On The Creative Writing Awards, Hear them Read at the Luncheon on Saturday

The Creative Writing Program at SMU is pleased to announce the writers who have been selected for our 2013-14. Congratulations to everyone who entered this year’s competition. Judges Danielle Sellers and Nan Cuba both noted the strength of the entries, especially the wide variety topics and techniques. All of the choices were difficult, but after much deliberation the winners are:



For the best poem or group of poems totaling not over 100 lines.


First Place: Poetry: Mari Hailu for a the poems “Broken Pigment,” “7:34 AM,” and “When You Stare Back.”

About Mari’s work, Ms. Sellars said: I admired Mari’s attention to form and surprising use of language. There is much that is memorable here such as a grave being gone, the “pigment of October trees,” and “every sunrise is a pop quiz.” All three poems struggle with loss is different ways. There is a tension in the lines, which is a mark of promising talent.

 2nd: Kara Synhorst for the poem “Your Hair”

About Kara’s poem, Ms. Sellers said: I liked this poem for its close detail and interesting word choice. Words like “loveprints” and “snaring whirlpools” delight. I love the unusualness of a head that can be claimed by a city, and the strong image of finding a lover’s hair even in one’s granola.



for the best short story or essay.


First Place: “For Pudge” by Ivonne Balli

About Ivonne’s story noted: Balli handles a highly emotional subject with impressive objectivity, producing a well crafted story that has vivid characters, a unique narrative voice, balance between narrative and dialogue, successful manipulation of time, and compelling plot development. The story’s resulting power reflects its significant themes.


Second Place: “Holidaze” by Chelsea Grogan

Nan says of Chelsea’s story: The strengths of Grogan’s story are the narrative voice and its honesty. She tempers social criticism with self-deprecation and balances family members’ questionable behavior with forthrightness and wit. Refreshingly clever, the piece is ultimately a lovely tribute.



Awarded by creative writing faculty for most outstanding creative writing student. Not open for submissions. $200


2014 Award to: Mari Hailu



Awarded by creative writing faculty to a rising senior creative writing major whose work demonstrates outstanding potential


2014 Recipient: Cody Barras


Winners will be honored at a luncheon on Saturday, March 22, as part of our annual literary festival. First and second place winners and the Crooks and Tinkle Award winners will be honored at the 2014 Spring Convocation.


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