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UHV Downtown Arts Series to showcase faculty

Charles Alexander Diana López A.J. Ortega Saba Razvi

Victoria has an active music and art community, but some University of Houston-Victoria faculty members want to see the same appreciation for the written word.

Four members of the UHV creative writing faculty will present a reading titled Poetry and Fiction at 7 p.m. Saturday as part of the Downtown Arts Series. The reading will take place at the UHV Center for the Arts, 204 N. Main St., and is free and open to the public.

In the fall, Charles Alexander, director of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program, started the Downtown Arts Series to bring in artists, writers, poets, book printers and others to downtown Victoria to share their talents with the community.

“This is the first time we’ve had a faculty reading as part of the new Downtown Arts Series,” Alexander said. “There’s an active arts culture in Victoria, but it hasn’t been quite as active in literature as it is in visual arts and other areas. UHV is a fascinating place for writers, and these writers teaching at the university show that through their work.”

Poetry & Fiction will feature works by Alexander; Diana López, an assistant professor of creative writing and director of the undergraduate creative writing program; Saba Razvi, an assistant professor of English and creative writing and English program director; and A.J. Ortega, an English lecturer.

The idea to include a faculty reading in the series came up in the fall during a conversation between Alexander, López and Razvi. Not all of the creative writing faculty members were able to take part, but those who are represent a range of writing styles encompassed in poetry and fiction.

“The reading will feature two poets and two fiction writers,” Alexander said. “There’s a wide variety of works from A.J.’s high-energy, high-octane stories to Saba’s dense and intricate poetry with lyricism. Diana has written some great coming-of-age stories with characters triumphing over circumstances. My own poetry registers interaction of everything I care about in language and how it connects to the world at large.”

López hopes community members who attend the reading will have a greater awareness of the talent that UHV has to offer the writing community and the creative writing programs available through the university.

“The community has an opportunity to get a sense of who the writers are on campus,” López said. “I’m not sure that students are always aware that the people teaching them are also practicing what they teach. It’s an opportunity for us as writers to share our work.”

López plans to share her most recent short story, “The Midnight Bather,” about a young single mother who became pregnant as a teenager and struggles to be seen as a person instead of a statistic. The story recently was released in the anthology “Her Texas.”

Razvi intends to share an excerpt from a manuscript in progress titled “Waking Galatea,” a science fiction cyberpunk epic about a man building and programming a robot. She also plans to read from her chapbook, “Of the Divining and the Dead.”

Alexander’s reading will focus on some of his most recent work, part of which is unpublished. His reading will include works from his ongoing poetry series, “Pushing Water,” made up of metaphors involving the image and various movements of water.

Ortega does not have a specific piece chosen for the reading, but it most likely will include some fiction and a piece of poetry. His work has a strong focus on where he comes from in El Paso and will examine the topics of place and community.

“No two writers are the same, so you’re always going to get a mix and variety of styles and subjects,” Alexander said. “There will be surprises. When writers read, words come alive through the voice, and you notice things you never would have when reading from the page. It’s never the same twice. Something read 30 years ago will not be the same as when it’s read today.”

Some of the writers will bring copies of their work to sell for those who want to read more after the event. López also will bring copies of the literary journal Huizache for purchase.

The UHV Downtown Arts Series is organized by Alexander and UHV artist in residence Cynthia Miller to present an array of groundbreaking art practices to the Victoria community and encourage discussion about the arts. The remaining presenters this school year are:

  • March 28 – David Abel, performer, poet, editor and fine book dealer, 7 p.m., UHV Center for the Arts
  • April 24 – Samuel Ace, photographer, painter, filmmaker and poet, time to be announced, UHV Center for the Arts

For more information, contact Alexander at 520-275-4330 or alexanderch@uhv.edu.

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 a teaching center 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.