The Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets


See guidelines below.
Thank you for your participation in 2014; about a 150 poets entered that year.

This annual prize of $500 is awarded by Shenandoah for a single poem of 50 lines or less by a writer born in or with current established residence in Virginia. Employees of Washington and Lee and their families are not eligible.  The 2016 winning poem will be published in SHENANDOAH in October 2016.

Entrants are invited to submit up to three previously unpublished poems. Send submissions through the Shenandoah Submittable link on our homepage (see top links bar) along with brief biographical note, which should confirm the basis for eligibility as a “Virginian.”

No entry fee is required.

2013 Winner: Nancy Schoenberger’s “London Foundling Hospital” is the winner of the 2013 Graybeal-Gowen Contest for Virginia poets.  Dr. Schoenberger is the author of several biographies and several collections of poems, including Girl on a White Porch, The Taxidermist’s Daughter and Long Like a River.

2012 Winner: Judith McCombs is the winner of Shenandoah‘s 2012 Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets.  Her work has appeared in Poetry, Measure, Poetry Northwest and Prairie Schooner, as well as five of her own collections, most recently The Habit of Fire: Poems Selected & New.  She teaches workshops in Bethesda and arranges a reading series in Kensington, MD.

2011 Winner: Margaret Mackinnon of Falls Church, Virginia is winner of the annual $500 Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets, awarded annually by Shenandoah and the Virginia Poetry Center at Washington and Lee University, for her poem “Writing On the Window,” which will appear in a 2012 issue of the forthcoming on-line Shenandoah. The Graybeal-Gowen Prize is given by Mrs. Priscilla Gowen Graybeal and her husband James Graybeal, W&L ’49 and is dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Graybeal’s father, Howerton Gowen, W&L ’30, a lifelong lover of poetry.

Mackinnon’s work has appeared in various journals, including Poetry, New England Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Southern Humanities Review, Quarterly West, and Valparaiso Poetry Review.  Her new work appears in the South Carolina Review and is forthcoming in Image, RHINO, and Midwest Quarterly.  Mackinnon completed the graduate program in creative writing at the University of Florida, and she has been awarded scholarships from Bread Loaf, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.  For the summer of 2010, she was awarded a residency at the Vermont Studio Center.  Currently, Mackinnon teaches literature and creative writing at a private high school in the Washington, DC area, and lives with her husband and daughter in Falls Church, Virginia.

Past Recipients:

2012: Judith McCombs                                 2013: Nancy Schoenberger
2010: Elizabeth Murawski                            2011: Margaret Mackinnon
2008: Kevin Hart                                            2009: Jennifer Key