Nesha Ruther, winner of the 2017 MoRe Prize from The Mochila Review.

Award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni has selected poet Nesha Ruther as winner of The Mochila Review’s 2017 Undergraduate MoRe Prize. Ruther’s poem “A Love Poem to Ernst Winter” will be published in the 2017 issue of The Mochila Review, Missouri Western State University’s national undergraduate literary journal, and Ruther will receive a $50 prize.

Giovanni was the 2017 guest judge of the Undergraduate MoRe Prize, The Mochila Review’s annual contest for undergraduate writers. Out of more than 80 applicants, she selected Ruther’s poem, as well as two honorable mentions: Colorado School of Mines student Annie Ochs for her poem “How to Love” and The State University of New York-Geneseo student Isabella Barsalona for her poem “Black Coffee.”

Ruther was born and raised in Takoma Park, Maryland. She was a member of the 2015 D.C. Youth Slam Team and has competed in slam poetry competitions such as Louder than a Bomb, Hyperbole, and Brave New Voices. She has performed her poetry at the State Theatre in South Africa and was a 2016 Young Arts Finalist in Spoken Word Poetry. She currently is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the Tenth cohort of First Wave, the university’s hip-hop and urban arts scholarship program.

Copies of the 2017 issue of The Mochila Review, which include an interview with Giovanni, will be available at a public reading by Giovanni at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 6, in the Potter Hall Theatre on the campus of Missouri Western. “The Mochila Review Presents: In the Shadow of Nikki Giovanni” is free and open to the public. Giovanni will sign copies of her books during a reception following the reading.

Giovanni is one of the world’s most well-known African-American poets, with more than 30 published books of poetry, nonfiction, and children’s literature. A seven-time recipient of the NAACP Image Award, she has authored three New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestsellers, been a finalist for the National Book Award, and been named one of Oprah Winfrey’s “25 Living Legends.” She is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech University.

To learn more about Giovanni, her books, and her most recent activities, visit For more information about Ruther and The Mochila Review, visit

The Mochila Review is sponsoring this event in partnership with Missouri Western State University’s President’s and Provost’s Offices, its Center for Multicultural Education, its English and Modern Languages Department, and the St. Joseph Public Library.

Missouri Western State University is a comprehensive regional university providing a blend of traditional liberal arts and professional degree programs. The university offers student-centered, high quality instruction that focuses on experience-based learning, community service, and state-of-the-art technology. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit