Glass Mountain #21

Jackson Neal is a freshman at the University of Houston and a three-time member of Houston’s premier youth poetry slam team, Meta-Four Houston. He is the 2017 and 2018 Space City Grand Slam Champion, a 2018 National Young Arts Foundation Winner in Writing, a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts nominee, and the 2019 Southwest Regional Youth Poet Laureate. His writing and videos have been featured in the Claremont Review, Houston Chronicle, Houston Public Media, and elsewhere. A proud member of Clutch City, Jackson reps H-Town wherever he goes.

Sohair Elmowafy is a nocturnal creature whose work has recently been published in The Rice Review. She holds a BA in Creative Writing, and can be found somewhere in Houston probably avoiding humans and drinking copious amounts of Coca Cola.

Christopher Miguel Flakus is a poet and writer living in Houston, Texas. He has published work in The Huffington Post, Akashic Books: Mondays are Murder Noir Series, Indietronica, Outlaw Poetry, In Recovery Magazine, Glass Poetry, Black Heart Magazine, and elsewhere. In 2017 he was awarded the Fabian Worsham Prize for fiction. In addition, he was one of the editors responsible for The University of Houston-Downtown’s literary magazine, The Bayou Review, during their special prison issue which focused on the writings of authors serving sentences in Texas prisons. He is the author of the chapbooks Bear Down Into Hell With Me (As Only a True Friend Would), and Thirst, and Other Poems through Iron Lung Press, as well as the chapbook Christiana, from Analog Submission Press. He grew up in Mexico City and writes in both English and Spanish. He is currently working on his first novel.


Hayan Charara and Chinelo Okparanta

Hayan Charara is a poet, children’s book author, essayist, and editor. His poetry books are Something Sinister (2016), The Sadness of Others (2006), and The Alchemist’s Diary (2001). His children’s book, The Three Lucys (2016), received the New Voices Award Honor, and he edited Inclined to Speak (2008), an anthology of contemporary Arab American poetry. With Fady Joudah, he is also a series editor of the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize. His honors include a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lucille Joy Prize in Poetry from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, the John Clare Prize, and the Arab American Book Award. He is a UH CWP alumnus and faculty member of the UH Honors College.

Chinelo Okparanta’s debut short story collection, Happiness, Like Water, was cited as an editors’ choice in the New York Times Book Review and was named on the list of The Guardian’s Best African Fiction of 2013. The book was nominated for the Nigerian Writers Award (Young Motivational Writer of the Year), longlisted for the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and was a finalist for the 2014 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award as well as the Etisalat Prize for Literature. Okparanta was also a finalist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing, the 2013 Society of Midland Authors Award, and the 2014 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative in Literature.

She has published work in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, the Kenyon Review, AGNI, and other venues, and was named one of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012. In 2017, Okparanta was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists. Under the Udala Trees is her first novel, which was shortlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award, among many other honors. She is currently a visiting faculty member in the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.

Robin Davidson & Tony Diaz

Robin Davidson is author of two poetry chapbooks, Kneeling in the Dojo and City that Ripens on the Tree of the World, as well as a full collection, Luminous Other, which received the Ashland Poetry Press’s 2012 Richard Snyder Memorial Publication Prize. She is co-translator with Ewa Elżbieta Nowakowska of The New Century: Poems from the Polish of Ewa Lipska, and is completing a second volume of translations of Lipska’s recent Droga pani Schubert (Dear Mrs. Schubert) poems. She has received, among other awards, a Fulbright professorship at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland and a National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowship. Davidson served as the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate for the City of Houston under the leadership of Mayors Annise Parker and Sylvester Turner, and was a finalist for Texas State Poet Laureate in 2017. She is a member of the artist-run, cooperative literary press Calypso Editions, and teaches literature and creative writing as professor of English for the University of Houston-Downtown.

