Summertime

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“These poets really took me on a journey. Through each of their poems you got to essentially travel across L.A. into different neighborhoods, into different people’s spaces,” says director Carlos López Estrada about meeting the twenty-seven spoken word poets from the nonprofit Get Lit who cowrote and are featured in his new film, Summertime.

How Houston Leads the Way: A Finale

Hey gente, happy summer! This will be my last post on this blog as the literary outreach coordinator in Houston. It’s been a pleasure sharing news and highlights over the last two years, and calling attention to all the ways that Houston is a major literary city. Things are always happening in the Bayou City and here are a few more folks and events to mention.

All the Books
I wanted to take a moment to talk about some Houstonians who have books coming out in the near future. Ayokunle Falomo’s collection AFRICANAMERICAN’T and Tamara Al-Qaisi-Coleman’s collection The Raven, the Bayou and the Willow will be published by FlowerSong Press, due out sometime in 2022. J. Estanislao Lopez’s debut collection, We Borrowed Gentleness, is forthcoming from Alice James Books in October 2022, and lastly (and as a way to welcome a new Houstonian to her new town) I’m happy to share that Ariana Brown’s debut collection, We Are Owed, will be released from Grieveland Press in July.

More Reading
Shout-out to powerhouse essayist Icess Fernandez Rojas as she interrogates and speaks truth to power about the lack of Black representation in Latinx Hollywood and offers an analysis of the new film, In the Heights, in her essay “When They Forget About Us… Again” published in Sofrito For Your Soul.

Live Events
I am excited to see all the things Houston has to offer as readings are starting to come back in front of live audiences. Last Saturday, Write About Now held their first live event since the pandemic called “Mics + Murals,” a collaborative reading with live painting and music copresented by the Station Museum of Contemporary Art.

One foot in front of the other and let’s walk together to see where the words take us.

Write About Now Mics + Murals event at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston.
 
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Deadline Approaches for the Letras Boricuas Fellowships

Submissions are open for the Letras Boricuas Fellowships. Cosponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Flamboyan Arts Fund, the fellowships aim to connect and support Puerto Rican writers. This year fifteen writers will each receive an unrestricted grant of $25,000. A second cohort of fifteen writers will be selected in 2022 and all thirty fellows will be invited to gather in San Juan in April 2023. Writers may be working in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or children’s literature. Applications may be in Spanish and/or English.

Using only the online submission system, submit a personal statement, an artist statement, information about past publication, a résumé, and a work sample of 10 poems or up to 20 pages of writing by June 20. Spoken-word poets should submit 3 audio files of up to 2 minutes each. There is no submission fee. Writers must self-identify as Puerto Rican and live in either Puerto Rico or the United States to be eligible. Writers must also have a history of publication in their genre. Visit the website for complete guidelines, including more details about eligibility. The first cohort of fifteen writers will be announced in fall 2021.

Housed at the Flamboyan Foundation, the Flamboyan Arts Fund was created in partnership with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton, his renown musical. The fund works to “preserve, amplify, and strengthen the arts in Puerto Rico” and has provided support to both organizations and individual artists. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, meanwhile, aims to “build just communities where ideas and imagination can thrive” and is a major benefactor of the arts and humanities in the United States.

Writers Uncensored: Lucille Clifton and Sonia Sanchez

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“To love yourself so much you don’t wanna exploit anybody. Can you imagine not wanting to exploit anyone?” says Sonia Sanchez in her lecture to students in this 1991 episode of Writers Uncensored presented by the Lannan Foundation. This vintage episode features Sanchez and Lucille Clifton reading from their work and talking about their respective paths as poets.

Joshua Nguyen for WAN Poetry

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“My mother doesn’t write recipes, / she just knows. // Braised pork and eggs, / rice cleaned thoroughly.” Joshua Nguyen, author of the chapbook, American Lục Bát for My Mother (Bull City Press, 2021), reads two poems in this video for the Write About Now Poetry reading series in Houston. 

Pretend It’s a City

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Directed by Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese, Pretend It’s a City features the return of sardonic writer and public speaker Fran Lebowitz in conversation with the director as she shares anecdotes about her early life and career in New York City in the 1970s. The Netflix series continues the partnership of the longtime friends, who worked together on the 2010 HBO documentary Public Speaking.

Deadline Approaches for Kresge Artist Fellowships

Applications are open for the 2021 Kresge Artist Fellowships, which offer $25,000 no-strings-attached grants and professional development to Detroit artists. Administered by Kresge Arts in Detroit, the fellowship program is open to artists in different disciplines each year; this cycle, Kresge will award ten fellowships to artists working in the literary arts, and ten to artists working in the visual arts. Literary arts may include arts criticism, creative nonfiction, graphic novels, poetry, spoken word, zines, or interdisciplinary work. Across disciplines, the fellowship program seeks to “recognize creative vision and commitment to excellence” and is available to emerging and established artists alike. Within the fellowship application, artists are invited to indicate if they would also like to be considered for the Gilda Awards—$5,000 no-strings-attached grants specifically designated for emerging artists—if they are not selected as fellows.

Using only the online submission system, complete a series of questionnaires and statements about your practice, biography, and community impact, and submit this information along with a resume and three to eight work samples by January 14. Residents of Michigan’s Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties are eligible. There is no entry fee. Work samples may be text, audio, or video files. An anonymous panel of both national and local artists and art professionals will judge. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Funded by the Kresge Foundation and administered by the College for Creative Studies, Kresge Arts in Detroit seeks to strengthen and celebrate the artistic communities in metropolitan Detroit. In addition to the Kresge Artists Fellowships and Gilda Awards, the organization also selects a single artist each year for the $50,000 Kresge Eminent Artist Award. Over the past twelve years, Kresge has dispensed over $6 million in funding to local artists.

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