Final Thoughts After Watching the Sophie Kerr Ceremony

Posted on 18 May 2011

Okay, THIS will be my final Sophie Kerr post. I swear. If you’re all Sophied out, please check back Thursday morning for a post that is 100% unrelated to this prize. Promise.

So I managed to tune into part of the Sophie Kerr ceremony webcast. Here are my thoughts:

For much of the ceremony, I was thinking that maybe this is a better idea. The college truly highlighted five writers, not just one, and it did feel like a celebration of all of them. That, combined with the fact that they each read a short excerpt of their work, seemed to make the experience more valuable. I also loved hearing the tidbits about Sophie Kerr, and Professor Mooney’s lovely introduction, and Colum McCann’s words about the finalists. The readings were a long overdue addition, and in this case they revealed a talented group of finalists. So, I thought, maybe I was wrong to feel a little uncertain about this change.

But then the winner was announced and it felt….anti-climactic. That’s nothing against the winner herself (congratulations, Lisa Jones!), just that it was strange to see the Sophie Kerr winner announced to polite applause in a rather subdued setting (at least, that’s how it appeared on my computer). At graduation, people jump up and cheer and yell and maybe even debate. It just has a lot more energy.

I also thought it seemed painful to have the finalists grouped together like that when the winner is announced. The other finalists knew they were being watched on camera as they had to react to the surely disappointing news that they didn’t win. They all handled themselves wonderfully, but it’s still a little hard.

Can I also say that I am forever thankful I didn’t have to give a speech right after winning? (Oh god, I didn’t give a speech onstage after I won, did I? I told you, that day was a blur.) Lisa did absolutely great, though, so good for her. Also, she rocked that orange nail polish.

While I was happy from the start that more writers are recognized and that no one’s leaving graduation feeling crushed, this change might bring even more disappointment than the previous arrangement. To get dressed up and prepare your reading and travel to New York for a ceremony surely gets your hopes up, only to have them fall harder when you don’t win. But I guess it has to work both ways: If writers can handle the disappointment at graduation, then they can handle it at this award ceremony, too.

I did find it interesting when the camera pulled back at the end and we could briefly see some of the audience members. A few of them didn’t exactly look thrilled, so I wonder if they were the parents of the other finalists. That kind of bummed me out.

One of the last things I heard on the webcast was a woman saying something to the effect of, “This was such a good idea to do it this way.” I guess most people seem to be on board with the NYC thing. Well. I suppose we can’t all be old cranks resistant to change. I’m one step away from saying “Back in my day” and it was only 8 years ago. Also, with this marking my third Sophie Kerr post in as many days, I’m starting to feel like that creepy guy who keeps returning to high school games years after he graduated. Lame.

So I’ll sign off by offering my congratulations one last time to all the finalists. At the end of the ceremony, when Professor Moncrief said that everyone was going upstairs to celebrate, I hope that finally meant the bar. After all, there’s only one Sophie Kerr Prize, but there’s enough alcohol to go around. Am I right?


5 responses to Final Thoughts After Watching the Sophie Kerr Ceremony

  • Lyra says:

    “…that creepy guy…”

    Priceless image. Ha!

  • Deb says:

    Hey, what is life without its little obsessions? I love when I feel the passion to stalk subjects.

  • Oh man. “Obsession” and “stalk” weren’t really words that came to my mind while writing those posts, but they have been duly noted. :)

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