The final event in the 2015-2016 University of Houston-Victoria Downtown Arts Series will feature graduate and undergraduate students sharing their writing and artwork.
The student readings will begin at 7 p.m. April 30 in the UHV Center for the Arts, 204 N. Main St. Each student will have five to eight minutes to read an excerpt of his work. The event is free and open to the public.
“This is an opportunity for UHV to showcase some of the many talented student writers and artists,” said Charles Alexander, UHV poet and designer in residence, and cofounder of the series. “It’s a celebration of their talent, and we wanted to give them a safe, encouraging place to share their work.”
The artwork on display will include pieces created during classes at UHV and others students designed on their own time. There will be multiple mediums, including paper and canvas paintings and design prints. Attendees are encouraged to walk around and examine the pieces during the readings.
Ally Hibbard, a senior communication design major from Hubbard, Ohio, will be one of the eight or nine students who will take part in the readings. For her, poetry has become part of her grieving process after the death of her father in January.
Poetry first became a source of consolation when her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and died during Hibbard’s senior year of high school. Writing poetry helped her process her feelings and deal with grief. When her father, who lived in Mississippi with Hibbard’s stepmother and half-sisters, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last year, she began to follow a similar process.
“I wrote about my feelings during his illness, after he passed away and our relationship in general,” she said. “I ended up with 36 pages of poetry about my dad. It became this narrative of the complicated relationship I had with my dad in poem form.”
In addition to her poetry, Hibbard plans to display a piece of her design work. She is considering publishing her poems as a collection, and her professor suggested she do readings to build a following. The student reading is a good place for her to begin, she said.
“I’ve shared my poetry before but never something on such a personal topic,” she said. “Some of the poems, especially ones that look back at experiences from my childhood, aren’t so dark. But there are others, like ‘The Estranged Daughter,’ which talks about how I went to Mississippi for his funeral and no one knew me as his daughter, but they knew my half-sisters.”
For Chad Moreau, a graduate student pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing, the chance to share his writing with others is something he’s looked forward to for years. He plans to share a brief personal essay about communicating difficult topics with his son.
“Metaphor is a tool to help us get at difficult topics,” Moreau said. “The natural water filtration process can be explored as a metaphor for the genetic passing from one generation to the next as parts of older generations are cleansed of experience and given a fresh shot at life in the new one.”
Moreau is an airman in the U.S. Air Force and is stationed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio. The reading will be his first time visiting Victoria, and he’s looking forward to the opportunity to share his work outside the classroom.
“I enjoy writing and how it allows me to work through various ideas,” Moreau said. “All of the writing people have done throughout history can be seen as a kind of conversation flowing through time. I like the thought of being able to be part of that conversation.”