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 acquires first North American serial rights for all work that we publish. By acquiring first North American serial rights, authors guarantee that publication in Sinister Wisdom will be the first publication in North America. That is, the work has not appeared previously in another journal, in a book, online, or in other forms of publication. In rare instances, Sinister Wisdom will reprint work that has been previously published. Authors should discuss with the editor and publisher PRIOR to submission. 


Many questions about rights are answered here: https://www.pw.org/content/copyright 


Upon publication, all rights revert to the author.

What does lesbian and queer recovery from addiction look like today? In 1983, when sober lesbian Jean Swallow could not find resources about lesbians in recovery, she set out to create them herself. She wrote in the Introduction of her groundbreaking collection Out From Under: Sober Dykes and Our Friends (Spinster’s Ink): “It is a record of our journeys, our fights, our joy. It is a road-map and a vision, a sharing and a song.” Out From Under remains the only collection of essays about lesbians in recovery. 

Now, forty years later, and in the spirit of Jean Swallow, I come to you, mid-life and sober myself, looking for our road-map again. I stand, gratefully, between two generations; looking up to my lesbian elders with my arms wide open to our younger, brighter future. 

There are more opportunities to connect in recovery now than forty years ago. But nevertheless, 

our legacy started in a bar. We found each other in a bar. So how do we find each other when that space is no longer safe? What obstacles to get sober did you face as a lesbian or queer person, as a person of color, as a trans person? What does queer and sober community look like to you?

I seek your stories: your journeys, your fights, your joys. 

How did you find your way home? 


 

Please submit fiction, nonfiction, poetry, interviews, and genre-non-specific work, up to 5,000 words, and a short contributor biography between twenty-five and 125 words. I am also seeking illustration and photographs (.jpg or .tif files only, print resolution size at least 300 ppi). Please do not send previously published work.


 

Deadline for submissions: March 31, 2024
 Any questions can be sent to sinisterwisdom@gmail.com


 

About the Editor: Max Backer is a queer writer from Ithaca, New York. They taught English and gender studies at St. John Fisher College for ten years before making the leap into community building for folks in recovery. As a spoken word poet, Max has toured all over North America and opened for Andrea Gibson and Rachel McKibbens. They were a 2012 Lambda Fellow in Poetry under Jewelle Gomez and Dorothy Allison. In 2018, they delivered a TedxTalk entitled: no one has imagined us: the gender non-binary experience. Max created the Jean Swallow Project, a multimedia experience of sober lesbian history, in 2021.
Ends on

Did the sounds of women’s music at your local coffeehouse or a house party encourage you to come out? Did you break up with a lover to the sound of women’s voices? Were you raised listening to women’s music or attending women’s music events? Did you wonder why Aretha, Gladys, and Chaka weren’t considered women’s music? Do you understand women’s music as pedestrian, thrilling, conservative and/or a site for resistance? 

This upcoming issue of Sinister Wisdom will be a holistic retrospective on the women’s music cultural movement. We invite contributions that both reflect and shed new light on the complex herstories of the women’s music movement—joys, sorrows, triumphs, challenges, and lessons. This is an explicitly trans-inclusive issue that welcomes submissions from people of all genders and walks of life who have experiences with the women’s music movement. 

Some topics of interest for this issue include:

  • Women’s festivals and other sites of performance               
    • (e.g., festivals in the Southern states, coffeehouses, bookstores, restaurants) 

      
     

  • The women’s music industry               
    • (e.g., technicians, producers, record labels, and record distribution systems) 

      
     

  • Experiences hearing women’s music outside of traditional performance venues/spaces               
    • (e.g., first encounters with women’s music in a friend’s living room)

      
     

  • BIPOC experiences in the women’s music movement
  • Disabled experiences in the women’s music movement               
    • (e.g., Deaf and HoH experiences with ASL interpreting at concerts, lived experience with DART, OASIS, and similar programs throughout the years)

      
     

  • Trans experiences in the women’s music movement               
    • (e.g., trans men and women at festivals and in women’s musical community, transmasculine performers with histories in the women’s music movement, experiences of genderqueer teens)
       

      
     

Publishing since 1976, Sinister Wisdom works to create a multicultural, multi-class lesbian space. Sinister Wisdom seeks to open, consider, and advance the exploration of lesbian community issues.
 

