Blood oranges. Kimchi. Fried Spam. You’ll find meditations on all in Porridge, a five-year-old international online and print magazine showcasing creative writing – much of it food-related – by new and emerging writers.
“We publish a pretty broad range of work, from videos to recipes to essays, photography, poetry, and more,” says Porridge founder and Arts Co-Editor Georgia Tindale. “What we love to see is work that is interesting above all. It doesn’t need to be totally avant-garde or left field – although we’re down for it if it is! – but we are always on the lookout for thoughtful work that isn’t afraid to be a bit different or stand out.”
Tone, editorial content of Porridge
Nora Selmani is the editor of COMFORT FOODS, a Porridge series focusing on writing that examines the relationship between food and cultural identity. She’s particularly interested in food writing from marginalized perspectives; she looks for creative nonfiction and poetry that examine the concept of comfort food as a way to build community. Writers should feel free to submit related photographs as well.
Selmani points to Lithuanian artist Ieva Grigelionyte’s essay “Sour moon” as the type of nonfiction Porridge editors like to publish. It’s a personal account of making fermented cabbage. Grigelionyte begins:
I told my dad I am gonna make sauerkraut and my dad, who is Lithuanian like me, said you mean fermented cabbage and I said yeah to which he said your cabbage might not speak German, keep it simple. I said ok, I will.
“I really love this piece because it subtly captures yearning so often found in food writing from the diaspora – and actively encouraged in our COMFORT FOODS series – through dry humor and a style that doesn’t take itself too seriously,” Selmani notes.
Tindale notes that Porridge editors particularly enjoy pairing art and photography with the creative writing submissions that appear in the print edition of the magazine because of the surprising resonances they create when juxtaposed. She’s particularly excited to showcase collages by London-based artist Olivia Brazier. “She transplants imagery from cookbooks and pornography magazines in order to replace the shame and objectification surrounding women’s sexuality and appetite with humor and surprise,” Tindale explains.
Filipino writer Victory Witherkeigh has published short prose in Porridge; so has London-based writer Madeehah Reza. Jenny Wong has poetry in Porridge, as do Ava Patel and David Linklater.
Danae Younge has a poem called “Snow Angels Could Last, You Know” (5/26/21) in the digital edition of Porridge. It’s a poem Tindale counts among her own personal favorites. “She captures both a scene and a relationship in crisp, striking imagery, which stays with you after reading – for example, the lines: ‘The trees are prettier this time of year, limp— / gowned in sweet milk stuck to our tongues,’” she explains. “It’s a wonderful, carefully crafted poem from a writer who is only 19 years old and already widely published.”
Retired chef Wil Reidie has a piece called “Appetite” in Volume 6 of Porridge that Nonfiction Editor Chris Rouse calls “a beautifully written and sharply evocative take on the relationships between family, memory, loss and what we eat and drink. How who we love and what we love can be so closely linked,” he notes.
Rouse is delighted by the growth and development of the journal’s COMFORT FOOD series, which has explored the pleasures of homemade rice pudding, tortillas, and the Eastern European pastry Koláčky. “It’s wonderful to see a range of writers express in a range of media how food can bring joy and respite,” Rouse says.
Advice for potential contributors
Editors accept COMFORT FOODS submissions and nonfiction pieces year-round. They’re looking for both creative nonfiction and essays that explore current affairs, politics, technology, the environment, history, and culture. Suggestions for supplemental images are welcome. Poets should submit up to three pieces informed by vivid imagery and sensory details. Editors prefer non-rhyming submissions without excessive violence and graphic, offensive content.
Short stories range in length from flash to 4,000 words. Editors discourage horror submissions and bait-and-switch endings; other than that, they enjoy fiction that explores people’s interactions with each other and the world around them in a surprising manner.
Editors welcome both previously published pieces and simultaneous submissions. In the email subject line, indicate whether your submission is intended for the print or online issue of Porridge; the subject line should also include your full name and the genre in which you’re submitting, and make sure your piece includes a short third-person bio.
“If in doubt, have a go – after reading our submissions guidelines, of course – and see what happens,” Tindale tells potential contributors. “We love being surprised, and we are constantly blown away by both the quality and diversity of the work we receive from all around the world.”
Porridge at a glance
“Our aim is to create an inclusive space for contemporary and thought-provoking work and to bring different disciplines together in a new and engaging way.”
Reading periods: Biannually; see website for deadlines.
Length: Prose to 4,000 words; maximum of three poems.
Genres: Fiction, nonfiction, poetry.
Submission format: Email a Word or Google doc with JPEG or PNG images.
—Melissa Hart is the author, most recently, of Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens (Sasquatch, 2019). Instagram: @writermelissahart