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

Over 100 authors featured at upcoming first Lone Star Book Festival

April 7, 2016, by

Lone Star Book Festival copyThis weekend more than one hundred nationally and internationally known authors will be featured as part of the first annual Lone Star Book Festival. Nothing like the Lone Star Book Festival exists in the area and the festival will have something for everyone. We had a chance to interview John Barr, one of the festival’s key organizers and founder, about the exciting weekend ahead and how the festival came into being. 

INPRINT: What inspired you to put this festival together?

JOHN BARR: Well, we have always loved reading and books and think it is vital for a healthy society to read. Also, the Kingwood campus is, we believe, a beautiful venue for a book festival. Lastly, we thought that it was time for Houston to have a multi-genre book festival.

INPRINT: What can attendees expect from the two days?

BARR: Attendees can expect to find a diverse group of authors from across the country willing and wanting to discuss their newest books, sign autographs, and chat with audience members. In addition, on the campus quad, attendees will find Brazos Bookstore selling books, music being played, and exhibitors including literary presses, local organizations focused on literacy, publishers, and many local authors. Continue reading

Ben’s Hyperbolic Brazos Bulletin

October 6, 2015, by

One of the hot spots of Houston’s literary life is Brazos Bookstore. We are thrilled to have Ben Rybeck join An Open Book as a regular contributor to give us an update on all the exciting happenings with the store. 

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Using the time-honored tradition of exaggeration to combat the notion that only quiet, studious things happen at bookstores

IMG_4485Here at Brazos, we do many quiet things. We take books off shelves, we put books on shelves, we carry books in our arms, we sit and read books old and new, we take out the trash (usually not full of books), we drink water, we whisper to well-mannered customers about Jonathan Franzen and Alice Munro…

But then, sometimes, the store literally explodes (clarification: not literally) with excitement—and by sometimes, I mean this happens always, all the damn time. Consider October, for example, when we’ll host Houston’s own neuroscience rock star David Eagleman (10/8); a poetry night with Nick Flynn, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and Gregory Pardlo (10/19); and other mind-altering literary luminaries like Sloane Crosley (10/16), Eileen Myles (10/24), and Richard Ford (10/26). Plus, we’ll have works of literary horror on display leading up to Halloween. (If you stare at the display for long enough and say “Brazos Bookstore” three times…well…look out behind you.)

But, as they say on infomercials, wait—there’s more! Here are three highlights of our October programming sure to literally blow your mind, literally (see earlier clarification re: use of the word “literally”). Continue reading

Geoff Dyer and the Art of the Great Day

May 20, 2015, by

RM4_5819May 12th was balmy—not as hot as usual in Texas in May.  You could sit outside and feel the day slipping away. That is always a good feeling if you have done something interesting.

I mostly graded papers.  Some of it was interesting.  This is how it goes.  Still, I wanted a little more from my daylight buck.  I sat outside at Bayou Place looking straight at the Wortham Center waiting for seven o’clock to roll around.  It would be the final reading for the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series.  I was excited:  nonfiction by the English writer Geoff Dyer.  I felt like I had read a lot of fiction during the day: “Gatsby enjoys socializing with the Buchanans and finds them so interesting!”

And, some of the English: well, dicey.

I thought: how do you grade writing anymore anyway?  I thought: how do you know if you have had a great day?  I thought: how do you know if you know what you are doing?  How do you know if you don’t?

It’s more about how you feel at that moment, right?  Well if you want to learn how to whip that up, and get it down, there are worse places to go than the writing of Geoff Dyer, and lucky for me, that is exactly where I went.  He read from his newish book Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H. W. Bush.  Continue reading

A literary recap of MenilFest 2015

April 25, 2015, by

IMG_4458Although the weather was cloudy and grey, spirits were bright at MenilFest 2015 last Saturday. MenilFest is a multi-pronged cultural celebration, combining an indie book fair, literary lectures, musical performances, film screenings, and more.

The indie book fair flanked the northern, eastern, and southern sides of The Menil Collection museum building, providing an opportunity for local ‘zines, publishers, authors, and nonprofit organizations (I spied Friends of the Houston Public Library, the Hare Krishna Cultural Center, and the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, among others) to display their wares and welcome conversation.

There was printed matter for everyone—romances, poetry, mysteries, cookbooks, Spanish-language, spiritual, YA, and even some book-related crafts.

Brazos Bookstore touted literature by Houston-based authors, like Nick Flynn, Tony Hoagland, Lacy Johnson, Thomas McNeely, (and, in full disclosure, moiself). I spoke to Benjamin Rybeck, events coordinator, about the store’s involvement with MenilFest over the years. “We are first and foremost a community bookstore,” he explained. “We come every year to meet our neighbors.” Continue reading

Books, movies, videos, oh my!

March 21, 2012, by

In the age of YouTube and other video hosting sites, it’s easier than ever to watch movie previews. These previews give you a feel for the film, its cinematography, its characters, and its plot. This idea of video based previews is now seeping into the literary world.

Gary Shteyngart, who is appearing as part of the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series on March 26th with Orange Prize winner Téa Obreht, has some of the funniest book promo videos around for his novel Super Sad True Love Story. We had to share them.

This video has James Franco in it, who was a student of Gary’s at Columbia.  Other literary notables featured are Mary Gaitskill, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Jay McInerney. It doesn’t tell you what the book is about, but definitely gives you a glimpse into Shteyngart’s wacky sense of humor. Click here to watch the Super Sad True Love Story promo video.  Continue reading

New Works by Inprint Faculty

March 14, 2012, by

Most of Houston is on spring break, but at this time of year we begin lining up our summer 2012 Inprint Writers Workshop. We are grateful and inspired by the number of Houstonians that value creative writing and sign up for these workshops. Their popularity continues to grow and demand is far surpassing supply, which of course we are thrilled about. But truth be told, we cannot take the credit for this ourselves. The real success of these workshops proceeds from the talented instructors that teach them. Our workshops instructors are amazing people, some of the city’s top writers, and they are receiving national acclaim for their talent. Luckily for us, these writers are not reclusive luddites. You will see a few of them around Houston this week.  Continue reading