Welcome to Chautauqua’s Submittable portal!

Thank you for your interest in our journal!

The editors of Chautauqua are seeking poems, short stories, essays, and flash that explore the theme of water.

All water on our planet resides within the hydrosphere, from the deepest basalt cracks of the Pacific to the atmospheric zenith in which water freezes and plummets. Its cycle is eternal—revolving through states of matter, states of being. All the water that ever existed on our planet still exists—none has been added or destroyed. Water is fundamental to our lives. It pulses in our blood, rejuvenates our cells, quenches our thirst. We fish and sail by the tides, drown in the flood of rising sea levels, suffer the droughts that devastate our crops, glory in the spring rains that resurrect the dormant natural world. 

We are looking for work that heralds osmosis and evaporation, thirst and saturation, bounty and blight, monsoon and drought, metaphorically and actually, throughout our world and within ourselves. Work that explores these primordial motions, these fluctuations and fluidities that dominate our psyche and celebrate the lucidity of a moment, of a memory, of a dream. We want to know what calls us back to our most precious resource, and how we, as living bodies of water, move through the moving element. 

Chautauqua publishes writing that expresses the values of the Chautauqua Institution, broadly construed: a sense of inquiry into questions of personal, social, political, spiritual, and aesthetic importance—and when, where, and how those values and questions intersect. 

The Chautauqua philosophy has always been that everyday life should integrate leisure, education, fine arts, and spirituality. Educational pursuit and artistic enrichment should not be confined to separate spaces or designated hours. Spirituality is not defined and shared only within sacred walls or books of prayer. The Chautauqua way of life encompasses all of the ways we enrich our lives: learning on vacation, leisure in work, and passion for art and life in all activities. In the pages of Chautauqua, readers will find a season between covers.

If you are considering submitting to Chautauqua, please consider ordering the current issue or preordering the next issue. You will get a thorough feel for the kind of writing we love—and, clearly, what we publish.

Because we operate in conjunction with the Creative Writing program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, our reading windows are as follows:

February 1—April 1 (by midnight, PST) 


September 1—November 1 (by midnight, PST).

We publish only one volume a year, at the start of each summer, and the issue has the literal feel and appearance of a high quality book, rather than a magazine or typical literary journal. We take pride in not only our journal's aesthetic but also its content, and we encourage anyone to read a copy if possible before submitting. 

Thank you for your interest, and please do share your work with us!  We look forward to reading your work, and we thank you for allowing us that honor.   

—the editors and staff of Chautauqua

*We are pleased to accept submissions exclusively via Submittable. This portal allows our contributors to submit their work in the most cost-effective way and us to respond in a timely, sustainable, and considerate manner in keeping with the Chautauqua way.

We are happy to offer PDF back issues if you would like to familiarize yourself with our journal.

Please be sure to let us know which issue you would like to receive: Story and Storytelling (2009), Words and Music (2010), Nature and the Natural World (2011), War & Peace (2012) Journeys & Pilgrimages (2013), Wonders of the World (2014), Privacy and Secrets (2015), or Americana (2016).



  This submission portal is for Young Voices--writers in middle and high school, ages 12 through 18.  Submissions must include a cover note by a teacher, mentor, or parent as well as an email address for that person. Please identify either a school or writing program that the author attends or participates in. This can go in the cover letter portion of the submission, along with the student's bio.

  Submissions may include nonfiction (1500 word limit), fiction (1500 word limit), poetry (1 to 3 poems) or flash (up to 750 words). For prose pieces, please identify as fiction or nonfiction.

The theme for the 20201 issue is water.

The theme for the 2021 issue is Water.

We are seeking essays that value exact and artful use of language and syntax as well as a compelling emotional experience that includes the reader, whatever the subject matter. The best essay is timeless, released from daily headlines but important for its truthful evocation of the world. Creative Nonfiction should be a maximum of 25 double-spaced, single-sided pages in 12-point font, no extra spaces between paragraphs and all pages numbered—or about 7,000 words.


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A Chautauqua short story, self-contained novel excerpt, or short short demonstrates a sound storytelling instinct, using suspense in the best sense of creating a compulsion in the reader to continue reading—because of deep interest in the characters and their actions, unsettled issues of action or theme, or in some cases sheer delight at the language itself. A superior story will exhibit the writer’s attention to language—both in nuance and detail—and reveal a masterful control of syntax. Fiction should be a maximum of 25 double-spaced, single-sided pages in 12-point font, no extra spaces between paragraphs and all pages numbered—or about 7,000 words.

THE THEME FOR THE 2021 issue is water.

The editors actively solicit writing, regardless of genre, that expresses the values of Chautauqua Institution: meaningful inquiry into questions of personal, social, political, spiritual, and aesthetic importance. The qualities we seek include a mastery of craft, attention to vivid and accurate language, a true lyric “ear,” an original and compelling vision, and strong narrative instinct. Above all, we value work that is intensely personal, yet somehow implicitly comments on larger public concerns—work that answers every reader’s most urgent question: Why are you telling me this?


  You may include up to three flash pieces in a single file. Each should be no longer than 750 words.

  THE THEME FOR THE 2021 issue is water.

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A Chautauqua poem is not just a pretty exercise in language. It exhibits the writer’s craft and attention to language, employs striking images and metaphors, and engages the mind as well as the emotions. It emerges from the poet’s deep reading and knowledge of poetic tradition, reacting to that tradition to reveal a definite aesthetic approach, opening insights into the larger world of human concerns. This may include traditional or experimental work, but each poem should be meaningful to a smart reader beyond the writer’s private code of expression. 

Submit a maximum of three poems, typed single-spaced, justified left, saved in a single document.

THE THEME FOR THE 2021 issue is water.