April 15, 2014

SCA Student Honored with Walt Whitman Award

Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Rae Armantrout selects Hannah Sanghee Park

The USC School of Cinematic Arts is the alma mater of Oscar, Emmy, Webbie, Annie, DICE and countless other award winners. In 2014, the School can add Walt Whitman Award winner to that list. The Academy of American Poets and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rae Armantrout have selected current Writing for Screen & Television MFA candidate Hannah Sanghee Park as the recipient of the 2014 Walt Whitman Award, the Academy’s prestigious first book prize.

“It’s an incredible honor and my wildest dream to have both The Academy of American Poets and Rae Armantrout choose my manuscript for publication. I couldn’t ask for anything better than winning the Walt Whitman Award, and I’m deeply grateful. “ Hannah said, going on to note that “Despite being in a program that specializes in film and television writing, the people here are very supportive of my poetry, and how it translates to my screenwriting.”

Established in 1975, the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award is designed to encourage the work of emerging poets. Previous recipients include poets such as Nicole Cooley, Suji Kwock Kim, Eric Pankey, Matt Rasmussen and Alberto Ríos.

As the winner of the Whitman Award, Park’s manuscript, The Same-Different, will be published by Louisiana State University Press in 2015 and the Academy of American Poets will purchase and distribute thousands of copies of the book to its members. Park will also receive $5,000, a one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center and promotion on Poets.org.

“The poems in The Same-Different, beginning with a set of gnomic sonnets, tell it slant, then slanter,” said Armantrout. “They are so full of chiasmus, pun, and near-rhyme that their figures twist back on themselves like strands of DNA or a staircase by Escher. They are mirror-bright. This book is a literally dazzling debut.”

This is also not Hannah’s first honor, having previously been awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship in 2013, as well as fellowships and grants from the Fulbright Program, the Iowa Arts Council/National Endowment for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony and others. She had previously published a chapbook, Ode Days Ode (The Catenary Press, 2011) and holds an MFA from the esteemed Iowa Writers Workshop.

Still, she looks for new challenges in her work here at USC, saying that “my peers continually amaze me by raising the bar. To see what they do in different modes spurs me to try and be a better writer in any genre.