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Black History Month Contest 2024:
January 1st - February 29th, 2024

Banner artwork by Sibusiso (Sbu) Macamba

Black History Month Contest

January 1st - February 29th 2024

In celebration of Black History Month, Polyphony Lit is hosting a special contest for Black/African submitters. The theme for the contest is "Roots and Mother Tongue." For more details on the prize, see below!


Memories, fossils and our ancestral mother tongue are all integral features in defining our identities as individuals and a singleton of a community—because what is a community without us and what are we without a community. It is what connects us Black/African people to a sense of place, culture and origin. The contest seeks works that seek to introspect history and builds a bridge between the divinity of self and identity? What histories lie buried in the monolith of our tongues? Tell us about your long-held traditions and cultures—we want to know all of it. 

This year, we will accept submissions written in English, Yoruba, or Afrikaans… We’ll take submissions of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Whatever it is, we want to see it!

Want to learn more about Black / African poetry? Check out our poetry workshop, “Around the World of Poetry in 80 Days,” where we hear from writers / editors in Nigeria, South Africa, Jamaica, and more.

Contest Guidelines

Submissions will open on January 1st and will remain open until February 29th 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 contest category, 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 Black History Month Contest.

If you submit to the Black History Month Contest first and your work is declined, then you may submit it to the Volume 20 category after the Black History Month Contest is complete.


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 / Readers.

  • 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!


A limited number of scholarships for our “How to Be a Literary Editor” training course will also be awarded to additional Black / African submitters with financial need. In order to take the course, students must be sufficiently fluent in English. Students who complete the course will be invited to join the staff of Polyphony Lit as a Junior Editor. If you are interested in the scholarship opportunity, then please submit an application here.

Please note that only the three winners will receive feedback from the Judge. However, if your work is declined for the Black History Month Contest, then you may submit to the Volume 20 category and receive regular feedback from our editors.

Writer Qualifications

  • High school students who identify as Black / African American / African / Afro-Latinx are eligible to submit. For ease of reference, we roughly define this as writers of Black or African origin (Eg: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc). However, we understand that people of African descent are incredibly diverse and often come from many different backgrounds, so we hope that you will not be limited in any way by these categories. In the interest of reaching a diverse array of demographics, we are also open to submissions from writers who may identify as Middle Eastern / North African. For the purpose of this contest, we simply use the term “African” in a geographic sense. If you do not fall under these demographics, but still interested in writing about the theme, then feel free to submit to our Volume 20 submission category!

  • Editors on the staff of Polyphony Lit are not eligible to submit.

  • Creative works may be written in English, Yoruba, or Afrikaans. Accepted submissions that are written in Yoruba or Afrikaans will be accompanied by an English translation.

  • Submit a maximum of three pieces.

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

  • 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.


  • Please upload only one document per submission.

  • Do not put your name on the piece, because 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

  • We accept submissions 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

  • Submissions are free.

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

  • There is a submission cap of 200 submissions, so we may close submissions for the Black History Contest before February 29th. We recommend submitting early to ensure that you do not miss the deadline.

Ìdíje Ẹya Dúdú tàbí Afrika

Ọjọ akokò Oṣù kinni - Ọjọ mejidinlogbon Oṣù Keji 2024

Ni ayẹyẹ oṣù Ìtàn àwọ dúdú, Polyphony Lit gbé ìdíje kale fùn Ẹya Dúdú tàbí Afrika . Akọle rè je "Gbòǹgbò àti ede abinibi." Fùn  àlàyé èbùn, wo ilẹ!

Níní ìràntí ibi tí à tí wa se pàtàkí láti mó irú ènìyàn tí à je làwùjọ òde yìí—nítorí pé láísí àwùjọ kò lésí àwá àti láísí àwá kò lésì àwùjọ. Ò ni nnkan ìdánimọ wà gege bí eya Dúdú tàbí Afrika.ìdíje yìí je nláti se ipolongo asà àti ìse ọmọ Afrika. Soro nípa gbogbo asà àti ìse re. 

Ni odún yìí ìdíje yìí wà fún àwọn òǹkọ̀wé tí wọn bá tẹ ìfiranṣẹ wọn ní èdè Yorùbá, èdè Gẹ̀ẹ́sì tàbí Afrikaans…  iṣẹ́ tí ẹ le fẹ́ ránṣẹ́ lè jẹ́ ewì, àròsọ tàbí àròsọ ti kìí ṣe ìtan. Ohunkóhun tí o bá jẹ, À fẹ ríi!

