Author Archives: lymangrant

About lymangrant

Lyman Grant is a professor of creative writing and humanities at Austin Community College. He has work at ACC since 1978. He is the author or editor of two textbooks, two books relating to Texas literature, three volumes and a chapbook of poetry. Recently he traveled the United States for a year in a 34-foot RV 5th wheel trailer with his wife and two younger sons.

Poetry Assignments

Here are the assignments for poems and revision that we will follow this semester.  A guideline or two:   let’s start out this semester by producing new work.  Please do not send in an old poem–one that you wrote last month, last year, etc.  Let’s start out with new poems, poems that grow from the prompts, or poems that you develop because of other events in your life.  Next, let’s not rhyme in obvious ways.   Why?  because rhyming is distracting for the beginning writer. For the most part, let’s try to avoid song lyric type poetry.  Why?  again, it is a distraction from the skills of writing poetry.  Historically, song and poetry have a close relationship, but in the last hundred years that relationship has grown tenuous.  Besides, most song lyrics do not stand up as spoken (and read) poetry.  Think of it this way, this is a class based on the tradition of the American free verse poem.  If you want to write other kinds of poetry, I applaud you, but let’s begin focusing on building skills in writing poetry.  We can do that with American free verse.  Then later in the semester we will get to rhyme and set forms. Continue reading

New Growth in Texas Fiction: An Introduction

She said if you’re from Texas, son,

Where’s your boots and where’s your gun?

“She Never Spoke Spanish to Me,”

Butch Hancock

One might expect the editor of such a volume as this to begin with bold assertions about the power and range of fiction in Texas: as virile as a Texas bull, as varied as the Texas landscape—that sort of thing. I will spare us. Whenever fiction from this region is presented as in this volume, it is inevitably attached to the word Texas: Texas Fiction. Texas Literature. And off it goes into the back room to be shelved with the Texana between the boots and the spurs. I would like to fight that. Continue reading

Open Borders: Literary Journals in Texas Today

Twenty-nine years ago, in the final paragraph of the essay “Small Presses in Texas” (Texas Observer 1977), Dave Oliphant, usually a reserved and cool critic, becomes prophetic. “The ingenuity, persistence, and dedication of Texas’ small press publishers have contributed to a growing movement that is clearly here to stay.” By “small press,” Oliphant is referring to a person or group of people who publish a periodical or short run chapbook or book. “There are various types of small presses established in the state; the smallest—and most numerous—are those devoted to the publication of poetry.” In his essay, Oliphant, the publisher of a small press himself, attempts to prove that an important shift had occurred in literature as it is practiced in Texas, that there had been “the return to Texas of native publishers.” Oliphant loves such Western-tinged phrases. This one reminds me of The Return of the Magnificent Seven—the poor exploited farmers combating, with a little help, the corrupt capitalists from afar. Continue reading

A Drive Home in Summer

We’ve been very sad around our house this summer. In July, my wife’s father died. It occurred suddenly. He went into the hospital for tests on a Tuesday, and by Friday he was dead. Yes, we’ve been sad, and because much of this issue of MAN! magazine concerns fathers, putting this issue together has not allowed us to hide from our grief by working. Continue reading


Some readers and critics would tell us that a story is simply and only language. What they may mean by this is that a story, whether it is told orally or written, whether it is factually verifiable or fiction, is not an object like a shovel or a table, but is something that exits only as words. Therefore, the plot is constructed of language, as are the characters and the setting, and so forth. Add a few words and the character is changed; take away a few and the plot is altered. Continue reading


One sentence almost every child hears from his or her parents is “Don’t take that tone with me!”  In growing up, we almost always regret this moment.  For some reason, now beyond our memory, we spoke in such a way that showed our parents nothing of our love and respect for them.  Instead, we were surly, disrespectful, impatient, or self-righteous.  Or as some people would say, we had an attitude. Continue reading

Alternate Poetry Prompts

On this page, I have added  poetry prompts that you can use to for writing exercises in your writing notebook.    I have stolen some of these prompts from various books on writing poetry.   If you have some favorite prompts, send them to me in an email and I will add them to our list for all students to enjoy. Continue reading