The Annual NC State Poetry Contest

We are now accepting entries for the 2017 North Carolina State University Poetry Contest. The contest is open only to residents of North Carolina (including out-of-state students who are enrolled in North Carolina universities). It remains one of the largest free-entry contests in the South.

The Grand Prize winner will receive $500.

The best NC State undergraduate entry will receive a $100 prize.

Our Guest Judge this year is Richard Garcia. On April 13th, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a presentation of awards and a reading from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Sharon Olds at Titmus Theatre, Thompson Hall on NC State’s campus.


  1. The contest is open to all North Carolina residents except
    1. Tenured/tenure-track professors in the University of North Carolina system;
    2. Writing instructors teaching at NC State (but teaching assistants and graduate students are eligible);
    3. Poets with a published book of poetry (if we can buy your book online or from a publisher or bookstore, we consider you published); and
    4. Previous winners. Previous finalists must submit poems that have not been previously submitted.
  2. You may submit as many as three poems.
    1. The poems may not have appeared elsewhere in any publication, in print or online.
    2. There is no limit as to genre or length.
  3. All entries must be typed and titled.
  4. Do NOT put your name on the poem, so it may be judged anonymously. Put your name on a cover sheet along with your contact information, including phone, address, and email.
  5. No email submissions will be accepted. Submit all entries in hard copy to:

NCSU Poetry Contest
Campus Box 8105
English Department
Raleigh, NC 27695-8105

The POSTMARK DEADLINE is Monday, March 13, 2017

Due to volume, we cannot contact each contestant or return your poems afterwards.

The 2016 contest with Guest Judge YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA

Winner of the 2016 Poetry Prize:
Samuel Piccone, “Things I Wish I Told My Mother”  (Raleigh, NC)

Honorable Mentions:
Christina Clark, “First Date With Wolf”  (Wilmington, NC)
T.J. Morgan, “Lineage”  (Raleigh, NC)
Kevin Coyne, “After Her Mastectomy”  (Elon, NC)
Alabama Stone, “Whiskey Creek”  (Raleigh, NC)

Threa Almonaster, “Bad Words”  (Raleigh, NC)
Jane Andrews, “Diagnosis” (Raleigh, NC)
Frankie Campisano, “Dog Souls (Jesus in Aisle Three)”  (Elon, NC)
Erin Rose Coffin, “What Descends Into Flesh”  (Raleigh, NC)
Will Drake, “Papa Bill”  (Raleigh, NC)
Melanie Graham, “The Pleasure of Hating: Tamir/Emmett”  (Holly Springs, NC)
Jackson Meyers Hall, “Photographing the Lost War” (Carrboro, NC)
Fedor Kossakovski, “Ways the Universe Could End, in Descending Order of Probability”
                                                                          (Chapel Hill, NC)
Thomas Park, “Soul City”  (Warrenton, NC)
Elizabeth Purvis, “At the Forum”  (Raleigh, NC)
Eli Sahm, “after the wine bar with my hand”  (Wilmington, NC)
Sara Shea, “Magnolia Plantation, Late December”  (Lake Lure, NC)
Isabelle Shepherd, “Doe Season in Braxton County, West Virginia”  (Wilmington, NC)
Stephanie Smith, “Getting By Without A Fix”  (Raleigh, NC)
Emily Paige Wilson, “The Old Country”  (Wilmington, NC)

Winner of the 2016 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Threa Almontaser, “Bad Words”                (senior, English)

The American Academy of Poets Prize (for graduate students)
Martin Saunders (Raleigh, NC)

The 2015 contest with Guest Judge GIBBONS RUARK

    Winner of the 2015 Poetry Prize:
    Mary Hennessy, “Home to See My Brother”  (Raleigh, NC)

    Honorable Mentions:
    Emily Cinquemani, “Surviving the Flood”  (Elon, NC)
    Chelsea Krieg, “The Elegy I Wanted to Write”  (Chapel Hill, NC)
    A. Kat Reece, “On Being Well Informed"  (Raleigh, NC)
    Matthew Wimberley, “All the Great Territories” (Beech Mountain, NC)

