The WEIGHT Journal is a “literary blog for high school students who may similarly find themselves in need of a creative outlet. Everyone has something heavy to get off their chest.” They publish “all sorts of creative writing: poetry, slam poetry, flash fiction, short fiction, creative non-fiction, hybrid, and whatever else you have.”
I wanted to know more about what they are up to, so I asked them some questions to find out. See my interview with educator, poet, co-founder, and editor-in-chief Matthew Henry as well as a link to submission guidelines below.
For more opportunities for high school age creative writers, check out my post: NO FEE Opps for High School age poets/writers + other resources
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about The WEIGHT Journal.
HENRY: The WEIGHT Journal is a literary blog accepting work from high school students (9th -12th grade). The editors all are educators and writers from across the country. We plan to publish the best poetry, slam poetry, flash fiction, short stories, creative nonfiction, and hybrid works we can find.
HOPKINSON: How/why was The WEIGHT Journal originally started?
HENRY: After seeing all the myriad claims on social media that Shakespeare composed his most famous works in the midst of the Black Death and staring at emails from students bored and scared out of their minds during the COVID-19 pandemic, we began this endeavor as a release. However, submissions do not have to be related to COVID-19, social distancing, or pandemic fears in any way.
As King Lear was one of the works composed during Shakespeare's time of social distancing, we took our title, and ethos, from there: "The weight of this sad time we must obey, /Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say" ( King Lear 5.3.323-324). We wanted to create a space where young writers could speak their truth(s), without worrying of censorship for not being "school appropriate."
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
HENRY: We are looking to publish works that carry some gravitas and make us carry that weight long after we've stopped reading. Writing that leaves the reader a bit stunned, stopped in their tracks for a good reason. This doesn’t mean a submission has to be depressing or only dealing with a serious/severe topic. However, whatever the topic, a reader needs to see something honest about being alive. The work should provide insight(s) into something important about the human experience. Something that needs to be gotten off the chest. Something that needs to be said. That could be anything from "my best friend daily saves my life" to “my grandmother wouldn’t have died if God existed!” Whatever is said must hit an emotional chord in the reader, a chord that must resonate.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
HENRY: While we're still new, we haven't had a lot of flash fiction or creative nonfiction works come in. We'd love to see more of both!
HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with The WEIGHT Journal?
HENRY: As editor-in-chief, it is both difficult and thrilling to see this adventure get off the ground, especially in terms of shaping the content of the journal.
We have a very collaborative process. While I take a first pass at all submissions, at least two editors read each piece blind and make a recommendation for publication, which includes comments on the piece. Sometimes there is complete agreement, other times we bring in another editor for additional perspective.
Ultimately it's on my shoulders to make the final call, but it is painful to tell a young writer that their work isn't a good fit for our publication. I'm a publishing writer myself, and I know the pain of receiving a rejection letter. So we do our best to give useful feedback, encouraging writers to revise and resubmit or to send something completely new. As I said, we're all educators and writers, so we want to encourage them to improve their craft, just as we are working to improve ours.
HOPKINSON: Where can high school age teens send submissions?
Before submitting, we recommend writers should read our Submission Guidelines, as well as our What We Like page, the latter being an ever-expanding resource that displays the subjective tastes of all our editors.
After that, we will be thrilled to receive submissions at TheWeightJournal@gmail.com.
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
All questions, comments, and complaints can be sent to the same place: TheWeightJournal@gmail.com.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Rolling/always open
NOTES: “We are publishing on a rolling basis (as we read, review, and accept new material, goes up).”
DEMOGRAPHIC: high school age teens (9th – 12th grade)
SUBMISSION FEE: None
SUBMISSION METHOD: Email
FORMS: “all sorts of creative writing: poetry, slam poetry, flash fiction, short fiction, creative non-fiction, hybrid, and whatever else you have.”