Before she was the 43rd FLOTUS, Laura Bush was a young Texas librarian with a tobacco habit and a smart mouth. And so it follows that in 1995, when she was First Lady of Texas, she founded the Texas Book Festival. The free, weekend-long event once took place entirely in the Texas Capitol, but in years hence it’s spilled out on to Congress Avenue and nearby church sanctuaries and ballrooms—venues which pass for public spaces around these parts. This year students from the UHCWP, Inprint fellows all, served as volunteers at the festival and readers at the evening Lit Crawl, while taking in two days’ worth of panel discussions by authors from across the literary spectrum. Continue reading
We know that Houston is home to many writers. Writespace offers members of Houston’s diverse writing community to gather annually at the Writers’ Family Reunion. This year’s Reunion comes up this Saturday, November 11, 9 am – 5 pm at Writespace in Silver Street Studios at 2000 Edwards, southeast of the Heights. We are one of the co-sponsors, along with Houstonia Magazine, ArtHouston Magazine, Women in the Visual and Literary Arts (WiVLA), Houston Writers House, Public Poetry, Houston Writers Guild, Writers’ League of Texas, Grackle and Grackle. Use the code PAPERPOWER to save $20 on admission. Click here for more information.
We had the chance to catch up with Writespace founder and director Elizabeth White-Olsen this week to ask her more about the Writers’ Family Reunion and what attendees can expect on Saturday.
INPRINT: How did the Writers Family Reunion first get started, whose idea was it, is it based on a model conducted in another city?
ELIZABETH WHITE-OLSEN: Writing can be a lonely occupation, but when writers feel embraced and supported by community, this can catapult our sense of confidence and success. At Writespace, we seek to offer a place where writers can easily come write, hone their craft, and develop new skills, while feeling celebrated and accepted. Our upcoming literary arts festival, the Writers’ Family Reunion, is designed to strengthen the local writing community by giving writers a sense of homecoming and an Continue reading
When I first moved to Houston from northern California, the city surprised me in so many ways. It’s easier to be a vegetarian here than it was there, and y’all got great bourbon lists at your restaurants and bars! Especially at Poison Girl, host to one of the best reading series in town. This was my favorite surprise: Houston’s vital, thriving, and progressive literary scene.
But not everyone knows about the award-winning Poison Pen series, which runs the last Thursday of every month. This month’s reading takes place on Thursday, October 26th, and will feature Roger Reeves, Onyinye Ihezukwu, and Zachary Caballero.
In an effort to introduce the larger Houston community to Poison Pen, I sent some questions to the series’ current organizers, all of whom are writers themselves, as well as past or present Inprint Fellows: Giuseppe Taurino, Analicia Sotelo, and Erika Jo Brown. These folks vet authors and schedule line-ups to bring new, exciting work to Houstonians. Continue reading
We’re thrilled to report that Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen—who will be appearing in the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series on Monday, November 13, 7:30 pm, at Rice University’s Stude Concert Hall–-was named one of this year’s 24 recipients of MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowships.
We are happy for him and for all of you, who will have the privilege of hearing him speak on his first appearance in the Series. Don’t miss it—he will be in conversation with Houston native William Broyles, founding editor of Texas Monthly, Academy-Award nominated screenwriter, and author of Brothers in Arms, an account of his return to Vietnam to meet the men and women he fought against during the war. Inprint will join with Houston Public Media to live-stream this reading.
Another of the 2017 MacArthur “genius” fellowship recipients is novelist Jesmyn Ward, who appeared in the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series in March 2013. You can watch a video here of her reading from her National Book Award-winning novel Salvage the Bones and her conversation with fellow novelists Amber Dermont and Robert Boswell, on the Inprint website in our Archive of Readings. Continue reading
When any great loss occurs, we need time and a way to process that loss. It’s difficult enough when one loses a beloved car or musical instrument, photos, books, a favorite chair – but when one loses all of it at once – one’s house and nearly everything in it – and when whole neighborhoods are inundated, the loss becomes one that all of us in the region must process, either directly or indirectly. It’s as if there is a toxic gas release or poisons in the water – the malaise affects us all, in one way or another.
There is also the matter of processing the grief that follows loss. Even though this is a different sort of grief than the loss of a family member or friend, still one is haunted by what is missing, or what happened down the road (especially in the quiet hours of the night, when one has time to reflect).
Writing through the grief – acknowledging somehow what happened and what it means to us – is one way to metabolize and learn to live with loss. It’s also cathartic in such circumstances to know those things for which one is grateful, and to whom one is grateful, and to pay tribute to them.
To demonstrate the way creative writing—some unleashing of the unconscious—can help after Harvey, a few weeks ago, at an Inprint Board of Directors meeting, after we were officially adjourned, Cait Weiss Orcutt—a poet, Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/MD Anderson Foundation Fellow, experienced writing teacher, and PhD candidate at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program—led us in a writing exercise to show how one might write creatively in response to trauma, and emerge from the experience both slightly relieved and with a text one might expand upon, and perhaps eventually share with others. Continue reading
On Friday, September 22, the Houston literary community gathered at Brazos Bookstore to celebrate the release of Conor Bracken’s award-winning chapbook Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour. The manuscript was the recipient of the 2017 Frost Place Competition sponsored by Bull City Press. Bracken, a former Inprint Fellow and current Inprint Poetry Busker, is an active local writer and teacher, and the event was warm and collegial.
