10 Year’s Young: Glass Mountain Celebrates Its Anniversary and New Boldface Conference Line-Up

March 16, 2017, by

IMG_3594Glass Mountain magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The upcoming issue, which will be released at a launch party on April 19, is a landmark event for this undergraduate literary publication. The journal’s name is inspired by a story from local legend Donald Barthelme.

Glass Mountain’s staff and editors in fiction, art, reviews, nonfiction, and poetry are all undergraduate students at UH, who receive submissions from the local community and internationally.  Singular in its mission, it exists exclusively for writers who do *not* have an MFA or other higher degree in creative writing.

The team runs a popular monthly reading series and open mic at Bohemeo’s. They also produce the weeklong Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers that will run May 22-26. The conference includes twice-daily workshops, craft talks, readings, panels, and the chance for private manuscript consultations with visiting writers—Bill Broun in fiction, Leah Lax in nonfiction, and Hayan Charara in poetry. The conference is open to everyone. Please note that discounted early bird registration ends on March 22, regular registration is available through May. Continue reading

Houston Writers Take Over DC During AWP

March 10, 2017, by

2013-AWP-logoThis year, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs held its annual conference (AWP) in Washington, D.C.  More than 12,000 writers and publishers flooded the city for four days of craft talks, panel presentations, readings, and more.  Houston writers represented the best of our city’s expansive literary community.  In fact, Houston was so well-represented at AWP it would be impossible to list every event.  Instead, I’ll highlight just a few.

Poetry fans packed the house at DC-bar Bayou for a late-night reading hosted by University of Houston-based Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts.  (Other hosts for the event, called The Magnificent Seven, included AGNI, American Literary Review, Boulevard, cream city review, Pleiades, and PoemoftheWeek.org.)  The spirited crowd cheered readings by Chen Chen, Alice Elliott Dark, Matt Donovan, David Keplinger, Shara McCallum, Gregory Pardlo, Caitlin Pryor, Maggie Smith, and Ryo Yamaguchi.  Gulf Coast also held down a table at the book fair throughout AWP, and presented Gulf Coast: 30 Years in the Life of a Student-Run Journal, a dialogue with several past journal editors. Continue reading

UHCWP Student Spotlight: Luisa Muradyan Tannahill

February 22, 2017, by

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Luisa Muradyan Tannahill is a recipient of an Inprint Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones Fellowship and an Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Poetry.

Earlier this month, the annual AWP conference took place in Washington, D.C. and the University of Houston had a strong presence as always. In addition to the individual students and alumni who participated on panels or at readings, the Gulf Coast team also represented the university and the Houston writing community that Inprint serves. This year Gulf Coast is celebrating 30 years as a student-run journal, which was commemorated by a panel of former editors who discussed the successes and challenges they experienced over the years.

On top of reaching this milestone, Gulf Coast has also seen the ushering in of all new leadership this year: Editor Luisa Muradyan Tannahill, Managing Editor Michele Nereim, and Digital Editor Georgia Pearle. Fellow UHCWP classmate Melanie Brkich recently talked with Luisa about the transition and what we can expect from this fierce team of females. Continue reading

Six Tips On Writing From Annie Proulx’s Talk on Craft

February 6, 2017, by

RM3_4143Houston readers and writers alike crowded the Cullen Theater last month to see Annie Proulx read as part of the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. She shared an excerpt from her latest book, the award-winning novel Barkskins and gave a brief interview after the reading.

Earlier that same day, as part of an Inprint Craft Talk/Q&A, Proulx generously offered students at the University of Houston a rare opportunity to hear her thoughts on literary craft. Though quick to point out she has never taught creative writing, she answered questions and shared advice culled from her own process. We’ve excerpted a few points from her talk to share with Inprint’s audience:

  • Get involved with words. “[…] the words of your background, the words of your place, the words of your parents.” Proulx emphasized the value of enlarging your vocabulary, especially with rare or unusual language that has fallen out of use: “[…] words that used to be so meaningful about how things were made and cared for.”

