Student Writers Earn Numerous Accolades

Writing awards were bountiful this spring for numerous creative and nonfiction writing students. Of the 28 Milton students who earned 45 regional scholastic writing honors in January, five were recognized at the national level. Caroline Bragg ’21 won a gold medal for flash fiction, Erika Yip ’20 won a gold medal for poetry, Sarah Hsu ’19 won a silver medal for flash fiction, and Clara Wolff ’19 won a silver medal for poetry. Notably, Akua Owusu ’19 won a silver medal with distinction for her writing portfolio, which consisted of nonfiction essays and eight pieces of poetry.

“One of the essays I wrote for my nonfiction class,” Akua says. “It’s about my father and his immigration story of coming to America from Ghana. It’s also about how I think about success and living up to expectations. When I first started writing in my English classes, it was hard to write about personal stuff, but now I’m comfortable writing about stuff closer to home. You gain confidence in yourself.”

Erika’s gold-medal poem was informed by her “new role as an upperclassman, inspiring me to rethink how previous years’ experiences shape my identity today.” “When We Are Old Enough” is an ode both to childhood summers and to mourning the loss of innocence as one grows older. The poem depicts scenes of purity and the speaker’s growing attraction to the mysteries of adulthood. As it progresses to the second stanza, the speaker describes fleeting feelings of love and lust. The short-lived moment is compared to “the fraying of telephone poles with the passing of countless summers.”

Malia Chung ’20 was recognized for two poems—“Digression” and “Seven Ways of Looking at Seven”—as a semifinalist for the Smith College Poetry Prize, an honorable mention for the Leonard Milberg Poetry Prize of Princeton University, and an honorable mention for the Nancy Thorpe Poetry Contest of Hollins University.

“‘Seven Ways’ is about my youngest sister, who was seven at the time,” says Malia. “There are seven parts; and each one offers a different perspective on questions she would ask me. It’s fascinating how the younger mind works: how she tries to understand big topics like politics or the passage of time. All the big and cool questions that little kids ask that you don’t expect.”

Evita Thadhani ’20 was also recognized by the Smith College Poetry Prize as a finalist for her poem “Life Rules.” And the poem “What My Mother Texts Me When I’m At School” by Hana Widerman ’19 will be in an upcoming issue of Washington Square Review, an award-winning literary journal published by New York University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program. Hana’s poem “Origin Story” will be published in Asian American Literary Review.

A MINDFUL LIFE

“Forever, is composed of Nows,” wrote Emily Dickinson more than a century and a half ago—a message that resonates today more than ever. Modern life—with its overwhelming demands and distractions—makes it increasingly difficult to pause and reflect upon our lives. In this issue, Milton alumni share their stories about the power of living in the Now—of staying present to more fully assess our lives and relationships. We also feature a story about making student mental health a priority, and hear from our faculty about the importance of taking the time to listen and stay connected to ourselves.