The Creative Writing Program invites submissions for the annual Poetry competition. All currently enrolled Oberlin students are invited to submit their work.

The Emma Howell Poetry Prize

Emma Howell began writing at an early age and published her first poems at 15. She took writing workshops at Portland State University, and went on to study with Martha Collins, Pamela Alexander, and David Young, among others, at Oberlin College as a creative writing major. The first time Emma went to Oberlin, she felt immediately like she was home, and knew it was the exact right place for her. She also studied literature, languages, folklore, and African dance, and was particularly influenced by her experiences in the Black Arts Workshop with Caroline Jackson-Smith. She had studied for a year in Spain, which ignited her interest in travel and languages. Emma spent six months of her sophomore year studying in Salvador do Bahia, Brasil, where she died at the age of 20. Headshot photograph of Emma Howell.

When Emma Howell died in 2001, her parents set up a poetry prize to be awarded yearly to an Oberlin student.

They wanted to encourage young poets, just as Emma was encouraged as a creative writing major at Oberlin. After five years of generous donations from friends and family, the fund for the prize reached the endowed status Oberlin Fund.

Each year, a panel of judges—members of the Creative Writing Program and Emma’s father, the poet Christopher Howell—pore through stacks of submissions from Oberlin students and awards a prize of $1,000 to the winner. Each April, the program hosts a reading of the finalists for this prize.



Leah Barber and Julian Meltzer  

Honorable Mentions:  Ira Berkley, Justin Jimenez, Gillian Pasley, and Clara Weinstein


Margaret Saigh

2016 - Writing Award Winners

First Prize: Danyang Fang
Honorable Mentions: Orly Vermes, Maxime Berclaz, Brielle Hutchison, Madeleine Dorner