Chautauqua Institution

Chautauqua publishes writing expressing the values of Chautauqua Institution, broadly construed: a sense of inquiry into questions of personal, social, political, spiritual, and aesthetic importance—
and when, where, and how those values and questions intersect.


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Submission Guidelines

The Chautauqua philosophy has always been, since the Institution’s founding in 1874, that everyday life should integrate leisure, education, fine arts, and spirituality. Educational pursuit and artistic enrichment should not be confined to separate spaces or designated hours. Spirituality is not defined and shared only within sacred walls or books of prayer. The Chautauqua way of life encompasses all of the ways we enrich our lives: learning on vacation, leisure in work, and passion for art and life in all activities. In the pages of Chautauqua, readers will find a season between covers. Also, in keeping with the values of Chautauqua, each issue has four sections: Life of the Spirit, Life in Art, Life Lessons, and Life at Leisure.

The journal is published once each year, released in late June to celebrate the opening of the Chautauqua Institution Summer Season.


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Contest Information


Chautauqua will award Editors Prizes: $500, $250, and $100 for each issue. These awards will recognize the writers who best captures the theme and the spirit of the Chautauqua Institution.

The first place winner will automatically be nominated for the Pushcart Prize. To be eligible, writers must submit using our online submission process—and all online submissions, regardless of genre, are contenders. See our submission guidelines for more information.

The benefits of online submission, besides being automatically eligible for an Editors Prize:

  • You can check the status of your submission and withdraw the submission quickly and easily.
  • Online submissions help us to ensure timely readings and evaluations by multiple members of our staff.
  • Online submissions save the writer time and money.
  • Online submissions save our natural resources.

Chautauqua publishes writing that expresses the values of the Chautauqua Institution, broadly construed: a sense of inquiry into questions of personal, social, political, spiritual, and aesthetic importance. Our reading periods are as follows: February 15—April 15 (by midnight, PST) and August 15—November 15 (by midnight, PST). Multiple and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Visit our Submittable page.

You may submit stories and essays of up to 7000 words each or three poems (no more than eight pages total, please). Upload your poetry submission as a single .doc or .pdf document (titled “three poems, ” for example), in order to avoid being charged a full submission fee for each separate poem.

Eligibility Rules:

  • UNCW alumni with graduation date after 2012 are NOT eligible.
  • Current UNCW faculty and students are NOT eligible.
  • Former Chautauqua staff are NOT eligible.
  • Writers who are invited to submit are NOT eligible.

The editors' decision is final and will be announced in each issue. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us:

Submission Guidelines


Chautauqua welcomes unsolicited submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction from February 15 to April 15 and from August 15 to November 15. The theme for the 2016 issue of Chautauqua is “Americana." See our submissions link for more detailed information.

The editors of Chautauqua seek poetry, fiction, and nonfiction addressing significant public and private events through the lens of Invention and Discovery. We’re looking for work that captures the relationship between human curiosity and the world outside the self. Whether the work explores the vastness of modern scientific inquiry or the depths of our psyche, we want to experience the revelation of a place, the evolution of an idea, or the meaning of an event—past, present, or future.

We welcome work that engages, but is not limited to, such matters as science, the human relationship to machines, exploration, intuition, epiphany, self-discovery, failure, revolution, and re-invention.

Ultimately, we seek work that mirrors the complication of progress in the modern world, the shared experience of continuing to build upon what has come before us, and how we learn what we know.

The qualities we seek include a mastery of craft, attention to vivid and accurate language, a true lyric “ear,” an original and compelling vision, and strong narrative instinct. Above all, we value work that is intensely personal, yet somehow implicitly comments on larger public concerns — work that answers every reader’s most urgent question: Why are you telling me this? The journal is released once per year and feels more like an anthology. Each issue has four sections: Life of the Spirit, Life in Art, Life Lessons, and Life at Leisure.

If you are unfamiliar with our journal, please consider purchasing an issue to best understand its structure. We consider the work of any writer, whether or not affiliated with Chautauqua Institution — except for board members of the Chautauqua Writers’ Center and current faculty, students, and staff at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (unless directly solicited for special features).



Chautauqua poem is not just a pretty exercise in language. It exhibits the writer’s craft and attention to language, employs striking images and metaphors, and engages the mind. It emerges from the poet’s deep reading and knowledge of poetic tradition, reacts to that tradition to reveals a definite aesthetic approach, opening insights into the larger world of human concerns. This may include traditional or experimental work, but each poem should be meaningful to a serious reader beyond the writer’s private code of expression. Submit a maximum of three poems, typed, single-spaced, justified left.


Chautauqua short story, self-contained novel excerpt, or flash fiction demonstrates a sound storytelling instinct, using suspense in the best sense, creating a compulsion in the reader to continue reading. We want to engage our reader’s deep interest in the characters and their actions, unsettled issues of action or theme, or in some cases simple delight at the language itself. A superior story will exhibit the writer’s attention to language — both in style and content — and should reveal a masterful control of diction and syntax. Fiction should be a maximum of 25 double-spaced pages in 12-point font, no extra spaces between paragraphs and all pages numbered. We will consider any piece up to 7,000 words.


Many of the same guidelines apply. We are seeking essays that use personal experience as a way of addressing the wider world, blending a confident and articulate narrator with fascinating subject matter. Again, we value exact and artful use of language and syntax as well as a compelling emotional experience that includes the reader, regardless of subject matter. The best essay is timeless, released from daily headlines but important for its truthful evocation of the world. Creative nonfiction should be a maximum of 25 double-spaced pages in 12-point font, no extra spaces between paragraphs and all pages numbered. We will consider any piece up to 7,000 words.


Chautauqua has added a new section, which celebrates young writers, aged 12 to 18. Work should be submitted by a teacher, mentor, or parent. Please confirm on the entry that the piece can be classified as a Young Voices entry. We ask that young writers consider the theme. Essays and stories should remain under 1,500 words. For poetry, please submit no more than three poems and/or no more than six pages.

The editors will make every effort to respond to submissions within three to six months. All submissions must be original and unpublished in any form. Simultaneous submissions are permitted but please notify Chautauqua immediately if a work under consideration is no longer available. Unsolicited e-mail submissions are not accepted. Payment to authors is two contributor’s copies.

We follow the Chicago Manual of Style.


Click here to submit

Please submit all work to us using this link. Chautauqua encourages all writers to use our online Submittable portal. We made the decision to move to online submissions after a great deal of deliberation. Ultimately, online submissions enable all editors to read and respond to work more efficiently.

If for some reason it is not possible for you to submit electronically, you may mail submissions to Chautauqua c/o Department of Creative Writing, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 601 S. College Rd, Wilmington NC 28403. Please note that paper submissions will not be considered for the Editors Prize. All paper manuscripts and correspondence regarding submissions should be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope (S.A.S.E.). We assume no responsibility for delay, loss, or damage of paper submissions. Paper submissions will be recycled.


For more information about Chautauqua, please contact the journal directly, at

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2016 Season Information


Contest Information
Submission Guidelines

Literary Journal Submissions



Business related to Chautauqua should be addressed to the editors:


Philip Gerard
Jill Gerard

Managing Editor
Bethany Tap

Contributing Editors
Phil Terman
Diana Hume George
Jason Newport

Advisory Editors
Lavonne Adams

Dept. of Creative Writing
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
601 South College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403