Undergraduate students at Virginia Tech are invited to submit a poem about the future to compete for "The Steger," an award established by the university's president, Charles W. Steger.

The $1,000 prize ranks among the most generous for undergraduate poetry students in the nation. Second place will earn $500, while third place will be honored with $300.

The competition will be administered by University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni, a member of the English faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and judged by a committee of faculty and staff from various disciplines at the university. In addition to the monetary award, a small statue made by local jeweler Faith Capone will be inscribed and presented to the winner.

“Undergraduates are encouraged to explore poetry and poems in all their aspects,” said Giovanni, Virginia Tech’s internationally recognized poet. Giovanni is open to a wide definition of “poem” and hopes that she receives a spectrum of entries. Listen to the 2007 Steger Award winner Juanisha Brooks read her poem “Future Flight” on podcast.

“A poem could be a warm piece of cornbread, a sky hook when the game is on the line, a math equation that allows us to traverse the stars, or stripping old work pants into a quilt,” said Giovanni. “We invite environmental designs, a photo, or a cure for an illness – anything that speaks to and about the future. We have been issued a challenge by our president, and I anticipate creative responses about our dreams for the future.”

Entries must be submitted by March 16 to the Department of English. The winner will be announced in April, which is also poetry month. The student authors will read their work publicly at an ArtsFusion celebration event on April 21.

Submission Guidelines

  • The competition is open to all currently enrolled Virginia Tech undergraduate students.
  • The poem must be about, or speak to, the future.
  • One poem per entry, please.
  • Written offerings should be typed, in English, with a maximum length of two pages (single spacing is permitted).
  • An official cover sheet must be attached, stating “The Steger” with the title, student’s name and student identification number, e-mail address, phone number, and street address.
  • The title or your student identification number must be on the poem. Do not put your name on the poem.
  • The submission deadline is 5 p.m., Monday, March 16, 2009.
  • Submit entries to the English Department Main Office, 323 Shanks Hall.
  • The competition will be judged by the members of The Steger Committee and their decision is final.
  • Manuscripts will not be returned.
  • Winner will be notified in April; the award will be presented April 21.
  • Contact Aileen Murphy (mailto:aileen@vt.edu) at (540) 231-4747 with questions.

Visit The Steger Prize for Poetry online for more information. (http://www.stegeraward.english.vt.edu/)

Members of The Steger Committee include Fred D'Aguiar, the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies; Paul Lancaster, broadcast media coordinator; Virginia Fowler, professor and director of the literature, language and cultural programs; Terry Papillon, director of the university honors program; Katie Ammons, assistant director of student athlete academic support; Kevin McDonald, vice president for equity and inclusion; Ed Falco, director of the creative writing program; and Jean Elliott, communications manager for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.