Jenn Bedard, “Innocence”  (Raleigh, NC)
Anuradha Bhowmik, “Birthday Photograph, 1997” (Chapel Hill, NC)
Rebecca Bornstein, “Goat Madonna”  (Raleigh, NC)
Heather Bowlan, “Folly, My Friend” (Raleigh, NC)
Katherine Cays, “The Separation”  (Apex, NC)
Leila Chatti, “Muslim Christmas” (Raleigh, NC)
Bryce Emley, “Night Walk” (Raleigh, NC)
Jacob Fulk, “Philip Robin Lauren, 2015” (Raleigh, NC)
Allison Ginsburg, “Yerushalayim”  (Elon, NC)
Carlene Kucharczyk, “Curtains” (Raleigh, NC)
Darren Lipman, “Suppose”  (Raleigh, NC)

Winner of the 2015 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Darren Lipman, "Suppose"         (senior, Mathematics and Political Science)
Asheboro, NC

The 2014 contest with Guest Judge LI-YOUNG LEE

Winner of the 2014 Poetry Prize:
Betty Ritz Rogers, “The Singing Bowl”  (Greensboro, NC)

Honorable Mentions:
Helena Bell, “The Slough Ages While We Stand Still”  (Raleigh, NC)
Carlene Kucharczyk, “Song”  (Raleigh, NC)
Kelly Michels, “Learning”  (Raleigh, NC)
Jennifer Whitaker, “Mother’s Foxes” (Greensboro, NC)

Don Ball, “Heliosheath”  (Chapel Hill, NC)
Aaron Ballance, “Sugarfoot”  (Greensboro, NC)
Gabrielle Freeman, “Brief History of a Town” (Greenville, NC)
Elizabeth Jackson, “For the Soldier Who Left the Army But Lives
                                                              Ten Miles from Base”  (Raleigh, NC)
Dee Lalley, “Perspectives”  (Raleigh, NC)
Jerred Metts, “What Dad Said”  (Raleigh, NC)
Elizabeth Purvis, “Eight-Ball”  (Elon, NC)
A Kat Reece, “Thanksgiving”  (Raleigh, NC)
Jen Suchanec, “Symanski and Sons”  (Raleigh, NC)
Matthew Valades, “Old Couple Talking”  (Pittsboro, NC)
Matt Wimberley, “Elegy Where the Snow Speaks its Own Name” (Beech Mountain, NC)

Winner of the 2014 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Tyree Daye, "Croker"                                 (senior, English)
Youngsville, NC

The American Academy of Poets Prize (for graduate students)
Heather Bowlan, "A Great City"   (Raleigh, NC)

The 2013 Contest with Guest Judge MICHAEL WIEGERS

Winner of the 2013 Poetry Prize:
Spencer Goyette, "Church, Bird and Tree" (Raleigh, NC)

Honorable Mentions
Alice Owens Johnson, “Clothesline”  (Black Mountain, NC)
Karina McCorkle, “Tоска”  (Chapel Hill, NC)
Kari Smith, “Learning Curve”  (Raleigh, NC)
Shannon Ward, “Dressing the Pig”  (Fayetteville, NC)

Aaron Ballance, “Round Peak”  (Greensboro, NC)
Judith Behar, “Aging”  (Greensboro, NC)
Melissa Cumber, “Number Eleven”  (Garner, NC)
Katherine Darden, “Spence”   (Morrisville, NC)
Rochelle Germond, “Missing”  (Raleigh, NC)
Alice Owens Johnson, “Clothesline”  (Black Mountain, NC)
Karina McCorkle, “Tоска”  (Chapel Hill, NC)
Jessica Quah, “(No Stone) Unturned”  (Greensboro, NC)
A Kat Reece, “Ulcers”  (Raleigh, NC)
LeighAnna Schesser, “The Trouble”  (Raleigh, NC)
Rob Shapiro, “Almost There”  (Elon, NC)
Kari Smith, “Learning Curve”  (Raleigh, NC)
Jordan Taylor, “Abandoned Farmhouse”  (Wendell, NC)
Shannon Ward, “Dressing the Pig”  (Fayetteville, NC)
Matt Wimberley, “Homebound”  (Beech Mountain, NC)

