About Us

  • Switchback is an online publication of the MFA in Writing Program at the University of San Francisco. We have recently changed our publication schedule from producing two issues a year to releasing new material throughout all twelve months. Submissions will remain open!
General Guidelines

  1. We only consider previously unpublished works. No exceptions. Thank you.
  2. We do not accept submissions via email or postal service. You can submit your work to us through Submittable. If you run into any technical difficulties in uploading your submission, please contact us at
  3. We do accept simultaneous submissions; however, we ask that you notify us as soon as possible if your work is accepted elsewhere. If you’re exclusively submitting work to us, we appreciate the thought.
  4. If you’re submitting prose, please limit your submission to one story or essay at a time. And make sure your work clocks in at or under 7500 words. We won't consider any prose pieces over 7500 words. Period. Sorry, but dem's the breaks.
  5. If you’re submitting poetry, please submit to us no more than three poems. We like things in threes: Olympic medals, wishes, Cerberus heads, jazz ensembles. We don’t like things in fours, except when it comes to lists of things in threes.
  6. Before submitting, please read some of our back issues to familiarize yourself with the content we choose to publish. It's all readily available on our Web site (completely free and immediate), so there's really no reason not to.
Ends on April 16, 2017


The theme for this contest is: Your Outrage. We’re looking for well-crafted poems, short stories, and nonfiction pieces that capture the intensity of the word outrage. Producing art during times of turmoil and uncertainty can lead to works of significant consequence and meaning. Art helps the world make sense of the chaos around us and move things forward. We want you to grapple with the world and show us Your Outrage.

The winner will receive $500 and publication in our online journal.


This themed contest will begin accepting submissions on Monday, February 27th at 12:01 am PST and will have a deadline of Sunday, April 16th at 11:59 pm PST. General submissions to Switchback will remain open.


$5 per submission for the contest.

In order to be eligible for the contest, writers must both submit their work on Submittable AND follow the link below to pay the required $5 entry fee. Both MUST be done in order to be judged for the prize.


(All entries will be considered for publication in our online journal. General submissions to Switchback are free, but will not be considered for the contest’s prize.)


The winner will be contacted directly one week prior to public announcement on our website.

Open to writers in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Entries must not have appeared previously in print or online. There is no minimum word count, but the maximum is 3,000 words. This contest will be judged by the Switchback editorial staff. People affiliated with Switchback, and their family members, are ineligible. Current University of San Francisco faculty, staff, and students are also excluded from entering this contest. Prize money may be subject to tax withholding.

Switchback regularly publishes reviews of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry on our Web site. As a rule, we generally prefer to read reviews of lesser known works, books you’re less likely to come across in the New York Times Book Review or Publishers Weekly, but we’re open to all good writing.

The best reviews engage even readers who have no intention of picking up the book being reviewed. Therefore, your review should go beyond mere book report. Situate the book you're reviewing in a larger context. Make surprising and thought-provoking connections. You review should be able to stand on its own.

Please state in your cover letter what genre your review falls under, so we may pass it along to the correct genre editor. Publicists interested in sending us catalogue listings or review galleys of forthcoming titles should send a query to

Ends on November 29, 2017
We welcome stories of all genres and subject matter. We simply want your best work—stories that you’ve devoted a lot of time and care to. We don’t want to see your first drafts, and probably not your second drafts, either. Likewise, we don’t want stories riddled with clichés, tired tropes, melodrama, or flowery language. We appreciate precision, attention to craft, and language that surprises and inspires us.
Ends on December 29, 2017
How can we push poetry forward? How can we make poetry lively and interesting? How can we evolve this lovely and resilient art-form through this relatively new millennium, and on? We want your best work, your most original work, we want your strangest work. We love it when you take risks. We want work that is exciting, poems which know the joy of words and celebrate it with every phrase. We want to praise you, but only if you earn it. We love good writing just as much as you do, and we want to publish your best writing. Send us your best, your weirdest, your most inspired. Well-done weirdness, in particular, is always a plus. Send us your sick, your dying...leave some soul and blood and maybe a little love on the (digital) page. We want music, we need it, just as much as you please, do us the honor of sending us your best songs. We are here to make sure others hear them.
Ends on December 29, 2017
Please submit completed nonfiction essays on any topic. We'll read any true story.