Sara Balabanlilar

About Sara Balabanlilar

Sara Balabanlilar has a degree in English from the University of Houston. She also runs Barbee Manshun, a pop-up art exhibition and workshop space, with two other UH graduates. In her spare time she has taken up crocheting moss.

Houston Tiny Press Part 1: “DIY Ain’t Easy, Baby”

July 8, 2015, by

11289035_10206706164962998_3628100838413190612_oAlthough Houston proves itself in the literary arena with multiple organizations hosting readings, workshops, and arts journals, our sprawling oil city isn’t the first place people think of when they imagine an extensive scene for actually publishing those works. However, this city is proving itself in that sphere as well. Houston is experimenting, fruitfully, with tiny presses. Some of these small publishers are working to blur the lines between craft and literary production, while others are trying to pull the DIY culture of zines into a more traditionally poetry and prose-based atmosphere.

I sat down with Traci Lavois Thebaud and Kalen Rowe to discuss their DIY-based literary projects, Anklebiters Publishing and Whatever, Mom Publications.

Sara: Talk about your projects (publishing and otherwise!). What role do you think you have in Houston?

Kalen: My friend Chris Wesley and I had been talking about making an anonymous poetry zine, and wanted our friends to contribute. All of us helped make the first two issues of what we called Poets Anonymous. The zines were made cheaply and DIY with ten poems by ten poets in each. I printed a few on my printer until the ink ran out and Chris printed the majority at his mom’s work.  Continue reading

Poet Kenan Ince featured at First Friday on June 5th

June 2, 2015, by

Kenan InceFor more than fifteen years, Inprint has been proud to serve as host to First Friday. First Friday is the oldest poetry reading series in Houston, held on the first Friday of every month since 1975. The series is coordinated by Robert Clark and features a wide range of local and regional poets. Each evening begins at 8:30 pm with a reading by the featured poet, followed by an open mike. Clark and many involved in First Friday also help organize the annual Houston Poetry Fest, which takes place every October at the University of Houston Downtown.

On June 5, First Friday will feature Kenan Ince, a Houston writer to be reckoned with. A Dallas native, Kenan is currently a PhD student in Math at Rice University. Well-known in local writing circles, Kenan has given many readings around the city, was a juror at Houston Poetry Fest, and has been published in Word Riot, The Hartskill Review, and HeART Online.

Inprint blogger Sara Balabanlilar says she has encountered Kenan’s work in two very different Houston venues—the now defunct East Side Social Center (a beloved punk and DIY venue with the curated remains of Sedition Books’ collection) and Rice Gallery, in a night of poetry that responded to the current gallery installation. Both readings left an impression on Sara: “The audiences of the two spaces were entirely different, but Kenan handled both with ease.  During both readings, Kenan drew listeners into a series of beautifully imagined thought experiments that rendered them silent. His poetry is activist, certainly, but also with an amount of nostalgia that offsets a sense of political cliche. His metaphors are beautiful, extended forays into experiences that are entirely different from our daily Houston lives.”  Continue reading

A Houston Conference for Emerging Writers, BoldFace 2015

May 14, 2015, by

Boldface 2015When we think of writing conferences, we always think they take place somewhere in the Northeast, along a beautiful coast, in a remote location, or in a popular tourist destination. Houstonians however do have access to one of the best writing conferences right here in Houston.

Boldface is a summer writing conference run by Glass Mountain, the University of Houston undergraduate literary journal. The journal caters to undergraduates across the nation, but the Boldface Conference is open to any emerging writer who is interested in signing up. Inprint blogger Sara Balabanlilar interviewed Joseph Roberts, the head fiction editor of Glass Mountain, to get more information about this year’s Boldface Conference. The visiting writers to the conference include poet Blas Falconer, non-fiction writer Gail D. Storey, and novelist Coert Vorhees. To register and learn more about the Boldface Conference click here. 

SARA: Tell us a little bit about Boldface.

JOSEPH: Boldface is a weeklong conference for undergrads and local emerging writers. The first Boldface was in June 2009. This year the conference will last from May 18th to the 22nd. The conference itself consists of various writerly things such as workshops (run by UH’s own Creative Writing Program graduates), Master classes (also run by grad students) where all sorts of different aspects of writing are taught or discussed, to visiting writers and open mics throughout the week. Continue reading

What can we learn from Kimberly Meyer’s The Book of Wanderings?

May 1, 2015, by

A big congratulations to Kimberly Meyer, whose memoir The Book of Wanderings came out this March. Kim holds a PhD from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, where she received an Inprint Brown Foundation Fellowship and an Inprint Michener Fellowship. Her work has recently appeared in The Best American Travel Writing, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, Ecotone, The Oxford American, The Georgia Review, Agni, The Southern Review, and Third Coast. She teaches in the Great Books program at the University of Houston Honors College. Here, Sara Balabanlilar, Kim’s student (and Inprint’s newest blogger) talks about The Book of Wanderings and what we can learn from it.

cropped Kim Meyer GetInline-19Houston is a city filled with the angst of constant coming and going. Old buildings fall into disrepair and are easily replaced with three-story condos overlooking huge unused lots or old factories. Paved roads shift and crack in our sandy soil, which is persistent enough to keep any street too smooth for too long. The construction is endless here. All of these things lend to an air of constant change, of dissatisfaction with the space around us and the constant impetus to evolution and growth.

Meyer_TheBookofWanderingsAAt first, Kimberly Meyer’s The Book of Wanderings seems to be in a similar vein of longing. In the first few pages, she describes an early trip to a chapel in New Mexico: “The chapel became a sign of what we were seeking in traveling with our daughters: remnants of something genuine that suburban sprawl had not yet swallowed up in its ravenous maw.”

When Meyer’s small trips around the U.S. turn into a grander trip with her oldest daughter, Ellie, following the journey of a prolific medieval friar, her goal remains the same. She follows Felix Fabri’s journey as closely as she can, visiting chapels, churches, and pilgrimage sites just as he did. Her route starts near Fabri’s hometown of Ulm, then quickly moves into Italy, along the coast of eastern Europe, down through Greece into Israel and eventually Egypt. However, Meyer’s efforts to mirror Fabri’s tracks are undercut almost immediately, and regularly again throughout the trip. In Italy, she and Ellie get sick. Later, their guide through the desert turns out to have dubious plans for them. The idea of recreating perfectly a centuries-old pilgrimage path becomes imperfect. Continue reading