Polyphony Lit Summer Contest 2022:
2020 Hindsight 
| June 1-June 30, 2022

The theme for the contest is “2020 Hindsight.” There will be one winner and two finalists. For more details on the contest prize, see below!

For many of us, the past few years have seemed like an apocalypse novel come true. In the early months of 2020, the entire world, it seemed, screeched to a halt. Covid-19 closed our schools, stores, and restaurants all over the globe, and plunged us into a series of lockdowns. More recently, we have struggled with other events, rippling repercussions from that year of upheaval; we have seen protests for social justice, political turmoil, chaos at the U.S. capital, changes in the economy and workforce, the tensions and horrors of the Russo-Ukrainian War… All of it, a challenging new world that Generation Z is stepping up to face.

Since 2020, we have struggled with the isolation of quarantine, and the stigma of reemerging. We have struggled to adapt to schoolwork in a virtual environment, we have struggled to adapt to changes in the way we work and communicate, and most of all, we have struggled with our sense of self. To quote our former EIC, Lara Katz, “The written word provides a void to scream into.” And to quote our current EIC, Daniel Boyko, “it… shouldn’t be surprising… that many of us have turned inward. In part, to escape. But also to confront ourselves through self-reflection.”

The events of 2020 have impacted us all in many ways, and so we want to know: what does 2020 mean to you, personally? How has it impacted your corner of the globe? And how do those ripples continue to spread, even now?

While the circumstances that emerged in 2020 were awful, they have also served as catalysts, spurring us to make positive changes in our lives. With great tragedy, also comes an opportunity for transition and rebirth. You belong to a generation that is rising up to shape the future, and there is still a chance for a hopeful tomorrow. Now, more than ever, we need programs like Polyphony Lit that help to build a world without borders, where students from all over the globe can come together as a literary community and share their passion for poetry.

Think of this contest as a time capsule for the future: looking back with 2020 hindsight, how has your world changed, for the better, or for the worse? How has society, as a group, changed, and how have you, as an individual, grown? Anything goes, whether it’s poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. We want stories that are specific and personal and relatable. So give us 2020 in a nutshell.

Want to see an example of a published piece that examines repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic (among many other themes) through a powerful and personal lens? Check out Banchan by Madeline Chun.

Polyphony Lit Summer Contest Guidelines


Submissions will open on June 1st and will remain open until June 30th or until we reach our submission cap of 200 submissions.

Please note that this is a separate submission category from Polyphony Lit Volume 18.​ Submissions to Polyphony Lit Volume 18 will receive feedback from the editors, but for the Summer Contest category, only the winning submissions will receive feedback from the judge.

If you have already submitted your work to the Volume 18 category, then please do not send the same submission to the Summer Contest category.

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

  • 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, Aeman Chaudhary

  • 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!