UA Spring Poetry Contests


The Spring Poetry Contests are open to all full-time University of Arizona students. The Spring Poetry Contests comprise five separate awards:

  • Two Margaret Sterling Memorial Awards in the amount of $100 each.
  • Two Poetry Center Awards in the amount of $100 each.
  • One Academy of American Poets Award in the amount of $200. The Academy of American Poets sponsors 200 annual University & College Poetry Prizes for poetry at colleges and universities nationwide. Since 1979, this prize has been awarded at the University of Arizona through the Poetry Center. Former UA winners include Mark Doty, Li-Young Lee, and Tony Hoagland. Winners of the Academy of American Poets Award may also be considered for the $1000 Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award. This contest is open to students 23 years old or younger who have won one of the University & College Poetry Prizes sponsored by the Academy of American Poets.

Contest Eligibility

The Spring Poetry Contests are open to graduate and undergraduate students who are enrolled full-time at the University of Arizona at the time of the contest. Contestants submit one manuscript for consideration for all five prizes.

Enter the Contest

Enter the contest by clicking through to our Submittable page. The link, which will be active from January 10 through February 3, is hereThe contest closes at midnight, MST, on February 3, 2017.


  • Please submit three poems totaling no more than ten pages.
  • Poems should be included in one document.
  • We only accept DOC, DOCX, PDF, and RTF files.
  • Name should not appear on work or in title of manuscript.

2017 Judge: Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith photo by Studio 127

Maggie Smith is the author of Weep Up (Tupelo Press, forthcoming); The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press); Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press); and three prizewinning chapbooks. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Paris Review, Plume, Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review, the Southern Review, and elsewhere. In 2016 her poem “Good Bones” went viral internationally and has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. PRI (Public Radio International) called it “the official poem of 2016.” The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Smith is a freelance writer and editor.

Academy of American Poets Award Winners

  • 2016: Taneum Bambrick (selected by TC Tolbert)
  • 2015: Nick Greer (selected by Wendy S. Walters)
  • 2014: Jarrett Eakins (selected by Timothy Liu)
  • 2013: Meg Wade
  • 2012: Melissa Goodrich
  • 2011: Sean Rys
  • 2010: Madison Bertenshaw
  • 2009: Drew Krewer
  • 2008: Drew Krewer
  • 2007: Matt Rotando
  • 2006: Laura Maher
  • 2005: Dawn Pendergast

Margaret Sterling Memorial Award Winners

  • 2016: Thomas Dai, Charlie d'Eve (selected by TC Tolbert)
  • 2015: Sally McCallum, Matthew Schmidt (selected by Wendy S. Walters)
  • 2014: Sylvia Chan, Jessica Jenkins (selected by Timothy Liu)
  • 2013: Hannah Ensor, Melissa Goodrich
  • 2012: Blake Whalen-Encalarde, Kelly Scherwitzki
  • 2011: Erin Armstrong, Whitney DeVos
  • 2010: Christopher Nelson, Sean Rys
  • 2009: Chelsea Hodson
  • 2008: Christine Bell, Shloka Mangharam
  • 2007: Marina Kaganova, Shelly Taylor
  • 2006: Arianne Zwartjes, Claire L. Shefchik
  • 2005: Kristi Maxwell, Anna Fulford

Poetry Center Award Winners

  • 2016: Jos Charles, Claire Meuschke (selected by TC Tolbert)
  • 2015: Liam Swanson, Brianna Sheaffer (selected by Wendy S. Walters)
  • 2014: Jake Syersak, Mason Gates (selected by Timothy Liu)
  • 2013: Cory Aaland, Jessica Jenkins
  • 2012: Emelia Reuterfors, Jordan Young
  • 2011: Sean F. Munro, David Campbell
  • 2010: Andrew Shuta, Sarah Kortemeier
  • 2009: Zach Buscher, Meagan Lehr
  • 2008: Rachel Springer, Joseph Mains
  • 2007: Lauren Eggert-Crowe, Arianne Zwartjes
  • 2006: Marty Hebrank
  • 2005: Molly Cooney, Marty Hebrank