Gifted writers on UHV faculty team up for new creative writing program
July 7, 2012 at 2:07 a.m.
A quintet of award-winning authors at the University of Houston-Victoria, including new writer-in-residence Beverly Lowry, will be instructors for the university's new creative writing degree.
Starting this fall, a creative writing degree will be offered in the UHV School of Arts and Sciences. Students in Victoria and online can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities - Creative Writing.
Courses will be taught by five award-winning authors: Lowry; Dagoberto Gilb, executive director of CentroVictoria at UHV; and English lecturers Diana López, Brian Carr and Rene Perez.
Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said few creative writing programs in the nation can match the writing qualifications of the faculty teaching UHV's new program.
"We have an all-star lineup of award-winning authors, including two Guggenheim Fellows, to teach this degree," he said. "This prestigious group has a wealth of experience and anecdotes to share with students. We also thought this was a good segue to our master's degree in publishing since writing and publishing go hand-in-hand."
López said having published authors teach the courses will benefit students. Faculty members will be able to share stories from their own writing experiences and provide firsthand accounts of their work with marketing, editing and critiquing.
"A writer has to wear a lot of hats these days," López said. "The publishing world has changed. Much of the responsibility is on the writer's shoulders."
Lowry said the courses will not only examine and teach writing but also break down how writers go about creating their work.
"We will try to analyze what writers attempt to do and how they go about doing it," Lowry said. "To some extent, it's a different approach to literature than an academic professor might offer. There's nothing like this program in the Victoria area."
The author of six novels and three nonfiction works, Lowry has served as president of the Texas Institute of Letters and director of the creative nonfiction program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
She was a speaker during the 2011 UHV/American Book Review Spring Reading Series and has received awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, Black Warrior Review, Texas Institute of Letters and Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.
Lowry said awards are nice, but they are secondary to the writing itself. She and other authors teaching the new degree want to inspire students.
"I hope the students will realize what's possible," she said. "It's not just about studying William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. We are living examples of what's possible."
Lowry said she's looking forward to working at a university with administrators who are enthusiastic about starting new projects.
"The progress with the American Book Review and the various publications speak to the sense of possibility," she said. "I like that a lot. I am looking forward to meeting people and teaching students."
Lowry was honored with a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1983. Gilb received the same honor in 1995.
His work has appeared in national magazines such as The New Yorker, Harper's and GQ, and he has been widely anthologized in college textbooks. Gilb has been honored with many state and national prizes, including the James D. Phelan Award, Dobie-Paisano Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. His most recent book, "Before the End, After the Beginning," was published in 2011 and drew national acclaim.
Creative writing students will have to satisfy core curriculum humanities requirements and take the classes "Introduction to Creative Writing" and "Grammar and Rhetoric." They also have the option of taking classes in fiction writing, nonfiction writing, poetry writing or screenplays.
The degree prepares students for careers in writing, publishing and teaching, although the program could be a useful degree for a number of related professions such as marketing, journalism, publishing and arts administration.
"Aside from a love of literature and a love of writing, taking creative writing courses has several practical applications," López said. "It's good for developing communication skills. This is an information-laden society, so being able to write well and communicate well is important."
López has won several awards for her 2009 book "Confetti Girl." It was a featured title for Scholastic Book Fairs and a Commended Title for the Américas Book Award. Kansas schoolchildren recently awarded it with one of the 2012 William Allen White Children's Book Awards.
López's newest book, "Choke," was released last week.
Carr was the inaugural winner of the Texas Observer Short Story Prize. His debut collection, "Short Bus," was released in 2011. His writing has appeared in the American Book Review, Fiction International, NANO Fiction and several other publications.
Perez published a book earlier this year titled "Along These Highways." It is a collection of fiction short stories set in Austin, Corpus Christi and Greenton, a fictional town in South Texas.