This year’s Hopwood Underclassmen Awards Ceremony, held yesterday at Rackham Auditorium, not only celebrated the bottomless pool of young talent thriving at the University, but also marked a return to the University for the event’s guest speaker, poet Alice Fulton.
Fulton, currently a professor of English at Cornell University, taught creative writing at the University from 1983 through 2001.
English professor and former director of the Hopwood Awards program Nicholas Delbanco presided over the ceremony, sparing only a few sentences outlining the legacy of the Hopwood Awards. There are three Hopwood underclassman categories: essay, fiction and poetry. Presented along with the Hopwoods, five different fellowships make up another substantial list of awards. A total of $21,750 in awards was presented in the span of 30 minutes.
In the essay competition, RC freshman Beenish Ahmed was awarded $1,500 in the essay category with a piece titled “Because I Swallowed an Ocean.” LSA sophomore and Michigan Daily reporter C. C. Song earned $1,250 in the fiction category for her short story “Grace.” RC sophomore and Daily reporter Karl Stampfl took home three awards totaling $4,300, which included $1,000 in poetry, $800 in the fiction category and $2,500 from the Roy W. Cowden Memorial Fellowship.
The second-and third-place winners in the essay category, LSA sophomore Geoffrey George and RC sophomore Alison Heeres, both submitted papers that were originally conceived in Residential College Prof. Leslie Stainton’s course, Creative Adaptation.
The awards ceremony lasted less than an hour. Delbanco introduced his former colleague, Alice Fulton, with select but warmhearted remarks, describing her as possessing “an unflagging ambition” and her work as something that “stands somehow outside of time.”
Fulton received her Master of Fine Arts from Cornell in 1982, and less than a decade later won a MacArthur Foundation fellowship for her poetry. Her best-known collection of poetry is “Felt,” which won her the 2003 Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress.
She read numerous selections of her work from several different books, their topics ranging from embarrassment to religious experiences. She was emphatic in her encouragement to those who were not graced with an award, explaining that, “Perseverance is nine-tenths of being a writer.”