In Which I Break My Foot and Am Saved By Students (Twice)

Inprint is proud of the work we do to support emerging writers, including giving more than $2.8 million since 1983 in fellowships, prizes, and other support awarded to graduate students at the highly ranked University of Houston Creative Writing Program (UH CWP). This support attracts the best emerging writers to Houston who go on to publish books, win nationally competitive literary awards, enhance our city, and serve as educators throughout the community.

Being a creative writing graduate student, however, isn’t always an easy thing. No high-paying summer internships or corporate recruiters come these students way! And in addition to pursuing their craft, many generously give back to the community, like the great pool of writers at the UH CWP who teach our Writers Workshops, Teachers-As-Writers Workshops, and Senior Memoir Workshops. Without them, Inprint workshops would not be ranked among the best in the city.

Jameelah Lang, a PhD candidate in fiction at the UH CWP, taught a fiction workshop for Inprint this summer. We asked Jameelah to share her experience as an instructor with us. We were blown away by what she said.

BrokenFootI had a bad go of it last year. I took comprehensive exams, moved into another apartment, and rescued a puppy; my puppy cried without end, the windows in my new apartment wouldn’t open, and Virginia Woolf stalked me in dreams. My students were all too young or too old or too tired to care who Marguerite Duras or the New Kids on the Block were; they wrote about murderers even when I explicitly told them to write about anything but murderers.
Continue reading “In Which I Break My Foot and Am Saved By Students (Twice)”

Chatting With Houston Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Zepeda

croppedGwenIn April 2013 award-winning fiction writer and poet Gwendolyn Zepeda became Houston’s first Poet Laureate. Zepeda was appointed to the two-year position by Mayor Annise Parker and was selected by a committee of local literary experts through a competitive process. (Inprint’s Executive Director Rich Levy was part of the selection committee.)

Gwen is a perfect fit for the role of poet laureate, an honor established to bring the love of poetry to new and diverse communities. Born and raised in Houston, Gwen is a popular blogger and the author of three novels, four children’s books, a short story collection, and a book of poems, Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners. Her second poetry collection is forthcoming. In addition to these admirable accomplishments, she works full-time, is a parent, is active in the community, and is an all-around lovely human being.  If you have been out and about in Houston recently, you may have seen Gwen reading, leading a workshop, participating in a Houston Public Library program, or involved in some other poetry related activity. Gwen recently served as an Inprint Poetry Busker for Sunday Streets at Market Square.

Inprint is thrilled that Houston has an official Poet Laureate and last week I had the chance to sit down with Gwen (and her husband Dat Lam) to talk about the role of Poet Laureate and her activities. The two hours passed way too quickly. Gwen’s generosity of spirit, quirky humor, simple honesty, and humble and approachable nature make you feel like you have been friends with her for years. We had a great time and I look forward to seeing Gwen again soon.

The following are snippets from our conversation.

Inprint: You have participated in so many activities as Houston Poet Laureate. Which activities stand out in your mind the most? Which have you been the most proud of? Continue reading “Chatting With Houston Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Zepeda”

Not Yo’ Mama’s Poetry!

If you still have nightmares about interpreting The Rime of the Ancient Mariner for your seventh grade English teacher, come conquer your fear of poetry and hear what hip young poets are writing these days.

There is a ton of fresh, smart, and diverse poetry coming from Houston poets and it’s exciting to see. Inprint is proud that the four University of Houston Creative Writing Program PhD candidates who will be reading their poetry Monday night—Beth Lyons, David Tomas Martinez, Karyna McGlynn, and Justine Post—are good friends of the organization and the Houston reading and writing community. The free reading takes place Monday, May 19, 7 pm at Brazos Bookstore, Houston’s fine independent bookseller, 2421 Bissonnet.

All four poets have participated in Inprint’s Poetry Buskers program, which sends poets out to write poetry on demand (on a typewriter!) at Houston festivals and other public events. Justine and Karyna have each won the Inprint Paul Verlaine Prize in Poetry; David Tomas was one of the three pre-dinner readers at this year’s Inprint Poets & Writers Ball and will be teaching an Inprint Writers Workshop this summer; and Beth is currently working part-time at Inprint! We are also happy to report that all four are wonderful poets whose work yields many riches.

Here’s a short poem we promise you’ll understand from David Tomas Martinez’s just released book of poetry, Hustle, along with bios of each of the poets who will read Monday night

HustleScientifically Speaking

There have
been exciting

discoveries
in the field

of me.
Many

of which,
I have

made
myself. Continue reading “Not Yo’ Mama’s Poetry!”

Boldface: A Writers’ Conference in the Bayou City

Boldface logoFor emerging writers, there’s always the moment when the workshop ends and you’re left wondering what the next step will be. Writers’ conferences—which combine intensive workshops, master classes, and readings—are a great way to sustain the momentum of writing and revision in a community of peers.

While many conferences involve cross-country travel and fees that can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, the Boldface Conference—housed here in Houston—offers a dynamic experience at a fraction of the cost of many programs. The Boldface conference fee for the week is $125 for students and $200 for non-students; registration is open until May 9.  Click here to learn more.

Boldface was started in 2009 by the editors of Glass Mountain, the undergraduate literary journal at the University of Houston, to create a conference devoted exclusively to developing writers. Any person who has not studied creative writing at the graduate level is welcome to attend.  The goal of the conference is to give emerging writers an experience that is usually available only to professional writers: several days of intense focus on the craft of writing through workshops, readings, and craft talks. Continue reading “Boldface: A Writers’ Conference in the Bayou City”

A Profile on Vijay Seshadri

As National Poetry Month comes to a close, we thought it would be good to profile one of the most prominent poets of our time. On April 14 poet Vijay Seshadri was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for his book 3 Sections. Seshadri becomes the first Asian American to win the Pulitzer Prize in the poetry category. We asked our resident expert Beth Lyons, Houston poet and PhD candidate at the UH Creative Writing Program, to share a little insight about Vijay Seshadri with us. 

vijay-seshadriWinner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his book 3 Sections, Seshadri is an intriguing poet due to his ability to move between the vernacular and the metaphysical, the surreal to the everyday.

Born in India, Seshadri came to the US at the age of five. He holds a BA from Oberlin College, an MFA from Columbia University and currently directs the graduate non-fiction writing program at Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of two previous collections of poetry, Wild Kingdom (1996) and The Long Meadow (2003). The Pulitzer committee called Seshadri’s work “a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless…”   Continue reading “A Profile on Vijay Seshadri”