The 7th Annual English Department Faculty Writing Awards were presented in a special event in Richard Harris Terrace at BMCC’s main campus. Six students received a total $2,700 for their fiction, poetry, autobiographical and academic writing.
Presenting the authentic self
Writing and Literature professor Holly Messitt greeted the audience—as did Michael Gillespie, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, who urged aspiring writers to “remember how important your role is, in society.”
Keynote speaker Lois Elaine Griffith, a playwright and poet, taught English at BMCC for 21 years and is a founding director of the Nuyorican Poets Café.
“My drive as an artist has always been to connect to people,” she said, stressing that “writing provides community,” and urging new writers to remember, “that in learning to write well, you are free; you present your authentic self.”
Taking a stand
English professor Claire Pamplin introduced Alberto Ayora, winner of the $1,000 Jane J. Young Faculty Writing Award for two academic writing entries as well as the autobiographical, “Ayora: A Short History of a Family.”
“I learned so much about the creative writing process,” says Pamplin, who advised Ayora on his Honor’s writing project involving a trip to Ecuador, to research his family history. Ayora thanked Professor Pamplin “for letting me practically live in her office,” while he edited the 30-page story.
English Professor Marguerite Maria Rivas introduced Vicky Guidos, one of two students who won the $500 Faculty Writing Award for her essays, “WWJDD?: (What Would Jacques Derrida Do?): A Deconstructive Approach to Nella Larson’s ‘Passing’” and “The Birth of Tragedy: On the (Mis)education of Maggie Tulliver.”
“She takes a stand,” Professor Rivas said of Guidos, who wants to research and publish public policy papers someday, or return to her old high school as an English teacher.
Questioning the criteria
English professor James Tolan introduced his student Elizabeth Kovalev, who won the $500 Faculty Writing Award for her poetry, including the evocative “(H)Ours,” in which she writes, “…The toaster’s staccato cues the kettle’s song,/We rush to calm the orchestra./Architects of texture and taste buds brimming/We escape, fill our bellies with sun...”
Professor Holly Messitt introduced Bachi Ayala, one of three student winners of the $250 Faculty Writing Award. His essay, she said, “An Overview of the Major Works of José Saramago,” reflects “his constant questioning of the criteria we use to analyze literature.”
Jordan Bertran won the $250 Faculty Writing Award for his short story, “Tentative Heart,” and was introduced by English professor Geoffrey Klock, who commented on Bertran’s innovative literary analyses, including another piece in which he compares Edmund Spenser’s 16th-century “Bower of Bliss” to the 1975 film musical, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
English professor Racquel Goodison introduced Nathalie Tur, who won the $250 Faculty Writing Award for her story, “Brown Sheets” and whose vivid writing, Goodison said, “makes you shake your head and say, ‘Yes!’.”
Awards comprised entirely of faculty donations
These awards, totaling $2,750, were made possible by donations from BMCC faculty and others, including Christa Baiada, Joe Bisz, Robert Blumenthal, Elisa Decker, Page Delano, Dolores Deluise, Maria Devasconcelos, John P. Eggers, Francis Elmi, Cheryl Fish, Doris Hart, Joyce Harte, Dexter Jeffries, Geoffrey Klock, Holly Messitt, Stephanie Oppenheim, Roger Sedarat, Diane Simmons, Julie Sinn Cassidy, Daniel J. Smith, James Tolan and Joyce Zonana.