Winner of the 2013 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Jordan Taylor, "Abandoned Farmhouse"  (senior, English)

The American Academy of Poets Prize (for graduate students)
Richard Nace, "Walking on Glass"   (Raleigh, NC)

The 2012 Contest with Guest Judge BARBARA RAS

Winner of the 2012 Poetry Prize:
Tasha Pippin, “At the Funeral”  (Rocky Mount, NC)

Honorable Mentions
Claudia McQuistion, “After A Death”  (Greensboro, NC)
Lance Morrison, “To Richard Siken”  (Raleigh, NC)
Kari Smith, “Pink”  (Raleigh, NC)
Matt Wimberley, “Black Mountain Poem”  (Beech Mountain, NC)

Elly Bookman, “In-Flight Poem”  (Greensboro, NC)
Megan Bostic, “If It’s A Boy”  (Raleigh, NC)
Evan Brisson, “My Father’s Hebrew Lesson”  (Raleigh, NC)
Gavin Cobb, “The Vacation Homes”  (Winston-Salem, NC)
Sierra Golden, “Bear”  (Raleigh, NC)
Elizabeth Jackson, “Dressing the Wound”  (Raleigh, NC)
Jonathan McClure, “Hospital, Night”  (Greensboro, NC)
Jessica Marie Plante, “Horses”  (Greensboro, NC)
Rob Shapiro, “The Map”  (Elon, NC)
Jennifer Whitaker, “The Lesson”  (Greensboro, NC)

Winner of the 2012 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Evan Brisson, “My Father’s Hebrew Lesson”  (senior, English)

The American Academy of Poets Prize (for graduate students)
Sierra Golden, “Bear”  (Raleigh, NC)

The 2011 Contests with Guest Judge THOMAS LUX

Winner of the 2011 Poetry Prize:
Brian Ownbey, "Where Touching Leads Us"  (Raleigh, NC)

Honorable Mentions
Sierra Golden, "Visiting Tenakke Springs, AK"  (Raleigh, NC)
Robert Greene, "Band of Aides "  (Raleigh, NC)
Claudine Moreau, "Upon Seeing An Ex-Boyfriend in an
        After-Sex Scene on a Daytime Soap"  (Burlington, NC)
Katie Prince, "A Letter to My Unborn Child"  (Raleigh, NC)

Don Ball, "Driving Lessons"  (Chapel Hill, NC)
Leethaniel Brumfield, "He-She"  (Raleigh, NC)
Maria Isabelle Carlos, "Sign Language"  (Chapel Hill, NC)
Danielle Carr, "[Poem about Crawling into a Lightbulb]" (Raleigh, NC)
Ansel Elkins, "Goat Man"  (Greensboro, NC)
Claudia McQuistion, "Circe Approaches Old Age"  (Greensboro, NC)
Timothy Reavis, "Jurassic Parking Lot"  (Raleigh, NC)
Kari Smith, "Different At Night" (Raleigh, NC)
Corrie Lynn White, "Friday"  (Raleigh, NC)
Jake Young, "Look, Don't Touch"  (Raleigh, NC)

Winner of the 2011 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
A. Kat Reece, "Wallet-Size Photo of the Child I Gave Up"  (junior, Religious Studies)

The American Academy of Poets Prize (for graduate students)
to be announced

The 2010 Contests with Guest Judge SARAH LINDSAY

Winner of the 2010 Prize:
Tara Taylor, "The Magician's Assistant," (Raleigh, NC)

Honorable Mentions:
Keun-Hae Lee, "Need," (Raleigh, NC)
Judith Behar, "Another Spring," (Greensboro, NC)

The American Academy of Poets Prize (for NC State graduate students):
Megan Roberts, "Snowbabies".

Honorable Mentions:
Emily Howson, "Camping".
Alexandra Distler, "The reasons (or discussing the family trait of deep depression with my brother)".

