Congratulations to the recipients of the English Department’s annual awards.

Eder Creative Writing Scholarship: Melody Crist
David Hatch Battenfeld Memorial Award: Laura Botelho
Jan Youga Award for Excellence in English-Secondary Education: Autumn Lagace-Hazeltine
English Department Award for Excellence in Writing: Arianna Jones
English Department Award for Excellence in Literature: Autumn Lagace-Hazeltine

Eder Creative Writing Scholarship

Melody Crist is a thoughtful, versatile, and courageous writer who is not afraid to imagine herself into the minds of people whose lived experience is different than her own, sometimes vastly so. Her “Letters From a Bloody Hand” is a series of letters written from the perspective of a Vietnam war veteran and addressed to the men he killed. Spanning twenty years, the letters reveal the psychological scars the war left on the veteran’s psyche.  Melody’s poem “The Heartbreaker” similarly offers a penetrating glimpse into the mind of a young man on his way to end his relationship with his lover. And her “Death by Ignorance” is a witty and perceptive poem, written from the perspective of a waitress marveling at the absurdity of dining out during a pandemic. In her application for the Eder award in Creative writing, Melody wrote that she has “always been compelled to take [her] interpretation of the world and twist it into the constraints of language.” These and other pieces in her portfolio show a writer who knows how to observe life and write about it with grace and insight.

David Hatch Battenfeld Memorial Award

Laura Botelho is the recipient of the 2021 Battenfeld Essay Prize. The award’s prompt asks students to consider their enjoyment of literature and the humanities and to relate that enjoyment to their own goals, selves, and worldviews. Even before her wonderful essay, though, Laura’s love of literature and her skill in relating that literature to herself and the world was impressive to all. Laura presented her work on Alice Walker, the Color Purple, and Black Women’s writing following the Black Arts Movement at the 2021 Northeast Regional URSCA Conference. As a dual major in Secondary Education, she excels in unpacking her skill and passion for students – and igniting that same spark in them. Laura’s essay, “My Path Thus Far,” narrates how her love of literature and teaching suffused her life through various twists and turns: from major changes, college transfers, and educational breaks to becoming an educator and being a parent. As Laura puts it, “My path has been anything but a straight line from where I expect I will go and where I end up. That entangled journey is an important reason why I am passionately pursuing education and English literature.” Congratulation, Laura.

Jan Youga Award for Excellence in English-Secondary Education

Autumn Lagace-Hazeltine is an exceptional beginning English teacher and a deserving winner of the Jan Youga Award for Excellence in Secondary English Education. If one only had a single word to describe Autumn’s work as a student and English teacher, that word should be committed. Her commitment is clear from her dedication to English content. After switching to the English major from one in the sciences, she won the English Department’s 2020 Battenfeld Essay Award and our award for Excellence in Literary Studies in 2021. Impressive, to be sure. But Autumn’s commitment to being an excellent English teacher is breathtaking. She did her semester as a student teacher at Keene Middle School; however, unlike illustrious past winners of the Youga Award, Autumn connected with her students from 6-feet of distance, during COVID scares, and through a mask and face shield. Commitment like hers, though, is not obstructed by such barriers. Commitment: to her middle-school students as adolescents developing during a pandemic; to her rigorous, detailed curriculum designed to help students explicitly challenge contemporary racism; to learning from and supporting her English teacher colleagues. Congratulations to Autumn Lagace-Hazeltine, winner of the Youga Award for Excellence in Secondary English Education.

English Department Award for Excellence in Writing

Arianna Jones is a senior who majored in both English Writing and Psychology. She completed a minor in Spanish and has been an Honors Student in the Morris-August Honors Program during her time at Keene State. Arianna has been a tutor at the Center for Research & Writing for three years, where she has worked with fellow students, offering individual tutoring sessions, presenting workshops in courses across the curriculum, and mentoring new tutors. She also presented on the Center’s integration of research and writing tutoring at the 2019 combined International Writing Centers Association/National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Also in 2019, Arianna was awarded an Emerging Scholar Award from NCPTW, based on her essay about working with international student writers at the Center. Arianna was the recipient of a 2020 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship where she researched and developed a digital anthology of folk tales from each of the New England states; the anthology includes a history and a retelling of each tale, and her creative updated version of each tale as well. Earlier this month, Arianna presented on her SURF Project and read one of her modernized tales at KSC’s 2021 Academic Excellence Conference. Arianna’s creative work is engaging and innovative and we look forward to hearing what she will be doing in the coming months after graduation.

English Department Award for Excellence in Literature

The faculty of the English department are proud to award theEnglish Department Award for Excellence in Literature to Autumn Lagace-Hazeltine.  Autumn is an outstanding student of literature. She is what the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov has called “a good reader.” For Nabokov, being a good reader is a high calling — as high as the calling of the writer, for writers depend on good readers to ensure the survival and longevity of their legacies. In Nabokov’s famous metaphor, literature is a misty mountain of imagination. It is a mountain that both the writer and the reader climb from the opposite directions. The climb is difficult for both, for good literature is like a trackless slope and you have to break your own path. The reward is the meeting at the top. Happy and panting, the good reader and the good writer meet and embrace at the windy summit, and their embrace is what ensures literature’s survival. Autumn is that rare species of the good reader that Nabokov imagined. The faculty of the English department are fortunate to have had Autumn as a student and proud to count her among the department’s graduates.