Courtesy photos of writers Steffi Sin (left) and Julian Delacruz (right)

Creative Writing announces 2020 winners of Rodriguez, Lyon awards


Kristen LaRue-Sandler and Justin Petropoulos

The Creative Writing Program in the Department of English announced the winners of two of its annual contests for 2020-2021.

Steffi Sin is a Chinese-American writer from San Francisco who is currently working on her MFA in creative writing at Arizona State University. Her work has been published by The Kenyon Review, and she is nonfiction editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. She won the Aleida Rodriguez Memorial Award in Creative Writing for her story, "Dungeness.”

One of the award judges wrote this about the story:

I savored this story’s crisp, sensory details and the microscopic attention to the preparation of food. “The top shell rattles in the sink like a drunken bottlecap.” “Rice spills like torrential hail.” This author uses the act of cooking to deftly reveal family tensions and generational history.

The Rodriguez award—created in honor of Aleida Rodriguez, who died of breast cancer in 2012—provides financial support for ASU graduate students who want to pursue a career in creative writing. One annual award is given to a selected MFA in Creative Writing student. Awards alternate by year: in Fall 2019, the recipient was a poet.


The winner of the Mabelle A. Lyon Poetry Award was Julian Delacruz, an MFA student at ASU who is co-host of Equality Arizona’s Queer Poetry Salon. He is working on a poetry collection that examines the interstices of empire and desire and is a 2019 recipient of an ASU Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Award in Writing.

Of Delacruz’s poem "I," judge Joshua Jennifer Espinoza wrote that:

This may not be the first poem to employ the lyrical “I” in order to trouble language and the construct of the self, but none I have encountered do it quite like this. This poem is incredibly direct and specific, cutting deep into the self in order to name and extract that which has been formed by centuries of colonialism and white supremacist oppression. This poem simultaneously questions and places at the forefront a self that has been tasked with the endless “burden of reflecting” imposed by these historical and present-day forces. This poem breaks language beautifully, and avoids leaving the reader with any easy answers, instead asking us to consider the ways in which the words we use form the reality around us.

The award’s namesake, Mabelle A. Lyon, published more than 1,000 poems in commercial and literary magazines and anthologies. She founded the first public library in Goodyear, Arizona and co-founded the Arizona Poetry Society, serving as the first president. After she died, friends and family of Lyon made a memorial gift to establish the Mabelle A. Lyon Poetry Award at ASU in honor of her love of poetry. A prize of $300 and a public reading with the Lyon Award judge is given to an ASU undergraduate or graduate creative writing student each year for a single poem of any length.

Image at top: Courtesy photos of Steffi Sin (left) and Julian Delacruz (right)

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