The 2009 Contest with Guest Judge ELLEN BRYANT VOIGT

(Tie) Winners of the 2009 Brenda Smart Poetry Prize:
Rachel Richardson, "One Summer" (Greensboro, NC)
Rebecca Warren, "In the Neighborhood of Fire" (Greensboro, NC)

Honorable Mentions
Hannah Bonner, "What We Hope For" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Sarah Cox, "An Invocation, Revised" (Greensboro, NC)
Megan Roberts, "My Father's Side" (Raleigh, NC)

Sarah Archer, "Life-long iron lung user dies during power failure" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Donald Ball, "All This" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Michael Colonnese, "Dead Spike Buck on the Blue Ridge Parkway" (Fayetteville, NC)
Alexandra Distler, "Debt" (Raleigh, NC)
Robert Greene, "forget Freud, read Mina Loy" (Raleigh, NC)
Elizabeth Jackson, "Hanging On" (Raleigh, NC)
Jeff Miles, "The Quiet Country" (Greensboro, NC)
Robert McCall, "Bodies Out of Motion" (Saluda, NC)
Matt Poindexter, "Learning to Whistle" (Carrboro, NC)
Mark Spring, "His First Time" (Raleigh, NC)
Shannon Ward, "The Butcher" (Raleigh, NC)

Winner of the 2009 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Robert Greene, "forget Freud, read Mina Loy" (senior, English)

The American Academy of Poets Prize (for graduate students)
Celeste Doaks, "Video Girls vs. B-Girls" (Raleigh, NC)

The 2008 Contest with Guest Judge PETER MAKUCK

Winner of the 2008 Brenda Smart Poetry Prize:
C.G. Thompson, "Post Card to Ravinna "  (Greenville, NC)

Honorable Mentions
Don Ball, "After the Dead "  (Chapel Hill, NC)
William Blackley , "For God's Sake "  (Elkin, NC)
Juliana Daugherty, "Ephphatha"  (Chapel Hill, NC)
Brian Ownbey, "Sanctuary"  (Raleigh, NC)

Jane Andrews, "The Cowboy Way" (Raleigh, NC)
Mark Jay Brewin, "Todo Que Saben Es Trabajo" (Elon, NC)
Sarah Bull, "The Library Janitor" (Durham, NC)
Jessie Carty, "Best Friends " (Charlotte, NC)
Sarah Cox, "The Cartography of Winter " (Burlington, NC)
Eloise Gilster, "Market Watch" (Raleigh, NC)
Sean Honea, "Melatonin Blues " (Chapel Hill, NC)
Elizabeth Jackson, "Memorial Hospital, Chapel HIll, NC" (Raleigh, NC)
Ariel Rudolph, "Writing in Dust" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Sarah Servie, "City Lights " (Raleigh, NC)
Jennifer Smyre, "Coffee Shop" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Robert Wells, "Separation" (Chapel Hill, NC)

Winner of the 2008 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Jeannine Erasmus, "This Thing Called Love" (sophomore, English)

The American Academy of Poets Prize (for graduate students)
Noel Crook, "Job" (Raleigh, NC)

The 2007 Contest with Guest Judge DORIANNE LAUX

Winner of the 2007 Brenda Smart Poetry Prize:
Noel Crook, "The Slaves"  (Raleigh, NC)

Honorable Mentions
Michael Gaspeny, "Shore Drive"  (Greensboro, NC)
Randy Ogle, "Millbrook, NY"  (Morrisville, NC)
Pamela St. Clair, "Bird Song"  (Wilmington, NC)
Mark Sells, "Fear Poem"  (Salisbury, NC)

Don Ball, "Easter Egg" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Michael Colonnese, "The Classic Vault" (Fayetteville, NC)
Melody Garren, "Vanity of a Third-Grader" (Rutherfordton, NC)
Valentina Gnup, "At Edward Hopper's Self-Portrait"  (Greensboro, NC)
Lauren Gould, "Via Larga, 39"  (Raleigh, NC)
Sarah Hamm, "Little Girl Hiding Poem"  (Salisbury, NC)
Michael Mayo, "The best part about digging holes for a living is you can't take
                    your work home with you"  (Raleigh, NC)
Emily Meineke, "Outside the Baptist Church" (Chapel HIll, NC)
Calvin Nordt, "Physics" (Apex, NC)
Hannah Louise Poston, "That Roman Holiday"  (Carrboro, NC)
Allison Seay, "The Absence"  (Greensboro, NC)
Anthony Snider, "A Quiet Afternoon"  (Wilmington, NC)
Travis Smith, "Comfort, 4th of July" (Chapel HIll, NC)

