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Editorial Fellows

Open Call: The Present

July 1, 2024

In connection with the Editorial Fellowship program at A Public Space, we are pleased to announce an open call for a piece in the magazine to be edited by Louis Harnett O'Meara.

Call for Submissions

Time keeps budding into new moments, every one of which presents a content which in its individuality never was before and will never be again. Let anyone try, I will not say to arrest, but to notice or attend to, the present moment of time. One of the most baffling experiences occurs. Where is it, this present? It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming. — William James

We can’t escape the present moment, but we can inhabit it in different ways. We can become more physically embodied, experiencing the passage of time as sensuous and sensorial; or we can establish distance from the immediate, and treat the external world as a disordered mass that we must constantly rearrange. The present can be encountered as repetition and recurrence, the fundamental continuity between things; or as Heraclitus said, panta rhei, meaning that all is change, everything flows. 

Literature is a temporal art, and while the present is always “gone in the instant of becoming,” we know intuitively that works of poetry and prose can offer us some sense of “the truth” about how we live in each moment. It can do this because it is not limited to the sterile science of minutes, months and years. In books, as in life, time can slow down or speed up; recurring experiences can be imbued with singular charge; and fleeting moments can extend seemingly forever. 

I would like to see prose that makes use of the present for my Open Call. I don’t mean that I would like to see writing that is about the idea of the present or writing that is “of its time.” I don't want to read a list of cultural reference points for the 2020s. I would like to encounter writing that is of time—writing that treats the present moment as the stuff that it is made of. I welcome interpretations that are broad, and responses that are specific.

Submission Requirements: Only previously unpublished works of fiction or nonfiction are eligible. International and multilingual submissions are welcome, provided that English is the primary language used. Only one submission per person is allowed. Writers whose work is published in the magazine will receive an honorarium.

Timeline: Submittable will be open for submissions from July 1 – July 21 only. Submissions close at 11:59 p.m. (EST) on July 21, 2023.

Please submit the following:

— A cover letter, including a one-paragraph biographical statement, and a paragraph describing how your work makes use of the present. 

— One previously unpublished piece of fiction or nonfiction up to 8,000 words, double spaced. 

— Only writers who have not yet published a book or been contracted to write a book-length work in English are eligible. 

— Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but please note that if your piece is accepted elsewhere, you will be required to withdraw your entire application; replacement pieces will not be accepted once the deadline has passed. 

Note that we only accept PDF or Word files (.doc and .docx). The cover letter and manuscript should be submitted as separate files. Incomplete submissions or submissions that do not address this call will not be considered and will be returned unread.

Questions? Write Editorial Fellow Louis Harnett O'Meara at

Examples from the APS archive:

— In “Time’s Weather,” published in APS 23, Friederike Mayröcker writes “I have always written with my body.” For Mayröcker, the flow of writing is linked with her embodied presence.

— Garth Greenwell’s “Mentor,” published in APS 22, describes an experience from moment to moment in sensuous, at-times claustrophobic detail. Questions of attraction and risk run through this, intensifying each second.

— David Hayden published “Dublin, We Were,” in APS 29. In it, the narrator describes the past beneath the present, which is an almost impervious surface: “There are countless pasts here: living, half-living, dead. Worlds that are unattended in the present.” 

— “The problem is to make time pass,” writes Hervé Guibert in his journal, translated by Nathanaël and published as “The Mausoleum of Lovers” in APS 17. Guibert’s epistolary form invokes the present as immediate, but also insubstantial, sometimes skipping whole weeks. 

— Forty-eight hours disperse across time and space in Tracey Hill’s “In Transit,” published in APS 08, which flies the reader over continents before ending in suspension and stasis.

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