Literary journal accepting undergraduate submissions

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Fishladder

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU Fishladder

As finals week approaches, students at Grand Valley State University are completing papers and projects. For students with more creative pieces, fishladder is accepting submissions until Dec. 22.

Jackie Vega, GVSU senior and editor-in-chief of fishladder, said the student-run publication received about 400 submissions last year, and so far, about 50 students have submitted for the 2016 edition. These come from anyone, regardless of their major.

“Fishladder is an undergraduate, all-student submission journal of literature and arts,” Vega said. “We encourage students to send their best stuff. We like to see people experimenting and really pushing the boundaries of their craft.”

Students can submit their written and visual works to several categories: non-fiction, fiction, poetry, art and photography. They can also send drama, which should be placed into the appropriate category depending on the content.

Vega added that students can submit multiple pieces to multiple genres. The limit is three fiction pieces (20 pages or less), three nonfiction pieces (20 pages or less), five poems and three drama pieces, as well as five photos and five art pieces per submission deadline.

Although the publication changes every year as the staff and submitters change, Vega said they can count on the most submissions going to the fiction category, which had between 70 and 80 pieces last year.

“We try to pick pieces that showcase the talent here,” Vega said. “We first look for quality and try to have a ratio between genres. It’s important to have a cohesive journal.”

Some students might not want to risk their work getting rejected, but Vega said the journal is just one of the many ways students can get involved on campus.

“Submitting your work can be super intimidating, but fishladder is a starting point for people looking to get published,” Vega said. “It’s a first step and a great way to build connections when you graduate. It’s important especially if you want to be a writer or artist.”

The journal has had a few faculty advisers since it began in 2003. Amorak Huey, a GVSU writing professor, said his department has passed the role around, and this is his third year as adviser.

Besides offering advice, he helps select the senior editors, works between the students and the printer and handles the monetary side of the publication.

“The students do most of the hard work,” Huey said. “I am here if they need me to help them get through the process.”

He agreed with Vega that getting involved with fishladder has many benefits.

“It is one of the coolest opportunities for students to take what they learn in classes into a non-classroom context,” Huey said. “They see the product from beginning to end. I like helping facilitate that.”

Even though getting published can be difficult, he said it is worth taking the chance.

“Part of the reason why we write or create art is to find an audience for it,” Huey said. “fishladder is a way of doing that. It’s competitive because our best students submit their best stuff, but if you’re going to write after college, you need to know the process.”

After the submission portal closes on Dec. 22, the fishladder staff will review the pieces and choose the ones they feel should be considered for publication. A print edition comes out every April.

To send in writing or artwork, go to and sign up for a free account. For more information about the journal or to read past editions, visit