The Peninsula Pulse’s annual Hal Prize issue honors the late Harold (Hal) Grutzmacher, a man whose passion for writing and teaching the craft of writing spanned his lifetime. While his specialty was the English Romantic period, particularly William Wordsworth, he also loved reading (and re-reading) James Bond novels. His greatest passion, however, was teaching writing. As an English professor at Carthage College (then in Carthage, IL), Knox Collage, and Parsons College, he influenced hundreds of undergraduate writers. Later, as vice president for academic affairs at the University of Tampa and dean of students at Beloit College, he continued to teach the freshman English courses, though these courses were far removed from his job description.
He was also acquainted with many writers and poets, often acting as the faculty liaison, spending time and sharing meals with such authors as Philip Roth, Gogisgi (Carroll Arnett), Philip Appleman, and Wallace Stegner. His own writing appeared in numerous publications and included two volumes of poetry, Giants of My World, published by Golden Quill Press (Scribner’s) and Generations, published by Spoon River Poetry Press and co-authored with his son, Stephen.
In Door County, Wisconsin, he and his wife Marge opened Passtimes Books, where he enjoyed discussing literature with other avid readers. And he continued teaching writing, both at The Clearing Folk School in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Several of these students later brought him manuscripts which he helped edit into finished books.
His encouragement and gentle, though pointed, criticism influenced innumerable students and community members. The Peninsula Pulse, along with Write On, Door County, looks to continue in the same spirit by encouraging writers and photographers of all skill levels with The Hal Prize.