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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Life + Arts

Poetry reading showcases UH’s finest

It’s not every day that you get to hear the great writers of tomorrow read their own work. Wednesday afternoon offered this opportunity as creative writers gathered in the Honors College Commons for the launch of the “Glass Mountain” premiere national issue.

The launch included a poetry reading that featured UH’s finest creative writers, including Regina Vigil, David Toombs, Roxanne Terrell, Penny Montalvo, Miriah Kizer, Luke Patterson and Sessa Katz.

“This is a very, very exciting night for us,” Lynn Voskuil, faculty advisor for “Glass Mountain” said. “Because ‘Glass Mountain,’ only just five years old, has now grown up. It is now a national journal. We are accepting submissions from all over the country.”

Wyman Herendeen, chairman of the English department at UH, also offered his praise for the journal.

“There is no undergraduate journal that has the professionalism, quality and excellence that ‘Glass Mountain’ brings,” said Herendeen.

He added that “the journal distinguishes both the University and its creative writing program.”

The journal is entirely student-run and publishes poetry, fiction and non-fiction as well as artwork, and has no criteria regarding its submissions. The journal is special because it features the works of undergraduate students and uses not only editors, but readers for each category.

“We try to have as many viewpoints as possible in the evaluation of literary content,” managing editor James Roberts said. “Our motto is that a literary work will always speak for itself. If it’s good, it’s good.”

He said that in terms of submissions, the journal accepts “anything and everything.”

“This year, the pieces that we received were especially excellent,” Roberts said. “Of course, we had a huge surge of submissions because it is the first national issue.”

Fiction editor Katy Newman agreed, saying that the number of submissions has skyrocketed.

“I wish I had exact numbers, but while last year we might have read 30 fiction prose submissions total, this year the fiction readers have made it through around 200.”

Five years ago, “Glass Mountain” was a humble proposal by a few enterprising undergraduate students. The idea was to start a literary journal that would showcase the original and creative work of undergraduate writers at UH. The decision to go national was made only recently.

“We decided GM would go national, or begin accepting outside submissions about a year ago,” co-editor Vanessa Villareal said. “The founding editors, Maureen Sanchez and Regina Vigil, established the journal, and editors Tiffany Thor and Patrick Stockwell decided to go national.

“Since then, I have been working with Tiffany Thor and we have seen it come through to fruition.”

Tiffany Thor said that the response from the national community was “unbelievably supportive.”

“We are in complete awe of how many submissions we received for this issue both from UH and outside, and just the overall support for what we’re doing,” she said. “Any time someone shares his or her work with you, it’s an absolute privilege.

“We truly feel honored to be entrusted with so many people’s work.”

The new voices certainly helped draw an enthusiastic crowd.

“I was ecstatic we had the turnout we got today,” Roberts said. “It really speaks to how the journal has grown-up and the general enthusiasm for it.”

David Toombs, a creative writing major at UH, had his work featured in the current issue and read some of his own fiction works at the event.

“‘Glass Mountain’ is outstanding,” said Toombs. “Every time I get involved, I’ve learned a lot as a writer and just working with the writing community — professional and student writers like myself — has been awesome with the feedback and experience.”

Sessa Kratz, a poet, said that she admired the edition and artwork.

“I think ‘Glass Mountain’ is really great,” Kratz said. “Because as an undergraduate, it’s highly unlikely to have your work published. ‘Glass Mountain’ helps young writers get that exposure.”

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