Ninth Letter will be accepting entries from March 1, 2024 to April 30, 2024 for our Literary Awards in three categories: Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction.

Our esteemed judges for the 2024 Literary Awards contest are Sara Borjas (poetry), Kristen Millares Young (cnf), and Lena Valencia (fiction).

Sara Borjas is a self-identified Xicanx pocha and a Fresno poet. Her debut collection, Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff was published by Noemi Press in 2019 and received a 2020 American Book Award. Sara was featured as one of Poets & Writers 2019 Debut Poets and is the recipient of the 2018 Blue Mesa Poetry Prize. She has received fellowships from MacDowell, CantoMundo, The Poetry Foundation, Sewanee Writers Conference, Postgraduate Writers Conference, and Community of Writers. Her poems have been published in The Los Angeles Times, Ploughshares, The Rumpus, Poem-a-Day by The Academy of American Poets, amongst others, and anthologized in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext (Haymarket Books, 2020), Get Lit: Words Ignite, and forthcoming in Até Mais: Until More: An Anthology of Latinx Futurisms (Deep Vellum, 2024). She believes that all Black lives matter and will resist white supremacy until Black liberation is realized. She teaches creative writing at California State University, East Bay, and stays rooted in Fresno. Find her @saraborhaz or at

Kristen Millares Young is a journalist, essayist, and author of the novel Subduction, named a staff pick by the Paris Review and called “whip-smart” by the Washington Post, “a brilliant debut” by the Seattle Times, and“utterly unique and important” by Ms. Magazine. Winner of Nautilus and IPPY awards, Subduction was shortlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and named a finalist for two International Latino Book Awards and Foreword Indies Book of the Year in 2020. Her essays, book reviews, and investigations appear in the Washington Post, the Guardian, Literary Hub, and the anthologies Advanced Creative Nonfiction, Latina Outsiders, and Alone Together, winner of a 2021 Washington State Book Award. A former Prose Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House, she is the editor of Seismic: Seattle, City of Literature, a finalist for a 2021 Washington State Book Award. Kristen was the researcher for the New York Times team that produced “Snow Fall,” which won a Pulitzer Prize. She is the 2023 Distinguished Visiting Writer for Seattle University and the University of Washington Bothell Master of Fine Arts program.

Lena Valencia is the author of the short story collection Mystery Lights, forthcoming from Tin House Books in August 2024. Her fiction has appeared in Ninth Letter, EpiphanyJoyland, the anthology Tiny Nightmares, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation grant and holds an MFA in fiction from The New School. Originally from Los Angeles, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is the managing editor and director of educational programming at One Story and the co-host of the reading series Ditmas Lit.

Literary Award Submission Guidelines

Prize: The winner in each genre will receive $1000, publication in the Fall/Winter print issue and online, and bragging rights. Our publication fee purchases first North American print rights only; all other rights are retained by the author. All submissions are considered for publication in our general issue and/or online.

General Guidelines: Submissions are read anonymously, so neither the author’s name nor any identifying information should appear on the manuscript itself. If the author’s name appears in the poem, story, or essay, please replace with [Author’s Name] to maintain anonymity. Acceptable file formats are .pdf, .doc, .docx. If you have questions or need clarification, please email

Prose Guidelines: Please submit one piece of no more than 8,000 words. You may also submit up to three pieces of flash-fiction or flash-nonfiction as long as the total word count of the submission is no more than 4,000 words.

Poetry Guidelines: Please submit up to 5 poems in a single file of no more than 8 pages.

Submission Fee: There is an $20 submission fee for each entry. All U.S. entrants will receive a one-year subscription to Ninth Letter. All international entrants will receive a copy of the fall/winter print issue. Payments are accepted via Submittable.

Multiple Submissions: You are welcome to send multiple submissions in multiple categories provided a fee is paid for each entry. Should you submit more than once, your print subscription will be cumulative. For example, if you submit one manuscript to each poetry, fiction, and CNF, you will receive a three-year subscription.

Mail Submissions: Submissions sent by mail should be accompanied by check or money order made to Ninth Letter. Please use our mailing address Department of English, Ninth Letter, Contest Submission, 608 S. Wright St., Urbana, IL 61801. No manuscripts will be returned so please do not send your only copy. Include an SASE for response. Submissions sent via email will not be considered.

Simultaneous Submissions: Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please withdraw your submission immediately upon acceptance elsewhere. For poetry, please send a message via Submittable if withdrawing select poems but not the entire manuscript. Due to logistical and labor considerations, neither refunds nor replacement submissions will be offered for withdrawn manuscripts. You will still receive the complimentary one-year subscription even if you have to withdraw your submission.

Eligibility: No current students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign or students associated with the school in the past five years are eligible to submit. Likewise, any entrants with a close relationship with guest judges are not eligible to submit.

Accessibility: If you require additional accessibility considerations, please email with the subject line “Contest Accessibility.”