Photo courtesy of John Rice

Queens College honors killed alum Hoyt Jacobs with poetry prize

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A GoFundMe campaign has been started to honor QC alum Hoyt Jacobs who was tragically hit and killed while bicycling in Long Island City on Jan. 17.

A 2011 recipient of an MFA in Poetry from QC, Hoyt had taught Creative Writing and Composition here as an adjunct and went on to receive certification in teaching English as a Second Language at QC.

In just 17 days, the fund has raised $10,470 surpassing the benchmark of $10,000. The poetry prize is $1000 and is now guaranteed for the next ten years.

“Hoyt had so much more to give–as a poet, and as a human being–we wanted to keep him with us for as long as we could. This is the best thing we could think of. Through the Hoyt Jacobs Poetry Prize, Hoyt’s name will be synonymous with excellence in poetry” QC alum John Rice said.

The prize will be given every May and submission is open to any student in the MFA program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation.

“I think the outpouring of emotion and support for this prize following Hoyt’s death, just goes to show what a strong community we’ve been able to establish here; we’re able to achieve great things together because we care about each other so much.  We all owe a lot to Nicole Cooley, our program’s director, as well as all the other faculty members for leading by example” Rice said.

Among his many accomplishments Jacobs was also a part of a writer’s collective called Oh, Bernice!, which was founded in 2010 by graduates QC’s MFA Program. Oh, Bernice is now in its fourth season.

“The series is both multi-genre and multi-cultural, offering an incredible balance between published authors and emerging artists from around the city.  We’ve had the privilege of reading with Guggenheim Fellows and True Crime writers, Obie Award nominees and former ACT UP activists, Grammy Award Winners and the Queens Poet Laureate. And we’ve become better for it.  We’re really proud to be one of the top literary destinations in Queens,” Rice said.

Hoytgasm! A tribute event honoring Jacobs took place on Jan. 31 in Brooklyn. “I had the idea after he died that we should pay tribute to our friend, in a way that is befitting to him. Funerals and memorials are so sad, and even though we were–and still are–saddened by this loss, we want to remember Hoyt the way he was: a poet and a pop culture junkie, a professor wearing a tank-top, a lover of dumplings and donuts. He was an incredible and unique human being, known for his irreverent sense of humor and ability to have a conversation with any human being he came across,” Rice said.

“We spent the day reading not only from Hoyt’s poetry, translations, and prose stories out loud, but from one of his favorite movies, the legendary cult classic, The Room. The event was an incredible mix of sadness and joy.  I think he would have loved it, if he were there.”

The prize will be awarded for the first time at this year’s English Department Awards Ceremony in May.

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