Playwright Arthur Miller, novelist Marge Piercy and LSA senior Morgan Kuntze have one thing in common: They are winners of the University’s oldest — and most expensive — awards for creative writing, the Hopwood Award.
This year, students once again have the chance to join that tradition. The next Hopwood Award, the Underclassmen Contest, is specifically for first and second-year students. Entries are due Dec. 9 in the Hopwood room in 1176 Angell Hall. The names of winners will be announced early in the winter term.
Hopwood Program Associate Andrea Beauchamp said the Hopwood Program awarded $145,000 last year to aspiring writers, bringing the total amount awarded to $2,140,000.
For the 2002-2003 winter awards, Kuntze received $5,000 of that yearly cumulative total for her essay portfolio titled “When the Tables Turn and Men Dance on Them.” Her portfolio contained one essay about her reactions to a strip club and another one about growing up Catholic.
Before winning the essay portion of the Hopwood Competition, Kuntze said she had not taken her writing very seriously.
“I entered the (Hopwood Awards) on a whim, and submitted it at the last minute,” Kuntze said. “Now that I’ve won, I realize how very important my writing is. It has encouraged me to write a lot more.”
Avery Hopwood, a popular Broadway playwright in the 1920s and member of the University’s class of 1905, established the Hopwood Awards in 1931. He left one-fifth of his estate to the University Board of Regents to encourage creative writing among students.
Hopwood Award participants for the Undergraduate and Graduate contests are evaluated by two judges in each of the six categories — drama, essay, novel, poetry, screenplay, and short fiction.
For Art and Design senior Joseph Keckler, who has submitted writings since his freshmen year, winning the Hopwood Awards runs in the family. Keckler said his mother won a Hopwood Award in 1978 for her essay.
It wasn’t until Keckler’s senior year that he won the Summer Hopwood Contest with his essay, “TNT: Dynamics and Featured Selections at Save-a-Lot.”
Not only was Keckler awarded $1,500 for his essay about working in a Save-a-Lot food store and a pair of “outrageous shoppers,” but he also remembers it as a great experience.
“It has given me a lot of confidence,” Keckler said, who had been a finalist in the Hopwood Contest in his freshmen and sophomore years.