“I had to write the book for two reasons. The first one was gratitude for all that kept me alive and made life worth living, and the second was vengeance against all that diminishes life,” writes Anne Boyer in an interview about her memoir, The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), for the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog. Think of an urgent issue in your own life which has provoked in you both feelings of gratitude and vengeance. Write a personal essay that expresses both of these important emotional states. How do you give voice to these feelings in a complex and productive or healing way?
Hey mi gente! This week I want to draw your attention to some indie bookstores here in Houston, the HOU.
Indie bookstores are independently operated as a small business and I am proud to say we have many in town that help build the literary fabric of the city. These spaces are important and special because they help bring authors into town and invite locals to see and hear new voices. Indie bookstores inform and build community with every reader that enters their doors.
Here are a few shops in town that I often frequent:
Brazos Bookstore is a solid space to find anything current and fresh, and the go-to spot for readings from local and national writers. They do an amazing job at keeping up with a special section for books by local writers.
Casa Ramirez is located in the heart of the Heights, in the Northside. Although it’s not technically a bookstore, Casa Ramirez Folkart Gallery has always served as a cultural pillar providing a space for community and art. Casa Ramirez houses folk art, pieces by local artists, Dia de los Muertos events, Mexican artisan work, and a large selection of books written by Latinx writers, from children’s books to short story anthologies. They also host poetry readings, author talks, and storytelling events.
Kaboom Books is a used bookstore in Woodland Heights just above Downtown Houston. I love this space because, although it focuses on used books, they have a great outside patio to host readings featuring writers with new work. Many local literary organizations have used the space for book launches and the shop owners are always all about it.
Murder By the Book is a beautiful, small shop that focuses on thriller, suspense, and mystery genres. They regularly host author readings and Akashic Books’ Houston Noir celebrated its launch party there this past May.Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.
The 2019 Portland Book Festival, hosted by Literary Arts, was held on November 9 at the Portland Art Museum and neighboring venues in downtown Portland, Oregon. The festival featured writing workshops, panel discussions, a book fair, and pop-up readings. The cost of admission was $15 in advance and $20 on site for adults, and free for attendees under the age of 17, high school students, and military veterans. Paying attendees received a $5 voucher that was redeemable at the book fair. Workshops, which included festival admission, were available for up to $75.
Portland Book Festival, Literary Arts, Inc., 925 SW Washington Street, Portland, OR 97205. (503) 227-2583. Amanda Bullock, Director of Public Programs.
The 2019 North Carolina Writers’ Network Fall Conference was held from November 8 to November 10 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore in North Carolina. The conference featured workshops and master classes in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as sessions and panel discussions on book design, publishing, and querying. The faculty included poets Nickole Brown, Jessica Jacobs, and Glenis Redmond; fiction writers Abigail DeWitt, Tommy Hays, and Kevin McIlvoy; and creative nonfiction writers Tom Chalmers, Christine Hale, and Jeremy B. Jones.
North Carolina Writers’ Network Fall Conference, P.O. Box 21591, Winston-Salem, NC 27120. (336) 293-8844. Ed Southern, Executive Director.
The Kaz Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference was held from November 7 to November 10 at the Southampton Inn in Southampton, New York. The conference featured workshops, author roundtables, publishing panels, and readings for nonfiction writers. The faculty included nonfiction writers Roohi Choudhry, Donna Kaz, Suzannah Lessard, Terri Muuss, Matt Pasca, and Pramila Venkateswaran.
Kaz Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference, c/o Donna Kaz, P.O. Box 2100, New York, NY 10021. Donna Kaz, Contact.
The 42nd annual American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) Conference was held from November 7 to November 10 at the Hyatt Regency Rochester & Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, New York. The conference featured panels, workshops, readings, a book fair, and opportunities to meet with editors and translators. The 2019 theme was “Sight and Sound.” American Sign Language poetry troupe Flying Words Project delivered the keynote. The cost of the conference for ALTA members was $200 before October 7, $225 before October 21, and $250 on site.
American Literary Translators Association, University of Arizona, Esquire Building #205, 1230 North Park Ave, Tucson, AZ 85721. Elisabeth Jaquette, Executive Director.
