“On the Brink of the Storm” by Stephanie Gunther Vaughan: 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 Orcutt. 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.

 

“On the Brink of the Storm” by Stephanie Gunther Vaughan

The sun was burning the dry pavement under my bare feet as I stood at the mailbox. I was cautious not to step on the tiny camouflaged chameleons that leapt around the lower leaves of the vines that curled endlessly around the gate, where the mailbox was hinged. The competing green and brown lizards scurried by my freshly painted toes, seeking a new refuge. I stared up at the reaching arms of the once young oak tree that stretched above me, its protective branches covering most of our front yard.  Only 13 years in this house, a chapter in mine, a short lifetime of my oldest daughter. 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

“Overwhelming Oddity” by Phyllis Robinson: Inprint Workshop Participants on Harvey

September 12, 2017, by

260px-Harvey_2017-08-25_2231ZYesterday, An Open Book posted the first in a series of micro essays by participants in Inprint’s nonfiction workshop led by poet Cait Weiss Orcutt. 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.

“Overwhelming Oddity” by Phyllis Robinson

“The Teacher Jesus said, ‘The man who hears what I teach but does not do it is like a man who builds his house on dirt. The dirt is soft, and when the rain comes and the wind blows, the house falls down and all his work is lost.’” –Kate McCord

Sometimes, rain offers lovely, vibrantly fresh surprises like the blooming of grandma’s Oxblood Lilies handed down to me by my mother. They grew outside my grandmother’s favorite sitting spot where she could always enjoy the bounty nature offered. The crimson hue closely resembled the red cardinals that fascinated her as she gazed outside from her perch through the bubble-flicked glass panes of the white frame house my great-grandparents had once called home. The cardinals visited frequently pecking at will and flocking to cover the spread beneath the billowy boughs of ripened fruit-filled cascades overwhelming the branches of her favorite pear tree. 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

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

One-on-One with Visiting Writer Susan Briante

December 8, 2016, by

DSC_8740-EditLast month, Susan Briante visited Houston as featured guest of the Gulf Coast Reading Series. Her most recent book, The Market Wonders (Ahsahta Press), was a finalist for the National Poetry Series. She is also the author of the poetry collections Pioneers in the Study of Motion and Utopia Minus (an Academy of American Poets Notable Book of 2011). A translator, she lived in Mexico City from 1992-1997 and worked for the magazines Artes de México and Mandorla. Briante has received grants and awards from the Atlantic Monthly, the MacDowell Colony, the Academy of American Poets, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fundand the US-Mexico Fund for Culture. She is an associate professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Arizona. Read on for our exclusive interview following her visit.

  1. Your new collection of poems, The Market Wonders, personifies the economic structure we live by and philosophizes its existence. Can you talk a little bit about how the concept for the book was born and why you felt compelled to write it?

As the financial crisis began to take hold, the endless crisis from which many of us have never felt relief, I began to notice the dissonance between how that crisis was reported and how it was experienced. Stock market indices are described as if they were the most important measures of our national health. That’s not necessary. The way we prioritize the strength of our financial markets over everything else is dangerous to the values of this country.

Continue reading

Spotlight on Alexandra Naumann–UH Creative Writing Program Student

November 9, 2016, by

DSC_8596-EditInprint Edgar M. Larsen Fellowship recipient Alexandra Naumann is a fiction writer of Lebanese-Mexican descent. She’s in year two of the MFA program at University of Houston Creative Writing Program (UH CWP), where she’s a nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. She’ll be reading for the Gulf Coast Reading Series this Friday at Rudyard’s at 7 pm, along with featured poet Susan Briante and fellow UHCWP writers Sam Dinger and Nathan Stabenfeldt. We thought we’d ask her about who and what inspires her writing, the experience of sharing her work aloud, and returning to her hometown of Houston.

MELANIE BRKICH: You read for the Poison Pen Reading Series last week and now Gulf Coast coming up this week. How has that experience been, doing two readings almost back to back?

