UNT Rilke Prize | Department of English

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UNT Rilke Prize

2021 UNT Rilke Prize

Submission period open August 1, 2020 - November 30, 2020


An annual award of $10,000 recognizing a book 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.

10th Anniversary

UNT founded the Rilke Prize in 2010. Each January the judges select an outstanding book published in the preceding year by a writer who has published at least two previous collections. We named our first winner in 2011 and will be thrilled to name our tenth at the beginning of 2021.


  • Entrants must have published at least two previous books of poetry
  • Eligible books must have been published between November 2019 and October 2020
  • Books may be submitted by presses or by writers themselves and must be postmarked by November 30, 2020
  • Each submission must include 2 copies of the book and a completed entry form.
  • Chapbooks are not considered previous publications
  • Self-published books will not be considered
  • Books will not be returned

Note: Entry forms can be emailed to UNTrilkeprize@unt.edu if books are shipped directly from publisher. Please add contact email on shipping invoice.

Conditions permitting, the winner will travel to UNT on April 7-8, 2021. 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.

Submission Requirements

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

Mail entry form and submission to:

The UNT Rilke Prize

Department of English

University of North Texas

1155 Union Circle #311307

Denton, TX 76203-5017

Contact: UNTrilkeprize@unt.edu


The prize will be judged by UNT's poetry faculty

Click on flyer above to download.


2020 UNT Rilke Prize

Kathleen Graber

The River Twice

Kathleen Graber's The River Twice (Princeton University Press) has won the 2020 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. Graber will visit UNT for a reception on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 and a reading on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

In The River Twice, Kathleen Graber offers a profoundly moving and philosophical exploration of history, both personal and cultural, as embedded in words and thereby evocative of distances that can never be closed. While the title's recollection of Heraclitus voices the ephemerality of all things, the phrase "river twice" likewise accentuates a desire to revisit the past, to double back, in light and in spite of a measure of inaccessibility. Such want emerges as critical and problematic to the forging of community and the mending of fracture. Wonder appears less at odds with engagement in our moment than as a mode of invitation. Like the pigeons in her book, those who wound themselves to feed their young, Graber's poems do not abandon the difficult world. The poet's voice, so often juxtaposed against the abject, feels called, summoned to the kind of "beauty we expect from what's broken."

Kathleen Graber is a poet and educator. She is the author of two previous collections of poems, Correspondence (Saturnalia Books, 2006) and The Eternal City (Princeton University Press, 2010), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was the winner of the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Poetry. She was raised in southern New Jersey, where her parents operated games of chance on the Wildwood boardwalk. After earning a B.A. in Philosophy from Hofstra University, she returned to her hometown to teach in the public school system there and to operate a seasonal independent music store. She did not become seriously interested in writing and studying poetry until the age of forty. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University and has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She now lives in Powhatan, Virginia and is a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The judges also selected three finalists for this year's UNT Rilke Prize: Rebecca Dunham's Strike (New Issues), Henry Israeli's Our Age of Anxiety (White Pine Press), and Connie Voisine's The Bower (University of Chicago Press).

All events are free and open to the public. Join us!


UNT Rilke Prize Recipients:

David Keplinger, 2019 for 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, 2018 for 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, 2017 for Post-

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

Rick Barot, 2016 for Chord

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, 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 Katie's campus reading on April 8, 2014.

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.


The UNT Rilke Prize is offered by Creative Writing, Department of English and was founded in 2012.

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Contact: UNTrilkeprize@unt.edu

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