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Boldface Write-A-Thon!

Click here for more details!

Please join us for the 2013

Boldface Write-a-Thon!

November 9, 2013, 9:00-5:00

UH Writing Center Room 238

Come for as long or as little as you’d like!

Work on current writing projects!

Earn money by doing what you do best!


Short form contests—limerick, haiku, nano-fiction—with prizes!

Kindle HD Fire for the highest earner!!

Kindle HD Fire drawing for everyone who brings in more than $150!!!

More awards and drawings!!!!

Best of all: free breakfast and lunch!!!!!

Click here for more details!

  • Boldface is the summer creative writing conference for undergraduates and other emerging writers
  • Boldface and the Write-a-thon are sponsored by Glass Mountain, the undergraduate literary journal at UH
  • All proceeds from the Write-a-thon will subsidize Boldface 2014: May 19-23, 2014
  • Participants in the Write-a-thon should secure at least one sponsor
  • Sponsors may pay by check or credit card (online); donations to UH are fully tax-deductible
  • Questions may be directed to us at glassmountaineditors@gmail.com

Robertson Prize 2013 Submissions Are Now Open!

Attention Boldface 2013 writers:

The Robertson Prize is a contest open only to attendees of the Boldface Conference. Please submit a revised story, poem(s), or piece of creative nonfiction. We offer a $100 prize for Poetry and Prose, and all submissions will be considered for publication in Glass Mountain.

The deadline to submit for the Robertson Prize is September 1st! Follow the link for more details. Remember, Boldface 2013 participants only. We look forward to reading your work. Good Luck!

2013 National Program Directors’ prize for Undergraduate Literary Magazines

“Congratulations! Bonnie Culver of Wilkes University, our judge, has declared Glass Mountain as the winner of the 2013 National Program Directors’ prize for Undergraduate Literary Magazines in the content category.

Ms. Culver has this to say about the magazine: ‘Edgy, funny, smart, and top shelf fiction and poetry.’”

That’s right! Glass Mountain wins the director’s prize from AWP for undergrad lit mags. That’s $500 for the magazine and a whole heap of “awesome job” for our staff, and all of our contributors cross the nation.  Good job folks!

Don’t miss Boldface 2013!

The deadline for the 2013 Boldface Conference has been extended to midnight on Saturday, May 4.  We’ve got a few spots left – don’t miss the chance to workshop your fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction at the country’s only literary conference specifically for emerging writers. Boldface 2013 will be held from May 20-24 on the UH campus, and this year’s visiting writers are Joni Tevis, Jericho Brown and Miah Arnold. The student registration fee of $125 includes breakfast and lunch daily, plus workshops, lectures, panels, craft talks, readings, and more.  Come join us!

Be bold/face the writer in you.


Glass Mountain Spring 2013 Issue + Boldface!

Hey all, we’re back with another issue, this time for Spring 2013, with a launch at the Poetry & Prose Reading Series in the UH honors commons.

Doesn’t it look awesome?  We have our contest winners in this one (congratulations, gals and guys!) and with it done, the last bit of business we have left is our conference.

Have you guys checked out www.boldfaceconference.com yet?  It’s a conference we put on for emerging writers, and the registration deadline is fast approaching.  It’s super cheap and we give you breakfast and lunch (that’s a pretty sweet deal, right?) and workshops and craft talks.  It’s a lot of fun, and we hope to see you there!

Release the Floodgates: It’s Submission Time

The fall brings many things: crisp air, sneezing, new presidents and turkey. It also ushers in new ideas, which is just what we want for our upcoming Fall issue of the journal.

In case you haven’t noticed the nifty new tab above labeled Submit & Contest, it’s that time of the year again. We’ve grown a little restless here at Glass Mountain, so we need some kind of pick-me-up. That’s where you come in. So, to kick off this fall season, Glass Mountain would like to announce its open call for submissions. From now until Thursday, November 22, the journal will be accepting submissions in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, as well as artwork. We accept submissions in all standard formats. Those interested in submitting their work can do so using Submittable: glassmountain.submittable.com.

