COVID Vivid Interview: Reyes Ramirez

I’m continuing this series of interviews, asking Houston writers how and what they’ve been doing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been enlightening and heartwarming to hear these responses when I pose the question:

What have you been doing since the pandemic?

This week we hear from Reyes Ramirez, a Houstonian, writer, educator, curator, and organizer of Mexican and Salvadoran descent. Ramirez is the winner of the 2019 YES Contemporary Art Writers Grant, 2017 Blue Mesa Review Nonfiction Contest, and 2014 riverSedge Poetry Prize. His poems, stories, essays, and reviews have been published in Indiana Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, the Latinx Archive, december magazine, Arteinformado, Texas Review, TRACK//FOUR, Houston Noir, Gulf Coast, the Acentos Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. Ramirez is a 2020 CantoMundo fellow and 2021 Crosstown Arts writer in residence, and has been awarded grants from the Houston Arts Alliance, Poets & Writers, and the Warhol Foundation’s Idea Fund.

Here’s what he says:

“What have I been doing since the pandemic started? Well, I’ve been editing my collection of short stories titled The Book of Wanderers, which I’ll have some news to report about soon. I’m working on a collection of poetry that’s been kicking me around in terms of order and titles, but I’m loving the journey for the destination. I did a whole podcast with Houston creatives where we discussed career-based issues for the contemporary artist. Oh! I also received a Poets & Writers’ United States of Writing grant to organize a series of virtual readings focused on pop culture featuring Houston writers of color titled Houston Eyes, Silver Screens (HESS). It’s cofunded by the Houston Arts Alliance because I originally received a grant from them to organize a literary reading/pro wrestling event where pro wrestlers were going to perform parts of my short story. But this whole pandemic thing happened, and I had to cancel it. C’est la vie, lo que sea, oh well.

If you missed the first and second installments of HESS (on films and video games, respectively), it’s totally okay! Not only is the last one coming up on December 18 at 7:00 PM CT (on music with Miranda Ramírez, Aliah Lavonne Tigh, and José Eduardo Sánchez), but you can watch the other readings with captions in English and Spanish on my YouTube channel. Happy reading and writing!”

Photo: Flyer for December 18 Houston Eyes, Silver Screens virtual event.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Reel

12.16.20

Jana Larson’s Reel Bay: A Cinematic Essay, forthcoming from Coffee House Press in January, straddles the line between memoir and fiction. Larson blends essay and screenplay to investigate and understand the mysterious death of a woman found in Minnesota who local police alleged was in search of the fictional ransom money seen buried in the snow in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 film, Fargo. The ambitious premise and second-person narration places readers in the shoes of the investigator, not unlike the subjective perspective of certain movies. Considering how true stories are often stranger than fiction, write a short story based on a mysterious occurrence that you experienced yourself or that stuck with you after you learned about it. How will you draw in the reader? Try narrating the story in first or second person to give the illusion of truth.

Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference

The 2021 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference will be held online from February 18 to February 20. The conference features workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as craft classes, discussions on publishing and the craft of writing, and readings. The faculty includes poets Sally Ball and Mahogany L. Browne, poet and fiction writer Jenny Irish, poet and nonfiction writer Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, and fiction writers Matt Bell, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, and Erika T. Wurth. The cost of the conference is $275. Financial aid is available.

Type: 
CONFERENCE
Ignore Event Date Field?: 
no
Event Date: 
February 18, 2021
Rolling Admissions: 
yes
Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Financial Aid?: 
no
Financial Aid Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Free Admission: 
no
Contact Information: 

Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference, Arizona State University, Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, P.O. Box 875002, Tempe, AZ 85287.

Contact City: 
Online
Add Image: 

Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Summer Writers’ Conference

The 2021 Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Summer Writers’ Conference will be held from June 6 to June 12 and from June 13 to June 19 at the Vineyard Arts Project (VAP) campus in downtown Edgartown on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The conference features weeklong seminars with daily workshops in poetry and fiction, as well as manuscript consultations, panel discussions, and readings. The faculty includes poets Amelia Martens, Adrian Matejka, Elizabeth Schmuhl, Britton Shurley, and Keith Taylor; and fiction writers Tia Clark, John T.

Type: 
CONFERENCE
Ignore Event Date Field?: 
no
Event Date: 
June 6, 2021
Rolling Admissions: 
yes
Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Financial Aid?: 
yes
Financial Aid Application Deadline: 
May 1, 2021
Free Admission: 
no
Contact Information: 

Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Summer Writers’ Conference, 7 East Pasture Road, Aquinnah, MA 02535. (954) 242-2903. Alexander Weinstein, Director. 


Alexander Weinstein
Director
Contact City: 
Martha’s Vineyard
Contact State: 
MA
Contact Zip / Postal Code: 
02535
Country: 
US
Add Image: 

Voices of the Wilderness Artist in Residence Program

The U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service offer residencies of one to two weeks from June through August to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers to take part in stewardship projects in the wilderness of Alaska. Residents are paired with a wilderness ranger, with whom they explore the national forests, parks, or refuges, while assisting with research, fieldwork, and other light ranger duties.

Type: 
RESIDENCY
Ignore Event Date Field?: 
yes
Event Date: 
January 20, 2021
Rolling Admissions: 
no
Application Deadline: 
March 1, 2021
Financial Aid?: 
no
Financial Aid Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Free Admission: 
yes
Contact Information: 

Voices of the Wilderness Artist in Residence Program, P.O. Box 129, Girdwood, AK 99587. Barbara Lydon, Program Coordinator.

