Open Reading Period for Willow Books

The Open Reading Period is now open thru January 15, 2023. For guidelines, visit SUBMITTABLE.

Congrats to Our 2018-2019 Selection!

Devorah Major, Califia’s Daughter

Devorah Major served as San Francisco’s Third Poet Laureate. She has five poetry books, the most recent and then we became, two novels, four chapbooks and a host of short stories, essays, and poems in anthologies and periodicals. Trade Routes, a symphony by Guillermo Galindo with spoken word poetry and song by devorah major premiered at the Oakland East Bay Symphony in 2006. In June 2015 major premiered her poetry play Classic Black: Voices of 19th Century African-Americans in San Francisco at the S.F. International Arts Festival. devorah major performs her work nationally and internationally with and without musicians.

2017-18 Editor’s Choice!

Naoko Fujimoto–Chicago, IL

Where I Was Born (Poetry)

Naoko Fujimoto was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan. She was an exchange student and received a B.A. and M.A. from Indiana University. Her recent publications are in Prairie Schooner, Hotel Amerika, RHINO, Cream City Review, and many other journals. Her first chapbook, Home, No Home, won the annual Oro Fino Chapbook Competition by Educe Press. Other short collection, “Silver Seasons of Heartache,” was recently released by Glass Lyre Press. She is working on an upcoming graphic poetry collection with Tupelo Press. Currently, she is a fellow editor at RHINO Poetry.

Lupe Mendez–Houston, TX

Why I Am Like Tequila (Poetry)

2022 Texas Poet Laureate Lupe Mendez is a Poet/Educator/Activist, CantoMundo, Macondo & Poetry Incubator Fellow and co-founder of the Librotraficante Caravan. He works with Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say to promote poetry events, advocate for literacy/literature and organize creative writing workshops that are open to the public. He is the founder of Tintero Projects and works with emerging Latinx writers and other writers of color within the Texas Gulf Coast Region, with Houston as its hub. His publishing credits include prose work in Latino Rebels, Houston Free Press, the Kenyon Review, and Norton’s Sudden Fiction Latino: Short Short Stories from the United States and Latin America, and poetry that appears in Huizache, Luna Luna, Ostrich, Revista Síncope, Pilgrimage, Border Senses, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and Gulf Coast.



Lucinda Roy is an Alumni Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing at Virginia Tech where she teaches in the MFA program. Her awards include the Eighth Mountain Poetry Prize for The Humming Birds, a Discover Great New Writers selection from Barnes and Noble for her novel Lady Moses, and the Baxter Hathaway Poetry Prize for her slave narrative “Needlework.” She received the Newsmaker of the Year award from the Virginia Press Women in recognition of her memoir No Right to Remain Silent: What We’ve Learned from the Tragedy at Virginia Tech. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies. She is working on a series of oil paintings depicting the Middle Passage.


CONGRATS TO 2016-2017 EDITOR’S CHOICE Quenton Baker (This Glittering Republic)

Quenton Baker is a poet and teacher from Seattle. His work operates from the premise that poetry is a vital practice capable of rewriting narratives through the art of naming. His current focus is the lived, racialized experience in a society lacking any real dialectical framework for the opposing poles of white supremacy and black sub­humanity. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in anthologies such as Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters and It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop. His chapbook, Diglossic in the Second America, is forthcoming from Punch Press. Baker has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Southern Maine and a Creative Writing BA from Seattle University. He is a 2015-16 Made at Hugo House fellow and a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee.

CONGRATS TO 2015-2016 EDITOR’S CHOICE Cole Lavalais (Summer of Cicadas)

Cole Lavalais
Cole Lavalais

Cole Lavalais is the author of Summer of the Cicadas (Willow Books, 2015). She has been awarded writer’s residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and The Noepe Center for the Literary Arts. An inaugural fellow of the Kimbilio Center for Fiction, Cole’s short stories have appeared in several print and online literary journals. Founder of the forthcoming Hollering Dog: An Online Journal of Diversely Fabricated and Surreal Truths, Cole hosts the Chicago Voices Literary Salon (a salon featuring writers of color) and teaches community-based writing workshops on the south side of Chicago. She is currently at work on her second novel.

CONGRATS TO 2013-2014 EDITOR’S CHOICE  Elmaz Abinader (This House, My Bones)

Elmaz Abinader is a poet, memoirist, playwright and novelist. Her first memoir, Children of the Roojme, a Family’s Journey from Lebanon, chronicles three generations of immigrants battling dislocation and tradition. The poetry collection, In the Country of My Dreams… won the 2000 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Poetry award. She was also awarded a Goldies Award for Literature, as well as two Drammies (Oregon’s Drama award) for her three-act one-woman show, Country of Origin. Elmaz most recently performed Country of Origin at the Kennedy Center and has toured several countries with this play and two others: Ramadan Moon and 32 Mohammeds.  Elmaz’s work has been widely anthologized, most recently in The New Anthology of American Poetry, Vol. 3 and The Colors of Nature. Elmaz has been a Fulbright Senior Fellow to Egypt, taught for the Palestine Writing Workshop and a resident at the El Gouna Writing Residency on the Red Sea. Elmaz is one of the founders of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation, (VONA/Voices), now in its 15th year providing workshops for writers of color. She is also a creative writing professor at Mills College and a fitness instructor at the Oakland Y. This House, My Bones was published by Willow Books in Fall 2014.


Willow Books, the award-winning imprint of Aquarius Press, is currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts from November 15, 2022-January 15, 2023. The mission of Willow Books is to develop, publish and promote writers of color.

Previous Open Reading Period selections include Califia’s Daughter by devorah major, San Francisco’s Third Poet Laureate, Why I Am Like Tequila by 2022 Texas Poet Laureate Lupe Mendez, This Glittering Republic by Quenton Baker, Where I Was Born by Naoko Fujimoto and Fabric by Lucinda Roy.

Poetry Manuscripts should include a cover letter, brief statement about the collection, an estimated page count (no more than 250 pages) and a brief bio.

Fiction & General Interest Nonfiction Manuscripts should include a cover letter, brief summary of the project, an estimated word count (no more than 100,000) and a brief bio.

All submissions must be uploaded by January 15, 2023 by 11:59 p.m. Reading fees are nonrefundable. Aquarius Press LLC in no way guarantees that a submitted manuscript will be accepted. The editors’ decisions are final.

Response Time

You will receive a response within 30 days if your manuscript is accepted. If you do not hear from us within 30 days, you can assume that we have passed on your manuscript. Due to the volume of submissions we receive, we are unable to provide personal feedback.

Simultaneous Submissions

Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please notify us and formally withdraw from Submittable if the manuscript has been accepted elsewhere.

For more information, visit

3 thoughts on “Open Reading Period for Willow Books

  1. Hello. Your guidelines for your open reading period o not specify whether prose submissions are to be novels, short story collections, or whether you might be looking for either. Please clarify. Thanks.


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