THEME: Speculative Worlds       DEADLINE: 6/30/24

Imagining worlds that are parallel to, in conversation with, or entirely depart from the world we know, an issue on speculative worlds invites submissions which rethink what our every day lives could look like, hope towards new forms of liberation and survival, and look to new languages, codes, images, objects, patterns, and ways of being.

Send us your textual, visual, and experimental translations—speculative in their content, intent, method, or form.

Alchemy welcomes previously unpublished traditional and non-traditional translations as well as experimental work that investigates or challenges the very act of translation. We accept translation work mainly from student translators and emerging translators; we will consider work from professional translators who have not yet published a full-length book. You may submit translated poemsshort fictionnon-fictiondramatic works / dialogueslettersreviews, or cross-genre/unclassifiable work. We also accept submissions of visual art, which may be considered for the cover art. It’s always free to submit.

  • Poetry: 1-2 poems
  • Prose (Fiction/Non-Fiction/Other): max. 2,000 words
  • Drama/Dialogue: max. 5-minute scene
  • Cross-Genre/Unclassifiable Works: combine the aforementioned criteria in the manner that best fits
  • Visual Art: 1-5 works, can be a series (JPEG or PNG file)

Please include the translation(s) and the source texts(s) as well as two 200-400 word bios (one of the original author and one of yourself). You may also share a translator’s or artist’s note including any relevant information about your methods or the significance of your work.

We do not accept previously published translations or works that you are not authorized to publish (authorization includes permission from the original author or current rights-holder, or Creative Commons / public copyright license).

Other Guidelines:

  • Use legible 11 or 12-point font for both source and target docs
  • Submit separate files for source and target docs (source doc must be a typed up version of the text, not a photo or scan of it)
  • Display word count on first page of target doc
  • If you have not yet obtained rights to translate/publish (if applicable), please do not submit
  • If you have already published a full-length book of translations (or if one is forthcoming in the near future), please do not submit

Past Calls

Revolutions [Winter 2024]
Revolutions: the captivating dance of natural repetitions and cycles, the mesmerizing pulse of technological innovations, the enticing fervor of political uprisings, the transformative power of intellectual breakthroughs and sociocultural change. 
Artists, writers, and philosophers have grappled with expressing the unique qualities of revolutions, often using poetic language to pinpoint its elusive nature. Che Guevara urged action when he wrote that revolution “is not an apple that falls when it is ripe” and Mallet du Pan warned that “revolution can devour its children.” For John Adams, revolution “[sank] into the minds and hearts of the people” while for Nawal El Saadawi, “it will thrive in our thoughts and actions.”  
Send us translated words and images documenting revolutions from the small spins to the seismic shifts, and encompassing organizing, resisting, revolting, and overturning. Share works that lament an unsatisfied need for change—when momentum gathers but the seeds of revolution remain unsprouted. Submit translations that reaffirm our collective desire for progress, or that revolutionize our understanding of revolutions.

Layers [Summer 2023]

Layers of words, phrases, images, sounds. Layers of thoughts, emotions, sensations, reactions. Sometimes apparent, sometimes obscured. They give shape, depth, and added meaning to life and the world around us. Peel them back or keep them hidden. Discover the secrets behind their formation.

Layers in literature, history, research, and love. Layers in physicality, spirituality, earth, air, and ocean. They are trace, absence, presence. A palimpsest. A ventifact.

Send us your textual, visual, and experimental translations—layered in their content, intent, method, or form.

Autonomy [Winter 2023]

Autonomy—the condition of being free to act independently without coercion or outside influence—is a concept with relevance in numerous areas and disciplines. It carries implications about the physical and medical, the mental and psychological, the social and political, and has also been used in examining the nature of a translated text.

In its most literal contexts, autonomy often has direct links to human rights issues and is regularly sought after and fought for while frequently at risk of being taken away. While the term evokes a sense of agency and freedom, it also calls into question potential limitations or negative connotations: Autonomy granted to whom or which entity? Autonomy over what and for how long? Is it relative or is it absolute?

Reflect on autonomy and its role or relevance in your translated works (textual or visual)—then send your translations our way for consideration in the winter issue.

Unlearning [Winter/Spring 2022]

The systems in place wire our brains and hearts into patterns that don’t always serve us. Our histories, values, and logics are shaped by outside forces in the service of a greater project. The mechanisms are invisibilized. We sacrifice readily. But as we witness the violence these systems cause to our planet, to each other, and even to ourselves, we wonder: is following the clear-cut path really worth the things we lose in the process? How can we rewire our neural pathways, heal our ancestral trauma (or, recover the ancestral knowledge that has been kept from us), cast off the beliefs that don’t serve us? What will we reveal underneath?

In translation, those that cross languages bring back a set of meanings. But language is slippery. Legacies of colonialism, white supremacy, and heteronormativity have twisted the meanings of texts in ways that shore up dominant value systems. Which interpretations do we take for granted? How do our conscious or subconscious ideologies shape how we interpret a text? When we allow ourselves to dive deeper, see clearer, and get into a flow state of translation, what can we uncover both about the text and about ourselves?

Metamorphosis [Summer 2021]

Slow shifts are now upon us. Another tightly-coiled winter gives way to the hesitant unspooling of springtime: new growth, rebirth, soft openings. Amidst the long-awaited vaccination rollouts, we test the waters, trying to find ways to ease into interaction while being mindful of unequal access and those we’ve lost along the way. With another season’s deadly examples of deeply flawed systems, more and more of us desire to imagine something better. The thing about metamorphosis is that we can’t always know exactly how it will turn out: we have to trust the process.

Similarly, translation is always a process of metamorphosis. Language is transformed in accordance with sound, meaning, shape, tradition, ritual. Whatever we end up with bears the imprint of all those who touched it, and, if metamorphosis is true, always contains within it the essence of the original.

For the summer issue, send us your transformations, your shapeshifting language, your narratives of change.

Correspondence [Winter 2021]

Within the isolation brought on by the global pandemic, many of our closest relationships have become epistolary. But translation has always been epistolary on some level-there is an exchange, a reaching across borders, languages, and systems of thought & meaning. Each step in the process, each return, becomes its own instance of correspondence.

For the forthcoming issue of Alchemy, we invite you to share your correspondences. Interpret the theme as closely or as loosely as you are inspired to: translate the poetry of your friends and lovers; the letters of incarcerated pen pals; the diary entries of your grandparents; the stories you might have written in an alternate timeline; the message in a bottle waiting just for you. Transmit the slow pull of knowledge out of a formative text. Let the translation of a poem be your response to its call. Let yourself dwell on distance & temporal stagger, glitch in the fragmentation of time zones, accept what is offered to you & offer something in return.

Through these exchanges, we recognize our solitude as permeable; we pierce through isolation with intentionally invoked intimacies. We struggle against further atomization. We invite each other in.