Barbara Lydon
Program Coordinator
Contact City: 
Wilderness areas
Contact State: 
AK
Country: 
US
Add Image: 
Voices of the Wilderness

Ucross Residency Program

Ucross offers two- to six-week residencies from March through early June and from August through early December to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers on a working ranch in Ucross, Wyoming, located 27 miles southeast of Sheridan. Residents are provided with lodging, private studio space, and meals. For residencies from August through early December, using only the online application system submit 10 pages of poetry or 20 pages of prose, a project description, and two letters of recommendation sent directly to Ucross with a $40 application fee by March 1.

Type: 
RESIDENCY
Ignore Event Date Field?: 
yes
Event Date: 
January 20, 2021
Rolling Admissions: 
no
Application Deadline: 
March 1, 2021
Financial Aid?: 
no
Financial Aid Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Free Admission: 
no
Contact Information: 

Ucross Residency Program, 30 Big Red Lane, Clearmont, WY 82835. (307) 737-2291.

Contact City: 
Ucross
Contact State: 
WY
Contact Zip / Postal Code: 
82835
Country: 
US

UCLA Extension Writers Studio

The Writers Studio, sponsored by the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, will be held online from February 18 to February 21. The conference features workshops in fiction and creative nonfiction, lectures, and a keynote presentation. The faculty includes fiction writers Noel Alumit and Colette Sartor; nonfiction writers Antonia Crane and Cole Kazdin; and publishing professional Tobi Harper (Red Hen Press). The cost of the conference is $788. Registration is first come, first served. Visit the website for more information.

Type: 
CONFERENCE
Ignore Event Date Field?: 
no
Event Date: 
February 18, 2021
Rolling Admissions: 
yes
Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Financial Aid?: 
no
Financial Aid Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Free Admission: 
no
Contact Information: 

UCLA Extension Writers Studio, 10960 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1600, Los Angeles, CA 90024. (310) 825-9415. Nutschell Anne Windsor, Program Coordinator.

Nutschell Windsor
Program Coordinator
Contact City: 
Online
Contact Zip / Postal Code: 
90024
Add Image: 

Millay Colony

The Millay Colony for the Arts offers two- and four-week residencies from May through October to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers at Steepletop, the former estate of Edna St. Vincent Millay in Austerlitz, New York. Each residency includes a private room, studio, and meals. For residencies from August through October, using only the online application system submit up to 10 poems totaling no more than 15 pages or up to 20 pages of prose, along with a brief bio, a personal statement, and a $40 application fee by March 1. Visit the website for more information.

Type: 
RESIDENCY
Ignore Event Date Field?: 
yes
Event Date: 
January 20, 2021
Rolling Admissions: 
no
Application Deadline: 
March 1, 2021
Financial Aid?: 
no
Financial Aid Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Free Admission: 
no
Contact Information: 

Millay Colony for the Arts, 454 East Hill Road, P.O. Box 3, Austerlitz, NY 12017. (518) 392-3103. Calliope Nicholas, Codirector.

Calliope Nicholas
Residency Director
Contact City: 
Austerlitz
Contact State: 
NY
Contact Zip / Postal Code: 
12017
Country: 
US
Add Image: 

Hambidge Creative Residency Program

Hambidge offers residencies of two weeks to two months to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers on 600 wooded acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia. The residency includes a private cottage with a bedroom, studio space, kitchen, and bathroom. The cost of the residency is $250 per week, which includes some meals. Scholarships are available.

Type: 
RESIDENCY
Ignore Event Date Field?: 
yes
Event Date: 
January 20, 2021
Rolling Admissions: 
no
Application Deadline: 
January 15, 2021
Financial Aid?: 
no
Financial Aid Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Free Admission: 
no
Contact Information: 

Hambidge Creative Residency Program, P.O. Box 339, Rabun Gap, GA 30568. (706) 746-7324. Christine Jason, Operations Manager. 

Christine Jason
Operations Manager
Contact City: 
Rabun Gap
Contact State: 
GA
Contact Zip / Postal Code: 
30568
Country: 
US

Good Contrivance Farm Writer’s Retreat

Good Contrivance Farm offers residencies of up to four weeks year-round to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers on a Victorian farm in Reisterstown, Maryland, located 25 miles north of Baltimore. Residents are provided with private lodging in a renovated barn loft, which includes a library, bathroom, and full kitchen; or in the Hen House Cottage, which includes a full kitchen and bathroom. The cost of the residency in the farm’s barn loft is $95 for an overnight stay, $570 for a week, or $1,080 for two weeks.

Type: 
RESIDENCY
Ignore Event Date Field?: 
yes
Event Date: 
January 20, 2021
Rolling Admissions: 
yes
Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Financial Aid?: 
no
Financial Aid Application Deadline: 
January 20, 2021
Free Admission: 
no
Contact Information: 

Good Contrivance Farm Writer’s Retreat, 2015 Emory Road, Reisterstown, MD 21136. (443) 529-2939.

Ron Tanner
Director
Contact City: 
Reisterstown
Contact State: 
MD
Contact Zip / Postal Code: 
21136
Country: 
US
Add Image: 
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