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UHV opens fall reading series with faculty showcase

Diana López
Saba Razvi
Anthony Madrid
Nadya Pittendrigh

The University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Reading Series is kicking off its fall series with a reading by four members of the university’s faculty, including a children’s novelist and three poets who explore different genres.

The Sept. 12 reading will feature works by Diana López, assistant professor of creative writing and director of the undergraduate creative writing program; Saba Razvi, assistant professor of English and creative writing; Anthony Madrid, assistant professor of English and creative writing and director of the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program; and Nadya Pittendrigh, assistant professor of English and director of composition. The readings will begin at 11 a.m. in the Alcorn Auditorium inside UHV University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The event is free and open to the public.

Jeffrey Di Leo

“UHV is fortunate to have incredible and talented English and creative writing faculty members,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, ABR editor and publisher, and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “Their writing and interests cover a wide range of topics, formats and genres, and I am proud to give them a platform to showcase their work. I hope those in the community will meet and appreciate the talents of the individuals who lead our creative writing and English programs.”

López is the author of popular children’s novels such as “Lucky Luna” and “Coco: A Story About Music, Shoes and Family,” a novelization of the Disney movie “Coco.” In 2014, her book “Choke” was made into the Lifetime movie “The Choking Game.”

López scheduled her “Introduction to Creative Writing” class at 11 a.m. in order to encourage her students to attend the reading series throughout the semester, and now her students will be able to hear her read some of her own work. She plans to read from an unpublished collection of her short stories with the working title “Dutiful Daughters and a Few Bad Boys.”

“These short stories are a fun change of pace from the children’s stories I usually write,” López said. “Reading from an unpublished work is a chance for me to be vulnerable, and it will be an opportunity to show my students that I practice what I teach them every day.”

Razvi writes poetry, criticism and fiction. Some of her published works include “In the Crocodile Gardens” and “Of the Diving and the Dead,” and her research interests comprise a wide range of poetry and fiction. Her work explores speculative genres, such as science fiction or mythology, and is written in a more experimental vein, she said.

Participating in the reading series will give her and the other faculty members a chance to interact and engage with students outside of the typical “teacher mode,” Razvi said.

“This reading can give students a sense of who we are as authors and why we enjoy what we teach,” Razvi said. “We get to share our joy in creative expression and have some fun while reading our own work.”

Madrid has published books of poems including “I Am Your Slave Now Do What I Say” and “Try Never.” During his reading, he plans to read a poem full of animal imagery and written with Buddhist themes.

“The poem participates in a great tradition of Buddhist poems that are, at least on the surface, anti-Buddhism,” Madrid said. “I hope the audience will be stimulated by the paradox.”

Pittendrigh will be reading a baseball poem with the essential meaning of “If you win, you lose. And if you lose, you lose.” The poem examines the worship of success.

“I want to test-drive that particular poem, and see how it will run,” Pittendrigh said. “I want to see how it sounds. Reading in front of an audience will mean seeing the poem from the perspective of the audience.”

Ladan Osman, a Somali-American poet and teacher, originally was scheduled to speak on Sept. 12. However, she is unable to attend, and university administrators hope to have her come during the spring semester.

Other writers scheduled for the fall UHV/ABR Reading Series are:

Christine Hume, Oct. 3 – Hume is the author of “Saturation Project,” a lyric memoir in the form of three interlinked essays, as well as three books of poetry. Her chapbooks include “Lullaby: Speculations on the First Active Sense;” “Ventifacts;” “Atalanta: an Anatomy;” “Question Like a Face,” a text image collaboration with Jeff Clark and a Brooklyn Rail Best Nonfiction Book of 2017; and the forthcoming “Red: A Different Shade for Each Person Reading the Story.” Since 2001, she has been part of the faculty in the interdisciplinary creative writing program at Eastern Michigan University.

A Van Jordan, Oct. 24 – Jordan is the author of four collections: “Rise,” which won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award; “M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A,” which was listed as one of the Best Books of 2005 by The London Times; “Quantum Lyrics;” and “The Cineaste.” Jordan has been awarded a Whiting Writers Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and a Pushcart Prize. He also is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a United States Artists Fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. He serves as the Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan.

Amaranth Borsuk, Nov. 14 – Borsuk is a poet, scholar and book artist working at the intersection of print and digital media. Her most recent volume is “The Book,” an exploration of a technology people think they know intimately. She is the recipient of a National Education Association Expanded Artists’ Books grant for the collaboration “Abra,” a limited-edition book, and free iPad and iPhone app that recently received the Turn on Literature prize for electronic literature. She has collaborated on installations, art bookmarklets and interactive works, and is the author of five books of poetry. She teaches in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell, and serves as associate director of the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and poetics.

Nick Montfort, Dec. 5 – Montfort’s computer-generated books of poetry include “#!” (pronounced “shebang”), the collaboration “2×6,” “Autopia,” “The Truelist” (in Counterpath’s “Using Electricity” series) and “Hard West Turn.” He has six books out from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, most recently “The Future.” He performs and shows digital artwork internationally, and his projects include “Taroko Gorge” and the collaborations “The Deletionist” and “Sea and Spar Between.” Montfort runs the micropress Bad Quarto. Further underground, he is lead organizer for the demoparty Synchrony and MCs as Doc Mofo. He is a professor of digital media at MIT, where he directs The Trope Tank, and he lives in New York.

ABR is a nonprofit, internationally distributed literary journal published six times a year. It began in 1977, moved to UHV in 2006 and has a circulation of about 10,000. The journal specializes in reviews of works published by small presses.

Authors will be available after each reading to sign copies of their books. Each author also will meet with students and attend a community reception.

For more information about the UHV/ABR Reading Series, call the ABR office at 361-570-4101 or go to www.americanbookreview.org.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.