Here at Belt we’re in the business of covering the Rust Belt. But what exactly does that mean when it comes to Chicago?

Chicago is built on a foundation of meat and railroads and steel, but its identity long ago stretched past manufacturing. A city of opportunity from the get-go, it continues to lure new residents from an entire region rocked by deindustrialization every year. But the problems that plague the Belt don’t disappear once you get past Gary. In fact, they’re often amplified. Chicago’s glittering downtown towers stand in sharp contrast to the depopulating south and west sides, and its struggles for affordable housing and economic equity are Rust Belt struggles. Its crumbling infrastructure is as much an issue in some neighborhoods as in Flint and Detroit; its history of redlining and discrimination is baked into the city’s bones.

A city of immigrants that’s the anchor of the Midwest, Chicago’s complicated – both of the Belt and beyond it. Which makes it a perfect subject for a book, so we’re thrilled to announce it as the subject of the next title in our series of city anthologies.

Coming in early 2017, the Chicago Anthology will be edited by Belt magazine editor-in-chief Martha Bayne. We are looking for a wide range of contributions that speak to the city’s past and its diverse, complicated, confounding present; to its rich history and politics, for sure, but also to its arts and its culture; its ecology and its elemental humanity.

Specifically we are looking for:

  • Nonfiction personal essays between 1,000 and 4,000 words.
  • Longform journalism between 1,000 and 4,000 words. (Note: Choose subjects that will still be interesting and insightful in five, ten, or twenty years. News pegs are irrelevant; shelf life is key.)
  • Fiction and poetry relevant to the topic
  • Photography (most likely black and white)
  • Original art, including comics (must be in grayscale)

Send submissions to Write the genre and the word SUBMISSION in the subject line. (Example: ESSAY SUBMISSION.)

We will consider assigning reported work on spec; journalists wanting to pitch an idea should put QUERY in the subject line. All other work must be complete and must include the author’s contact information as well as a short author bio (three or four sentences). Previously published work will be considered, but please flag it as such.

Deadline for submissions is June 1, 2016.

We are currently seeking funding to pay all contributors an honorarium, the amount of which is still to be determined.