Call for Submissions

Book review call, AWP event, FREE stuff + editor interview —— Five Oaks Press/Live Oak Review

Free sampler for AWP

Free sampler for AWP

Five Oaks Press is a small press comprised of editor-in-chief Lynn Houston and assistant editor Stacey Balkun. They have been publishing poetry since 2014 and will be releasing their first novel-length work of literary fiction in the summer of 2017. They are always accepting submissions of reviews for the Live Oak Review, an online journal for author interviews and reviews of contemporary novels, memoirs, and poetry collections (even chapbooks).

Plus, they have a great event coming up during AWP in Washington D.C. The event is a live reading from several authors with refreshments and some free swag as well. More info in the interview below.

I wondered how and why this press came to be, so I asked editor Lynn Houston a few questions to find out. See my interview with Houston and a link to their submission guidelines below.


HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Five Oaks Press.

HOUSTON: We’re an independent publisher who crafts perfect-bound books that we offer for sale online and at regional book fairs. We publish a range of authors, from first-timers to Dodge poets (associated with the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival) and state poet laureates. As poets ourselves, Stacey and I actively market and sell our own collections (check out Stacey’s recent Lost City Museum from ELJ Publications!) by organizing readings and attending festivals, so as a press we ask that our authors to do the same. We annually nominate our authors for the Pushcart Prize, as well as other awards. Just this month we sent off nomination packets on behalf of our authors to both the Florida Book Awards and the Eric Hoffer Award, and a requested review copy to the Lambda Literary Foundation. When feasible, we like to host off-site readings at AWP.

In fact, this year we are partnering with Stirring (Sundress Publications) to do a joint reading during AWP: Friday, 2/10/17, from 7-10 PM, Stirring’s contributors and Five Oaks Press authors will read from their works at Studio 1469: 1469 Harvard St NW, Washington DC, 20009. There will be free refreshments (beer, wine, snacks, soft drinks) and some free swag. Works by Sundress and Five Oaks authors will be on sale.

We also host the Live Oak Review, an online space for author interviews and book reviews of novels, creative nonfiction, and poetry collections published within the last year. We will even publish reviews of more historic texts as long as the reviewer establishes some relevant link to an aspect of contemporary culture or politics. Graduate students and advanced undergraduates are welcome to submit. We are open year-round for submissions and don’t charge any submission fees (until we hit the maximum number of free submissions per month Submittable allows), but you can also email your review for free to editor@five-oaks-press.com.

HOPKINSON: How/why was Five Oaks Press originally started?

HOUSTON: I was teaching freshman composition at a community college when I decided to stop dabbling in poetry as I had done for nearly two decades and to make a serious commitment to my craft. As I began to read more, write more, and publish more, I became interested in teaching what I was learning to others. There would be no opportunity for me to teach poetry at the community college where I was in N.Y., so I began offering these free poetry workshops at the public library. Before the first workshop, I thought that participants might like to take home with them some additional exercises, but I wanted to make a professional looking booklet, not just hand them some print-outs. I learned so much about interior book design and cover layouts while putting together that booklet of poetry exercises. Afterwards, I thought, “I know enough now to publish other people.”

I also knew that there were more good poets out there than there were publishers for their work. Even though almost 80% of the poems in my first collection, The Clever Dream of Man (Aldrich Press), had found homes in reputable journals, it took me some time before I found a publisher for the book. The Clever Dream of Man went on to win and place in numerous post-publication award contests (offered by The Connecticut Press Club, The National Federation of Press Women, and The Indie Excellence Awards). Because of my own experiences, I knew there was a demand for new presses. I thought I could be a good literary citizen by starting one, so I opened for submissions and began publishing books. People tell me that my books are beautiful. I just do for my authors what I would want done for myself as a writer.

The press further developed after I met Stacey Balkun at a SAFTA writing residency. We hit it off as poets, as people. . .  I offered her an assistant editor positon with Five Oaks Press because she is the perfect person to work in publishing: a super talented writer with amazing design skills who is enthusiastic about promoting the work of writers she loves.

The Live Oak Review began when a poet whose work I greatly admire asked me to write a review of his most recent book on Amazon. After I did that, I started thinking about how hard it is for most writers to get their books reviewed. I thought, we need more venues for reviewing books, so I created one.

HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?

HOUSTON: I like to think of us as “down homey with an edge.” I come from a fairly narrative background in poetry, but as I began to study poetry more, I felt drawn to the more lyrical stuff that is popular in the top-tier journals these days. I publish work by authors that falls somewhere in the middle of those two different aesthetic approaches. We’ve put together an anthology of work we’ve published since 2014 and are offering it for free on our website here. What usually convinces me to offer a publication contract for a chapbook or full-length manuscript is if I feel that some quality of the voice has been sustained throughout most of the work.

For the Live Oak Review, we will consider any review of any genre as long as it is well-written (under 1,000 words) and teaches us something about the beauty of the particular work.  We don’t care if you are friends with the writer (“objective critical distance” is so often a construct responding to fears of legitimacy), and we don’t need you to feel obligated to say anything negative. We offer this space as a celebration of writers you love, whose work you would like to publicize.

HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?

HOUSTON: We love the work our friends do at Sundress, Paper Nautilus, Rinky Dink, Barrow Street, University of Pittsburgh, Saturnalia, and Porkbelly.

HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?

HOUSTON: We use Submittable for both Five Oaks Press and the Live Oak Review, and we accept query emails via editor@five-oaks-press.com. We hope to have another open reading period for the press sometime in early summer. The Live Oak Review is always open for the submission of interviews or reviews.

HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you? 

HOUSTON: There is a contact form on our website, or we can both be reached at the following email: editor@five-oaks-press.com.


Click here to read submission guidelines for Live Oak Review.

DEADLINE: Always open 

SUBMISSION FEE: None

PAYMENT: None

FORMS: book reviews


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