ALEX NAUMANN: Fun. A gift! I feel so grateful to be a part of a community where folks listen and share work, but I also feel nervous. Reading work aloud is like singing in someone’s ear. It’s intimate.

Reading work aloud is like singing in someone’s ear. It’s intimate.

MB: How do you prepare for readings?

AN: Step One: Panic. Step Two: Find pages that feel fraught or stunning or that contain the most tender, love-worn, raw/bleeding spots (narrative wounds!). It seems helpful, too, for reading fiction to find some narrative parcel that can be lifted from its larger context and still retain meaning, if that makes sense?

MB: Absolutely. What sort of projects are you currently working on? Are there certain themes/subjects that show up often in your work?

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What can we learn from Kimberly Meyer’s The Book of Wanderings?

May 1, 2015, by

A big congratulations to Kimberly Meyer, whose memoir The Book of Wanderings came out this March. Kim holds a PhD from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, where she received an Inprint Brown Foundation Fellowship and an Inprint Michener Fellowship. Her work has recently appeared in The Best American Travel Writing, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, Ecotone, The Oxford American, The Georgia Review, Agni, The Southern Review, and Third Coast. She teaches in the Great Books program at the University of Houston Honors College. Here, Sara Balabanlilar, Kim’s student (and Inprint’s newest blogger) talks about The Book of Wanderings and what we can learn from it.

cropped Kim Meyer GetInline-19Houston is a city filled with the angst of constant coming and going. Old buildings fall into disrepair and are easily replaced with three-story condos overlooking huge unused lots or old factories. Paved roads shift and crack in our sandy soil, which is persistent enough to keep any street too smooth for too long. The construction is endless here. All of these things lend to an air of constant change, of dissatisfaction with the space around us and the constant impetus to evolution and growth.

Meyer_TheBookofWanderingsAAt first, Kimberly Meyer’s The Book of Wanderings seems to be in a similar vein of longing. In the first few pages, she describes an early trip to a chapel in New Mexico: “The chapel became a sign of what we were seeking in traveling with our daughters: remnants of something genuine that suburban sprawl had not yet swallowed up in its ravenous maw.”

When Meyer’s small trips around the U.S. turn into a grander trip with her oldest daughter, Ellie, following the journey of a prolific medieval friar, her goal remains the same. She follows Felix Fabri’s journey as closely as she can, visiting chapels, churches, and pilgrimage sites just as he did. Her route starts near Fabri’s hometown of Ulm, then quickly moves into Italy, along the coast of eastern Europe, down through Greece into Israel and eventually Egypt. However, Meyer’s efforts to mirror Fabri’s tracks are undercut almost immediately, and regularly again throughout the trip. In Italy, she and Ellie get sick. Later, their guide through the desert turns out to have dubious plans for them. The idea of recreating perfectly a centuries-old pilgrimage path becomes imperfect. Continue reading

Enjoying the Sweet Land of Bigamy

July 18, 2012, by

Before dawn this morning, I grabbed the book that I had reluctantly laid on my bedside table late last night, when I could no longer keep my eyes open. It was Miah Arnold’s debut novel Sweet Land of Bigamy. I eagerly devoured the remaining 30 pages of this wonderfully quirky tale of a cast of realistically drawn characters caught in a love triangle. Miah is reading at Brazos Bookstore this Thursday at 7 pm, and I’m so glad that I had a chance to read it ahead of her book launch. I’ve known Miah since she was a graduate student at the UH Creative Writing Program, and have had the pleasure of hiring her to teach many writing workshops for Inprint. Everyone associated with Inprint should take special pride in Miah’s achievement, as she was the recipient of one of our first $10,000 prizes―the Inprint Diana P. Hobby Prize in Fiction, as well as the recipient of an Inprint Cambor Fellowship and Barthelme Prize. Continue reading