The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Mary Barnard Academy of American Poets Prize Contest

The Academy of American Poets, as part of their Academy Book Awards, sponsors the University and College Poetry Prize Program to distribute annual prizes at over 200 colleges and universities nationwide. Through the prize program, founded in 1955 with ten schools, the Academy has awarded more than $350,000 to nearly 10,000 student poets since the program's inception. Many of America's most esteemed poets won their first recognition through an Academy College Prize, including Diane Ackerman, Toi Derricotte, Mark Doty, Alice Fulton, Tess Gallagher, Louise Glück, Allen Grossman, Jorie Graham, Kimiko Hahn, Joy Harjo, Robert Hass, Li-Young Lee, Brad Leithauser, J. D. McClatchy, Heather McHugh, Gregory Orr, Robert Pinsky, Sylvia Plath, Mark Rudman, Mary Jo Salter, Gjertrud Schnackenberg, George Starbuck, Mark Strand, and Charles Wright. All winners are announced in the Academy's Annual Report. University faculty members and/or established poets judge entries. Winners are announced at the end of the spring semester.

A $100 prize is endowed by Reed College in honor of Mary Barnard for the best poem or group of poems submitted by a Reed undergraduate. Mary Barnard (1909-2001), a Reed graduate (class of 1932), was a renowned poet and writer, and a translator of classical literature, including the following fragment from Sappho:

"Although they are
only breath, words
which I command
are immortal."

The Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award of $1,000 will be open to winners of the current year’s Academy of American Poets Prizes from across the country who are twenty-three years old or younger. Submissions are judged by one of the past or current members of the Academy’s Board of Chancellors.

An established poet selected each year judges the Mary Barnard Academy of American Poets Prize Contest at Reed College. The English Department coordinates the contest with the Academy to ensure that it is properly conducted. The contest is open to all disciplines; to ALL Reed undergraduates who are enrolled as of the contest due date. There are no restrictions regarding theme or style. To enter the contest, students must submit what is listed under the Instructions for Submissions to Jolie Griffin, 

2020-21 Instructions for Submissions

  1. A maximum of two (2) poems may be submitted electronically.
  2. Poems must be typed with your name, mail stop, phone number, year in school, Reed and non-Reed email, and a postal address good through May 15, 2021, LISTED ON EACH PAGE; No cover sheet.

Absolute deadline for 2021 is 12:00 p.m., Friday, April 2 to Jolie Griffin,

The 2020-21 contest judge for Reed College is Jeanne Heuving. Heuving teaches at the University of Washington, Seattle, where she is a professor in the graduate program in English, and she was the founder and first director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell. Her poetry books include IncapacityTransducer; and—most recently, in 2019—Mood Indigo. She has also written about the poetry of Nathaniel Mackey and Marianne Moore, among others.