Tí ò ba fe mo nípa ewì eya Dúdú tàbí Afrika, wò ibi: “ Ewí ni ojo ogojo,” 

Àwon akọsẹmọsẹ olootu àti olukawe wá níbẹ lâti Nigeria, South Africa, Jamaica, àti bẹbẹ lọ.​

Àwọn Ìlànà

Ìfiranṣẹ je láti  Ọjọ akokò Oṣù kinni tí tí dí Ọjọ mejidinlogbon Oṣù Keji 2024.Ti ìfiranṣẹ bá ti pe 200, à ko ni gba ìfiranṣẹ kankan mọ fún ìdíje yìí.

Jọwọ ​ìfiranṣẹ yàtọsí ìfiranṣẹ fún Polyphony Lit iwön didun tíi ogún.​ 

ìfiranṣẹ sí Polyphony Lit iwön didun tíi ogún yòó ba ìjábọ kikun láti àwon olootu. Sugbọn ti ìdíje yòó wa láti Olùdájọ́.​

Tì ò ba tìi fi isé ranṣẹ sí iwön didun tíi ogún, má fi isé kanna ranṣẹ sí ìdíje yìí.

Tì ò ba tìi fi isé ranṣẹ sí ìdíje yìí, tìi à ó gbà, lasan ni ò le fi isé ranṣẹ sí iwön didun tíi ogún.​


A ó ṣí’ṣọ lójú eégún olùdíje kan ṣoṣo tó gbégbá orókè àti olùdíje meji tó kẹyìn nipari. 


Olùdíje wọn yìí yóò jẹ:

  • Àǹfààní  làti te iṣẹ́ re sita ninu Polyphony Lit iwön didun tíi ookandinloogún

  • Àǹfààní fù ìdíje Claudia Ann Seaman.

  • Ìfiranṣẹ yòó ba ìjábọ kikun láti àwon olootu àti olukawe

  • Ipolongo pélu àwọn oun igberohinjade

  • Aami eye síi isé naa.

  • Àǹfààní láti dìi akọsẹmọsẹ olootu. Lẹyìn naa, Olùdíje yòó níi àǹfààní láti darapọ mọ  Polyphony Lit!

Àǹfààní kékeré wá láti dìi akọsẹmọsẹ olootu fún àwon tíi ó ba fi isé ranṣe naa. Láti je àǹfààní yìí, mi mo ede Gẹẹsi sé kókó. Lẹyìn naa,alanfani yòó níi àǹfààní láti darapọ mọ Polyphony Lit gege bí olootu kékeré. Tíi ò ba fé eyí, kọwé si ibi yìí.

Olùdíje àti tó gbégbá orókè àti olùdíje meji tó kẹyìn nipari yòó ba ìjábọ kikun láti Olùdájọ́. Tì ò ba tìi fi isé ranṣẹ sí ìdíje yìí, tìi à ó gbà, ò le fi isé ranṣẹ sí iwön didun tíi ogún fúnìjábọ kikun láti olukọwe tìi Polyphony Lit.

Nnkan tí a nílò lowo Oludije

  • Omo ilé iwé Afrika tàbi Afrika American / Dùdú / Afro-Latinx lasan lóni Àǹfààní láti fi isé ranṣẹ. Omo Afrika le je: Afrika American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian àti be bee lo. Ìfiranṣẹ lé wa láti Middle Eastern tàti North Afrika. Tíi ó ba je làrá àwon ènìyàn won yìí, jọwọ fi iranṣẹ re síbí Iwön didun tíi ogún!

  • Olootu tìi Polyphony Lit kò le fi isé ranse.

  • Ìfiranṣẹ Geesi, Yorùbá, àti Afrikaans lasan la fé. Ìfiranṣẹ Yorùbá, àti Afrikaans gbodo ni ìtúmõ Geesi ko té le.

  • Ìfiranṣẹ kó gbodo jú méta(3) lo.

  • Ìfiranṣẹ kó gbodo jú oro 1,800 words.

  • Polyphony Lit yóò gbà iṣẹ́ tí ì tẹ jáde rí àti iṣẹ́ tí à kò tẹ jáde rí. Orúkọ ibi tí Iṣẹ́ ti o tẹ jáde wa gbọdọ tẹlé ìfiranṣẹ naa.