The deadline to submit is April 1. Please send submissions in one document (up to 10 pages, double-spaced) to Submittable. Include a brief bio in the body of the email, along with any social media links. For questions please email sinisterwisdom@gmail.com


 

What is Madness, and how do we, as lesbian / queer creatives, wield it? Amid much feminist discourse around the figure of the “madwoman,” mostly as an archetype to be avoided or, in some instances, appropriated, in reaction to rational distress under violently cisheteropatriarchal conditions, comparatively little discussion has focused on the lived experience of psychiatric survivorship, iatrogenic harm, and abuse under the sign of “mental illness” or psychiatric disability. Behind and beyond the figure of the madwoman, or the specter of “hysteria,” are the lived (sur)realities of Madpeople of all marginalized genders. 

This issue of Sinister Wisdom seeks contributions by lesbian, queer, and/or trans people self-identified as Mad, mentally disabled, and/or psychiatric survivors. Following the portmanteaued coinages “transMad” (Cavar), “neuroqueer” (Walker, Yergeau, and Michaels-Dillon), and “neurotrans” (Smilges), Madness and (gender)queerness are deeply entangled and often inextricable from each other, both as they manifest “inside” us and in our ways of relating to our words, world(s), lovers, and friends. 

What, who, and where are Mad dykes, and how do we find each other in a world increasingly oriented toward cisheteronormative, whitewashed wellness? What are the legacies and ongoing violences of queer/trans pathologization in our communities and beyond? How do we live as transMad people amid cissexist, saneist attacks from the reactionary Right? And how do we share, negotiate, or conceal our experiences of trauma, altered realities, and unfamiliar access needs while also building community?

Please submit works of any, all, or no genres, including reviews and interviews, up to 5,000 words, and a short contributor biography between 25 and 125 words. I am also seeking illustration and photographs (.jpg or .tif files only, print resolution size at least 300 ppi). Please do not send previously published work.


Deadline for submissions: June 30, 2024
Any questions can be sent to sinisterwisdom@gmail.com

About the Editor: [sarah] Cavar is a PhD candidate and transMad writer-about-town. Their debut novel, Failure to Comply, is forthcoming with featherproof books (2024). Cavar is editor-in-chief of manywor(l)ds.place and associate editor at Frontier Poetry, and has had work published in CRAFT Literary, Split Lip Magazine, Electric Lit, and elsewhere. More at www.cavar.club, @cavar on BlueSky, and @cavarsarah on twitter.

Art

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.


Lesbian Stories (Thematic Issue):

What are lesbian stories in the twenty-first century? A new generation is choosing the term “lesbian,” sometimes alongside other terms, including queer, sapphic, nonbinary, and more. At the same time, established authors firmly grounded in their lesbian identities have for decades created work that deepens our understanding of what it means to be lesbian.

For this issue, we’re seeking work that shows how younger writers are building on and challenging work that came before—as well as how established lesbian writers have grown or changed their work. We also want to see how writers may be addressing a broader community—queer, bisexual, pansexual, trans, nonbinary, genderfluid, and more—while also including all the elements “lesbian” has meant historically. Authors are invited to submit a brief statement accompanying their work that can include their influences and hopes for the lesbian community of the twenty-first century.

We’re seeking short fiction and creative nonfiction lesbian stories up to 4000 words in length. A variety of genres are welcome, including realist, memoir, speculative, science fiction, fantasy, mystery and romance. We strongly welcome diverse writers and themes, including those related to race/ethnicity, class, gender identity, religion, disability, and neurodivergence. Please label your submission as LESBIAN STORIES to distinguish it from the general writing category. 


