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Updated 11:00 AM January 9, 2006




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Spotlight: Harboring the Hopwoods

Surrounded by thousands of books and hundreds of top literary journals fanned out in a small room in Angell Hall, you would think Andrea Beauchamp would be inspired to pen her own novel or fictional work.
(Photo by Scott Galvin, U-M Photo Services)

Save for an occasional short story or article, however, Beauchamp is content to read and to manage one of the top creative writing programs in the country. As the program administrator for the University's renowned Hopwood Program, she sees young and talented writers create works that vie for more than $160,000 awarded annually to U-M students.

"I have a great respect for writers because I found it so difficult when I wrote," says Beauchamp, who collects submissions and collaborates with local and national judges to determine the winners. "I feel the world always needs more readers and I'm happy to oblige."

Under the terms of the will of Avery Hopwood, a prominent American dramatist and member of the Class of 1905, one-fifth of his estate was given to the regents for the encouragement of creative work in writing. The first Hopwood Awards were created in 1930-31.

Beauchamp currently manages entries and prizes for the three Hopwood contests and 19 other writing contests.

"It is amazing to me how much the program has grown and how much it has attracted other contests to it," Beauchamp says. "When I first came here, I didn't know much about the Hopwoods, but as I traveled around the country, I was impressed by how many people knew a Hopwood winner."

Traveling is one of Beauchamp's many hobbies, and she has taken on more since surviving breast cancer. She frequently travels to Italy to try out her Italian language lessons. And when she is not taking riding lessons on her horse, Lucca, she hits the dance floor with the University's Tango Club.

As passionate as Beauchamp is about her hobbies, she is equally excited about the job she has held for 26 years. Part of that excitement stems from her preparations for the Hopwood Program's 75th anniversary celebration during the winter semester. In conjunction with the celebration she co-edited an anthology of writing by Hopwood winners that will be released in April.

"I think I have the best job on campus," she says, of her involvement with a program that counts the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller, poet John Ciardi and novelist/poet Marge Piercy among its alumni. "I am touched by how loyal the Hopwood alumni are."

After earning her doctorate in American literature from U-M, Beauchamp became an English instructor at the University. She does not teach anymore; instead, she enjoys working with MFA and creative writing students on campus who come to the Hopwood Room for guidance or just to chat about the latest books, movies, etc.

"I can share in the students' enthusiasm but not have to read their papers and give them a B or C," she says.

"My husband (Adjunct Associate Professor of English Gorman Beauchamp) comes home with blue books to grade, and I say, 'Well, I am going out to the movies,'" she says.

Among its holdings, the Hopwood Room, located at 1176 Angell, features the winning manuscripts of past winners.

"I am very proud to be associated with the Hopwood Program because of the tremendous good it has done," she says. "We have had so many winners go on to publish books and establish literary careers."

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