The Awakenings Project: Awakenings Review Policy and Guidelines

The Awakenings Review

A literary journal published by The Awakenings Project

Submission Guidelines

The Awakenings Review is an award-winning literary magazine committed to publishing poetry, short stories, nonfiction, and photography by writers and poets who write from experience with mental illness: either in themselves, family members, or friends. Located in the Chicago area but international in scope, our print publication is one of the nation’s leading journals of this genre. By its nature, mental illness is a troubling, distressing, and painful experience. HOWEVER, AT THE AWAKENINGS REVIEW WE ONLY WANT TO SEE WORKS OF RENEWAL, RECOVERY, AND HEALING, A POSITIVE MESSAGE GAINED FROM YOUR SUFFERING AND DISTRESS. We are sensitive to work that is angry, alarming, troubling, vulgar, or despondent.

Editorial Policy

A writer for The Awakenings Review (AR) need not have a mental illness—we are open to submissions from family members and friends of people with mental illnesses. We do prefer that a creator have a mental illness of some type, and be willing to write about it, but that does not have to be the focus of the writings.

In most cases, at least three members of the AR editorial board review each submission that makes it beyond the first yea or nay. We strive to give this initial review of a submission in as short a time as possible.

We will provide guidance or a brief critique if a writer or poet requests it. Simply state that is a response to our initial review or by emailing us with that request.

Contributors selected for publication are not paid for their work. However, they will receive a complimentary copy of the journal in which their work is published when it becomes available, and additional copies at a discount.

Needless to say, do not send the AR the original or sole copy of a submission. The AR does not accept responsibility for lost or damaged submissions.

Submitting Your Work

Submissions are accepted on an ongoing basis. Email submissions should be in a .doc or .docx format attached to an email sent to and include the word "submission" in the subject line. We only accept submissions by email. No submissions sent through the mail will be reviewed.

Cover Letter

Authors should include a cover letter describing their relationship with mental illness: either self, family member, or friend of someone who struggles with mental illness. While this information is voluntary and its absence will not preclude your work from being considered, if your work is accepted for publication you will be asked to submit a short biography where we would like you to supply this information.

Prose Requirements

The maximum length for fiction, creative nonfiction, interviews, dramatic scenes, book chapters, or essays for a given issue is 5,000 words. We do not review short pieces or flash fiction less than 500 words in length.

Pages should be numbered, and the writer's name, address, phone, and email address should appear at the top of the first page of each piece submitted.

Poetry Requirements

The AR is looking for a representative body of work from a poet. This may be 3-5 poems that would fill several pages of the journal (followed by the poet’s biography). We do not review single poems sent to us.

Authors should be aware that an individual line of poetry that exceeds 60 characters in length cannot be printed as a single line when published.

If you are submitting more than one poem by email, they should all be grouped together into one WORD file, not sent as individual files. Please do not send PDF files.

Again, the poet's name, address, phone, and email address should appear at the top of the first page of each submission.


Upon acceptance, we request that a writer or poet submit a biography of no more than 150 words to us. We ask that they at least mention their relationship with mental illness.

Visual Artwork

The Awakenings Review reviews photographs, ink drawings, etchings, charcoal drawings, paintings, and graphics. We place color photographs prominently on the cover of the journal and black-and-white work in clusters of inside pages attributed to an individual photographer or artist.

Color pieces for the cover should be landscape in orientation and at least 300 dpi, but not exceed 5 megabytes in size. An individual black-and-white piece to be considered for inside the journal should be portrait in orientation and also at least 300 dpi. Please limit your submission to 8 pieces per email. Send it to in .jpeg format (we do not accept .pdf or other file formats). Include "submission" in the subject line. An artist or photographer should follow other requirements in these guidelines vis à vis their connection to mental illness and include a cover letter.


Writers, poets, and artists retain the copyright to their material. By submitting work, they agree to assign to The AR one-time rights for publication.

Material must be offered for first publication. In most cases, we do not accept previously published work. Simultaneous submissions are allowed. However, if a submission is accepted by another publisher as well as by the AR, the author should notify the AR of their preferred publisher.


By agreeing to allow their work to be published in The AR, writers whose work is accepted agree to allow The AR to publish a brief biography of them in the print copy of The AR, and to permit The AR to publish their names and titles of their works on The Awakenings Project web site. With the author's permission, the work itself may also be published on The Awakenings Project web site. The Awakenings Project will take measures to protect writers' names from access by Internet “web crawlers” to ensure, to the best of its ability, the writer’s privacy. Access to information published on The Awakenings Project site cannot, however, be guaranteed to be inaccessible to all web crawlers.


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