About Us

Polyphony Lit is a global online literary platform for high school students. We invite high school students worldwide to submit creative writing, join our editorial staff, write blog posts, take workshops, and grow into leadership roles.  Because developing young writers is central to our mission, our editors provide feedback on every submission.

We offer three awards for excellence in writing through the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards for Young Writers, one each in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, and the student editors publish an online magazine featuring their favorite pieces from each genre. 

Since our founding in 2004, we have received submissions from high school students in 71 countries and all 50 US states. Our student editors have given feedback to every submission, over 15,000 and counting.

Polyphony Lit is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (2008), incorporated in the State of Illinois.

Our Mission

Our mission is to form a global online community of teens devoted to improving literary skills and nurturing creative voices in the areas of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. We strive to build respectful, mutually beneficial, writer-editor relationships. We seek to enrich the literary lives of teens worldwide, especially those living in under-resourced communities. And we honor literary achievement by bringing attention to excellence through awards and publishing much of the extraordinary work we receive.

Our Beliefs

We believe that when young writers put precise and powerful language to their lives it helps them better understand their value as human beings. We believe the development of that creative voice depends upon close, careful, and compassionate attention. Helping young editors become proficient at providing thoughtful and informed attention to the work of their peers is essential to our mission. We believe this important exchange between young writers and editors provides each with a better understanding of craft, of the writing process, and of the value of putting words to their own lives while preparing them for participation in the broader literary community.

 

History

Founded in 2004 by Paige Holtzman (Latin School of Chicago '06) and billy lombardo, Polyphony Lit has responded to more than more than 15,000 submissions from 71 countries and all 50 states. We have published 14 annual literary magazines to date, each an anthology of the favorite poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction submissions as selected by our student editors.

Originally called Polyphony H.S., the first years were funded with support from the Latin School of Chicago. We changed our name in 2018 to Polyphony Lit and we are now a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  

Our Future

 

We expanded our mission this year because we have grown beyond publishing a literary magazine. We are an extended online platform that lets students, to use a great phrase from the American Library Association: hang out, mess around or geek out. We have a blog and workshops and online content to engage teens in a variety of ways. And so much of the work we do is never seen in a magazine, as 96% of our submissions are never published but do receive in-depth editorial feedback. 

For 2020 we plan to engage in a formal process to measure our program impact. Initial qualitative research indicates a positive impact on editors who work with us: 98% of editors surveyed strongly agree or agree that Polyphony Lit has improved their literary skills and 93% strongly agree or agree that Polyphony Lit provides opportunities not available at their current school.  100% of editors strongly agree or agree that editing for Polyphony Lit is a valuable experience.

In service to our mission, to enrich the lives of literary teens worldwide, especially those in under-resourced communities, the program evaluation will include analysis on skills of editors who are in under-served communities.

We welcome involvement from anyone who shares our interests, please contact us if you would like to become involved!

 

 

Our editors have reviewed over 15,000 submissions from 71 countries