By Megan Harrington
At the University of Houston, there is no lack of talent and esteem within the Creative Writing faculty. As a student and young artist, I have had the privilege to speak and learn with some of these great writers. When I found myself with the chance to interview Creative Writing professor and poet Nick Flynn, I was excited for such an amazing chance. As expected, Flynn’s interview in no way disappointed. In the busy bustle of Black Hole Coffee House in Montrose, Flynn spoke about the great students of UH, Houston, his art, other people’s art and how these things can all be meshed together to create a great balance.
THE ALETHEIA: Let’s start basic. What do you like about teaching at the University of Houston?
NICK FLYNN: The students are really great. The undergrads are a great mix of diverse population and people that seem hungry to learn. The graduate students come from all over. We have a really great writing program, a recognized writing program, so we get really great students for that, and the faculty here is really great.
TA: You split time between New York and Houston. What do you like about Houston as opposed to New York and vice versa? If you could mix the cities and make one great Super City, would you?
NF: A super city sounds monstrous. I don’t think I’d make a super city. I like Houston just like it is. Houston is great because it is so different from New York. I like the diversity here. It’s kind of a wild city. There’s a whole range of things happening here. The art scene is really great. It’s a good place for young artists to be, which seems really important for a city. You know, New York is unfortunately becoming (or has been for the last 10, 15, 20 years) more and more hostile to young artists because it’s just so expensive and just so brutal. You need to have this influx of young blood in a city and I think Houston somehow is still able to do that.
TA: That’s a really encouraging perspective for Houston artists and for our journal. The Aletheia really strives to create a venue for young artists of all sorts to interact with their community. You teach a class called the Collaboration of the Arts that does something similar to this. Can you talk a little about it?
NF: This class is always an evolving class. We’ve been figuring out how to teach it since it started. It really is like putting a group of people together and getting them to figure out how to work together. You know most of our experiences in the education system are for individuals; you alone creating something, which actually isn’t the reality when you’re out in the world. When you’re out in the world, you’re working with people, so this class, though we’re focusing on art, could be applied to any sort of endeavor one does. In fact, I know it can be because that’s the nature of the world. When you get out in the world, you have to work with people, and that’s the good news actually because you get to work with people. It’s not just all about you. The idea is that it’s not just your effort but part of a combined effort to create something. It’s taking hold in many more schools around the country. There’s a petition to start the class at NYU, and people all around are beginning to catch wind of it, but we are one of the early ones to do it, so we’re very happy about that.