News, Awards & Press

Our Mission

Friday, June 5, 2020

New Letters, New Letters on the Air, and our affiliate publisher, BkMk Press, stand in solidarity with our black writers, readers, listeners, friends, and community.

We have long made it our mission “to discover, publish, and promote the best and most exciting literary writing, wherever it might be found.” Implicit in this statement is our commitment to inclusion—to searching far and wide for a diversity of voices. But following the national unrest after the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and many others, we must now be more explicit in our mission. We wish to state unequivocally our commitment to amplifying the voices of those who have long been marginalized, ignored, and silenced as a result of systemic racism in our country.

At a time when many of us are asking ourselves what we can do—from protesting, to voting, to supporting black businesses and organizations—our staff is mindful of the ways in which literature can aid in this movement for justice and equity. We find ourselves turning to our New Letters on the Air audio archives to hear the voices of Gwendolyn Brooks, Glenn North, Terrance Hayes, Etheridge KnightMarcus Jackson, Audre Lorde, Sonia Sanchez, Patricia Smith, DaMaris Hill, Anthony Grooms, Isabel Wilkerson, Anna Deavere Smith, Marcus Wicker, Nikky Finney, Jericho Brown, Mbembe, Stanley Banks, Stephanie Powell Watts, Claudia Rankine, and so many more who comment on race, activism, and the power of art. These programs are free to the public and available to stream on our website: It is our hope that the voices of these poets, novelists, essayists, and artists will inspire, educate, and ignite a passion for change and equality within our community and around the world.

A Message to Our Community

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Greetings to our readers, listeners, and writers.

We write to wish you well amidst this strange time, and to update you on our operations here at New Letters magazine, New Letters on the Air and BkMk Press. Though our offices at the University of Missouri-Kansas City are currently closed, we are all working from home and still, as of this writing, on schedule with our publications and audio programs.

You can listen to New Letters on the Air on the radio, aired in Kansas City on KCUR 89.3 FM, Sundays at 6:30 a.m., or check with your local public radio station’s program director for broadcast times in your area. You can also subscribe to the New Letters on the Air free weekly podcast via Apple Podcasts and Stitcher or stream our current show, as well as hundreds of archive programs, on our website. (What better way to spend a few quarantine hours than listening to our host, Angela Elam, in conversation with Ben Lerner, Terrance Hayes, Sandra Cisneros, and so many more?) 

Our current issue of New Letters magazine is available now, and we are still able to fill subscription orders. Our summer and fall issues are, as of this moment, still on schedule to round our eighty-sixth year of publication.

BkMk Press looks forward to the publication of its newest book of poetry, Can You Smell the Rain?, by Patricia Cleary Miller, and an ambitious fall list that includes Scott Nadelson’s One of Us, winner of the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Fiction selected by Amina Gautier, Dara Yen Elerath’s Dark Braid, winner of the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry selected by Doug Ramspeck, and other notable books.  

Writers, please note New Letters is accepting regular submissions, as well as entries to our Robert Day Award for Fiction, Patricia Cleary Miller Award for Poetry, and Conger Beasley Award for Nonfiction. Prizes for our awards total $7,500. BkMk Press will begin accepting entrants for its John Ciardi Prize for Poetry and G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction in June. The deadline is January 15, 2021. 

Thank you for your continued support of New LettersNew Letters on the Air, and BkMk Press. You can keep up with us on our social media pages: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Should you have any questions or comments, the best way to reach us is currently through email:,,. Now more than ever, we value our community of readers, listeners, and writers, and look forward to hearing from you.

With very best wishes,

The Staff of New LettersNew Letters on the Air, and BkMk Press

Kansas City Public Library Announces Kids and Teens eReading Rooms

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Kansas City Public Library has digitized the concept of physical reading rooms by creating individual, specialized eReading Rooms of ebooks and audiobooks for children and teenagers.  With a library card, Kansas City residents can browse digital books that are sectioned off from the rest of the catalog, with all searches filtered and dedicated to children and teens. Readers can find this on on Libby, the award-winning one-tap reading app from OverDrive.  To explore the library’s eReading rooms of ebooks and audiobooks, visit or download Libby today from Apple®, Android™ and Windows® app stores.

UMKC's New Letters Ranks Among the Top Literary Journals in the United States

Monday, April 29, 2019

In a series of unrelated rankings for literary journals this spring, New Letters continues its standing as among the most highly regarded journals for discovering, publishing, and promoting the best new fiction, poetry, and essays.  Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Dennis’ poem from New Letters, has been chosen for The Best American Poetry 2019.  Myron Taube’s fiction from New Letters has been selected for The Pushcart Prizes: Best of the Small Presses 2019.

