Trinity University Press

Terra Firma: Trinity University Press blog

Posts by Burgin Streetman

TPR's Worth Repeating Reveals San Antonio's Stories

Oct 5, 2017 (9:06 am)

San Antonio is a city of stories, but unlike its contemporaries—Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, and New York—its stories are largely unknown. 

TPR producer Paul Flahive is working to help change that with Worth Repeating, which Texas Public Radio launched two years ago to find and share the city’s stories. 

Once a month, seven storytellers have seven minutes to tell a true story from their life around a common theme. Think This American Life or the Moth, sourced from your friends and neighbors. 

Flahive and the Worth Repeating Story Board recognize how important personal histories and anecdotes are—even if they don’t read like movie scripts. 

“I wanted to start Worth Repeating because I think it creates community,” Flahive said. “I’ve moved around a lot, and when I lived in Anchorage, Alaska, I really didn’t feel like a part of that city until I got involved with a similar show there.” 

As a recent addition to the Story Board, I can vouch for the fact that you never know what you might hear. A local artist describes the night he was the unsuspecting victim in a gang initiation. The Pearl’s CMO reveals a hilarious elementary school cheat involving mice and the Transcendental Meditation movement. A beloved political consultant rethinks his allegiances, and a Trinity professor explores the unsolved mystery of her mother’s murder. I tell my own story of the time my mother took me deep in the woods in search of a man buried alive.  

To submit your story (or to rat out a friend you think would be great), send me an email

The next Worth Repeating show, Because How I Am: Stories of Where We Came From, Identity, and More, takes place this Tuesday, October 10, at the San Antonio Museum of Art as part of its Latino List exhibit. Tickets are almost gone, so get yours now. You’ll learn something about your city and your neighbors, and maybe you’ll be inspired to add your own voice to the mix. 

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours?

Book People Are So Flipping Smart

Nov 20, 2015 (10:04 am)

Readers were invited to submit solutions to the acrostic puzzle on pages 28–29 of our 2014 release A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic by Peter Turchi. Michael Ashley created the puzzle expressly for the book, which recently released in packback. The winner, chosen at random from the submissions, received a prize package that included a custom-made Liberty Puzzle of the book’s cover.

For those who don’t know, Liberty Puzzles are classic, wooden jigsaw puzzles finely crafted with quarter-inch maple plywood and archival paper and inks. No two puzzle pieces are alike, and they're manufactured in Boulder, Colorado. Very cool.

A Muse and a Maze is the follow-up to Peter Turchi’s bestselling Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer, a book that Fast Company says "has inspired writers, artists, and designers for more than a decade" and the New York Times Magazine editors cited as one of the best nonfiction books of all time. 

We received a few correct entries, and the winner was bookseller James Crossley, of Island Books on Mercer Island in Seattle. When he is not hand-selling Trinity University Press titles ; ), he can be found expounding literary wisdom all over the interwebs.

Needless to say, the guy is awesome, and we were thrilled to find out he was the winner. Back-and-forth banter ensued; addresses were exchanged. And upon recieving the prize, Crossley sent me a series of pictures that I forwarded to Barbara Ras, the press's director. Her e-mail reply was swift and frank: “OMG. I love this guy. Book people are so flipping smart. How did I end up in this business?” 

Gotta love books. Even more, gotta love the people who love them.

Congrats, Mr. Crossley.


Oct 29, 2014 (11:00 am)

When I started out as a bookstore clerk, all I had to do was put on my name tag and step onto the sales floor to know not only that people were, in fact, reading, but also what they were reading, and who, and how much and how often. 

Hand-selling was an art, and as a bookseller you were so attuned to writers and titles that just by seeing a customer flip through this book, you knew instinctively that he or she would love that book. If you loved books yourself, this form of human interaction was huge fun and left you feeling that anything was possible if you printed it on 200-something pieces of paper, bound it, and stuck it in someone’s hand. Bookselling on the ground can leave you feeling exalted and optimistic. 

I often look back on my time as a bookseller and mistake that earnestness for youth. So many books, so little time . . . yeah yeah. Now, as a forty-something career woman seeing bookselling from a publisher’s standpoint, I sit with my coworkers in our silo making books and marketing authors while crunching numbers too hard and getting distracted by trends. It’s hard not to get discouraged by the publishing business from afar, even when you’re in the middle of it. Do people read books anymore? Do they even care? Oh, to be twenty-something again, unjaded and enlivened by the idea of tomorrow and the next best seller. 

