UNT Rilke Prize | Department of English

UNT Rilke Prize

Submission period open August 1, 2022 - November 30, 2022

The UNT Rilke Prize awards $10,000 to a collection that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision written by a mid-career poet and published in the preceding year. 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.

2023 UNT Rilke Prize Submission Guidelines

  • Entrants must have published at least two previous books of poetry
  • Work must be original poetry written in English
  • Eligible books must have been published between November 2021 and October 2022
  • Books may be submitted by presses or by writers themselves and must be postmarked by November 30, 2022
  • Each submission must include 3 copies of the book and a completed entry form
  • Chapbooks are not considered previous publications
  • Self-published books will not be considered
  • Finalists may be asked to submit further copies
  • No submission fee
  • Books will not be returned

The winner will travel to UNT for a reading and book signing to be scheduled in fall 2023. 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.


The prize will be judged by UNT's poetry faculty

Submission Requirements

Authors or publishers will mail completed entry form with three copies of the book submission to the address below. Please download entry form here.

Mail entry form and submission to:

UNT Rilke Prize / Department of English

University of North Texas

1155 Union Circle #311307

Denton, TX 76203-5017

Note: If books are mailed directly from publisher, entry form may be emailed to: UNTrilkeprize@unt.edu.

The UNT Rilke Prize was founded in 2011 and is offered by Creative Writing and the Department of English.

Contact: UNTrilkeprize@unt.edu


2022 UNT Rilke Prize

Our current UNT RIlke Prize winner is Valzhyna Mort's Music for the Dead and Resurrected. See details below for upcoming events on October 26-27, 2022

Valzhyna Mort's Music for the Dead and Resurrected (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) has won the 2022 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. Mort will visit UNT in Fall 2022 for a reading and book signing.

Songs of grieving, memory, and witness lie at the center of Valzhyna Mort's latest collection, Music for the Dead and Resurrected, a book that makes vivid and palpable the upended history of Belarus, a country filled with "forests / of the unburied dead" and tanks driving through the streets. "The empire fell, then snow fell," Mort writes in "Self-Portrait with Madonna on Pravda Avenue," pravda meaning truth, a Russian word that, under Soviet rule implied propaganda, disinformation, and the suppression of free speech. Here, the poet reclaims the word. She restores truth in lines informed by historical insight--invasions and wars, exile, the nuclear catastrophe of Chernobyl--and by a biting humor so characteristic of the region. "What has kept us alive?" a speaker asks. "Our death songs" is the dry answer. Mort's poems enact both an elegy and an affirmation that survival is possible, that tongues can go on speaking, "tied with a black ribbon of verse."

Valzhyna Mort is a poet and translator born in Minsk, Belarus. She is the author of three poetry collections, Factory of Tears (Copper Canyon Press 2008), Collected Body (Copper Canyon Press 2011) and, mostly recently, Music for the Dead and Resurrected (FSG 2020), named one of the best poetry books of 2020 by The New York Times, and the winner of the International Griffin Poetry Prize. Mort is a recipient of fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, the Lannan Foundation, and the Amy Clampitt Foundation. Her work has been honored with the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, New Yorker, Poetry, Poetry Review, Poetry International, Prairie Schooner, Granta, Gulf Coast, White Review, and many more. With Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris, Mort co-edited Gossip and Metaphysics: Russian Modernist Poems and Prose. Mort teaches at Cornell University and writes in English and Belarusian. She translates between English, Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish. She has received the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation and the National Endowment for the Arts grant in translation for her work on Polina Barskova's book of selected poems Air Raid (Ugly Duckling 2021). https://www.valzhynamort.com/

The judges also selected three finalists for the 2022 UNT Rilke Prize: Adrian Matejka's Somebody Else Sold the World (Penguin Books), Shara McCallum's No Ruined Stone (Alice James Books), and C. Dale Young's Prometeo (Four Way Books).


UNT RIlke Prize Events

October 26, 2022

Q&A / Reception

6:30 p.m.

University Union 385

October 27, 2022

Reading and Book Signing

8:00 p.m.

University Union 382


Click here for flyer.

Author photo: Tanya Kapitonava


UNT Rilke Prize Recipients:

Click covers for more information.


Kiki Petrosino

White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia




Kathleen Graber

The River Twice



David Keplinger

Another City


Click here for a feature about David Keplinger and the UNT Rilke Prize on KERA's Art&Seek.

Click here for an audio file of David Keplinger's campus reading on April 4, 2019.



Allison Benis White

Please Bury Me in This


Click here for a feature on KERA's Art & Seek about Allison Benis White and the UNT Rilke Prize.

Click here for an audio file of Allison's campus reading on April 12, 2018.



Wayne Miller



Click here to listen to an audio file of Wayne's campus reading on April 13, 2017.



Rick Barot



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.

Click here for an interview from American Literary Review.



Mark Wunderlich

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

The Accounts


Click here for more information about 2014 winner.

Click here for Katie's campus reading on April 8, 2014.

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



Paisley Rekdal

Animal Eye


Click here for more information about the 2013 winner!



Laura Kasischke

Space, in Chains


Click here for more information about our inaugural winner!


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Contact: UNTrilkeprize@unt.edu

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