Writer, activist, and professor Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, was the first Chicano to graduate from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. He holds an MFA in Fiction. He’s the author of the novel The Aztec Love God, and his essays have appeared in the Houston Chronicle, The Texas Observer,, the Los Angeles Times, and The Huffington Post Latino Voices, among other publications. He is included in Hecho En Tejas: The Anthology of TEXAS MEXICAN Writers and Literary Houston. He recently launched the column “The Cultural Accelerator” to address issues that other publications don’t address in a unique style and point of view.  

In 1998, he founded the organization Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, to promote Latino literature and literacy. Nuestra Palabra has organized and conducted the largest book fairs in Houston, and created the Nuestra Palabra radio show. Through the NP MFA program, 14 Latinos have been inspired and guided to earn Master’s degrees in Writing.

Diaz made national and international news in 2012 by leading veteran members of Nuestra Palabra to organize a Librotraficante Caravan to smuggle contraband books into Arizona in defiance of the state’s Mexican American Studies ban. He has been a leading advocate for Mexican American Studies statewide, and was the lead writer and editor for the textbook The Mexican American Studies Toolkit. He is also an educational consultant for school districts implementing innovative curricula.   

Diaz is a political analyst on the show “What’s Your Point,” which airs on Fox 26 Houston. He also hosts the weekly bilingual radio program “Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say,” which covers Latino literature, art, and politics on KPFT 90.1 FM Houston.


Martha Serpas & Peter Turchi

Martha Serpas is the author of three collections of poetry, The DienerThe Dirty Side of the Storm; and Côte Blanche. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, as well as in a number of anthologies. A native of south Louisiana, she remains active in efforts to restore Louisiana’s wetlands. Since 2006 she has worked as a trauma hospital chaplain. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at The University of Houston.

Peter Turchi is the author of five books, and co-editor of three anthologies. The recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation, he teaches fiction and nonfiction at the University of Houston.

New Creative Writing Graduate Students

Before starting the University of Houston’s Creative Writing PhD, Nick Rattner taught English at Holyoke Community College and coached high school basketball. He is a former basketball journalist and Editor for Ugly Duckling Presse. With Marta del Pozo, he has translated the work of poets Yván Yauri and Czar Gutiérrez. Recent work can be found in The Columbia Review, Beautiful Losers, Asymptote, Exchanges, and InTranslation.

A native Houstonian, Sonia Hamer earned her BA in English from Rice University. She has been the recipient of the Marion Barthelme Prize in Creative Writing at Rice University, the Larry McMurtry Prize in Fiction, and the George Williams Prize in Non-Fiction.   

Hunter Gilson is a first-year MFA student. Before joining the Creative Writing Program at UH, he received a BA and MA from Kansas State University.

Colby Ornell is originally from a small town in central Massachusetts. She has a BA in English Literature from Wheaton College (MA) and an MFA in Fiction from Butler University. Her work has appeared in The Cobalt Review and Curbside Splendor.

Madeleine Maillet is a writer, translator and editor. Her work has appeared in Prism International, THIS Magazine, Joyland, The Journey Prize Stories Anthology and other places. She is happy to be a brand new PhD Candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Houston.

Despy Boutris is a Berkeley, California native currently earning her MFA in creative writing at the University of Houston. Her poems have been featured in several publications, and she was awarded Editor’s Choice in 2016, Second Place in 2017, and First Place in 2018 in California Polytechnic State University’s yearly literary journal, Byzantium.

Grace Wagner is an incoming a MFA in poetry. She just graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado Denver where she studied with Wayne Miller, Brian Barker, and Nicky Beer. She has attended the New York Summer Writers Institute and her work can be found in Salmagundi Magazine, which featured nine of her poems.

Blaine Ely received a BA from Western Kentucky University, an MA from Auburn University, and an MFA from the University of Oregon. He has worked in both retail and agriculture, as well as in the oil and gas industry, and his fiction has appeared in Ninth Letter and Shenandoah. He is from Kentucky.

Brittny Ray Crowell, a native of Texarkana, TX, received her BA in English from Spelman College, followed by an MA in English from Texas A&M-Texarkana. Her work focuses on the hidden mythologies, dreams, traumas, and sensualities of the black contemporary south. In addition to poetry and creative writing, her interests also include studying the intersections between religion and hip hop.

