Levis Reading Prize

The Levis Reading Prize honors the memory of poet Larry Levis, who was a VCU faculty member at the time of his death in 1996. 

The prize is awarded annually for the best first or second book of poetry published in the previous calendar year. It is presented by the MFA in Creative Writing Program in the VCU Department of English and VCU Libraries with additional support from the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences, and the family of Larry Levis.

Judges come from faculty of the VCU Department of English and MFA in Creative Writing Program.

Traditionally, the winner receives an honorarium and are invited, expenses paid, to Richmond to present a public reading in the following fall.


Entries must have been published within the 2023 calendar year. Entries from vanity presses or self-published works are not eligible. Because judges for the contest will come from the faculty of the VCU MFA Creative Writing Program, entries from VCU program graduates and affiliates are not eligible. The competition is not limited to U.S. citizens. However, because winners are supported in their travel to Richmond, all poets who win the award must be in residence in the U.S., as international travel can not be funded.

Nomination / Submission Instructions

Each entry must include:

  1. Three physical copies of the author’s first or second book (48 pages or more)
  2. One digital copy (an easy-to-read PDF file, sent to levis@vcu.edu)
  3. Cover letter
  4. Brief biography of the author (including a list of previous publications)

Submit each entry to:

Levis Reading Prize
VCU Department of English
900 Park Avenue, Hibbs Hall, Room 306
Box 842005
Richmond, VA 23284-2005

Because we cannot guarantee their return, all entries will become the property of the VCU Department of English and are donated to the VCU Cabell Library.


The current entry deadline is January 15, 2024.  Materials received after that date will be returned unopened.

Corey Van Landingham is the winner of the 2023 Levis Reading Prize for her poetry collection, Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens.

Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens, Van Landingham’s second collection, was published by Tupelo Press in 2022. She is also the author of Antidote (2013), winner of the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry, and her latest collection, Reader, I, forthcoming from Sarabande Books in April, 2024. Her awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship as well as a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, Boston Review, The New Yorker, Blackbird, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among many other publications. 

Read more about  Van Landingham, Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens, and the prize ceremony at VCU News.

Corey Van Landingham author photo