College of Liberal Arts Awards Keene Prize for Literature to Michener Center Graduate Student

Mark Hitz, a graduate student in the James A. Michener Center for Writers at The University of Texas at Austin, has won the $50,000 Keene Prize for Literature for his stories "Shadehill" and "The Laws of Motion."

One of the world's largest student literary prizes, the award helps maintain the university's status as a premier location for emerging writers. It also rewards and helps to publicize their works, says Elizabeth Cullingford, professor and chair in the Department of English.

The competition is open to all UT Austin undergraduate and graduate students, and the prize is awarded annually to the student who creates the most vivid and vital portrayal of the American experience in microcosm. Students submit poetry, plays and fiction or nonfiction prose.

An additional $50,000 will be divided among three finalists. The recipients are all graduate students in the James A. Michener Center for Writers.

  • Alen Hamza (poetry, "Twice there Was a Country")
  • Rachel Kondo (fiction, "Beverly")
  • Corey Miller (poetry, "Onyxed Eden")

"The jury found it hard to select the winners from among so many moving, exciting and beautifully written entries, but we were all compelled by Mark's evocation of catastrophic situations disrupting apparently successful families," says Cullingford, who chairs the Keene Prize selection committee.

Established in 2006 in the College of Liberal Arts, the Keene Prize is named after E.L. Keene, a 1942 graduate of the university, who envisioned an award that would enhance and enrich the university's prestige and reputation in the international market of American writers.