Poetry & Prose

Event Date: 
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Location: 
Honors College Commons, MD Anderson Library

The November 16th Poetry & Prose reading will feature UH Creative Writing Program Faculty Chitra Divakaruni, UH alum Charles Alcorn, and poet Garrett Hongo from the University of Oregon.

The reading is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. We look forward to seeing you there!

Copies of Divakaruni, Alcorn, and Hongo’s latest books (One Amazing Thing, Argument Against the Good-Looking Corpse, and Coral Road) will be available for sale by the University of Houston Bookstore.

Author Bios:

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author, poet and teacher. Her themes include women, immigration, the South Asian experience, history, myth, magical realism and diversity.

She writes for adults and children and her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Russian and Japanese. Her short story collection, Arranged Marriage 1995), was awarded the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Prize for Fiction, the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award for Fiction, and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. She has written several best-selling novels: One Amazing Thing (2010); The Palace of Illusions (2008); Queen of Dreams (2004); Vine of Desire (2002); Sister of My Heart (1999); and The Mistress of Spices (1997) –two of which (The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart) have been made into films. Stories from her short story collection, The Unknown Errors of Our Lives (2001), were published in Best American Short Stories and the O'Henry Prize stories. She also has four poetry collections, including Leaving Yuba City (1997). She has also published children's novels, titled Neela: Victory Song (2002), The Conch Bearer (2003), The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming (2005), and Shadowland (2009), and has been a judge for the National Book Award and the PEN Faulkner award.

Divakaruni's other awards include two PEN Syndicated Fiction awards, 2 Pushcart Prizes, a Gerbode Foundation award, an Allen Ginsberg poetry prize, and a South Asian Literary Association Distinguished Author Award. She has been chosen for the Woman of Achievement Award, the Woman of Vision Award, and two National Excellence in Teaching Awards. She serves on the board of Maitri in the San Francisco Bay Area and on the Advisory Board of Daya in Houston. Both organizations help South Asian or South Asian American women who are victims of abusive relationships. She is also on the board of Pratham, an organization that helps educate children (especially those living in urban slums) in India.

She received a Master’s from Wright State University and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, both in English. Divakaruni teaches Creative Writing at the University of Houston. She is active on Facebook and Twitter and also writes an interesting blog, called Amazing Things, full of tips for writers, recipes, and more.

Charles Alcorn was born and raised in Victoria on the Coastal Bend of Texas. He graduated with a BA in Geology from Washington & Lee University, where he also played linebacker and threw the javelin and discus for the Generals. He received his MA in English from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers and his PhD in Creative Writing/English Literature from the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. 

Alcorn returned this fall to the UH main campus after five years on the faculty at the University of Houston-Victoria where he was the Managing Editor of the American Book Review. His area of academic interest includes a hybrid genre—Gothic Realism—that draws from the Magic Realism of Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes, the American road of mysticism of Jack Kerouac and the Beats as well as the Southern/Southwest Realism of late twentieth-century writers such as Larry McMurtry, Barry Hannah, and Antonya Nelson.

He currently splits teaching assignments between the UH campuses in Sugar Land and Victoria. He lives in mid-town Houston with wife Angela and two sons, Charles and William.

Alcorn's debut collection, Argument Against the Good-Looking Corpse (TAMU Press 2011),  is a ten-story road trip that stretches from ice-cold Oslo to the Philippine Sea, from Saint John the Baptist Parish to the sands of Sonora with lots and lots of South Texas, West Texas, rural Texas and urban Texas in between.   

Garrett Hongo was born in Volcano, Hawai'i, and grew up on the North Shore of O‘ahu and in Los Angeles. He attended Pomona College and the University of Michigan. He received his MFA in English from the University of California at Irvine.

His collections of poetry include Coral Road: Poems(Knopf, 2011); The River of Heaven (Knopf, 1988), which was the Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Yellow Light (Wesleyan, 1982). He is also the author of Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai'i (1995), which won the Oregon Book Award for nonfiction, and he has edited Under Western Eyes: Personal Essays from Asian America (Anchor, 1995) and The Open Boat: Poems from Asian America (Anchor, 1993).

His honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

He is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Oregon at Eugene, where he directed the Program in Creative Writing from 1989 to 1993.

Of his latest collection, Edward Hirsch says “There is rage and beauty alike in Garrett Hongo’s long-awaited and sublimely romantic book of poems, Coral Road. Hongo dramatically inhabits the Hawaiian past and honors his ancestors, both familial and literary, in a rich, triumphant, and indelible work of imagination.”

View the event flyer.

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