Professionals share expertise with aspiring writers at UTPA's Creative Writing Institute
Posted: 07/06/2007
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Aspiring Rio Grande Valley writers had an opportunity to hone their craft this summer during the fifth annual Creative Writing Institute hosted by the Department of English at The University of Texas-Pan American.

Held June 11-15 at UTPA, the institute attracted nearly 30 participants who attended classes and workshops in poetry, fiction and multi-genre writing. Panel presentations were conducted on topics such as publishing, border writers and the interface between literature, art and music.

Guest authors - Daniel García Ordaz and Thomas Centolella - provided instruction as well as readings of their works during the institute as did published UTPA English department faculty members. Students also had the opportunity to present their works in one of the week's evening readings.

Award winning author Thomas Centolella was one of the many participants in the annual Creative Writing Institute at The University of Texas-Pan American June 11-15. Centolella (second from right) is pictured with left to right UTPA English department faculty members Emmy Perez, Dr. Steven Schneider, and Dr. Eric Miles Williamson.
In addition, the institute included two weeks of independent study for enrolled undergraduate and graduate students, particularly those in UTPA's new Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program, set to begin fall 2007. Students enrolled in the institute received university credit for successful completion of a writing course.

Ordaz is author of the poetry collection "You Know What I'm Saying," and Centolella has authored several award-winning books of poetry including "Terra Firma" and "Lights & Mysteries."

Rating his experience as an instructor and featured reader at this year's institute as one of his very best as a writer, Centolella said he was impressed by the institute's multi-faceted format, the enthusiasm of its teachers and the conscientiousness of the students.

"Best of all, perhaps, was the sense of camaraderie and, by extension, community among the participants. Connection and encouragement lie at the heart of every good creative writing program and the institute did itself proud in providing the kind of inspirational atmosphere that every aspiring writer can appreciate," he said.

UTPA faculty participants from the Department of English included Professor Dr. Steven Schneider; Assistant Professor Emmy Pérez; Associate Professor Dr. Eric Miles Williamson; and Associate Professor Dr. Robert Johnson.

Schneider, who is also director of new programs and specials projects in Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, said he was delighted with the attendance and memorable performances of the writers' work during the week.

"The Creative Writing Institute continues to be a strong summer program that provides student writers an excellent opportunity to develop their craft as writers and to work with experienced professionals," he said.

For more information on the Creative Writing Institute, call 956/381-3421. For more information on the UTPA MFA program in creative writing, go to