And if that’s not enough motivation, Glass Mountain will be sponsoring its First Annual Prose and Poetry Contest.  The concept is fairly straightforward: submit your work by Tuesday, December 25, and if your entry is selected, you receive 250 big ones (American dolla, dollas). To enter the contest, just follow these easy steps:

1) Take some time to look into the mirror and ask yourself this question: Am I an undergraduate student? If you answer Yes, proceed to step 2.

2) Submit a work of prose (4,000 word limit) or 10 pages of poetry, along with a $5 entry fee.

3) Take a deep breath, cross your fingers, and don’t stress over that syntax error in your cover letter.

To those who take us up on these offers, we wish you the very best of luck.


Glass Mountain

Readings: Essential and Fundamental

Readings—and any form of public performance, really—are a testament to human intimacy and innovation. They also reveal a great deal about our linguistic heritage.  If you feel that this assertion is too broad, overarching, or excessive, consider Prehistory for a moment. Still lost? No worries, you’re rock solid, on the right path; let’s narrow down everything there is to ponder prehistorically and just focus on our ancestors: cavemen. And cavewomen. Okay, so cave people (in the end, political correctness will be our downfall).

Why, you ask?

Because they are the bud of human interaction (I won’t even bother with that one). And though many centuries have passed, their fireside chats and circum-spacial gatherings remain familiar spectacles. This similarity, though probably inaccurately propagated by films like Caveman and Hightlights pictorials, is something I considered while at the latest Glass Mountain reading; this thought will likely pervade my experience at others as well. Between the smell of cigarette smoke, Christmas mood lighting, and blaring fans, the simulation of natural elements was in full motion. However, these were only accents; the most significant measure of a prehistoric Kumbaya were the participants.

It should be known that cave people had violent tempers, bad manners, and ate each other. What’s more, they probably weren’t very considerate during their little fireside chats. Apparently, arm flinging and bonks to the head with turd-shaped clubs were the norm. With that in mind, I can safely say that our current public displays of thought, creativity, and contemplation receive less debilitating applause. And just as human etiquette continues to evolve, Glass Mountain’s reading series will continue to grow as well.

The following photos chronicle the night’s lineup, a far less hairy crowd than their prehistoric brethren. Better posture, too:

From one cave person to another: keep your calendars open for next month’s lineup of cave people.

Amanda Scott

Assistant Fiction Editor

Brief Interviews with Hideously Talented People: Part Three

All good things come in threes, so to top off this series of interviews I exchanged nouns, verbs, and punctuation with Houston’s own Marcell Murphy. A believer in the power of spoken word, Marcell discusses his literary influences and experiences, some of which have taken him abroad.

Marcell Murphy is a poet, spoken word artist, and writer from the Houston area.


GLASS MOUNTAIN: According to your bio, you are an international reading machine, having shared your work in places outside the United States such as Canada and Jamaica. What was it like to participate in these readings and interact with those of other literary traditions?


MARCELL MURPHY: Reading internationally was really wonderful. The exchange of ideas about different forms and the use of free verse were absolutely stimulating. The cultural exchanges were the greatest benefit; hearing about the evolution of poetry in different countries and the struggles and triumphs of being a poet in those countries made me realize how different the process can be and how strikingly similar a lot of the techniques and concepts are.


GM: Not too long ago, I attended a reading in which you were a participant, along with some other notable local writers. One of the things that immediately attracted me to your work was your delivery; it was both lively and powerful. What are your thoughts on public readings and presentation? Do you think readers have an obligation to their audience?


MM: Obligation is a bit strong; performing poetry and reading poetry both have their place. Performance poetry is more conversational and it’s a little more challenging to convey the use of language on stage. On the contrary, the ability to emotionally connect to the audience is therapeutic for the poet and, hopefully, for the audience member. This can vary by crowd; some audiences want to hear the conventions in your poetry and your use of language, and others want to be moved emotionally, so the reader has an obligation to be honest with who they are as a writer and a duty to convey the best message possible to their audience, no matter what kind it is.


