North Texas Daily

Dentonite donates money for long-term English scholarship

Dentonite donates money for long-term English scholarship

March 20
23:05 2013

Michael Wood



With its nationally distributed American Literary Review journal and the recently awarded $10,000 Rilke poetry prize, the UNT creative writing program is working toward establishing national attention. Their latest accomplishment is the founding of the Voertman Prize, which rewards excellent writing from a graduate student.

Denton philanthropist Paul Voertman coordinated the award through the prestigious Academy of American Poets. Submissions closed March 8, and about 15 graduate students will compete for the $200 cash prize.

“The Academy of American Poets is well known, respected and will lend prestige to this award,” said Corey Marks, creative writing director and Voertman Prize coordinator.

Marks said founding an award through the Academy has interested UNT for a long time. Like many academic rewards, the cash prize is trivial compared to the significant weight of the achievement itself, he said.

“Mr. Voertman’s donation made this possible, and we are very happy we are finally able to establish this prize,” said David Holdeman, English department chair and fundraising coordinator.

Holdeman said Voertman donated $5,000 to the English department, which was then used to set up the award in his name with the Academy of American Poets. The entire amount is invested with the Academy who will oversee and disperse the $200 prize annually for the next 25 years.

“This will help the UNT creative writing program gain national recognition and more importantly, help creative writing students,” Holdeman said.

In addition to securing funding and the necessary paperwork, arranging the prize with the Academy required UNT to select a suitable judge who would declare a winner. This year’s judge will be 2013 Rilke Prize winner, Paisley Rekdal.

Rekdal said she would be spontaneous in her judging, preferring to let the work strike her instead of using pre-conceived criteria.

“I like to be surprised,” Rekdal said. “And I like to see the variety of work people can produce.”

Marks was pleased that some of the submissions were sent by graduate students outside of the English department, and noted the prize simply wishes to celebrate terrific writing, wherever it may come from.

Marks explained creative writing matters tremendously, helping people to understand themselves and their surroundings.

“It pushes, challenges and changes,” Marks said. “People hunger for that gift of understanding.”

The winner will be announced at 8 p.m. on April 9 at the Golden Eagle Suite in the Union.

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