Sùgbọn iṣẹ́ tí kò tẹ jáde rí lásán là lè yàn fùn ìdíje Claudia Ann Seaman.​

Ọna kika

  • Jọwọ fi iwé iranṣẹ kàn ṣoṣo.

  • Má fi orúko re sí ibi iranṣẹ re. À n kà gbogbo iṣẹ́ laisi orúko.

  • Fi nọmba sii ojúewé ọkan lo kankan.

  • À n gba ìfiranṣẹ ni ọna .doc, .docx tàbí .rtf.

  • We nifẹ sii àwon ọna kika yìí

  • Àwọn: Dúdú áti Funfun

  • Iwọn awo omi: 12 pt

  • Àwọn omi: Times tàbí Times New Roman

  • Àla: 1-inch òkè àti ilẹ, àti 1.25 inch ọtún àti òsi. ​

Lílò Submittable

  • Ìfiranṣẹ jẹ ọfẹ.

  • Jọwọ fi iranṣẹ re sí Submittable. À kò fàyègba àwọn ìfiranṣẹ ti imeeli tàbí lẹta tákàdá.

  • Ti ìfiranṣẹ bá ti pe 200, à ko ni gba ìfiranṣẹ kankan mọ fún ìdíje yìí.  À jọwọ kíi à tètè fi iṣẹ́ wa iranṣẹ kìí à má gba pàdánu.

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Contest Judge

Adesiyan Oluwapelumi, TPC XI, is a medical student, poet, essayist & Assistant Editor of Fiery Scribe Review from Nigeria. Winner of the Cheshire White Ribbon Day Creative Contest (2022), & 1st runner up in the Fidelis Okoro Prize for Poetry (2023). His works are published/forthcoming in Fantasy Magazine, Poet Lore, Tab Journal, Poetry Wales, Variant Literature & elsewhere. A 2023 Adroit Journal Summer Mentee & a 2023 SprinNG Writers' Fellow, his works were selected for inclusion in the Annual Outstanding Young Writers Anthology(Paper Crane, 2023). He tweets @ademindpoems.


Contest Reader

Olivia Cyrus is currently a high school senior from Collierville, Tennessee. She is passionate about poetry, nonfiction, and journalism. She can be found editing and writing for Polyphony Lit, the Blue Marble Review, and her personal blog, "The Cyrus Piece." In her free time, she enjoys reading, going for walks, and hanging out with her friends.

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Contest Reader

RW Ward is a Junior Editor for Polyphony Lit.

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Contest Reader

Ziyaad Shaboodien is an aspiring writer from Cape Town, South Africa. Delving into the ephemeral experiences of his youth, he explores within his work the nuances of boyhood, affection, hedonism, art, and the bright, and vastly enigmatic experience of growing up, especially as a marginalised individual.

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Olùdájọ́ / Onitumọ ọkunrin ti Yorùbá

Adesiyan Oluwapelumi, TPC XI, je omowe ti iṣẹ́ oogun, akewi àti igbakeji olootu fún Fiery Scribe ni Nigeria. Ó ni olubori fún ìdíje Cheshire Funfun (2022), àti olusare-soke keji fún Ẹ̀bùn ti Fidelis Okoro (2023). Oun àti iṣẹ́ re wa ni Fantasy Magazine, Poet Lore, Tab Journal, Poetry Wales, Variant Literature àti ati bẹ bẹ lọ. Ó je akawegboye fún Adroit Journal àti SprinNG. Iṣẹ́ re wa lara ikojọpọ onkowe kékeré to ja fafa(Paper Crane, 2023). Ó wa lori Twitter gege bí @ademindpoems.


Olukawe ìdíje

Olivia Cyrus je ọmọ ilé-ìwé obinrin àgbà láti Collierville no Tennessee. Ó nífẹ ewì, àròsọ ti kìí ṣe ìtan àti iṣẹ́ iroyin. Ó je olukọwe fún Polyphony Lit, Blue Marble Review, àti bulọọgi rẹ "The Cyrus Piece." In Ó nífẹ láti kawe,rìn kakiri àti láti jáde pẹlú àwon ọrẹ fún fàájì.

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Olukawe ìdíje

RW Ward je olootu kékeré fún Polyphony Lit.

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Olukawe ìdíje / Onitumọ ọkunrin ti Afrikaans

Ziyaad Shaboodien je olukọwe ọkunrin láti Capetown ni South Africa. Àwọn iṣẹ́ rẹ je nípa igba ewe, ìfẹni àti idàgbà soke gẹgẹ bí àjèjì ni àwùjọ.

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