Contest Winners

2023 Regeneration Contest Results

Ninth Letter is excited to announce the winner, honorable mention, and finalist of our 2023 Regeneration Literary Contest. Special thanks to contest sponsor, the Illinois Regenerative Agriculture Initiative, and to our guest judge Dr. Craig Santos Perez. The winning story will be published in print and online in December 2023, and the honorable mention essay will appear online. Thank you to all of our submitters, finalists, and readers. 

Winner: Penny Walker for her short story "From Dust"

Honorable Mention: Mandy Len Catron for her essay "The Octopus"

The outstanding finalists for this year's contest include:
Kaitlyn Airy, sten carlson, Willa Caroll, Luisa A. Igloria, and Chinaecherem Obor

2023 Literary Award Winners 

Ninth Letter is excited to announce the winners of our 2023 Literary Awards. Special thanks to our guest judges: Chet'la Sebree (poetry), Robin Marie MacArthur (fiction), and Janisse Ray (creative nonfiction). The winning submissions will be published in print and online in December 2023. Thank you to all of our submitters, finalists, and readers. 

Poetry: Alonso Llerena, for “Servants of God"

Honorable Mention: Andrew Walker, for "KP-Index 4.33"

Fiction: Dustin Hoffman, for “Bicuspid"

Honorable Mention: Amy Patterson, for "First Thanksgiving"

Creative Nonfiction: Gina Srmabekian, for “Empty Fields"

Honorable Mention: S. J. Ghaus, for "The Breath Inside The Breath"


The outstanding finalists for this year's contest include:
Allison Field Bell, C. Francis Fisher, Constant Williams, David Villaverde, Jonathan Diaz, Leila Chatti, Lynne Schmidt
Beth Hahn, Drew Zelba, Jason Gipstein, Joseph Tepperman, Juliet Skuldt, Peter Kessler, Valerie Lute, William Wyatt
Creative Nonfiction:
Allison Blevins, Anne Inglis, Brandon Lewis, Lauren Henley, Sionnain Buckley, Susan Meyers, Theresa Dietrich

2022 Literary Award Winners 


Poetry: Rose Zinnia, for “Constituting Mayhem (Derealized in the CVS),” “Look (Nonbinary),” “God Wifi Earth Ong (Nonbinary),”  “Ancient Wind, Empty Skyscraper, Golden Bear (Nonbinary)” (judge: Anthony Cody)

Honorable mentions: 
Rennie Ament, for “In America”
Heather Lang-Cassera, for “Upon Knowing Swan Song as Myth”


Creative Nonfiction: Jodie Noel Vinson, for "Self-portrait after Covid-19" (judge: Emily Pittinos)

Honorable mentions: 
Nicole Graev Lipson, for “Shake Zone”
Jason Brown, for “Character Witness”
Megan Rich, for “Reproduction”


Fiction: Carly Rae Zent, for “The Girl Boss” (judge: Isle McElroy)

Honorable mention: Stephanie Mullings, for “Many of Many Tenths”


Ekphrastic Poetry Contest

Winner: Jeanette Lynes, for "1979"

Honorable Mention: Jacques Rancourt, for "Crossed Signals"



Joshua Garcia, for "Self-Portrait as Three Archetypal Media Images"

torrin a. greathouse, for "Bondage Device: Cross"

Brett Hanley, for "Bondage Device: Meat Hoist



2021 Literary Award Winners 

Poetry: torrin a. greathouse, for “On Possession,” “T4T”, and “As My English Class Debates the Legality of Gay Marriage I Daydream of the Boy I Am Beginning to Fall in Love With” (judge: Tommye Blount)

Honorable mentions: 
Taylor Byas, for “Shutter,” and “When I Say No, The Joker Smiles”
Kyle Carrero Lopez, for “Charge It to the Game,” and “Unmissable”


Creative Nonfiction: Laura Haugen, for "Song for the Missing" (judge: Beth Kephart)

Honorable mentions: 
Kim Diaz, for “People Change Sometimes”
Ark Ramsay, for "In My Warming Body (for you, Ava)"


Fiction: Tom Howard, for “The Long Shadows” (judge: Gabriela Garcia)

Honorable mention: Alan Sincic, for “The Claim”


2020 Literary Award Winners 

Poetry: Danielle Williams, for “A Walk on June 19,” “fa’ñague /fuh-nyah-ghee/”, and “Gospel” (judge: Jennifer Givhan)

Honorable mentions: 
Cate Lycurgus, for “Better & Worse,” “[I cannot bear]” and “Some Days”
Patrick Wilcox, for “What We Talk About,” “North Bay Village,” “What We Once Knew,” “Cellar Door,” and “One Last Odd Song”


