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

Watchful Eye reading presents an evening of wonders

May 27, 2015, by

IMG_4531On May 13, I attended one of the most anticipated readings in Houston to date. From every corner of the city, people assembled in the lobby of the Menil Collection for the Watchful Eye reading of poetry and prose by select Writers In The Schools (WITS) students.

Families with young scholars, K-12, in public schools, private schools, and some alternative programs, such as one-on-one hospital visits, joined together to witness diverse talents and celebrate the joint powers of visual and literary arts. Many students were already familiar with the building and its collections, having visited as part of a WITS-organized school trip. These little ones were able to act as tour guides.

The evening began at 7 pm. Several students were still wearing their school uniforms. Some were outfitted in suits. Ribbons and patent leather shoes shone, and guardians tried vainly to comb over stubborn cowlicks before the short readings.

Long Chu, associate director and veteran employee of WITS for the past 18 years, introduced the program of around 50 students. He also gave a little history of the collaborative partnership between WITS and the Menil, which was established in 1989. He cited the Menil as “a true gift to the city of Houston,” and explained the organizations’ mutual objectives to instill “a passion for creative learning.” Karl Kilian, director of public programs at the Menil, also said a few words of encouragement, then introduced Dinorah Pérez-Rementería as the evening’s emcee.  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

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