To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UO Creative Writing Program, the program is hosting a Creative Writing Teacher/Alumni Reading featuring Professor Peter Markus alongside former Suzanne Honda and James Braun.
The event will take place on Wednesday March 16 at 5:00 p.m. in rooms 128-130 of the Central Oakland. Those interested in attending the event virtually via Zoom can RSVP here. Those attending the event in person are requested to complete Daily OU Health Screening forms.
“[This reading] Highlights What’s So Great About Our Creative Writing Program,” Professor and Creative Writing Program Director Jeff Chapman noted. “It’s amazing how lucky the students of Oakland are to have a teacher and writer of Peter’s caliber teaching here…He are the most generous mentor ever… It’s very exciting to hear him read and celebrate him as a writer, not just as a teacher.
Markus is an award-winning author and educator with decades of experience teaching young writers through InsideOut Detroit Literary Arts Project and the UO’s Creative Writing Program. He published his first collection of poetry entitled “When our fathers come back to us like birds” last September. The new bookpublished by Wayne State University Press as part of their “Made in Michigan Writer Series,” chronicles Markus’ experience caring for his dying father.
“I am honored to be able to read my words in front of students, faculty and staff at Oakland this year,” Markus said. “It means a lot that I can teach here and work with such good students. James Braun and Suzanne Honda are just two of the many students I have had the pleasure of working with. Their work speaks for itself, but I can tell you that these two young writers are the realest deal.
Braun has work that has been published or forthcoming in International Fiction, DIAGRAM, fail better, Held captive, Minnesota Review, Bayou Magazine, The Laurel Review and Quarterly SmokeLong. He is currently working on his novel called “Only When I’m Singing”, and is about to start studying at the Iowa Writers Workshop in autumn.
“Coming back to Oakland again, and even better reading alongside my mentor and friend Peter Markus, means more than I can say,” Braun said. “Peter is one of those special breeds of people you can only hope to meet; or at least be in the same space as. Call him a shaman, call him a sage. A fisherman, a writer, a teacher – all he is and is more, more than, as we like to say, and being so, Peter’s teachings have forever changed the way I view writing… OU’s English department is one of the best there. They take you seriously. And being caught up like this, in this lonely-lonely world that is the writer’s world, makes you feel a little less alone.
Honda has work that has been published or forthcoming in The Jacinthe magazine, SWIM Everyday, Pink Panther Reviewand Eastern Polls. His chapbook “When We Were Birds” is to be published in 2022 with pork belly pressand she is currently working on a full book of poems called “When We Were Birds”.
“When I started at OU in 2016, the creative writing program was still in its infancy,” Honda said. “It’s pretty wild and really amazing to be back for her 10th birthday. I loved being part of the program: the teachers – Annie Gilson, Peter Markus, Alison Powell, Vanessa Stauffer… In more ways than one, I have the ties I made at OU to thank where I am today: working as a writer – in residence with InsideOut Literary Arts, publishing a book of poems, returning to OU – and doing so in great partly thanks to one teacher in particular: Peter Markus Peter’s confidence in me at a time when I was unsure of myself, and his dedication to my growth as a writer over the past 6 years, make this opportunity to read by his side a very beautiful moment of loop.
This reading is the third in a series of readings this year to celebrate Creative Writing’s 10th anniversary. The program hosted the former Mary Ann Samyn in the fall and alumnus Matt Bell in winter, both earned his undergraduate degree from OU’s English department before OU began offering creative writing as a major.
Long-time teacher and former Creative Writing Program Director Annie Gilson elaborated on the early days of creative writing at OU.
“Before we offer the major, Ed Haworth Hoeppner and Gladys Cardiff (both beloved poets and colleagues who have since retired) taught poetry workshops, I taught fiction workshops, and the late wonderful Linda McCloskey taught creative non-fiction workshops. Due to the popularity of the fiction workshops, we were able to hire the short story writer and comic book writer [current Program Director] Jeff Chapman. At the same time, Ed, Gladys and I created the CW major under Ed’s direction.
This reading is also the second reading of the faculty/alum’s OU Creative Writing Curriculum. The first took place last winter and featured Gilson reading alongside alum CR Grimer.
“It was a great joy to see CR again, having mentored them during the years they were here as undergraduates. They offered great advice to current OU writers, as I’m sure Suzanne and James will,” Gilson said. “…One of the reasons we created the major was the great talent and enthusiasm of our students…We are excited to continue this tradition of faculty and alumni reading together next week. For alumni and their professors, it is a great joy to spend time together reading and sharing our work with the next generation of undergraduates, who we know will also achieve great things.
Chapman echoed that sentiment, expressing his gratitude for OU’s creative writing community.
“What’s ultimately so exciting about all of this: It reminds you that a university is not a single moment in time, but a continuum,” Chapman said. “You have all the students who are here, all the students who have come before and who are migrating around the world, and all the students who have to come. It is a community that grows and lives. Writing is a very difficult path that requires constant and thankless efforts most of the time. A vibrant community can help make it all worthwhile.
The Creative Writing Program prides itself on the work of its students, with Braun and Honda being examples of excellent young writers coming out of OU.
“Suzanne and James both worked extraordinarily hard when they were here, and have continued to do so,” Chapman said. “[Our] the students are so wonderful and so talented…I feel like we are only beginning to tap into this incredible potential of our student body. I look forward to seeing the films, essays, poems and stories written over the next ten years.
Markus also expressed his pride and gratitude towards his students.
“[Braun and Honda] are both writing things that are years ahead of what I was when I was their age,” Markus said. “I would be happy to write the writing that they write. And they are not alone. I can make you a list as long as a river of other students I’ve been proud to play a small role in making/mentoring/inspiring. I only wish there was time and space to showcase the generosity of the writers I have had the great joy of teaching since I had the opportunity to teach here at OR there is a few years (I guess this might be my 9th or 10th year of being so lucky). I am grateful to my colleagues in the creative writing department who contacted me for teaching and to those who do what they can to keep me around. I’m lucky to be able to do what I love to do, both on the page and in the classroom. I wouldn’t be the writer I am and the writer I’ve become if I didn’t have the opportunity to teach others and teach myself in the process. For me, writing and the teaching of writing are tributaries of the same river.