Gristle and Grain – Submission Guidelines

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Published 6 years ago -

Welcome to Gristle and Grain, the literary journal dedicated to publishing the best short stories and poetry of all time. Why “Gristle”? Why “Grain”? Because too many magazines today offer up a plate of hominy—lathered in butter, laced in Seconal, and colorized by Ted Turner. We want the hard to digest. Inedible tissue. Black and white stock on dissipating acetate. Open a vein onto a blank sheet of paper. Send used theater tickets on Ritz crackers, contaminated spittle in a Petri dish. We want prose poems pasted together from words cut out of car ads, sharpies on dish towels, haiku in braille. Surprise us!

Word Limit

We will consider anything from the length of In a Station of the Metro to The Recognitions.  But we seldom publish works with fewer than 2000 or more than 3000 words. That includes poetry.


Any format is acceptable. Be forewarned, however, that due to a bizarre incident in her childhood one of our undergraduate readers has a bias against crayons. Otherwise, think outside the box. Audio is welcome. We also encourage experiments in the tactile (we love felt, for example, and cheese graters). Balled up newspaper can be effective. So can toothpicks glued together in the shape of runes. If you elect to use conventional print, we prefer 14-point Goudy Stout highlighted in shadow, small caps. Place a name in the top left corner of the first page. Not your name, but rather the name of your favorite character out of: (1) the plays of Ionesco; (2) Wagnerian opera; or (3) Walt Disney. We’d like to say that reveals a lot about a person, but in reality it’s just for our amusement. Because we don’t wish to show preferences, your work should contain no other identifying information. And that includes you, Joyce Carol Oates!

What We’re Looking For

We strongly suggest that you read an issue of Gristle and Grain to get an idea of the type of work we publish. Keep in mind, however, that we rotate guest editors at random intervals, so nothing we have published in the past is representative of the type of work we may publish in the future.

Issue 16:3, for instance, was edited by Pat Cartwright, a lecturer in women’s studies at San Francisco State University and a leading voice in the Men Owe Reparations, or MORE, movement, whereas the editor she succeeded was a retired Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Bush administration. Works published in our special fold-out edition were selected by an ex-journalist for the inmate newsletter for the New Hampshire Sanatorium for the Criminally Insane. (He has since escaped.) All decisions about our current issue were made by the former third baseman for the Oakland Athletics, Sal Bando.

It might also be helpful to know the type of work our intern readers admire. These include:  the Marquis de Sade (Betty), Ho Chi Minh’s diaries (Phuc), Finnish translations of Beowulf (Ismo), sestinas (Running Horse), Katy Perry lyrics (Katy Perry, no relation), William S. Burroughs’ gritty early stuff “before he sold out” (Cat), video game thought bubbles (Barry, Zach and Jorge), Isaac Asimov limericks (all), The Song of Roland (Aude), and the 7-volume biography of Vlad the Impaler (Betty again).

How to Submit

There is no fee to submit! There is, however, a $15 reading fee. You may submit only through our Submission Manager. Submissions sent by post will be used as scratch paper and not be recycled. All submissions must include a cover letter with a detailed biography and three references from people who have never been employers, colleagues, teachers, family members or friends. The submission period for the Fall 2014 issue is November 13, 2012 between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Simultaneous Submissions

Simultaneous submissions are permitted because if another journal accepts your work there is no chance that we would have.

Response Time

Since our founding 23 years ago we have never actually accepted a poem or story from our slush pile, so it is impossible to say how much time such a response would take. Nevertheless, we love wading through your submissions and cannot wait for that first captivating story that refuses to be set aside after the first paragraph or that poem engaging enough to read beyond the opening stanza. Rejections are sent between three hundred and five hundred days after receipt, either by electronic mail, text, or, in rare instances, Twitter. It really just depends on our mood. Please do not query us until five hundred days have passed, and then do so only by postcard from an exotic locale. We collect them. Inquiries before five hundred days will result in immediate disqualification of your so-called work.


Your payment is the satisfaction of knowing you tried.


Editor’s Note: See also The Satirist‘s Submission Guidelines

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