Carnegie Mellon University

The Adamson Awards

An annual highlight of the Department of English is the Adamson Student Creative Writing Awards.


Run by the Creative Writing program, the Adamson Awards are presented for student excellence in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, and are open to undergraduate students throughout the Carnegie Mellon University community. Student pieces are judged by professional writers, and to add to the sense of celebration, a prominent writer is invited to be the special guest speaker at the annual Awards.

In 1983, Clarence H. Adamson, a graduate of Carnegie Tech, gave Carnegie Mellon University and the Department of English several gifts in memory of his wife, Pauline, who had died three years earlier. One of these gifts was the Adamson Scholarship for undergraduate women majoring in English. Another was the Adamson Awards for Writing and a fund for the support of an annual series of lectures by distinguished authors. And another was the Pauline B. Adamson Wing in Baker Hall, where the Adamson Awards ceremony is held every spring. The gifts were intended by Mr. Adamson as testimonials to the 35 years of companionship he shared with his wife and to her interest in education, language, and literature. The Adamson Awards are intended to encourage students to pursue excellence in writing. The awards are open to undergraduate students only.

2024 Adamson Awards Submission Deadline

Monday, March 25, 2024

What Can You Submit and What Are the Guidelines?

There are three categories for which you can submit your work.

1. Nonfiction Stories/Essays

2. Fiction

3. Poetry

IMPORTANT: Please include the name of the category you are submitting to before the title of your piece.

Example: Nonfiction: "What It Means to Write"
Example: Fiction: "Midnight Train"
Example: Poetry: "Acid Rain and Other Poems"

How to Submit Your Work

By the posted deadline, you will submit your work to an online portal, which will be made public on this webpage in mid-Spring semester each year.

Other Important Details


The Awards are open to all currently enrolled undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon University, regardless of major or minor.


All submissions must be typed and all work must be original. All previous winning submissions for any of the awards offered by the English Department are ineligible. You may submit work in multiple categories, however, you may submit only one entry per category. Entries cannot be returned.


Outside judges appointed by the Awards Committee of the English Department evaluate entries and choose the winners.


At the discretion of the judges, monetary awards plus one honorable mention are given to undergraduate students in each category—nonfiction (essays and articles for popular or literary journals), fiction, and poetry.

Presentation of Prizes

The Adamson Awards presentation ceremony typically takes place near the end of each Spring semester. Details will be posted here in mid-March 2024.

Winners are not notified ahead of time, so you should plan to attend the event if you submitted any of your work.

2023 Adamson Award Winners


  1. First Prize Adamson Award: Gaia Rajan
  2. Second Prize Adamson Award: Annie Nguyen
  3. Third Prize Adamson Award: Divya Krishnan


  1. First Prize Adamson Award: Sophia Levin
  2. Second Prize Adamson Award: Ashni Mathuria
  3. Third Prize Adamson Award: Yoori Kim


  1. First Prize Adamson Award: Ashni Mathuria
  2. Second Prize Adamson Award: Wendy Kuhn
  3. Third Prize Adamson Award: Mengdie Lie

Adamson Award Ceremony Speakers

2024 Tyehimba Jess (scheduled)
2023 CMU Creative Writing Students
2022 CMU Creative Writing Students
2021 Alan Siegel
2019 Daniel Borzutzky


Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum


Peter Balakian


Ron Carlson


Tracy K. Smith


Andre Dubus III


Victoria Redel
2012 K. C. Constantine
2011 Wang Ping
2010 Thomas Lynch
2009 Denis Johnson
2008 Russell Banks
2007 Elizabeth Alexander
2006 Stewart O'Nan
2005 Alice Foulton
2004 Dennis Lehane
2003 Cornelius Eady
2002 James Crumley
2001 Jim Harrison
2000 Michael Cunningham
1999 Colleen J. McElroy
1998 Howard Horman
1997 Charles Simic
1996 Tobias Wolff
1995 Robert Creeley
1994 Jamaica Kincaid
1993 James Tate
1992 Nicholas Pileggi
1991 Carolyn Kizer
1990 Michael Ondaatje
1989 Philip Levine & Gerald Stern
1988 Hilma Wolitzer
1987 Stanley Kunitz
1986 Alison Lurie
1985 Carolyn Forche
1984 Raymond Carver
1983 John Leonard
1982 Donald Hall