Then I spent a weekend selling books at the Texas Book Festival. And guess what? PEOPLE STILL READ BOOKS! And not only that; they still want to talk about them and hold them and buy them. They want to surround their children with books. They want to give them to their friends. They want to look you in the eye and tell you how much they love them. 

And they want to crowd together in tents on a hot Texas day to be near them, to hear their authors speak and take home a signed copy. They want to buy one book on impulse just because it is sitting there looking well designed and tantalizing. Or a stack of books because one is never enough.

As for the Texas Book Festival, it’s easy to chalk that enthusiasm up to Austin. Austin is intellectual. It’s a reading town. But the more I listened, the more I heard places like California and Georgia and Illinois mentioned. These people were from everywhere, from all walks of life, with one thing in common: they all love books. 

Just like me.

Only five days left until Father's Day !?!? Think books!

Jun 10, 2014 (12:41 pm)

That's right. If you're like me, you've whiled away the first days of summer having fuzzy thoughts about your dad/husband/brother-with-three-kids rather than moving into action for a holiday that looms a mere five days away. What do you get daddy dearest before it's too late and you have to scramble to the store for an insert-name-of-favorite-sports-team-here T-shirt or a random grill gadget he most definitely doesn't need? If your dad is like my dad, he might be interested in more uncommon pursuits, like world history or the fine art of birding. If that's the case, Trinity University Press is here to the rescue. 

Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico is the perfect choice for a father interested in learning more about one of the most spectacular personal tragedies and political failures of the nineteenth century. Or perhaps A Gathering of Birds, an anthology of ornithological essays from some of history's most important naturalists, edited by forgotten midcentury naturalist Donald Culross Peattie, would appeal. If fiction is your dad's thing, try Outside, six stories by acclaimed author Barry Lopez in an illustrated gift edition. For fathers who enjoy tossing the ball around or at least watching on TV, consider Baseball in the Lone Star State, which chronicles the history of the Texas League. Maybe your pop has made the switch to an reader, in which case check out our classic WPA Guides to America series, available for forty-nine states on more than thirty e-book platforms. 

Rest assured, there's a book for every breed of father, no matter the holiday.


May 19, 2014 (8:28 am)

Beautifully illustrated with engravings by legendary artist Barry Moser, Outside is a collection of six short stories that showcase Barry Lopez’s superb talent as a fiction writer. The first story, "Desert Notes", is a classic. 

I know you are tired. I am tired too. Will you walk along the edge of the desert with me? I would like to show you what lies before us. 

All my life I have wanted to trick blood from a rock. I have dreamed about raising the devil and cutting him in half. I have thought too about never being afraid of anything at all. This is where you come to do those things. 

I know what they tell you about the desert but you mustn’t believe them. This is no deathbed. Dig down, the earth is moist. Boulders have turned to dust here, the dust feels like graphite. You can hear a man breathe at a distance of twenty yards. You can see out there to the edge where the desert stops and the mountains begin. You think it is perhaps ten miles. It is more than a hundred. Just before the sun sets all the colors will change. Green will turn to blue, red to gold. 

I’ve been told there is very little time left, that we must get all these things about time and place straight. If we don’t, we will only have passed on and have changed nothing. That is why we are here I think, to change things. It is why I came to the desert. 

Here things are sharp, elemental. There’s no one to look over your shoulder to find out what you’re doing with your hands, or to ask if you have considered the number of people dying daily of malnutrition. If you’ve been listening you must suspect that a knife will be very useful out here--not to use, just to look at.  

There is something else here, too, even more important: explanations will occur to you, seeming to clarify; but they can be a kind of trick. You will think you have hold of the idea when you only have hold of its clothing. 

Feel how still it is. You can become impatient here, willing to accept any explanation in order to move on. This appears to be nothing at all, but it is a wall between you and what you are after. Be sure you are not tricked into thinking there is nothing to fear. Moving on is not important. You must wait. You must take things down to the core. You must be careful with everything, even with what I tell you.

Read more.

Give Big for the Big Give

May 6, 2014 (9:49 am)

Today San Antonians are uniting for twenty-four hours of generosity in the Big Give S. A.

With 467 nonprofits to choose from, there’s a cause for every passion! This is your chance to give back to the nonprofit organizations that make San Antonio a great place to live, work, and play. Your gift has the ability to grow by offering your favorite organizations the chance to win prize incentives. Support the causes that matter the most to you and show the country that San Antonians are united for a better tomorrow. 

