/ English Department


We’re honored to offer awards and prizes to our students who show exemplary skills in literature and creative writing.

The Academy of American Poets Prize

College-wide national poetry award for college students. Funded by Dr. Thomas Werge, Hope class of ’63, and 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. Entries are judged by department writing professors; finalist manuscripts are sent to an outside judge, who selects one winning manuscript and one honorable mention. The winning poet is awarded a cash prize, acknowledgement in the Academy’s newsletter and area presses, and the winning poems are forwarded to the Academy of American Poets for publication consideration in their national anthology.

2023 Recipients: Logan Pitsenberger, Finalist for his poem, “Dragon’s Milk”; Adriana Barker, Honorable Mention for her poem, “Unwritten”

The George Birkhoff English Prize

The George Birkhoff English Prize is a cash award designed to promote study of English literature and language. The prize is awarded for an essay on a topic selected by the English department and submitted for this competition. The prize was established in 1888 by George Birkhoff, a benefactor of the college. His original intent had been to support and encourage the study of both English and Dutch literature, so two prizes were awarded for several years: one in the sophomore class in English literature and one in the freshman class in Dutch literature. In 1902, the prize became the dominion of the junior and senior classes. Later, in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s the topic was chosen by the faculty to relate to classroom work done in one of the literature classes open to junior and senior students. Today the prize may be won by any excellent paper on a literary subject. In 1914, the Birkhoff Prize in Dutch was discontinued.

2023 Recipients: Piper Daleidon and Kallen Mohr, 1st prize; AnnaLeah Lacoss, Honorable Mention

Erika Brubaker (Class of 1992) Senior Award for Proficiency in Literature

A cash award in memory of Erika Brubaker and presented to senior English majors who have shown exceptional proficiency in the study of literature.

2023 Recipients: Eileen Ellis, Kallen Mohr and Gabriela Rose

Erika Brubaker (Class of 1992) Awards for Promising Achievements in the Study of Literature

Up to 10 awards in memory of Erika Brubaker and in the form of bookstore certificates for declared English majors or minors who are at least one year from graduation and who have shown exceptional promise in the study of literature. A student will be eligible to receive this award only once.

2023 Recipients: Natalie Glover, Macy Kerr, Noel Vanderbilt, Rebekah Cook

The JOhn D. Cox Award for Shakespeare Studies

 The John D. Cox Award in Shakespeare studies was established in 2016 in honor of John Cox, a Hope alumnus (1967) and a distinguished scholar and teacher in the Hope English Department from 1979 until his retirement in 2015. The Award recognizes Shakespeare and scholarship, both of which were important in Cox’s career.

2023 Recipients:  (no award given this year)

The Clarence DeGraaf English Award

An award to be presented to the senior whose interest and achievement in the field of English, as indicated by academic record, most merits recognition in the judgment of the English department faculty. The award began with 1988 Honors Convocation, and is named in honor of Clarence DeGraaf, long-time chair of the English department at Hope College. The award was established by his daughter and son-in-law Ruth DeGraaf and Lamont Dirkse and his son Daniel DeGraaf.

2023 Recipient: Emily Dykhouse

William B. Eerdmans' Prize

Begun in June 1951, the William B. Eerdmans's prize awards the student judged best in creative writing (poetry) and the student judged best in creative writing (prose) by an outside judge. Prizes were announced by William B. Eerdmans, Sr. at the spring English majors’ banquet; they are now announced at Honors Convocation. The Eerdmans company is under no obligation to publish.

2023 Recipients: Katelynn Paluch for poetry (“My Home”) & Fara Ling for prose (“How to Say”)

Stephen I. Hemenway Award For Promising Achievement in English Teaching

This award in honor of “Doc” Hemenway, who has taught in the Hope College English Department since 1972, will be awarded each year to two senior English majors who show outstanding proficiency in the study of literature and future promise as stellar teachers of English.

2023 Recipients: Brooke Carbaugh, Nancy Gately and Paris Patterson

The Sandrene Schutt Award

The Sandrene Schutt Award for Proficiency in the Study of English Literature was established in 1967 in honor of Sandrene Schutt, English teacher at Grand Haven High School for 37.5 years. A cash award will be presented to the senior who has shown this proficiency in English literature and expresses an intent to enter the teaching profession in this field.

2023 Recipient: Sophie Brown

Barbara Jo Stephenson Writing Prize

This prize, established by Dr. David Schock in memory of his first wife, Barbara Jo Stephenson, is awarded to the author of a paper selected as the best in the first-year writing course, and is given to encourage young writers. The award is a gift certificate to the Hope-Geneva Bookstore.

2023 Recipient: Natalie Schiller for “Finding Comfort through Change” (Prof. Gruenler), and Gabriela Rose for “Words Cut Deeper than Knives: Why Education on Emotional Abuse is Necessary” (Prof. Burton)

Jennifer Young Award in Creative Writing and Literature

This cash award, begun in 2008, and renamed for former faculty member Jennifer Young Tait in 2011, will be presented each year to a senior whose interest and achievement as a creative writer and student of literature most merit recognition in the judgment of the English department faculty.

2023 Recipients: Adriana Barker and Rachel Nelson

The Louis and Mary Jean Lotz Writers’ Conference Prize

The Louis and Mary Jean Lotz Writers’ Conference Prize in Creative Writing is an annual scholarship that pays tuition, room and board for a Hope student to participate in the Bear River Writers’ Conference at Walloon Lake (near Petoskey, Michigan). The five-day conference is usually scheduled for the last days of May through the first days of June (Thursday afternoon through Monday morning). The award was established by Central Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, to honor Rev. Lotz and his wife (Mary Jean) upon his retirement after 13 years in ministry as their pastoral leader. The Bear Lake Writers’ Conference was created about 20 years ago by the University of Michigan Department of English. Each year the conference collects a faculty of distinguished writers who offer workshops in various genres for about a hundred conference participants. The workshops focus on work created and refined at the conference, not revision of previously written work. The workshop leaders assign writing based on the genre and focus of the workshops. In addition to workshops, the conference features craft talks, publishing panels and readings of works by the faculty and participants. Works by participants can be considered for publication in the Bear River Review.

2023 Recipient: Kelsey Sivertson