. Community

Polyphony Lit is more than just a literary magazine—it’s a community of young writers, editors, and literature lovers. Being a part of this group gives you a chance to meet others who are just as passionate about writing as you are. You’ll get to join workshops, chat in discussions, and maybe even collaborate on projects—perfect for making new friends and expanding your network.

4. Awards and recognition

Beyond just getting published, you can also compete for the magazine’s Claudia Ann Seaman Awards for Young Writers, which come with cash prizes and honorable mentions. Winning this creative writing contest could really kick your writing career up a notch and get you noticed by folks in the literary world.

5. Personal growth

Submitting to Polyphony Lit means you’re also signing up for a valuable learning experience. You’ll get feedback from the editors and a chance to polish your writing with their input. It’s an awesome opportunity to fine-tune your skills, find your unique voice, and get a peek into the publishing scene.

Young beautiful woman wearing yellow shirt reading a book at home.

All in all, getting published in Polyphony Lit is a chance to shout your voice from the rooftops, connect with an amazing community of writers, and jumpstart a fulfilling writing career. Whether you’re already cranking out stories or just picking up the pen, Polyphony Lit is excited to hear what you’ve got to say.

Polyphony Lit Workshops

In addition to its online platform for creative writing, Polyphony Lit also hosts a series of workshops:

1. How to Be a Literary Editor

If you’re into editing or just curious about how literary magazines work, this online course could be right up your alley. It’s all online and self-paced, so you can jump in whenever you have a few hours to spare. You’ll get a chance to edit poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Plus, it’s a solid way to learn how to review submissions and offer constructive feedback. This could really come in handy if you’re aiming to help out with your school’s literary magazine or if you’re eyeing an internship.

The course is packed with expert-led lectures and includes workshops where you can practice editing with feedback from experienced student editors. Start whenever you want and you could be done in just 3-5 hours.

If you ace the quizzes and the final assignment, you’ll score a Certificate of Completion and possibly an invite to join the Polyphony Lit editorial team. They make sure these workshops are accessible to everyone, so it’s a great chance to learn the ropes of literary editing.

2. Summer Editing Apprenticeship

Looking to get more serious about literary editing? This five-week, part-time workshop is designed for high schoolers from 9th to 12th grade who are ready to take their editing skills to the next level.

You’ll get a mix of self-paced modules and live lectures, plus group discussions and weekly assignments that promise real hands-on experience. Also, you’ll connect with other young editors from around the world.

You’ll spend the first three weeks diving deep into editing techniques for poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The last two weeks are more hands-on, as you’ll take on the role of a junior editor working on actual submissions to Polyphony Lit. Expect plenty of feedback and chances to chat with mentors about your work and where you can improve.

This apprenticeship is all about boosting your skills and getting you involved in big projects. You’ll learn how to approach different literary genres, sharpen your analytical skills, and understand the publishing world a bit better.

There’s also a chance to write for Polyphony Lit’s blog and meet other students through various online platforms. It’s a 3- to 5-hour commitment per week, but all lectures are recorded, so you can catch up if you need to. While there’s no guarantee of moving up the ranks, the goal is to prepare you for further roles on the editorial team.

3. Around the World of Poetry in 80 Days

If you love poetry, check out this workshop. This course is perfect for anyone aged 12-18 and covers a lot in 80 short lessons. You’ll explore poetry from a global perspective with help from experienced editors and award-winning writers from around the world.

Asian woman holding cup of coffee and reading a book beside the window after get up in morning.

Each lesson adds a bit of cultural, historical, and geographic flavor, helping you see poetry in a new light. You’ll also get to write and workshop your own poems during virtual “writing retreats,” with personal feedback from top Polyphony Lit editors.

By the end of the course, you’ll have three polished poems, new skills, and new friends from all over the globe.


Polyphony Lit is your go-to spot if you love writing. It’s a global magazine that celebrates all kinds of young voices—whether you’re into poetry, creative nonfiction, or fiction. When you send your work to Polyphony Lit, they make sure your unique voice and perspective get the spotlight they deserve.

Thinking about submitting your work to Polyphony Lit or joining their workshops? This could be your big break. Just picture the thrill of seeing your writing featured in a worldwide magazine that truly values what you have to say. With Polyphony Lit, you’re joining a growing legacy of young talents who are shaping the future of creative writing.


What is Polyphony Lit’s acceptance rate?

Polyphony Lit keeps it competitive with an acceptance rate of less than 5%. They pick only the top-notch pieces for publication to keep the quality high.

Is there a fee to submit to Polyphony Lit?

Nope, submitting to Polyphony Lit won’t cost you a dime. Just use Submittable to send in your work.

Who can submit their work to Polyphony Lit?

If you’re a high schooler aged 14 to 18, wherever you are on the map, and you’ve got some fresh, original writing tucked away, you’re in! Polyphony Lit is all about gathering a diverse bunch of young writers just like you.

How can you join Polyphony Lit’s editorial team?

You’ve got a couple of routes: sign up for the How to Be a Literary Editor course or the Summer Editing Apprenticeship program. While it’s not a sure thing, both options give you a shot at snagging an invite to join the Polyphony Lit team, where you’ll gain some serious editorial skills and experience.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.