CHESTERTOWN, Md. — Washington College has announced that Maria Noelle Queen, daughter of Roy W. Queen of Hagerstown, is one of five finalists for the Sophie Kerr Prize, the largest undergraduate literary prize in the nation, this year valued at more than $58,000.
Queen is a humanities major and creative writing minor.
A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she submitted 18 pages of poetry to the Sophie Kerr Committee, much of it focused on the relationship between a daughter and her parents.
“Her poetry is at times very funny and at times very sad, and it manages to be both extremely personal and yet objective about how she sees herself in the world," one committee member said.
“She has a well defined voice for a young writer and manages that difficult balance between subjective and objective very well.”
An avid gamer, Queen hopes to work as a writer for a video game production company such as Bethesda or Bioware, developing plot, characters and dialogue.
Queen and the other four finalists, all graduating seniors who submitted portfolios of their writing to be judged, will travel to New York City for a program and reception Tuesday.
There, in a private club in midtown Manhattan, they will read selections from their portfolios and then hold their breath as internationally renowned novelist Colum McCann announces the winner.
In holding the announcement ceremony in New York, the college acknowledges the importance of the city as the literary capital of the world and the personal journey of prize benefactor Sophie Kerr.
A native of Denton, Md., Kerr moved to New York as a young woman and built a successful 40-year career as a national magazine editor and writer.
Her town house on East 38th Street became a literary salon for her friends in journalism and the arts.
At her death, she bequeathed much of her estate to Washington College, with the stipulation that half its income would be awarded annually to the senior showing “the most ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor.”