2022 Sophie Kerr Prize Awarded to English Major and Poet Teddy Friedline


Sophie Kerr is the nation’s largest undergraduate literary prize, valued at over $68,000 this year

Teddy Friedline accepts the 2022 Sophie Kerr Prize

Teddy L. Friedline of Greenville, SC has been awarded the 2022 Sophie Kerr Prize, which is valued at $68,292 this year. Their award-winning portfolio consists of poetry and academic essays focused broadly on gender identity and presentation, religious topics, and literature, among other topics. 

Roy Kesey, Associate Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and Friedline’s Senior Capstone Advisor offered this review of their work: “Teddy’s poems use and subvert a wide range of formal concerns to dazzling effect – the language glimmers and glows.” 

This prestigious prize is awarded each year to the graduating senior demonstrating the best potential for future achievement in a literary endeavor. The cash prize amounts to half of the annual income from Sophie Kerr’s bequest to the College.  The prize is open to students within all majors. Students who wish to compete for the prize submit a writing portfolio, and a committee comprised of full-time faculty in the English Department and the President reviews all submissions and makes the final decision.

“The Committee was electrified by the charge of Teddy’s poetry, engaging with the reader on a psychic journey of beauty through lyrical language, arresting images, and a humorous touch,” said Sean Meehan, English Department Chair and Curator of the Sophie Kerr Endowment.  "They are composing literature that is ambitious and profound and will soon find an audience of readers who will return to this poetry again and again.”

Friedline, an English major and double minor in Creative Writing and Art + Art History, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and served as Acting President of SAGE while at Washington College. This summer, Friedline will complete an internship with the Museum of Motherhood in St. Petersburg, Florida, working on their Journal of Mother Studies. After that, they will be exploring their options, including the possibility of graduate studies in creative writing.

"Teddy Friedline is a live wire,” said James Hall, Ph.D, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House. “You never know exactly how the poem will turn, or what might greet you. Structurally, this is an ambitious and high-wire act: poem as game show, poem as calculus equation, poem as cartography of the self. There's an electricity and a focus to this work.”

“Teddy Friedline will set your heart on fire," added Hall.

This year’s Sophie Kerr Prize six finalists are: Isabelle Anderson (Baltimore, MD), Emma Campbell (Annapolis, MD), Teddy L. Friedline (Greenville, SC), Chloe Mello (Greenville, SC), Erica Quinones (Playfair, MD), and Nicholas Ritter (Waldorf, MD).

Friedline and fellow finalist Chloe Mello both studied at the Fine Arts Center, an arts high school in Greenville.

About the Sophie Kerr Prize

The Sophie Kerr Prize is named after the Eastern Shore author who made her fortune in New York writing women’s fiction during the 1930s and 1940s. The endowment that Sophie Kerr established in her will has inspired and supported the College’s programs and events in literature and writing for more than 50 years.

In accordance with the terms of her will, half of the annual income from her bequest to the College is awarded each year to the graduating senior demonstrating the best potential for future achievement in a literary endeavor. Valued at more than $68,000 in 2022, it remains the nation’s largest undergraduate writing prize, more than the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award combined. See the list of Sophie Kerr Prize winners since its inception in 1968.