Awards Index

The Poetry Center Book Award | Guidelines for Submission Poetry Center Book Award | Audre Lorde Creative Writing Award | New Voice Award | Academy of American Poets Harold Taylor Prize | San Francisco Browning Society Award | Piri Thomas Poetry Prize | Frances Jaffer Poetry Prize

The Poetry Center Book Award

The Poetry Center Book Award has been presented annually since 1980 by The Poetry Center, San Francisco State University, to a single outstanding book of poetry published in the prior year. The award carries a cash prize and an invitation to read, along with the award judge, at The Poetry Center in San Francisco.

The Poetry Center Book Award goes to jayy dodd, for The Black Condition ft. Narcissus (Nightboat Books)

Join us as jayy dodd, whose book The Black Condition ft. Narcissus (Nightboat Books, 2019) — "an irreverently tender profile of Black trans life surviving and thriving during contemporary political turmoil" — was selected to receive the Poetry Center Book Award, reads from her work. She’ll be joined by award judge Lourdes Figueroa, in Oakland, who will read from her own work and engage in conversation. With emcee, Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta. This remote-access event takes place Thursday October 28, 7:00 Pacific. Details here.

Recipients of the Poetry Center Book Award, 1980–present

Guidelines for Submission of 2021 Books

The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University seeks submissions for the annual Poetry Center Book Award.

Entrees for 2021 copyright books will be accepted from JULY 1, 2021 thru JANUARY 31, 2022.

Published original books of poetry by a single author (no collaborative works, anthologies, or manuscripts) must be copyrighted 2021. Translated works when translated by the author do qualify (e.g., original work written in Spanish, Mandarin, Tagalog, et al., and translated to English by the author). Entrees can be submitted by publisher, author, or by a reader. An entry fee of $15 per book—all of which goes directly to the benefit of the award winner and award judge—must accompany each book. Please include a cover letter indicating the author's name, book title(s), name of person or publisher issuing check, and check number.

Checks should be payable to The Poetry Center and entrees mailed to:

The Poetry Center/SFSU
Book Award
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco CA 94132

*The judge for the award will not be announced in advance.

View the recipients from 1980 forward for the Poetry Center Book Award.


Audre Lorde Creative Writing Award

The Poetry Center's Audre Lorde Creative Writing Award was revived in 2020, having been originally initiated by Jewelle Gomez during the late 1990s. The Audre Lorde Award is to be presented annually by The Poetry Center for an original, outstanding work of poetry (hybrid work welcome) by a continuing SF State student, that in its artistry expresses a social conscience. 

In Spring 2022 we'll be seeking entries for the 2022 Audre Lorde Creative Writing Award. Entry details forthcoming.


  • 2021:  No award given
  • 2020:  Elizabeth Rosas (Honorable Mention: Samantha Constantino Baker, Lillian Giles, Bradley Penner)

New Voice Award

The Poetry Center is delighted to announce the New Voice series, initiated in Spring 2021 as an annual reading series that will pair a poet alum of SF State, a current SF State graduate student poet in Creative Writing, and a current undergraduate student poet at SF State (any major), to each read their work and engage in conversation in a public event, as part of The Poetry Center reading series. For the premier event, poet Dan Lau was invited to appear along with grad student poet Edward Gunawan and undergraduate poet Carlos Osoria on Wednesday May 5, 4:00 pm Pacific Time. More info and video links here. 

For the 2022 New Voice Award

Currently enrolled SF State undergraduate applicants, any major, submit work for consideration by March 1, 2022. Students' work will be reviewed by a panel of their peers, and the student poet selected will receive a $250 honorarium.

