Friends Journal welcomes articles, poetry, art, photographs, and letters from our readers. We are also helped by your comments and questions. We are an independent magazine serving the entire Religious Society of Friends. Our mission is “to communicate Quaker experience in order to connect and deepen spiritual lives,” which allows for a variety of viewpoints and subject matter. We welcome submissions from Friends and non-Friends alike.

Read our full editorial guidelines and learn about the different types of articles we publish on our Submissions Page.

Our next Open issue will be August 2021. Deadline for submissions has been extended to May 17, 2021.

Many issues of Friends Journal are set aside for specific themes. Every 18 months or so we poll readers and dream up ideas for future issues (you can see the current list on our submissions page).

We also keep five issues a year open: no theme and no expectations. Most of our unsolicited articles go into a “General Submissions” list that we hold for these issues. Sometimes a choice is easy: we’ll get a blockbuster article that we know we just have to print. But just as often we’ll run some quiet piece of Quaker life that is offered to us without regard to our schedules.

The first bit of advice is to give our editorial submission guidelines a good once-over. The introduction to what we’re looking for is instructive.

We prefer articles written in a fresh, non‐academic style. Friends value an experiential approach to life and religious thought. Our readers particularly value articles on: exploring Friends’ testimonies and beliefs; integrating faith, work, and home lives; historical and contemporary Friends; social concerns and actions; and the variety of beliefs across the branches of Friends.

You should also study our tips for writing for Friends Journal. This is our list of the most-common pitfalls for incoming submissions—problems like length, structure, and tone.

The next thing to ask when writing or pitching an article to us is “why Friends Journal?” There are very few places where someone can write on the Quaker experience and see their work published. This scarcity weighs on us as we select an open issue’s mix. Authors don’t need to be Quaker, but the piece should have a strong Quaker hook. We’re not above doing a control-F on a submission to see how many times “Quaker” or “Friends” is mentioned. If it’s just a tacked-on reference because you’re shopping a piece written for another publication, it probably won’t work for us.

When you’re ready to send us something, please use the Submittable service so that we will have all of your information on file. “General Submissions” is the category for material that we consider for non-themed issues.

Link to share: Writing for General Submissions

Please note: All poetry should be submitted separately here.

Due 06/21/2021

This April former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on three counts stemming from last year’s murder of George Floyd in police custody. A police department press release at the time merely noted that Floyd “appeared to be suffering medical distress.” We know what really happened only because Darnella Frazier, a 17-year-old passerby, took out her phone and videoed the gruesome eight-plus minutes that Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck.

George Floyd’s death is just one of many high-profile killings of African American men in recent years. In 2013 Black Lives Matter became a hashtag and a movement after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African American teen Trayvon Martin in Florida. Many of the later deaths that have flashed out in headlines have been at the hands of the police. Many of the incidents started with minor, nonviolent allegations (Floyd was said to have tried to pass off a counterfeit $20 bill).

Closely tied to policing is the U.S. prison system, by far the world’s largest. Over 2.1 million people are being held in captivity in U.S. jails and prisons. Sentencing disparities in the system have disproportionately targeted People of Color. A 2013 Poynter Institute fact check confirmed there are more African American men in prison, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850.

Quakers have a complicated relationship with much of this. As Lucy Duncan pointed out in April’s “A Quaker Call to Abolition and Creation,” the model for the modern prison arose out of Quaker reformer’s attempts to alleviate overcrowding and abuses in jails in the 1790s. These idealists thought solitary confinement would be a proper Quaker way to foster penitence.

It was another Quaker, president Richard Nixon, who coined “the war on drugs” 50 years ago this summer in a 1971 news conference. Many people have gone into the prison system over nonviolent offenses since then, a majority of them People of Color. A January 2020 article in Friends Journal by Eric E. Sterling wondered whether “Friends’ historic association with the temperance and anti-drug movements” meant we were “too slow to confront the social, cultural, medical, and legal catastrophes of drug prohibition.”

What are Friends doing today? What should we be doing? We’d like to hear about everything from the one-on-one work in prisons (worship groups and visitations) to advocacy for police and prison reform.

Due 8/23/2021

For this special issue, we're seeking short stories from 500-2000 words, and flash fiction of less than 500 words.

We are using “Speculative Fiction” in a broad sense, to describe stories from a range of genres where the story turns on elements that are not observably true of the world we live in: science fiction, fantasy, and alternate history, as well as horror and romance stories with fantastic or science fictional elements. Speculative fiction asks, “how would the world and the way we live in it be different if X were true?” and examines that question using fiction as a lens.

Quaker Speculative Fiction asks, “how would the world and the way Quakers live in it be different if X were true?”

A note on religious elements:

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is a diverse community with a wide range of beliefs. For the purposes of this special issue, we do not consider stories about people experiencing God or the Divine to be speculative. We do consider stories with religious elements to be speculative, however, if they are set in a world where the divine element is observably real and not considered a matter of belief.

A person having a prayer answered or giving an accurate tarot reading would not be speculative fiction for our purposes. If, however, the story involves a person encountering a corporeal angel while standing in line for coffee, that would qualify. Bonus points if it’s one of the terrifying angels from Ezekiel and the barista has written the wrong name on their cup.

What are we looking for?

We’re seeking stories of Quakers and their experiences outside of what is true of the world we inhabit today. Quakers on interstellar voyages. Quakers in neon-lit dystopic (or utopic!) futures. Quakers in worlds with magicians, wizards, werewolves, and things that go bump in the night. Quakers in cities with superheroes and villains. Quakers in a past that never was.

We welcome submissions from Friends and non-Friends alike.

While we’re casting a wide net with “Quaker Speculative Fiction,” we’re not the right market for erotica or extreme horror. We are also not a market for fanfiction or other works that use other folks’ intellectual property.

We are a queer-affirming publication and will not be accepting any work based in homophobia, transphobia, or general racism, sexism, bigotry, or fascism.

Fast Facts

Due 9/20/2021.

Due October 18, 2021.

Due December 20, 2021

Due March 21, 2022

Friends Journal