RQ is a quarterly print-only journal of art and ideas from Philadelphia, but more than anything it’s a community of people, and you’re welcome to join that intentional community. Please familiarize yourself with our philosophy by taking the time to watch the video remarks at our launch party and/or getting yourself a copy of the magazine.* You can also read excepts of all articles online.
After watching the video remarks of our launch, you’ll be more familiar with the fact that we are publishing RQ in part because we’d like to promote Philadelphia as a city, build a community of thoughtful people, and reclaim discourse from the highly-politicized, rage-stoking space of social media.
We are not afraid of heterodox thinkers, long pieces, or essays and articles about complicated or nuanced issues that need more research and good faith discussion. It’s okay not to know the answer, but please have a good question!
We are not interested in pieces that shame, blame, or grandstand. We’d like to see pieces that open up conversations rather than shutting them down, and if you need touchstones, try reading “The Smug Style of American Politics” and this New York Times opinion piece from a social justice activist on outrage and cancel culture.
WHO WE PUBLISH
For the most part, we’re giving very heavy preference to Philadelphia region writers, though we’re open in particular when it comes to cultural criticism to a wide array of people. You don’t have to be a professional writer. But you do have to have something to say. If you’re a conservative, get in touch. Though we’re pretty liberal ourselves, that doesn’t preclude us from wanting to hear what you have to say.
THEMES & TIMING
Our issues are themed, and we work about three to six months in advance. The winter issue of RQ is “Spheres” and the spring issue theme is “Buds.” Please note that for SPHERES, we’ll need submissions by September 30, and for BUDS, we’d like to receive pitches and submissions by January 15.
WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR:
Artwork and photography from Philadelphia-region artists to accompany articles and essays. Send 3 - 5 images for consideration and keep the themes in mind. We may also pair artists with writers to come up with joint projects, and you can approach as as a team if you’d like; send a three-paragraph pitch.
Philadelphia photography that captures the spirit of the city.
Fiction, including experimental fiction and erotica, is welcome. Please send pieces of 500 to 2,000 words.
Personal essays or articles for our “Switchbacks” section that relate points of inflection in a person’s life that have taken them to an unexpected and new place.
Cultural criticism and think pieces of 500 to 3,500 words. You can write about big issues, movies, TV, books, art exhibitions or anything else that has sparked a good idea.
Long-form profiles of Philadelphia region artists who are mid-to-late career. They can work in any discipline. Please send a two-paragraph pitch about your credentials and your proposed artist.
Recommendations on what we might cover in our “RECOMMENDATION” section, which features Philadelphia makers and experiences. We won’t accept copy from PR firms.
Recommendations on what we might cover in our “DESTINATION” section, which features hidden treasures in Philadelphia, especially those that have been around for a long time. We won’t accept copy from PR firms.
TONE & STYLE
It’s okay to have a distinctive voice! But we’re also looking for writers who will largely forgo snark, condescension, bullying, point-scoring, self-serving virtue signaling, etc., and will instead try on for size some finesse, awe, grace, wit, and humility. It’s okay to have questions and not answers. Ideas and issues are complicated, and they take time to unwind.
We’re also looking for people who aren’t afraid to write a piece even if people within their bubble might disagree with it. Two great examples are here in The Atlantic and here in Seattle’s Weekly, The Stranger. Both are written by hardcore liberals who are willing to call on other liberals to be more rigorous with their arguments.
Be wild, be funny, be weird, be contrarian. The worst we can say is ‘no.’
This is a volunteer-run project, and it’s a barn-raising in every way. Printing bills are expensive. But we know your time is valuable and that art isn’t free. That’s why we’ve got a subscription-based model and we don’t give our content away online.
We typically give honorariums of $25 to $100 depending on the piece and its length, as well as for artwork contributions that illustrate articles. Longer, assigned profiles or articles will be compensated at 10 cents to 20 cents per word, to be determined at the time we accept a proposal and our current funds. If there’s a piece that absolutely needs to be written but would require more time and research, we’re willing to look into grants that may fund the work; we are a fiscally-sponsored project of Cultureworks in Philadelphia, and can accept tax-deductible contributions.
*If you are suffering from financial hardship and can’t afford a single issue at $12, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work something out.
HOW TO SUBMIT
Take in all of the above, do a little reading, cuddle up with an issue, and then send us an email keeping all those guidelines and principles in mind. We thank you in advance for considering joining our community.
RQ operates with a volunteer editorial staff, but we have direct production and business expenses, including paying contributors. If you’d like to help us fund the next print run, pay writers, or otherwise invest in our operations, we’re happy to add your name here to our list of supporters, or take your anonymous donation.
Online donations can be made here.
Checks should be made payable to “Root Quarterly of CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia” and sent to:
CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Building
1315 Walnut Street, Suite 320
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Please email publisher Heather Blakeslee with inquiries about other ways to support our work. Thank you for considering investing in art, ideas, free speech, and civil dialogue.