The 2021 Inprint Poets & Writers Ball celebrates Houston’s literary spirit with George Saunders and others

February 25, 2021, by

Although writing and reading are solitary and quiet acts, the 2021 Inprint Poets & Writers Ball—Inprint’s annual fundraising gala which went virtual this year—was a festive, engaging, collective, and inclusive experience, especially for those passionate about sustaining Houston’s literary arts scene. More than $280,000 was raised, surpassing the fundraising goal by close to 20%, thanks to the generosity of 250 donors who tuned in from all over the country on Saturday, February 6.

Raising funds to support Inprint programs, while delivering a memorable and high-quality evening that celebrates the power of creative writing and reading, has always been at the heart of the unique annual black-tie event and what has made the Inprint Ball a favorite gala for many patrons. Although the Inprint Ball looked a little different this year, gala supporters and their guests were able to enjoy the festivities from home.

The presentation portion of the evening began at 7:30 pm CST featuring welcome remarks by Inprint Board President Marcia West, followed by a video tribute in memory of recently departed Inprint founders Glenn Cambor and Karl Kilian. This was followed by what is often a beloved part of the evening for many attendees—a series of short readings by Inprint fellowship and prize recipients, all of whom are MFA and PhD students and alumni from the University of Houston. Five Inprint fellows, including Raquel Abend van Dalen, Lauren Berry, Matthew Salesses, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, and Sasha West, each read excerpts from their new work and spoke about how Inprint’s support has impacted their writing life. Continue reading

Flash Fiction expert shares tips about the genre with Houston writers

January 2, 2018, by

This January Inprint continues offering a section in Flash Fiction as part of its popular Inprint Writers Workshops offerings, taught by Inprint Fellow (and PhD candidate at the University of Houston) Kaj Tanaka.

Kaj is extensively published, and a number of his pieces are examples of what is often called “flash fiction,” though you may also see (very) short fiction called “nano,” “quick,” “micro,” or hilariously, “sudden.” Flash fiction is generally shorter than 2,000 words, though there are specific forms. For instance, Hemingway made the six-word story famous with “For sale, baby shoes, never worn.” Some writers now compose on twitter (“twitfic”) in the 140-character length, and there are dedicated online magazines to variations of the flash form – see Flash Fiction Online and 100 Word Story, among others, or even the Flash Friday features on the Tin House site.

The form is far from new. The Hemingway piece is famous, but so are stories from writers like Robert Coover, Amy Hempel, George Saunders, and almost any piece from Joy Williams’ most recent release, Ninety-nine Stories of God.

There are a number of advantages to writing flash fiction, not least of which is the basic rule-of-thumb in placing new work – the less space it requires, the easier it (generally) is to find your work a home. Also, since the pieces are shorter, Kaj’s flash fiction workshop will focus in part on helping writers generate new work. Continue reading

“Harvey” by Mike Nichols: Inprint Workshop Participants on Harvey

September 18, 2017, by

260px-Harvey_2017-08-25_2231ZOn 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

George Saunders in the Forest At Night

March 14, 2017, by March 6th, George Saunders made his third appearance with the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, in order to celebrate a first—his only novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, just debuted #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

To tour the book, Saunders has partnered with local actors in different cities to stage readings of the text. He borrowed performers from Houston’s own Alley Theatre—an experience he compared to driving a Lamborghini—for a scene in a graveyard haunted by two of his characters. Appropriately enough, the reading shared the stage with an eerie woodland set for the theater’s current production, Let the Right One In.  and Director of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program Alex Parsons interviewed Saunders, whose humane wit set the tone for the evening. “We’re just a couple of guys in the forest at night,” he said, settling into a chair wedged between the scenery. Continue reading

Another Country, Near and Far: Henríquez and James Read in H-Town

April 28, 2015, by

RM3_7327Once again, I am running late, headlights mocking me as I creep up 59.  But then, a break, and I fly to Louisiana Street and head to a restaurant for Inprint’s Books & Bellinis, a young professionals mixer, before the Inprint reading.  My Multicultural Literature students are coming tonight, too.  We are all excited: we do not know these writers reading tonight.

What I mean is that we don’t know them yet.

I meet some new friends—or writers I know from Facebook–in person, and let me tell you, in person is better.  Two of my friends win books at the party and I feel happy for them:  what is better than a new book, by a new writer, that you have never read?

Well, not much.

I walk with my friend Elizabeth to The Wortham Center and see my students.  They look so grown up to me—we have read a lot of books together.  Some of them are graduating in May.  I am not sure if I am ready for it, not sure if I am ready for them to emigrate from the benevolent despotism of my classroom to The Next Big Thing.  No wonder people stay in college forever.  There are worse countries to visit, hang around, linger.  Everyone migrates somewhere; even the suburbs of Houston seem like independent states sometimes, each a new country, with languages that I cannot recognize at times.  That is because so many people from so many different countries come to Houston:  it is ever changing, kaleidoscopic, never boring. Continue reading

Mat Johnson talks about his upcoming interview with George Saunders

January 21, 2014, by

saunders1On Monday we are thrilled to be presenting George Saunders as part of the 2013/2014 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. Tickets for his reading sold out very quickly and those who don’t have tickets are kicking themselves for not buying tickets sooner. So what is it about George Saunders that makes him for so many people the writer of the moment?

Mat JohnsonWe thought it would be best to ask Mat Johnson a few questions. Mat is the author of the novels Pym, Drop, and Hunting in Harlem; the nonfiction novella The Great Negro Plot; and the graphic novels Incognegro and Dark Rain. He’s a faculty member at the UH Creative Writing Program and will be conducting the on-stage interview of Saunders on Monday night. A big thanks to Mat for taking the time to talk to us.

Inprint: What was the first thing you read by George Saunders?

Mat Johnson: Pastoralia. It was one of those books that everyone told me I should read because it was so brilliant, and I assumed by that they meant it’s boring-but-smart-enough-that-you-blame-yourself. I bought it, put it off for a while, then when I finally picked it up, I kicked myself for not doing so sooner. It is a great thing when something lives up to its hype, and even surpasses it. This book did that for me. Not just smart and original, but entertaining, engaging. Continue reading