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UNT Launches Major New Poetry Prize
by Jerome Weeks 19 Aug 2011

The University of North Texas just made poetry-writing a smidgen more financially rewarding in America. The Rilke Prize comes with $10,000 — for a book of poetry of “exceptional artistry” by a writer who already has at least two books in print.


The University of North Texas’ Creative Writing Program has inaugurated a $10,000 award to recognize “a published book that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision written by a mid-career poet.” The UNT Rilke Prize was announced in an ad in this month’s Poets & Writers magazine. The prize is named for the great German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, perhaps best known as the author of the “Duino Elegies.

The $10,000 award does not rank with the most lucrative American prizes in the field, such as the Lannan Literary Award ($150,000), the Wallace Stevens Award ($100,000) and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize ($100,000). Nonetheless, it gives the UNT program a serious push into national prominence — it’s equivalent to the cash awarded Pulitzer Prize winners. Given how financially unrewarding poetry can be as a profession in America, the Rilke Prize will get attention among writers.

Entrants must have published at least two previous books of poetry, and the book of poetry to be considered must be submitted during November 2011 — and it must have been published the year prior (November 1, 2010 to October 31, 2011).  (Self-published books will not be considered.) The winner will be announced by January, and he or she is expected to come  in April and give readings and appearances in Denton and elsewhere in North Texas.

The complete rules and guidelines can be found here.