GM: To add to the previous question, at the reading aforementioned, one of the poems you shared crafts a world in which the speaker struggles with high blood pressure. The poem’s language was lyrically interesting and somehow felt very autobiographical—to which you confirmed my inclinations, briefly commenting on the poem afterwards. How would you describe your poetical interests? Do you find yourself writing mostly about personal trauma or experience?


MM: It took me quite a while to start writing autobiographically; I was initially enthralled with social commentaries, political poems, and love. I learned from contemporaries and mentors that it’s necessary to test the borders of your writing. Writing from places that are not always comfortable will help me to become a more complete poet, so I believe that nothing is off limits when it comes to subject matter, even if it’s about me and my demons.


GM: Throughout the Houston community, you are an active voice within literary circles, namely among slam poets. What drew you to this art form and how do you think open, verbal connection informs your written work? Is the performance of your work something you keep in mind during the writing process?


MM: I went to my first slam in 2001 and was blown away. The fusion of great writing and performance really showed me the power of poetry beyond the page. There is a delicate balance between verbal connection and the written word. My goal is to perform in a way that supplies audience members with great content and a great performance without sacrificing either. That’s the amazing thing about slam—you get a fusion of both.


GM: I suppose it goes without saying that most writers are influenced by other artists they admire and respect—these allegiances can vary in degree, of course. I’m sure you have a few notable poets that have inspired you. However, possibly more interesting are the unexpected individuals that lend themselves to creative fervor. Are there any unconventional figures or objects that inform your writing?


MM: I have written poems based on the soundtrack of video games, graffiti art throughout the city, and even from the Opera (I have a number of short poems inspired by Bizet’s Carmen). Inspiration does not just come from one source and I have learned to be open to many different forms of art, and I am grateful for it all.


Once again, Glass Mountain invites you to attend its next reading on Tuesday, August 21. It’ll be well worth your time, even if you only wish to make a cameo appearance. You’ll hear from the likes of Marcell, as well as the other subjects of this literary one-on-one. We hope to see you there.


Amanda Scott

Assistant Fiction Editor

Brief Interviews with Hideously Talented People: Part Two

In the second leg of this Q&A marathon, we take host inside the mind of poet Scott Chalupa, literary throwback and Haiku extraordinaire. Among other things, Chalupa expounds on the writing process, “bad news,” and the Bayou City’s literary scene.

Scott Chalupa is a Co-Editor for Glass Mountain.


GLASS MOUNTAIN: You are a fairly seasoned reader, having participated in more than a handful of public readings thus far. What can we expect for this particular reading? Are the pieces you plan to share related in any way? What value do you find as an artist in public readings, as opposed to the privacy of reading to oneself?

SCOTT CHALUPA: You can expect a little sleaze with a dash of spirituality—hopefully not a slapdash. With only 10-12 minutes I like a little consistency, but a good spread of topics. All the pieces are related in the sense that some are about brokenness, one is about wholeness, and another is about pushing through the distance between those two states. Hopefully, there will be enough of an arc to travel from one point to the next.

Public readings remind me that I don’t write in a vacuum. I’ve always enjoyed a public forum. For several years I attended an open mic at the Mausoleum (now AvantGarden). I hung out on the fringes of the Houston slam scene years ago, where I met Marcell Murphy, another of our readers this month. When I first began reading at open mics, I was reading to myself over a microphone. After some caustic encouragement from a couple writers I admired, I began to read differently. I also began to write with the audience in mind. The energy I encountered in the slams pushed that even further. Through both experiences I learned that poetry exists as a relationship between writer and audience.

GM: In its ambition to become an epicenter of literature, Houston’s literary culture is constantly evolving and redefining its bounds. As a veteran of Glass Mountain and active organizer, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve contributed to that force. How do you feel about your position within the local lit community and how do you see yourself fitting into its maturation?

