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.

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“Storied” Exhibit Opens at UH Libraries

September 17, 2016, by

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On Wednesday, September 14, the University of Houston Libraries celebrated the opening of Storied: The First 10 Years of the Creative Writing Program with a reception in the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion of MD Anderson Library. The exhibit was put together using UH Libraries Special Collections materials and focuses on the founding and first decade of the UH Creative Writing Program. It highlights faculty members Cynthia Macdonald and Donald Barthelme, as well as showcasing works by alumni who graduated within that first decade (1979-1989).

Within the first few years of its founding, the UH Creative Writing Program had already become a leading program in the nation. Inprint formed virtually alongside the program in the mid 1980s and quickly became a crucial source of fundraising and support for students and the student-run magazine Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts.

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The UH Creative Writing Program continues to brim with literary talent after 35 years

November 17, 2015, by

UH Creative Writing Program logoThis year the University of Houston Creative Writing Program (UH CWP) surpasses its 35th year, which is quite an accomplishment. This highly competitive and nationally renowned program admits and graduates the world’s top emerging writers. The pool of literary talent from the UH CWP is impressive and has helped sustain Houston as a thriving literary city. Inprint’s support—more than $3 million in prizes and fellowships awarded to UH CWP students, including $150,000 in recruiting fellowships this fall—plays a key role in attracting and retaining these young writers.

Giuseppe Taurino, assistant director of the UH CWP, says, “We’re excited to meet and work with new students who share the desire and ability to do great things, and are proud of the graduating students who leave better equipped to go out and pursue them. Hello, Goodbye. In the end, it’s all relative, really. Our UH CWP community grows, and the people who comprise it will always be part of the fold.”

Take a moment to learn more about the writers that have just graduated from the UH CWP and see what they are doing now, and get to know the writers that have just entered the program.

GRADUATING STUDENTS

Conor Bracken (MFA, Poetry) is, for the immediate future, sticking around Houston while his fiancée finishes her Ph.D. (in American Lit) at Rice. Conor taught a poetry workshop with Inprint this summer, was pouring wine at a wine bar, and is transforming his thesis into a contest/submission-ready manuscript.

Maybe this isn’t very revelatory, but the thing I loved and will miss and fondly remember from the UH CWP was the community – so many writers with so much enthusiasm in such different spots of their careers all so ready to hang out and talk about everything over a Topo Chico or a Lonestar. Everyone I met and talked with was supportive, curious, and genuinely interested in my life and work.  Continue reading

Uncovering the Path to Uncovered: A Celebration of Leah Lax

August 31, 2015, by

Book jacket for Uncovered by Leah LaxAs any writer will tell you, the publication of a book is an occasion for celebration—especially one that has been written and rewritten and agonized over for a decade. So it is clearly time for Leah Lax to celebrate the publication (on August 28) of her long awaited and compelling memoir, Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home.

Inprint’s connection to Leah and this book goes back many years. You might consider this “extra-textual”: it’s not in the book.

Sometime in early 1996, when I was still “the new guy” at Inprint, I received a phone call from Rosellen Brown, the acclaimed writer and faculty member at the UH Creative Writing Program (UH CWP). Rosellen had a friend in the Houston Hasidic community who was a school teacher and a talented writer. Inprint gave scholarships to Houston-area K-12 teachers to take our writers workshops. (Now we offer Teachers-as-Writers Workshops, essentially the same thing.) Rosellen wondered: Could her friend Leah receive a teacher scholarship?

Of course, I said—and the rest is history. 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

Houstonians celebrate National Poetry Month in fun and exciting ways throughout April

April 15, 2014, by

As most of us in the literary world know, April is National Poetry Month. It is that cheery time of year when we pay tribute to the world of poetry and the people who write great poems. Poets do not traditionally receive the level of book sales, media coverage, and public popularity that other writers do, so I would say they truly deserve a month dedicated to celebrating their unique brilliance.