Obi Calvin Umeozor received his B.A. in English from the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and taught English Literature before moving to the States in 2015, where he obtained an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida State University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the New Orleans Review, Southeast Review, Shift and others. He was shortlisted for the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.


Glass Mountain #20

Lida Hedayatpour is a sophomore attending UH’s Honors College. While she is seeking a career in law or academia, one of Lida’s hobbies is to write poetry. She most commonly writes about love, mental strife, and her relationship being both an Iranian and an American citizen. She has been published in Z Publishing’s Best Emerging Poet Series, has taken a poetry writing course at UH, and performed spoken word at Girls Rock, an event which showcases the talents of women at the University of Houston.

Jeremy Amorin is a writer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur from Houston, TX, who aspires to be a renowned name in original fiction throughout the world. He is a first-generation American—both of his parents are from Accra, Ghana—and his dream career is unencumbered storytelling through every available medium, from literature to film to music and more.

Erin Andrea is full of nightmares and fears. She beats them up in Krav Maga and runs from them on horseback through the desert. She also feels compelled to share them in her writing. She’s an undergraduate student with the University of Houston, and Glass Mountain is her published writing debut.

D.M. Rice is a nonbinary writer from Dallas, TX with interests including psychoanalysis, ancient religions, and a nice cup of tea. DM has recently completed a short novel, We Three Kings, is negotiating a contract for a book of erasure poems carved out of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, and is attempting to secure permissions for a screenplay adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.


Wanjiku wa Ngugi & Peter Kimani

Wanjiku wa Ngugi is author of the novel The Fall of Saints, as well as the founder and former director of the Helsinki African Film Festival. She has been a columnist for the Finnish development magazine Maailman Kuvalehti, and her essays and short stories have been published in Wasafiri Magazine, The Herald (Zimbabwe), The Daily Nation & Business Daily, Pambazuka News, and Chimurenga, among others. She is currently completing her MFA in the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.

Peter Kimani is an award-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed historical novel Dance of the Jakaranda, which was selected as  a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a New York Times Notable Book of 2017.  Kimani’s previous work includes the novel Before the Rooster Crows, and the children’s novel Upside Down, for which he was awarded the 2011 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, Kenya’s highest literary honor. His poetry appears in several anthologies, and he was one of only three international poets commissioned by National Public Radio to compose and recite a poem to mark Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009. Kimani received his formal education in Kenya, the United Kingdom, and the United States, where he earned a doctorate in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston in 2014. He is a founding faculty member of the Graduate School of Media and Communications at Aga Khan University in Nairobi, Kenya, and is currently a Visiting Writer at Amherst College.

Henk Rossouw & Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Henk Rossouw’s book-length poem Xamissa won the Poets Out Loud Editor’s Prize and will be published in Fall 2018 by Fordham University Press. Best American Experimental Writing 2018 (Wesleyan University Press) features an excerpt. His chapbook Xamissa: The Water Archives is part of the boxset New-Generation African Poets: Tano (Akashic Books/African Poetry Book Fund), along with the work of ten other writers connected to the continent. His poems have come out in The Paris Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Boston Review. He holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a PhD from the University of Houston. Currently, Henk is a visiting assistant professor in the University of Houston’s Honors College and an associate editor for Tupelo Quarterly.

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is the author of the forthcoming novel House of Stone (Atlantic Books, UK, June 2018, W. W. Norton, USA, January 2019). A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (2015), where she was a recipient of the Maytag and TWF Fellowships, as well as a Rydson Award, she is a native of Zimbabwe, has lived in South Africa and the USA, and is a recipient of the Inprint Fondren Foundation/Michael and Nina Zilkha Fellowship at the UH Creative Writing Program. Shadows, her short story collection, was published to critical acclaim by Kwela in South Africa (2013) and awarded the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize. Novuyo has received writing residencies from the Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious Bellagio Programme and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. She has work forthcoming in McSweeney’s (Issue 52, March 2018) and The Displaced (Abrams Press, April 2018), an anthology edited by the Pulitzer Prize winning writer Viet Thanh Nguyen. Novuyo serves on the Editorial Advisory Board and is a Fiction Editor at The Bare Life Review, a journal of refugee and immigrant literature.

