Reporters may contact: Janet Ragland
SMU News and Information
(214) 768-7650


March 8, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University English majors have been named winners in the annual SMU Creative Writing Contest. For his entry titled "The Killing Knife," senior Mark Lee, son of J.D. and Bess Lee of Tucson, Arizona, and Couer d'Alene of Idaho, won first place in the short story competition. The poems of Holly F. Smith, daughter of Bob and Zana Smith of Mineola, Texas, won the David R. Russell Poetry Award. Both first place winners will receive $300.

SMU Junior Rachel Anne Shick, daughter of Harry and Suzanne Shick of Medford, New Jersey, was named by the SMU creative writing faculty as this year's winner of the Margaret Terry Crooks Award for most outstanding creative writing student.

All of the writing contest winners will read their work publicly at the 2001 SMU Literary Festival at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 in the Varsity Café of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, 3140 Dyer St. on the SMU campus.

Lee's winning short story based during World War II is "beautifully tinged with nostalgia for a time he couldn't have known and for a place that he brings vividly to life through authentic characters, dialogue and period details," according to SMU Fiction Award judge Sarah Bird, Austin novelist and screenwriter. "Lee creates a world for us all to be homesick for with ant lions, 'righteous water,' camphor, and an aunt who wears sweaters in the summer," Bird writes. Bird is the author of The Alamo House (Norton, 1986), The Boyfriend School (Doubleday, 1989), The Mommy Club (Doubleday, 1991), and Virgin of the Rodeo (Doubleday, 1993).

In choosing Smith's poems, poetry judge David Jauss said he was "impressed by the quiet but resonant emotion" in them, and in "her subtle and original metaphors, her sense of where to break a line, her economy, and her ear for the music of ordinary language." Her poetry "manages to be simultaneously witty and poignant….She is a poet with considerable potential." Jauss is the author of Black Maps (Univ. of Mass. Press, '96) and Improvising Rivers (Cleveland State Univ. Press, '95).

The Margaret Terry Crooks Award that Shick will receive is given annually by SMU's creative writing faculty to a student who demonstrates outstanding achievement in both poetry and fiction. This award, in memory of the late mother of SMU English Professor Marshall Terry, includes a $300 award.

Second place winner for the Fiction Award was Hoang-Anh L. Tran's The Daughter-in-Law, which Bird cited for its "spare, calligraphic elegance." Second-place winner in the poetry category was Julia A.H. Moore, daughter of Charles and Peg Moore of Albuquerque, N. M. Her poems show an admirable willingness to risk "failing to communicate in order to capture the complexity and depth of the emotions and ideas she's trying to parse," said Jauss. Second place winners receive $150.

All of the winners will receive cash prizes and be recognized at the Dedman College Honors Convocation on Monday, April 23. Winning entries will be posted on the English department's Creative Writing home page: For more information, contact English Professor C. W. Smith at (214) 768-2957 or