A poetic night with Ada Limón and Gregory Pardlo

April 13, 2017, by

RM3_7535Last Monday, the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series welcomed poets Ada Limón and Gregory Pardlo. The poets, former classmates at NYU, have both recently been recognized: Limón’s Bright Dead Things was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award. Pardlo won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for his collection Digest, and as of Thursday, a Guggenheim Fellowship. Poet Kevin Prufer, who also serves as a professor at the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, moderated a discussion with both after the reading.

Limón opened with “How to Triumph Like a Girl,” in which she imagines the power of a race- winning filly’s 8-pound heart: “Don’t you want to tug my shirt and see / the huge beating genius machine / that thinks, no, it knows, / it’s going to come in first.” When Prufer asked after Limón’s performance of the piece, she referred to Frederico García Lorca’s duende, and the heightened expression embodiment can bring to the work. Many of Limón’s poems showcased the same, with lines like, “You wake some days / full of crow and shine,” and “[…] then there’s the silence that comes back, a million times bigger than me, sneaks into my bones and wails and wails and wails […]” Continue reading

Five reasons not to miss Gregory Pardlo’s Inprint reading

April 1, 2017, by

Pardlo, Gregory Pardlo-author-photo photo by Rachel Eliza GriffithsAs we begin National Poetry Month today, Inprint presents Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gregory Pardlo Monday evening as part of the 2016/2017 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. Here are five we should all be excited to come out and hear him! 

“Song of Myself”

Not only does Pardlo have geographical ties to Whitman’s Brooklyn and New Jersey—he and his family live in Brooklyn and he attended university and teaches in Camden—but Pardlo’s work is often rooted in a formally expansive Whitmanesque poetic in terms of structure and content. When Pardlo writes in the much published poem “Written by Himself,” “I was born across the river where I/was borrowed with clothespins, a harrow tooth,/broadsides sewn in my shoes,” one hears Whitman’s voice and walks through his same America. Continue reading

Colson Whitehead makes Houston visit, talks childhood, writing, disco, and more

March 29, 2017, by

upIMG_8906In an event co-sponsored by Brazos Bookstore and Rice University’s Humanities Research Center, National Book Award-winning author of The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead, delivered a compelling and improvisational talk on Tuesday, March 21 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in the Museum District. After taking an audibly refreshing sip of water, Colson Whitehead launched into a familiar bit. “I was born of poor black child…” he began. The few nerds that instantly recognized the introductory soliloquy from Steve Martin’s cult classic The Jerk knew we were in for a wild ride.

He vividly described his childhood in Manhattan, jokingly referring to himself as “a shut-in reading comic books.” From a relatively early age he knew he wanted to be a writer, and more specifically, “to write the black Shining.” His continued devotion to science fiction and horror, among the other genre writing, signals his crossover appeal.

Whitehead proceeded chronologically to his teenage years during which he “wore black and smoked cigarettes…but never touched a computer.” He discussed his big break in journalism, observing that he wrote the “definitive think-pieces on Growing Pains and Who’s the Boss.” Continue reading

Literary classic Animal Farm comes to the stage

March 27, 2017, by

Animal-FarmThe University of Houston’s School of Theatre and Dance brings a literary favorite to life this April with its production of George Orwell’s 1945 classic, Animal Farm. That’s right, the gang is back with Napoleon, Snowball, Old Major, and all the others as they oink, neigh, hee-haw, and talk in a thinly-veiled way about the events that led up to the Russian Revolution of 1917. The book is read in classrooms around the United States and is included in Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels of the 20th century.

Already a thought provoking story, what’s more is that this play has a unique production in that it’s being performed not only with hand-crafted masks to help create the animals, but also as a musical. I was able to do a quick Q&A with Bill Brown, the play’s director, and Robert Shimko, the Director of the School of Theatre and Dance, about the project and the process of bringing the story to the stage. Here’s what they had to say.

MATTHEW KRAJNIAK: Rob, you have several guest artists working on this project. Who are they? Continue reading

UHCWP Student Spotlight: Cait Weiss

March 27, 2017, by

image2A first-year in the University of Houston Creative Writing PhD Program for poetry, Cait Weiss is a recipient of an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/MD Anderson Foundation Fellowship, is an Inprint Writers Workshop instructor and an Inprint Poetry Busker. Cait recently won the Zone 3 Press First Book Award for her poetry collection Valleyspeak, judged by Douglas Kearney. It will be published by Zone 3 in spring 2018.

Fellow UHCWP student Melanie Brkich recently sat down with Cait to talk more about her book, the past lives that informed it, and how her first year in the program is going so far.

Melanie Brkich: How are you liking your first year here?

Cait Weiss: I like it a lot. I made a mistake of over-scheduling myself this semester, not in terms of course work but in terms of WITS. That kind of thing has always been really important to me even before I got my MFA, when I was in New York I worked with New York Writers Coalition. And when I got to OSU I developed my own program there because we didn’t have anything like this. So we had the MFAs go into local high schools. For some reason I’m always making friends with high school English teachers, like we get along really well and are around the same age and stuff. And so when I got here I was all about it, but I was a little too much about it.

