Babak Lakghomi, “Fukimo”

David Hoon Kim, “Crow the aesthète”

Samantha Edmonds, “The Adventures of Earthgirl and Starboy”

Maggie Cooper, “The Smell Museum”

Amy Stuber, “More Fun in the New World”

Kenneth Calhoun, “Our Adams”



Victorya Chase, “Times I’ve Lost My Brother”

Mason Andrew Hamberlin, “A Boy’s Blue”

Jenny Tinghui Zhang, “Party Trick Chinese”

Jacob Little, “On Harmony, On Contagion”

Emily Pittinos, “Gone”

Kerry Folan, “Buffalo Bill’s Defunct”



Cassandra J. Bruner, “The Intercession”

Jacob Block, “And Then the Strings Come In”

Sarah Edwards, “Emily”

Lisa Russ Spaar, “Peripheral Vision Madrigal,” “Debussy Madrigal,” “Vin Blank Madrigal”

Sam Zafris, “To Have Everything & Need Nothing”

Adam Meisner, “Fourteen Translations for a Line from Barthes’ Incidents

L. A. Johnson, “In a Dream, the Scar Is Repaired”

Emma Bolden, “Dateline: Internal Affairs”

Marianne Chan, “In My Twenties, I Walked Slow”

Molly Bess Rector, “Abecedarian on Beauty as Disguise,” “I have too much jewelry”

Dujie Tahat, “salat on the first day of school”

Christos Kalli, “Directions to the Night”

A. R. Zarif, “january”

Parker O’Connor, “Adulthood”

Geri Doran, “The Bird Hide,” “The Needles”

Special Features

2018 Illinois Emerging Writer Award Winners

Donna O’Shaughnesy, “In the Kitchen They Danced” (first place)

Emma Morris, “MS 57947” (second place)

Laura Bandy, “Knockout” (third place)


Ninth Letter 2019 Literary Award Winners

Stephanie Wong Ken, “Beating Heart” (fiction)

John Sibley Williams, “Dark Tourist” and “The Drowning House” (poetry)

Maddie Norris, “Still Hearts” (creative nonfiction


Where We’re At

Elizabeth Pearl, “The Inbetween”

Cole Piedimonte, “The Things We Elegize”



Editor: Jodee Stanley

Creative Nonfiction Editor: Ted Sanders

Poetry Editor: Michael Madonick

Art Director: Natalie F. Smith

Designers: Nicole Dowling, Pascale Grant, Sebastien Johnson, Charlotte Peloquin, Tia Reika Smith, Andrea Worthington

Assistant Editors: Kyle Callert, Katrina Gaffney Liz Howey

Editorial Assistants: K. James D’Agostino, Aumaine Gruich, Amelia Hawkins, Sebastián Maldonado-Vélez, Benjamin Miller, Nicholas Molbert, Jason Nafziger, Emmilea O’Toole, Elizabeth Pearl, Cole Piedimonte, Kent Quaney, Erich Slimak, Justin Smith, Jessica Tanck

Editor-at-Large: Philip Graham

Advisory Board: Amy Sayre Baptista, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Traci Brimhall, James Brunton, Lindsey Drager, Matthew Minicucci, Marcus Wicker

Special thanks to Kristen Arnett, Anna Leahy, and R. A. Villanueva for serving as our 2019 Literary Award guest judges.  

Support at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

College of Fine and Applied Arts

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Department of English

Office of the Provost

School of Art + Design


Individual Sponsors


Delysa Burnier

Richard Connor
Alma Gottlieb & Philip Graham
Sarah Knox, M.D.

John Hall, M.D.

Rev. Charles Matz.

Ninth Letter is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council.