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By Kristen LaRue-Sandler — December 15, 2023

Images of creative writing award-winners Matt Flores and Ayling Dominguez

During fall 2023, the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English announced the winners of two contests for 2023-2024, the Mabelle A. Lyon Poetry Award and the The College Deans’ Council Scholarship for MFA Students.

Mabelle A. Lyon Poetry Award

Matt Flores is originally from South Texas and received their BA in English from the University of Houston. They are currently an MFA candidate in poetry at ASU and have received fellowships and residencies from the Mellon Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Center, Center for Imagination in the Borderlands, Ideafund through the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts, and Vermont Studio Center. Their published work can be found in Gulf Coast, Defunkt Magazine, and Houston Art's Alliance.

The award judge wrote this about Flores’s winning poem:

  • "‘On the foldable table varnished, wooded’ is a transfixing release of a scene in sentence fragments and space—space on the page and in the world. Place and identity emerge from selective details in subtly musical lines, documentary material, and images that are almost stories, but not quite. It's this mystery, coupled with evocative description, that seduces, invites deduction, and ultimately creates a question of the history, the family, or the room one can see but can't quite know, and what to do with the fragments that are left behind.”

The College Deans’ Council Scholarship for MFA Students

Ayling Zulema Dominguez is a poet, mixed media artist, and youth arts educator from Bronx, New York, with roots in México and la Republica Dominicana. As a creative in an abolitionist mindset, their art is grounded in the imaginative, “Who are we at our most free?” Dominguez is currently pursuing an MFA at ASU, and ultimately believes in poetry as a tool for liberation. Their work has appeared in The Poetry Project, The Acentos Review, The Texas Review, The Seventh Wave, and elsewhere.

The award judge wrote this about Dominguez’s winning poem “Si Me Matan”:

  • "This poet's formal sense contains, gives shape to, the chaos of a protest, drawing us down into the sorrow and the just rage of a movement. This speaker is absorbed in a ‘we’ that's bound together by a common frustration—why can't we have just ‘a regular heartache’? When will we feel better than doomed, ‘be more than remains’? This poet's imperative—‘for truth and refuge’—is as perennial as this poem."

Flores and Dominguez will be recognized for the awards at a Department of English ceremony later in spring 2024.

Images at top: Matt Flores photo credit Mehrdad Mirzaie / Courtesy photo of Ayling Dominguez