The 63rd annual Hopwood Awards honored 12 undergraduates’ creative writing pieces in different genres yesterday in Rackham Auditorium.
“The submissions were judged by national writers around the country. The categories were novel, essay, screenplay and drama,” said English Prof. Nicholas Delbanco, who chairs the Hopwood Committee.
Hopwood Essay Contest winner and LSA freshman Kristin Cooke said her initial reaction was that of excitement because the award was so completely unexpected.
“The essay I won with was about the transition from childhood to adulthood,” Cooke said. “My favorite part of the essay was about my dad. It was this random memory about how I used to swing on the swings in my backward when I was younger, while my dad would mow the lawn. Every now and then he would stop his mowing and look up at me … it would make my night.”
Hopwood Essay Contest winner and LSA freshman Melissa Heller said she was also surprised to find she had won $500.
“It felt really cool to win,” Heller said. “I submitted it because my professor told my class about the Hopwood award and told us to submit essays to the contest. I did and I guess I just lucked out.”
Cooke said she was highly inspired by Therese Stanton, a former English teacher, whom she described as her mentor and inspiration.
“She was the best English teacher I’ve had in my life,” Cooke said.
Cooke added that the award also encouraged people to write from their hearts and acted as a way to honor people who have a passion for writing.
The judges based the awards on the quality of the writing submissions, said Hopwood Award Committee member Laurence Goldstein, an English professor, judges determined the highest quality of work in that genre, he added.
Checks were awarded to winners of the Hopwood award at the ceremony, along with a reading by published writer Rick Moody.
But this award is only one segment of the Hopwood Contest, Goldstein said.
“There are two levels to the contest. The first one in January is the one where undergraduates get the awards; then there is another one in April that includes graduate students,” Goldstein said.
The Hopwood Award began in 1930 after the death of American dramatist Avery Hopwood, who left money in his will to the University for a creative writing award.