UHD Poets, Professors Share Latest Works During Sept. 30 Reading
Jane Creighton, Robin Davidson Participating in Virtual Literary Event
By Mike Emery
The pandemic slowed the pace of many artists, but University of Houston-Downtown professors Drs. Jane Creighton and Robin Davidson remained steadfast in their craft.
The esteemed poets both had books of poetry released during a period in which many people needed creative inspiration.
Earlier this year, Davidson and collaborator Ewa Elżbieta Nowakowska saw their translations of Ewa Lipska’s works arrive in print via “Dear Ms. Schubert” (Princeton University Press). And recently, Creighton’s “Bone Skid, Bone Beauty” (Saint Julian Press Inc.) unveiled her latest collection of poetry.
Readers and critics alike have eagerly welcomed both books, and soon, audiences will receive an even deeper understanding of the works within them. Creighton and Davidson are the featured readers during a Sept. 30 reading presented by BookWoman of Austin.
The virtual event will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and will feature both poets reading from their respective new texts.
According to Creighton, Professor of English, the timing could not be more right for this particular reading. Considering the anxieties and isolation of the past year, hearing poets’ voices recite new works can alleviate the pressures brought on by the pandemic.
“For me, poetry is the evidence of passionate thought—the closest way I have to be present and grasp the complexity of this difficult world we inhabit,” she said. “We’re living in a time where the stakes of saving that world and caring for each other seem never to have been higher. To read our work in the company of our extended communities opens one pathway toward that.”
Davidson, Professor Emeritus of English, concurs with her colleague and adds that poetry provides comfort during the darkest of moments for both audiences and poets themselves. For the longtime UHD professor and former Houston Laureate, the process or writing—and soon, reading—poetry has been most cathartic during this unpredictable period.
“I know that I certainly feel changed by the lack of in person social discourse in the past 18 months, and poems—both reading them and writing them—has saved me again and again,” she said. “Lyric poetry in particular, like music, is felt deeply before it’s understood consciously. Being reminded of that depth of feeling, that empathy, as we live through an historical moment of risk and fear, mistrust and caution, is powerful indeed.”
During the Sept. 30 reading, Davidson will read translations from “Dear Ms. Schubert” and offer some insights on the process of working on these poems alongside Nowakowska. She also is considering sharing some of her own poetry from her “Mrs. Schmetterling” cycle appearing later this year from Arrowsmith Press.
Creighton added that her selections will include poetry on landscapes and dreamscapes, as well as the love and courage of people.
“I look forward to choosing poems and trying them out. I am most especially looking forward to sharing them in the context of Robin’s extraordinary translations,” Creighton said.
The works within Creighton’s “Bone Skid, Bone Beauty” evoke the sudden twists our lives take while exploring the key word within the title. Bones, the poet says, provide the very foundations for our physical bodies, but can represent something much deeper.
“We sometimes talk of feeling something in our bones...of something being bone-shaking. We work our fingers to the bone...we get down to the bare bones of something...we bone up on a subject,” she said. “There’s something fundamental, but also fluid, in the possibilities opened up by the image. I think these poems explore that—explore loss, maturation, the love of place, the things we fear, what we long for, what we survive.”
Davidson and Nowakowska’s translations of Lipska’s cycle of poetic postcards to the titular “Ms. Schubert” have earned critical acclaim this year. The upcoming reading presents Davidson with the opportunity to deliver these works in a public setting for the first time.
Also a first … this will be the first time both Creighton and Davidson have been the featured poets at a public reading. The opportunity to share the virtual stage is invigorating for both artists, as well as audiences. They both are also particularly proud of the fact that the University of Houston-Downtown is represented in the literary landscape by their recent works.
“Many, many UHD faculty in a range of departments throughout the university publish books every year in multiple disciplines, and I think our students can be very proud of the fact that they are studying with working scholars and writers actively engaged in their fields of study,” Davidson said.
“I think we’re both part of a real blossoming of UHD output—we are all people who love to teach—and learn from the students in our UHD community,” Creighton added. “It’s very exciting to see how much our colleagues are doing—I’m happy to be in Robin’s company here, and also in the company of other colleagues.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.