Gurian Awards Give Students Opportunity to Showcase Their Writing | News

The Gurian Awards is an upcoming annual writing competition for undergraduate students enrolled at Gonzaga University.

Michael and Gail Gurian started the Gurian Awards in 2008 to replace the discontinued Castello Poetry Prize. They are both GU alumni and want students to gain confidence in their writing.

“…Gail and I said, ‘We’re going to fund an award because we want to encourage young writers,'” said Michael Gurian, writer and writing consultant.

The Gurian Awards feature three types of literary submissions: poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Participants may participate once per gender.

Committee members, appointed by Tod Marshall, English teacher and director of the writing concentration, read all submissions. The committee decides who will win or who will receive an honorable mention in each gender.

On the official Zagtivities introduction page, Colleen McLean, Program Assistant for English and Women’s and Gender Studies, requests that the title page only contain the title and gender.

All submissions are anonymous. The department will assign a random identity to each entry. McLean will reveal the names of the winners after the selection process.

Winners may have the opportunity to read their submissions publicly in the Gonzaga Visiting Writers Series. Depending on COVID-19 protocols and scheduling issues, the event could be in-person, virtual, or cancelled.

“My favorite part is… the award ceremony where [the winners] read his poems and prose,” Gurian said. “It’s great to see your art.”

The ceremony is an opportunity for winners to share their compositions and for viewers to witness literary excellence. In addition to the ceremony, there is a lunch for the winners and attendees.

“When we have lunch…with award winners, that’s when we can really chat,” Gurian said. “They share the stories of what they want to do with their lives. It’s great to interact with them and see what their career path is,” Gurian said.

All writers who submit their work also have the opportunity to be published in the literary and art magazine “Reflection”.

Garrick Bateman, the editor-in-chief of “Reflection,” will take the winners and honorable mentions from the judging committee and decide which ones to publish.

“Gail and I can read the honorable mentions and the winners when they all show up on ‘Reflection,'” Gurian said.

Gurian has no expectations other than that students submit their best work and that poems and prose are valuable compositions.

In addition to recognition, winners receive a monetary reward.

“There’s $250 for each category, so it’s a nice little financial award for students,” Marshall said.

Winners receive a letter of congratulations and acceptance via email two to four weeks after the deadline.

“My favorite part is when students are notified,” Marshall said. “I know they’re excited to win the awards.”

The Gurian Awards can act as a springboard to greater opportunities.

“Many of the Gurian Prize winners published books, won awards for their writing, went to graduate school in writing,” Marshall said.

The contest is open to all undergraduate students. Marshall encourages submissions from all departments, not just English.

“We’ve had winners from disciplines other than English, so we have a lot of talented writers in many disciplines across campus,” Marshall said.

The deadline for the Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards is fast approaching. The last day to submit is January 28 at 5 pm Late submissions will not be accepted.

The official submission portal is

For additional inquiries, please contact McLean ( or Marshall (

Olivia Sandvik is a staff writer.


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