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Dramatic Reading Contest Shows the Power of Words

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 (Bronx, NY) - Just as different directors and actors can reshape a screenplay, making it their own, the dramatic reading of a poem can give it new meaning for both the reader and the audience.

Every spring for the past 15 years, the English Club at Hostos Community College has held a Dramatic Reading Contest. Not only have these competitions helped students read better, they have also given them deeper insight into great writing. Since its modest beginning in 1998, the contest has grown into an extremely popular event with the participation of students, faculty members and staff.

On March 21, Professor Maya Sharma, who has been the driving force behind the event since its inception, introduced the participants in the Savoy Multipurpose Room. This year Professor Sharma was assisted by professors Christine Hutchins, Heidi E. Bollinger and Anne Rounds.

Describing the contest as “a rite of passage,” Professor Craig Bernardini, Chairperson of the English Department and one of the judges, helped to evaluate the readings of over 20 poems. The other judges were professors Isobel Féliz, Frances Singh, and Ray Healey. Professors Lee Phillips and Madeleine Stein supervised the judging of the “Audience Prize.”

This year as always, it was the students who were the stars. Poems by such masters as William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth and Robert Frost were performed—some in English, others in Spanish. One was even performed in Bangla, a major language of India.

Hostos student Naz Hussain read a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, “Khrishnokoli,” twice—first in Bangla and then in English. Tagore, who was from Bengal, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

Latino student Eriberto de Jesús read from “La Vida Es Sueño” by Pedro Calderón de la Barca in both Spanish and in English. Professor Sharma remarked that part of the beauty of these readings was having the opportunity to hear poems in the original language as well as in translation. “This is really about our desire to help our students become better readers,” Sharma said.

Dr. Carmen Coballes-Vega, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Nathaniel Cruz, Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Management also attended the contest and praised the students and faculty. Vice President Cruz said he was gratified to see the brave beginning made in 1998 blossom into a major college event through the efforts of Professor Sharma, her colleagues in the English Department and their dedicated students.

“Thanks to the faculty and student leadership, this has become something very special,” Vice President Cruz said.


1st place: Sandra May Flowers
2nd place: Debra Britt
3rd place: CheeChee Bourne
Audience prize: Mabel Marte

About The Hostos English Club:
The Hostos English Club is a student-run club open to the campus community.  It holds social and cultural activities throughout the academic year and sponsors the annual Student Dramatic Reading Contest in the spring and Celebration of Student Poets in the fall.  The officers of the English Club for 2012-2013 are President CheeChee Bourne, Vice President Rachel Egbeyan Eromosele, Secretary Yanicke Harper and Treasurer Levy Vaugh.

About Hostos Community College:
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, part of The City University of New York (CUNY) system, was founded in 1968.  In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in 1970 to over 7,000 students in 2012. The College also serves an additional 12,000 students through its Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. For more news and stories about Hostos Community College, visit www.hostos.cuny.edu.

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