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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

One-on-One with Visiting Writer Susan Briante

December 8, 2016, by

DSC_8740-EditLast month, Susan Briante visited Houston as featured guest of the Gulf Coast Reading Series. Her most recent book, The Market Wonders (Ahsahta Press), was a finalist for the National Poetry Series. She is also the author of the poetry collections Pioneers in the Study of Motion and Utopia Minus (an Academy of American Poets Notable Book of 2011). A translator, she lived in Mexico City from 1992-1997 and worked for the magazines Artes de México and Mandorla. Briante has received grants and awards from the Atlantic Monthly, the MacDowell Colony, the Academy of American Poets, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fundand the US-Mexico Fund for Culture. She is an associate professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Arizona. Read on for our exclusive interview following her visit.

  1. Your new collection of poems, The Market Wonders, personifies the economic structure we live by and philosophizes its existence. Can you talk a little bit about how the concept for the book was born and why you felt compelled to write it?

As the financial crisis began to take hold, the endless crisis from which many of us have never felt relief, I began to notice the dissonance between how that crisis was reported and how it was experienced. Stock market indices are described as if they were the most important measures of our national health. That’s not necessary. The way we prioritize the strength of our financial markets over everything else is dangerous to the values of this country.

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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?

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“Storied” Exhibit Opens at UH Libraries

September 17, 2016, by

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On Wednesday, September 14, the University of Houston Libraries celebrated the opening of Storied: The First 10 Years of the Creative Writing Program with a reception in the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion of MD Anderson Library. The exhibit was put together using UH Libraries Special Collections materials and focuses on the founding and first decade of the UH Creative Writing Program. It highlights faculty members Cynthia Macdonald and Donald Barthelme, as well as showcasing works by alumni who graduated within that first decade (1979-1989).

Within the first few years of its founding, the UH Creative Writing Program had already become a leading program in the nation. Inprint formed virtually alongside the program in the mid 1980s and quickly became a crucial source of fundraising and support for students and the student-run magazine Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts.

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Fred Moten packs the El Dorado Ballroom

April 4, 2016, by

IMG_5411On March 21st, a diverse community packed the historic El Dorado Ballroom to hear the words of Fred Moten. Moten, professor of English at the University of California, Riverside, is a celebrated scholar, who’s authored the critical books The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study and In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition. In addition, his distinguished poetry collections include Hughson’s Tavern, B Jenkins, The Little Edges, and The Feel Trio, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2014.

Moten is known for his densely-packed lyricism, tackling social issues with wordplay, and complicating the conventional notions of radical poetic lineages. After an introduction by UH professor Michael Snedicker, Moten remarked that he “wanted to bring other voices” into the reading and played a “musical epigraph.” Some piano riffs, finger snaps, vocals, flute trills, and bass thrums later, the song, played uninterrupted in its entirety, was revealed as Carmen McRae’s version of the jazz standard “Sometimes I’m Happy (Sometimes I’m Blue).”

Earlier in the day, Moten delivered a talk on “Hesistant Sociology: Blackness and Poetry” at the University of Houston. There too, he employed musical epigraphs. One was a recording from a section from Zong!, the innovative masterwork by M. NourbeSe Philip, which linguistically and phonetically deconstructs the legal ruling of slave ship sailors who threw 150 humans overboard in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in order to cash in on lucrative insurance. The other was a solo Thelonius Monk practicing his tune “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.” Continue reading

Words and Art Reading featured poetry and prose inspired by Ben Butler’s UnBounded

August 24, 2015, by

IMG_4154As a proud UH graduate student (go Coogs!), I don’t often make it to the Rice University campus. But on a serene Wednesday evening, during the first true break in the heat, when the hallowed walkways and archways were glazed with late-summer rain, I found myself entering the Rice Art Gallery, attending my first ever Words and Art reading.

Coordinated by Mary Wemple, a local poet-artist, the Words and Art reading series has been going strong since 2011. This particular reading featured poetry and prose inspired by artist Ben Butler’s sculpture/installation Unbounded.

Consisting of 10,000 hand-pegged poplar sticks, arranged into organically-shaped, three-dimensional grids, the work was magnificent. It managed to simultaneously draw attention to the scale and chaos of human behavior, and create a calming landscape for reflection. Continue reading