Houston writer Theodora Bishop wins 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Award

September 11, 2018, by

Theodora Bishop, an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellow, is a woman of many talents. In addition to being the author of a chapbook of short stories, Mother Tongues, winner of The Cupboard’s 2015 contest, she was a Best New Poets nominee and her work has appeared in such well-known journals as Glimmer Train, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, and Short Fiction (England). She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, and her latest publication, On the Rocks (Texas Review Press) came out earlier this year. I caught up with Theodora to talk to her about the new book and her writing process, among other things, and here’s what she had to say.

MATTHEW KRAJNIAK: Your novella, On the Rocks, won a 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Award. What was that like and what’s different with you and your writing now that this book is out?

THEODORA BISHOP: My husband and I were about ten hours into our drive from Texas to Pennsylvania when I received the news. I thought it was a mistake at first — I’m fairly certain we were listening to a book on CD and mowing down licorice; I was in a whimsical headspace. I was delighted when it turned out it wasn’t a mistake, and doubly delighted that On the Rocks was recognized as a novella. I think the novella is an important narrative form, and one which I relish reading, studying, and working in.Eva (the protagonist in On the Rocks) feels like an old friend, so I’ve enjoyed working on new fiction that feature similarly-minded characters who feel like they could be pals with Eva, if the novella’s universe of Ship Bottom were to slip into theirs. A great thing about the book being out is that I don’t touch the manuscript anymore; there’s been a place cleared in the cupboard, so to speak, and I’m happily immersed in new material. Continue reading

Writer Adrienne Perry leaves a mark on Houston

May 23, 2018, by

As Memorial Day approaches and college graduation ceremonies have now all taken place, it also means that Houston will soon have to say goodbye to some of our city’s beloved writers, writers who had moved here to study at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program (UH CWP).

ADRIENNE G. PERRY, a recipient of the Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellowship, the Inprint Marion Barthelme Gulf Coast Prize, and the Inprint Marion Barthelme Prize in Creative Writing, just completed her PhD in fiction at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. While in Houston, Adrienne has not only been a great friend to Inprint, she also served as editor of Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts from 2014 – 2016, as well as being active with a number of local institutions and initiatives.

Adrienne is incredibly accomplished. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College in 2013. She is a Hedgebrook alumna, a Kimbilio Fellow, and a member of the Rabble Collective. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Copper NickelBlack Warrior ReviewNinth Letter, and elsewhere. Currently, she is at work on a novel and an essay collection

This fall she will start the next phase of her career as a Professor of English at Villanova University. Earlier this spring she was kind enough to sit down and talk to Inprint/UH Creative Writing Program Fellow Charlotte Wyatt about her writing, and her experiences living and working in Houston. Continue reading

Pulling Down Words from the Clouds: The Inprint Writers Class at Amazing Place

May 10, 2018, by

For the past year, Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellow and UH Creative Writing Program graduate student Niki Herd has been teaching an Inprint Senior Memoir Workshop at Amazing Place, a day center for individuals with mild to moderate memory loss. The seniors have been meeting with Niki on a weekly basis, engaging in creative writing activities. Today, the participants from the Inprint Senior Memoir Workshop will have a celebratory reading. They will read excerpts of their written work for everyone at the center and invited guests. We asked Niki to tell us a little bit about the workshop participants and her reflections on using creative writing to work with the seniors. Please note that all names have been changed for the participants privacy.

Frank, a fighter pilot in Vietnam, saved hundreds of lives on both sides of the war. William, known to break out into song about constitutional law, is a former lawyer who taught at the University of Houston for more than forty years. Lewis, a pediatrician, considers Bolivia home after spending many years there helping the poor. Katherine worked in government and has a flair for the dramatic. When she walks into class, her presence exudes the grace of an elder actress still commanding praise. 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

Glass Mountain – Houston’s Hidden Secret for Emerging Writers

December 4, 2017, by

small IMG_1629Readers and writers have plenty to take advantage of in Houston: diverse reading series, a slew of writing workshops, and amazing independent bookstores. One of the best hidden secrets for emerging writers in the Houston area is Glass Mountain magazine. The magazine comes out of the University of Houston, which also houses the nationally renowned University of Houston Creative Writing Program (UH CWP).

Besides publishing new work, Glass Mountain offers community to new writers with a reading series. The next reading comes up this Tuesday, December 5th, 7:00 pm at Brasil in Montrose – but if you can’t attend there’s still plenty to take advantage of!

Inprint Fellow and UH CWP student Josie Mitchell serves as graduate advisor to Glass Mountain. She told me more about the magazine’s Boldface Conference, designed specially for people who do not hold and are not pursuing an advanced degree in Creative Writing. The conference’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction workshops are led by Inprint Fellows in the UH CWP. “We also have craft talks, readings, and panels throughout the week,” Josie says. “And food. The food is great!”

I caught up with Josie and the University of Houston undergraduates who serve as Editor (Kim Coy) and Co-Managing Editors (Anthony Álvares and Amanda Ortiz) to learn about Glass MountainContinue reading

Naked Ladies and the Kool-Aid Man: The Poison Pen Reading Series

October 24, 2017, by

PP Octo 2017

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

Creative writing can help after Harvey

October 3, 2017, by

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

Poet Conor Bracken’s chapbook focuses on Henry Kissinger as a model for “everything wrong with masculinity.”

September 29, 2017, by

9781495157684On 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.

IMG_1527Fellow 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.
Continue reading

“Getting Undammed” by Paige Hassall: Inprint workshop participants write micro essays after the storm

September 10, 2017, by

260px-Harvey_2017-08-25_2231ZCait Weiss Orcutt teaches Inprint’s Personal Essay Workshop which started on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 6. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Chautauqua, FIELD, Tupelo Quarterly & more. She is founder of the Writers Guild Community Creative Writing Workshops in Columbus, Ohio, Editorial Advisory Board Member of Mad River’s Slash Prize, and Online Editor of The Journal. A recipient of an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/MD Anderson Foundation Fellowship, she is a graduate student at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. Here Cait talks about the first workshop gathering.

Cait Weiss Orcutt: This past week, our Personal Essay workshop met for the first time. I had come to class planning to talk craft—what is Creative Non Fiction, for instance, and what (or who) makes “fact” fact? Instead, it quickly became apparent that, while the sky outside was clear and blue, the class was still caught in the storm.

And why shouldn’t they have been? Why should we force ourselves to pretend we’re okay? If writing is about honesty, why lie about what is really weighing down our thoughts, troubling our dreams and hurting our hearts. An enormous, historic disruption occurred—and for many, if not all of us here in Houston and beyond, the recovery effort contains its own disruption, grief and trauma. How can we write anything “personal” without sharing what we’re going through? Continue reading

George Saunders in the Forest At Night

March 14, 2017, by

rmfoto.com-79On 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.

rmfoto.com-121Novelist  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