The English department’s 2017 Student Literary Awards Ceremony was held on Tuesday, April 18 in the Ecumenical Center.
The department presented three awards – the Richard Chartier Award for best essay in American Literature, the Howard Hirt Literary Award for Fiction and Non-Fiction Prose and the Marjorie Sparrow Literary Award for Poetry.
The winners were presented with their awards by professors Sam Witt and Patricia Horvath.
Winners and runners up for the awards read from their work – each student submitted work to the contest and the winners were selected by a judge.
Desmond McCarthy, chair of the English department, presented the Richard Chartier award to senior Robert Renaud for his essay, “Rebecca Harding Davis: Life in a Country Divided.”
The award was judged by Dr. John Burt, an American Literature professor at Brandeis University.
According to Burt, Renaud had a “nuanced sense of the politically complicated world in which Davis found herself. … I was very impressed with the author’s ability to put the novel also in the context of Davis’ family life, and with the thoroughness of the author’s study of the canon of criticism about this text.”
The Howard Hirt award, presented by Horvath, was judged by Boston University professor Michelle Hoover and was given to senior Ryan Toomey for his piece, “Diagnosed.”
Hoover praised Toomey, saying his piece was an “honest, heart-rending, witty treatment of a family member’s response and responsibility for what will likely prove a close cousin’s fatal illness.” Hoover said Toomey’s dialogue was “spot-on and searing,” and that the story was about “duty, devotion and what family and friendship is supposed to mean.”
Second place was given to sophomore Maddison Mayberry for her piece, “How Do You Know When Enough Is Enough,” and third was given to senior Cindy Nelson for her piece, “Heat.”
Nelson said, “I was really honored. I’ve only recently started to write seriously, so this is very encouraging!”
Senior Alexandra Gomes received an honorable mention for her piece “Purgatory Drive,” and senior Pixie Smolowitz also received an honorable mention for her piece, “It’s Okay.”
Witt presented the Marjorie Sparrow award, which was judged by Albanian-American poet and author Ani Gjika.
First place was given to Renaud for his piece, “Loop.”
Gjika said of Renaud’s piece, “This is the poem we need, or rather the voice we are waiting to hear from at this time in American history.”
Second place was given to senior Colin MacEacheron for his piece, “The Cuckold,” and third place was given to senior Luke Snyder for his piece, “I Never Confessed my Sins, Nor Am I a Saint.”
MacEacheron said, “It felt good, initially, to get recognized. It was a weirdly personal poem, so it was kind of weird reading it in front of people. I wasn’t expecting to win and have to read this personal poem.”
The two honorable mentions were given to senior Andrew Morin for his piece “A Sunny Today” and freshman Yael Rothman for her piece “Survivor.”
[Editors note: Alexandra Gomes is a member of The Gatepost editorial staff and Desmond McCarthy is the advisor.]