The UNT Rilke Prize

Mark Wunderlich’s The Earth Avails, published by Graywolf Press, has won the 2015 UNT Rilke Prize. The $10,000 prize recognizes a book written by a mid-career poet and published in the preceding year that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision.

In his powerful book, The Earth Avails, Mark Wunderlich explores the plentitudes and threats of the natural order in language that both appropriates and resists the consolations of prayer and spiritual meditation. Here the agrarian world, eroded, assailed, embedded in myth, impoverished as a source of mythic communion, reasserts its primary terror and significance, its god-like proportions, storm-like indifference, its small farms and families repossessed by earth. The earth survives, avails against our language, our memorials, our amnesia even, our world exalted and mourned in human terms. “I have loved myself and the world more than I have loved you,” he prays. “I stand at the estuary,” he says, and the confluence implied by speech remains haunted with humility and contraction, a sensation of wind tightening its reins, of language, mercifully, breaking down. “And you,” he continues, “push the snaffle past my teeth.”

The judges also selected three finalists for this year’s Rilke Prize: Rebecca Dunham’s Glass Armonica (Milkweed Editions), Katie Ford’s Blood Lyrics (Graywolf), and Michael White’s Vermeer in Hell (Persea).

Join us for these special events:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
6:30 p.m.
Q&A and Reception
UNT on the Square

Thursday, April 16, 2015
8:00 p.m.
Reading & Book Signing
Business Leadership Building, Room 180

The UNT Barnes & Noble Bookstore will have copies of The Earth Avails available for purchase at the evening reading on April 16, 2015. 

Click here for more information about our latest winner!

Click here for KERA radio feature by Jerome Weeks

Click Here for an interview with our latest winner.

The prize is named after the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), a writer whose work embodies the qualities of ambition, intellectual and imaginative scope, and technical mastery we seek to recognize.


An annual award of a $10,000 award recognizing a book that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision written by a mid-career poet and published in the preceding year.


The prize will be judged by UNT’s poetry faculty.

UNT Rilke Prize Recipients:

Katie Peterson, 2014 for The Accounts

Click here for more information about 2014 winner.

Click here for a podcast interview with Katie Peterson.

Click here for an interview and radio piece by Jerome Weeks.

Paisley Rekdal, 2013 for Animal Eye


Click here for more information about the 2013 winner!

Click here for a podcast interview with Paisley Rekdal.

Laura Kasischke, 2012 for Space, in Chains


Click here for more information about our inaugural winner!

Click here for a podcast interview with Laura Kasischke.

If you have any questions please contact Lisa Vining at or 940-369-5981.