SC: I’m just an active participant. Sometimes I’m more active than others, and I certainly don’t always have an accurate gauge about how great or small my contribution is. I do know that my involvement is evolving. Years ago, I was very active in attending and hosting readings. I even gave a couple readings at BookStop (rest in peace, old friend). I involved myself in different pockets, from open mics to slams to workshops, but they were all entirely outside the more academic community in which I now find myself. Today, I’m focused on Glass Mountain and its functions at UH and (hopefully) in the greater writing community of Houston. I fit in where I am asked to—I just do what is in front of me to be done.

Houston’s literary community is vibrant, and I don’t know if it wants to or could be an epicenter. There are a few publishing houses working out of Houston, and Inprint brings many key literary figures to town. Perhaps the pockets of the literary community are more disparate than need be, so the maturation process (I’m not sure that’s the correct word) would be one of bringing the pockets together. The nature of “literature,” I think, is rather insular. Dickens was a rock star to the general public. When was the last time you heard of a major “literary” writer selling out performance halls? Maybe “maturation” could be a process of un-defining what is “literary” while bringing as many people to the table as are willing to sit with one another.

GM: It is my biased— and possibly valid—belief that most writers are scattered brained: in our attempts to craft and perfect one piece, we end up with a trove of new ideas for others. This can be both productive and counter–. Can you talk a little about your approach to the writing process?

SC: I often let ideas steep long enough to grow stale. I’m horribly undisciplined—try as I might to change that. I work most intensely with looming deadlines, meaning I work less without them. I usually don’t have a trove of pieces sprouting from the front of one; it’s more like parsing out a swarm of ideas into individual pieces. And sometimes I just have to force myself to write until something’s been said.

I love to write and edit by hand. I love the workshop process. Any time I can get feedback without leaping to defend my creative decisions is a blessed gift from the universe. I especially love it when two or more workshop members have different readings of my work. It affords me the freedom to decide where I want to spell out certain things and where I want to leave space for the reader (I usually prefer the latter).

GM: After writing for some time, it seems that writers eventually come to a conclusion about what works in their writing; somehow, the themes and language most vital to their aims rise to the surface and the rest sinks to the bottom of the page. This weeding out of extraneous elements is no easy process and takes time. Where do you find yourself in that progression and what do you find works in your writing? Are there any particular themes that you find yourself returning to?

SC: I like to let each piece define itself. Especially in poetry, I feel the voice of a work or body of work is best determined by the needs of the writing rather than the needs of the writer. I often find myself letting go of my expectations of a poem so it can breathe on its own. So in the progression of things, I usually find myself trying to get out of the way, trying to facilitate the writing rather than defining or producing it. Experimentation and an open mind are important, too. When I’m open to whatever happens, the poem happens of itself.

That being said, the elements that seem to work best for me are a little grime and wordplay—or playful words, at least. The best work is fun to write. No matter how dark or hopeful a particular piece, when I’m enjoying the craft process (to include perceived “bad news” at a workshop), the best work emerges.

GM: Lastly, and most importantly: if I asked you to write a Haiku in which Mitt Romney’s name appears, what would it look like?

SC: Dressage: flip-flop-clop.

Could a nation be so trained?

Huzzah! King Romney!

Bravo, Scott Chalupu.

Amanda Scott

Assistant Fiction Editor

Brief Interviews with Hideously Talented People: Part One

In preparation for Glass Mountain’s August reading, I caught up with this month’s readers to talk about jitters of the public reading sort, slam poetry, and Mitt Romney. This month we will hear from Glass Mountain editors Melissa Dziedzic and Scott Chalupa, as well as local poet Marcell Murphy.

Below is the first installment in a three-part series of interviews:

Melissa Dziedzic is the Fiction Editor of Glass Mountain.

GLASS MOUNTAIN: For this reading, you will be sharing a condensed version of a novella that you have been working on. Can you talk a little about the piece and its origins? What prompted you to choose the novella form for this particular work?

