Vol. 20 No. 02 is available for purchase and features new work from Marguerite Alley, Ellie Black, Nina Boals, Brittany Cavallaro, Matt Del Busto, Dustin M. Hoffman, Taylor Johnston-Levy, Alonso Llerena, Alexander Lumans, Robert Wood Lynn, Oksana Maksymchuk, Alissa Morgan, Weijia Pan, Rebecca Poynor, Hannah Smith, Gina Alexandra Srmabekian, Avia Tadmor, Matthew Tuckner, Penny Walker, and Felicia Zamora.

This issue also includes a special feature on the Gwendolyn Brooks Archives (including exclusive images of personal writings, notes, and ephemera from Brooks) housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, plus an interview with the inaugural Gwendolyn Brooks Social Justice Initiative scholar, Roger Reeves, about his experience exploring the archive and his relationship to Brooks’ work.


Rebecca Poynor
The Botany of Magnolias

Hannah Smith
Hail Mary

Brittany Cavallaro
Human Things

Weijia Pan

Ellie Black


Matt Del Busto

Avia Tadmor
Oh You Bruised Your Knee

Robert Wood Lynn
Fort Valley Road

Nina Boals
Hiding Matches

Oksana Maksymchuk
Transfer of Knowledge Under the Occupation

Alissa M. Barr
Disarticulation of Carrie Buck after State-Sponsored Sterilization

Felicia Zamora
Sonnet to Break the Crown of Invisibility

Matthew Tuckner
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


Taylor Johnston-Levy
Exposure and Response

Alexander Lumans
(You Are) the Perfect Drug

Marguerite Alley
Everything Below

Blair Hurley
Are There Holy Places Among the Stars?

Contest Winners

Dustin M. Hoffman
2023 Literary Award for Fiction

Alonso Llerena
Servants of God
2023 Literary Award for Poetry

Gina Alexandra Srmabekian
Empty Fields
2023 Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction

Penny Walker
From Dust
2023 Regeneration Award

Special Feature

Gwendolyn Brooks Social Justice Initiative
Interview with Roger Reeves

Support & Sponsors

Support at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Creative Writing Program, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Individual & Community Sponsors
Anonymous, Surface 51

Delysa Burnier, Alma Gottlieb & Philip Graham, John Hall, M.D. & Sarah Knox, M.D.

Anonymous, Rev. Charles Matz

You can support Ninth Letter by donating here. Ninth Letter is a non-profit, and all donations are tax deductible as allowable by law.


Managing Editors
Liz Harms
Michael Hurley

Creative Nonfiction Editor
Christopher Kempf

Fiction Editor
Amy Hassinger

Poetry Editor
Ángel García

Editorial Assistants
Matthew Fash, Madeline Furlong, Carrie Johnson, Justine Mercado, David Miller, Weston Morrow, Jason Pfister, Deon Robinson, Nina Sannes, Zach Simon, Erin Stoodley, Hannah Thorpe

Editors at Large
Philip Graham
Jodee Stanley

Advisory Board
Amy Sayre Baptista, Traci Brimhall, James Brunton, Lindsey Drager, Matthew Minicucci, Marus Wicker

Ninth Letter is published semi-annually in June and December by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Copies are available for $14.95. A one-year subscription may be purchased for $21.95; a two-year subscription may be purchased for $37.95.

Subscriptions and single-copy orders may be sent with check or credit card information to Ninth Letter, Dept. of English, University of Illinois, 608 S. Wright St., Urbana, Illinois, 61801. Credit card orders may also be placed via our secure web site at www.ninthletter.com.

Ninth Letter accepts submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction from September 1 to February 28 (postmark dates). For complete guidelines and to submit online, visit our print submissions guidelines page.

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