Anne Carson credit Peter SmithHouston is brimming with poetry activity all month long and if you venture out every once in a while, you will find it difficult not to stumble upon a poetic activity or two. For Inprint, the superstar Anne Carson will be closing out the 2013/14 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series on April 28th. Michael Ondaatje says Anne Carson is “the most exciting poet writing today.” Houstonians are definitely excited about her reading, with less than a hundred tickets left, Carson is evoking fan girl enthusiasms from poetry lovers. We plan on giving her fans exactly what they want. Unlike other Inprint readings, Carson will be taking the stage by herself, reading and perhaps talking about her poems. She will forgo an on-stage interview. For more information click here.

typewriter for eblastsOn a more local level, Inprint was proud to have the Inprint Poetry Buskers out and about last weekend at UH Mitchell Center’s CounterCurrent Festival. If you haven’t experienced the Inprint Poetry Buskers yet, stay tuned, you’ll be seeing them more and more. They write poems on demand for free using typwriters for anyone who stops by to visit them at festivals and other events. For those who feel that poetry isn’t for them, wait until someone writes you your very own poem! Catch them next at the Menil Community Arts Festival May 3rd .

WITS imageOur friends at Writers in the Schools (WITS) have had a very busy month. WITS celebrates National Poetry Month through the words of Houston students. Executive Director and poet Robin Reagler says, “We publish a poem a day on our blog, and it airs on KPFT also. We are distributing poetry postcards at over 100 Houston locations. We are sponsoring a poetry contest  for kids with cool prizes that include a TV appearance and amazon.com gift cards.” If you want to spread the joy of poetry to your kids, WITS has you covered. Continue reading

The Spiritual Oomph of Robert Boswell

August 22, 2013, by

bozOn Monday, August 26, Robert Boswell & James McBride launch the 2013/2014 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series reading from their new novels Tumbledown and The Good Lord Bird. Both books have received high praise from reviewers, so it is no wonder that the reading has sold out.

In addition to being a great writer of fiction, what the general public may not know is that Robert Boswell is also a great teacher of creative writing. Boswell teaches every spring at the UH Creative Writing Program—as co-holder of the Cullen Chair in Creative Writing with his wife, fiction writer Antonya Nelson—and his students love him. We asked Inprint blogger Allyn West to tell us what it’s like to study under Robert Boswell. (We should note that before teaching at UH, Boswell taught at New Mexico State University, in Las Cruces.)

These emails recruiting us grad students to come out for pool nights showed up every Thursday. The sender? Robert Boswell. The venue? My Brother’s Place, in Las Cruces. It was the one place to go in that town. Three years of these emails, and I went out once. Continue reading

Christine Ha, the writer

July 9, 2013, by

christine-1Christine Ha would always take the desk nearest the door — farthest, that is, from our professor. This was in 2009. We were enrolled in an Emily Dickinson class at the University of Houston. She spent most of the three hours typing — or hiding, maybe, on the other side of her laptop. Of course, there were some loudmouths who tended to dominate, but Christine rarely voiced her take on the few cryptic lines in front of us.

And I guess I was living under the assumption that only loudmouths are the right kind of people for reality television. Because when I heard that Christine would be taking a leave from the UH Creative Writing Program to compete on something called Master Chef, it struck me as — well, unlikely.  Continue reading

Five stars for The Starboard Sea

April 3, 2012, by

One of the great pleasures in life is to get totally lost in a book. And a couple of weeks ago, I picked up Amber Dermont’s debut novel The Starboard Sea and didn’t want to set it down. Not only is it a fast-paced story with rich characters and a central mystery, set among the privileged class at a New England boarding school, but it is also, in a way, an offspring of Houston’s rich literary community.

Amber spent five years in Houston working on her PhD in fiction at the UH Creative Writing Program, graduating in the spring of 2006, after receiving a C. Glenn Cambor Fellowship and Barthelme Memorial Prize in fiction from Inprint. She went on to teach at Rice for a year, as a Parks Fellow, a position offered to one graduate of the UH Program each year. During those years of writing, the beginnings of this book were developed. And it is a very good book by any standard, worthy of two reviews in The New York Times including the cover review of the Sunday Book Review. Continue reading