All posts by Emily Deal

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.

Nick Flynn & Tony Hoagland

Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir and has been frequently translated. He is also the author of two books of poetry, Some Ether, which won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, and Blind Huber. Due out this year is Flynn’s third book of poetry entitled The Captain Asks For a Show of Hands. His newest book, a memoir entitled The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment was recently released. He has been awarded fellowships from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Library of Congress, The Amy Lowell Trust, and The Fine Arts Work Center. One semester a year he teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, and spends the rest of the year elsewhere.

Tony Hoagland is the author of four poetry collections, including What Narcissism Means to Me, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Donkey Gospel, winner of the James Laughlin Award, Sweet Ruin, winner of the Zacharis Award, and his latest collection Unincorporated persons in the Late Honda Dynasty. He is the winner of the 2008 Jackson Poetry Prize, the 2005 O.B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize and the 2005 Mark Twain Award. He currently teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston and in the Warren Wilson College MFA program.

New Creative Writing graduate students

Aja Gabel holds a BA from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was the fiction editor of Meridian and served on the editorial board at the Virginia Quarterly Review.  She was recently a finalist in the Atlantic Monthly Student Fiction Contest and her work can be found in the New England Review, the New Ohio Review, the Southeast Review, the South Carolina Review, and elsewhere.

Austin Tremblay was born and raised in rural North Carolina. He likes slaw on his BBQ, metaphorical tar on his heels, and swings on his porches. Austin earned his MFA in creative writing at New Mexico State University and is a PhD candidate at the University of Houston. Before graduate school, he worked as an actor and playwright for a small repertory theatre company. His writing has been featured in Gulf Coast, New SouthBateau, Cream City Review, and other journals. Austin loves visiting baseball fields and playing music. He is working on a novel about his hometown, titled Scuffletown, and a chapbook, Leather, about baseball.

Celeste Prince calls the city of Lakewood, CO home, has familial roots in Guyana, South America, and spent her college years in St. Paul, MN, at Macalester College.  She is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and a recipient of the Harry Schermann award for prose from the Macalester English department. She is currently a first year MFA student at the University of Houston.  Her writing focuses on how contemporary people of color develop identity in predominantly-white spaces.  In spare moments, she enjoys listening to Top 40 music, crocheting, and drinking different types of tea.

When not writing bios or sonnets in bathrooms stalls, David Tomas Martinez lurked along the trolley lines in Barrio Logan or the fountain of Chicano Park giving hugs to the ladies and pounds to the homeboys, all the while remarking how the cigarette butts on the ground look like petals on a wet, black bough until his move to the great state of Tejas to attend the University of Houston’s PhD creative writing program in poetry.

Elizabeth Tapia (first year, PhD poetry) holds a BA in English from the College of Charleston and an MFA in Creative Writing (poetry emphasis) from Purdue University. While at Purdue, in addition to teaching, she worked in various capacities for the journal Sycamore Reviewand also worked as a graduate tutor in the Purdue Writing Lab. Before moving to Houston, she lived for four years in Chicago, where she worked at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Frances Justine Post is the recipient of the 2008 “Discovery” Poetry Prize from the 92nd Street Y.  Her poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Boston Review, The Massachusetts Review, and others.  She received her MFA in poetry from Columbia University and is currently earning her doctorate in the Creative Writing Program at the UH.

Karyna McGlynn is from Austin, TX. Her first book, I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl, won the 2008 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry from Sarabande Books. She is also the author of several chapbooks including Alabama Steve and the collaboration Small Shrines. Her poems have recently appeared in Fence, Salt Hill, Denver Quarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Copper Nickel and Indiana Review. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan and is currently is pursuing her PhD at the University of Houston. She co-edits the journal linelinelineline with Adam Theriault.  

Kimberly Bruss is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a first year MFA student at the University of Houston where she is studying poetry. Her poetry explores the concepts of Midwestern girlhood, complex familial relationships, especially between father and daughter, and the role of overweight women in society. In her spare time, Kimberly enjoys watching baseball, fishing, and playing with her beloved feline companion, Linus.

Nicole Walker is a first-year MFA candidate in Poetry. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology at the University of St. Thomas. She was born at Texas’s southernmost tip, in the town of Brownsville.  She teaches music and art classes to kids five months to five years old, and gets paid to blow bubbles and sing the itsy bitsy spider. She spends too much time wishing for cold fronts, enjoys cooking with pumpkin, and thinking up names for her future cats. She thinks she and Emily Dickinson could have been best friends. She also can’t be Nicole Walker, since there’s already a poet with the same name. She’s open to name suggestions.

Whitney Mower grew up a Mormon in Provo, Utah. Thanks to books, rock & roll, and some phenomenal college professors, she left the church to try and become a teacher and writer. Whitney has served as an English tutor for the past five years, and last April, went on a tour called “Our Vision, Our Voices,” in which women from religious backgrounds read their work in venues throughout the southwest. Whitney is also a musician—this summer her band released an album under a small label out of Austin.

Mat Johnson & Creative Writing PhD Candidates

Mat Johnson was born and raised in Philadelphia, and has lived most of his life elsewhere. He is the author of several novels and graphic novels including DropHunting in Harlem, and Incognegro. Johnson is a faculty member at The University of Houston Creative Writing Program, and lives in Texas with his wife and children.

Quincy Flowers received an MA degree in American Literature from NYU, where he was a New York Times Fellow and recipient of the Ludwig Vogelstein Award for fiction. He is a fourth year PhD student in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston and currently at work on his first novel.

Jameelah Lang is a PhD student in Fiction and Nonfiction at the University of Houston.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, both from the University of Kansas. In Lawrence, Kansas, Jameelah co-founded the Bathtub Kansas Writers’ Collective, an initiative aimed at creating a more integral relationship between creative writing and community.  Jameelah was also the 2009-2010 Writer-in-Residence at HUB-BUB in Spartanburg, SC.

Ed Porter‘s short fiction was recently featured in the anthology Best New American Voices 2010, and has also appeared in the journals Colorado Review, Booth Journal, and Inch Magazine. He holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and was the James C. McCreight Fellow in Fiction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 2007-2008. Currently he is a third year PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston.