Katy Lee '17 Receives Fourth Annual Axinn Foundation/Anna Quindlen Award for Creative Writing

literature & poetry

Katy Lee ’17 was awarded the fourth annual Axinn Foundation/Anna Quindlen Award for Creative Writing. The prize is awarded annually to a graduating senior, who receives $25,000 to support her creative writing. It is given by the Joan F. and Donald E. Axinn Foundation in recognition of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen ’74, her outstanding contribution to American life and letters, and her sustained support for the education and development of young people. The Axinn Award was presented by Interim President Rob Goldberg, Provost Linda Bell, and Millicent C. McIntosh Professor in English and Writing Mary Gordon at a reception on campus on April 5.


The Boston-born Lee, who grew up in a small town in Northern California, is an English major with a concentration in creative writing. Her influences in fiction and poetry are Isaac Babel, Elizabeth Bishop, John Keats, Bernard Malamud, Lorrie Moore, Tilly Olsen, Grace Paley, and Katherine Anne Porter. This semester, she is writing her thesis on Isaac Babel and several of his contemporary Russian literary theorists. After graduation she plans to go to nursing school and continue to write short stories. Her work has appeared in Narrative Magazine as “Story of the Week” and in the Whitefish Review.

“There is a line from a Philip Larkin poem titled ‘And the Wave Sings Because it is Moving’ that reads, ‘Laments, years, wreaths, rocks all ridden down/ by the shout of the heart continually at work/to break with beating all our false devises.’ When I write I always go for that ‘shout of the heart,’” says Lee. “I aim for it in the style and rhythm of a sentence or sound of word, but more broadly, I require it to force myself to write every day. I write for two to three hours a day. After those hours, I often scrap everything but a few sentences, so clearly I need all the time I can get. The Quindlen/Axinn grant will allow me to keep that chunk of time; not much is more important to me than that.”

Award committee included professors Jennifer Finney Boylan, Yvette Christiansë, Lisa Gordis, Mary Gordon, Saskia Hamilton, Alexandra Horowitz, Timea Szell, and Margaret Vandenburg. Lee wants to especially thank professors and mentors Rick Bass, Mary Gordon, and Saskia Hamilton “for taking her seriously.”

Information about previous winners
Lillian R. Fishman ’16
Sauleh Kamal ’15
Carmen Ren ’14

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