Department Chair Andrea Kaston Tange
Department Chair Andrea Kaston Tange raises toast to seniors during the 2019 End of the Year Celebration

by Sophie Hilker ’20

The English Department is proud to announce the following English majors as recipients for our 2020 End of Year awards. 

The Livingston-Patnode Award is an annual award that goes out to a senior who made a special contribution to the English Department during their time at Macalester. This year’s winner is Sophie Hilker. 

Sophie Hilker '20Department Chair Andrea Kaston Tange wrote, “To tell you that Sophie Hilker has worked in the English department office and on The Words is to be factual but not precise about her contributions to the department. As senior editor of The Words, she has brought together great features, kept writers on track, and coordinated the newsletter all year and particularly during this disrupted last few months of school — putting in additional hours to produce a special issue for May of this year in honor of graduating seniors, to help commemorate all of their accomplishments at a time when the in-person ability to do that has been curtailed. She has also been a vibrant member of our office staff, working to help ensure department events run smoothly, new majors get welcomed, and a thousand tasks in support of the work of both faculty and students get done on time. Her energy, good will, and extraordinary editing skills will be missed.”

The Wendy Parish Poetry Award was split amongst senior English majors who exemplify a commitment to poetry and excellence in writing.

This year’s winners are: James Hartzer, who is not only doing great poetic work but also has worked tirelessly organizing the Slam community at Macalester; Dakotta (Koada) Heacock, whose work was described by nominators as particularly “moving;” and Julia Joy, particularly noted for her “powerful honors project.”

Wendy Parish Poetry Prize Winners
From left to right: James Hartzer, Koada Heacock, and Julia Joy

The Harry Scherman Writing Contest for Seniors honors senior English majors with the most outstanding manuscripts in the following categories: literary analysis, creative prose, and poetry. 

This year’s prose winner is Alyssa Franzmeier for her short story Like a Cure You Didn’t Notice Happening. The award judge wrote, “Alyssa’s story is structured like a diary, but the entries appear in reverse chronological order, taking a reader through the process of the speaker’s trying to come to terms with losing a loved one in a car accident. The innovative structure and personal voice draw a reader in both to grief and to the hoping of coping.”

Zoe Berkovitz won in the category of literary analysis for her paper “Time and Modernity in ‘Hunger Artist.’” The award judge wrote, “In clear prose, Zoe uses a historical/theoretical framework to provide fresh insights into Kafka’s canonical short story. The essay is a prime example of what super literary criticism can do: dive deep into language to say something original not only about the text under consideration, and the time in which it was composed, but the world at large, all the way up to the present moment.”

 Xavier Xin won in the category for literary analysis for his paper “‘A Two Story White House’: Spatialized Narratives in Our N**.” The award judge wrote, “Xavier’s superb essay somehow encompasses startlingly original close reading, architecture criticism, and profound insights into marginality. It is clearly the product of a fiercely intelligent and curious mind.”

In the category for poetry, James Hartzer won for Ganymede and the Eagle. The award judge wrote, “James’s poems explore the speaker’s transgender identity, reflect on (the complications of) family, critique the Catholic Church (for its heteronormativity and prejudice), and express solidarity with LGBTQ communities; these poems often frame their inquiry through myth and locate themselves in the agrarian spaces and politics of the Midwest (in particular, Indiana, where the poet was raised).”

Julia Joy won for Red Letter Day. The award judge praised, “Julia’s poems are rich with linguistic energy and often move through a suprising, intransitive attention; through their self-reflexivity and fierce sense of play, these pieces resist voyeurism, while exploring complicated memories of an abusive relationship.”

Albert Lee won for SP溢LL:絲,花,溢. The award judge explained, “Albert’s poems are emotional explorations of the intersections of family relationships, sexuality, and identity, in language alternately delicate and raw, but always powerful.”

The Academy of American Poets College Prize includes an award for the student with the best three poem collection and is judged independently by a representative of the Academy. The Macalester English Department selects two poets annually to represent the school, one winner and one honorable mention.

This year’s honorable mention goes out to Theodore Holt for his poems Precipice, Lantern Walk, and Birthday. The award judge wrote of Holt’s collection: “These poems stand out for the way they deliberately and intricately render the relationship between form and content, for the overall sonorousness of their lines, and for the complexity of their intellectual and emotional stakes.”

This year’s winner is Sophia Schlesinger for her poems End of March (a visit to my grandmother), Iphigenia to Agamemnon, and Archia Polis Lato. The award judge described the collection: “These quiet, tender poems explore family and friendship with memorable details and music.”

The Ardis Hillman Wheeler Prize for International Study, established by friends and family of the class of 1938 alum, who devoted her life to the teaching of English to refugees after WWII and in Minnesota public school classrooms, is awarded to English majors who will study away within the next academic year.

This year’s winners are Marc Mutka, who will study away in South Africa, and Jackson Ullmann, who will study away in Prague. 

As previously announced, the Macalester finalists for this years’ Nick Adams Short Story Contest, hosted by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), are as follows:

Zarra Marlowe for The Story
Bea Chihak for Las Hermanas Grimm
Alyssa Franzmeier for Like a Cure You Didn’t Notice Happening
Ruby Elliott Zuckerman for scott disick sucks

Bea Chihak was awarded the contest’s Honorable Mention;
Ruby Elliott Zuckerman went on to win the contest at the ACM level.
Read more about their exciting wins here!

Congratulations to all the nominees, finalists, and winners! We are so proud of you and extremely grateful for your contributions to the department over the years. To see more about this year’s honorees, click here to view the English Department’s 2020 Awards and Acknowledgments Slideshow Presentation available now through May 25.