Nikki Giovanni, world-renowned poet and University Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech, recently announced the winners of the 2014 Steger Poetry Prize for undergraduates.

Two months ago, Virginia Tech students were invited to submit a poem about “The Future.” The prizes were established in 2006 and funded by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger, who attends the celebration every year where the top 10 poems are read. The Steger purse ranks among the most generous in the nation for undergraduate poetry competitions.

Alaina Brown of Richmond, Va., a senior majoring in English, won the top prize of $1,000 with her poem titled  "I've Cut My Tongue Licking Envelopes In the Past But Am I Better With Letters Now." Brown follows her title with “Is that a statement or a question?” but allows the reader to decide.

The second-place prize of $500 was awarded to senior Jenna Smith of Annandale, Va., a double major in English and philosophy, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Smith’s poem was titled "The Future Sneezed When."

Emily Blair of Fort Chiswell, Va., a junior University Honors student majoring in English and history, won the third-place prize of $300 for the second consecutive year. This year her winning entry was titled "Post-Apocalyptic Dinner Plans."

More than 70 entries were received for the competition. The following students earned honorable mention status:

  • Katelyn Foster of Madison Heights, Va., a senior English major, for "Where We're Headed";
  • Elizabeth Howe of Langley, Va., a sophomore English major, for "We Will";
  • Devon Keyes of Spotsylvania, Va., a freshman in university studies, for "You Shall Not Think the Past is Finished";
  • Jillian Miller of Canton, Conn., a sophomore majoring in landscape architecture in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, for "Diversity";
  • Lauren Page of Oakton, Va., a junior biological sciences major in the College of Science, for "Purple";
  • Alexandra Vierling of Silver Spring, Md., a sophomore majoring in business/management in Pamplin College of Business, for "Sasha is Like her Mother"; and
  • Marcus Williams of Manassas, Va., a senior economics major in the College of Science, for "Freedom Can Only Be Felt While Staring at an Airport Departure Board.”

The competition was administered by Giovanni and judged by a committee of faculty members and staff. In addition to the monetary award, a small statue made by local jeweler Faith Capone was presented to the winner.