posted April 16, 2002

Inaugural Poetry Prize Recipient Named

Katie Bode-Lang, a senior from Holland, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize at Hope College.

Elizabeth Lomasney, a senior from Lockport, Ill., received honorable mention. This year's final outside judge for Hope College was eminent poet Edward Hirsch.

The Academy of American Poets Prize is a national poetry award for college students. In its nearly 50-year history, The Academy of American Poets has awarded more than $350,000 to nearly 10,000 student poets. The 2001-02 academic year is the inaugural year for the award at Hope College.

Many of America's most esteemed poets won their first national recognition through an Academy College Prize, including Diane Ackerman, Toi Derricotte, Mark Doty, Alice Fulton, Tess Gallagher, Louise Glück, Jorie Graham, Joy Harjo, Robert Hass, Li-Young Lee, Heather McHugh, Robert Pinsky, Sylvia Plath, Mark Strand and Charles Wright, among others.

The Academy of American Poets Prize is a college- wide award, and an open competition. Submissions were open to any student registered for classes at Hope full-time, from any major or discipline, about any topic, and in any poetic form. All manuscripts were anonymously submitted. There were 35 entrants this year.

Bode-Lang is a senior English and women's studies major and creative writing minor, as the winner of the prize. She currently works for the Michigan Women's Foundation in Grand Rapids, and plans to continue working in the non-profit arena after graduation. She would like to pursue an MFA in creative writing in the future, but will take a few years off before heading back to school. "Writing has always been a reference point in my life," she said. "Not just as an outlet or a gauge of emotions, but as a centering point. Whether working or studying, I always come back to writing in one way or another."

She is a 1998 graduate of Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids. She is the daughter of Bruce and Flossie Bode of Grand Rapids. Her husband, Andrew, a poet and an MFA student, is a 1999 Hope graduate.

Lomasney is majoring in English with an emphasis in writing. Next year she will be attending Purdue University in West Lafayette, where she will be a student in the MFA/poetry program as well as a teaching assistant. In the future, she would like to keep writing, earn her doctorate and hopefully teach college-level English. "I write to make sense out of things," she said, "to re-live moments, to gain some intimacy with the people and places around me and within me. The sheer process... is a very happy and welcoming place to be."

She is a 1998 graduate of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Ill. She is the daughter of Kenneth and Catherine Lomasney of Lockport.

Hirsch is a national best-selling author of nine books of poetry and criticism and a professor in the creative writing program at the University of Houston. His major awards include a MacArthur Fellowship "genius grant," the Rome Prize, the Lyndhurst Prize, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Texas Institute of Letters Award in Poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, the Academy of American Poets' Peter I.B. Lavan Younger Poets Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, among others. He is a graduate of Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania.

The award has been funded by Dr. Thomas Werge, a 1963 Hope graduate who is a professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, to encourage excellent student writing and secure permanent membership for Hope College in the University and College Poetry Prize program of the Academy of American Poets.