The prestigious Hopwood Awards were given to 18 University students for their exceptional pieces of creative writing.

Ken Srdjak

The students were awarded cash prizes for their poetry, essay and fiction selections in Rackham Auditorium yesterday.

The Hopwood Program awarded $7,850 total to recipients of Hopwood Awards and $12,000 to the winners of other writing contests.

Winners of the Hopwood awards will join a distinguished and prestigious group of writers, said Andrea Beauchamp, program associate of the English department.

Carolyn Forche, the keynote speaker at the event, read selected excerpts from several of her books, including “The Country Between Us” and “Blue Hour.”

“I was very impressed with the generosity at the University. These writers should cherish their gifts and develop themselves. They should take themselves and their arts and poetry seriously,” Forche said.

LSA sophomore Allison Dougherty was among the Hopwood Award winners. She was recognized for her piece of fiction titled “The Rider.”

Participating in the Hopwood contest serves as encouragement to write and take the trade seriously, Dougherty said.

In December 2004, poets and creative writers submitted their work to local judges. Winners of the competition were selected and notified in the first week of January.

Respected and accomplished local writers judged the competition. After being presented with the written works, judges reviewed the pieces and selected those they preferred most.

English Prof. Richard Tillinghast said he felt the manner in which Hopwood winners were chosen was fair and beneficial to all of the participants.

“Those of us who teach here don’t judge in the contest; this is very strong for the program. People who take our classes don’t get judged on the basis of their personalities. This method ensures objectivity,” Tillinghast said.

The will of Avery Hopwood, a University graduate of the Class of 1905, dedicated one-fifth of his estate to the University Board of Regents for the encouragement of creative work in writing.

The first awards were handed out in 1931. Today, the Hopwood Program offers approximately $100,000 in prizes every year to young aspiring writers at the University.

Since the program’s inception, over 3,000 writers have been recognized, and over $2 million has been awarded.

Another Hopwood contest is held for both graduate and undergraduate writers.

Submissions for this contest are due Feb. 8, and winners will be announced in the second week of April.

According to the Hopwood Program website, awards for the graduate and undergraduate competition are offered in drama/screenplay, essay, novel, short fiction and poetry.

The drama, novel, and screenplay divisions are combined categories in which undergraduate and graduate students compete together. Award amounts for the contest vary, but usually fall in the range of $1,000 to $7,000.

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