Contests & Awards

LARB/UCR Lifetime Achievement Award


The Department of Creative Writing and the Los Angeles Review of Books jointly present an annual lifetime achievement award to writers whose body of works have significantly influenced the literary field and readership in the United States. This award is typically bestowed during the annual UCR Writers Week Festival.

2024: Dave Eggers, Rigoberto González, and Quincy Troupe

2023: Percival Everette & Mike Davis (posthumous)

2022: Sandra Cisneros, Linda Hogan, and Ishmael Reed

2021: Rita Dove, Joy Harjo, and Juan Felipe Herrera

2020: Walter Mosley

2019: Margaret Atwood

2018: Maxine Hong Kingston

2017: Ngugi was Thiong'o

2016: John Rechy


Student Prizes


The Department of Creative Writing offers multiple writing opportunities for its students. Below are the various contests and awards available for Creative Writing undergraduates.

The Chancellor’s Performance Award – Up to $12,000 

The Chancellor’s Performance Award is a scholarship available to first-year students who major in Creative Writing.  Deadline: late April. By internal nomination only.

The Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Contest: Up to $100.00

A system-wide contest established by friends of the late Ina Coolbrith, former Poet Laureate of California, for the best unpublished poem or poems composed and submitted for this contest by an undergraduate student.  Deadline: early November.  Details

The William Henry Willis Memorial Poetry Prize: Up to $1200.00 

The William Henry Willis Memorial Poetry Prize is an annual cash poetry prize created by John Willis (’66 BA, ’68 MA, ’71 PhD, Physics) in honor of his father. William Henry Willis emigrated to the United States from Canada in 1949 and worked in a local factory for most of his career. During breaks while working the graveyard shift at the factory, he would find time to write poetry that captured and enhanced the events of his family life. Poetry was a creative outlet for Mr. Willis, and this prize was created to honor his love of poetry by encouraging this mode of creativity in future generations. Preference is given to a poem which touches upon family stories or immigrant communities, with humor and/or irony, and written by an undergraduate major or non-major at the University of California, Riverside”   Details.

The Abraham L. Polonsky Award: Up to $500.00 

This award was established by and is named after Abraham L. Polonsky, the noted author and screenwriter, whose scripts included Body and SoulForce of EvilMommy Dearest, and Monsignor.  His novels included The Enemy SeaA Season of Fear, and Zenia's Way.  In 1951, after he refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Mr. Polonsky was blacklisted in Hollywood.  Mr. Polonsky’s work often exposed the irony of class and social inequities in modern American life and the eroding effects of indifference to corruption.  The award is given to an outstanding short story published in the magazine Mosaic.   Details

The Maurya Simon Poetry Award: Up to $250.00

This award, named after Professor Maurya Simon, is designated for an undergraduate student demonstrating unusual skill and great promise in poetry. He or she should be a Creative Writing major.

The Professor Eliud Martínez Endowed Scholarship Fund in Creative Writing: Up to $1500.00
Fund Purpose: This Endowed Fund shall be used to provide support to undergraduate students majoring in Creative Writing. Each recipient of the Martinez Scholarship will be an undergraduate student majoring in Creative Writing who demonstrates academic excellence and shows a commitment to the Chicanx or Latinx communities. Candidates will be asked to submit a 5-10 page writing sample (e.g. series of poems, one short story, or memoir piece) in addition to a one-page description detailing their extra-curricular activities and/or community service in the Chicanx or Latinx communities. The award will be administered by the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences’ Creative Writing Department designee.