The Curator

What we’re looking for: objects + meaning
The Curator explores the meaning and matters of the heart and spirit reflected in cultural objects, experiences, and the arts.

We publish at least one piece of prose (including creative nonfiction essays, reviews and interviews) and one poem each week.

Thematically, we curate writing about art intersecting with humanity. Here’s what interests us:

  • Essays that contemplate the stories behind everyday objects;
  • coverage of artists and their artworks with personal reflection and/or cultural commentary;
  • Photo essays and travelogues;
  • personalized reviews (though because of our schedule, we’re not usually looking for time-sensitive reviews);
  • intimate artist interviews;
  • or philosophizing on cultural kitsch or personal objects of value.

Aesthetically, we desire to showcase a diverse range of voices, artforms, and styles, but we do not accept academic essays. We do publish personal essays, interviews, reviews, reported stories, and memoir with a tie to an artwork, piece of music, or an everyday object. If there is meaning to be had in this world, our writers will find it.

In other words, as Marianne Moore put it in her poem “When I Buy Pictures”:

of whatever sort [the picture is] is,
it must be “lit with piercing glances into the life of things”;
it must acknowledge the spiritual forces which have made it.

Culture at large, or art, or writing, all are material manifestations of the workings of the inner life and of the spirit of the times (the zeitgeist). A pitch or submission should, on some level, address deeper questions within ourselves and our society.

Because we explore the meaning we find in artistic and everyday objects, we’re open to writing that incorporates spiritual elements. We welcome writers from all backgrounds to share their work with us.

Quota: This project has established a quota. Submissions will close when it is reached.

36%

Last Things on Earth Free

Open

What will outlast you? Which cultural relics will continue to move humans of future generations? What are the works of art and objects that make us feel something today? The Curators Magazine's “Last Things on Earth” column will chronicle and celebrate the artifacts that matter most, not to the academy or to the art world, but to the human heart.

What We’re Looking For:

We’re looking for nonfiction prose pitches that answer the following questions in unique and surprising ways, preferably combining personal narrative, cultural observation, and art criticism. (We are likewise open to pitches that nod to the same spirit embodied in these questions.)

-Introduce us to an artwork that you have returned to more than once. Why did it matter back when it was made, and why does it matter now? Why does it matter to you personally?

-What’s one piece of visual art you wish you could show to your non-art-appreciating neighbor to change his mind about museum art? Why?

-What artifact got you through a hard time? What artifact illuminates the human condition?

-What’s the first piece of art or music you experienced? What was your teenage favorite? Looking back now, how do you judge your tastes back then? Does the work hold up? Why or why not?

-What’s the one (non-survival) thing you’d want to bring on a desert island? (Some answers we would love: that weird piece of art your kid made for you, the sculpture you bought in Japan from a street vendor, love notes from your junior high boyfriend, the fountain pen your dad gifted to you before he died. We want to hear about an item with a story.)

Guidelines:

Please pitch first. Pitches should read like a sample of the finished piece, exhibiting your personal voice and style while taking us on a 150-word tour of the inside of your essay. (Hook us.) Then provide a brief bio, including any links to previously published work in the same vein (note: previously published work isn’t necessary, but it shows us you can meet a deadline and gives us a sense of who you are).

Completed essays should run between 800 and 2,000 words.

Address your bio to either Kathryn Watson or Liz Charlotte Grant for the chance to win a dream vacation. We’ll get back to you somewhere between 1 week and 1 month. Query us if you haven’t heard back by then at [email protected]

The Editors are Inspired by:

Shemaiah Gonzalez’s The Moment of Inhale

Michael Wright’s Still Life newsletters

The Believer Mag’s Objects

Marginalia

The Atlantic’s Object Lessons

Nonfiction & Multimedia Free

Open

Call for Submissions and Pitches
We’re honored you’d send us your work, and we want to respect your time and talents. We’re interested in original works, not reprints. Here’s what you can expect when you send your words our way.

For nonfiction, we prefer to consider pitches over fully-formed drafts, but we’ll read both. For more, check out our guide to pitching prose.

If you send us a pitch, please send 150-250 words that include clear, concise info on:

  • Your angle — what will your piece say? Give us a clear thesis that explains the object you want to explore and why it matters.
  • Your form and deadline — is it an essay, review, criticism, or an interview? How many words do you expect to write? When do you expect it to be complete?
  • Your background — what makes you the right person to cover this? You can include links to previously published work, if helpful, though prior bylines are not a requirement for us to consider your work for publication. (In fact, we enjoy working with new and emerging writers.)

You’ll hear back from us within about a month. If we accept your pitch, we’ll:

  • ask for a draft (send us a google doc, or if you must, .doc or .docx, double-spaced, and as close to AP style as you can get it),
  • offer any relevant guidance from the section editor over google docs, and
  • set a mutually agreeable timeline to publication. Sadly, we cannot pay writers at this time.

Poetry Free

Open

Poetry
We’re interested in craft and poems that make us want to read them again. We aim to publish a new poem every Thursday morning.

Guidelines:

  • 3 poems maximum
  • All poems should go into one document (acceptable file types: .doc .docx .rtf or .pdf)
  • Email subject line: “Poetry submission”
  • Simultaneous submissions are ok; let us know asap if a poem is accepted elsewhere.
  • We do not accept previously published poems.