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Terra Firma: Trinity University Press blog

Azar Nafisi Comes to Trinity University

by Rachel Cooley on

On Tuesday, March 4, Trinity University Press will host Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, in a discussion on human rights and women’s education in the Middle East, and on literature as a tool of social change. 

Nafisi has argued not only for the importance of literature, both fiction and nonfiction, for its own sake, but also for how it creates connections between peoples and cultures. She asserts that reading can promote understanding and present cultural complexities without reducing a society to one feature of itself. 

In a speech to Vanderbilt University in 2012, Nafisi said, “I was shocked to see that all of the country that, before I left the United States, had various cultures, histories and political systems, was now reduced to one aspect of it—religion, which was reduced to only one aspect of itself.” 

Readers can explore Iranian culture, and not just its government, through Nafisi’s books and lectures, and through Iranian history and literature. 

In an interview with the World Future Society, Nafisi said, “I was first introduced to America by Huck Finn. I want people to come to Iran through Ferdowsi, a poet. Perhaps I can help with this. Art and literature should not be bound by nationality.” 

Learn more about Nafisi’s work and message at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 4, in the Stieren Theater on Trinity’s campus. Free and open to the public. Book signing and reception to follow. The event is in celebration of the Trinity University Press tenth anniversary and is made possible through funds from the Elbert and Esther Fertig DeCoursey Fund.

More here.

Happy Birthday William Stafford!

by Rachel Cooley on

January 17, 2014, marks the centennial of poet William Stafford’s birth, and events across the  world will celebrate his poetry and influence all year long. With many events in the Pacific Northwest, in Nevada and Arkansas, and even in Glasgow, Scotland, everyone can celebrate the life and works of this beloved poet. 

The Friends of William Stafford seek to celebrate Stafford’s influence and the power and importance of the literary arts in our lives. Stafford actively looked for opportunities to see beauty in his life and work, always “listening for the next sound” and “rubbing words together until something sparked.” He followed a “golden thread” among the simple beauties in life and once said of his work, “I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” 

On what would have been Stafford’s 100th birthday, we can celebrate his life and work by striving to see the beauty he saw and by affirming the significance of the literary arts. We can can also celebrate by reading the compositions of this prolific writer, including The Osage Orange Tree, which gives insight into the nature of a young poet who worked through some of America’s hardest and most inspiring times. For more about Stafford’s life, see the works of his son, Kim Stafford, such as Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford and 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do.

Visit here to see a list of centennial events or organize your own. For information visit the Friends of William Stafford.

Meet Ben Judson

by Burgin Streetman on

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

by Burgin Streetman on

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.

Holiday Gifts from TU Press

by Rachel Cooley on

For the curious child in your life: The Complete ArteKids Book Set

These five books allow children to explore art in English and Spanish, as well as shapes, colors, numbers, and animals, in a unique and engaging way. Featuring artwork from the San Antonio Museum of Art. 

For your favorite archaeologist or armchair historian: Painters in Prehistory: Archaeology and Art of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands

Texas native or not, this book will interest those fascinated by culture with images of rock art and descriptions of the lives of ancient Rio Grande canyon dwellers. From basketry to botany, from warfare to shamanism, this book has something interesting for everyone. 

For the nature-lover or writer: Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape

This visionary reference of the American landscape combines geography, literature, and folklore to thrill language-lovers and tree-huggers alike. Literary descriptions of our land and water forms, now available in a smaller, field guide edition. 

For fans of poetry and the environment: The Ecopoetry Anthology

This poetry anthology celebrates the mysteries and wonders of nature and offers insights into the human experience with nature and the biological beauty that sustains us. 

For those curious about ecology and philosophy: The Donald Culross Peattie Library

Nine reissued works by a celebrated mid-century naturalist contemplate plants and animals, the American landscape, and the history of trade goods. Any one of the Peattie books will excite friends and family interested in nature or the environment this holiday season. 

For the foodie or relationship expert: Domesticity: A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love

This tour-de-force romp through the worlds of eating and eroticism will satisfy the food lover (and who doesn’t love eating at the holidays?) or the person in love. Shacochis muses on the relationship between heart and stomach, with essays and seventy-five recipes that nourish the senses and the soul.