Each spring, the Virginia Tech Department of English hosts a festive tribute to Giovanni-Steger Poetry Prize winners — and the art form itself — through the Nikki Giovanni Celebration of Poetry.

In 2005, Nikki Giovanni, the University Distinguished Professor of English, established the award competition for Virginia Tech undergraduates and named it for its first benefactor, Charles W. Steger, the university’s president at the time.

A dozen years later, Steger turned the tables on the renowned poet when he and his fellow organizers declared the event the annual “Nikki Giovanni Celebration of Poetry.” In 2020, the award itself was renamed the Giovanni-Steger Poetry Prize.

This year, the event will be virtual, following public health and university guidelines. The ceremony — which will recognize 10 finalists before culminating in the naming of the top three prize winners — will be live broadcast from the Moss Arts Center starting March 23 at 5 p.m.

The Giovanni-Steger Poetry Prize is one of the most prestigious undergraduate literary awards in the country. The contest is open to all undergraduates regardless of major.

“The Department of English is thrilled to be sponsoring this celebration of poetry and to recognize the excellent work of our creative writing students,” said Rebecca Weaver-Hightower, chair of the department. “We are honored to have such an eminent poet as Nikki Giovanni as our colleague and grateful to her and Ginney Fowler for their creation of this award.”

To view the ceremony, visit https://youtu.be/jT2iCMQK1kk.

Nikki Giovanni enjoys a moment at the podium during the 2019 Giovanni Celebration of Poetry.
Nikki Giovanni enjoys a moment at the podium during the 2019 Giovanni Celebration of Poetry. Photo by Richard Allnutt for Virginia Tech.