Voertman / Academy of American Poets Prize | Department of English

Voertman / Academy of American Poets Prize

The Academy of Poets, as part of their Academy Book Awards, sponsors the University and College Poetry Prize Program to distribute annual prizes at over 200 colleges and universities nationwide. The program is notable for having recognized many of America's premier poetic voices during their college years, including Diane Ackerman, Alice Fulton, Tess Gallagher, Allen Grossman, Kimiko Hahn, Robert Hass, Brad Leithauser, J.D. McClatchy, Heather McHugh, and Gregory Orr, among others.


The Department of English is pleased to announce this year's Voertman / Academy of American Poets Prize for creative writing graduate students.

2020 Guidelines:

  • Open to currently enrolled Ph.D. and M.A. creative writing students in the Department of English, University of North Texas.
  • Submit up to three poems in a single PDF attachment. Your name should not appear on the manuscript.
  • All submissions must have 2020 Voertman Prize in the subject line.
  • Email submissions to Corey Marks at corey.marks@unt.edu.
  • Submissions must be received by February 7, 2020.
  • $200 Prize

Click here to download flyer.

The winner will be recognized at the UNT Rilke Prize reading on April 2, 2020.


2019 Voertman / Academy of American Poets Prize

Megan Arlett

David Keplinger has selected "Jaw" by Megan Arlett as the winner of the 2019 Voertman / Academy of American Poets Prize.

He writes: "The imagery in this exquisite piece of writing immediately transports us into a marsupial world in which a baby is housed in a cupboard; the speaker pouched in a bathtub; "a possum family/ trundl[es] out from the crawl space across our lawn." The world is a nesting doll full of vacancies, one inside the other, the poet suggests, and the weight of its gaps and spaciousness provoke sometimes an existential emptiness ("little lamb in his casket"), and other times a sense of possibility and becoming ("arms pregnant/with a paper bag filled to the lip/by oranges"). The solace of biology evokes for me the work of Katherine Larson; the way the mother engages with "the literature" of motherhood; but it is the voice of this poem that is most remarkable, translucent here: the frankness of these translations from abstract worry and spiritual exhaustion allow for some redemption--if only for some future self, "a woman like me"--in the marvelous closing stanzas of the poem."

Megan will receive $200 and be named in the Academy's annual report. She will also be recognized at the UNT Rilke Prize reading on Thursday, April 4, 2019.

Congratulations, Megan!

Previous Winners

  • 2018 Megan Arlett for "Turn of the Millennium"
  • 2017 Andrew Koch for "Inheritance"
  • 2016 Chelsea Wagenaar for "The Spinning Place"
  • 2015 Matt Haines for "The Instructor"
  • 2014 Chelsea Wagenaar for "August"
  • 2013 Justin Bigos for "Three Rivers"

Paul Voertman endowed the Voertman / Academy of American Poets Prize for creative writing graduate students at UNT.

Video: In memory of Paul Voertman https://youtu.be/ZYI66KB4Xuw

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