Category Archives: Calls for Creative Writing

Open Call: Plant Life

Stories, poems, essays, and art about the secret lives of plants and the people who live with them

Deadline: Tuesday, 15th November, 2022

Is there something strange about that person with a hundred house plants? Or something enviable? Plant collecting can be an eccentric addiction, but house plants and patio gardening kept many connected to nature during Covid lockdowns. A walk in the quiet forest can be rejuvenating. What do plant people know that others don’t? A time lapse video of a house plant shows instead a house pet. Electrical signals in a tree can play a beautiful symphony. Beds of seaweed and forests are the lungs of the planet. Vegetation is the ultimate source of all our food and all our oxygen. Plants have been on this planet for over 500 million years, the Amazon forest is over 10 million years old, and individual redwoods on the West Coast of America are over 4,000 years old—yet they are now facing more devastation every year. We and the trees share a common ancestor, but today we are more detached from plant life than ever. Plants enliven our window sills and sustain our lives; but what do they mean to us, and what do we mean to them?

The London Reader is issuing an open call for stories, poems, essays, and art about plant people, plants, nature, and our interconnected lives woven tight like roots. Longer stories should focus on people and their interactions with plants or nature; short works and poems can have plants as silent characters. Stories can touch on the natural world, urban plants, croplands, or house plants; succulent mommies and daddies or psychedelic plants and illegal harvests. Stories can be set in the present day or in a utopian or dystopian future with abundant or dying plant life. Submissions should show how characters like us are connected to plants and nature. 

Submit through the London Reader submission portal for this open call.

Possible Prompts:

  • Snapshot moments of a houseplant over its lifespan: a seedling a fresh couple purchase together, a sturdy stem growing among lively parties and heated arguments, and finally a withering plant in an empty flat following a breakup.
  • The intricate home-gardening routines gleaned from YouTube tutorials and TikToks get an isolated Millennial through their day.
  • Your personal anecdotes of looking after one dying houseplant after another.
  • A young couple join an alternative commune and learn about the gardening techniques for their weed crops.
  • Intimate relationships with succulents and houseplants is the only company a retired pensioner has.
  • The members of a gardening social media group plan an urban garden to provide food for their low-income community.
  • A man returns to the tree his father planted to find the same scrapes from his youth grown over in its bark.
  • Anarchists cycle around a sleeping city tossing seed-bombs into vacant lots left empty by developers.
  • An elderly monk tends to the hops and barley that are the prized ingredients in their old Monestary’s legendary ale.
  • The magical and medicinal herbs tended to by a wise woman die out or go wild as she is forced into exile from her mediaeval community.
  • A recent widower on a rural farm clinging to their routines with their crops for stability
  • A hiker lost alone in a forest holds onto a tree for support before bedding down into a lean-to amongst its roots as the twilight turns to dark.
  • A farmer packs the saplings of an apple tree their grandfather planted and all the belongings they can fit into a truck as they leave behind a farmstead and their crops catching fire from a devastating bushfire.
  • The routines and spiraling psychedelic inspiration that float out of a psychonaut’s closet mushroom farm.
  • A far-future space station left adrift following cataclysms on Earth relies on the work of a scientist gardener.
  • Snapshots of a houseplant as it’s moved from one box-room flat to another as its owner faces evictions during the cost of living crisis.
  • A tobacco lobbyist struggling with alcoholism and their amoral career leaves it all behind and goes off barefoot into the forest searching for something more.
  • The secret music plants play for each other as they communicate in deep bass notes across roots and trunks.
  • Ecologists discover the charred remains of the tall redwood forests following a devastating forest fire.  

How to submit: The London Reader submission portal.

This form requires a Google account. If you cannot use the form, you can also submit by email. If you have any questions or difficulty submitting, email coordinator@LondonReader.uk

What to submit: Creative works can be stand-alone pieces or collections, but should generally be fewer than 6,000 words or no more than three poems per submission. Multiple submissions, simultaneous submissions, and previously published submissions are welcome. Artwork should be favourably viewed on a tablet or single A5 page.

The deadline for submitting on this theme is Tuesday, 15th November, 2022.

Open Call: Travel Writing in Europe

Into the Eurozone & Onboard the Eurorail: Travel Stories from Beyond the Borders of Brexit

Deadline November 2nd, 2020

Brexit is locking down the British border for Brits and Europeans alike. Quarantine makes us nostalgic for last year’s trip with friends. Airline emissions now justify sightseeing by rail instead of leaping from continent to continent. Europe is changing. Air is out; rail, electric vehicles, and car-sharing are in. Borders that were razor-wire fences just a few decades ago have become lines in a road—and vice versa. Has Europe’s Erasmus generation grown up to become citizens of everywhere, or of nowhere? Sometimes travelling from one country to another is about the journey, sometimes it’s about the destination, sometimes it’s about the people met along the way, sometimes it’s about the people by your side, and sometimes it’s about the people left behind.

The London Reader is issuing an open call for short stories, travel writing, poems, photography, art, and postcard stories about travelling by land in Europe and neighbouring regions. We’re looking for road stories, interrail stories, city stories, language stories, hitchhiking stories, and border stories. We’re looking for stories focusing on character; stories of (bad) luck on the road; stories of the strangers met along the way, stories of fellow travellers, and stories of family left behind; slice-of-life observations from abroad; poetry about people, places, the traveller, or the road; stories about sustainable travel; stories about low-budget travel; stories of history present; stories of new experiences; stories of culture clash; stories about what it means to be a European after Brexit; and stories about epiphanies that change the traveller. The travel writing submitted to this issue can be true stories, well-researched fiction, or stories loosely based on true events. Submissions should be connected to Europe and focus on the experiences of characters.

The travel writing in this issue will explore themes of…

  • Human relationships and experiences on the road
  • Changing border barriers separating friends and family
  • Passport privilege and difficulties for marginalized people
  • Sustainable, low-emission travel
  • Alternative, low-budget travel
  • European identity in 2020

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 4 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 at https://forms.gle/eFa1imHZs7JigPV39 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 November 2nd, 2020.