MELISSA DZIEDZIC: I originally wrote the piece for a workshop I took last semester with Professor Parsons. The focus of the course was forms of fiction, and for that particular class he chose to focus on longer stories, or novella length narratives. Because one of my ultimate goals is to one day have a story that can endure for the length of a novel, this emphasis on longer works seemed like a crucial step in being able to fully develop a storyline. The original seed of the story came after I read a news article about a woman who was giving birth as performance art. I just couldn’t stop wondering about how her child would feel about that choice in ten or twenty years. The more I wrote about the characters the more there seemed to be to write, so the need to produce a longer work was the perfect opportunity to see where the story could go. I chose to read this particular piece because—at this point at least—it is the story that I have the most faith in.

GM: Presumably, when shortening a larger work, scenes and other details must be omitted. Naturally, this can change the piece in many ways, sometimes even introducing new causeways or concepts. In your experience, what has the editing process been like? As the piece matures, are there any new elements that you’d like to introduce going forward?

MD: In editing this piece, up until deciding that I was going to be reading it for the series, I followed the same process I’ve used in the past—just more drawn out because the draft of the novella I ended up with was at least twice as long as every other work I’ve written and heavily edited. Editing the story specifically for the reading has somewhat influenced the way I’ve chosen the scenes and details I’m going to include. The story as a whole has shifted in a way; to me it is gaining more of a single-sighted focus and less of a multi-faceted build-up, if that makes sense. For me to be able to read it in ten to twelve minutes, the writing must be more concise, but I tend to dwell in moments rather than move through constant action. As I go forward with the longer piece I plan to further develop the entire family unit and their relationships.

GM: You mentioned that this will be your first time participating in a public reading outside the privacy of the classroom. While the experience can vary for everyone, I’d imagine this transition can be jarring for some, requiring “pre-game” rituals or calming mantras. How do you feel going into the reading? Do you have any particular expectations?

MD: I think I definitely find myself leaning more towards the “jarred” end of the spectrum. I don’t enjoy being the center of attention, and the fact that I’m also going to be sharing my own work is definitely an added worry. I expect to be very nervous. My voice will tremble; my only hope is that the tremble doesn’t last the entire ten minutes.

GM: I suppose it’s difficult for anyone to name a favorite writer, so I won’t ask that. However, it’s very possible to have favorites. Who are some of yours and why?

MD: Oh, I hate this question. I’m terrible at having favorite writers, but I’m only slightly better at having favorite books. I guess, as most people probably do, I have a few different writers that I look up to for very different reasons. I always have to include Cormac McCarthy, because I’ve read The Road at least four times and any book you actually read that many times is bound to have an effect on you. Also, whenever I’m having trouble just saying what needs to be said—no more, no less—thinking of McCarthy’s writing style can be a big help. I am a big fan of John Green, who most classify as an author of “young adult” fiction. His stories may focus on high schoolers, but they tackle themes that I still find relevant, and he doesn’t dumb down his writing to suit the genre. One of my favorite books though is Père Goriot by Honré de Balzac. There are some passages in that novel that still blow my mind. Those passages are the ones I read when I feel stalled in pretty much any area of my life. You’ve got to love a good bildungsroman, and Père Goriot is an excellent one.

GM: Of course, being adamant about reading and writing certainly helps foster new ideas for fiction pieces—the “practice what you preach” method. Are there any other springs that feed inspiration into your fiction other than these two regiments?

MD: I feel like the best source of inspiration really is just life. Living itself can be crazy and silly. And things that have threads of reality in them of course always end up being the most interesting and relatable.

GM: Aside from these readings, there are many others taking place around town, featuring both local and visiting writers. Are there any in particular that peak your interest?

MD: The line-up for the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series this year looks terrific; I’m very excited about Junot Diaz in particular. I was also able—being freshly of legal drinking age—to attend a Poison Pen reading for the first time the other night and really enjoyed myself. Both the atmosphere and the readers were great. I’ve also attended Gulf Coast’s readings at Brazos Bookstore. I like seeing the incoming University of Houston graduate students read because they are where I would like to find myself at some point in my life as a writer.

Once again, prepare yourself for another eventful ménage à trois on August 21. You won’t want to miss it.

Amanda Scott

Assistant Fiction Editor

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