Hopler Receives Prestigious Whiting Award

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 30, 2009)  -- He caught the attention of the nation's 12th Poet Laureat Louise Glück with his first book of poetry and his anthology of writing about hit men, The Killing Spirit: An Anthology of Murder-for-Hire, was deemed "a seminal literary anthology and rivieting reading" by The Midwest Book Review. And now one of the most coveted awards for up and coming writers is being taken home by University of South Florida English Professor Jay Hopler. He received one of the ten 2009 Whiting Writers' Awards Oct 28 announced at the 25th anniversity ceremony at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.

The prestigious $50,000 award, given annually since 1985, recognizes ten young writers for their extraordinary talent and promise. The program, which marks its 25th anniversary this year, has awarded more than $6 million to 250 poets, fiction and nonfiction writers, and playwrights. Past recipients include Michael Cunningham, Kim Edwards, Tobias Wolff, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Mary Karr – all winners before they were acclaimed, bestselling authors. 

That noteworthy collection of poems, Green Squall, was chosen by Glück as the winner of the 2005 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award and Hopler has appeared widely in the literary world’s top magazines and journals including The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, and Ploughshares. Next year Yale University Press will bring out his Yale Anthology of Younger American Poets.

“We are extremely proud of our colleague,” said Department of English Chair Hunt Hawkins. “We know his career will continue to bring him great distinction because he truly is a gifted writer and justly deserving of this recognition.”

Hopler teaches creative writing and poetry in the English department where he has taught since 2006. 

How does it feel knowing you're being taught by one of the top writers in the country? English major Jared White is quite impressed. "Jay Hopler is not only a profoundly gifted writer; he has the ability to communicate his craft to his students in ways that are precise, justified, and constructive for them. It is unusual to find such a gift for teaching in such a gifted writer."

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Hopler has earned degrees from New York University, The Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. 

Robert L. Belknap, president of the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, and trustee Kate Douglas Torrey made the presentations. The keynote speaker of the evening was visionary writer Margaret Atwood.

“This group of writers brings delightful surprises and pleasures,” said Barbara Bristol, director of the foundation’s Writers’ Program. “Two transcendent non-fiction writers, one preoccupied with the fascinations of the insect world, and the other with the vibrant life of an ancient Beijing neighborhood; four fearless, dazzling writers of novels and short fiction; three fresh poetic voices; and a provocative, risk-taking playwright.  We warmly welcome them into our now distinguished 25-year roster of Whiting Award recipients and look forward to these writers enriching American letters for many years to come.”

About the Whiting Foundation

The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation was established in 1963 by Flora E. Whiting.  In 1972, her unrestricted bequest of over $10 million enabled the Foundation to establish the Whiting Fellowships in the Humanities for doctoral candidates in their dissertation year.  In the years since, the Foundation has annually awarded grants to Bryn Mawr, University of Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale to fund these Fellowships, the recipients of which are selected by each institution.  The Foundation created the Whiting Writers’ Awards in 1985 under the direction of Gerald Freund, who organized and led the program until his death in 1997.  To learn more about the Whiting Foundation and the selection process for the Whiting Writers’ Awards visit the website at: www.whitingfoundation.org.


Click here to read some of Hopler's poems from his book, Green Squall, (Yale University Press, 2006).



The University of South Florida System is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The system offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. It has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.