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Healy Poetry Prize

The Jerry Healy Poetry Prize for College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) students has been created in honor of the late Gerald Healy, former Bethel professor of English, by his family.

2024 Prize Theme: Neighbors

  • Poems will be evaluated on poetic technique, effectiveness, style, creativity, and theme.
  • All poems will be judged through a blind process by a published author of poetry.
  • The top six finalist poems will be featured in the spring issue of the Coeval.
  • The top three poems will receive cash prizes of $200, $100, and $50, to be announced at the English and Journalism Department Celebration and Awards Ceremony in May. 


  • This prize is open to all Bethel College of Arts & Sciences students, regardless of major.
  • All poetry must be original to the submitting author and must not have been previously published or have won any prize in any previous competition of any kind.
  • Poems may be written in any style, fixed-form or free verse, rhymed or not rhymed.
  • Applicants are allowed to submit up to 2 poems.
  • Each poem must not exceed 40 lines. 


  • All poems should be submitted as PDF files.
  • The PDF must not contain your name, but can contain your Bethel ID number in the header or footer.
  • The PDF file name should be as follows: [Bethel ID#]_[Name of Poem].pdf

Submit your poem to the Jerry Healy Poetry Prize.

Deadline: March 8, 2024

About Gerald “Jerry” Healy

Jerry Healy began his career teaching high school English in South Dakota, during which time he earned a master’s degree from the University of South Dakota. In 1955, he accepted an offer from Bethel College to join the faculty and basketball coaching staff. After three years as an assistant coach, he took over the head basketball position and held it until 1966. At Bethel, he also coached tennis and golf.

In 1955, English was the largest department on campus, in part because it included speech and debate. During his first year, Jerry taught freshman composition and refresher English. Later he helped develop the English education program, and he regularly supervised and observed student teachers. He also served as department chair. Besides composition, he taught linguistics and a variety of literature classes. Of these, his favorite was a course on the Romantics. Jerry earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1980.

Jerry Healy bled Bethel blue and gold. Besides his role in athletics, he represented the college throughout the upper Midwest as a speaker at banquets, church events, and camps.

Jerry retired from Bethel in 1985. Two years later, he and his wife, Millie, moved near Pine City, Minnesota, to manage a retreat center they’d started there on a former farm. In 1999, they sold that property and moved to Cambridge, Minnesota. Jerry died on Father’s Day 2016, while living at GracePointe Care Center in Cambridge.

Jerry was in love with the English language in all its forms of expression, but he especially prized poetry. In his last years, age robbed him of much of his memory, but until very near the end of his life, he could still recite many poems.

Upon Jerry’s death, several memorials were given to Bethel in his honor. His family decided to use that money to underwrite an annual poetry contest for Bethel students.