A ranking service run by former writer-in-residence of the Hemingway House, Annette Gender, ranks New Letters among the group of 10 best journals in the country, alongside Harvard Review, Paris Review, and other top magazines.  In addition, the “2019 Literary Magazines” rankings system by Library of Virginia award winner Clifford Garstang, ranks New Letters as 7th out of 145 journals for award-winning nonfiction.

 “Our history among the top literary journals in the nation,” says editor Robert Stewart, “is the result of an 85-year commitment by our university, staff, and editors.”  In addition, UMKC can boast its status as the only (underscore “only”) university in the nation with a nationally ranked literary journal, literary press (BkMk) and a nationally prominent public-radio literary series. 

New Letters is a production of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Subscriptions can be ordered via the website or by calling (816) 235-1168.  New Letters, 5101 Rockhill Road, UMKC, Kansas City, Mo. 64110.

Winner Announced: New Letters Publication Award in Fiction

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Congrats to Donna Gordon for winning the $750.00 New Letters Publication Award in Fiction for her story "Primates." The final judge was Anthony Grooms. Read Donna's story in the summer 2019 issue of New Letters. More info on the winner, finalists, & judges here:

New Letters Prize for Fiction is Retitled as The Robert Day Award for Fiction

Thursday, February 28, 2019

New Letters, an international literary magazine of writing and art, is pleased to announce that the New Letters Prize for Fiction (formerly the Alexander Patterson Cappon Fiction Award) has been newly endowed and renamed the Robert Day Award for Fiction, allowing the magazine to increase the prize money from $1,500 to $2,500.

New Letters has offered a prize for fiction writing since 1986. With previous winners such as Amy Widmoyer Hanson (2018) and Robert Oldshue (2017), the award recognizes writers whose work conveys a sharp sense of language. “New Letters established its literary award series to discover and promote great writing,” says New Letters Assistant Editor Ashley Wann. “We’re proud to say that the award series often discovers writers early in their careers, which we delight in.” The newly named award honors Day’s history of publishing in the magazine.

Day has contributed greatly to the literary arts, earning awards such a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. His novel The Last Cattle Drive was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and his short fiction has been included in The Best American Short Stories anthology. In 2005 Day, himself, served as a fiction judge for the New Letters Prize for Fiction.

The Robert Day Award for Fiction offers publication in New Letters and $2,500 for the best story. Open to any writer, submissions are due May 20, 2019, and guidelines are found at New Letters is published by the University of Missouri- Kansas City and is available by subscription; call (816) 235-1168 or email to order.

Winners Announced: New Letters Literary Awards

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

                                                Fiction Judge Thomas Fox Averill, Fiction Winner Amy Widmoyer Hanson,
                                                          Essay Judge Janet Burroway, Essay Winner Robert Stothart
                                                          Poetry Judge Alberto Ríos, Poetry Winner Betty Ritz Rogers

New Letters is pleased to announce the 2018 winners of the $2,500 Conger Beasley Jr. Prize for Nonfiction, the $1,500 New Letters Prize for Fiction and the $1,500 New Letters Prize for Poetry. Essay Judge Janet Burroway chose Robert Stothart's essay "Cataract Surgery" as the winner for the Conger Beasley Jr. Award for Nonfiction and Fiction Judge Thomas Fox Averill chose Amy Widmoyer Hanson's story "Independence Road" as the winner of the New Letters Prize for Fiction. Poetry Judge Alberto Ríos chose Betty Fitz Rogers' poem "Josef Sudek (Prague, 1896-1979)" a the winner of the New Letters Prize for Poetry. Each winner will receive a cash prize and publication in the winter 2019 issue of New Letters. For more information about our winners and judges, click here.

New Letters Summer 2018 Poetry Series

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Children Poetry Series

Follow our new series of poems about children, each day or two through July—new ones announced here, and linked to our website—by such poets as Kelly Cherry, John Balaban, Dunya Mikhail and others.  Anyone who knows the poem “Bopal,” by David Ray, about the fate of children near a chemical-plant explosion in Bopal, India, years ago, might be haunted, as I have been, by the line, “They’re all our children now.”  That’s the spirit of our series on children, “All Our Children,” whether in Kansas City or Syria, Bopal or Arizona.  The series offers what poetry does best: to get a little intensity going.  Start here. (R. Stewart).

New Letters' Author Wins Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award

Friday, June 15, 2018

New Letters is pleased to announce the Lydia Conklin, whose essay "Rockaway" appeared in New Letters vol. 76 no. 4, has won a 2018 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award. Conklin will receive $30,000. The award is given annually to six women writers who demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers. To learn more about the foundation, visit

New Letters Weekend Writing Conference 2018 (June 22nd through June 24th)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Writing Seminars, Workshops, Private Consultations, Craft lectures, Refreshments, Snacks, Socializing.


Keynote speaker & faculty member, Diane Glancy:

American Book Award; Lifetime Achievement Award,
Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas.

Professional, published faculty:

Catherine Browder & Diane Glancy (novels and short fiction), Frank Higgins (scenes, dialogue, drama, stage), Trish Reeves and Stanley E. Banks (poetry), Loring Leifer (nonfiction) Robert Stewart (director and essays). Humorist Kent Rader & book editor Ben Furnish, plus other guest speakers, editors & publishers. Conference manager: Lisa D. Stewart. 

Held at Diastole Center, the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s beautiful conference center, at 2501 Holmes St., Kansas City, Mo.: fast-paced and interdisciplinary; private manuscript consultations. Register through the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences Continuing Education (816) 235-2736.

Community Noncredit enrollment at reduced fees.  Contact Continuing Education: (235-2736) New Letters (235-1168) or email


English 438  (undergrad or graduate college credit available):

*  Three-credit hour students use English 438 section 0002 (capstone option)

Register as for any other credit course or contact Cont. Ed. (816) 235-2736.

*  One-credit hour students use English 438 section 0001.

Director & instructor Robert Stewart, editor, New Letters.

Full details for the conference here

Continuing Education, College of Arts and Science (816) 235-2736.

New Letters & BkMk Press Events at 2018 AWP Conference / Tampa Bookfair Booth 1048

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Boisseau, Stewart, Leonin

Tribute to the Michelle Boisseau:  1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., Thursday, March 8th at the Barber Middleton Stage (stage 2), Tampa Convention Center, Third Floor. . . . with Mark Jarman, Randall Mann, Hadara      Bar-Nadav, Kate Daniels, Robert Stewart, Marilyn Kallet, Wayne Miller . . . and others.  A toast.

Robert Stewart will be signing his book of poems Working Class, 4 p.m., Fri., March 9, at Stephen F. Austin State University Press tables: 719/721.

Mia Leonin will be signing her BkMk Press book, Fable of the Pack-Saddle Child, at 2 p.m., Friday, March 9, at the New Letters & BkMk Press booth 1048.  Come visit editor Ben Furnish, Mia, and friends.  



New Letters on the Air Archive Audio on The Paris Review Podcast

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The power of the renowned late poet John Ashbery lives on through his recorded voice. The Paris Review podcast released on Wed., Jan. 31, 2018 includes audio from a 1986 New Letters on the Air program with Ashbery reading his poem “Soonest Mended.”

“There are about nine different recordings of this poem,” says Paris Review podcast executive producer John DeLore, “but I like the New Letters version the best.” A production of New Letters magazine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, New Letters on the Air is the nation’s longest running weekly literary radio program, broadcasting since 1977, with audio archives that include Pulitzer Prize-winners and poets laureate, such as Ashbery. “One of our missions with The Paris Review podcast,” DeLore says, “is to make literature and poetry accessible and enjoyable to a wider audience than those who encounter it on the printed page. New Letters has been doing exactly that kind of work for over 40 years.”

Ashbery’s long career led him to play the role of poet, critic, and translator. His poetry is known for its experimental, complex, and at times controversial nature. A 1975 collection titled Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award. He has been described as one of the most influential American poets of the 20th century with his use of language compared to that of Walt Whitman and T.S. Eliot. The New York state poet laureate from 2000 to 2003, Ashbery died Sept. 3, 2017, at the age of 90.

            The recording is available on The Paris Review podcast website. The full New Letters on the Air program with John Ashbery, recorded during his 1986 commencement address at the Kansas City Art Institute, is also available to stream in the audio archives. New Letters on the Air airs locally Sundays at 6:30AM on KCUR 89.3 FM. It can also be heard through the New Letters on the Air podcast on iTunes. 

Writers for Readers

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 | 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. | UMKC, Student Union

Join us at Writers for Readers, an evening celebrating the power of expression through creative writing and reading. Sponsors and attendees will meet and mingle during a reception and seated dinner, and enjoy a program featuring acclaimed authors Curtis Sittenfeld and Whitney Terrell.

