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Polyphony Lit Winter Contest 2023: Motion / Movement

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(Banner artwork by Sean Lee)

The theme for the contest is “Motion / Movement.” There will be one winner and two finalists. For more details on the contest prize, see below!

Human beings are always on the move, searching for the things they need most, from purpose, to love, to security… Social movements gain ground and traction, as ideas spread through word of mouth and through technology. The fabric of the universe is expanding as we speak, like a puddle of spacetime, spreading ever outwards… As people and writers, we are relentless machines, persistent in our constant motion… So what drives us?

If you choose you interpret “mobility” in a literal sense, then you might write about physical motion; from dance and sports, to travel and immigration, to social movements and protests… You may consider recent events such as the pandemic, protests for various causes, and displacement of refugees… and how these events have all stirred the world into motion. However, you may also choose to interpret “mobility” in a more figurative sense, without necessarily tracking a person’s or an object’s physical path… And this is where the fun begins. Do you want to write about coming of age? An internal change or realization?

What does movement or motion mean to you?

Looking for examples that Polyphony Lit has published already? Then check out “Nine Million Californians as Ocean Resuscitation” “Migrating” and “(un)natural.”



Polyphony Lit Winter Contest Guidelines

Submissions will open on February 1st and will remain open until February 28th or until we reach our submission cap of 200 submissions.

Please note that this is a separate submission category from Polyphony Lit Volume 19.​ Submissions to Polyphony Lit Volume 19 will receive feedback from the editors, but for the seasonal contests, only the winning submissions will receive feedback from the judge.

If you have already submitted your work to the Volume 19 category, then please do not send the same submission to the Winter Contest category.

If you submit to the Winter Contest category first and your work is declined, then you may submit it to the Volume 19 category after the Winter Contest is finished.

Writer Qualifications

  • High school students from anywhere in the world are eligible to submit.

  • Works must be written in English.

  • Submit a maximum of three pieces.

  • We accept simultaneous submissions and work that has been published elsewhere. If your submission is accepted, you must note if the work was previously published. If it is accepted elsewhere after you submit to us, you must notify us immediately. In this case, if we accept it for publication, we will acknowledge the site of the original publication.

  • Pieces that have been published elsewhere are not eligible for the Claudia Ann Seaman Award for Young Writers.

  • All submissions that have not been previously published are eligible for both the Polyphony Lit Editors Choice Award and the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards.


  • Submissions must be 1,800 words or fewer, double-spaced.


  • Do not put your name on the piece, as all work is blind juried.

  • Submissions longer than one page should have the page number inserted at the top (right or left side) of every page, as it would help our Judge specify the location for their commentary.

  • We accept submission in .doc, .docx or .rtf formats.

  • We prefer common conventions:

    • Color: Black & white

    • Font Size: 12 pt throughout, including titles

    • Font Type: Times or Times New Roman

    • Margins: 1-inch at the top and bottom, and 1.25 inch at the left and right. One space after periods. There should be no extra returns after paragraphs unless you have a meaningful reason for the extra space.

Using Submittable

  • Please upload submissions through Submittable. We do not accept email submissions or hard copies via mail.

  • Upload only one piece per submission file; to submit more than one piece, make more than one submission file.

  • There is a $5 submission fee.

  • There is a submission cap of 200 submissions, so we may close submissions for the Winter Contest before the deadline of February 28th if we receive 200 submissions. We recommend submitting early in the month, to ensure that you do not miss the deadline.


There will be one winner and two finalists. The winners/finalists will receive:

  • Publication in Polyphony Lit Volume 18

  • Eligibility for the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards

  • Editorial feedback from the Contest Judge, Grace Marie Liu

  • Social media posts announcing the winners

  • An honorary emblem next to the published work on the website

  • A full scholarship for Polyphony Lit’s "How to be a Literary Editor" course. Upon completion of the course, students will be eligible to join the editorial staff of Polyphony Lit!

Please note that only the three winners will receive feedback from the Judge. However, if your work is declined for the Winter Contest, then you may submit to the Volume 18 category and receive regular feedback from our editors.

To meet our Contest Judge, and Readers, see their bios below!


Meet the Judge


Grace Marie Liu is a high school sophomore from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Minnesota Review, Kissing Dynamite, and Vagabond City Lit, among others. In her free time, Grace enjoys binge-watching Studio Ghibli movies and eating her weight in almond butter. 


Meet the Readers
















Cloris Shi is a Chinese-American poet and editor from Southern California. Her works have been recognized by Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, The New York Times, and other journals. In her free time, you can find her playing piano, walking along the ocean, or dancing in her bedroom. She is excited to read the contest submissions.


Demarie Hao, who often goes by Basil, is currently a sophomore at Hunter College High School in New York City. They have written for various creative writing and scientific school magazines, and hopes to submit more to contests and publications in the future. When they aren't at their desk writing or reading cancer articles, they love watching K-Pop dance videos or playing video games.

Diya Sreedhar

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