May 4, 2023
Members of the Writing and Literature program of the English Department and staff at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) presented the 2023 James Tolan Student Writing Awards on May 3 in Richard Harris Terrace at 199 Chambers Street.
In its first in-person presentation since 2019, the event featured special guest writer Megan Fernandes, Associate Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Professor Fernandes is the author of the poetry collection “Good Boys,” published by Tin House Books in 2020. Her forthcoming book of poetry, “I Do Everything I’m Told,” will be released by Tin House in Summer 2023.
BMCC English Professor and poet Jason Schneiderman introduced Professor Fernandez at the awards event, and welcoming remarks were delivered by English Department Chair Claire Pamplin.
Professor Holly Messitt shared a remembrance of James Tolan, a BMCC English professor and poet who passed away in March 2017, and for whom the student writing awards were named. Professor Tolan’s collection of poems, “Mass of the Forgotten,” was published in 2013. A posthumous collection, “Filched,” was released in 2018.
The faculty-funded, BMCC student writing awards have been in existence for 20 years. English Professor Diane E. Simmons came up with the idea for an award recognizing student writing in 2003, soon after the BMCC Writing and Literature program began. Professor Simmons worked closely with Professor Tolan to make the awards ceremony a reality and by 2004, outstanding student writers were being recognized with awards that were funded by donations from BMCC faculty.
The 2023 James Tolan Student Writing awardees are:
Dan Hoffancia, “All Saints Day” (Fiction)
Sophie Atkenhead “Valentine’s Day” (Fiction)
Bjarni Erlendsson “Voiceless” (Fiction)
Rebecca Richey ” Umma 엄마” (Creative Non-Fiction)
Roxanna Andrea Cardenas Colmenares “A Closer Look at Joon-Ho Bong’s Parasite” (Scholarship)
Justin Demmitt (Poetry)
Javana Dhakal (Poetry)
Gerald Jeter “Black Individualism and Its Consequences” (Scholarship)
The BMCC English Department Writing and Literature Committee is chaired by Syreeta McFadden, and includes David Bahr, Joe Bisz, Cheryl J. Fish, Angela Florshuetz, Holly Messitt, Jason Schneiderman and Diane Simmons.
Staff and faculty whose personal donations funded the awards include Domenick Acocella, David Bahr, Katie Bockino, Julie Cassidy, Francisco Delgado, Angela Florschuetz, John Hodgkins, Geoff Klock, Adele Kudish, Andrew Levy, Syretta McFadden, Holly Messitt, Catherine Nealand-Cammilleri, Benita Noveno, Claire Pamplin, John (Kimo) Reder, Rochelle Rives, Katie Rubin, Jason Schneiderman, Kelly Secovnie, Diane Simmons, Fred Solinger, Jan Stahl, Manya Steinkoler, Jaimie Weida and Mira Zaman.
For more photos of the event, click here.
- Members of the Writing and Literature program of the BMCC English Department present the 2023 James Tolan Student Writing Awards on May 3 in Richard Harris Terrace at 199 Chambers Street
- In its first in-person presentation since 2019, event features special guest writer Megan Fernandes, Associate Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania
- Student winners include Dan Hoffancia, Sophie Atkenhead, Bjarni Erlendsson, Rebecca Richey, Roxanna Andrea Cardenas Colmenares, Justin Demmitt. Javana Dhakal and Gerald Jeter