Winner of the 2007 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Lauren Upton, "Water, Water Everywhere" (Raleigh, NC)

American Academy of Poetry Prize (for graduate students):
Kelly Michels, "Static in the Dark" (Raleigh, NC)

The 2006 Contest with Guest Judge KATHRYN STRIPLING BYER

Winner of the 2006 Brenda Smart Poetry Prize:
Heather Marcinowski, "The Charming" (Durham, NC)

Honorable Mentions
Amy Knox Brown, "Old Wives Tales" (Winston-Salem, NC) Sam Cross, "Cabin Fever" (Raleigh, NC)
Ed Devany, "Don't Go Outside the Fence" (Chapel HIll, NC)
Joy Beshears Hagy, "Rapture" (Lexington, NC)
Jaime Laughter, "Gray's Lily" (Fuquay Varina, NC)

Don Ball, "Alachua County 1988" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Ryland Bowman, "What I'll Need When I Go" (Greensboro, NC)
Cesar Castro, "Fifth Grade Torture Manual" (Carrboro, NC)
Jack Christian, "Boy On A String" (Raleigh, NC)
Sara Claytor, "Gangsters, Blondes, and P.I.'s"  (Elk Park, NC)
Hilary Collins, "Swannanoa, N.C." (Swannanoa, NC)
Mary Hennessy, "In An Escher Print" (Raleigh, NC)
Mandy Monath, "Geese" (Salisbury, NC)
Brian Ownbey, "Indiana"  (Raleigh, NC)
Daniel Parsons, "Rook-worm" (Raleigh, NC)
Ariel Rudolph, "Don't Look" (Boone, NC)
Elizabeth Stagg, "The Certainty of Husbands" (Durham, NC)
Cedric Tillman, "Branding" (Charlotte, NC)
Dianne Timblin, "From the Kitchen of Georgia M., July '31" (Durham, NC)
Lauren Upton  "Equus Callabus" (Raleigh, NC)
Joan Weiner  "A Hard Man to Love" (Asheville, NC)
Marian Westbrook "Interlude" (Goldsboro, NC)

The Brenda L. Smart Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Michael Mayo, "Blowing Off Death"             (senior, English)
Raleigh, NC

The 2005 Contest with Guest Judge PETER MAKUCK

Winner of the 2005 Brenda Smart Poetry Prize
Irene Harvley-Felder, "In Celebration of Death" (Burlington, NC)

Honorable Mentions
Michael Colonnese, "Scabs" (Fayetteville, NC)
Timur Hammond, "How to Harvest the Last of the Basil" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Nora Shepard, "Out of the Ordinary" (Raleigh, NC)
Anna Franklin Smith, "Widow" (Raleigh, NC)

Jeremy Aufrance, "A Sketch of Life Without You" (Greensboro, NC)
Evan Benz, "how else can a mirror blush?" (Raleigh, NC)
A.J. Collins, "Generation" (Falkland, NC)
Madge Duffey, "Leaving" (Raleigh, NC)
Rebecca Germain, "Talin" (Morrisville, NC)
Eloise Gilster, "Fruit" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Alex Grant, "How the Cuckoo Sings" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Kristen Gravitte, "Lazarus" (Raleigh, NC)
Mark Hennessy, "Maximum Possible Error" (Raleigh, NC)
Charles Jester, "Open Air" (Durham, NC)
J.D. McGee, "Observations at Merritt Island" (Raleigh, NC)
Jessica Polka, "Autohagiography of Lidwina of Schiedam (died 1433)" (Chapel Hill, NC)
Rebecca Robbins, "Swimming Pool, 1964" (Raleigh, NC)
Jessica Sampley, "Tuscaloosa to Tupelo" (Raleigh, NC)
Marian Westbrook, "Preservation" (Goldsboro, NC)

Winner of the 2005 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Millie Breedlove, "Eve" (senior, English)

The 2004 Contest with Guest Judge DAVID BOTTOMS

The 2003 Contest with Guest Judge ELEANOR WILNER