For all our submissions, themed or otherwise, we welcome especially work by writers  who are part of marginalized groups: immigrant and indigenous writers;  writers of color; women, non-binary, LGBQA and trans writers; writers  with disabilities both visible and invisible. Send us your best work!

 General Guidelines

The Fourth River publishes one print issue in the spring and one digital issue in the fall. Submissions for print are accepted July 1-September 1; for digital November 1-January 1.

Submissions for the web series, Tributaries, is rolling.

We  welcome submissions that explore the relationship between humans and  their environments, both natural and built, urban, rural or wild. We are  looking for writing that is richly situated at the confluence of place,  space and identity—or that reflects upon or makes use of landscape and  place in new ways. 

Recent authors we’ve published include Barbara Hurd, Susan Cohen, Todd Kaneko, Ira Sukrungruang, Lisa Summe and BK Loren. Contributors to The Fourth River have received Pushcart Prizes, NEA Fellowships, and The Drue Heinz Literature Prize. The Fourth River’s  contributors have been published in Glimmer Train, Alaska Quarterly  Review, The Missouri Review, The Best American Short Stories, The O.  Henry Prize Stories, and The Best American Travel Writing. 

The Fourth River accepts unpublished poetry, literary short fiction, creative nonfiction and artwork. 

Please send 3-5 poems, up to 7,000 words of prose, or three pieces of visual art at a time.

The Fourth River only accepts submissions via Submittable.  Emailed submissions will not be read. Mailed submissions will be recycled.

Please send us up to three pieces of original artwork or photography in the highest possible resolution.

Please indicate in your cover letter if your submission is intended for one of our special themes. If no theme is indicated, we will consider your work for our upcoming print and/or online issues.

Deadline: December 31, 2018

Genre: Poetry

Judge: Allison Joseph

Entry fee: $15

 The winning entry will be published as a 10-15-page feature in our fall, 2019 online issue. The author will also receive a cash prize of $500, and a subscription to The Fourth River’s print edition.


Please submit approximately 10-15 double-spaced pages of poetry in one file (.doc or .docx or .rtf only. No .pdf please). 


As always, we invite work that engages and interrogates our notions of nature and place and helps us see the world around us in a new way. We want strong voices and impeccable craft, regardless of style. The writer's name and contact information should appear on each page of the manuscript. We do not read blind. Please also provide a short bio in the appropriate field on Submittable. All pages should be numbered.

We accept electronic submissions only through Submittable. Emailed submissions and mailed submissions will not be considered.

Simultaneous submissions are accepted as long as they are withdrawn promptly in the event of publication elsewhere. If you need to withdraw a single poem from the submission, you may do so as long as it doesn't drop your manuscript much below our minimum page count.

Multiple submissions are accepted but each must include a separate contest fee. No translations.

For all our submissions, themed or otherwise, we welcome especially work by writers who are part of marginalized groups: immigrant and indigenous writers; writers of color; women, non-binary, LGBQA and trans writers; writers with disabilities both visible and invisible. No racist, misogynistic, homophobic or otherwise gratuitously hateful work will be considered. Send us your best work!

All work must be original and previously unpublished. This includes any work that has appeared in print or online in any form including personal websites. We claim first North American Serial rights, so rights revert to the author after the initial publication period. We ask that you credit The Fourth River in any subsequent publications.

Submissions will be screened by a panel of editors and 10-15 finalist manuscripts will be sent to the judge.

The contest is open to all writers in English except those affiliated in any way with Chatham University, The Fourth River, or current or former students and colleagues of the judge.

Submissions accepted from September 4th--December 31st. Winners will be announced by email and listed on our website by May 15th.

The Folio Contest will rotate genres each year between poetry and prose.


 Allison Joseph lives in Carbondale, Illinois, where she is Professor of English and  Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University.  She serves as poetry editor of Crab Orchard Review.  Her books and chapbooks include What Keeps Us Here (Ampersand Press), Soul Train (Carnegie Mellon University Press), In Every Seam (University of Pittsburgh Press), Worldly Pleasures (Word Tech Communications), Imitation of Life (Carnegie Mellon UP), Voice: Poems (Mayapple Press), My Father's Kites (Steel Toe Books), Trace Particles (Backbone Press), Little Epiphanies (NightBallet Press), Mercurial (Mayapple Press), Mortal Rewards (White Violet Press), Multitudes (Word Poetry), The Purpose of Hands (Glass Lyre Press), Double Identity (Singing Bone Press) Corporal Muse (Sibling Rivalry Press, forthcoming) and What Once You Loved (Barefoot Muse Press). Her most recent full-length collection, Confessions of a Barefaced Woman was published by Red Hen Press in June 2018. She is the literary partner and wife of poet and editor Jon Tribble.



If you would like to purchase more than one copy of an issue, please contact us at

Rolling, burbling, churning along, tributaries lead us to the river.  These winding origins are sometimes small, but often powerful.  Tributaries refresh us, urge us forward, guide us through the trees.The  Fourth River’s weekly online publication, “Tributaries”, showcases the  brief and the inspiring, that which sustains us and takes us through  unexpected courses.

We are honored to welcome Geeta Kothari as our Tributaries Editor for fall, 2018!


Submit one poem or up to 500 words of fiction or nonfiction prose that addresses the mission above.

Multiple submissions are not accepted. Please submit one piece at a time and wait to hear back before submitting again.

Simultaneous submissions are fine as long as you notify us immediately.

We do not accept previously published work.


GEETA KOTHARI is the nonfiction editor of the Kenyon Review.   Her writing has appeared in various anthologies and journals, including New England Review, Massachusetts Review, and othersHer essay "If You Are What You Eat, Then What Am I?" is widely taught in universities and has been reprinted in several anthologies, including in Best American Essays. She is the editor of ‘Did My Mama Like to Dance?’ and Other Stories about Mothers and Daughters and recently published a short story collection, I Brake for Moose and Other Stories.

The Fourth River