The Big Give S.A. is part of a national day of giving called Give Local America. Some of our favorites? The San Antonio Public Library Foundation, the San Antonio Museum of Art, Trinity University, and the Witte Museum. And that's just the very tip of the iceberg. The list is long and full of possibilities. Give today, and give big!

Read Green!

Apr 21, 2014 (1:53 pm)

Every year on April 22, over a billion people in 190 countries take action for Earth Day. From San Francisco to San Juan, Beijing to Brussels, Moscow to Marrakesh, people plant trees, clean up their communities, contact their elected officials, and more—all on behalf of the environment.

At Trinity University Press, we encourage people to do their part, whether recycling, volunteering, advocating, or just by reading green!

If poetry is your thing, The Ecopoetry Anthology is perfect for igniting inspiration with work from dozens of writers who speak for the trees. Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril contains eighty essays on our personal responsibility to help preserve the planet and will inspire you to do your part. Donald Culross Peattie was a midcentury naturalist who engaged readers through poetic and enlightened nature writing in books like A Natural History of North American TreesA Gathering of Birds and An Almanac for Moderns. The Pulitzer prize-winning U. S. Poet Laureate W. S. Merwin shows his fondness for the natural order of things in Unchopping a Tree.

If you are looking for a more tangible and active way to get in on conservation, the Earth Day Network creates tools and resources for you to get involved with Earth Day in your community. Read more.

No matter how you choose to celebrate Earth Day this year, just jump in and go green. Your children and your children's children will thank you for it!

The Bob Shacochis Guide to Food and Romance

Feb 14, 2014 (10:28 am)

Bob Shacochis, the award winning writer of the critically acclaimed novel The Woman Who Lost Her Soul and the classic culinary memoir Domesticity: A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love, has been married to the same woman for more than 40 years, so obviously he knows a thing or two about how to keep a lady satisfied. More often than not, it's not about what's in her heart. This Valentine's Day, Bob offers up a few tips on how to win and keep the lover of your dreams. Through her stomach.

Know Your Lover’s Tastes

No doubt about it, if you want a pure insight into other people’s lives, find out what they most enjoy eating, and what they would never eat, even if it meant starvation. It’s a good idea never to cook for somebody without knowing this information. More importantly, it’s romantic suicide to live with somebody until you’re sure your gastronomic stars aren’t crossed. 

Forget Fancy Restaurants, Home is Where the Heart Is

Okay, so one fellow’s domesticity is another man’s shackles. I too am seduced by cosmopolitan restaurants and trendy bistros, menus indecipherable except to a graduate degree holder in the Romance languages. Ultimately, however, these establishments can become bordellos of endless gastronomic affairs with the appetite prowling and carousing, lascivious and transient. Little more is generated here but an ephemeral commitment that applies only to the glamor of the moment. I am no more immune to these moments of escape than anyone else but I know I’ll always come home, with a sense of relief, to my own table, convinced that home is the setting of something better, where meaning and satisfaction are anchored firmly into the foundation of our private lives and don’t drag off in the tide of yet one more inflated transaction added to the commerce of the day.

Skip the Spuds

A woman who believes in the amorous properties of potatoes shouldn’t be difficult to please, but frankly I don’t recall any mention of starchy foods in the Karma Sutra. Common sense tells me that not many of us, male or female, tend to be sexually aroused by spuds. They champion neither evocative shape nor aesthetic lure, have a taste only a bad poet would bother to describe, and conceived in subterranean ignorance of passion, quickly mature to frumpy ordinariness, and connote the long pedestrian haul of love rather than the wild lather of its overture. What pitiful son-of-a-bitch has ever looked upon a lump of mashed potatoes, then raised a wolfish gaze to the coquette responsible for the lump, put two and two together and concluded, “Good Lord, I must have my way with her! I must!” 

Spice Up the Morning After

Usually, what I don’t want is to have the dreamy child in me consoled by cereals and juices. I want to be startled in the morning, even shocked; I want to be bruised by ethnicity; I want to hoard my sensual pleasures and eat them too. Does this make sense? Of course not, but so go the idiosyncratic moods of breakfast. I’ll take Lancashire’s grilled blood sausages. I’ll take the Caribbean’s mashed sardines and saltfish cakes. Japan’s pickled vegetables and seaweeds. Ditto Mexico’s huevos rancheros or my grandmother’s sunrise plates of steamed spaghetti. And – ah! – to come awake to a bagel smeared with cream cheese, layered with flabby lox, mounded with slices of red onions. Give me fruits that have no name and emanate weird fragrance. Give me something volcanic, and something arctic! 

