It gives me great pleasure to announce the winners of the Elmer Adler Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize. The $2,000 first prize goes to Laura Fitzpatrick, Class of 2008, for her essay, “‘Love goes towards love’: Collecting Romeo and Juliet,” in which she explores used copies of Shakespeare’s play and the marginal notes left by other readers. “My books are a key,” she writes, “to understanding the passion that brings readers like myself coming back for more.”
In a tie for second place, both Caroline Hayley Crowell, Class of 2008, and Ian Segal, Class of 2008, will receive a $1,500 prize. Crowell’s essay, “New Orleans on My Mind: Books of the Big Easy,” focuses on her native New Orleans and the books that “help keep alive for me a city that is struggling to rebuild itself.” Each time she opens one of these volumes, she listens to hear the rhythm, the cadence and the accent of her home.
In “Irish Poetry and Its Contemporary Context,” Segal makes a case for examining Irish poetry “against the hurdling innovations and destructions of our contemporary era.” In this way, he begs to allow a curatorial gesture in which international writing finds itself reconsidering its own postcolonial contexts.
The Friends awarded the $1,000 third prize to Efe Murat Balikcioglu, Class of 2010, for his essay, “Major Poets of Czech and Polish Literature,” in which he grapples with verse written in languages he has not mastered. “To understand a poem does not mean to understand solely the language itself,” argues Mr. Balikcioglu. “There is a transcendental moment in which the reader’s feelings coincide with what the poem tries to convey.”
Each winner received a certificate from the Dean of the College and a new book chosen specifically for her/his collection, donated by Princeton University Press. Laura Fitzpatrick’s first prize essay will be published in the Princeton University Library Chronicle and will also be submitted to the National Undergraduate Book Collecting competition sponsored by Fine Books & Collections Magazine.