Call for Volunteer Readers

The Baltimore Review is often in need of readers in all genres (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction). With 9,000-10,000 submissions/year now—and we’d like to get those numbers down a bit—we definitely need a village of readers to vote/comment on submissions so that we can respond to writers in a timely way.

Why volunteer? Writers get experience on the editor side of Submittable, and that’s always an eye-opening experience. I recommend this activity to all writers who want to contribute to the writing community and help literary journals thrive. For many of our editorial staff members, this also means becoming part of a like-minded community. We respect each other and enjoy interacting in Submittable; we appreciate opportunities to see each other in Zoom meetings and in person, when possible. Working in Submittable, responding to each other’s comments, and participating in occasional online meetings are activities that help us become better editors and better writers.

Don’t want to make an open-ended commitment? More interested in getting some experience and moving on? Want to commit to, say, two or three or four months? We can do that!

It’s great to have local writers on our staff, but we welcome writers from outside the Baltimore area, too.

Volunteer staff members also have opportunities to help with activities such as blog posts and proofreading the issues. But most of what we do is read, vote, and comment on submissions.

If you would like to volunteer some time with the Baltimore Review, do not have work under consideration with us, and are not currently affiliated with a literary journal, please submit a statement of interest with a little information about yourself and how you see yourself contributing to the BR, and your writing bio/credentials (similar to the contributor bios you see on our website) in a Word doc. If you have questions, email

Thank you!

Submit three poems. No fee. Please submit all poems in one document, not individually. If you later need to withdraw one or two poems, please send us a message through Submittable. No need to email us. No need to withdraw the entire submission. One submission per reading period. 

Submit poems for contest at that link (during contest submission periods), not this one.  Thanks.

Poems should generally be single spaced, titled, with clear stanza breaks. Please proofread your work carefully before submitting. 

We recommend that you read some poems from our online issues to get a sense of what we do and do not publish. Not that we're looking for any specific kind of poem. We like to be surprised. 

We look forward to reading your work.

Submit one short story (really, just one, no more than 5,000 words; shorter is often better, to be honest). Flash fiction, one story only, may also be submitted here. Submit only one story per reading period. No fee.

We enjoy a wide range of literary short stories and recommend that you read same sample stories from our online issues to get a sense of what we publish.

Submit stories for the contest at that link (during contest submission periods), not this one.  

Stories should be double spaced, 12-point standard font, one-inch margins, with indented paragraphs. It's helpful to include the word count on the first page. Pages should be numbered.

Please proofread your work carefully before submitting. A couple of typos isn't a deal breaker, but taking some time to polish your story before submitting it to any journal is a good idea. Also be careful not to submit a doc still in track changes mode. When you finish editing your work, accept the changes, eliminate comments, and save the doc.    

We’re going to start capping submissions to keep the numbers manageable. If writers withdraw their work to fix something and then re-submit it, this counts as two submissions in Submittable—which could end up being a problem. A minor typo? Let it go. A major revision? Send the new doc as an attachment to a Submittable message rather than withdrawing and re-submitting. But again, taking time to carefully proofread your work before submitting is best. 

Please be sure to withdraw your work promptly if it is accepted by another publication.

We look forward to reading your work.


Submit one creative nonfiction piece (no more than 5,000 words). Shorter works of CNF are often a better fit for us. No fee.

A few thoughts on what we're looking for:

For creative nonfiction, we look for the hallmarks described by Philip Gerard in Creative Nonfiction: particularly, an apparent and deeper subject, a well-told story, and the sense that the writer has spent considerable time exploring the subject and making connections outside personal experience—to subjects such as current events and social issues, history, science, politics, religion, the arts—and demonstrating fresh insight. CNF involves telling true stories about people and events using narrative techniques, with a careful attention to language.  It rises above chronological description. The narrator is involved with the subject, and there is evidence of reflection in the work. Although the work usually involves the narrator's experience and opinions, the story should rise above the personal and speak to a larger truth. Readers want to learn; they also want to feel and care. This category should not be used to submit autobiography, life writing exercises, scholarly articles, research papers, book reviews, opinion pieces, rants, acts of revenge and other works that one of us might regret later, memoir that does not employ CNF techniques, and other work that doesn't fit this category. There are many markets for them, and no doubt we'll accept work from time to time that seems to defy our criteria, but this is where we stand right now.

Submit CNF for the contest at that link (during contest submission periods), not this one. Work should be double spaced, 12-point font, one-inch margins, with indented paragraphs. Pages should be numbered. 

Please be sure to withdraw your work promptly if it is accepted by another publication.

Baltimore Review