Soundings East, the literary journal of Salem State University, is published annually with support from the Center  for Creative and Performing Arts. Founded in 1973, the journal is among the oldest in the country to publish quality poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The magazine is edited  by upper-level creative writing students under the aegis of an Advisory Editor  from the writing faculty. 

We accept simultaneous submissions but ask that authors label them as such, and contact us immediately if they are accepted elsewhere. Our reading period is September 1 to February 15; we'll do our best to respond within three months. Contributors will receive two copies of Soundings East Vol. 42. Upon publication, all rights revert to authors.

Designated a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs, a Top College and University by Military Advanced Education, and a Best for Vets College by Military Times, Salem State values our military connected students and their families and the sacrifices they have made for our country. Salem State is committed to supporting Veterans’ voices on and off campus. The arts create unique and powerful opportunities for individuals and groups to share experiences and constructive dialogue. As such, Salem State is proud to announce its second annual Veterans Playwriting contest which will culminate in staged readings of selected plays in November 2020, near to Veteran’s Day.  

All playwrights, regardless of military affiliation, are invited to enter Salem State University’s 10-Minute Playwriting Contest. However, preference will be given to those with a direct military connection. This includes: active-duty military, reservists, National Guard, Veterans, and direct family of any of these. 

The theme of the play should directly touch on military service and/or how military service affects a community. The contest and festival look to recognize and celebrate those that have served and currently serve. We are looking to bring together a variety of voices exploring both the challenges and the victories and positive influences that Veterans have on our community. 

Judges will select finalists, whose plays will be part of a weekend of staged readings in and around Veteran’s Day 2020, exact dates TBD. Our first annual festival was held in the Callan Studio Theatre at SSU in September 2019. This three-night festival was a huge success with eight staged plays, 4 professional directors, 20 professional and student actors, packed audiences, and vibrant community conversations. 

Important Dates

April 1, 2020 - Entry deadline 

June 15, 2020 - Notification of finalists 

November 2020 - Staged readings with post-performance discussions (dates TBD), Callan Studio Theatre, Salem State University

Contest Rules

  • Only submissions through Submittable will be considered.
  • One submission per playwright.
  • Only original plays, not-yet produced or published, are eligible.
  • All plays are judged blind. Do not include any personal, identifying information anywhere on your submission. 
  • Musicals and adaptations are not eligible. 
  • Simultaneous submissions are allowed. If your play is accepted elsewhere, please let us know immediately. If your play is chosen to be performed, you agree to withdraw your play from all other places where it is under consideration. 
  • By submitting, you agree to allow Salem State University to produce the first staged reading of your play. 
  • Scripts meeting the rules and submitted by the deadline will be reviewed by judges.
  • Judging will be done by SSU faculty and members of the SSU Veterans’ community.



Judging Criteria


  • Plot seems fresh, intriguing and original 
  • Something happens; sufficient conflict and tension throughout the play
  • Plot is active, vital and dramatic on stage 
  • Story moves along; pace is engaging


  • Strong, interesting writing style
  • Clear viewpoint that’s well integrated into the play 


  • Interesting and compelling characters
  • Characters seem credible and real 
  • Main character evolves or develops through the course of the play 


  • Dialogue suits the characters
  • Dialogue sounds natural and credible for the plot and location
  • Each character has own unique voice
  • Dialogue seems fresh and compelling (not dull, boring, or generic) 


  • The play can be staged in the 10-minute time allotment in a black box theatre      with limited set, sound, and design.

Overall effect

  • Play is transformative and memorable 


Submitting Your Work

The script must be in standard playwriting format with 12-point Courier font. Use double spacing when changing from one character to another. Use single spacing everywhere else. If you are unfamiliar with standard playwriting format, please check out this example



Questions: email


Salem State University Soundings East