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Creative Writing: Watrous Prizes

Kirkland students submitted original works for the annual George A. Watrous Prizes in Creative Writing, one each for poetry, fiction, and criticism. The Watrous Prize, established in 1970 by Esther Watrous Couper in her father’s name, was carried over to Hamilton College after the merger in 1978.

Some Kirkland Watrous Winners Did You Know?….

Prior to the merger, Hamilton students had the option of taking creative writing courses at both Hamilton and Kirkland. After the 1978 merger, Hamilton continued to offer creative writing classes yet also elected to offer students the opportunity for a creative writing major for the first time. Bill Rosenfeld shepherded the inclusion of this major into Hamilton’s English Department.

Barbara Berson
Nancy Avery Dafoe
Susan Hartman, 1972; 1973, poetry,”In the Generation that Laughed at Me” and “After His Death”
Alice Hildebrand
Liz Horwitt
Gwynn O’Gara
Jo Pitkin, 1977, poetry, “The Lakehouse”
Billie Jean Stratton

Read about Kirkland Writing Faculty

Read about Kirkland Authors

Read about “Red Weather”  Kirkland’s Literary Magazine

Jo Pitkin K’78

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2010 5:00 pm

    Now that I see this, I should have tried to find names of works that were awarded the prize, years, etc. Also, I wish I knew what the prize money was back then! I thought I had Sam Babbitt’s letter of congratulation but haven’t found it yet.

    For the record, I won the eighth annual prize in 1977 for a poem entitled “The Lakehouse.” Maybe we can encourage alumnae to fill in the gaps.


    • January 30, 2010 5:23 pm

      That’s exactly the kind of thing this is good for! Ultimately, the comments and additions can be edited in to the main article. — JM

  2. February 1, 2010 4:05 pm

    That’s good. You’ll have to walk me through the process–

    Susie Hartman informed me that she won the poetry prizes in 1972 and 1973. Her winning poems in 1973 were “In the Generation that Laughed At Me” and “After His Death.”

    Maybe we can ask for alumnae help in completing this information.


  3. Isabel Weinger-Nielsen permalink
    February 5, 2010 11:40 pm

    I received the Watrous Prize for fiction in 1976 for “She Might Break”, one of five short stories that comprised my senior project, “Portrait and Self-Portrait”. The story was printed in “Dessert at the Plaza”, volume 2, number 3, Spring 1976. Jo Pitkin was one of the staff members. I received a check for $75 and a letter of congratulations from Tess Gallagher who, along with Michael Burkhard, taught creative writing at Kirkland 1975-76 when Bill Rosenfeld was on sabbatical.

  4. mcintosh301 permalink*
    February 6, 2010 2:44 pm

    Thanks Isabel! I’ll be adding this information soon. Do want to submit any prose for an anthology of Kirkland writings?


  5. Isabel Weinger-Nielsen permalink
    February 6, 2010 3:38 pm

    Yes, I heard about the anthology and think it’s a wonderful idea. I’d like to submit the story that won the Watrous – is that okay? From your description it sounds as if writings from the Kirkland years as well as current work are acceptable.


  6. mcintosh301 permalink*
    February 7, 2010 5:23 pm

    Yes, Isabel, go ahead and submit the Watrous winner to By the way, asking for submissions from our Kirkland years was Susie Hartman’s idea!

  7. February 9, 2010 4:26 pm

    I won the Watrous in l975 for a short story; I think it was called Calliope, but I can’t remember now!

    • mcintosh301 permalink*
      February 9, 2010 5:06 pm

      Kathryn, thanks so much for adding more detail! I promise I’ll be adding all of this information soon. It’s wonderful to have a whole page dedicated to this prize.


  8. Alice Hildebrand permalink
    February 12, 2010 5:35 pm

    I won the Watrous Award for Poetry in 1973, but so far I can’t remember what poem(s) it was for — I see that Susie Hartman says she won in 1973, so maybe the award that year was shared, or maybe one of us has our dates wrong. There must be a record of this somewhere! I think the anthology is a great idea — I have three copies of Wintersetl with poems of mine in them, which I may send — although i don’t like them as well as newer work — some of which i will send. thanks for doing this!

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