Celebrating Houston’s Favorite Poems

January 18, 2018, by

All of us have favorites, a song, a color, a book, a restaurant. But what about poems? Which poems have stayed with you over the years, which poems do you come back to and read and reread? Which poems make you think, move you to tears, or make you feel alive?

Former Houston Poet Laureate Robin Davidson took on these questions and the power that poetry can play in our lives when she initiated Houston’s Favorite Poems, now an anthology. Tonight, Thursday, January 18, 6 pm at the Julia Ideson Building, Houstonians will come together to celebrate the launch for the anthology. Click here for more information and join the celebration.

Earlier this week we caught up with Robin to talk about the project and the process of putting the anthology.

INPRINT: What inspired this project?

ROBIN DAVIDSON: Robert Pinsky first came to Houston in the early eighties to stand in for then poetry editor of The New Yorker magazine, Howard Moss, who was teaching a poetry workshop in the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. I was a graduate student in that class. When Mr. Moss became ill, Pinsky stepped in as our teacher, and one assignment that was life-changing for me was the personal favorite poem anthology he asked each of us to develop. We were to choose at least ten of our favorite poems and write them out, feeling the line breaks in our hands as we wrote or typed and allowing the poems to become our own for a moment. The poems could come from any poet, language, or century, including from among our classmates’ work—what a thrilling exercise it was! I’ve kept my anthology to this day, adding to it over time, and have, for many years, asked my own students to keep such an anthology that includes a preface discussing why each poem is meaningful to them. The results are always lovely—moving and beautiful—and the poem choices are often surprising.

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Just A Few More Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month in Houston

April 17, 2017, by

Voight,EllenBryantFor those who have yet to find time to honor National Poetry Month or for those eager to continue the celebration, Houston has some exciting events you should know about. This evening at 7:30 pm poet and MacArthur Fellow Ellen Bryant Voigt, will present a lecture on narrative and lyric poetry with a focus on poems written by Robert Frost and Randall Jarrell. After the lecture, poet Tony Hoagland will moderate a short Q & A. If you’re unable to make the lecture, Voigt will read from her most recent collection, Headwaters, and other work, Tuesday, April 18th, 7:30 pm. Both events take place at Inprint House.

cropped JFH_Poet Poster copy_lowres (1)On Wednesday, April 19, U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Mexican-American to be named Poet Laureate, will give a reading at the University of Houston-Downtown, 5:30 pm in the Robertson Auditorium in the Academic Building, free and open to the public.

As part of the Gulf Coast Reading Series, A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize winner Chen Chen will read from his collection of poems, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, Friday, April 21st, 7 pm at Rudyard’s British Pub. Continue reading

Monster Manuscripts

October 19, 2016, by

Jack-o'-Lantern_2003-10-31I asked several local literary tastemakers for their recommendations of spooky stories and haunting poems, inspired by this month’s Halloween celebration. After all, is there really a way to know that the person in the Ken Bone costume at your next party is not the man himself?

The next time you’d like to get your mind off the horror of this election season, consider grabbing a copy of work by Angela Carter (like “The Bloody Chamber”), Stephen King, Flannery O’Connor, Shirley Jackson (“The Witch,” “The Lottery,” The Haunting of Hill House), Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, the Ripliad), Helen Oyeyemi (White is for Witching), Edgar Allen Poe, or any of the below:

Robin Davidson, Houston Poet Laureate

The first story that comes to mind for me is William Butler Yeats’ piece “Red Hanrahan,” a story of Samhain Eve (Gaelic for what we call Hallowe’en but is the evening prior to the Celtic New Year, November 1, when the doors to the other world are open and spirits are said to be a’travellin’) in his collection of Irish/Gaelic folklore called Mythologies. I’ve used the story often with my students as a creative writing prompt at Halloween… Continue reading

Over 100 authors featured at upcoming first Lone Star Book Festival

April 7, 2016, by

Lone Star Book Festival copyThis weekend more than one hundred nationally and internationally known authors will be featured as part of the first annual Lone Star Book Festival. Nothing like the Lone Star Book Festival exists in the area and the festival will have something for everyone. We had a chance to interview John Barr, one of the festival’s key organizers and founder, about the exciting weekend ahead and how the festival came into being. 

INPRINT: What inspired you to put this festival together?

JOHN BARR: Well, we have always loved reading and books and think it is vital for a healthy society to read. Also, the Kingwood campus is, we believe, a beautiful venue for a book festival. Lastly, we thought that it was time for Houston to have a multi-genre book festival.

INPRINT: What can attendees expect from the two days?

BARR: Attendees can expect to find a diverse group of authors from across the country willing and wanting to discuss their newest books, sign autographs, and chat with audience members. In addition, on the campus quad, attendees will find Brazos Bookstore selling books, music being played, and exhibitors including literary presses, local organizations focused on literacy, publishers, and many local authors. Continue reading

Gwendolyn Zepeda’s Monsters, Zombies and Addicts

June 5, 2015, by

Monsters-Zombies-Addicts-350x550

To be honest, before I started reading Gwendolyn Zepeda’s new collection, Monsters, Zombies and Addicts (Arte Público Press, 84 pages, 2015), released near the end of her two-year tenure as the first Houston Poet Laureate, I worried that the poems would be boosterish. Part of the gig, I knew, is to represent the city. Would every poem mention a bayou? Would she have been contractually obliged to champion the merits of the Downtown Living Initiative? Thankfully, the collection doesn’t show the strain of feeling that burden of representation. There are alligator gar. And freeways — and bayous. But you don’t learn much about Houston. Instead, you learn a lot about the kind of person, the kind of poet, that the city wanted to choose to represent it: sometimes chatty, sometimes vulgar, sometimes sentimental, and always funny, smart, honest, and tough.

You learn a lot about the kind of person, the kind of poet, that the city wanted to choose to represent it: sometimes chatty, sometimes vulgar, sometimes sentimental, and always funny, smart, honest, and tough.

Zepeda is best at homing in on the strange pleasure or pleasant strangeness in her everyday life. These poems are anecdotal, observational. Often, they begin the way the story a friend wants to tell you would:

“A woman who worked in our building killed herself this morning.”

And: “You say I flirt too much.”

And: “The other day I was working on a story.” Continue reading