Gulf Coast Readings Showcase UH Talents

>For more than 20 years, Houston literary journal "Gulf Coast" has introduced many avid readers to writers on the rise. It also has allowed new and dynamic voices in literature to be heard through a monthly reading series at Brazos Bookstore (2421 Bissonnet).

At the April 10 installment of the Gulf Coast Reading Series, three award-winning student authors from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program will be showcased: fiction writer Irene Keliher, poet Matt Siegel and Oindrila Mukherjee, who writes both fiction and non-fiction. Readings begin at 7 p.m. and are free to the public.

Keliher is a UH master of fine arts (MFA) candidate and will graduate this semester. At Brazos Bookstore, she will read from her novel "Motherlands," which also is her senior thesis.

"In my fiction, I'm interested in communicating across and about distances, whether within families or across physical borders," Keliher said. "I try to understand the differing identities and oft-conflicting loyalties contained in my characters as they transgress and strive to come to terms with boundaries of class, culture, sexuality and geography."

Recently, Keliher finished third in the Atlantic Monthly's student writing contest. Her stories have also appeared or are forthcoming in Quarterly West, the Mississippi Review Online and the Pebble Lake Review.

Her fellow MFA candidate, Siegel, also will graduate this semester. Recently, he was notified that he is a recipient of the prestigious Wallace Stegner Fellowship. This award will transplant him to northern California to continue his studies at Stanford University. During the Gulf Coast readings, he will read from his thesis manuscript "Lullaby for Medication."

"Being part of UH's Creative Writing Program helped me be the writer I wanted to be," he said. "I've received tireless support from my peers and faculty mentors, and the program has done much to prepare me for this next phase in my career.

Mukherjee, a doctoral candidate in literature and creative writing, will read excerpts from her novel, which has the working title "Boundaries." A multi-faceted writer,  Mukherjee has a journalism background and contributes articles to Indian newspapers. In 2007, she received the Diana P. Hobby Prize in fiction.

Like Keliher and Siegel, Mukherjee will graduate in May. She is grateful for her experience at UH and is particularly pleased to share her work with Houstonians in an intimate setting.

"Events like this provide writers with exposure to new audiences and their responses," said Mukherjee. "Readings also allow lovers of literature to get a very different sense of the works than when they read it themselves."

Founded in 1986 by Donald Barthelme and Philip Lopate, "Gulf Coast, A Journal of Literature and Fine Art" spotlights the literary and visual arts communities. The journal is a partnership between CWP,  the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston and the Menil Collection. It reviews submissions from artists and writers from around the country. To learn more about the Gulf Coast journal and reading series, visit

As part of UH's English department, CWP offers poets, fiction writers and non-fiction writers intensive training in both creative writing and literary studies. It offers two graduate degrees: the Master of Fine Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. CWP's noted faculty includes award-winning authors and poets such as novelist Antonya Nelson, poet and non-fiction writer Nick Flynn, graphic novelist Mat Johnson and poet Tony Hoagland. To learn more about the program, visit


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