Courtesy images of Cari Muñoz and Frankie Concepcion

Creative Writing announces 22-23 winners of Rodriguez, Lyon awards

By

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

In December 2022, the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English announced the winners of two of its annual contests for 2022-2023, the Mabelle A. Lyon Poetry Award and the Aleida Rodriguez Memorial Award in Creative Writing.

Mabelle A. Lyon Poetry Award

Cari Muñoz, MFA candidate in poetry at ASU, is the winner of the Lyon Award. Muñoz is a queer poet born and raised in Los Angeles, California. They received their BA in literature with a concentration in creative writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Their honors include the 2020 Gary Young's Dizikes Award, Reyna Grande Scholarship, 2022 Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Award, and the Virginia G. Piper fellowship for Cultural Exchange in the Literary Arts. Their work has appeared in such publications as Red Wheelbarrow Anthology, SALT Literary Journal, Queer Rain Anthology, and more. Muñoz is currently the 2022-2023 Artistic Development & Research Assistant for the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands.

Judge Diana Marie Delgado wrote this about Muñoz's winning poem:

“‘Dyke Blues & Other Heartbreaks Like the Moon’ inhabits a bewildering loneliness “that breaks at the sound of a name.” The poet, to make art, embraces that which might kill them, and yet it's the poet's longing that innervates this poem. In collaboration with the sky and residing with an unpredictable solace--the poet’s hunger for connection, fates them to a future where "a flash of lightning becomes my body," This is a poem of exacting intimacy and tangible risk, and I celebrate its vulnerability.”

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.

Aleida Rodriguez Memorial Award in Creative Writing

Frankie Concepcion, MFA candidate in fiction at ASU, is the winner of the Rodriguez Award. Concepcion is a writer from the Philippines and Massachusetts. She is the current fiction editor for Hayden's Ferry Review. In 2019, she created the Boston Immigrant Writers Salon-- a community to empower and inspire immigrant voices. Her writing has been published in Joyland, HYPHEN, Wildsam Travel Guides, Rappler and more.

One of the judges for the Rodriguez Award wrote this about Concepcion’s winning story:

“‘Psychomanteum’ is a story about strangeness, about being estranged. Lily and Lena reunite and neither of them are who they were before. The spiritual and literal are blurred in this story, begging the question of what is real or what is constructed. Our characters walk in this nebulous space in a way that builds tension through the story."

Honorable mention to this year's finalists for the Rodriguez Award: Haylee Massengill for the story "Loose Ends" and Colin Bonini for the story "Fish Dreams."

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 2020, the recipient was a fiction writer.

Muñoz and Concepcion will be recognized for the awards at a Department of English ceremony later in spring 2023.

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