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Updated 2:30 PM April 12, 2006
 

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Baxter returns to honor generations of writers

Author and creative writing Professor Charles Baxter will deliver the Hopwood Lecture at the Hopwood Graduate and Undergraduate Awards Ceremony 3:30 p.m. April 21 in Rackham Auditorium.
(Photo courtesy Charles Baxter)

The lecture is part of a series of events celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Avery Hopwood and Jule Hopwood Awards, in recognition of the bequest and its legacy. All events are open to the public.

Baxter, whose work was dubbed "intelligent, original, gracefully written, always moving, frequently funny and—the rarest of compliments—wise" in the New York Times book review, was a member of the English Department faculty for 13 years and previously taught at Wayne State University.

He is author of four novels, four collections of short stories, three collections of poems, a collection of essays on fiction, and is the editor of other books. His most recent novel is "Saul and Patsy" (Pantheon 2003). Baxter also recently has published "Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction."

The celebration also will include the release by the University of Michigan Press of a compendium of works by Hopwood Award-winning writers of note, "The Hopwood Awards: 75 Years of Prized Writing," edited by Nicholas Delbanco, Andrea Beauchamp and Michael Barrett, with an introduction by Delbanco.

Photos of Hopwood writers and copies of their works will be displayed in the windows of the Shaman Drum Bookshop, and books by past Hopwood Award-winning authors included in the anthology will be available for signing by their authors.

Avery Hopwood, a 1905 U-M graduate who was considered the "Neal Simon of the 1920s," started the program with a donation to his alma matter. To date, the annual competitions, among the nation's oldest and largest programs, have awarded 3,039 prizes totaling more than $2.1 million. Many winners refer to their Hopwood prize as the first public validation of their writing talent, the tangible achievement they needed to pursue their work seriously.

Seventy years ago, then-aspiring playwright Arthur Miller won a $250 Hopwood. Other Hopwood winners who went on to become part of a who's who of writers include Max Apple, John Ciardi, Mary Gaitskill, Robert Hayden, Laura Kasischke, Jane Kenyon, Howard Moss, Frank O'Hara, Marge Piercy, Ronald Wallace and Nancy Willard.

One of the most recent winners, Elizabeth Kostova, who won two Hopwoods (2003 and 2004), still is riding high on the best-seller list for her debut novel, "The Historian." Kostova joined the celebration by conducting a reading at the Rackham Amphitheatre. She is one of many winners who have returned to campus for the celebrations.

The events are sponsored by the School of Music, Department of English, Office of the Vice President for Communications and the Special Collections Library.

For more on the anniversary events, visit www.vpcomm.umich.edu/hopwood.

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