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.
2021 UNT Rilke Prize
White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia
Kiki Petrosino's White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia (Sarabande Books) has won the 2021 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. Our first UNT Rilke Prize winner was named in 2011 and we are thrilled to announce Petrosino as our 10th anniversary recipient. Conditions permitting, Petrosino will visit UNT in Fall 2021.
"[T]he dead are always saying / what they always say: // Write about me," Kiki Petrosino tells us in "Instructions for Time Travel," a poem that gives voice to the past, a task which animates her ambitious collection White Blood. With her fourth book, the poet explores what it means to be Black in America and to search for one's ancestors who simultaneously call out to be heard and who elude representation, "as if drifting, as if curling tongues of snow." Gathering together archival research, genetic science, and imagination, Petrosino turns to a variety of forms--villanelles, a heroic crown, erasure--to sing a fragmented history, one that skillfully connects both the reader and the poet to a "time before remembrance."
Kiki Petrosino is the author of four books of poetry: White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia (2020), Witch Wife (2017), Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013) and Fort Red Border (2009), all from Sarabande Books. She holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. Her poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, Best American Poetry, The Nation, The New York Times, FENCE, Gulf Coast, Jubilat, Tin House and on-line at Ploughshares. She teaches at the University of Virginia as a Professor of Poetry. Petrosino is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Fellowship in Creative Writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Al Smith Fellowship Award from the Kentucky Arts Council. http://www.kikipetrosino.com/home/
The judges also selected three finalists for the 2021 UNT Rilke Prize: Amaud Jamaul Johnson's Imperial Liquor (University of Pittsburgh Press), Joanna Klink's The Nightfields (Penguin Books), and Shane McCrae's Sometimes I Never Suffered (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).
UNT Rilke Prize Recipients:
Kathleen Graber, 2020 for The River Twice
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 an interview and radio piece by Jerome Weeks.
Paisley Rekdal, 2013 for Animal Eye
Click here for more information about the 2013 winner!
Laura Kasischke, 2012 for Space, in Chains
Click here for more information about our inaugural winner!