We’re pleased to publish poems by the 2016 University & College Poetry Prize winners. Established in 1955, the University and College Poetry Prize program began with ten schools. Today, the Academy of American Poets sponsors over two hundred annual poetry prizes at colleges and universities across the U.S.
Since the Academy of American Poets’ earliest days, it has been core to our mission to celebrate contemporary poets, as well as the poets long passed who have shaped American poetry. We were the first organization to offer a major prize to a poet for his or her body of work, not a particular book or poem. And now, each year, we offer more than $200,000 to poets through our American Poets Prizes.
Over the past two years, we have seen how poems have become particularly relevant to current events, public debate, and social change movements. It is more true than ever that when we face moments of crisis, thousands of people swarm Poets.org seeking poems that offer language to help translate challenging circumstances, provide unique insight, inspire empathy, give comfort, express frustration, and spark hope.