UHCWP Student Spotlight: Cait Weiss

March 27, 2017, by

image2A first-year in the University of Houston Creative Writing PhD Program for poetry, Cait Weiss is a recipient of an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/MD Anderson Foundation Fellowship, is an Inprint Writers Workshop instructor and an Inprint Poetry Busker. Cait recently won the Zone 3 Press First Book Award for her poetry collection Valleyspeak, judged by Douglas Kearney. It will be published by Zone 3 in spring 2018.

Fellow UHCWP student Melanie Brkich recently sat down with Cait to talk more about her book, the past lives that informed it, and how her first year in the program is going so far.

Melanie Brkich: How are you liking your first year here?

Cait Weiss: I like it a lot. I made a mistake of over-scheduling myself this semester, not in terms of course work but in terms of WITS. That kind of thing has always been really important to me even before I got my MFA, when I was in New York I worked with New York Writers Coalition. And when I got to OSU I developed my own program there because we didn’t have anything like this. So we had the MFAs go into local high schools. For some reason I’m always making friends with high school English teachers, like we get along really well and are around the same age and stuff. And so when I got here I was all about it, but I was a little too much about it.

What’s wonderful is you can find ways to financially support yourself. But the trick is to remember I moved here for UH’s program. I didn’t move here for any of this other stuff. The PhD isn’t my side job. Continue reading

UHCWP Student Spotlight: Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

February 1, 2017, by

Novuyo TshumaIn her first year as a PhD student at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program (UH CWP), Novuyo Rosa Tshuma has already accomplished something extraordinary: international major press publication. Novuyo’s novel, The House of Stone, is forthcoming with W.W. Norton in the USA, and Atlantic Books in the United Kingdom. A recipient of the Inprint Fondren Foundation/Michael and Nina Zilkha Fellowship and an Inprint International Fellowship and a native of Zimbabwe, she has an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her first collection, Shadows, was published to critical acclaim in 2013 by Kwela in South Africa, and awarded the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize.

Houston writer and UH CWP faculty member Mat Johnson and fellow UH CWP classmate Melanie Brkich recently sat down with Novuyo.

MAT JOHNSON: This is your first year at UH–what made you interested in the program, and how has the transition been so far?

NOVUYO ROSA TSHUMA: I’m interested in strengthening my intellectual and creative writing interests, and the program has great faculty, an illustrious history and wonderful scholarship, and this was very attractive to me. Transitioning to a new place is always a mixture of excitement and disorientation, but I think it’s going well so far.

MAT: Your novel has just been bought by a USA and UK publisher, what is it about?

NOVUYO: The book has a microcosm of characters, I’m not sure I can summarize everything, but at the centre of the novel is our boisterous, wall-eyed narrator, Zamani, who, desperate to unshackle himself from an unsavory past and become a self-made man, rewrites and inserts himself into the history of a family he has become attached to, the Mlambos. And you know, he’s just obsessed with the past, he’s trying to reconstruct a self, he’s telling histories he has wangled out of others, and he’s an exposer of others’ ugly secrets, though he has secrets of his own he doesn’t want found out. Continue reading

Spotlight on Alexandra Naumann–UH Creative Writing Program Student

November 9, 2016, by

DSC_8596-EditInprint Edgar M. Larsen Fellowship recipient Alexandra Naumann is a fiction writer of Lebanese-Mexican descent. She’s in year two of the MFA program at University of Houston Creative Writing Program (UH CWP), where she’s a nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. She’ll be reading for the Gulf Coast Reading Series this Friday at Rudyard’s at 7 pm, along with featured poet Susan Briante and fellow UHCWP writers Sam Dinger and Nathan Stabenfeldt. We thought we’d ask her about who and what inspires her writing, the experience of sharing her work aloud, and returning to her hometown of Houston.

MELANIE BRKICH: You read for the Poison Pen Reading Series last week and now Gulf Coast coming up this week. How has that experience been, doing two readings almost back to back?

ALEX NAUMANN: Fun. A gift! I feel so grateful to be a part of a community where folks listen and share work, but I also feel nervous. Reading work aloud is like singing in someone’s ear. It’s intimate.

Reading work aloud is like singing in someone’s ear. It’s intimate.

MB: How do you prepare for readings?

AN: Step One: Panic. Step Two: Find pages that feel fraught or stunning or that contain the most tender, love-worn, raw/bleeding spots (narrative wounds!). It seems helpful, too, for reading fiction to find some narrative parcel that can be lifted from its larger context and still retain meaning, if that makes sense?

MB: Absolutely. What sort of projects are you currently working on? Are there certain themes/subjects that show up often in your work?

Continue reading