Thank you for your interest in SHIFT, a publication of MTSU Write. Please find our general call for submissions below, along with a call from our partner organization, Poetry in the Boro. 

SHIFT Issue 7: Bending, Blurring, & Breaking Genre

“All great works of literature either dissolve a genre or invent one.” -Charles J. Shields

The ability to organize things into neat little boxes & categories is something we love to do––genre is one such example. However, people rarely fit so neatly into the boxes we are put in. Our identities & ways of knowing can be messy, fraught, complicated, & language-transcending. Overtime, our ideas of what genre is & what it can be are starting to align more closely with who we know ourselves to be, too.

Consider Walt Whitman’s creation of free verse poetry, or Truman Capote’s unconventional blending of journalism & non-fiction novel writing for his book In Cold Blood. For SHIFT volume 7, we ask you to place yourself in this tradition. Lean into ambiguity & leave us guessing. Toe the line between two worlds. Send us your favorite works that defy genre & conventional exceptions. Send us your poem that reads like a story, your flash fiction that feels like a scene straight out of a play––hell, maybe even a recipe that reads like a poem! Send us your Both/And.


General Guidelines: We do not accept previously published work. We do not accept work with song lyrics or any other copyrighted material that doesn’t fall under fair use or isn’t in the public domain. 

Formatting your manuscript: Do not submit PDFs—only Word documents. We prefer that all manuscripts be in 12-point type in any of the standard fonts (Times New Roman, Cambria, Calibri, etc.). Number pages sequentially with page numbers positioned at the bottom center of the page and keep margins at 1”. 

Since we are bending, breaking, and blurring genres, the following guidelines may be taken with a grain of salt, but please do not create extra work for our small editing team.

Submissions of fiction-ish and creative non-fiction-ish work should be double-spaced. Poetry-ish submissions may be single-spaced. All lines of poetry-ish work should have a hard return at the end to preserve intended line formatting. Single space lines of poetry-ish pieces, but include an extra line between stanzas. All play-ish need to follow proper screenplay format or they will automatically be rejected. Here’s a helpful link for your reference:

Include a cover page with the title of the piece and author’s contact information (name, email address, address, and telephone number). All work should be submitted with a bio that includes the name you wish to be included as your byline for your piece. 

Simultaneous submissions: MTSU Write wants every writer to have the greatest possible chance at acceptance. Therefore, we accept multiple submissions from one writer. You may submit work in up to three genres. Please follow the guidelines for each genre listed below when submitting. 

Submission period: SHIFT will accept submissions from February 14, 2024 until June 24, 2024 

Submission fees: MTSU Write is a non-profit organization. We do not charge a fee for submissions. Our objective is to simply encourage literary excellence and creativity.  Writers whose work is accepted will receive one contributor's copy. 


Although we are thrilled to see how you bend, break, and blur genres, we are only human. Thus, we must cap word counts for practical reasons.

Fiction and Short Story-ish: Flash fictionish pieces should be approximately 400-1,000 words. Short storyish submissions may not exceed 5,000 words. We accept any genre from literary fiction to sci-fi. Double-space the text of the manuscript. 

Creative Non-fiction-ish: Submissions of creative non-fiction should not exceed 5,000 words. We accept personal essays, essays on writing technique and process, memoir excerpts, travel writing, journalistic essays, etc. 

Poetry-ish Poetry submissions may be up to four pages in length and writers may submit up to four pieces of poetry. We accept poetry of all forms and genres, but no translations. 

Play-ish: Keep play-ish submissions to 10 minute or one-act forms. Follow the standard stage-play format when submitting. Here’s a helpful link for your reference: 

If these guidelines are a little too bendy, broken, or blurred for you, feel free to shoot us your questions at

For more information about our mentoring program, visit For more information about SHIFT and to see past issues, visit

Shift: a Publication of MTSU Write