Contest Guidelines


Ninth Letter's 2016 Literary Awards - Submissions Open March 4-April 29 CLOSED


Ninth Letter is pleased to announce our fourth annual Literary Awards competition! We'll be accepting entries from March 4, 2016 to April 29, 2016 for our Literary Awards in three categories: Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction. The winner selected in each category will receive a $1000 prize and publication in our Fall/Winter 2016-17 issue (vol. 13, no. 2).

The fee for entering each of the three categories will be $17, and all entrants will receive a one-year subscription to Ninth Letter. Your entry fee will cover one submission in one category; you are welcome to send multiple submissions in multiple categories provided a fee is paid for each entry. Electronic submissions may pay by credit card through our secure payment system; submissions sent by USPS should send payment by check or money order made to Ninth Letter.

Please read the following guidelines before submitting your work. Submissions may be made electronically at our online submissions manager.

Submissions sent via email will not be considered.


Fiction and Creative Nonfiction submissions should be a maximum of 8,000 words.


Poetry submissions should include 3-5 poems, no more than 10 pages total in the submission.

All entries should include a cover letter with author's name, contact information and title(s) of work submitted. You may include this cover letter information in the “comments” section of the submission form, or you may include it as the first page of your submission document. Neither the author's name nor any identifying information should appear on the manuscript itself beyond the cover letter.

Works submitted to the contest may be simultaneously submitted elsewhere; please indicate on your cover letter if this is the case, and please remove the submission from consideration immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.





Fiction Judge: Roy Kesey

Roy Kesey was born and raised in northern California, and currently lives with his wife and children in Maryland. He is the author of the story collection Any Deadly Thing, a novel titled Pacazo (the January 2011 selection for The Rumpus Book Club), another collection of short stories called All Over (a finalist for the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award, and one of The L Magazine's Best Books of the Decade), a novella called Nothing in the World (winner of the Bullfight Media Little Book Award), and a historical guide to the city of Nanjing, China. His work has appeared in several anthologies including Best American Short Stories, New Sudden Fiction, The Robert Olen Butler Prize Anthology and The Future Dictionary of America, and in more than eighty magazines including McSweeney's, Subtropics, The Georgia Review, American Short Fiction, The Iowa Review and Ninth Letter. His translation of Pola Oloixarac's magnificent debut novel Las teorías salvages is forthcoming from Soho Press as Savage Theories in 2016




Poetry Judge: Tarfia Faizullah

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Register of Illuminated Villages (forthcoming from Graywolf in 2017) and Seam (SIU, 2014), winner of the 2012 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, the 2015 VIDA Award, the Milton Kessler First Book Prize, and the GLCA New Writers' Award. Her poems appear in numerous publications including Poetry MagazineAmerican Poetry Review, Oxford American, jubilatNew England Review, The Missouri Review, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. Honors include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, a Ploughshares Cohen Award, scholarships and fellowships from Kundiman, the Fulbright Foundation, Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and Vermont Studio Center. She is the Nicholas Delbanco Visiting Professor of Creative Writing in Poetry at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program and co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press & Video Series with Jamaal May. 



Creative Nonfiction Judge: Sue William Silverman

Sue William Silverman’s poetry collection is Hieroglyphics in Neon (Orchises Press). She is also the author of three books of prose. The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew was a finalist in Foreword Reviews’ 2014 IndieFab Book of the Year Award. Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You won the AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction. Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction is also a Lifetime TV movie. Her craft book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir. She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. 



Current and former employees of Ninth Letter, current and former students and faculty of the creative writing and translation studies programs at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and current and former students of our guests judges are not eligible to enter these contests.


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