RSVP Online TodayTickets are $65 each and sponsorships range from $500 - $5,000. Click here to become a sponsor or purchase individual tickets!

Proceeds from this event benefit a collaborative partnership between Literacy KC and UMKC's Creative Writing Program. This innovative program brought a Creative Writing graduate student, to create, implement, and teach creative writing to teens and adults enrolled in Literacy KC's Ticket to Read programs throughout the metro. 

Celebrating Michelle Boisseau

Monday, October 30, 2017

Join us in celebrating UMKC English professor and poet Michelle Boisseau on Thursday, November 2, 2017, at 3:00 p.m. in Cockefair Hall, 52nd Street and Rockhill Road, Kansas City, Mo., room 105. Please come and read one of your favorite poems by Michelle to honor her work on the page and in our community. 


NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR, On Stage, in Conversation with PEN/Faulkner Award Winner, Stewart O'Nan

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

National Public Radio calls Stewart O’Nan’s stories gems, brilliant and revealing, while The New York Times describes him as “prolific and versatile.” Hear Stewart O’Nan in person, discussing his craft and career with New Letters on the Air public radio host/producer, Angela Elam. On Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Cockefair Writer-in-Residence will take the stage with Elam at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

Stewart O’Nan is known for taking risks, crafting seventeen books that rarely compare to one another in their styles and subjects. His omniform work ranges from nonfiction collaborations with Stephan King, to fiction that voices the fears of the unemployed, to terrifying psychological thrillers and a novel about the writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald. His latest fictional book, City of Secrets (2016), follows a widower in post-World War II Jerusalem.

This event will begin at 6:30 p.m. The Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library is located at 4801 Main St., Kansas City, 64112. RSVP to the library online at or call 816-701-3400. The conversation is also co-presented by the UMKC English Department, the Carolyn Benton Cockefair Chair at UMKC, and the Writers at Work Round Table. New Letters on the Air can be heard on KCUR 89.3 on Sunday mornings at 6:00 AM or online anytime at Free podcasts of the show are also available. For more information reference our “Kansas City Literary Events Calendar.”


Friday, September 29, 2017

University of Missouri-Kansas City’s BkMk Press, publisher of fine books since 1971, announces winners of its 2017 book prizes. Berwyn Moore (Erie, Pa.) has won the 18th John Ciardi Prize for Poetry, and Rachel Groves (shown) (Kansas City, Mo.) has won the 16th G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction. Each author will receive $1,000 and book publication from BkMk Press in 2018.

Groves’s story collection, When We Were Someone Else, was selected by fiction writer Hilma Wolitzer for “beautifully depicting the (sometimes fraught) emotional connections between various characters” with writing that is “crisp and fresh, often funny and ultimately moving.” Groves is a graduate of the University of Vermont M.F.A. program and Southern Methodist University and lived in Dallas, Texas, until recently. When We Were Someone Else will be her first book.

Enid Shomer, poet and fiction writer, chose Moore’s manuscript Sweet Herbaceous Miracle as the 2017 poetry winner. Moore, a professor of English at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, has previously published two collections of poetry, and her poems have appeared widely in national journals, including The Southern Review, Shenandoah, and Nimrod.

Finalists for the 2017 G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize included Kilby Allen, Elizabeth Genovise, Diane Josefowicz, and Jyotsna Sreenivasan. Ciardi Prize finalists were Trent Busch, Johnson Cheu, Laura Foley, Danielle Hanson, Francis Klein, Leah Nielsen, Philip Raisor, and Jeffrey Talmadge.

The John Ciardi Prize for Poetry was founded in 1998 to honor the legacy of Ciardi, who taught at UMKC in the 1940s and was a poet, translator, and poetry editor of The Saturday Review. BkMk Press founded the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction in 2001 in memory of Chandra, who was a professor of English at UMKC. Previous winners of BkMk’s annual writing contests have gone on to receive wide literary acclaim; a full list of past recipients and judges is available here. Submissions for next year's contests are welcome. The entry deadline for both is Jan. 15, 2018. Click here for guidelines.

Tracy K. Smith has been named the next U.S. Poet Laureate!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hear poetry from her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Life on Mars, on the New Letters on the Air half-hour show or a short excerpt on KCUR before she was in Kansas City last year. Find out more about our new ambassador for poetry from NPR.

Kevin Rabas (left) named Kansas Poet Laureate . . .

