In recognition of National Poetry Month, the University of Detroit Mercy’s English Department has curated an exhibit at the McNichols Campus Library honoring Dudley Randall and the annual poetry prize the department sponsors in his memory. Now in its 53rd year, the Dudley Randall Poetry Prize continues Randall’s legacy of amplifying creative voices within the Detroit Mercy community.
Dudley Randall (1914-2000) was a poet, translator, editor, publisher, and reference librarian who served as the poet-in-residence at the University of Detroit Mercy from 1969 to 1976. Randall was named Detroit’s first Poet Laureate in 1981. Prior to his work at the University of Detroit Mercy, Dudley Randall founded Broadside Press, which published the work of major black poets including Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, Robert Hayden, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Etheridge Knight, Audre Lord, Sonia Sanchez, Alice Walker, and Margaret Walker. Following his death, the McNichols Campus Library was designated as a National Literary Landmark in honor of Randall’s contributions to American literature.
A staunch advocate for student writers, Randall inaugurated the award that we now call the Dudley Randall Poetry Prize. Randall served as a judge from 1970 until his death in 2000. Other esteemed judges have included Marcello Hernandez Castillo, Emily Corwin, Claire Crabtree, Cal Freeman, Stacy Gnall, Rose Gorman, Gloria House, Michael Lauchlan, Sarah Pazur, and Alison Powell.
The winners of the 2023 Dudley Randall Poetry Prize are: First Place, ‘Persona’ by Collin Schacht; Second Place, ‘I Forgot Your Middle Name” by Olivia Vitale: Third Place, ‘Evening Bats’ by Lydia Chapman. Honorable mentions are ‘Dearest Audience’ by Aly Porcerelli and ‘The Man In The Below Poem Has Become Aware He Is In A Poem’ by Jeremy St. Martin.
The Dudley Randall exhibit, curated by English major Erin Letourneau, will be on display throughout the month of April. Be sure to stop by the McNichols Campus Library to read the prize-winning pieces and learn more about the Dudley Randall Poetry Prize. Read winning poems since 2015 at https://udmercy.edu/dudley.