When In Doubt, Serve Oysters

From the gastronomic point of view, to die in the saddle (a la Rockefeller), eating a well-iced dozen on the half shell, is not at all an ignoble fate. Nine Floridians succumbed in 1992 as a result of eating raw oysters. The culprit is Vibrio vulnificus, a naturally occurring marine bacterium that preys on weak livers. For those of us with healthy constitutions, the threat is nonexistent. My advice is to belly up to the raw bar and not step back until you’re acutely aware of the improvement in your sperm count. If you harbor doubts, manly or otherwise, about eating it raw, heat it up. Vibrio vulnificus can’t survive the cooking process. Think of it as foreplay. 

Excerpted from Domesticity: A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love (Trinity University Press, 2013)

Meet Ben Judson

Dec 9, 2013 (10:42 am)

Meet Ben Judson, the designer of our site (nice, right?) and an all-around awesome guy. He’s a San Antonio–based web developer and writer, and he’s built sites for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the Blue Star Arts Complex, David Shelton Gallery, Friends of Government Canyon, and many other entities. 

He’s so awesome, in fact, that he won a grant from the Awesome Foundation to help launch wabiStory, an app that allows authors, artists, and musicians to leave audio recordings in physical locations all around San Antonio. The app works when the GPS in a user’s phone shows that they are in the place where the author recorded the piece. It’s like a geocaching for the arts! Trinity University creative writing professors Andrew Porter and Jenny Browne have contributed to the project, and singer-songwriter Nicolette Good placed a wabiStory piece on the Trinity campus. 

From 2008 to 2011 Judson was a corresponding editor for Art Lies, a contemporary arts quarterly based in Houston. In February 2011 he began writing a bimonthly column on city planning and community development for the web magazine Plaza de Armas, which ran for two years. He also hosts the weekly Free Jazz Hour at 9 p.m. Mondays on KRTU 91.7 FM.

If you ever have the chance to meet him, be sure and extend a hand. He’s a pretty great guy to know.

(Photo of Ben and his wife Callie Enlow by David Rangel, courtesy of Hello Studio.)


Three Things with Char Miller

Dec 9, 2013 (7:22 am)

In each edition of Three Things, we ask one of our authors to tell us three interesting things about their lives and writing, and the answers are often surprising. This time we set our sights on Char Miller, director of the environmental analysis program and W. M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College, and author of our books On the Edge: Water, Immigration, and Politics in the Southwest and Deep in the Heart of San Antonio, and editor of On the Border: An Environmental History of San Antonio and Fifty Years of the Texas Observer.

1. What was the last book you read? 

I'm just finishing Jess Walter’s The Financial Lives of the Poets, an unsettlingly funny novel about a character who does almost nothing right—leaves his job just as the economy implodes, starts selling drugs in hopes of reversing his fortunes (good luck with that), and then blows up his marriage, only to repair it with a maturity that had eluded him for so long. 

In advance of a talk at Angelo State, I also reread Arnoldo De León’s They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes toward Mexicans in Texas, 1821–1900, which I first encountered shortly after arriving in San Antonio. It proved pivotal in shaping my thinking about this new, strange place. De Leon is a brilliant, painstaking historian who upended the prevailing narrative that had deeply discounted the malevolence of the Lone Star State’s brutal and discriminatory politics. Because he taught at Angelo State for forty years, it seemed an appropriate homage to integrate his insights into my talk there, “Reservation/Preservation: The Language of Conquest in the American West,” a probe of the unsettlingly tight relationship between the establishment of Indian reservations and the creation of national parks in the late nineteenth century.

 2. Who was your hero when you were little?

I read a lot as a child, but my fascinations were sports driven, and therefore so were those I thought heroic. Y. A. Tittle, the embattled and bloodied quarterback for the New York Giants; Maurice (the Rocket) Richard, the fast-scoring forward for the Montreal Canadiens, whose balletic moves on ice were impossible to replicate (though I tried often enough on the black-ice pond behind our house in Connecticut); and the 1962 New York Mets, who in their inaugural season were so very bad that they became great in my young eyes. 

