Winter 2021


Winter 2021

Limits on touch, we’ve come to find, seem to highlight the limits of words. A word is the zoom call version of what it signifies, just like there’s no open bar at a virtual wedding. A six-foot hug is mostly just lonely. Words are all we have right now, and it turns out, after this many months, they’re just not enough. And so, instead of words, we asked our writers for touch.

We said in the submission call that our definition of touch was necessarily constellatory, and that is certainly true of the work presented here—one can easily imagine the lines linking these stars together. What we didn’t anticipate, though, was the sheer intimacy of what we were given; how our writers responded to our call not with the touch of a hand offered to a stranger, but the touch of a childhood, or a kiss, or a photograph, or a ghost, or a death, or Anne Boleyn’s tinseled throat, trying to sing. Which is to say, they responded not with their hands, but with their lives—the unregulated currency of touch. Thank you for this, writers.

Amazing too the work we can do at such distance! The editorial team—which never met in-person, which never exchanged so much as a high-five—was nonetheless intrepid, thoughtful, and adventurous, lighting up their screens each day with an enthusiasm and excitement rarely found in video-conference-based communities. Thanks, team, and cheers.

And so, in absence of touch, in lieu of proximity, and in overwhelming gratitude, Reader, we hope the warmth of what is here suffices, for now.




Wynne Hungerford - It Comes to This

Jennifer Popa - Pity the Mammal Who Accepted the Blessing That Was Never Hers to Keep

Vincent Yu - Private Illusions



Rooja Mohassessy - First Kiss

E. B. Schnepp - it’s christmas in anne boleyns throat

Natasha King - a gate will not remained closed

Despy Boutris - Girlhood

Alison Stine - Planned Community, Southern Ohio

Sean Cho A. - Dogma

Ro Daniels - Number 5


Creative Nonfiction

Amanda Gaines -  Something About Which We Could Talk Forever

Jean Coco - Here, Now


Editorial Staff

Editor: Michael Hurley

Editorial Assistants: Anusha Bansal, Pauline Chang, Brianna Hitchingham, Chris Huller, Sheila Loosevelt, Lydia Lorenzo, Mary Neubauer, Allison Nichols, Shane Peek, Nik Pfanner, Tyshawn Primer, Nia Simpson, Eliza Sullivan, Kerry Taylor, Christel Thompson, Cameron Trejbal, Jeffrey Tolomeo


  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.