Ninth Letter

There are presently no open calls for submissions.

We currently have one open call for submissions:

2018 Literary Awards (closes 4/30)



Ninth Letter is pleased to announce our fifth annual Literary Awards competition! We'll be accepting entries from March 6, 2018 to April 30, 2018 for our Literary Awards in three categories: Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction. The winner selected in each category will receive a $1000 prize and publication in our Fall/Winter 2018-19 issue (vol. 15, no. 2).

The fee for entering each of the three categories will be $17, and all entrants will receive a one-year subscription to Ninth Letter. Your entry fee will cover one submission in one category; you are welcome to send multiple submissions in multiple categories provided a fee is paid for each entry. Electronic submissions may pay by credit card through our secure payment system; submissions sent by USPS should send payment by check or money order made to Ninth Letter.

Please read the following guidelines before submitting your work. 

Submissions sent via email will not be considered.


Fiction and Creative Nonfiction submissions should be a maximum of 8,000 words.


Poetry submissions should include 3-5 poems, no more than 10 pages total in the submission.

All entries should include a cover letter with author's name, contact information and title(s) of work submitted. You may include this cover letter information in the “comments” section of the submission form, or you may include it as the first page of your submission document. Neither the author's name nor any identifying information should appear on the manuscript itself beyond the cover letter.

Works submitted to the contest may be simultaneously submitted elsewhere; please indicate on your cover letter if this is the case, and please remove the submission from consideration immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.


Fiction Judge: Michele Morano

Michele Morano is the author of the book, Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain. Her fiction and creative nonfiction appears in many literary journals, including Ninth Letter, Brevity, and the Normal School, and in anthologies such as Best American Essays and Between Song and Story. Her work has been honored by the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, the MacDowell Colony, and the American Association of University Women. She is a creative writing faculty member and chair of the English Department at DePaul University in Chicago.

Poetry Judge: sam sax

sam sax is the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series and Bury It (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. He’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, & the MacDowell Colony. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion with poems in BuzzFeed, The Nation, The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, & elsewhere. He’s the poetry editor at BOAAT Press.


Creative Nonfiction Judge: Elissa Washuta

Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a writer of personal essays and memoir. She is the author of two books, Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules, named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. With Theresa Warburton, she is co-editor of the anthology Exquisite Vessel: Shapes of Native Nonfiction, forthcoming from University of Washington Press. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, 4Culture, Potlatch Fund, and Hugo House. Elissa is an assistant professor of English at the Ohio State University.  


Current and former employees of Ninth Letter, current and former students and faculty of the creative writing program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and current and former students of our guests judges are not eligible to enter these contests.



Ninth Letter will be accepting submissions of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for a special online edition to be published at in Winter 2018.  Submissions will be open from January 22 to April 10.

The theme for this issue is climate. Subjected to climate change both in our localities and at a distance, how does our literature recognize and respond? Snow in Saudi Arabia. Bleached coral reefs. Bomb cyclones and a weakened polar vortex. Drought and unprecedented wildfire. Longer hurricane seasons. We hear this all around us, but what does it mean to you?

Send us stories that are witness to high water levels, that try to save a crop in a late frost, that sweat out a prolonged heatwave in the city. But send us also the stories that witness these changes through the mediums of interconnectivity as well as the lenses of distance and disconnect. We want poems that elegize the rhythms of climate, but also poems that break the expected forms into trend-defying fragments. We want lyrical essays that map internal landscapes and personal storms of transformation. But also narrative essays that investigate the disproportionate effects on underrepresented communities. We want the local stories and global perspectives, and the data sets through the lenses of personal meditation. We want images of erosion, witness to the forgotten, and new sources of power. Send us your internal storms, cleansing fire, and erratic seasons."

You may submit up to three poems, or one piece of short prose (fiction or nonfiction) of up to 3500 words; please also include a cover letter that briefly explains how you see your work connecting to the theme. Note: work submitted without this information may be withdrawn. Acceptable file formats are .doc, .docx, .rtf, and .pdf.

You may submit simultaneously to Ninth Letter's print and online editions, but please do not send multiple submissions to the same edition. We do not consider previously published work. Simultaneous submissions to other journals are okay as long as they are identified as such in a cover letter and withdrawn immediately upon acceptance elsewhere. 

Submit your work for this special feature at Submissions sent via snail mail or submitted through our general submissions at will not be considered for this issue. 


Please do not send multiple submissions or previously published work. Simultaneous submissions are okay as long as they are identified as such in a cover letter and withdrawn immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.


Authors whose work is selected for this special feature will receive a small honorarium ($25 per poem, $75 per story or essay) and a complimentary 2-­year subscription to Ninth Letter.

Current undergraduate or graduate students in any UIUC English Department program are ineligible to submit to Ninth Letter.

Ninth Letter