What’s wonderful is you can find ways to financially support yourself. But the trick is to remember I moved here for UH’s program. I didn’t move here for any of this other stuff. The PhD isn’t my side job. Continue reading

10 Year’s Young: Glass Mountain Celebrates Its Anniversary and New Boldface Conference Line-Up

March 16, 2017, by

IMG_3594Glass Mountain magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The upcoming issue, which will be released at a launch party on April 19, is a landmark event for this undergraduate literary publication. The journal’s name is inspired by a story from local legend Donald Barthelme.

Glass Mountain’s staff and editors in fiction, art, reviews, nonfiction, and poetry are all undergraduate students at UH, who receive submissions from the local community and internationally.  Singular in its mission, it exists exclusively for writers who do *not* have an MFA or other higher degree in creative writing.

The team runs a popular monthly reading series and open mic at Bohemeo’s. They also produce the weeklong Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers that will run May 22-26. The conference includes twice-daily workshops, craft talks, readings, panels, and the chance for private manuscript consultations with visiting writers—Bill Broun in fiction, Leah Lax in nonfiction, and Hayan Charara in poetry. The conference is open to everyone. Please note that discounted early bird registration ends on March 22, regular registration is available through May. 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

Houston Writers Take Over DC During AWP

March 10, 2017, by

2013-AWP-logoThis year, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs held its annual conference (AWP) in Washington, D.C.  More than 12,000 writers and publishers flooded the city for four days of craft talks, panel presentations, readings, and more.  Houston writers represented the best of our city’s expansive literary community.  In fact, Houston was so well-represented at AWP it would be impossible to list every event.  Instead, I’ll highlight just a few.

Poetry fans packed the house at DC-bar Bayou for a late-night reading hosted by University of Houston-based Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts.  (Other hosts for the event, called The Magnificent Seven, included AGNI, American Literary Review, Boulevard, cream city review, Pleiades, and PoemoftheWeek.org.)  The spirited crowd cheered readings by Chen Chen, Alice Elliott Dark, Matt Donovan, David Keplinger, Shara McCallum, Gregory Pardlo, Caitlin Pryor, Maggie Smith, and Ryo Yamaguchi.  Gulf Coast also held down a table at the book fair throughout AWP, and presented Gulf Coast: 30 Years in the Life of a Student-Run Journal, a dialogue with several past journal editors. Continue reading

Get away this summer to write

March 6, 2017, by

At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ annual conference last month, I was amazed by how many summer intensives and workshops for writers were represented on the conference floor. I’ve been lucky to attend a couple in the past, and not only were they transformative to my writing, but each was a great experience overall. (And now that I’m a Houstonian, I realize a summer workshop might also offer a break from the heat…) Since late winter and early spring are when most application deadlines roll around, Inprint suggested I gather the postcards and flyers I collected and share what I found:

napawriters_headerimageNapa Valley Writer’s Conference in St. Helena, CA – July 23rd to July 28th

I have to start here because, full disclosure, I work for this one. I was a participant more than once before they took me on, and each time was not only great for my writing, but the highlight of my summer. You can apply until March 31st for a spot in fiction or poetry, and financial aid is available. Who doesn’t want to write in gorgeous California wine country? Learn more about the faculty, applications process, and deadlines here.

The Breadloaf Writer’s Conference in Ripton, VT

Middlebury College in Vermont has hosted the renowned Breadloaf Writer’s Workshop since 1926. Unfortunately, their application deadline was February 15th  (maybe next year!). Breadloaf now offers an Environmental Writing Workshop (in conjunction with the magazine Orion) and a Translator’s Conference that takes applications until March 1st. They also have a workshop in Sicily that offers rolling admissions til mid-April. You can learn about the individual conferences and their deadlines, faculties, and admissions processes here. Continue reading

UHCWP Student Spotlight: Luisa Muradyan Tannahill

February 22, 2017, by

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Luisa Muradyan Tannahill is a recipient of an Inprint Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones Fellowship and an Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Poetry.

Earlier this month, the annual AWP conference took place in Washington, D.C. and the University of Houston had a strong presence as always. In addition to the individual students and alumni who participated on panels or at readings, the Gulf Coast team also represented the university and the Houston writing community that Inprint serves. This year Gulf Coast is celebrating 30 years as a student-run journal, which was commemorated by a panel of former editors who discussed the successes and challenges they experienced over the years.

On top of reaching this milestone, Gulf Coast has also seen the ushering in of all new leadership this year: Editor Luisa Muradyan Tannahill, Managing Editor Michele Nereim, and Digital Editor Georgia Pearle. Fellow UHCWP classmate Melanie Brkich recently talked with Luisa about the transition and what we can expect from this fierce team of females. Continue reading