UHD’s Literary Journal Dives Into The Abyss
By Mike Emery
Readers can enter “the abyss” in the latest edition of The Bayou Review. The University of Houston-Downtown’s literary journal explores themes that reflect an endless chasm of conflict, emotions and change.
The student-run publication contains short stories, poems, essays and artwork from emerging writers and artists.
“We put the call out for submissions and were pleasantly surprised at the volume of work that came to us,” said the publication’s adviser Daniel Peña, assistant professor of English. “We received feedback from all over the world. It seems that word is getting around that the journal is an excellent publication for new writers.”
Among the artists featured in the fall edition of The Bayou Review is Dee Sunshine, a prolific writer, artist and musician from Glasgow. Sunshine contributed the woodcut drawings “The Escapologist” (depicting a body in meditative state elevating from the earth toward the sun) and “The Body is Weak, But the Spirit Soars” (featuring a man holding a weakened female with roots and branches emerging from her body). Sunshine also was interviewed by UHD student Paul Yang in this edition of The Bayou Review.
“If there has been any constant in my life (and also in my writing), it is the ‘spiritual journey,’ the pilgrimage that is life,” he said in his interview with Yang.
Other artwork included is a piece by UHD student and vice president of the University’s Art Club Kelsi Rios. Her black and white illustration “Reflection” is featured on page 26. It depicts a darkened shape with demonic eyes and sinister expression emerging from a mirror. The work, as fantastic as it seems, is a deeply personal piece for Rios.
The drawing, she says, reflects inner turmoil she often faces. As a person who experiences depression, the illustration signifies the duality of looking at herself in the mirror and the public persona she presents to friends and family members.
For Rios, The Bayou Review is an excellent vehicle for her work … and the work of other student artists as well.
“It’s important for new artists to have their works published in journals like The Bayou Review,” she said. “Publications such as this help artists like myself gain confidence and exposure to new audiences.”
Poet Jhon Merizalde Ortiz agrees that the journal allows artists a venue for their work. Ortiz just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Performance and works as a personal trainer at UHD’s Student Life Center. He contributed two works to the journal “Vietnamese Garden” and “Sincretismo” (written in Spanish). Both capture the emotional aftermath of a breakup.
Merizalde was inspired to submit works at the insistence of friends, who recognized the passion in his poetry. Undaunted, he submitted several works and was pleased to discover that two poems were selected.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “I have never considered myself to be a proficient writer, but it is a great feeling to have my work accepted by this journal and to share it with others.”
The Bayou Review is published twice a year and can be ordered via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or obtained in person at S250 in UHD’s One Main Building.
The journal has been in publication for more than three decades. According to Peña, The Bayou Review’s longevity is a testament to its dedicated staff members and the talented writers and artists whose works are showcased in its pages. As the publication enters a new decade, he is confident that it will continue to serve as the perfect platform for emerging literary voices.
“For UHD, this journal helps curate critical conversations on contemporary literature,” he said. “It’s an important part of the University and helps spotlight those many writers and artists who need to be heard.”
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.