Born of humble roots, student published journal plans to expand its audience, repertoire with mix of poetry, prose
Two and a half years ago, the undergraduate literary journal Glass Mountain was still only an idea and a group of students proofreading stories till 3 a.m.
The undergraduate editors were a little unsure about their endeavor and were hoping for the best before sending their soon-to-be publication to the printer, but they still had a long way to go – the group faced technical problems and a crippling shortage of funding in preparing the fledgling journal.
Months of hard work and a sponsorship by the English Department later, Glass Mountain has celebrated the release of its third issue and garnered recognition throughout the community.
The student-run publication has published non-fiction, fiction and poetry works each semester since Spring 2007 and has no limits when it comes to the themes of its content. As Poetry Editor Franke Varca put it, one could open up the literary magazine and find themes of murder, rape and incest.
"The purpose of the journal is to showcase talent at the University," Varca said.
Glass Mountain is advised by English professor Lynn Voskuil, and the publication has had several readings around campus and Houston. Most recently, The Honors College hosted Glass Mountain for a reading with faculty, staff and supporters on Wednesday.
"The function is to publish, read and share with other undergraduates," Varca said.
UH creative writing senior Nancy Elena Agin, who has published poetry in the journal, agrees that Glass Mountain offers the opportunities students are looking for.
"I think that Glass Mountain is an excellent vehicle for undergrads to get their stuff published," Agin said.
Managing Editor Maureen Sanchez and Co-Fiction Editor Melissa Martinez teamed up with Varca to turn their goal into what is now a publication.
"I had a class with Melissa when we first started the journal, but (we) did not really know each other before then," Sanchez said. "Melissa had a class with Franke, and she suggested Franke as a possible poetry editor. We interviewed him and a number of other candidates, and he was selected."
The submissions are divided into specific genres and thoroughly read. Editors have their own criteria when selecting a work, but before any of the editors see the stories, Sanchez goes through submitted works and removes the writer’s contact information.
"Maureen gets to see the works with the names on it, and we look at the names (only) after accepting the work," Varca said.
The journal recieves, on average, about 20 fiction submissions per issue, and only three get published. Poetry will receive about 35 submissions, and only eight make it through.
Sanchez said some works don’t make the cut because they are underdeveloped and the writer needs to do more work.
Editors are not allowed to submit their own work, although exceptions are made if they receive an award for a piece they wrote.
Martinez remembers the feeling when she held the publication in her hands for the first time and during the journal’s first public reading.
"It’s a moment when you want to share, and it’s the best feeling ever," she said.
Varca felt the same when his hard work paid off.
"I think it’s the sharing part that is the most exciting part," Varca said. "Our creative writing department at UH is one of the five best in the country, and it’s known internationally."
In the future, Glass Mountain wants to reach out to the community by collaborating with other Houston universities.
"We hope to do a joint issue that will include St. Thomas, Rice and UH to represent all three universities," Varca said.
Glass Mountain is looking for ways to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to enhance their writing skills.
"We are planning a summer workshop/conference for May 2009," Sanchez said. "It will be a week-long conference where well-known graduate students will host workshops tailored to their genre."
For more information, log on to www.uh.edu/glassmountain.