UCR Creative Writing Assistant Professor Wins 2018 UNT Rilke Prize

Allison Benis White, assistant professor of creative writing, has won the 2018 UNT Rilke Prize, which is awarded by the University of North Texas. The award recognizes a book that “demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision written by a mid-career poet and published in the preceding year.” White received the prize at a reception held on April 11 at the University of North Texas.

Allison Benis White (second from left) with UNT English department faculty judges (left to right) Bruce Bond, Jehanne Dubrow, and Corey Marks.

The $10,000 annual prize, named after acclaimed German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, was established in 2012 and is awarded to poets who embody qualities reflected in Rilke’s writing, including ambition, intellectual scope, and technical mastery. White received the 2018 award for her third poetry collection, “Please Bury Me in This,” which was published in March 2017.

Past recipients include Laura Kasischke, Paisley Rekdal, Katie Peterson, Mark Wunderlich, Rick Barot, and Wayne Miller.

“I feel incredibly grateful to have that recognition and to have this monetary prize,” White said about the honor in an interview with Art&Seek. “To win a prize named after Rilke is personally extraordinary, because he’s incredibly important to me and other poets.”

“Please Bury Me in This” is a meditation on language and bereavement and was written between 2013 and 2016 after her father passed away and four of her friends died by suicide. It has received critical acclaim including a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which described her work as a courageous and provocative collection that “inspires hope by reminding readers that strength can be found in the most desolate places.”

White’s other works include Levis Prize in Poetry winner “Small Porcelain Head,” and “Self-Portrait with Crayon,” which won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Book Prize. She has received additional honors and awards from the San Francisco Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, The Writer’s Center, and Poets & Writers magazine.

-Jessica Weber

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