Submit to our 2019 Literary Awards!

This year's Literary Awards are now open for submissions. Our esteemed guest judges are Kristen Arnett, fiction; Anna Leahy, creative nonfiction, and R. A. Villanueva, poetry.

Winners in each category will receive $1000 and publication in Ninth Letter. All entrants will receive a one-year subscription.

Go here for complete guidelines and to submit your work!

Some Kind of Second Heart: New Bulgarian Writing


Journal – No. 8

Fall/Winter 2007 – Vol. 4, No. 2

Sample Spreads




Dan Chaon, Carlos Béjar Portilla, Eric Vrooman, G. C. Waldrep, Craig Foltz, Jill Summers, Sheila Heti, William Gaddis, Steve Almond, Yan Lianke


Christine Hartzler, Kathleen Rooney, Jane Ashley, Matt Roberts, Travis Kurowski**, Kurt Caswell, Diane Comer


Abraham Smith, Cal Freeman, Frank Matagrano, Eileen G’Sell, Frankie Drayus*, Sîan B. Griffiths, Bob Hicok, Nick Courtright, Douglas Kearney, Matt Bondurant, Keith Montesano, Jim Daniels, Kevin González, Molly Brodak, Rose Black, Sarah E. Smith, Sasha West, Thomas Reiter, Weston Cutter

Art Feature

Anthony Petullo: In the Eyes of an Outsider

Editor's Note

*Frankie Drayus's poem "Dear Mr. Denby" appears in this new issue with some printing errors. We offer our apologies to the poet and to our readers, and will reprint this fine poem correctly in our next issue. A correct version can also be viewed as a pdf here.

**Travis Kurowski's essay "Basquiat and Six Uses of Space" appears in this issue with some text missing. A correct version of the essay can be downloaded here.. "Basquiat and Six Uses of Space" will also be reprinted in its entirety as a chapbook, which will be mailed to subscribers and customers who purchase this issue. We're very proud of this essay and apologize to the author and our readers for the error.

It’s closing in on winter, and if you’re looking for a good read to curl up with next to the fire, I think you’ve already got your hands on it. This issue of Ninth Letter is full-to-bursting with funny, poignant, weird, lovely, spellbinding writings—some are poems, some are stories, some are essays, and more than a few fall into those unnamed spaces between the genres that we at 9L love so well. Have questions or comments about what you find in our pages? We’d love to hear from you at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or comment on our blog.

Our electronic doppelganger ninthletter.com uploads new content on a regular basis now, so be sure to check back there frequently, or sign up online to receive email updates. Recent audio/video podcasts include interviews with Chicago-based author Amy Güth, punk/folk singer-songwriter Bitch, and Native American filmmaker James Fortier. We are also now accepting submissions of video art projects for ninthletter.com’s “Featured Artist” section, and guidelines for this can be found at the web site as well.

As always, we couldn’t keep up the good fight for art and literature without the support of many wonderful people on campus and in the community. On behalf of the staff of Ninth Letter, I offer our thanks to the following people and organizations:

Institutional Support

  • The Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership
  • College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Critical Research Initiative Program
  • Department of English, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • LAS Humanities Council
  • Office of the Chancellor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • School of Art and Design, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Individual Sponsors


  • Robert Skiba
  • Robert and Kay Merrick


  • Kathleen Harleman

And thanks always to our faithful readers, as well as to new friends encountering Ninth Letter for the first time. Enjoy this new issue, and many more to come.


Information about supporting Ninth Letter can be found atwww.ninthletter.com/support; all donations and gifts to Ninth Letter are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.



Jodee Stanley

Creative Nonfiction Editor

Steve Davenport

Poetry Editor

Tyehimba Jess

Art Editors

Joseph Squier and Nan Goggin

Art Directors

Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud and Daniel Goscha

Assistant Editors

Lillian Bertram, Christine Bryant Cohen, Adam Deutsch, Andrew Ervin, Aaron Madrigal, Lara Mann, Harmony Neal, Juan Sánchez, Ted Sanders, Amy Sayre-Roberts, Leslie Singleton

Editorial Assistants

Jaime Brunton, Russell Evatt, Rebecca Faught, Cory Holding, Bryan Keyes, Arley McNeney, Jackie May, Christy Scheuer


Samuel Cop[eland, Charles Hannon, Elise McAuley


Travis Austin, Aditya Bhargava, Samuel Copeland, Kelly Cree, Lauren Emerson, Sarah Esgro, Lauren Ferguson, Adam Fotos, Mark Hauge, Sarah Kowalis, Jonathan Lopez, Elise McAuley, Jessica Mullen, Archana Shekara, Brett Talbot, Ho-Mui Wong

Current Web Edition: Winter 2019

Tower tarot card

Featuring Kara Vernor, Aiden Baker, Robert Fillman, Natalie Wee, Rhonda McDonnell, Darci Schummer, Colin Pope, Beth Gilstrap, Kevin Hyde, E. Kristin Anderson, Lauren W. Westerfield, Ted Mathys, Kerry Donoghue, Jessica Lynn Suchon, Collin Callahan, and Cheyenne Nimes  


Now Available! Volume 15, no. 2 - Fall/Winter 2018-19

Featuring new work from: Tom Howard, Matthew Gavin Frank, Teresa Dzieglewicz, Leila Chatti, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Whitney Collins, TaraShea Nesbit, and more! Plus: 2018 Literary Award Winners Ashley Farmer, Zachary Hester, and Pascha Sotolongo!

cover, volume 15 number 2


An Interview with Ayelet Tsabari

Ayelet TsabariIsraeli-Canadian-Yemeni author Ayelet Tsabari (The Art of Leaving, 2019; The Best Place on Earth, 2013) talks with Brett Ashley Kaplan, Director of the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, Memory Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, about her life and work


Call for Submissions

Ninth Letter is accepting submissions of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for a special online edition to be published at ninthletter.com in Winter 2019.  Submissions will be open from February 10 to April 8, 2019.

The theme of this issue is Origins. We all come from home, and our associations with those spaces range from the warm and secure to the distant or fearful. Then, as we grow, leave or stay, and move into the world around us, we see our homes from new or distant vantages. Localities grow and evolve, or wilt in a changing global economy. When our cities and homesteads don’t look the way we remember them, have we left those people and places behind, or were we bypassed in their rush into the future? How do our origins transmogrify our explorations of the world? How does both a sense of belonging and detachment – to people, places, things, and the past – inform the decisions we make in our local but also our highly connected lives?

For more info, check out our web edition guidelines.

Featured Writer: Kate Angus

  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.