Writer pairs language with sound for readings

Christine Hume used to think writing poetry was an art of the past, but then the next writer in the University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Reading Series took a college course with her roommate and learned new poetry was being written all the time.

Christine Hume

“That class was a revelatory experience for me,” said Hume, who is now a creative writing professor at Eastern Michigan University. “Learning about poetry and how to write it was like learning a new language. It showed me how language can give us access to more nuanced emotional worlds, to ways of thinking and feeling that we might have never experienced otherwise.”

Hume will read from her latest book, “The Saturation Project,” during the next UHV/American Book Review Reading Series presentation at 11 a.m., Oct. 3, in the Alcorn Auditorium inside UHV University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The event is free and open to the public.

“Christine Hume is a writer who uses language to delve into the experience of being human,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, ABR editor and publisher, and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “Her interesting focus on how sound connects with language offers a twist on an already deep perception of life and emotion.”

Jeffrey Di Leo

“The Saturation Project” is a set of three interconnected essays titled “Atalanta: an Anatomy,” “Hum” and “Ventifacts.” Each essay explores elements of girlhood as a physical phenomenon. Collectively, they form an experimental memoir, Hume said.

“In this book, I explore sensory perception, memory, and the myth of self,” Hume said. “This collection examines the body as a thing saturated with experiences and sensations that it cannot contain.”

“Hum,” the piece Hume is planning to read, stems from an experience she had as a child. When she was young, people pointed out to her that she would often hum to herself without being aware of it. Hume then used that image to point out the many ways the world around us hums, from electronics to the noise of city streets to the entire planet. When she reads the essay, Hume pairs it with a musical soundtrack that was written specifically for the piece.

“The audio is a companion piece that is carefully planned,” she said. “I’m entirely compelled by the rich sonic and immersive aspects of listening and am always looking for new ways to draw my audience into the work intimately as well as performatively through sound.”

That interest gave rise to a tactic Hume calls “Critical Karaoke” that she uses when teaching her students to write poetry. Students pick a song that means something to them, then read or talk as the song plays. Some students share research about the song or even sing along.

“It’s a helpful tool for students who are new to poetry,” Hume said. “It takes something that on its own is scary or intimidating and pairs it with something familiar that already has poetic roots. Almost everyone has a deep relationship with some song.”

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

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

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs 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, Texas, 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.