New Issue of UH Literary Magazine 'Gulf Coast' Focusing on Oil Spill

For 25 years, the University of Houston's "Gulf Coast, a Journal of Fine Arts and Literature" has showcased both new and established literary voices, as well as rising artists.

In its fall issue, the acclaimed magazine's focus is on the massive oil spill that has plagued the Gulf of Mexico since April.

"We wanted to use this issue to acknowledge what is happening in the gulf," said Ian Stansel, Gulf Coast editor and doctoral candidate in UH's Creative Writing Program. "We asked ourselves if a journal titled ‘Gulf Coast' could ignore this situation. The answer was ‘no.'"

The issue was produced over the summer during the spill's peak. Much of the content already had been planned before BP's Deepwater Horizon explosion in April. Stansel and Rebecca Wadlinger, co-editor and creative writing doctoral candidate coordinated an email conversation between poets whose works are rooted in environmental and social issues. These poets include Brenda Hillman, Nick Flynn, Patricia Smith, Laura Mullen and Dorianne Laux. Much of this dialogue will appear in the fall issue.

"We basically asked them one question and let them have a conversation thread for two weeks," Stansel said. "It turned into a very large conversation. Among the topics discussed is what a poet can do about this situation and what a poet can't do about it. In this dialogue, Brenda Hillman breaks down her obligations as both an artist and, more importantly, as a person who cares."

The fall issue also will feature two separate covers with artwork focused on the oil spill. The magazine's interior art includes video stills from Marina Zurkow and black-and-white sketches from Augusto Di Stephano.

It also will showcase the 2010 Gulf Coast Prize winners in poetry ("Flower Sonnet" by Anne Marie Rooney), fiction ("Cleavage" by Sara Batkie) and non-fiction ("Happy Families" by Judith Kroll).

"Gulf Coast" debuted in 1986. Founded by then-Creative Writing Program professors Donald Barthelme and Phillip Lopate, the publication delivers a mix of short fiction and non-fiction, poetry and visual art to a readership of more than 3,000. The magazine is student-run and housed in UH's English department.

For more information on "Gulf Coast" including details on subscriptions, visit



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