Ends on

Guest Editor: Ronaldo V. Wilson

Obsidian supports—through publication and critical inquiry—the contemporary poetry, fiction, drama/performance, visual and media art of Africans globally. Recognized by the National Endowment of the Arts as one of the premier journals dedicated to African Diaspora Literatures, Obsidian is published biannually in print and year-round online at https://obsidianlit.org and hosted by Illinois State University.

This special issue of Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, Gender Queer/ Genre Queer Playground, seeks work that moves between the face of terror and isolation; joy as possibility, necessity, and form. This issue will be a living testament to how trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary writers and artists are often at the leading edge of innovation, pushing the boundaries of genre, broadening the scope of text-based work with other art practices and mediums.

Recess—inspired by the visual artist Ellen Gallagher’s 2001 painted sculpture “Preserve,” (10 x 12 x 32 feet) described in Art in Review as “an expansive, all-white structure of straight wooden dowels designed to resemble a children’s jungle gym, … decorat[ed] … with cut-out pieces of flat rubber … based on Ms. Gallagher’s usual lexicon of google eyes, lips and wavy hair.” 

Catch—Gallagher’s minimalist structure, modeled in the context of the “playground,” allows for multiple points of entry, the viewer able to play through a raced, gendered, queer site. 

Blacktop. Blackness. Kickball. Tetherball. Double-Dutch. Tag. You’re It. We invite LGBQTIA+++++ of the African Diaspora to come play with us across practices. Please send original short stories, poetry, drama, hybrid genre, creative/critical interventions, interviews, multimedia visual and digital art, as well as music and experimental soundscapes.

Extended Submission Deadline: June 22, 2021 to January 1, 2022

Direct Inquiries to: playgroundissue@obsidianlit.org


Guidelines for Submissions
For all submissions, include a short cover letter noting the title(s) of the work(s) submitted as well as any association or past correspondence with a guest or staff editor. Also include a fifty-word bio.


Manuscript Guidelines

  • Upload your text submission as a Word (DOC, DOCX), portable document format/PDF (PDF) or rich-text format (RTF) file. No Pages, TXT, or Open Office Documents. 
  • Typed, double-spaced (poetry may be single-spaced) pages. 
  • Numbered pages. 
  • Submissions should follow the Chicago Manual of Style for grammar and MLA format for citations and works cited, when applicable.  
  • Margins should be set at no less than 1” and no greater than 1.5”. 
  • Poetry: submit up to five (5) poems totaling no more than eight (8) pages. 
  • Fiction, Hybrid genre and critical essays:  12-point font. No more than twenty (20) pages or 5000 words (whichever is achieved first). Excerpts of longer works are welcome if self-contained.  
  • Drama/Performance: submit one act or a collection of short scenes no longer than twenty pages (20) following Samuel French or the Dramatists Guild suggested formatting. Excerpts of longer works are welcome if self-contained. Translations are welcome if permission has been granted.

Image Submission Guidelines

  • Submit up to five (5) images totaling no more than 15 MB. 
  • Upload your submission(s) as JPG or TIFF file(s) (TIFF preferred) in 300 ppi at the size(s) intended to be used (6" x 9").   
  • Specify the orientation the image(s) as portrait or landscape.

Audio Submission Guidelines

  • Submit up to five (5) sound files totaling no more than 30 MB. 
  • Upload your submission(s) as MP3 or WAV file(s)   

Video & Media Arts Submission Guidelines

  • Submit up to three (3) video and/or gaming files totaling no more than 800 MB. 
  • Upload your submission(s) as M4V, MP4, MPG, AVI, or MOV files, SWF, Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), UNITY game files, and HTML5 (with or without CSS and JavaScript markup). 


We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.