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Reginald Shepherd

Fata Morgana
Angel Interrupted
 Some Are Drowning

The Reginald Shepherd
Prize in Poetry and Poetry Criticism

The Reginald Shepherd Memorial Prize in Poetry supports poetry that reflects classical and modern sensibilities in language of precision and beauty. It also awards poetry criticism that helps us understand poetry of any type from any period.  

I write because I would like to live forever. . . .
I seek to immortalize the world I have found and made for myself,
even knowing that I won’t be there to witness that immortality,
mine or my work’s, that by definition I will never know
whether my endeavor has been successful.
But when has impossibility ever deterred anyone from a cherished goal?
--“Why I Write” by Reginald Shepherd

All undergraduate students currently enrolled at the University of Oregon.

Submissions may be poetry, poetry criticism, or both:

  • Poetry: Submit up to three (3) typed poems on single-sided, white, 8-1/2" x 11" paper.
  • Criticism: Submit an essay of any length about poetry.  Essays must be in English but may be about poetry in any language. Manuscripts should be double-spaced, and printed on single-sided white 8-1/2" x 11" paper.

Manuscript Header: contestant's name, UO ID, phone number, UO email, title(s) of work submitted and page number, if appropriate, in upper right-hand corner of each page.

Manuscripts will not be returned and those that do not meet these guidelines will be disqualified.

Submission Deadline
Late Winter/early Spring term. Entries must be submitted to 108 Alder Building by noon of the deadline posted.

Selection & Award
The contest is judged by faculty with expertise in poetry from across campus; three judges agree on a winner and each judge recognizes his or her own top choice. Awards are is distributed in Spring term through Student Accounts (balances due may be subtracted from the award amount).

Alan Contreras


This award is made possible by the generosity of Alan Contreras, a Eugene writer who had been working to bring Shepherd to the UO for a reading just before his death.  Contreras says, "Shepherd is inspiring because he blends a classical sensibility with a modern outlook.  He isn't afraid to use powerful language, but he never wastes it or throws it around for shock value."  Contreras himself has published, among other books and articles, a memoir, Afield, as well as a volume of poetry entitled Night Crossing.

Night Crossing


 2012 Judges: Professors George Rowe, Danny Anderson
Lucas Andino "Making a Place to Dwell: Arendt and Farres's Edward Hopper"
Judges' Choice Naomi Halpern "Navigating Home through Metaphor: The Creation of Identiy and Landscape"

2010 Judges: Professors Karen J. Ford, Leah Middlebrook, Karen McPherson
Allise Penning
"The Use of Internal and External Landscapes in Confessional Poetry"
Judges' Choice Samantha Shaw "A Thorough Reading of Amy Lowell's 'A London Thoroughfar. 2 A.M.'"
Judges' Choice Nick Bernard "'Precious flour': Work and Loss in "The Night-Watchman"

 2009   Judges: Professors Karen J. Ford, Geri Doran, and John Gage
 Jane Roark
 "Secrets on a String"
Judges' Choice  Jayson Choe  "Snapshots of Midtown"
Judges' Choice  Mike O'Brien  "Confession"
Judges' Choice Allise Penning "Precarious"