Winners of top student writing awards for 2021 named

Samantha Donahue '21 honored with John Engels Award for Poetry Writing, while Emilio Tome '21 is Will Marquess Award in Creative Prose Writing recipient

March 11, 2021
Faculty/staff report

Emilio Tomé

English faculty at Saint Michael’s College recently announced the winners of this year’s most prestigious writing awards for students. Those honored are: Samantha Donahue ’21, with the John Engels Award for Poetry Writing, and Emilio Tomé ’21, with the Will Marquess Award in Creative Prose Writing.

Both Emilio (who goes by “Milo”) and Samantha, (who goes by “Sam”), will be giving readings as part of the College’s Academic Symposium in April.

Sam Donahue

Samantha Donahue’ 21

Liz Inness-Brown of the English faculty, among the faculty selectors for these awards, spoke admiringly of Tomé’s work. “From the start, Milo has impressed me with his high standards for excellence in writing, but especially with his imagination and his style,” she said. “In his first workshop with me, he wrote a story set in World War II that was vivid, gory, and gripping, but also humorous and bizarre. Last semester he wrote a story about a man drifting into dementia that was accurate and frightening, kind and poignant. The time, energy, and sheer heart he puts into his writing are an indicator, to me, that he is devoted to the craft and has a future as a writer. No one has a voice like Milo’s.”

Tomé told Inness-Brown that he was especially thrilled to win this award named for Will Marquess, who in first-year seminar was Milo’s mentor and the one who introduced him to creative writing.

Greg Delanty of the English faculty, another of the selectors for these awards, is an internationally acclaimed and widely published Irish poet who had this to say about Sam Donahue: “Sam’s poems are her own — tightly written, very clever and funny. She has real talent. She also was a joy to have as a student in the poetry workshop.”

Both of the winners put their writing skills to use in offering brief statements about their backgrounds and writing.

Here’s Milo’s: “My name is Emilio Tomé, but everyone calls me Milo. I am from the island of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, and I speak English & Spanish. I’m a senior, class of ’21, psychology major & creative writing minor. I was born in San Juan, but I feel just at home anywhere — in New York City or as far as Madrid, Spain. My hobbies include video games, hiking, exercise, writing, and board games. Ever since high school, you’d rarely find me not typing away whatever prose, essay, or thoughts into a Word document on the nearest laptop. My biggest sources of inspiration are foreign places and cities; one of the reasons I love traveling is to see how I can fit what I learn in my journeys into a good draft! Saint Michael’s College has transformed my ability to write, teaching me everything from the semicolon to all manner of important story structure elements. “—Milo

Donahue, the poetry award winner, offered this playful but informative statement about herself: “Sam Donahue is a writer from Arlington, Massachusetts. She splits her time between pretending to write there and pretending to write at Saint Michael’s College, where she studies English and French—both of which influence the writing she actually manages to do. When not pretending to write, she spends her time eating bagels, making quilts, and trying to get her roommates to care about The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She’s been a theatre kid, a radio DJ, and an ex-pat in Paris. She loves Mormons, musicals, and musicals about Mormons—not necessarily in that order—and if she were a spice, she’d be flour. After graduation, she plans to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing with the hope of becoming a college professor.” –Sam


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