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

David Eagleman talks about the The Brain: The Story of You

October 15, 2015, by

IMG_4450Last week brought two bright stars of the literary world—David Eagleman and Geraldine Brooks—to Christ Church Cathedral, in partnership with Brazos Bookstore.

From one perspective, the writers could not be more different. Eagleman is a neuroscientist who directs a research laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine. Brooks is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of historical fiction. Yet both explore notions of society, time, vision, and humanism in their writing. And their books have been translated into dozens of languages.

This is the first of a two-part review of the special events.

In Reverend Art Callahan’s welcome to David Eagleman’s reading, he quipped that “at church, we do not leave our brains at the door.” This was a perfect prologue to a fast-paced, multimedia event that held the audience (and their brains) rapt.

Eagleman is clearly passionate about the public understanding of science. He’s written for The New York Times, Discover Magazine, Atlantic, Slate, Wired, discussed new trends on NPR and BBC, and serves as an editor for several scholarly journals. Continue reading

Houston novelist brings coal-mining to life in Whisper Hollow

June 10, 2015, by

Chris Cander - by Caroline Leech“I’ve loved to write my whole life,” says Houston author Chris Cander, whose novel Whisper Hollow was published this spring by Other Press to critical acclaim. “It’s always been a passion for me.”

A former fire-fighter, Chris was also a competitive bodybuilder and model before she brought her literary calling to the fore. Now, however, she knows she made the right choice.

“I can legitimately say that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing and I passionately love the way I get to spend my days. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to say that, I know, but now I really am doing my favorite thing.”

The publication of Whisper Hollow did not, however, happen overnight.

“It took a very long time to get this story to this point. I wrote it, and then I rewrote it, I think, four times from beginning to end. It’s four hundred pages long, and there are at least that many other pages that will never be read because they were rewritten and filed away somewhere.” Continue reading

A Houston Independent Bookstore Day Celebration

May 11, 2015, by

IMG_4485On Saturday, May 2, perhaps your Facebook feed was filled with friends posting from their favorite bookstores across the country. It was a day to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day, honoring those special places that pull triple duty as retail stores, community centers, and performance venues.

Of course, there’s no team like the home team, and Brazos Bookstore scheduled a day of events to please every bibliophile. The inaugural celebration packed eight hours of special events, with an agenda including family-friendly story time and crafts, a drunk coloring part for adults in homage to the new book Hemingwasted: A Loving Look at Literary Lushes, a reception for the new Shakespeare-inspired mural on the front window of the store, and more.

Mark Haber, sales floor manager at Brazos, talked to me about the benefits and opportunities of the day’s activities. “Our bookstore is truly a community center,” he enthused. “Today, I’ve seen people who wouldn’t necessarily know each other rub shoulders. It’s just a great opportunity to talk about books and be around books.” Continue reading