A Sacred Space

October 6, 2016, by

On Friday, October 7, Inprint is launching a new program, the Inprint Writing Cafe. From 9 am – 12 pm on the first Friday of every month, we will transform our workshop/meeting/readings space into a writing cafe, where all writers can come and spend the morning writing in the pleasant Menil neighborhood with the company of other writers. 

small Ernie Williams croppedWe are proud to present this essay, which came our way a few weeks ago and celebrates the power of people coming together as writers, by Ernie Williams. Ernie Williams, who works in the HVAC industry, has taken a number of Inprint workshops, in several genres, but he has found his deepest connection with the personal essay. 

A room in an old house.  A well-worn wooden floor.  In the center of the room stand two substantial wooden tables, surrounded by twelve chairs.  The pale green walls are adorned with posters advertising literary events of long ago.  The late afternoon sun peeks through the blinds, bathing this silent space in a harsh light.  When this room sits empty, it is nothing, just four walls and a ceiling.  But when people enter this space, it becomes something else entirely.

Five years ago I sat in this very room, and as a group of strangers slowly trickled in, I wondered just what I had gotten myself into.  I pretended to be something I was not, and these people were sure to expose me as a fraud.  But that didn’t happen.  Over the course of ten weeks I fell in love.  With writing.  Everything changed.  It didn’t matter if people found out I didn’t know what I was doing.  I discovered I could mine my own life and create something worth reading. Continue reading

Matthew Salesses talks about The Hundred Year Flood and more

August 27, 2015, by

A big congratulations to Houston writer Matthew Salesses. Matthew, a current PhD candidate at the UH Creative Writing Program, has received the Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Fiction, teaches Inprint Writers Workshops and Inprint Life Writing Workshops at Houston Methodist Hospital, has served as an Inprint Poetry Busker, and can also be found live tweeting at some Inprint readings.  Matthew’s new novel The Hundred Year Flood was just published and is receiving rave reviews. He reads on Friday, August 28, 7 pm at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. All his fans are excited to hear him read. Here Inprint blogger Erika Jo Brown talks about Matthew’s new book and shares her lively email exchange with him.

salesses-hundred-year-flood-20201-cv-ft-v1As you read Matthew Salesses’s beautiful new novel, The Hundred-Year Flood, the Prague setting and “love square” may remind you of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The visceral treatment of a natural disaster may call to mind the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, especially for readers around the Gulf. The haints and spirits that follow the protagonist may suggest the hauntings of Beloved. The bewitching effects of an artist couple will delight fans of The Woman Upstairs. The novel’s compelling, phantasmagorical tone may stir up thoughts of Murakami.

With these literary constellations, Salesses has conjured up a wholly original novel, touching on the reverberations of adoption and how family secrets can affect nearly-grown children—an age of development often overlooked in this context.

Salesses is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Houston, and a regular workshop leader for Inprint. We recently emailed about his brilliant book. Continue reading

The personal essay is alive and well

August 4, 2015, by

2_Speaker and audience GOODIt’s a decent crowd at Brazos Bookstore, on a Thursday evening in late July. Wine, beer, and water are on offer, and cheese and crackers. It’s festive, convivial, the usual gracious Brazos atmosphere for a reading—with the exception that we aren’t gathered to listen to a single visiting writer. Instead, unusually, we’re here to listen to each other.

Brazos has graciously agreed to host a group reading by the members of Erika Jo Brown’s Inprint personal essay workshop. They’ve been meeting under Erika’s guidance for two months this summer to think about and experiment with the craft of this varied, extensive form, which (as Erika points out in her course description) can be both “intellectually rigorous and exploratory.” These folks are used to reading to each other, sharing and responding to each other’s work, and considering examples by selected essayists to help them think about such matters as “narrative arc, emotional ‘stakes,’ concretizing details, dialogue, point of view, characterization,” and  more. They’ve been working, three hours a week for eight weeks at Inprint House. Now they’re going to take a big step outside the intimate confines of the workshop and strut their stuff publicly.

You can spot the essayists—they’re the restless ones with papers in their hands. The rest of us—friends, family, and curious others who found the reading on the Brazos schedule—are here to support them and listen to a sample of their work. Continue reading

Blue Sun, Yellow Sky: An Interview with Jamie Jo Hoang

June 29, 2015, by

Jamie Jo HoangWe are always thrilled when former students of Inprint Writers Workshops write us with the news that they’ve finished a book that they started in one of our classes. Jamie Jo Hoang is one such young writer, and her self-published book Blue Sun, Yellow Sky, is about an artist who develops a condition which will rapidly lead to blindness, and her journey to accept her condition. The book is available locally at Brazos Bookstore. Inprint asked Jamie Jo to tell us more about herself and her writing.

Inprint: Please tell us how you got your start in creative writing.

Jamie Jo Hoang (JH): For most of my life I have been a listener. I listened to the stories my grandmother told while she chewed tobacco on the front stoop of our small apartment building in Orange County. I listened to the stories my parents told of their escape during the Vietnam War. And I heard the stories of others come to life in books I found at the local library when I was kid. Then during my freshman year of college at UCLA, I applied for admission to the School of Film and Television, and it was there that I really learned the craft of creative writing.  I continued taking writing classes after college and Blue Sun, Yellow Sky began in an Inprint class taught by Aja Gabel. That Inprint class is also where I met two of my best friends (a.k.a. my creative writing soundboards) Shawn and Ellen. Continue reading

On Writing Workshops

August 13, 2012, by

Tuesday, August 14th at noon Inprint begins online registration for its Fall 2012 Writers Workshops. All of our writing instructors have been students in a workshop in the past, either at the university level, or in another format. We thought it would be fun to hear what they have to say about writing workshops and why they can be meaningful. Here, Allyn West, who will be teaching a Personal Essay workshop this fall, shares his insights.

Do you want to know the secret to becoming a  writer? The one thing all writers everywhere want to know how to do?

You write.

But—then what? Unless you’re Zadie Smith or Junot Diaz, with major publishing houses clamoring even for your grocery lists, you will have all these pages and nothing to do with them, stumped by your questions about them. Are they any good? And how can I turn them into something—more? Continue reading