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. 41. 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 first Veterans Playwriting contest which will culminate in staged readings of selected plays in March 2019.  

The theme of the play should directly touch on military service and/or how military service affects a community. All playwrights, regardless of military affiliation, are invited to enter Salem State University’s inaugural 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.

Judges will select eight to twelve finalists from entries received by the April 1, 2019 deadline. A staged reading by experienced actors of the selected finalists’ plays will take place in Fall 2019 at Salem State’s Callan Studio Theatre. 

Important Dates

April 1, 2019 - Entry deadline 

May 1, 2019 - Notification of finalists.  8 to 12 playwrights will be selected as finalists for staged readings of their plays to be produced  by Salem State University.

Fall 2019 - Staged readings with post-performance discussions (dates TBD), Callan Studio Theatre, Salem State University


Plays showing distinction in the following categories will be recognized and honored among overall finalists: Style/Tone, Dialogue, and Theme.  

Plays selected for the staged reading will be considered for publication in Salem State's national literary magazine Soundings East in spring 2020.

Contest Rules

  • Only submissions through Submittable will be considered.
  • One submission per playwright.
  • Entry fee of $10. If you withdraw your submission this fee will not be refunded. If you withdraw and resubmit another $10 entry fee will be required. 
  • All plays are judged blind. Do not include any personal, identifying information anywhere on your submission. 
  • Only original plays, not-yet produced or published, are eligible.
  • 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 in March 2019, 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 theatre 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 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

Ends on February 15, 2019

The idea of home is familiar to us all. As human beings we belong to a shared space and consequently, are shaped by the connections we find there. No matter how we interpret “home,” be it place, people, objects, feelings, memories, our relationship with it can be as varied as the homes we inhabit. Whether it's positive, negative, abstract or concrete, we are part of a greater narrative. What can we say about this relationship? What is your experience? We are looking for 1,000 word (max) submissions of nonfiction based on the concept of "home." 

Ends on February 15, 2019$10.00 - 20.00
$10.00 - 20.00

Claire Keyes Poetry Prize

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Soundings East will be given annually for a group of previously unpublished poems. Submit 8 to 10 pages of poetry poems (no more than one poem per page) with a $10/$15/$20 entry fee, which includes a subscription to Soundings East, by February 15, 2019.  Final Judge: Sean Thomas Dougherty.

Submissions should include a cover page with the author's name and contact info (address, phone, email) and the titles of all the poems submitted. The poems themselves should not have the author's name on them. Submissions may be made online below or submit to Salem State University, Claire Keyes Poetry Award, Soundings East, English Dept., 352 Lafayette Street, Salem, MA 01970. Kevin Carey, Advisory Editor,

Ends on February 15, 2019

 We welcome submissions of previously-unpublished creative nonfiction up to 7,000 words.  

Ends on February 15, 2019

 We welcome submissions of previously unpublished fiction up to 7,000 words.   


Ends on February 15, 2019

Please submit up to five previously unpublished poems of any style. 

Salem State University Soundings East