Announcing the winners of the 2023 Undergraduate Poetry Awards!

We are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2023 Undergraduate Poetry Awards!  The awards were conferred in collaboration with the UA MFA Program in Creative Writing.  A special thanks to professor Kate Bernheimer for all her dedication and support!  The announcement below comes from all who were involved with the awards this year: 


We received a record number of submissions and found so many gems to celebrate among the manuscripts. We value and cherish all undergraduate poetry writers, and we are very lucky to have such an active community of emerging artists at the University of Arizona. Thank you for sharing your newest poetry with us!


Screening Performed by the MFA Program in Creative Writing Graduate Students

Final Judge and Citations by Geramee Hensley (UA MFA in Poetry ’23)*


All winning poems will be published in Sonora Review online, housed in the UA MFA Program in Creative Writing one of the oldest and highly regarded graduate-student edited literary journals in the US. Links from titles.


Hattie Lockett Awards (3)

Isabella Santoni

BFA Acting, BA Creative Writing with a Minor in Italian


A Woman, Serrated

All the dreamy and pungent reds in the painting "Portrait of the Dancer Anita Berber" by Otto Dix, which this poem follows, are accentuated by nimble line breaks and surprises around each turn in this piece. We've got danger, heat, smoke--that's desire for you. The last turn, "I am still lit" where the speaker is transposed with the earlier image of the match is a satisfying, singing sequence that heightens all preceding lines. This distillation at the end is a marvelous portrait between one who desires and the object of their desire. This smart depiction of Eros is one I'll continue to return to for a long time. 


Mila Tomizuka

Major in Creative Writing and Design Arts and Practices (with an emphasis in Spatial Design)


“Do I have the right to pronounce my name correctly, in a language I do not speak?”

This poem steps on the gas pedal and does not let up until the very last line. As someone also with a squiggly red line under their name, I feel as though it was written for me. The speaker handles the sharpness of microaggressions with a kind of wisdom that feels mostly like humor, but here lives an earnestness that demands humility, too. The speaker achieves this humor while resisting any sort of mean-spiritedness. There's a real generosity here. 


Rebecca Crager

Major in Creative Writing & Psychology, Minor in Professional and Technical Writing


“Tar, March ‘21”

A searching persists in this poem. Through all violence, through obscenity and horror and what cannot be rationalized. The speaker's tone taps into multiple emotional registers--at times sardonic, caustic, confident. Even through all that bite, a vulnerability blurs on the outskirts--one we must be pained to witness. But in that vulnerability, we are recruited into the incision the speaker wields. At the heart of this poem, there is a wish, an incantation, so we must begin again: "memory finds me clean." 


Margaret Sterling Award

Bella Whitley

Major in English and Creative Writing


“Mother and Daughter”

Through repetition, a mother and speaker are figured then refigured. A poem can help us see something in a new light--that is, to see it at all. Though transformation is imminent, the two (the subject and the observer) are "tied together always." The speaker in "The Mother and Daughter" has a delicate loyalty to transformation with an understanding that to yield to this flux means opening oneself up to the spirit of things as they are and not how one might want them to be.


Honorable Mentions:

Gemma Marie Siml

Major in Professional and Technical Writing, Minor in Creative Writing

“The Song of a Refugee”


Dean Eggert

Major in Creative Writing & Anthropology

“Damnation Alley”


A. Z. Martinez

Major in Professional and Technical Writing & Creative Writing

“What Cortez Left Behind”


Jordan Vens

Major in Creative Writing, Minor in Spanish




*About Geramee Hensley:



A writer from Ohio, Geramee Hensley is Editor-in-Chief of Sonora Review and Poetry Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Their work has been featured in Button Poetry,, Indiana Review, The Journal, The Margins, and elsewhere. Their work has been supported by the Tin House Summer Workshop, and they have received numerous awards including a 2022 Academy of American Poets Prize and Booth Journal's 2022 Beyond the Margins prize. They received their MFA from the University of Arizona in Spring 2023.