Mountain view with farmhouses

About Terrain.org

Searching for the interface—the integration—among the built and natural environments that might be called the soul of place.

The soul is a region without definite boundaries:
   it is not certain a prairie
can exhaust it
           or a range enclose it:
                            — from “Terrain” by A. R. Ammons

Terrain.org is an independent magazine founded in 1997 that focuses on place.

The literary and artistic works in Terrain.org are of the highest quality, by a variety of contributors for a diverse, informed, and progressive audience. Contributors range from icons in the field of nature writing, such as Wendell Berry, Jane Hirshfield, Camille T. Dungy, and Joy Harjo, to essential new voices that are changing both writing and place itself, such as Aisha Sabatini Sloan, José Angel Araguz, and Joe Wilkins. Likewise, our critically acclaimed series—including Letters to America, A Life of Science, and Pam Houston’s Twenty Words During Lockdown—respond in real time to the most urgent social and environmental justice issues of the day. The works Terrain.org publishes on a rolling schedule merge literary and graphic art with science and activism in a beautiful, interactive design.

Terrain.org is the world’s first place-based online journal. We were founded on a vision of marrying literary work—poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction—with articles and community case studies.

By mixing poetry and prose with design, architecture, and urban planning, Terrain.org creates a unique community of place-based readers and contributors that has continued to expand just as the journal has expanded, both organizationally—from two editors and a small editorial board in 1997 to 15 editors and a larger, international editorial board today—and functionally, adding interviews, reviews and recommended reads, editorials, the Soundscapes podcast, and more. Today, we publish a rich mix of both literary and technical work—poetry, nonfiction, fiction, the ARTerrain gallery, editorials (which we call Currents), interviews, reviews and recommended reads, and the Unsprawl case study. We also publish hybrid forms and multimedia combinations, including online chapbooks, graphic poems and essays, videos, photo essays, audio, galleries, and other interactive designs that cross genres. Indeed, as one of the world’s first online literary journals, we were also one of the first to include audio on a regular basis.

Our first theme-based issue published in 1998 and our last in 2013 (view these older issues). Since then, we’ve published our contributions several times per week, and sometimes daily. This move has allowed us to expand our contributor base and diversity, as well as respond more directly to the events of the day. We’ve also expanded our outreach to include resources for teaching Terrain.org; participation in readings, panels, and workshops; the periodic creation of broadsides; and, with Trinity University Press, the publication of Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy. In these ways, we seek to foster a socially and environmentally active literary community.

To provide as wide access as possible, Terrain.org has always been advertisement-free and does not charge to access the publication. Nor do we charge to submit during our open submission period.

Our editorial board and editors volunteer their time. We are funded by the gracious donations of our readers and friends, and occasionally by an academic institution with which some of our editors and editorial board members are affiliated, including the Michael Donnelly Faculty Award at Kansas State University.

All contributions are archived indefinitely, providing the broadest possible exposure to the writers, artists, and other contributors.

Work originally appearing in Terrain.org has been included in such esteemed publications as Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, Verse Daily, Poetry Daily, several best-of-the-web series, and countless anthologies and books.


Terrain.org is published by Terrain Publishing, a nonprofit organization classified as a public charity with tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). You are always welcome to contact us or support us by donating through our fiscal sponsorship with Fractured Atlas.

ISSN 1932-9474

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.