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kevin Rabas, New Letters contributing poet, has just been named poet laureate of Kansas. Our congratulations. Rabas can be seen here (left) in his town of Emporia, Kansas, fall 2016, with New Letters editor Robert Stewart, who also is Kevin's former teacher at UMKC.

Robert Stewart’s book of poems Plumbers reissued in 2017 revised paperback.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Plumbers ad

New Letters on the Air Celebrates National Poetry Month with Two Recent NEA Fellows at the Kansas City Public Library

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Missouri poets Hadara Bar-Nadav and Kathryn Nuernberger, who both received National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowships in December 2016, will take to the stage of the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library with New Letters on the Air host/producer, Angela Elam.  On Wednesday, April 12th, 2017, they will discuss their recent books and “What Makes a Poem Work?”for National Poetry Month.  April also marks the beginning of the 40th year of broadcasting for this nationally-distributed public radio literary show that is the companion to New Letters magazine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and can be heard locally on KCUR 89.3 FM.

Hadara Bar-Nadav teaches creative writing at UMKC and is the co-editor, with Michelle Boisseau, of the popular textbook Writing Poems. Her fourth collection of poetry, Fountain and Furnace (Tupelo P), was released in July 2016 and was the winner of the Sunken Garden Chapter Book Prize. Kathryn Nuernberger is the editor of Pleiades Press at the University of Central Missouri, where she also teaches creative writing and hosts the Pleiades Visiting Writers Series. The End of Pink (BOA Editions Ltd.), her second book of poetry, was awarded the 2015 James Laughlin Award before being published in September of last year.

A reception for the event will begin at 6:00 PM, with the program following at 6:30 PM. The Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch is located at 4801 Main St., Kansas City, 64112. RSVP to the library online at or call 816-701-3407. The event is cosponsored by the UMKC English department, New Letters magazine, and KCUR 89.3 FM, where New Letters on the Air can be heard Sunday mornings at 6:00 AM or with the free podcast and streaming online at

Women's History Month at the Kansas City Public Library Explores Modern Day Gorgons with Poet Michelle Boisseau for New Letters on the Air

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The theme of grieving yet fierce women from Greek mythology to contemporary times (“Keeping afloat / nine kids while anchored to a crooning / typhoon of a husband”) promises to fuel Women’s History Month in a live event at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library on Thursday, March 23, 2017. Poet Michelle Boisseau will talk about her fifth collection of poetry Among the Gorgons with Angela Elam, host of UMKC’s weekly show and podcast New Letters on the AirAmong the Gorgons won the Tampa Review Prize and was published in 2016 by the University of Tampa Press.  Nominated for this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the collection contains the poem, “Ugglig,” that was also published in The Best American Poetry 2016.

“Michelle Boisseau’s poems are unashamed, gleeful, outrageous, defiant,” said New York poet, Eleanor Wilner, a former Cockefair Chair Writer-in-Residence at UMKC.  Boisseau’s honors include two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and poetry prizes for her books.  An English Department faculty member at UMKC since 1995, Boisseau teaches in the Creative Writing Program and is a contributing editor of New Letters magazine and BkMk Press.  She has been a guest interviewer for New Letters on the Air, which airs locally on KCUR 89.3 FM on Sunday mornings at 6 a.m.

This event  is co-presented by UMKC’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the English Department, New Letters magazine and BkMk Press and begins at 6:30 p.m., with a reception beforehand at 6 p.m.. Reservations to the event are strongly recommended. For more information and to RSVP reference our “Kansas City Literary Events Calendar.”

Writers for Readers

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Literacy KC & UMKC's Creative Writing Program team up to raise money for a local literacy program. Contributors can enjoy dinner while listening to a conversation between UMKC novelist Whitney Terrell & Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith. (Click names to hear earlier radio shows with each writer; more on the event here.)

A Stand for Conger Beasley Jr.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

by Robert Stewart

The death of one of the most significant literary figures of the Kansas City region, Conger Beasley Jr., on Aug. 9, 2016, author of over 19 books of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, articles and art, has gone entirely unmentioned by The Kansas City Star, except for the family’s obituary. That omission can only be understood as The Star's determination to reduce staff coverage of the city's artistic life and history.  

            When Arkansas poet and editor Miller Williams died in 2015, an editorial page editor at The Star invited me to write a tribute to Williams, which I did.  That editor, now retired, had been a books and arts editor previously, and had, himself, memorialized other regional writers and artists.  He was not alone to do so at the paper, but The Star, in recent years, has phased out its long-time arts reporters, whose attention and commitment to artists in this town went deeper than the latest press release.

