The George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts & Letters

America and The Saint Thomas More Chapel at Yale University, seeking to recognize the finest literary work of Roman Catholic intelligence and imagination, sponsor the George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize, a $25,000 award that will consider works in a variety of genres, including journalism, fiction, poetry, drama, music, memoir, biography, history, art criticism and academic scholarship from around the world.


THE MISSION OF THE GEORGE W. HUNT, S.J., PRIZE

The George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts & Letters is awarded annually by the trustees of America and The Saint Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale University. The mission of the Hunt Prize is five-fold:

  • To promote scholarship, the advancement of learning and the rigor of thoughtful, religious expression;
  • To support and promote a new generation of journalists, authors and scholars;
  • To memorialize the life and work of George W. Hunt, S.J.;
  • To forge a lasting partnership between America and the Saint Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale University, two places that were central to Father George Hunt’s life and work;
  • To support the intellectual formation, artistic innovation and civic involvement of young writers.

This year’s George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts & Letters, will be awarded for:

JOURNALISM

Journalists are defined as those who generate regular written content for popular audiences and mass distribution (e.g., newspaper/magazine columnists and reporters; contributing editors/writers; editors, op-ed writers and bloggers, etc.), in one or more topical areas, including religion, the arts, sports, politics, economics and national/international public affairs. Nominees may work in one or more of the journalistic subfields, including traditional news reporting, opinion journalism or advocacy journalism. Eligible nominees must devote 50 percent or more of their professional hours to their work as journalists, primarily in print and/or written digital formats. Full-time broadcast journalists are not eligible.


THE LIFE OF GEORGE W. HUNT, S.J. (1937-2011)

George W. Hunt, S.J., served as the eleventh editor in chief of America, the national Catholic review published by the Jesuits of the United States. A native of Yonkers, New York, Father Hunt entered the Society of Jesus in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1967. He earned a theology degree from Yale Divinity School in 1970, later remarking that his decision to study Kierkegaard with Yale Professor Paul Holmer was “the best and most fruitful decision in my entire academic life,” for it set the stage for a life-long study of the literary arts. After completing a Ph.D. in literature at Syracuse University, Father Hunt joined the staff of America in 1981 as the review’s literary editor, a position, he said, that provided “the ideal situation to read more widely and deeply.” Father Hunt’s voracious appetite for the written word—he would often read three books in a single week—afforded him a deeply sophisticated knowledge of a broad range of literary and cultural topics. “Over the years,” his longtime friend Fay Vincent wrote in 2011, “George demonstrated to me that he knew more than just about anyone alive about football and baseball, jazz, the movies, modern fiction—especially Cheever and Updike—the Civil War, political history, Winston Churchill, Irish history, Tammany Hall and Mayor Tweed, military history—especially World War II—and the list could go on and on.”  In 1983, Father Hunt took a leave of absence from America to become a visiting lecturer at Georgetown University. During his time at Georgetown, he came to appreciate “the work of America all the more, in that a writer had contact with 50,000 people per week, a number impossible to duplicate after a lifetime in the classroom.” Accordingly, Father Hunt soon returned to his duties as literary editor.

In 1984, he was named editor in chief. Father Hunt’s editorial style was, in his own words, both “welcoming and honest; its sensibility sympathetic; its viewpoint optimistic.” Under Father Hunt’s leadership America prospered and soon regained its position as the leading Catholic journal of opinion in the United States. In 1987, Father Hunt was among sixteen Catholic journalists invited to attend Pope John Paul II’s meeting in September 1987  with leaders of the entertainment and communication industry in Los Angeles. He was nominated for the St. Francis de Sales Award, the Catholic Press Association’s highest honor, in 1999. In addition to his hundreds of columns and reviews in America, as well as dozens of lectures and scholarly articles, Father Hunt was the author of book-length works of biography and literary criticism, including: John Cheever: The Hobgoblin Company of Love and John Updike and the Three Great Secret Things: Sex, Religion, and Art. Jesuit author James Martin has remarked that Cheever, Updike and Hunt shared “something in common, in terms of their writing styles: clear sentences and a masterful command of English grammar and vocabulary. Graceful. Elegant. Measured.” George Hunt, S.J. retired as editor in chief in 1998, at the conclusion of the magazine’s most successful year to-date. He remains the longest serving editor in chief in America’s history.  Later that year, Father Hunt was named director of the Archbishop Hughes Institute for Religion and Culture at Fordham University, where he dedicated himself to “exploring the relationships between religion and other aspects of contemporary life.” George W. Hunt, S.J., Jesuit priest, author and friend, died in 2011 at the age of 74.

In the final pages of his unpublished memoir, Father Hunt offered a modest account of his own faith: “During confessions,” he wrote, “I would recommend that the penitent read very slowly and prayerfully some verses from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Weeks later, on that penitent’s return, I would learn that the suggestion worked, in fact worked beyond mere reassurance, another instance of how the Word continues to enflesh itself: ‘For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, not any created thing, can come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus Our Lord.’”


Criteria

The George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize is awarded annually to a single individual in recognition of his or her literary work. The recipient’s work should demonstrate those literary qualities that Father Hunt valued most: rigororder and discipline of thought, as well as honestysympathy and optimism. The recipient’s creativity, style, prose and analysis should also demonstrate originalityintelligenceimaginationelegance and the promise of further achievement. The quality of the works is more important than the quantity of works published.

The Hunt Prize is awarded in one of four professional fields annually according to a four-year rotation. It 2016, for example, the Hunt Prize will be awarded to a Journalist. Other fields will be recognized in succeeding years.

