Asymptote welcomes submissions of translated poetry, fiction, nonfiction and drama; certain types of original English-language nonfiction, including literary and critical writing; as well as visual art. We also have two special features in every issue, with different requirements, specified below.
Upcoming Special Features
Experimental Translation Feature
Wallace Stevens once said, “All translation is experimental translation.” (Or did he?) Our January 2016 Special Feature seeks to celebrate the essentially radical nature of all translation by focusing on the use of unconventional practices to present a foreign text in the English language. Such practices may involve homophonic or machine translation, erasure or other degradations, marginalia or collage, cross-genre or cross-modal transformations, adaptions of ancient texts to contemporary contexts, and all manner of procedural techniques. Mary Jo Bang’s Inferno, Anne Carson and Bianca Stone’s Antigonick, Christian Hawkey’s Ventrakl, Christopher Logue’s War Music, Mani Rao’s Kalidasa, Jonathan Stalling’s Yingelishi, and Celia and Louis Zukofsky’s Catullus are some exemplary works of this nature. We hope to see source materials from all parts of the world, from ancient, medieval, and more recent times, transformed in unique ways that allow us to approach the text in a new way. And, as always, we are looking to expand our sense of what “translation” is and of what constitutes “experimentation.”
Surprise, delight, and shock us with up to 15 pages (single-spaced poetry or double-spaced prose) of translated/deformed/haunted material. This material should be accessible (primarily) in English. The original texts may be included after the translation. The cover letter should address, briefly, the nature of the transformative processes used. You can also let us know whether you would like to submit a sound recording (mp3 format only).
Please send your submissions via Submittable under “Special features” or, only if this is not possible, via email to our poetry editor, Aditi Machado, at email@example.com. Be sure to read the guidelines below carefully before submitting work or contacting us with questions.
Deadline: 1 Nov 2015
Writers on Writers Feature
For the other special feature in these and all other issues, we continue to invite, as always, essays (written in English, passionately, in fewer than 2,500 words) about a relatively unknown author writing in a language other than English who deserves more attention from the English-speaking world. Rolling deadline.
The submission might include one or more works of short fiction or excerpts of a longer work translated into English. Please send no more than 5,000 words in total. Rolling deadline.
Please send up to 10 pages of poetry translated into English. If the originals are included in the submission, the length of the entire document may reach 20 pages (that is, a maximum of 10 pages of translated work accompanied by 10 pages of original material). Please start each poem or section of a long poem on a new page unless the work absolutely demands to be read without page breaks. Rolling deadline.
You may send a one-act play or an excerpt from a full-length play, in either case not exceeding 20 pages, translated into English. For full-length plays, send a brief synopsis first. Rolling deadline.
This includes genres such as memoir, despatch (reportage), travelogue and the occasional essay. Nonfiction submissions must be work translated into English, except for essays about translation, which may be written in English. To get a stronger sense of what we are looking for, go through the past articles that we have published. Send no more than 5,000 words in total. Rolling deadline.
Please send work, written in or translated into English, of no more than 8,000 words. We welcome a gamut of critical work, ranging from casual reviews to academic essays. Rolling deadline.
We welcome interview pitches. We ask that the interview be primarily about translation, or about the intersection of the issue of language and some other domain. Interviews must be in English or, if the original has been conducted in a foreign language, rendered afterwards into English. Rolling deadline.
Please inquire first, providing a URL to your portfolio website. Illustrators (including photographers) are encouraged to try for our guest artist positions by submitting a cover. (Guidelines to the cover contest can be found here.) Rolling deadline.
1. All submissions should be sent as one Microsoft Word attachment (as a .doc file, please) via Submittable or, only if this is not possible, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Microsoft Word attachments must be labeled with the last names of the author and translator: authortranslator.doc.
2. For ease of reference, your email header should follow this format: SUBMISSION (Genre)-Submitter Name [e.g., SUBMISSION (Fiction)-James Frey]
3. Your submission must include the following:
- The original work and the translation (where applicable).
- A statement granting us permission to publish both the original work and the translation online, as well as declaring that you are in a position to grant us such rights (i.e., that you have the author’s permission—or the translator’s, if you are the author—and his/her publisher’s, if required).
- Biographical notes, written in the third person, for both author and translator(s), beginning with the name, no longer than 150 words per bio.
- A short write-up providing context and discussing the challenges of this particular translation; fewer than 300 words.
- An MP3 recording of a reading of the original non-English-language text (for poems and shorter pieces) or an excerpt of the original text (for longer work).
Optional, but highly encouraged:
4. For poetry submissions, please format your submission so that each original work follows after its translation. [Translation 1, Original 1; Translation 2, Original 2, etc.]
5. Translations must not have been previously published, although the source text may have been.
6. Submissions in English (where permitted: see above) must not have been previously published.
7. Simultaneous submissions are permitted, but we ask in return that you notify us by email as soon as you learn of an acceptance elsewhere.
Asymptote is a journal that celebrates translation and world literatures. Therefore, we mainly consider work translated into English, particularly for poetry, fiction and drama. The exceptions are:
- Criticism and essays about world literature and translation
- Writers on Writers Features
- Our English Fiction Feature (usually in our April issue) and our English Poetry Feature (usually in our October issue)
Providing the text in the original language and arranging all necessary permissions are solely the translator's responsibility. Submissions with uncertain rights issues will not be considered at all. Submissions with no source text or introductory material (for poetry) will be at a significant disadvantage versus those that do have them.
1. Rights to the work revert to the author and the translator after publication. We do hope to put out a print anthology one day (after we have recovered the costs of the website). Contributors who have been chosen for such an anthology will be queried for permission.
2. We try to respond to each submission within a reasonable period, but due to the volume of submissions we receive, we may not always be able to do so. Please query after three months if you have not heard back from us, and would like to know the status of your submission.
3. Our finances do not permit us to pay contributors at this time. If and when we obtain funding that exceeds the costs of website maintenance and the production of the print anthology, we will immediately commit to paying our contributors in future.
4. If you require further clarification on any matter, please send us a query (with the word "QUERY" included in the header) at the email address listed above.