MQR Prizes – Michigan Quarterly Review


Each year, MQR distributes five prizes to authors whose work demonstrates exceptional mastery or promise. Explore each of these prizes and recent recipients below.

The James A. Winn Prize in Non Fiction 

Newly established in 2023, this prize is named honor of former University of Michigan English Professor James A. Winn. Each year’s winner receives $1500 and publication in MQR. Submissions are open annually April 1-May 31 and all submissions will be considered for publication. David Porter will serve as the prize’s inaugural judge.

About James A. Winn

Described by MQR Editor Emeritus Laurence Goldstein as “a complex, provocative figure and a brilliant conversationalist,” James A. Winn taught at Yale (1974-1983), the University of Michigan (1983-1998), and Boston University (1998-2017). While at the University of Michigan, he served as director of the Institute for the Humanities from its inception through 1996. A scholar of late 17th- and early 18th-century English literature, his 1987 book John Dryden and His World was lauded by Pat Rogers in The New York Times Book Review as “the most important biography of Dryden ever written.” An accomplished flautist and an advocate for interdisciplinarity. Winn’s scholarship explored topics from Alexander Pope to the Beatles, Bach to Bruce Springsteen.

The Jesmyn Ward Prize in Fiction 

The Michigan Quarterly Review established this prize in 2021 in honor of Helen Zell Writers’ Program alumna Jesmyn Ward, who served as the prize’s inaugural judge. Each year’s winner receives $2000 and publication in MQR. Submissions are open annually November 1–December 31.

The 2022 winner, selected by Jesmyn Ward, is Jeneé Skinner for “Fields Laid Bare,” published in the Summer 2022 issue of MQR.

The Lawrence Foundation Prize

The Michigan Quarterly Review’s $2,000 Lawrence Prize in fiction is awarded annually to the best story published in MQR that year. Established in 1978, the prize is sponsored by University of Michigan alumnus and fiction writer Leonard S. Bernstein, a trustee of the Lawrence Foundation of New York.  The Prize was increased from $1,000 to $2,000 in 2019. All stories accepted for publication will be passed on to a judge as finalists. No additional fee beyond submission.

The 2022 winner, selected by Gabe Habash, is Emily Flamm for “Annex” from the Fall 2022 issue of MQR.

The Laurence Goldstein Prize

This annual cash prize of $1,000 is awarded to the author of one poem. The winner is selected by an outside judge. Submissions are open for the prize November 1-December 31. All submissions are considered for publication. In 2022, the prize will be judged by Ruth Behar.

The award was established in 2002 by a generous gift from the Office of the President of the University of Michigan in honor of poet and former MQR editor Laurence Goldstein. 

The 2021 winner, selected by Sumita Chakraborty, is Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, for her poem “Autocomplete,” published in the Summer 2022 issue of MQR.

Page Davidson Clayton Prize for Emerging Poets

Created in 2009 by Mac and Meg Clayton to honor the memory of Page Davidson Clayton, this prize, in the amount of $500, is awarded by the editors each year to the best poet appearing in Michigan Quarterly Review who has yet to publish a book.

The 2022 winner, selected by Gillian White, is Naomi Mulvihill for “Poly-, Ambi-” from the Winter 2022 issue of MQR.

About Page Davidson Clayton

Page Davidson Clayton

Page Davidson Clayton was a bridge between times. Her parents went to Ole Miss with William Faulkner, who called her mother “pretty little Jane Foot from Canton.” Her grandfather, an Episcopal minister in Greenville, was friends with Will Percy, author of Lanterns on the Levee. She grew up hearing the music of the pulpit and the choir and the poetry of Emily Dickinson, her father’s favorite. In her last years, when her eyesight had failed, she asked us to read poetry to her.

She loved the old poets, the poets of her youth. Those were the words she understood and to which she turned for comfort, but in her core she was a gentle radical, as restless for change, for the world to turn, for those she loved to come to a deeper understanding of one another, as any beat poet or angry rapper. She had the soul of a poet. She dealt in the concrete as a means of understanding abstraction. She was wise but patient in the way she dispensed her wisdom. She gave us time to see her meaning, to let us find it for ourselves. Only now that she is gone are some of those lessons becoming clear.

We think she would be pleased to think that in her name others will be leaving clues along the way as she did. Who better than today’s new poets? They are the ones who look ahead and show us with a flicker of white tail disappearing into the woods the way a path may lie.

Meg and Mac Clayton
Palo Alto, CA
October 2009

More information on the 2021 prize winners can be found here.

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