• SF State undergraduate student must not have a published book of poetry

• submit 3 poems, 10 pages max, to

• email subject line: New Voice Award

• in body of email: Name, student ID number, and brief bio

• include poems in a single document attachment; do not include your name on the document

Announcement of poet selected will be made by April 1, 2022

Academy of American Poets Harold Taylor Prize

The Poetry Center is pleased to sponsor The Academy of American Poets Harold Taylor Prize at San Francisco State University. Founded in 1955 with ten schools, the University & College Poetry Prize Program now includes more than 175 prizes across the country. Many prominent American poets won their first recognition with an Academy College Prize, including Toi Derricotte, Mark Doty, Tess Gallagher, Louise Gluck, Allen Grossman, Jorie Graham, Kimiko Hahn, Joy Harjo, Robert Hass, Li-Young Lee, Charles Wright, and Sylvia Plath, among others.


Check postings on campus for deadlines. SF State students, of any major or level, may submit to The Poetry Center up to 10 pages of poetry, constituted by any number of poems. Manuscripts must be clearly typed and legible. Manuscripts will not be returned. Names should not appear on manuscript pages. The writer's name, address, telephone number and social security number should be included in a cover letter accompanying the manuscript. The Winner will receive a $100 check from the Academy of American Poets. Results are announced by late April.


  • 2021:  Carlos Quinteros III
  • 2020:  Ana Cielito Fuentes (Honorable Mention: J. Arquimides)
  • 2019:  No award given
  • 2018:  Kimberly Reyes
  • 2017:  Sophie Eden (Honorable Mention: Nathan Truong)
  • 2016:  Brooke Harries
  • 2015:  Ryan Nash (Honorable Mention: Phillip Baron)
  • 2014:  No award given
  • 2013:  Jennifer Cheng and Jackson Meazle (Honorable Mention: Luke Dani Blue)
  • 2012:  Amy McNeely (Honorable Mention: Matthew Keuter)
  • 2011:  Monica Regan (Honorable Mention: Susan Calvillo and Carolyn Ho)
  • 2007:  Tina Petrakis  (Honorable Mention: Lorena Santos)
  • 2006:  Paul Dertien
  • 2005:  Zaid Shlah and Kathryn Pringle (shared award)  (Honorable Mention: Lauren Shufran and James Brook)
  • 2004:  Elise Ficarra
  • 2003:  Brandon Brown
  • 2002:  Megan Pruiett


San Francisco Browning Society Award

The dramatic monologue as evolved by Robert Browning is a poem written in the first person singular in which the speaker expresses his or her own character (as well as the character of a person spoken about in the poem) through a discourse with a silent listener, who may or may not be the subject of the poem.

Other interesting features of a dramatic monologue include: 1) The reader takes the part of the silent listener. 2) The speaker uses a case-making, argumentative tone. 3) We complete the dramatic scene from within, by means of inference and imagination. While the heart of the form relies on a first-person speaker, note that previous winners have taken some artistic liberties.

See the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics for a fuller description of the dramatic monologue. Students are encouraged to read Robert Browning's My Last Duchess, Porphyria's Lover, or The Laboratory to become familiar with the dramatic monologue form.


  • Open to SF State Creative Writing Students.

  • All entries must be original, unpublished dramatic monologues.

  • Any SF State Creative Writing student may submit up to 3 poems of not more than 5 pages each.

  • Attach a cover letter to your manuscript with your name, address, phone number and social security number.

  • The poems will be judged anonymously, so please do not put your name on the poems!

  • Use a separate cover sheet for each entry. All entries must be original, unpublished DRAMATIC MONOLOGUES.

  • Submit by email to

  • Poets retain full rights to their work, but manuscripts will NOT be returned.

  • All winners will be invited to attend the Spring meeting of the Browning Society, usually the second Friday in March. Winners will be announced by mid-February.


  1. First Place $300.00

  2. Second Place $200.00

  3. Third Place $100.00

  4. Three Honorable Mentions $50.00 each

Piri Thomas Poetry Prize

The Piri Thomas Poetry Prize was initiated in 2009 by Friends and Family of Piri Thomas (September 30, 1928 – October 17, 2011), and is given annually by The Poetry Center to an undergraduate student enrolled at SF State in creative writing. The prize is administered by the Academy of American Poets.

