Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora

Type Of Organization
Mission Statement / Editorial Focus
Published twice yearly by the Publications Unit at Illinois State University, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora is edited by Duriel E. Harris (editor-in-chief) and Sheree Renee Thomas (associate editor). Obsidian cultivates, through publication and critical inquiry, Black imagination, innovation, and excellence—supporting Black, African, and African Diaspora creatives globally. We’re proud to be numerous contributors’ first publication and to have published work by recipients of the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur Fellowship, World Fantasy Award, &Now Awards, Leeway Transformation Award, and Eisner Award, among others. Obsidian collaborates with JMU’s Furious Flower Poetry Center to publish selections from their annual contest, with Chicago’s Rootwork Gallery to document landmark exhibitions, and with the Poetry Foundation to offer O|Sessions. Featured playwrights are invited to develop folios presenting performance scripts with accompanying sound, audiovisual documentation, and other archival material. Each fall, we work with guest editors to produce a themed special issue; past special issues have included Speculating Futures: Black Imagination & the Arts (winner of the CELJ Parnassus Award), as well as volumes highlighting Ghanian literature and broadcast culture, Cave Canem, Call & Response Ensemble’s Experiments in Joy, and the Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Celebration. Obsidian has been recognized by the National Endowment of the Arts as a premier journal dedicated to African and African Diaspora Literatures and by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals and the Illinois Arts Council Agency for editorial achievement. Celebrating nearly 50 years of continuous publication, Obsidian’s full archive is available through JSTOR.

Social Media Platforms Used
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Is Your Group Affiliated With A University, Portal Or Other Agency?
If Yes, Please Name
Illinois State University
Primary Editor/Contact Person
Tara Reeser
Contact Title
Managing Editor
essays, fiction, poetry, art, audio, video
Recent Awards Received
2022 Firecracker Award and the 2018 Parnassus Award for Significant Editorial Achievement
Submissions Policy
Obsidian publishes contemporary poetry, fiction, drama/performance, visual, and media art by Black, African, and African Diaspora creatives. Our reading period is from May 15 - October 15, and simultaneous submissions are welcome as long as they are identified as such and we are notified upon acceptance elsewhere.
Accepts Unsolicited Submissions
Submission Guidelines URL
Simultaneous Submissions Accepted
Reading Period
From 5 / 15 - 10 / 15
Reporting Time
3 - 5 months
Author Payments
Number Of Paid Staff
7 part-time, 2 full-time
Number Of Unpaid Staff
44 volunteers
Year Founded
SPD for select issues
Average Print Run
Total Circulation
Paid Subscriptions
$35 for one year, $55 for two years, $75 for three years
$70 for one year, $110 for two years, $150 for three years
Single Copy Price
$20 (single issue) and $35 (double issue)
Number Of Issues Per Year
Back Issues Available
Unsolicited Manuscripts Accepted
6 inches - 9 inches
Average Number Of Pages
Publish Print Anthology?