We publish work by Lesbians. We are particularly interested in work that reflects the diversity of our experiences: as Lesbians of color, ethnic Lesbians, Jewish, Arab, old, young, working class, poverty class, disabled, and fat Lesbians. We welcome experimental work. We will not print anything that is oppressive or demeaning to Lesbians or women, or that perpetuates stereotypes. We keep an open and critical dialogue on all the issues that affect our lives, joy, and survival.

Sinister Wisdom is calling for submissions for a special issue exploring the quarterly Common Lives/Lesbian Lives.

Common Lives/Lesbian Lives was a collective dedicated to lesbians telling their stories through words and art. Founded in Iowa City, and published from 1980 to 1996, CL/LLwas born in response to Sinister Wisdom’scall for more lesbian periodicals: too many lesbian voices were not being heard because of a lack of our own media.

The Mission of Common Lives/Lesbian Lives published in every issue

Common Lives/Lesbian Lives seeks to document the experiences and thoughts of lesbians as we claim our past, name our present conditions, and envision our evolving future. Common Lives/Lesbian Lives will reflect the complexity and richness of those experiences and thoughts by describing the lives of ordinary lesbians--women who have always struggled to survive and create a culture for ourselves. The magazine is a forum for developing and clarifying our lesbian-defined social and political relationships. Common Lives/Lesbian Lives is committed to reflecting the diversity among us by actively soliciting and printing in each issue the work and ideas of lesbians of color, Jewish lesbians, fat lesbians, lesbians over fifty and under twenty years old, physically challenged lesbians, poor and working-class lesbians, and lesbians of varying cultural backgrounds. CL/LL feels a strong responsibility to insure access to women whose lives have traditionally been denied visibility and to encourage lesbians who have never before thought of publishing to do so.

A core collective along with groups of volunteers published Common Lives/Lesbian Livesin Iowa City’s unique feminist publishing community, which included the early feminist newspaper Ain’t I A Woman, the printing collective Iowa City Women’s Press, the lesbian-run bindery A Fine Bind and typesetting by Annie Graham. Culturally, lesbians in Iowa City worked toward building ever-widening lesbian connections, sharing a passion for the integrity, diversity and richness of lesbian culture.

Today, 25 years since the last issue of CL/LL and 40 years since its first, Sinister Wisdom is planning a tribute issue to the magazine. Part of the issue will feature articles and visual art chosen from the historic CL/LLissues, accompanied by new work from collective members, volunteers, and contributors. Memory pieces, reflections, and much more welcome!

Call for Original Writing and Art

Another part of the Common Lives/Lesbian Lives tribute issue will feature writers and artists who respond to this call for original fiction, non-fiction, poetry and art.

Lesbians are invited to submit current, fresh and challenging work that may address....

  • Is there a  common life for lesbians today?
  • How are intersecting identities important to lesbian culture? How has that changed over the last 40 years? How do we create more space for intersecting identities?
  • What does collective lesbian work look like today?
  • What is the impact of CL/LL on today’s lesbian community?

We are open to all ideas for this issue and want to see what you come up with… be creative!

Check out our Common Lives / Lesbian Lives resources and Common Lives / Lesbian Lives’s archive for more information and inspiration. (http://www.sinisterwisdom.org/commonliveslesbianlives, https://voices.revealdigital.org/?a=cl&cl=CL1&sp=ICDEABE&ai=1&e=-------en-20--1--txt-txIN---------------1)

Deadline for submissions: March 31, 2022

Any questions can be sent to sinisterwisdom@gmail.com


Sinister Wisdom uses three pieces of full-color visual art each year for the cover of the journal. We invite visual artists to submit .jpg or .tif files of their work for consideration through Submittable.

In addition, Sinister Wisdom selects 12-14 works of full-color visual art for our annual calendar. Submit .jpg or .tif files here as well for consideration.

If your work is selected, you will have to provide us high-quality .tiff files to print the cover.

We print black and white images in the pages of the journal and invite artists to submit black and white images as .jpg or .gif files for consideration. Again, if work is selected, you will have to provide us with high-quality.tiff files to print inside the pages of the journal.

NOTE: Sinister Wisdom is filled for 2018 and 2019. You may continue to submit work - and we will continue to accept work, but it will be for publication in 2020 and beyond.

  Material may be in any style or form, or combination of forms.

  Maximum: five poems, two short stories or essays, OR one longer piece of up to 5,000 words.

  Please proofread your work carefully; do not send us changes after the deadline.

  Please send a short contributor biography between 25 and 125 words with your submission.

Sinister Wisdom