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Updated 3:00 PM May 2, 2005




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Hopwood Awards honor top writers

Jesmyn Ward is getting her U-M master of fine arts degree in creative writing exactly 100 years after playwright Avery Hopwood graduated, with the two now tied at opposite ends of a long, growing line of famous writers.
A portrait of Avery Hopwood by Florine Stettheimer/Courtesy Hopwood Program

The Mississippi native won five 2005 Hopwood awards totaling $16,900 for taking top honors in the drama, novel and graduate essay categories and two other Hopwood-administered prizes: the John Wagner Prize and the Geoffrey James Gosling Prize.

She was one of 34 winners at the 2005 Graduate and Undergraduate Hopwood Awards Ceremony to share more than $114,500 in prizes. They join a long line of highly regarded U-M graduates that includes Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller, poet John Ciardi and novelist/poet Marge Piercy.

Ward said she came to Michigan's nationally acclaimed writing program from Stanford University because of the collegial way it brings together top writers as students and faculty, all helping each other get better: "You get time to concentrate on your work and don't feel you have to compete with other people.''

The Avery and Jule Hopwood Awards in Creative Writing are among the nation's oldest contests for student writers. They are supported by a bequest from Avery Hopwood, a 1905 U-M graduate who was the most commercially successful Broadway playwright of the 1920s, and Jule Hopwood, his mother.

This year's Hopwood lecturer was another famous writer and U-M graduate, Susan Orlean, author of "The Orchid Thief." Meryl Streep portrayed Orlean in the subsequent film "Adaptation." Orlean told winners writing is exhilarating and fascinating "but can be terribly lonely because the big conversation of writing finally comes down to just a very quiet moment alone Then the next story follows and the journey begins again. What we write is what's left behind.''

Ann Arbor award winners include: Robyn Anspach, Hopwood Graduate Essay Award, $3,000; Natalie Bakopoulos, Hopwood Novel Award, $2,500; Derek Lee: Hopwood Drama Award, $4,000, and Hopwood Graduate Short Fiction Award, $5,000; and Hannah Holtzman, Hopwood Undergraduate Short Fiction Award, $4,000, and The Stanley S. Schwartz Prize, $500.

Other winners who hail from Michigan are listed alphabetically by hometown:

Megan Jacobs, Bloomfield Hills, the Arthur Miller Award of the University of Michigan Club of New York Scholarship Fund, $2,000; Ellen Yang, Canton, Hopwood Undergraduate Poetry Award, $3,500; Tim Tebeau, Charlevoix, Hopwood Graduate Poetry Award, $2,000; Tom Wisniewski, Clarkston, Hopwood Undergraduate Short Fiction Award, $6,000, Robert F. Haugh Prize, $2,100, Hopwood Undergraduate Poetry Award, $4,000, and the Paul and Sonia Handleman Poetry Award, $2,200; Victor Walbridge, Commerce Twp., Hopwood Drama Award, $2,000; Graham Mason, Comstock Park, Hopwood Screenplay Award, $2,500; Phononzell Williams, Detroit, The Kasdan Scholarship in Creative Writing, $5,300; Alison Brown, DeWitt, the Meader Family Award, $1,250; Erin Podolsky, Huntington Woods, the Kasdan Scholarship in Creative Writing, $5,000; Andrew Kula, Kentwood, Hopwood Screenplay Award, $3,000; Rachel Chapman, Sylvan Lake, the Dennis McIntyre Prize for Distinction in Undergraduate Playwriting, $2,500; Joanna Ruth Bock, West Bloomfield, Hopwood Graduate Poetry, $2,000; Nik Frank-Lehrer, Williamsburg, Hopwood Screenplay Award, $2,500, and Hopwood Undergraduate Short Fiction Award, $3,500; and Erin Aileen Morris, Ypsilanti, Hopwood Undergraduate Poetry Award, $4,000.

Honorees from outside of Michigan include:

Derek Mong, Brecksville, Ohio, Hopwood Graduate Poetry Award, $6,000, and the Helen S. and John Wagner Prize, $700; Dargie Anderson, Cincinnati, Ohio, Theodore Roethke Prize for the Long Poem or Poetic Sequence, $5,000; David Koll, Bethesda, Md., the Leonard and Eileen Newman Prize in Dramatic Writing, $1,000; Elizabeth Ames Staudt, Delavan, Wis., Hopwood Graduate Short Fiction Award, $7,000, and the Andres Beauchamp Prize, $700; Z. N. Lupetin, Evanston, Ill., Hopwood Drama Award, $3,500, Naomi Saferstein Literary Award, $1,000, and the Dennis McIntyre Prize for Distinction in Undergraduate Playwriting, $2,500; Ashley David, Gainsville, Ga., the Meader Family Award, $1,250; Margaret Reges, Gilbert, Conn., Hopwood Undergraduate Poetry, $3,500; Devin Browne, La Canada, Calif., Hopwood Undergraduate Essay Award, $6,000; Jenni Lapidus, New York City, the Chamberlain Award for Creative Writing, $2,500; Peter Zaragoza Mayshle, Manila, Philippines, Hopwood Screenplay Award, $2,500; Brian Spitulnki, Rockville, Md., Hopwood Undergraduate Essay Award, $6,000; Jennifer Metsker, Sacramento, Calif., Hopwood Graduate Essay Award, $2,000; Britta Ameel, Salt Lake City, Utah, the Meader Family Award, $2,000; Vanessa Mae-Chern Heng, Singapore, the Leonard and Eileen Newman Writing Prize in Fiction, $1,000; and Josh Lambert, Toronto, Ontario, Hopwood Novel Award, $4,000.

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