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. 7

Spring/Summer 2007 – Vol. 4, No. 1

Sample Spreads




Chris Abani, Brock Clarke, Stephan Clark, Mickey Hess, Kelly Magee, Daniel Wallace, Kellie Wells


Diana Marie Delgado, Andrew Grace, Benjamin Grossberg, Dory L. Hudspeth, Gary L. McDowell, Karyna McGlynn, Wayne Miller, John Murillo, Sara Pennington, Elizabeth Klise von Zerneck, Thom Ward, Philip White


Terry Caesar, Ben George, Kathleen Kirk, Kim Dana Kupperman, Joe Oestreich, Elena Passarello, Judith Valente, Nicole Walker


Urban Vinyl: Art Toy Phenomenon, Fabiola Elias and Jeffrey T. Jones (writers)

Where We're At

Songs and Poetry: An Interview with John Darnielle by Laura Bandy

Haunting Graceland, by Cory Holding

Halfway House: A History of Horse Thieves and Hospitality, by Amy Sayre-Roberts

Editor's Note

Happy spring everyone! Things at Ninth Letter are growing and expanding in so many new and exciting ways it’s hard to keep track of them all—we’ve got our design team settled into a new studio space on the UI campus, thanks to the good people in the School of Art & Design, and genius designer Mason Kessinger has set us up with a fantastic redesigned web site (www.ninthletter.com) where you can find brand-new online content every month to keep you satisfied during the long stretches between print publications.

Our next Featured Artist to be showcased on ninthletter.com will be Jan Erkert, renowned choreographer and head of the UI Dance Department. Jan will be working with a team of artists, including our own Daniel Goscha, to create a dance/video hybrid electronic art project.

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

  • Publisher Robert Skiba


  • Kathleen Harleman
  • Keri Kaeding and Steve Danzer

And thanks to our faithful readers, as well as any newbies that have picked up Ninth Letter for the first time. Enjoy this new issue, and many more to come.




Jodee Stanley

Creative Nonfiction Editor

Steve Davenport

Poetry Editor

Tyehimba Jess

Art Editors

Joseph Squier and Nan Goggin

Art Director

Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud


Natalie Berberet, Kyrsten Blinstrup, Laurie Cheng, Sam Copeland, Kelly Cree, Megan Delaney, Fabiola Elias, Diana Jarvis, Jeffrey Jones, Borami Kang, Kristen King, Jonathan Lopez, Clinton Miceli, Hank Patton, Megan Severson, Ashley Skinner Brett Tabolt, Cathy Wendt, Ho-Mui Wong

Assistant Editors

Christine Bryant Cohen, David Coyoca, Adam Deutsch, Andrew Ervin, Harmony Neal, Juan Sánchez, T ed Sanders, Amy Sayre-Roberts, Leslie Singleton

Editorial Assistants

Lillian Bertram, Jaime Brunton, Eve Eure, Russell Evatt, Rebecca Faught, Cory Holding, Brian Keyes, Aaron Madrigal, Arley McNeney, Lara Mann, Jackie May, Christy Scheuer

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.