For over a year now, the University of Houston has collaborated with Rice University as part of their Visiting Writers Series to showcase major American and international authors at various locations in between the two campuses.
Curated by Kevin Prufer and Ange Mlinko at UH and Joseph Campana at Rice, the series started last year and is free and open to the public.
It began as a one-time collaboration between the two universities and ultimately determined that it would be ideal for both of the campuses to team up on literary projects.
“We generally meet once a semester to talk about writers whose works seems particularly exciting, writers we’ve heard read, writers who might be of special interest to our students and the general public,” Prufer said.
“We try to go for a range of sensibilities.”
The readings do not take place on either of the campuses, but somewhere in between that are accessible to both schools.
The Jung Center has been a favorite spot while future readings are set to take place at the Brazos Bookstore and the Menil Museum.
“The idea is to embrace chaos a little, to hold readings in a variety of places,” Prufer said. “We love The Jung Center and it is often our first choice. We’ve had about one showcase a month, but much depends on funding and various authors’ schedules.”
Authors each give a reading from their work and occasionally talk about the art of writing.
Some of the authors that have participated already are Timothy Donnelly, Mark Halliday, J. Allyn Rosser, Susan Stewart and, most recently, James Richardson.
A professor at Princeton University, Richardson was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
His reading at the Jung Center on March 8 featured selections from two of his most recent poetry books “By the Numbers” and “Inter-Glacial.” It was his first time in Houston.
In a crowd of roughly 25 people, the final poem and fan favorite of the night, “Postmortem Georgic,” elicited tears from a few of audience members.
Pamela Carter was one who became emotional during the reading.
“I’ve followed his career for a while now and when I found out that he would be in Houston, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to go,” Carter said. “This poem speaks to me in a way very few do. It genuinely moves me and I highly regard it as one of his best.”