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 Barnes & Noble @ VCU, 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.

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.

Devon Walker-Figueroa is the winner of the 2022 Levis Reading Prize for her poetry collection Philomath. Philomath, Walker-Figueroa’s debut full-length poetry collection, was published by Milkweed Editions in 2021 and was selected by Sally Keith for the 2020 National Poetry Series. Philomath also was shortlisted for the National Book Critic Circle’s 2021 John Leonard Prize for Best First Book. Walker-Figueroa’s writing has also appeared in The Nation, POETRY, the American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere. She is a 2022-23 Amy Lowell Traveling Scholar and the recipient of the New England Review’s 2018 Emerging Writer Award, the 2021 Poetry Society of America’s Lucille Medwick Award, and several notable scholarships.

Read more about Walker-Figueroa, Philomath, and the prize ceremony at VCU News.

devon walker-figueroa