Deadline for submissions: March 1, 2024
Any questions can be sent to sinisterwisdom@gmail.com


About the Editors:
Katherine V. Forrest’s seventeen works of fiction include her ten-volume Kate Delafield mystery series and the lesbian classics Curious Wine and Daughters of a Coral Dawn. Her awards and honors include five Lambda Literary Awards, a Lifetime Achievement from the Publishing Triangle, the Trailblazer Award from the Golden Crown Literary Society, and the Pioneer Award from Lambda Literary. Senior editor at the storied Naiad Press for ten years, she is currently editor-at-large at Bella Books.

Penny Mickelbury is the author of fifteen novels and a collection of short stories, and she is a contributor to half a dozen short story collections. She is a Lammy and Goldie finalist. She is the 2020 recipient of the Alice B Medal. The former journalist was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2019.

Judith Katz is the author of Running Fiercely Toward a High Thin Sound, which won a 1992 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction, and The Escape Artist. She has been an advocate for lesbian stories and lesbian storytellers since the 1970s and probably even before that.

Rachel Gold (they/she) is the author of multiple award-winning queer and trans young adult novels. Currently an English professor at Macalester College, Rachel has a diverse writing career from journalism to marketing. Rachel is a nonbinary lesbian, all-around nerd, and avid gamer. For more information, visit: www.rachelgold.com.


Barbie (Thematic Issue):  

Truthfully, you had me at "Margot Robbie" (as in Harley Quinn). I had no prior experience with Barbie Doll. But I do have a lifetime of what Billie Eilish sings about in "What Was I Made For?": "I don't know how to feel." I feel it all.

My feelings change all the time, except about women and waving. Women and girls deserve everything in this world that the Barbies feel: strength, pride, gratitude, confidence, safety, agency, belonging, joy, dancing, the presidency. You're welcome, let's deprogram the patriarchy! And I feel if change is for the better, we can and do make lesbian lives better, one action at a time every day.

I felt that way on October 27, 2023, when "my people" came together at the Oracle Baseball park (home of the San Francisco Giants) for a big screen Barbie Movie Night. We saw each other and we laughed and sparkled and cheered; every age, race, size, gender, and food and clothing choice. Supported by the MLB, for goodness' sakes! That's my dream world that came true because of Barbie.

In this special issue, Sinister Wisdom will explore lesbians' reactions to Barbie: The Movie. How do we voice the joy and gratitude of this cultural moment where lesbian lives and lesbian culture is expressed in the movie with a major musical plotline from the Indigo Girls and two out dykes with major roles in this movie, now the highest grossing movie in Warner Brothers' history? What else do we think and feel about this cultural moment?

Were you expecting to feel deeply personally touched by Barbie? What was a special scene that reflects your dyke life? Were you surprised or shocked by your reaction to the film? How do we understand Barbie's continuing life and its relationship to lesbians and lesbian culture?

I am looking for work that moves me to tears. A description of your own parallel universe from a scene in the movie that made you cry. All forms of engagement with Barbie: The Movie and our contemporary culture are welcome.


Submit to Sinister Wisdom and label your submission as BARBIE.
Deadline for submissions: TBD
Any questions can be sent to sinisterwisdom@gmail.com


About the Editor: Irene Dick-Endrizzi is a joiner. Now her passion is volunteer firefighting. Before developing a love of the Barbie Movie, her last major feelings change came when she became a dog-lover after a lifetime of dog disdain.


Lesbian Writing (General):  

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 acquires first North American serial rights for all work that we publish. By acquiring first North American serial rights, authors guarantee that publication in Sinister Wisdom will be the first publication in North America. That is, the work has not appeared previously in another journal, in a book, online, or in other forms of publication. In rare instances, Sinister Wisdom will reprint work that has been previously published. Authors should discuss with the editor and publisher PRIOR to submission. 

Many questions about rights are answered here: https://www.pw.org/content/copyright 

Upon publication, all rights revert to the author.

Sinister Wisdom