Call for Submissions: A World Without Cages

Extended deadline: We will accept submissions on an ongoing basis until December 1, 2020.

“Imagine those tens of millions of years that were taken, woven back into society. If our lives are made up of moments and memories, how much could the people of this world benefit, having those moments intact for eons, alongside all the failures, emotional lessons, and worlds that they gestate? If this was a science fiction story, the twist might be that some species out in space implemented this thinking long ago, created a more heartfelt ecosystem than ours, perhaps evolved a society that, from a distance, now gazes at our own from some distant galactic heaven, looking to guide us home.”   Roshan Abraham, “For Future People: Reflections on Imprisonment

“What if abolition isn’t a shattering thing, not a crashing thing, not a wrecking ball event? What if abolition is something that sprouts out of the wet places in our eyes, the broken places in our skin, the waiting places in our palms, the tremble holding in my mouth when I turn to you? What if abolition is something that grows?” Alexis Pauline Gumbs


We’re eager to see a variety of forms of writing and art that imagine the end of mass incarceration and immigrant detention: creative essays, nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and visual storytelling, including artwork, graphic illustrations, and comics. We are looking for fantasies, dreams, memories, experiments, and explorations. This might include poems on movement and mobility; visionary fiction speculating on future worlds and alternate realities; or a visual essay on how people grow and tend to a community space together. We want to know: What does safety feel and look like without the carceral system? How do we imagine repair after rupture? How do our relationships with one another transform? How do our histories rewrite and reimagine our futures?

We are seeking pieces by writers that demonstrate thoughtfulness and care around their relationships between sites and systems of violence. We prioritize contributions by writers with direct experiences with the carceral system.

Previous contributions to a World Without Cages have included a comic about two men who play Dungeons and Dragons inside Auburn Correctional facility; poems themed around purgatory and the underworld; memories and letters sent to past selves; and letters exchanged between two women, one on the inside and one on the outside, as a glimpse of their burgeoning friendship and intimacy. 

Written submissions should be 3000 words maximum, though we welcome shorter submissions. You may include up to 5 poems per submission.

What to include:

  • Please format the title of your submission as follows: “LAST NAME – World Without Cages – TITLE OF PIECE.”
  • Be sure to include a short biography (maximum 100 words).
  • In addition to your piece, please submit a cover letter and tell us a little bit about why you chose your particular interpretation of the theme, how the submitted work relates to this specific call, and how you connect to this theme as an author. Feel free to respond in a way that aligns with the aims of your work (maximum 300 words)

We can pay an honorarium to all contributors whose work is accepted and will mail copies to contributors who are incarcerated. We may contact some contributors with an offer of writing mentorship. 

A World Without Cages will appear in the online magazine, The Margins, run by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and may be collected in printed portfolios. We want to highlight work including—but not limited to!—Asian Americans.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.