Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordcraft -- Award-winning writers at SMU lit fest

There’s an Oprah favorite, a Flannery O’Connor Award-winner, an editor from American Literary Review, and five other writers whose short stories and poetry have garnered dozens of literary awards. Sounds like great reasons to drop by the SMU Literary Festival this week.

Although the official run is Thursday through Saturday, March 22-24, students from several Dallas high schools will offer preview readings tonight, March 21, beginning at 6:30 in McCord Auditorium in Dallas Hall at SMU.

The annual festival is free at the SMU campus, giving the public as well as students and faculty of the university’s creative writing department a chance to hear and talk to important new writers. The authors have so many honors, I’ll only mention a few of the highlights in this space.

Readings by Dean Bakopoulos and Martha Rhodes open the program at 6:30 Thursday evening in the DeGolyer Library on campus. O, The Oprah Magazine’s online edition,, listed Bakopoulos’s latest novel, My American Unhappiness, as one of its best in 2011, calling it “So funny you may miss this novel's slyly profound message.”

Ms. Rhodes’s poetry collection, Perfect Disappearance, won the Green Rose Prize. She is director of the Frost Place Festival and Conference on Poetry.

Friday’s readings are by Eduardo Corral, Shannon Cain, Tyehimba Jess and Krys Lee. Corral, a CantoMundo fellow, received a “Discovery”/The Nation award for his poetry, among other honors. Ms Cain’s debut story collection, The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, is a Drue Heinz Literature Prize winner, and her stories have received the Pushcart Prize and the O. Henry Prize.

Jess’s first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. He is also a former member, among other achievements, of the Green Mill Poetry Slam Team. Ms. Lee’s 2012 book, Drifting House, spans the history of Koreans since World War II in their homeland and in the United States. Her stories have received special
mentions in Narrative Magazine: 20 under 30 and the Pushcart Prize anthology 2012.

Saturday afternoon, Amina Gautier and Corey Marks will read following SMU’s Undergraduate Award luncheon. Ms. Gautier won the Flannery O’Connor Award for her short story collection At-Risk. Her work has been published in Best African American Fiction, Southern Review, and other publications.

Marks is the author of Renunciation, a National Poetry Series selection, and The Radio Tree, a Green Rose Prize winner. He directs creative writing at the University of North Texas, where he is poetry editor for the American Literary Review.

For a complete schedule, maps, and parking information for the literary festival, see

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