Fellow University of Houston Creative Writing Program alum Analicia Sotelo helped introduce and open for Bracken. She described Bracken’s work as interrogating “the white male situation.” Their writing shares, Sotelo says, an interest in “the subtle exploration of power play.” She proceeded to read from her own accomplished chapbook Nonstop Godhead, which includes such titles as “Apologia over Marinated Lamb” and dwells on major Hispanic modern painters such as Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo.
Last Monday’s sudden storms brought uncomfortable reminders of the recent devastation in and around Houston, echoed now in Puerto Rico, and Florida, and other parts of the Caribbean and the Gulf. Those of us who made it to this season’s first installment of the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series were soggy and a little anxious to come in from the rain. We crowded the orchestra section of Rice University’s Stude Concert Hall, borrowed in the wake of Harvey’s damage to the Wortham Center’s performance spaces.
But rather than distract us, both Nicole Krauss and Nathan Englander called attention to the radical resilience of cities, and how storytelling can serve that resilience. Their readings addressed the dedication and distress so many of us have recently witnessed and felt.
The excerpts Krauss chose from her new novel Forest Dark explored the threshold of self-knowledge and knowledge of others, and of how we probe and expand the rifts in our personal realities. She spoke of the ways in which writing can invent identity, that writing is often an act of self-invention instead of self-expression: “Each time you tell another story,” she said, “you amplify what it is to be yourself.” Continue reading
This is the final entry in a series of micro essays on Hurricane Harvey by participants in Inprint’s nonfiction workshop led by poet Cait Weiss Orcutt. She says, “Each piece serves as a proof of our city’s resilience—you can give us rain, wind, uncertainty and days of isolation, but as soon as we can find a pen, we will turn that into art.” For her full introduction and the first essay in this series, click this link.
“House Rules” by Dana DuTerroil
When you weather a storm as a couple you cannot freak out about the same things. There must be a yin and yang to the crisis. A delicate balancing act where one spouse stays calm and convinces the other one to relax without uttering the word, relax, because that will immediately escalate the situation into a full-blown, code red, Cat 5 catastrophe.
It is Sunday morning – the day after the pummeling deluge of Hurricane Harvey’s rain bands. Our home sits near the hike and bike trail leading to White Oak Bayou and my husband has been monitoring the water’s rise throughout the storm. In addition, he is keeping a watchful eye on the end of our street where the road meets I-10, which is now filled with eight lanes of water instead of traffic. I do not accompany him on these missions knowing that he will provide a full report with photographic documentation. Unfortunately, he returns from his afternoon outing with a high level of concern. Continue reading
On Monday, September 11, An Open Book posted the first in a series of micro essays by participants in Inprint’s nonfiction workshop led by poet Cait Weiss Orcutt. She says, “Each piece serves as a proof of our city’s resilience—you can give us rain, wind, uncertainty and days of isolation, but as soon as we can find a pen, we will turn that into art.” For her full introduction and the first essay in this series, click this link.
“On the Brink of the Storm” by Stephanie Gunther Vaughan
The sun was burning the dry pavement under my bare feet as I stood at the mailbox. I was cautious not to step on the tiny camouflaged chameleons that leapt around the lower leaves of the vines that curled endlessly around the gate, where the mailbox was hinged. The competing green and brown lizards scurried by my freshly painted toes, seeking a new refuge. I stared up at the reaching arms of the once young oak tree that stretched above me, its protective branches covering most of our front yard. Only 13 years in this house, a chapter in mine, a short lifetime of my oldest daughter. Continue reading
On Monday, September 11, An Open Book posted the first in a series of micro essays by participants in Inprint’s nonfiction workshop led by poet Cait Weiss. She says, “Each piece serves as a proof of our city’s resilience—you can give us rain, wind, uncertainty and days of isolation, but as soon as we can find a pen, we will turn that into art.” For her full introduction and the first essay in this series, click this link.
“Harvey” by Mike Nichols
As the wind and rains on the dirty side of Hurricane Harvey increased, I sat on the wet tiles of the front porch of our sturdy house on the south shores of Lake Livingston in San Jacinto County. All of the outdoor furniture had been moved to the safety of the basement or garage. I watched the strong waves break over the dock and over the ten-foot concrete apron across an expanse of lawn moving nearer and nearer to the porch stairs. I knew the power of these waves, punching with eight pounds of force for every cubic foot of churning water overflowing its banks and its iron bulkheads in this ninety thousand acres lake. I had seen the result of Hurricane Ike tearing the roof off our next-door neighbor’s house and destroying our dock. I was powerless against the whims of Hurricane Harvey. All I could do was watch and wait.
As my stomach churned with fear, I thought about the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot – Sukkot was a precursor of American Thanksgiving, a festival thanking God for the bounties of the fall harvest. Jewish tradition mandates that during Sukkot, families must eat their meals and sleep under an arbor. The ritual requires the arbor to be temporary, without walls, and with a lattice roof through which the family can see the night stars. The liturgy reminds Jews of our time in the wilderness living as nomads in fragile structures. I always understood Sukkot as a physical reminder for us to have compassion for everyone in the world who lives without the security of a stable home and community and as a reminder that we are responsible to help those people who live in fragile circumstances because of their economic, social, political, or immigration status. Continue reading