Ecopoetics on the Gulf

Ecopoetics on the Gulf reading will feature poetry, cinepoems, and paintings by graduate students enrolled in the Ecopoetics on the Gulf course led by UH CWP faculty member Martha Serpas.

Chelsea B. DesAutels serves as poetry editor of Gulf Coast. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Pleiades, The Texas Review, and others. She is the recipient of the Virginia Reiser Memorial Scholarship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellowship. She teaches at the University of Houston, where she is an MFA candidate.

Joshua Gottlieb-Miller’s poems can be found in concis, Grist, Four Way Review, Pleiades, Indiana Review and elsewhere, and a non-fiction/poetry hybrid is online at Pacifica Lit Review. He is the digital nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast and a PhD student at the University of Houston.

Josie Mitchell is in her third year of her MFA in fiction at the University of Houston. She is a nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast and student advisor to the UH undergraduate literary magazine, Glass Mountain. She is from San Diego, California, and is at work on an apocalyptic story collection set there. It’s called, Fuck You, El Niño.

Michelle Orsi grew up in Spokane, Washington, and currently serves as an assistant poetry editor for Gulf Coast. She is an MFA student at the University of Houston.

Sam Thilén is an MFA candidate at University of Houston and an assistant poetry editor for Gulf Coast. She studied English and Spanish at the University of Florida, where she served as editor-in-chief for the undergraduate literary magazine Tea. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tea, The Fine Print, Prairie, and The Boston Review. Sam loves Finland, word origins, and petting other people’s dogs.

Stalina Emmanuelle Villarreal lives as a rhyming-slogan creative activist. She is a Generation 1.5 poet (mexicana and Chicana), a translator, a sonic-improv collaborator, and an instructor of English. She is a Ph.D. student in the Creative Writing Program at University of Houston. Her poetry can be found in the Rio Grande Review and the Texas Review. She is the translator of Enigmas, by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Señal: a project of Libros Antena Books, BOMB, and Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015), and Photograms of My Conceptual Heart, Absolutely Blind, by Minerva Reynosa (Cardboard House Press, 2016).

Lani Yu is a first-generation Chinese-American poet. A third-year poetry MFA student at the University of Houston, she also serves as an assistant poetry editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts and teaches English. She grew up in Orlando and graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Psychology. She was a semifinalist for the 2016 DISQUIET Literary Prize Contest, and her work has appeared in University of Florida’s TEA literary magazine. She is currently working on a poetry manuscript that explores complex family dynamics, cultural identity, and the lyric self.

Roberto Tejada & Mat Johnson

Roberto Tejada is the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing with a joint appointment in the department of Art History. He is the author of poetry collections that include Full Foreground (2012), Exposition Park (2010), Mirrors for Gold (2006), and Todo en el ahora (2015).

He founded and co-edited the journal Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas, a multilingual annual of poetry and translation (1991-2014), and is the author of art histories that include National Camera: Photography and Mexico’s Image Environment (2009); a monograph on pioneering Chicana conceptual artist Celia Alvarez Muñoz (2009), and such catalog essays as “Los Angeles Snapshots” in Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960-1980 (Hammer Museum, 2011).

His poetry and creative research develop the relationship between sight, display, public speech, and spectacle; he is at work on a trans-American project that examines specific art scenes of 1960s-1970s Los Angeles, 1980s-1990s Mexico City, and present-day São Paulo.

Mat Johnson is the author of the novels Loving Day, Pym, Drop, and Hunting in Harlem, the nonfiction novella The Great Negro Plot, and the comic books Incognegro and Dark Rain. He is a recipient of the United States Artist James Baldwin Fellowship, The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature.

He is a Professor at the UH Creative Writing Program.