Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer Paul Harding, author of the 2009 novel Tinkers, read from his work while at Rensselaer on April 12 during the annual McKinney Writing Contest awards ceremony.

The annual contest and ceremony is co-sponsored by the Rensselaer Department of Communication and Media and the New York State Writers Institute. The contest honors student work in several categories: fiction/drama, poetry, essay, and electronic media. First, second, and third prizes are awarded to outstanding submissions in both graduate and undergraduate divisions. In addition to presenting these awards, Harding responded to questions from the audience.

The McKinney Writing Contest was established in 1941 by Samuel McKinney, who graduated from Rensselaer in 1884, in memory of his wife, Mary Earl McKinney. The contest is designed to encourage communication skills among Rensselaer students and promote the liberal arts.

In addition to the McKinney Fund, the contest receives support from the Rensselaer Vollmer Fries Lecture Fund; School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Rensselaer Union; Friends of the Folsom Library; Department of Communication and Media; the New York State Writers Institute; and the literary organization Poets & Writers.

Harding is an American writer and musician, the author of Tinkers (2009), which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2010 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, among other honors, and most recently, Enon: A Novel (2014), along with numerous short stories. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he was a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Grinnell College. Harding was also the drummer in the band Cold Water Flat throughout its existence from 1990 to 1996.

“The McKinney Writing Contest has nurtured and supported the creativity of Rensselaer students for more than 75 years,” said Merrill Whitburn, chair of the McKinney Committee
and the Louis Ellsworth Laflin Professor of English. “By participating in the contest, students have worked to improve their writing, learned about creativity, enjoyed the pleasures of self-expression, and acquired capabilities that have served them well after graduation.”

To see all the student winners, go to: https://library.rpi.edu/news/04/17/2018/2018-mckinney-writing-contest-awards