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Running with pens: English students use their words to raise money

Write-a-thon fundraiser helps to reduce cost of the Boldface emerging writers conference

Boldface conference logo

Push open the door and immediately you’re enveloped in the perfume of morning coffee and Shipley’s Donuts and the light chorus of tapping on keyboards and murmuring by writers.

When poet Tony Hoagland ambles into the room, this Saturday afternoon affair – 2nd Annual Boldface Write-a-thon – kicks into literary event high gear.

The Write-a-thon is a fundraising project conceived by the staff of Glass Mountain, the national undergraduate literary journal at the University of Houston. The magazine’s writers ask people to sponsor their participation in a full day of writing, similar to how walkers and runners garner donations for every mile they complete in a marathon or fun run.

“The Write-a-thon gives writers a chance to do what they do best, said Steven Simeone, managing editor of Glass Mountain. “The donations they receive support the Boldface writing conference.”

Boldface was launched in 2009 as a conference for emerging writers – undergraduate students and people who write for enjoyment and want to work on their writing intensively for a week.

This year’s Boldface conference runs from May 21-26 and will bring in distinguished writers to lead workshops, craft talks, readings, open mic events, and other writing related projects.

“It is important for us to keep the conference accessible to people in this community, the people that come to UH,” said Zack Bean, graduate advisor to Glass Mountain. “At the same time, we also wanted to offer a high-quality conference. The Write-a-thon enables us to keep registration fees very low.”

The conference registration fee is $100. Individual consultations with visiting writers as well as on-campus housing are available for an additional cost.

The registration fees do not cover the full cost of the conference. Boldface receives generous support from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. The efforts of the Write-a-thon participants supplement the financial underwriting by the College and the registration fees.

This year’s writing marathon was on March 31 and featured prize categories for the best writers of limericks, shortest stories, haiku, and flash fiction. To help judge the contest, the journal’s staff brought in UH Creative Writing faculty members Mat Johnson, Tony Hoagland, Kevin Prufer, and Aaron Reynolds.

The submissions were especially impressive and are available for everyone to see at the journal’s website at

To register for the Boldface conference, go to The registration deadline is May 4.

~ Terence Yung c/o ‘12