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March 4, 2004

Ohio U. Professor wins Drue Heinz Award

Darrell Spencer

Darrell Spencer

Ohio University creative writing professor Darrell Spencer has won the 2004 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, which honors collections of short stories.

Spencer’s manuscript, “Bring Your Legs With You,” was selected from nearly 300 entries and will be published this fall by the University of Pittsburgh Press, which administers the award.

In praising the winning collection, award-winning author and judge Michael Chabon said that Spencer “possesses a remarkable ear for the cadence of everyday speech, which makes for some marvelous, rich dialogue and, more importantly, firmly grounds the intense, pressured, spare narrative prose in the lives of its fast-talking, smooth-talking and always-talking characters as they circle and spar and contend with one another in the clinch of family and marriage, friendship and enmity.”

While boxing is a thread that runs though the stories, the collection is about more than the sport. “Each story stands on its own, but together they develop a picture of the life that surrounds [Tommy] Rooke,” a retired boxer considering a return to the ring, Spencer said. “The collection creates a portrait of a decent man who is all-too-human in the mistakes he makes.”

The Drue Heinz award is the second distinguished literary award garnered by Spencer. His short story collection, “Caution: Men in Trees,” was co-winner of the 1998 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction from the University of Georgia Press.

Spencer, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, teaches fiction writing and American literature at Ohio University. His short stories have been published in the American Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Quarterly West and the Gettysburg Review, among other publications.

The Drue Heinz Literature Prize annually recognizes and supports writers of short fiction. Authors who have published a book-length collection of fiction or at least three short stories or novellas are eligible. Manuscripts are judged anonymously by nationally known writers. The prize carries a cash award of $15,000.

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