In mid-January, when our small team of undergraduate editors landed on “Debts” as the theme of this Ninth Letter Online edition, we were barely aware of COVID-19. We certainly did not imagine this distanced and fractious summer of 2020. Instead, we chose “Debts” as a sort of looming universal, quite apparent to them as debt ridden college students, but also for the many valences of indebtedness, and obligation, and appreciation.

There’s very little exchange of money or capital in these pages, and you won’t find coronavirus in this “Debts” edition of Ninth Letter either. But it is worth noting that each author was selected only after our editorial meetings went online mid-semester per executive order. Debts and disease were present in each Zoom’d conversation. So I think you will find stories that persist in this new normal – each dealing with, or just living within, these emergent realities.

Thank you to our group of young editors, who built this distanced issue of Ninth Letter. They made that void small, whether over webcam, in a chat bar, or a crackling phoneline, sometimes in a closet, or while watching siblings, or just dealing with the news. And thank you readers – this journal is owed to you.



Soramimi Hanarajima 

Kim Magowan 
Not Talking

Creative Non-Fiction

Jeffrey Liao
The Republic of Salt

Giles Scott
In Everything Enchanted There’s an Element of Trust.


Matthew E. Henry
an open letter to my well-intentioned white educators: past, present, and future

Robert Carr
I’m Reminded of What I’ve Forgotten

Jennifer Met
Stranger on a Nude Beach

Jeremy Rock 

Jeffrey Perkins 
The Way Things Are Now

G. J. Sanford 
What I Don’t Know (About My Mother)

Geoff Anderson 

Crystal Ellefsen
When my magic runs dry

Corey Zeller