This playwright from MN just won one of the richest prizes in literature

Ike Holter is getting $165,000 as one of the winners of a Windham-Campbell prize from Yale.
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Some people might have to choose between making art and making the rent payment, but Ike Holter won't have to worry about that.

The playwright who grew up on the south side of Minneapolis has just received a cool $165,000 from admirers of his work who want to make sure he can keep churning out plays.

Holter is one of eight winners of Yale University's Windham-Campbell Prizes, which were announced on Wednesday.

Yale names two winners in each of four categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama. The dollar amount the winners receive makes the Windham-Campbell one of the richest literary prizes in the world.

Nominations are kept confidential, so the writers have no inkling they're being considered until they get a congratulatory phone call.

After learning of his award, Holter, who now works in Chicago, said:

"...the idea that I've been given this gift to help me financially — and allow me to focus more artistically — is incredible and humbling, and even though I work with words I don't know how to use them right now. I'm incredibly grateful.”

Holter's work

The Windham-Campbell bio of Holter says he's known for dramas with casts that are multi-generational and multi-racial.

His breakthrough play, 2012's Hit the Wall, is set in New York's Greenwich Village in 1969. Its characters include cops, stoners, freedom fighters and drag queens in the hours leading up to the police raid at the Stonewall Inn.

He followed that with Exit Strategy in 2014, a look at the final year of a failing public school in Chicago. His latest work, Sender, premiered last year.

After graduating from Minneapolis South High School, Holter went to DePaul University in Chicago and settled there after finishing school. The Tribune even named him Chicagoan of the Year in the theater category for 2014.

Anyone who writes in English is eligible for a Windham-Campbell prize. In addition to Americans, this year's winners are from Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland.

Yale will host a literary festival in September to pay tribute to Holter and the other winners.

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