Contest Guidelines

Ninth Letter 2020 Literary Awards - Submissions Open March 2-April 24


Ninth Letter is pleased to announce our seventh annual Literary Awards call for submissions! We'll be accepting entries from March 2, 2019 to April 24, 2020 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 2020-21 issue (vol. 17 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 2020-21 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: Jennifer Givhan

Jennifer Givhan, a Mexican-American writer and activist from the Southwestern desert, is the author of four full-length poetry collections, most recently Rosa’s Einstein (Camino Del Sol Poetry Series), two chapbooks, and the novels Trinity Sight and Jubilee (Blackstone Publishing). Her work has appeared in The Best of the NetBest New PoetsPoetry DailyVerse DailyPOETRYThe Rumpus, The New RepublicAGNI, TriQuarterly, The Nation, CrazyhorseWitness, Southern Humanities Review, and Kenyon Review. She has received, among other honors, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellowship, and New Ohio Review’s Poetry Prize, chosen by Tyehimba Jess. Givhan holds a Master’s degree in English from California State University Fullerton and an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and she can be found discussing feminist motherhood at as well as Facebook & Twitter @jenngivhan.



Fiction Judge: Kimberly King Parsons

Kimberly King Parsons is the author of the story collection Black Light, which was longlisted for both the 2019 National Book Award and the 2019 Story Prize, and is a finalist for the 2020 Oregon Book Award. Parsons is a recipient of fellowships from Columbia University and the Sustainable Arts Foundation; her fiction has been published in The Paris ReviewNo TokensKenyon Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her partner and sons in Portland, Oregon, where she is completing a novel about Texas, motherhood, and LSD.




 Creative Nonfiction Judge: Steve Tomasula

Steve Tomasula is the author of the novels The Book of PortraitureIN & OZ, and VAS: An Opera in Flatland, the novel of the biotech revolution. He is also the author of the e-novel TOC: A New-Media Novel, which received the Mary Shelly Award for Excellence in Fiction and an E-Lit Best Book of the Year Award. Selections of his short fiction are collected in Once Human: Stories. His essays on bio-art, new narrative, and literature have appeared widely, and most recently in The End of American Literature; The Digital Imaginary; Data Made FleshMeta-Life: Biotechnologies; The Bloomsbury Handbook of Electronic Literature; and The Routledge Companion to Experimental



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


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