            “If we are ever to attain our forefathers’ aspirations for ‘a more perfect union,’” wrote Rita Dove this August in an open letter to the future president of this country, “educating our young—not only in the sciences, but also the arts—cannot, dare not, be neglected.”  I believe, and hope, that Dove speaks here not only of formal education but the education that comes from reading news, and that means news also of the arts.  We at New Letters do the best we can but cannot fill the role of a mass-market, daily paper.

            Here is our stand:  Conger Beasley, born in St. Joseph, Mo., in 1940, long-time resident of Kansas City, is among the best practitioners of literary journalism and imaginative writing Missouri ever produced.  He won the Western Writers of America Spur Award in Nonfiction for We Are a People of This World: The Lakota Sioux and the Massacre at Wounded Knee (Arkansas University Press)—a modern masterpiece of literary reporting in the classic Beasley style—solid, narrative story-telling, journalistic insight, and surrealist, linguistic dazzlement sufficient to turn reportage into a work of ecstatic art.  Mr. Beasley won the Thorpe Menn Award for literary excellence for his essay collection Sundancers and River Demons: Essays on Landscape and Ritual.  His Hidalgo's Beard and The Ptomaine Kid rank among the best innovative novels of the later 20th century.  

            A world traveler, Beasley has written articles and books about California’s Channel Islands, Colorado’s Spanish Peaks, Alaska, Venezuela, and was pictured on the cover of EcoTraveler magazine, hiking the Andes in Peru.  It is not possible to consider oneself an authentic resident of Kansas City, St. Joseph, or, for that matter, the entire state of Missouri, without having read this literary master.

            Beasley contributed as much to the character of Kansas City as any council member, band leader, and some mayors.  He wrote books.  He wrote the tiny nonfiction gem Kansas City: An Evocation, a paean to the town from its own fabulist and raconteur.  He was advisory editor for New Letters and author for BkMk Press.  He appeared at conferences, book festivals, art gatherings, presentations, and readings; he worked in publishing ventures here, such as Andrews McMeel, Woods Colt Press, Chouteau Review, and others, but not that The Star these days would notice. 

—Aug. 24, 2016 /  R.S.


Summer Subscription Special

Friday, July 8, 2016

For a limited time, new subscribers to New Letters magazine can receive—along with upcoming issues--one complimentary back issue featuring writers recently heard on the radio show and podcast, New Letters on the Air. Visit our Subscription page and in the comments box, enter "Summer Special" along with the volume number of the New Letters back issue you would like to receive.

Choices include: Vol. 81 Nos. 3&4 to read the complete interview with Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail and an essay on religion by Willis Barnstone; or Vol. 82 No. 2 with three new poems by Missouri Poet Laureate Aliki Barnstone and a translation of a Danish writer by Tom Kennedy; or Vol. 82 No. 1 with an essay by that National Magazine Award-winning writer, Thomas Kennedy, as well as new poems by Willis Barnstone.

New Letters Writers Featured on Public TV

Friday, July 1, 2016

An episode coming to KCPT, public TV in Kansas City, features military vet and New Letters poet H.C. Palmer and other vet writers.  The video focuses on a May 2016 writing workshop for military vets, “Telling Your Story,” which included as instructors several other New Letters writers: Trish Reeves, Frank Higgins, Al Ortolani, and Robert Stewart. Preview video here.

BkMk Press Book Wins IPPY Award

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

BkMk Press announces that its book Thorn, by Evan Morgan Williams, won the 2016 gold medal in the category of short fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, currently in it’s 20th year. Williams previously won BkMk Press’ G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize in Short Fiction for Thorn in a contest judged by former California poet laureate Al Young. “The seductive beauty of these subtle troubling fictions,” Young states in the foreword to Thorn, “reflect their author’s dreamy, voice-drenched visions of underdog lives.”

BkMk Press annually offers the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize in Short Fiction and the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry. The next deadline for these prizes is Jan. 15, 2017. Submissions must be book-length and written in English. Winners are announced in August, and receive $1000 and book publication. Authors published in this contest have gone on to be reviewed or featured in publications such as Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews. 

Independent Publisher Award page.

Kansas City Literary Events

Coutley, Gaskin & Molberg

Friday, August 21, 2020
Kansas City, Mo.


Our Mission

New Letters, New Letters on the Air, and our affiliate publisher, BkMk Press, stand in solidarity with our black writers, readers, listeners, friends, and community. Read our full statement here.


Individual Issues of New Letters Magazine

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