How might we reflect and reimagine wellness in public health through art, letters, stories, and poetry?

We have been wrestling with the state of our mental health. [At LIGHT one of our key areas of focus is our mental health]. In fact, our last issue was dedicated to how we might address our mental health creatively so that we are focused and precise with knowing all that entails as described by the public.

We have seen its impact, felt its effect, and watched its repeated rhythm repeatedly, with powerful, compelling images that keep us numb or chanting the chorus, "enough is enough." The saying that these are unprecedented times rings true for understanding mental health overall. Currently, we are living in a culture of vast conflicts. On one hand, many are asked to address their mental health and look up ways to ensure self-care and healing. On the other hand, we are simultaneously bombarded with gun violence, senseless killings, economic shocks, and unequal access to health that keeps our overall mental health and well-being spiraling in what bell hooks once described as “continued chaos.” Discussions (mostly from experts) have been raised about the systems and conditions that continue to harm our mental health. So, it is no surprise that the public expresses confusion about “what to do.”

At LIGHT, we believe that the public deserves to be heard. Your voices and stories about multiple paths to wellness, varied ways of thinking about healing, ideas that lead to recovery and reimagination, and ways of being that foster rest, matter and deserve a space to be shared. To echo bell hooks, “We all need somewhere to restore our soul…a path to recovery and wholeness.” Given this, our next issue of LIGHT is seeking entries about the paths to wellness for the public’s health. We invite submissions based on the following prompt:

How might we reflect and reimagine wellness in public health through art, letters, stories, and poetry?

We define wellness following bell hooks as “an act of resistance.” We see this as a process of healing wounds that prevent us from functioning fully. We believe that when we choose wellness when we decide to heal, we choose the right to our most attainable health; we choose our freedom and all the things that help us remain whole. So, how might we promote wellness for the public’s health creatively? We believe that radical wellness, a social justice imperative, will only be possible when we live in a world where we experience it holistically, naming our pain, our suffering, and all the ways we reimagine, restore, and reclaim our wellness within ourselves and among others so as to live fully and joyously. Please help us do so with your entries below.

Note: At this time, submissions will only be accepted if written in English. Submissions should not have been previously published and should be properly formatted with little to no grammatical errors. Submissions will be accepted via Submittable. Please do not include any identifying information in your uploaded file.


Letters should be between 250 to 500 words. Letter submissions should be typed in 12-point font, Arial or Calibri, and single-spaced. Acceptable file types include: .csv, .doc, .docx, .odt, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .wpd, and .wpf.


Poems should be between 250 to 500 words. Poetry submissions should be typed in 12-point font, Arial or Calibri, and single-spaced. Acceptable file types include: .csv, .doc, .docx, .odt, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .wpd, and .wpf.


Stories should be between 1000 to 2000 words. Story submissions should be typed in 12-point font, Arial or Calibri, and single-spaced. Acceptable file types include: .csv, .doc, .docx, .odt, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .wpd, and .wpf.


Artwork should be visual art and include a short narrative to briefly describe or introduce the illustration, painting, etc. Acceptable file types include: .csv, .doc, .docx, .odt, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .wpd, .wpf, .gif, .jpg, .png, .svg, and .tif.


If you have questions about how or if your piece fits into our guidelines and answers the contest question, please view our “frequently asked questions” section below or contact us via email at

Terms of Use & Confidentiality

Before submitting to LIGHT, you will be asked to acknowledge and agree to the following:

. I assure that the work I am submitting to LIGHT is original work, owned by myself, OR I have partial ownership of the work and am submitting the work with consent from the person or people who also have ownership of the work. I, or we (if submitting with others), take full responsibility of its veracity falling to myself or my team as authors.
. I attest that the work I am submitting has not been previously published elsewhere (an exception is if it has been published on a personal website, blog, Spotify, etc.).
. I give LIGHT the right to edit, duplicate, and publish my creative work in their open-access literary journal and disseminate this work for promotional reasons via any type of media to a broader audience.
. I understand LIGHT reserves the right to refuse to publish any work that may be deemed harmful, slanderous, or malicious, etc., regardless of how well written it is.
. I acknowledge that I will not receive any compensation for LIGHT's use of my creative work, except that of a monetary prize if my creative work places as a top submission (see LIGHT’s open call prizes for more details).
. I understand that I cannot make a claim as a violation against usage rights against LIGHT related to the use of my creative work. If submitting concurrently, I will withdraw my submission if it is accepted elsewhere.
. I understand that I own all rights to my submission post-publication, and I will credit LIGHT as the original publisher if I choose to publish my creative work elsewhere.
. If my submission is selected to be included in the LIGHT journal, I recognize my name will be published with it.
. If submitting as part of a group, I agree that all group members consent to these terms.

Confidentiality Kindly note the privacy of individuals should be protected. Public health practitioners who write about individuals and communities should alter identifying details and characteristics.


The deadline for all submissions in each category is Monday, May 1, 2023, by 11:59pm CST. All submissions should follow LIGHT guidelines.

Potential Timeline

Open call launch: February 1, 2023


Open call deadline: May 1, 2023


Review and judging: May 2023


Finalist notifications by: early June 2023


Journal production begins: July 2023


Expected journal release: Early 2024


hooks, bell (2005). Sisters of the yam: Black women and self-recovery. Cambridge: South End Press.

In a world where the public is absent in conversations about the public’s health, a group of individuals began a mission to give voice to the most fundamental aspect of public health—the people. learn more
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Saint Louis University, College for Public Health and Social Justice
Texas A&M University, College of Liberal Arts & School of Public Health