Becoming Beaumont

Today has been an interesting day. There's snow in both Beaumont and the Rio Grande Valley! I'm in the midst of that literal storm and on the cusp of the metaphoric storm of grading. My students' final papers and writing portfolios are due tonight. I'm ready for this last flurry of work before kissing my first semester at Lamar goodbye and taking a nice, long, much-deserved break.

I don't quite feel ready to reflect on what I've learned yet in this first semester, though I hope to return to that thought soon. For today, though, I'd like to instead share some fun news: I'm a columnist for The Examiner, Beaumont's weekly newspaper! My column is titled The Beaumont Book Beat, and there I am, above, proudly holding the first edition of said column. The second edition runs next Thursday, December 14th.

My column runs once a month and covers the literary happenings in Beaumont, the Golden Triangle, and the greater region of southeast Texas. Houston has such a wonderful reputation as a literary hub, and darn it, there's a lot going on in this little corner of Texas. One of my goals is to work on highlighting that to the community and beyond. I've always been a firm believer that a good part of my job as an academic (as a poet/writer/publisher/teacher) is community outreach, and I think this is a good step in that direction.

Writing for "general" audience has been a little bit of a shift for me, though, as most of my reviews have been for literary journals and academic publications. It's a learning process, and one I'm very excited to engage in. Plus, I see this as going hand-in-hand for what I do at Lamar University Literary Press -- creating, promoting, and championing good literature. My first column (which you can read online here) was a review of a literary science fiction novel by Melvin Sterne. My second column features an interview with a poet who visited the Lamar University campus. I'll see how my column comes together in future editions, though I imagine reviews, interviews, and reports on events will be my usual jive.

Whenever someone learns about my new "job" at The Examiner, I'm always asked the follow-up: How did you get that??? My answer is simple: Ask, and you shall be given! I just sent two emails, one to each of the local newspapers, pitching my idea, and one responded. It never hurts to ask! I think this is one of the "lessons" I've learned in my first semester at Lamar, come to think of it.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to writing more columns in the months and years to come. Here's to Beaumont, it's self-described scrappy little newspaper, the diamond-in-the-rough of a literary scene I'm continuing to learn about and explore, and to all of those who keep it the Beat!

Little by little, I'm learning how to call this curious place home.