3. What is your favorite place in the whole world? 

Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, a spit of land at times connected to Martha’s Vineyard Island and at times (like now) not. My mother, Hutze, owned homes overlooking its waters from the 1940s until her death in 2009, and it is a landscape I most associate with her. And like my mother, it is tough and resilient. It's not a little raw, even wounded, studded with scrub oaks that have survived despite fierce winds, crashing waves, and infertile soil.

Texas Book Festival/San Antonio Edition

Apr 9, 2013 (12:43 pm)

We are excited to be participating in the first Texas Book Festival/San Antonio Edition on Saturday, April 13. This free day of literary happenings will offer book lovers of every age up-close encounters with fifty of their favorite Texas and national authors at presentations, panel discussions, and signings. Tents will feature a variety of food, cooking demonstrations, and musical entertainment. Storytelling and learning activities will be offered for kids. Be sure to stop by the Trinity University Press booth and check out our author events on the schedule: Char Miller (On the Edge)Kim Stafford (100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do)Becky Crouch Patterson (The Ranch That Was Us)Gilbert Garcia (Reagan's Comeback), and Arturo Madrid (In the Country of Empty Crosses)

Hope to see you there!

Ten Rings of Wisdom

Jan 30, 2013 (10:09 am)

Readers who pick up The Power of Trees, by conservation rock star Gretchen C. Daily and photographer Chuck Katz, are amazed by the life-changing details about trees—things they never knew—that make them take a moment to appreciate the natural world around them. We asked our intern, Victoria Mitchell, to extract Ten Rings of Wisdom that moved her from The Power of Trees.

One. Trees seem so still, yet they are among the greatest life forces of movement on Earth.

Two. Fundamentally, we are indeed all of the same cloth, and the very constituents of our own bodies have likely resided in forests for many periods of time.

Three. Some trees clearly can talk to one another—when attacked, certain trees emit airborne chemicals that signal trouble to downwind trees, which in turn boost their own chemical defenses.

Four. Heartwood is the central supporting pillar of the tree, and in some species it is as strong as steel.

Five. After trees, Earth waited 165 million years before the first mammals appeared, and another 145 million years before the first monkeylike creatures swung from branch to branch in treetops.

Six. Trees are the longest lived organisms on Earth, some even germinating back when humanity was inventing writing, about 5,000 years ago. 

Seven. Living in trees for 80 million years or so, our ancestors acquired exceptional hand-eye coordination and dexterity. 

Eight. Trees fueled human discovery. By supplying the wood for primitive stoves, trees may have powered the evolution of large, calorie-hungry hominid brains. Later, the Age of Discovery was launched with fine-timbered ships that opened vast frontiers of knowledge and global exchange.

Nine. A famous study found that patients with trees outside their hospital windows recovered from surgery more quickly than patients whose windows looked out on brick walls.

Ten. Whether living as great wild expanses or as ribbons and dots of connection and texture in human landscapes, trees define our lives and the future of humanity.

Holiday Giving from TU Press

Nov 21, 2012 (8:45 am)

Thanksgiving is only ONE day away. Though some retailers were out of the gate with their holiday wares weeks ago, we here at TU Press chose to celebrate Halloween and take a nice long breath before embracing the season in full. Now that the smell of roasting turkey is wafting through the air, we want to throw our hat in the ring and offer up some ideas.

Check out the TU Press holiday gift page and peruse our evergreen titles that not only make great holiday gifts but are also perfect for hostess favors, birthdays, or even a present for yourself. The Power of Trees by Gretchen C. Daily and Charles Katz Jr. for those with the passion for ecology. A set of ArteKids books to stuff in a stocking or make the third night of Hanukkah more colorful. Environmentally sound, and eternally thoughtful and thought provoking, a book from TU Press will never disappoint.

Support independent publishing and give the gift that makes them think this holiday season.


Hurricane Sandy

Nov 9, 2012 (11:02 am)

All of us down here in Texas have been thinking about our friends and colleagues in the Northeast over the past few weeks. With so many publishers, independent bookstores, and chains brought to a near halt because of Hurricane Sandy, it’s incredible to think of all the damage one storm can cause. Our prayers are with our colleagues at Publishers Group West in New York, the Perseus Book Group in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, and those booksellers impacted by the storm. Stay safe, all who are still without power and working to overcome damage to your communities and homes.

The storm of the century, all in the midst of two of the largest book publishers in the universe merging. One crazy month in the world of books and beyond. Mother nature. She is a terrifying and extraordinary lady.