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Polyphony Lit Fall Contest 2023:
Places We Call Home

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(Banner artwork by Austin Liu)

The theme for this contest is “Places We Call Home.” There will be one winner and two finalists. For more details on the contest prize, see below! 


Home. The word can be a favorite conversation opener for some but a loaded gun for others. Your home quite literally shapes your childhood, and the people who live in them influence your character to grow and adapt. Whether your home is your “dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest” (Robert Montgomery) or your prison, your story is not complete without it; another person cannot say they truly know you until they know your home life. All humans feel an “ache for home…the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned,” regardless of whether they have found it or not. 


You might choose to focus more on the actual structure of your home, your special spots and your dreaded corners. You might choose to go more in depth about your family and your memories of home. Be brave to be vulnerable. We at Polyphony Lit would like to know: what does home mean to you? How has it defined you and continues to define you? Is your dream home similar to your childhood home? What have some of your favorite or least favorite moments been in your home? Have you ever compared your home to others you have seen around you? 

Looking for examples that Polyphony Lit has published already? Then check out Migrant by Alisha Wong, The Hindi Word for Prayer by Shreya Khullar, and Holiday in a Burning City by Allyson Ye.

Interested in honing your poetry-writing skills for the contest? Then try taking our poetry workshop, Around the World of Poetry in 80 Days. In this workshop, Polyphony Lit Editor and Teaching Assistant Nicole Itkin explores how writers can use their hometown as a source of inspiration. And there are plenty of other lessons that will help you to brainstorm, draft, and revise poems of your own!


Polyphony Lit Fall Contest Guidelines

Submissions will open on September 1st and will remain open until October 31st or until we reach our submission cap of 200 submissions.

Please note that this is a separate submission category from Polyphony Lit Volume 20​ Submissions to Polyphony Lit Volume 20 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 20 category, then please do not send the same submission to the Fall Contest category.

If you submit to the Fall Contest category first and your work is declined, then you may submit it to the Volume 20 category after the Fall Contest is finished.

Writer Qualifications

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

  • We do not accept submissions from any editors who currently serve on the staff of Polyphony Lit.

  • 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 Fall Contest before the deadline if we receive 200 submissions. We recommend submitting early, 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 19

  • Eligibility for the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards

  • Editorial feedback from the Contest Judge, Heidi Nam

  • 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 Fall Contest, then you may submit to the Volume 20 category and receive regular feedback from our editors.


Contest Judge

Heidi Nam is an incoming college freshman from Busan, South Korea. Her work has been recognized by The New York Times, Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Oniros Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Awards and Indie Short Fest. When she’s not writing, she is a Junior Editor for Polyphony Lit, a compulsive reader of books and watcher of TV shows, a dancer, a YouTuber, and a fashion model. Her favorite movie right now is The Truman Show and her favorite song is Fast Forward by Jeon Somi.

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Contest Reader

Taylen Huang is a high school student from Shanghai, China. Besides editing/reading/writing at the most ungodly hours, she enjoys debating, basketball, true (and fictional) crime, and figuring out ways to make avocados actually palatable. An alumna of the Iowa Young Writers Studio, her work has been recognized by Inlandia, Chautauqua, Bow Seat, and more. She’s very excited to serve as a Contest Reader!

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Contest Reader

Ziyi Yan (闫梓祎) is a young Chinese writer living in Connecticut. Her work is published in Poetry Northwest, Rust and Moth, Kissing Dynamite, and Peach Mag, among others. She is also the editor-in-chief of the Dawn Review. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @Ziyiyan___ or visit her website at

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Contest Reader

Premrudee (Premmy) Mepremwattana is a rising high school junior in Bangkok, Thailand, who spends summers in NC, US. An avid reader and writer, she’s had her work published in the Reynolds Young Writers Workshop’s anthology and the Silver-tongued Literary Magazine. Recognized by the Alliance for Young Writers and Artists, she has also been presented the Scholastic Awards Summer Scholarship. With previous editing experiences for the Polyphony Lit and the Silver-tongued Literary Magazine, she is more than thrilled to take on the role of an editor! Also the co-president of Fifty Squared, a UN-affiliated nonprofit feminist organization with branches across Thailand and internationally, she is dedicated to amplifying voices in marginalized and historically underrepresented communities. When not reading or writing, or getting too emotionally invested in fictional characters, she spends her time drinking too much boba, playing the piano, and creating memories with friends and family.

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Contest Reader

Vivian Huang is a writer based in New York who enjoys writing poetry and short stories about life's heartfelt moments. Her work has been published in The OPUS Journal, The Point, and the Auroras & Blossoms PoArtMo Anthology Youth Edition. She has also been recognized by the Scholastic Writing Awards and the New York State English Council. In her free time, she loves reading romance novels and listening to K-pop.

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