Since those halcyon days of deep-pocketed patrons are long gone, struggling writers typically have to make do with the occasional grant or free lit mag subscriptions. But for the lucky few – three so far – there's the pinch-me-I'm-dreaming Keene Prize for Literature
, a not-uncontroversial $50,000 jackpot delivered annually to one University of Texas student or recent graduate.
(In its two previous years of existence, the award amounted to $90,000, the world's largest student prize; this year, the top dog gets $50,000, while another $50,000 is divided between three finalists.)
The 2008 Keene Prize for Literature
goes to playwright George Brant
, who was previously a finalist in 2006 and is a recent graduate of UT's Michener Center for Writers
. In fact, all of this year's finalists are either current Michener students or recent grads, and all the Keene Prize winners since its inception in 2006 have been culled from the Michener Center ranks.
I got nothing but love for the Michener Center (MCW '06, holla), but I do understand others' frustration at the mighty Michener's absolute dominance – one expressed by Seth Harp
, a former economics major and the lone undergraduate finalist in 2006, in an impassioned 2007 Op-Ed in The Daily Texan
titled "Give non-Michener writers a chance"
"If an undergraduate ever wins, I vow to read James A. Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific" aloud, in its entirety, from the top of the Tower, clad only in this editorial."
See ya next year, maybe?
Full press release after the break: Read More | Comment »