The UNT Rilke Prize | Department of English

The UNT Rilke Prize


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.


  • Entrants must have published at least two previous books of poetry and be U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens of the United States.
  • Work must be original poetry written in English.
  • Books may be submitted by presses or by writers themselves and must be postmarked by November 30, 2016.
  • Eligible books must have been published between November 1, 2015 and October 31, 2016.
  • Each submission must include 2 copies of the book and a completed entry form.
  • Self-published books will not be considered.
  • Chap books are not considered previous publications.
  • Finalists may be asked to submit further copies.
  • Books will not be returned.

The winner will travel to Texas to give readings at UNT and in the DFW metroplex on April 12th and 13th, 2017. UNT will pay for travel expenses. The author must also allow portions of the winning work to be reproduced for promoting the award. Poets who enter the prize must agree to these terms in order to accept the prize.

Results will be announced in winter 2017.


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

Submission Requirements

Authors or publishers will mail completed entry form with the two copies of the book submission.

Entry form (found here). Please "save as" to your desktop and complete the form.

Mail entry form and 2 copies of submission to:

The UNT Rilke Prize

Department of English

University of North Texas

1155 Union Circle #311307

Denton, TX 76203-5017


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.

2016 UNT Rilke Prize

Rick Barot


Rick Barot's Chord, published by Sarabande Books, won the 2016 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. A Q&A and reception for Barot will be held on Wednesday, April 13, at UNT on the Square and a campus reading will take place on Thursday, April 14, 2016.

In Chord, the poet Rick Barot explores the hazards and marvels of beauty in relation to those of language with its potential to connect and divide, clarify and obscure. Words repeatedly appear as failed mimetically and, by virtue of this, fraught politically, and Barot's allusions to the writing process are less self-regarding than enlarging of our empathy, longing, and sense of wonder for that which must lie, in part, beyond representation. The more language knows of itself and the world, the larger the experience of the unknown. The language of elegy becomes the language of recovery. What the speaker says in one poem figures as a gesture of both advocacy and inquiry: "you need to ask what is/ left out for beauty's sake to see how the unspoken/ will inflect the things you have allowed yourself to say." Throughout his remarkable book, Barot weds the experience of beauty to the horror of experience. Beauty cannot be extricated from all that it is not.

Barot has published two previous books of poetry with Sarabande Books: The Darker Fall (2002), which received the Kathryn A. Morton Prize, and Want (2008), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize. Chord is also shortlisted for the PEN Open Book Award and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. Barot's poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications including Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artist Trust of Washington, the Civitella Ranieri, and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace E. Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer. He lives in Tacoma, Washington and directs The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University. He is also the poetry editor for New England Review.

The judges also selected three finalists for this year's Rilke Prize: Dan Beachy-Quick's gentlessness (Tupelo Press), Joanna Klink's Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy (Penguin Books), and Melissa Kwasny's Pictograph (Milkweed Editions).

Click here for a feature on KERA's Art & Seek!

Click here for an audio file of Rick's campus reading on April 14, 2016.


UNT Rilke Prize Recipients:

Mark Wunderlich, 2015 for The Earth Avails

Click here for more information about our 2015 winner.

Click here for KERA radio feature by Jerome Weeks

Click Here for an American Literary Review interview with Mark Wunderlich.

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.

Contact: Lisa Vining / / 940-369-5981

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