Earlier this month, the annual AWP conference took place in Washington, D.C. and the University of Houston had a strong presence as always. In addition to the individual students and alumni who participated on panels or at readings, the Gulf Coast team also represented the university and the Houston writing community that Inprint serves. This year Gulf Coast is celebrating 30 years as a student-run journal, which was commemorated by a panel of former editors who discussed the successes and challenges they experienced over the years.
On top of reaching this milestone, Gulf Coast has also seen the ushering in of all new leadership this year: Editor Luisa Muradyan Tannahill, Managing Editor Michele Nereim, and Digital Editor Georgia Pearle. Fellow UHCWP classmate Melanie Brkich recently talked with Luisa about the transition and what we can expect from this fierce team of females.
MELANIE: You’re now more than halfway through your first year as Editor of Gulf Coast (and killing it by the way!)–what’s been the most enjoyable part of the job so far? The most challenging part?
I have really enjoyed working with such a diverse group of individuals and community organizations. The art and literature scene in Houston is incredibly vibrant and being the Editor has allowed me the opportunity to really feel like I am a part of it. The most challenging part for me is keeping track of the many moving parts that go into setting up an event or putting together an issue. Thankfully, I have an awesome team that helps make it all possible. Watching the community come together to listen to a brilliant reader or seeing powerful work in print easily qualify as the most enjoyable parts of the job.
MELANIE: This was a big turnover year in terms of Gulf Coast’s leadership; managing editor Michele Nereim and digital editor Georgia Pearle are also new to their positions. How would you describe your team dynamic?
LUISA: Our team dynamic is not unlike the arm wrestling 80’s classic Over the Top. But instead of drinking gasoline and fighting each other through feats of physical strength, we work together to solve problems. More seriously, it really is a joy to work with such talented and hardworking Editors. I feel that I am constantly learning new things from them. Aside from the monumental respect I hold for Georgia and Michele, I also am lucky to call them my friends.
MELANIE: What are some of your immediate and/or longterm goals for the journal?
LUISA: Part of our mission as a journal has been to reflect the multilingualism of Houston. A major goal of ours is to continue to publish work in translation, and solidify a strong place for it within each issue. Thanks in part to the fantastic submissions we received for our Translation prize, we were able to recently accept work Russian, Spanish, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Arabic, and French. Gulf Coast is also committed to publishing a wide range of diverse work from a large number of artists and writers. The power of the journal radiates from the writers and artists themselves, and a long term goal would be to invest even more space and support for these voices and perspectives, both in print and online.
MELANIE: That is really exciting. By the way, congrats on your recent publication in the Los Angeles Review! Can you tell us a bit about what creative projects you have going at the moment?
LUISA: Thank you! I’m currently working on a manuscript that focuses on the relationship between humor, sorrow, and survival that is often encountered through the painful process of assimilation. In other words, I’m writing about being an immigrant, America, and 80’s action movies.
Luisa is originally from the Ukraine and received her BA in History from the University of Kansas and MFA in Poetry from Texas State University. Her poems can be found in Blackbird, Ninth Letter, West Branch, Mudlark, PANK, A-Minor, Neon, and Anderbo. She is a recipient of an Inprint Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones Fellowship and an Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Poetry.