The 2019 Kauai Writers Conference was held from November 4 to November 10 at the Marriott Resort on Kalapaki Beach in Kauai, Hawai’i. The conference featured master classes in fiction and creative nonfiction, as well as agent pitch sessions, manuscript critiques, and publishing consultations. The faculty included fiction writers Richard Bausch, Christina Baker Kline, Paula McLain, Joshua Mohr, Téa Obreht, Priya Parmar, Anne Perry, Whitney Scharer, Lisa Wingate, Meg Wolitzer, and Victoria Zackheim; and creative nonfiction writers Amy Ferris, Linda Schreyer, and Sheila Weller.
Kauai Writers Conference, P.O. Box 1300, Kilauea, HI 96754. David Katz, Contact.
Casa Ramirez stands as a cultural pillar in the community offering a selection of folk art, Mexican dresses, local artist work, books on culture and cooking and bilingual books for children, greeting cards and decorations. Classes have been offered on Dia de los Muertos traditions and altar building, learning Spanish and the history of tequila as well as poetry and author readings and storytelling.
One of the nation’s oldest and largest mystery specialty bookstores, Murder By the Book carries over 25,000 books: new and used, hardcovers and paperbacks, first editions, collectibles, gift items, mystery magazines, and more. The shop regularly hosts hundreds of mystery, crime, and fantasy book signing events throughout the year.
November deadlines are approaching for contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, including the oldest annual literary award in America, the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Each of these contests has a deadline of November 15, and all but one offer a prize of $1,000 or more in addition to publication.
Hidden River Arts Blue Mountain Novel Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Press is given annually for a novel. Hidden River Press staff will judge. Entry fee: $22.
Nightboat Books Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Nightboat Books, and twenty-five author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. Kazim Ali, Stephen Motika, Lindsey Boldt, and Andrea Abi-Karam will judge. Entry fee: $28.
North American Review James Hearst Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in North American Review is given annually for a poem. All entries are considered for publication. Ilya Kaminsky will judge. Entry fee: $23, which includes a subscription to North American Review.
Perugia Press Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Perugia Press, and ten author copies is given annually for a first or second poetry collection by a woman. Entry fee: $27.
Pleiades Press Lena–Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Pleiades Press with distribution by Louisiana State University Press is given annually for a poetry collection by a U.S. poet. The winner also receives $1,000 for book tour expenses. Tiana Clark will judge. Entry fee: $25.
Pleiades Press Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Pleiades Press with distribution by Louisiana State University Press is given annually for a collection of short stories, short short stories, or essays. CJ Hauser will judge. Entry fee: $25.
Sonora Review Flash Prose Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Sonora Review is given annually for a work of short prose on a theme. This year’s theme is “Encounter.” Hybrid work is encouraged. Lucy Corin will judge. Entry fee: $15.
Sonora Review Nonfiction Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Sonora Review is given annually for a work of creative nonfiction on a theme. This year’s theme is “Encounter.” Hybrid work is encouraged. Rae Paris will judge. Entry fee: $15.
Southeast Missouri State University Press Nilsen Literary Award: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Southeast Missouri State University Press is given annually for a novel, novella, or collection of linked stories by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. Entry fee: $30.
TulipTree Publishing Genre Issue Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in TulipTree Review will be given annually for a story of genre fiction. Stories in the genres of mystery, crime, romance, science fiction, fantasy, noir, and western are eligible. Entry fee: $20.
Washington Writers Publishing House Poetry and Fiction Prizes: Two prizes of $1,000 each, publication by Washington Writers Publishing House, and 50 author copies are given annually for a poetry collection and a short story collection or novel. Writers who live in Washington, D.C., or in Maryland or Virginia within a 75-mile radius of the U.S. Capitol, are eligible. Entry fee: $25.
Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition: A prize of $3,000 and travel and lodging expenses for a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City is given annually for a short short story. The winner will also be featured in an article in Writer’s Digest. A second-place prize of $1,500 is also awarded. Early entry fee: $25 ($30 for entries made November 17 through December 16).
Yale University Press Yale Series of Younger Poets: An award of publication by Yale University Press is given annually for a poetry collection by a poet who has not published a full-length book of poetry. Carl Phillips will judge. Entry fee: $25.