The English department held the 2016 Student Literary Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 28.
There were three awards presented at the event – the Richard Chartier Award for best essay in American Literature, the Marjorie Sparrow Literary Award for Poetry and the Howard Hirt Literary Award for Fiction and Non-Fiction Prose.
The ceremony began with an induction of the English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta by English Professor Carolyn Maibor.
The winners and runners up for each award read aloud from their work. Students submitted to each contest and winners were selected by a judge.
Maibor then presented the Richard Chartier award to senior Natalie Chaves for her essay “A Carefully Elaborated Plan: Extinction and Succession in Wharton’s Novels.”
The Richard Chartier award was judged by Dr. John Burt, an American Literature professor at Brandeis.
According to Burt, Chaves’ essay was written with “beautifully expressive prose.”
Chaves said, “It’s a little surreal to finally get money for stuff that I just like to do. But if feels good to get recognized and praised for doing something you love.”
The Marjorie Sparrow Literary Award was judged by author Jane Rosenberg LaForge.
Matthew White won first place for his poem, “The Black Whales of Fortmeadow Reservoir.”
LaForge said, “The specific details in this poem are spot on. … The ending of this poem sealed the experience for me.”
Melina Bourdeau, a senior, received second place for her poem, “Ten Episodes from a Neonaticide.”
Bourdeau said, “It was one of the most flattering moments, especially to be recognized and honored amongst my friends. … It made the experience even more worthwhile because we’ve all shared a classroom and workshopped each other’s creative pieces at some point, so we’re just as proud of each other as we are for ourselves.”
Bobby Murphy, a senior, received third place for his poem, “Alien Abduction of the Neighborhood Paperboy.”
Honorable mentions were given to Cal Ridley for their poem titled “The Other” and Caitie Van Dore for her poem titled “Noona, Come Get Me I fell ;(.”
The Howard Hirt Award, which was judged by author Mona Awad, was presented by English Professor Patricia Horvath.
The Howard Hirt Literary Award was given to Chaves for her piece, “What to Expect.”
Horvath commended Chaves for her dedication to improving her writing. She said, “for Natalie, good is never good enough … she continually pushes herself.”
Awad said, “I was struck by the nuance and authenticity of the first-person voice that absolutely transported me.”
Second place was awarded to Elayna Smolowitz for her submission, “The Garden.”
Smolowitz said she was very happy to receive her award.
“I wasn’t expecting to win for this particular story. But it’s one of those things where sometimes, your favorite isn’t their favorite. I was really happy that I got to hear the judge’s comments personally. I didn’t know that was going to happen but it was very flattering to hear what they had to say,” she said.
Third place was awarded to Brianna Ouellette for her story, “Wakefield State.”
Honorable mentions were given to Robert Renaud for his flash-fiction piece “Broken Promises.” and Van Dore for her story, “Unspoken.”
[Editor’s Note: Bobby Murphy and Melina Bourdeau are members of The Gatepost editorial board.]