Ron Offen Poetry Prize

Established in memory of poet and editor Ron Offen, the Ron Offen Poetry Prize brings one Chicago poet to campus each year for a public reading. The prize also accommodates one student reader, to be chosen by the visiting poet from anonymous submissions. Any UChicago student is eligible to submit. Recent Offen poets include Jennifer Nelson, Nate Marshall, Roger Reeves, Ed Roberson and Daniel Borzutzky – a distinguished list and evidence of Chicago’s centrality to contemporary American poetry.

The 2021-22 Offen Poetry Prize judge is Charif Shanahan.


black and white photo of charif shanahan

Charif Shanahan is the author of Trace Evidence (Tin House Books, 2023) and Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry/SIU Press, 2017), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Award. Shanahan’s poems appear in numerous journals, including American Poetry Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and PBS NewsHour. His work has been anthologized in American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time (Graywolf Press, 2018), Furious Flower’s Seeding the Future of African American Poetry (Northwestern, 2019), and African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song (Library of America, 2020). Shanahan is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; the Wallace Stegner Fellowship and Jones Lectureship at Stanford University; a Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant to Morocco; the Gregory Pardlo Fellowship from the Frost Place; and residency fellowships from Cave Canem Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, Millay Colony for the Arts, La Maison Baldwin in St Paul, France, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, among other awards and recognitions. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Northwestern University, where he teaches poetry in the undergraduate and Litowitz MFA+MA graduate creative writing programs. 

Past Poets & Student Readers

Poet: Krista Franklin
Student: Sarah Kim

Poet: Jennifer Nelson
Student: Sophia YoungSun Rhee

Poet: Nate Marshall
Student: Felix Lecocq and Urvi Kumbhat

Poet: Duriel E. Harris 
Student: Kirsten Ihns

Poet: Roger Reeves
Student: Emily Yoon

Poet: Ed Roberson
Student: Eli Rudavsky

Poet: Daniel Borzutzky
Student: Tim DeMay

Poet: William Fuller
Student: Dawn Herrera Helphand 

Poet: Ilya Kaminsky
Student: V. Joshua Adams