Storied: The First Ten Years of the Creative Writing Program

Storied: The First Ten Years of the Creative Writing Program

In 1979, the University of Houston founded its Creative Writing Program under the co-directorship of poets Cynthia Macdonald and Stanley Plumly. Within a short time, it would become a leading program for teaching the craft of writing, and one of the few to offer a PhD in literature and creative writing.

Macdonald, who would remain at UH until her retirement, was joined on the faculty by famed short story writer Donald Barthelme, poets Edward Hirsch and Richard Howard, essayist Phillip Lopate, novelists Robert Cohen and Rosellen Brown, and playwright Ntozake Shange. During the mid 1980s, Inprint formed as a fundraising group for the program, providing fellowships for graduate students and backing for the student-run magazine Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. The UH Creative Writing Program founded other successful programs, including the Houston Reading Series and Writers in the Schools (WITS), which contributed to the development of a strong literary community in Houston.

Using UH Libraries’ Special Collections materials, this exhibition details the founding and first decade of the program, spotlights the lives and careers of faculty members Cynthia Macdonald and Donald Barthelme, and showcases works by alumni who graduated between 1979 and 1989.

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