Piri Thomas's autobiography, Down These Mean Streets, was published in 1967 to wide acclaim, and chronicled his early life on the rough streets of El Barrio in Spanish Harlem, New York City. He worked for many years as an educator and advocate for young writers and readers, with a PBS film produced in 2003, titled Every Child is Born a Poet. A stellar recording for American Clavé shares the same title, and features the poet in performance with an outstanding array of artists from the jazz and Latin music world.

The Piri Thomas Poetry Prize carries a $100 cash reward. Candidates for the prize are nominated by SF State faculty.

Adriana Hernandez was chosen to receive the Piri Thomas Poetry Prize for 2021. Judge's statement:

  • So we know all grieving is complicated, exactly as it is personal in the surest sense of the word. “What’s the use in being awake?” Adriana Hernandez feels for and finds, by the steps these poems take, uses in being and ways toward recognizing, by justly-intoned reasoning, just how one person is implicated with another. “The pieces we share / are only part of the whole.” In relation, wounding is shared out, unequally, and yet surely shared. These communiqués “from underneath the slip in the door”—“why wouldn’t we waste the time?”—take their time and claim their space of saying: “I watched you spill out of yourself, / but I couldn’t see your thoughts on the floor. /…I’m just a body now / and you’re wrapped around my brain.” At our time and space of latest loss and grief directed variously and always unequally across the planet, these poems bring us, person to person, to touch the experience of complicated loss. “Shake the pain.”


  • 2021:  Adriana Hernandez
  • 2020:  Adaku Nneka Okeke
  • 2019:  No award given
  • 2018:  Brittany Nguyen
  • 2017:  DeMareon Gipson
  • 2016:  Vanessa Hamill
  • 2015:  Joshua Gill-Sutton
  • 2014:  Branden Balenzuela
  • 2013:  Jenna Littlejohn
  • 2012:  Eliza Dzulkafli
  • 2011:  Jillian Claire Graves
  • 2010:  Robert Ellis Lee

Frances Jaffer Poetry Prize

Note: funds for the prize were exhausted in 2017, and the award has been discontinued until further notice.

The Frances Jaffer Poetry Prize was initiated in 1999 in memory of the late poet Frances Jaffer and was given annually to an undergraduate student in Creative Writing at SF State on the basis of the student’s outstanding innovative work.

Ms. Jaffer was prominent as a poet and editor in the Bay Area literary community, and was influential particularly on a younger generation of women writers. Author of two books of poetry, She Talks to Herself in the Language of An Educated Woman (Kelsey St. Press, 1981) and Alternate Endings (HOW(ever), 1985), Frances Jaffer was a founding coeditor of HOW(ever), the San Francisco-based literary journal devoted to exploring historical and contemporary innovative writing by women.  A volume of the poetry of Frances Jaffer is being prepared for publication, edited by Kathleen Fraser and Rob Halpern.

The Frances Jaffer Poetry Prize was funded through donations from friends of Frances Jaffer, and carried a cash prize. Candidates for the Jaffer Prize were nominated by SF State faculty.


[This award has been discontinued]

  • 2017:  Chiara Maria Phillips
  • 2016:  Phillip Chavez
  • 2015:  Nicole McKeon
  • 2014:  Denise Massingill
  • 2013:  Chelsea Turowsky
  • 2012:  Marissa Carter
  • 2011:  Benjamin Lopez
  • 2010:  Alexander West
  • 2009:  Nicole Escobar
  • 2008:  Diana Ybarra
  • 2007:  Leslie Patron
  • 2006:  Christopher Girard
  • 2005:  Jose Antonio Villarán
  • 2004:  Unju Chi
  • 2003:  Hongyu Min
  • 2002:  John Sakkis
  • 2001:  Mary DeNardo
  • 2000:  Cynthia Sailers