Nikki Giovanni, world renowned poet and University Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech, recently announced the winners of the Steger Poetry Prize for undergraduates.

“Forward Momentum,” a striking poem about a girl glimpsing her future self as she pumps a playground swing, was selected as the winning poem. It was written by Terra Walker of Chesapeake, Va., a junior majoring in English with a specialty in creative writing in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.  

Walker collected $1,000 from Giovanni and Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger, the award’s benefactor. She was also presented a unique piece of fine jewelry art, handcrafted by Faith Capone.

“Ever since I was a child, I've always loved to swing,” said Walker, adding that memories of the playground at her church and elementary school helped her to create the poem.

Joel McCauley of Richmond, Va.
, a junior majoring in English and also concentrating in creative writing, penned "The Couple" to win the second place prize of $500.

Emily Blair of Fort Chiswell, Va., a sophomore University Honors student majoring in English, penned “Ideality” for the third place prize of $300. Blair is currently making creative posts to her blog as a Presidential Global Scholar at the university’s villa in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland.

Three months ago, Virginia Tech students were invited to submit a poem about “the future.” Established in 2006, the Steger purse ranks among the most generous for undergraduate poetry competitions in the nation.

The top-10 students read their work publicly at the celebratory event. The evening also showcased performance art offerings by Morris Gearring, who performs a one-man show at the DeSable Museum in Chicago entitled "Something About Oscar Brown.”

The following poems rounded out the top-12 selections:

  • “Tomorrow” by Alaina Brown of Richmond, Va., a sophomore English major;
  • “Disclaimer" by Regina DeAngelis of Raleigh, N.C., a senior majoring in English with a specialty in creative writing;
  • “Once Upon a Memory” by Colleen Dooley of Vienna, Va., a junior biological sciences major in the College of Science;
  • "Sixteen Years and Three Months" by Katherine Fairbanks of Fairfax Station, Va., a freshman English major;
  • "1994 Sudan Famine Child" by Caroline James of Nellysford, Va., a senior dual degree candidate in English and psychology in the College of Science;
  • “The Future” by Andrew Maxwell, of Long Beach Island, N.J., a junior math major in the College of Science;
  • "A Descendant's Plea" by Nneoma Nwankwo, of Lagos, Nigeria, a freshman majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and public and urban affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies;
  • “In my future” by Kelsey Sams of Atlanta, a junior civil engineering major in the College of Engineering; and
  • “Tangent Timeslines” by Marcus Williams, of Manassas, Va., a junior majoring in economics in the College of Science.