  • 2016: Journalist
  • 2017: Fiction Writer or Dramatist
  • 2018: Cultural or Historical Critic
  • 2019: Poet
  • 2020: Journalist

2016 Hunt Prize

In 2016, The Hunt Prize will be awarded to a journalist. Journalists are defined as those who generate regular written content for popular audiences and mass distribution (e.g., newspaper/magazine columnists and reporters; contributing editors/writers; editors, op-ed writers and bloggers, etc.), in one or more topical areas, including religion, the arts, sports, politics, economics and national/international public affairs. Nominees may work in one or more of the journalistic subfields, including traditional news reporting, opinion journalism or advocacy journalism. Eligible nominees must devote 50 percent or more of their professional hours to their work as journalists, primarily in print and/or written digital formats. Full-time broadcast journalists are not eligible.

The selection committee will consider only English-language works of which the nominee is the sole or principal author. The selection committee will not consider self-published works in any medium. Books that have been published only in digital format will not be considered. Other works that have appeared only online or in digital format, including blogs, may be considered if they were published by a reputable third party and subjected to a professional editorial process independent of the author.

Eligibility

Recipients of the George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize must fulfill the following additional criteria:

  • He or she must be 22 years of age on the day of nomination and no older than 49 years of age by December 31, 2016.
  • He or she should be familiar with the Roman Catholic tradition and should have some appreciation for the intersection of faith and journalism and/or the literary arts.
  • He or she should be a person of sound moral character and reputation and must not have published works that are manifestly atheistic or morally offensive.
  • A person may be nominated more than once, if otherwise eligible.
  • A previous recipient is ineligible.
Nominations

Nominations will open on George W. Hunt’s birthday, January 22. Nominations will close on March 31. Nominations will be submitted electronically at huntprize.org. Complete nominations will be acknowledged by electronic receipt. Self-nominations are not permitted, though nominees may be informed or consulted by the nominators. A complete nomination includes:

  • The nomination questionnaire and information form, including the name and contact information for the nominee and the name and contact information of the nominators.
  • A copy of a government-issued document that shows the age of the nominee.
  • A biography of the nominee (no more than 1,500 words).
  • The nominee’s curriculum vitae, including places of employment and a list of all published works. Nominees who publish on a daily, weekly or monthly basis may provide a partial list of works from among that regular output.
  • One copy of the nominee’s best piece of published writing of fewer than 10,000 words.
  • Two third-party nomination statements (no more than 1,500 words), which address the nominee’s eligibility according to the established criteria. The authors of the nomination statements must be professional writers who are familiar with the nominee’s body of work.
Award and Ceremony

The George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize has three principal components:

 

  1. Monetary Award: A gift of $25,000, paid to the individual recipient.
  1. Ceremony: The recipient will formally receive the Prize at a ceremony and a dinner or reception given in his or her honor and hosted by the trustees of America and the Saint Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale University.
  1. Lecture and Publication: The program for the ceremony and dinner or reception will include a lecture by the recipient, which will be open to the public. The recipient will choose a lecture topic that is directly related to his or her primary works. The lecture should espouse the virtues of journalism, history, scholarship, cultural criticism and/or the literary arts and should incorporate the recipient’s faith perspective. America will publish the lecture as a cover story within three months of its delivery.

To apply or nominate someone for the George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts & Letters, please click here (this link will be activated on January 22).


ABOUT OUR WINNERS

Dr. Philip J. Metres III (2015): a professor of English at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. A poet and essayist, his writing – which has appeared widely, including in Best American Poetry – has been called “beautiful, powerful, magnetically original.” Lawrence Joseph, professor at Saint John’s University, has written that “Philip Metres’s poetry speaks to us all, in ways critical, vital, profound, and brilliant.” His poems have been translated into Arabic, Polish, Russian and Tamil. Dr. Metres graduated from Holy Cross College in 1992, and spent the following year in Russia on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, pursuing an independent project called “Contemporary Russian Poetry and Its Response to Historical Change.” Since receiving a Ph.D. in English and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Indiana University in 2001, Metres has written a number of books, including Sand Opera (2015), A Concordance of Leaves (2013), abu ghraib arias (2011), Ode to Oil (2011), To See the Earth  (Cleveland State 2008), Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941 (University of Iowa Press, 2007), Instants (a chapbook, Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006), Primer for Non-Native Speakers (a chapbook, Kent State 2004), Catalogue of Comedic Novelties: Selected Poems of Lev Rubinstein (Ugly Duckling 2004) and A Kindred Orphanhood: Selected Poems of Sergey Gandlevsky (Zephyr 2003).

America Media is a smart, Catholic take on faith and culture, the leading provider of editorial content for thinking Catholics and those who want to know what Catholics are thinking. America Media leads the conversation about faith and culture by producing excellent, unique, relevant and accessible content across multiple platforms. Our contributors are the principal figures in the American Catholic Church today, the decision-makers and opinion leaders who drive the ecclesiastical and civic debate about religion, society, politics and the arts. Our flagship weekly magazine, America, has been published continuously since 1909, making it one of the oldest periodicals in the United States. Today, America Media operates across six branded platforms: America, our flagship weekly magazine; America Digital, our award-winning website and mobile platforms; America Press, our print and e-book publishing program; America Person-to-Person, our program of dynamic events; America Radio, including our weekly radio show on Sirius XM and the America NewsBrief; and America Films, our in-house documentary video production unit.

Saint Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale University serves the Catholic community at Yale by creating a vibrant and welcoming community through worship and service; cultivating informed faith and spirituality; engaging in reflective discourse on faith and culture; advancing the Church’s mission of promoting social justice; and participating in the global Church’s life and witness.

Hunt Prize Contact Form

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