Nerve Lantern Submissions

Nerve Lantern aspires to serve as an axon for experimental, multidimensional, consciousness-shaking, vividly engaging performance texts—to bring the performative to performers. We also hope it becomes a live synapse at which newer and more established writers meet to exchange creative and critical impulses, thereby forming collaborative networks.

Guidelines for the Nerve Lantern Challenge

Pyriform Press invites you to take the Nerve Lantern Challenge: Round Robin Hood

This time the Challenge is about collaboration and metamorphosis in the spirit of Exquisite Corpse—with a special emphasis on environmental, social justice, and civil rights activism.

Step One: Submit up to five unpublished poems (10-50 lines each, or 200-500 words if a prose poem) for consideration. Also submit one polyvocal performance text that showcases your best writing for performance. It will not be published in Nerve Lantern but will serve as an example of what you can write and will affect whether one of your poems is accepted. Special consideration will be given to poems that in some way express environmental, social justice, or civil rights activism—e.g. to protest social injustice, call for change to help others or our planet, illuminate personal experience of injustice or oppression, celebrate diversity, etc., as long as the poem does not promote violence or cruelty. Complexity and innovation in form/language are welcome. Submission Deadline: September 1, 2017.

Step Two: If one of your poems is accepted, your poem will be given to another participant in the Challenge to transform into a poets theater piece. You will receive a poem from a different participant. Write a new poets theater piece, inspired by the poem you received and incorporating as many phrases from the poem as you can thoughtfully collage. The poets theater piece must be for more than one voice, the best writing you can muster, and 1-5 pages long. Special kudos for retaining and reinforcing any activist theme. Complexity and innovation in form/language are welcome. Submission Deadline: February 1, 2018 (but the sooner the better).

Step Three: If your performance text is in good order, it will be given to another participant in the Challenge to be performed. You will receive a poets theater piece from a different participant. Get your friends together and perform this piece in a public space (indoors or outdoors). You can add costumes, props, music, movement, etc. to the piece as long as your intent is to honor the text. Have a friend video this performance. The video can be low-tech, as on a smart phone, but feel free to edit the video if you think that’s wise. How to submit the video will be discussed at the time. Special congratulations for harnessing any activist theme in the performance—via how you manifest the text, where you perform it, and which audience you reach. Submission Deadline: June 1, 2018 (but the sooner the better).

Step Four: As long as the editor finds them acceptable, all winning poems, poets theater pieces, and videos of performances will be published on the Pyriform Press website as an online issue of Nerve Lantern. In further appreciation, the editor will give each participant one free copy chosen from available past issues of Nerve Lantern.

Email your submission of poems and an example performance text (Word doc or pdf; include your name, email address, mailing address, bio, and a brief statement of interest) to Ellen Redbird. Find her email link here:

Notes: Poetry judges are yet to be determined. The Challenge will only go ahead if we can find at least three participants.

For more info about Nerve Lantern, visit

Please share this call for submissions. In the spirit of Robin Hood: The more the merrier!

Guidelines & Info for Regular Issues

(1) Check the news blog for submission calls and make note of deadlines. Calls for art submissions present different guidelines from these listed here.

(2) Read this page carefully and take a look at this site’s other pages to learn about Nerve Lantern and its community. Do you want to be a part of it? Think about why. Do you feel akin to something or want to add something new? The best way to learn about Nerve Lantern is to order a copy. However, feel free to email questions about Nerve Lantern to editor Ellen Redbird.

(3) Submit your work as an attachment to an email. Submissions must be in the form of MS Word doc (or docx), rtf, or pdf. You can address your message/cover letter to Ellen Redbird. If you wish to submit a hard copy, mail to: 363 Cannon Green Dr. Apt. C, Goleta, CA, 93117. Your submissions will not be returned, so please don’t send originals. Read the rest of the Guidelines & Info detailed below before submitting.

(4) Maximum: 10 pages. Excerpts ok. Include your name, email, and mailing address on the submission.  Images that are part of your piece will be considered, but Redbird might not be able to publish them. Formatting does not have to be standard, but it helps if your piece is polished and how you want it presented. Nerve Lantern has its own format, so your work might change some in order to fit the space allowed and the style of presentation. However, Ellen tries to preserve as much of the original integrity of the text as possible. Specify if using particular or multiple fonts is important, so Ellen can discuss with you the viability of it.

(5) Nerve Lantern is primarily an English language journal but welcomes submissions of original texts in other languages. If you want to submit a text in another language, or that includes more than one language, let Ellen know. She will see if she can find an editor who can read and edit the submission. At this time, Nerve Lantern is not accepting translations. Creative, deliberate mistranslations are fine (e.g. homophonic, collage, imitation, etc.).

(6) In your submission email or cover letter, tell Ellen a little about yourself, your work, and your interest in Nerve Lantern. No need to impress—it’s just a way to start the conversation. Include your name (specify pen-name) and email address.

(7) Simultaneous submissions are ok, but please let Ellen know ASAP if your submission is accepted elsewhere. If your submission has been published in the past, confirm that you have the rights to it. Credit where it has appeared and when. Explain why you want to re-publish it in Nerve Lantern.

(8) Please be available via email in case Ellen wants to ask questions and discuss your submission.

(9) Response time for submissions varies, as this is a project that Ellen does when time and energy allows, which varies. But she tries to respond as promptly as she can. Ellen Redbird reserves the right to reject submissions and not explain why. She will sometimes ask other writers to serve as contributing editors, helping with the selection process. Ellen tries to be fair and respectful and hopes you will, too. If your work is accepted, you might be asked to look at and approve proofs by a certain deadline before Nerve Lantern is printed. You will be asked to provide a bio.

(10) If your work is accepted for publication in Nerve Lantern, and you provide Ellen with your mailing address, you will be sent a free copy of the issue.

Thanks for your interest! Ellen looks forward to reading your work.

Submit Work as an Attachment to Email

Thoughts for Nerve Lantern Newcomers

Especially of interest:

(1) Performance texts that are meant to be performed beyond a reading by a single voice (real or imagined). What performative dimensions does your text have? How does your text move people to perform it? For instance, consider: polyvocality, dialogue, props, gesture, staging, soundscapes, music, opera, dance, visuals, events, instructions, chance operations, participants, venue, subtext, meta. And how do you define such dimensions? Do you include these in a separate set of stage directions or are they part of the poetry, of the language itself? Granted, any text has inherent performative qualities, but how do you develop these? What is a stage direction and what can it do differently? Is your text like an experimental theater? A performer walking into one? Its own or some other text’s audience member? These are open questions and only a few of the possible ones.

(2) Creative texts that are only meant to perform on the page, but do so with something like an awareness of, or emphasis on, the performativity of language, the page as a theater, or active reader participation.

(3) Texts about the subject of performance, especially, but not exclusively, as relates to performed language. The forms your text takes to talk about performance can be various and hybrid: poems, stories, essays, reviews, witness accounts, debates, manifestoes, poetics/aesthetics statements, interviews, letters, proposals, text messages, maps, cut-up collage, catalogs, collections, aphorisms, glossaries, footnotes, revisions, dreams, altered book pages, charts, portraits, dossiers, lists, brainstorms, etc. These could also be intended for performance.

(4) Poets’ Theater. Theatre Poetics. Guerilla theater. Hybrids. Fluxus. Satire. Absurdity. Surrealism. Activism. Defamiliarized camp. Mistranslations. Collaborations. Surprises and other things you might expect.