Creative Nonfiction: Anna Winham, for “my mother // itch” (judge: Steve Tomasula)

Honorable mentions: 
Michelle LaCrosse, for “Sacrifice”
Emi Nietfeld, for "My Economist"
Stephanie Pushaw, for “A Really Good Place”
Erica Stern, for “The Soft Parts”
Joseph Truscello, for “Fantasy Land”

Fiction: Alida Dean, for “The Off Season” (judge: Kimberly King Parsons)

Honorable mention: Tom Howard, for “Disappearing Act”


2019 Literary Award Winners

Fiction: Stephanie Wong Ken, for "Beating Heart" (Judge: Kristen Arnett)

Poetry: John Sibley Williams, for "Dark Tourist"; and "The Drowning House" (Judge: R. A. Villanueva)
Honorable Mentions: Shawn Fawson, for "Spring" and Jared Harel, for "Final Kindness"

Creative Nonfiction: Maddie Norris, for "Still Hearts" (Judge: Anna Leahy)
Honorable Mentions: Rhianna Brandt, for "Bottle, Beloved, and Book"; Michael William Palmer, for "The Archivists"; and
Courtney Kersten, for "The Ergonomics of Loss"


2018 Literary Award Winners

Poetry: Zachary Hester, "Variations on a Theme by Oppenheimer"; Coda Atop Wells-Fargo, Over the Bronze Mountain Lion in Boulder, CO"; and "Priscilla Huggable Atomic Mushroom" (Judge: Sam Sax)
           Honorable Mention: Garrett Sanford, "O. unilateralis" and Teresa Dzieglewicz, "By the Numbers: 1"

Fiction: Pascha Sotolongo Stevenson, "The Moth" (Judge: Michele Morano)
           Honorable Mention: Amina Gautier, "Love Me Through a Hurricane" and Chetna Maroo, "Father's Work"

Creative Nonfiction: Ashley Farmer, "Animal Hours" (Judge: Elissa Washuta)
           Catina Bacote, "Up North


2017 Literary Award Winners

Poetry: Erin Rodoni, "Lullaby with Fireflies and Rising Seas" (Judge: Lo Kwa Mei-en)
           Runner up: Shawn Fawson, "Cloudlands"

Fiction: Cady Vishniac, "Drill" (Judge: Rachel Cantor)
           Runner up: Micah Dean Hicks, "Missing in the City of the Wind"
           Runner up: Gwen Cullen, "The Little Sisters of the Dissent"

Creative Nonfiction: Ellyn Gaydos, "Summer of Love" (Judge: Kathleen Rooney)
           Runner up: Nina Yun, "Half Speak"


2016 Literary Award Winners

Poetry: Brandon Rushton, Five Poems  (Judge: Tarfia Faizullah)
      Honorable Mentions: Jim Whiteside, Anne Champion

Fiction: Megan Cummins, "The Beast" (Judge: Roy Kesey)

Creative Nonfiction: Anna Leahy, "Marrying Absurd" (Judge: Sue William Silverman)

2015 Literary Award Winners

Poetry: Corey Van Landingham, "In the Year of No Sleep" (Judge: Kathy Fagan)
       Runners Up: Rachael E. Katz, "All About Flash"
                          Monica Sok, "Here Is Your Name"

Fiction: Kristen N. Arnett, "See also: A history of glassmaking" (Judge: Jac Jemc)
        Runner Up: Zach Vandezande, "Status Updates"

Creative Nonfiction: Michael Gracey, "My Own Good Daemon" (Judge: Matthew Gavin Frank)
        Runner Up: Julie Marie Wade, "The Regulars"


2014 Literary Award Winners

Poetry: Anders Carlson-Wee, "The Low Passions" and "Dynamite" (Judge: Traci Brimhall)

Fiction: Rachel Goldman, "Steps" (Judge: Matt Bell)

Literature in Translation: Nansorhon Ho, "Poem Given to a Nun While Staying in a Taoist Monastery" translated by Ian Haight (Judge: G. J. Racz)

Creative Nonfiction: Nicholas Neely, "The Book of Agate" (Judge: Ander Monson) (download the pdf)


2013 Literary Award Winners

poetry: R. A. Villanueva, "Aftermaths" and "Sacrum" (Judge: G. C. Waldrep)

Fiction: Caitlin O'Neill, "The Change Over Day" (Judge: Margot Livesey)

Literature in Translation: Shen Wei, A Dictionary of Xinjiang (excerpt), translated by Eleanor Goodman (Judge: Alexis Levitin

Creative Nonfiction: Jessica Wilbanks, "On the Far Side of the Fire" (Judge: Lia Purpura)







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