slush pile [n]

a pile of manuscripts that have been sent by writers to a publisher and that will probably not be published.



SLUSH PILE MAGAZINE was created in 2009 as a consequence of founding editor M.R. Branwen's fascination with the eponymous stacks of unsolicited fiction cluttering the bookshelves, baskets, and desktops of Harvard Review, where she was working (indeed, where she still works) as a senior reader.

Thus, the name of the magazine is both literal and ironic: literal, because most of our authors were found in some slush pile or other. Ironic because, although the term "slush pile" is bandied around the literary world as a synonym for "throw-backs" everything we publish is choice.

Let this magazine be one small testament to the fact that the slush pile is not just a dead end.


Slush Pile Magazine owes a huge debt of gratitude to Christina Thompson, Editor of Harvard Review, for her ceaseless encouragement and wisdom.


Slush Pile Magazine gladly accepts unsolicited submissions of short fiction, essays, and poetry via Submittable:


There is a $3 reading fee per submission, but in return we will give you feedback if you request it.

Please include a brief cover letter, citing recent publications, relevant degrees, and awards. Please make sure the author’s name and contact information is clearly indicated on the submission itself.

Please limit your submission of prose to no more than 7,000 words, and your submission of poetry to five poems. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please let us know if the work has been accepted elsewhere.


To contact M.R. Branwen, ask questions, or comment about anything Slush Pile Magazine related, please direct correspondences to:

editors [at]


M. RACHEL BRANWEN, EDITOR, is the former managing editor and current senior reader of fiction at Harvard Review, where she has worked since 2008. Her writing has appeared in The Missouri Review, The Adirondack Review,  The Millions, Metazen  (RIP) and elsewhere. By all means look her up on Facebook: FB/onesmartnut & FB/slushpilemag   or  Twitter @slushpilemag.

Julie Swarstad Johnson

JULIE SWARSTAD JOHNSON, POETRY EDITOR, is the author of a poetry chapbook, Jumping the Pit. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Passages NorthCrab Orchard Review, The Hollins Critic, and elsewhere. A graduate of the MFA program at Penn State, she regularly contributes book reviews to Harvard Review Online. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she works as a library assistant at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.


SARA PETRAS, VISUAL ARTS EDITOR, received her MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art, Post-Bacc from Brandeis University and BA from University of New Hampshire with a focus in Painting. Her particular interest in Contemporary Art clarified during her tenure as Gallery Manager at Allston Skirt Gallery, Boston. She is the recipient of a George Nick Foundation award for Painting and an Artist Residency Grant from the Helene Wurlitzer Fountation of Taos, NM. Her work reflects her obsession with color and love of formal composition.


HEATHER BULLISS, EDITORIAL ASSISTANT, is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University with her BA in English and Writing. It should be no surprise, then, that the vast majority of her free time is spent between pages–those already filled with words, those waiting to be filled with her own. Heather can also often be found covered in the glue and glitter of various projects or with–Michigan weather permitting–dirt under her fingernails, grass between her toes, and sun specks on her skin from her latest outdoor adventures. She likes wearing her hair long. Like a mermaid. Or Princess Leia. She is also an avid fan of hats.


MOLLY WAITE, EDITORIAL ASSISTANT, earned her M.A. in Arts and Culture from Maastricht University and her B.A. in Creative Writing from Grand Valley State University. She doesn’t like the term "Grammar Nazi," which brings to mind fenced-in parts of speech, barbed wire punctuation, and a narrow-minded and narrow-mustached man with a red pen. She believes that language is meant to be played with, as Stephen Fry puts it, for the sheer “sound-sex” of it.


The ideas, opinions, and imaginative output of our contributors are not necessarily shared by Slush Pile Magazine   and its staff. In event that you find something on our website highly offensive, please let us know and we'll see what we can do about it.

Also, we were never able to correctly identify the origins of the lady with the stack of papers, a modified version of which we use as our logo. If the original design is yours, please let us know so that we can give you credit for your work.