Open Call: Counterculture Creative Writing

From the Summer of Love to Legalization: Stories of Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Revolution!

Deadline February 1, 2021

2020 was a “Banner Year for Drug Decriminalization”, according to Vogue. Legalization is now a major movement in the country that led a War on Drugs against its own countercultures and minorities.

For an upcoming issue, the London Reader is looking for stories featuring parties, protest, and the revolutionary potential of today’s and yesteryear’s countercultures. 

Revolutionary change is created first by a counterculture—the rebels, rejects, and rioters—but these stories are not without controversy. Activities and organisations on the fringe sometimes lead to progressive change and sometimes lead to dead ends. What’s more, from the criminalisation of 1960s civil rights organizations to incarceration rates today, America’s racist drug war has always been inseparable from its ongoing history of discrimination. Progress comes in stages, and today’s norm or what will become the norm tomorrow started first as a counterculture.

We are looking for true-to-life and experimental stories set in a world on the brink of change in 2021, or back during the riots and protests of 1968 and the Summer of Love of 69, or back in the opium dens of the 1848 revolution or the Paris Commune, and more.

From the present day to recent historical moments of sex, drugs, and revolution, imagine a literary-fuelled drug trip across the decades: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, A Scanner Darkly, Romeo + Juliet, Spun, Babyteeth, Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, Valley of the Dolls, Naked Lunch, Menage, Whithnail and I, Hairspray, Kirsten Dunst’s Marie Antoinette, and Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge meets Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting.

Stories can include or transgress topics such as addiction, altered states of mind, crime, life outside the law, parties, protests, civil rights, activists, hippies, communes, cults, free love, queerness, chemsex, substance abuse or recreational use, revolution, and the ongoing journey towards freedom .

“Free your mind, and the rest will follow.”

Possible Prompts

  • Dispatches from a sex worker’s political struggle against repressive laws.
  • A grieving widow turns to LSD to connect with her lost love’s spirit. 
  • A parent tells their child the story of the time they were arrested at the Battle of the Beanfield when the police attacked The Peace Convoy preventing them from making the Stonehenge Free Festival
  • Opium-smoking lovers exchanging barbed quips on the barricades of 1871’s Paris Commune.
  • A trans sex worker hosts the international literary scene of Années Folles Paris during its Roaring Twenties.
  • Hippies in Silicon Valley watch the progressive wave of the 60s crash down around them.
  • A professional microdoses smart drugs from the darkweb to get by during the worst recession in 300 years.
  • A journalist high on acid reports back from a squat eviction, Occupy, Gezi Park, or Portland.
  • Two meme-addicted millennials turn to psilocybin to treat their depression.
  • A down and out narrator hops trains during the recession to clip weed in California and send money back home to Oklahoma.
  • A retired couple at a cabin share a joint and reminisce about their past during the protests and the Summer of Love.

What to submit: Creative works can be stand-alone pieces or collections, but should generally be fewer than 5,000 words or no more than 3 poems per collection. Multiple submissions, simultaneous submissions, and previously published submissions are welcome. Artwork should be favourably viewed on a tablet or single A5 page.

How to submit: The London Reader submission portal for this issue, which requires a Google account.

If you have any questions or difficulty submitting, email coordinator@LondonReader.uk

The deadline for submitting on this theme is February 1st, 2021.