Ninth Letter 2021 Literary Awards - Submissions Open March 8-April 30


Ninth Letter is pleased to announce our eighth annual Literary Awards call for submissions! We'll be accepting entries from March 8, 2021 to April 30, 2021 for our Literary Awards in three categories: Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction. The winning manuscript selected in each category will receive publication in our Fall/Winter 2021-22 issue (vol. 18 no. 2) and a publication rate of $1000. Our publication fee purchases first North American print rights only; all other rights are retained by the author.

The fee for entering each of the three categories will be $18, and all U.S. entrants will receive a one-year subscription to Ninth Letter. All international entrants will receive a copy of our Fall/Winter 2021-22 edition. 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 online through Submittable; 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 may be made electronically at

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.


Poetry Judge: Tommye Blount

Tommye Blount is the author of Fantasia for the Man in Blue (Four Way Books, 2020)—a finalist for the National Book Award—and the chapbook What Are We Not For (Bull City Press, 2016). A Cave Canem alumnus and graduate from Warren Wilson College, he has been the recipient of a fellowship from Kresge Arts in Detroit, the John Atherton scholarship from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a grant from the Aninstantia Foundation. Born and raised in Detroit, Tommye now lives in the nearby suburb of Novi, Michigan.



Fiction Judge: Gabriela Garcia

Gabriela Garcia is the author of the novel Of Women and Salt. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award and a Steinbeck Fellowship from San Jose State University. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Best American Poetry, Tin House, Zyzzyva, Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in fiction from Purdue and lives in the Bay Area. 





Creative Nonfiction Judge: Beth Kephart

Beth Kephart, a National Book Award finalist, is the award-winning author of three dozen books in multiple genres, an award-winning teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, co-founder of Juncture Workshops, and a widely published essayist. Her new memoir in essays is Wife | Daughter | Self (Forest Avenue Press). More at




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


This project is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council

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