The Inprint Poet & Writers Ball is undoubtedly Houston's biggest literary bash each year, but the nonprofit had even more cause for celebration during last weekend's festivities: Over 400 bibliophiles and writers, dressed in all of their finery, came together to not only celebrate the fine arts of fiction and poetry, but also Inprint's 30th anniversary season.
At the event, chaired by Franci Crane, Mark Wawro and Michael Zilka, celebrated British author Martin Amis joined Junot Díaz, Michael Chabon, Terrance Hayes and Kim Addonizio on the list of the 2012-2013 season's sold-out speakers.
Following past ball traditions, guests were immediately immersed into the literary atmosphere as soon as they entered the Houston Country Club. Gala committee members, table hosts, volunteers and Inprint staff members got to display their own creativity in the form of themed tables decorated around beloved books.
Once everyone had time to mingle and admire the tablescapes, guests gathered in one of three smaller rooms for an intimate, literary salon experience.
Once everyone had time to mingle and admire the tablescapes, guests gathered in one of three smaller rooms for an intimate, literary salon experience, as three University of Houston Creative Writing Program alumni circulated between the rooms to read from their latest works.
Houston fiction writer Miah Arnold gave listeners a peek into her funny debut novel Sweet Land of Bigamy, one Utah woman's misadventures in accidental marriage.
Jericho Brown, an assistant professor at Emory University, channeled the voices of Langston Hughes and Janis Joplin in the poems "Langston Blue" and "Track 5, Summertime" respectively. Brown ended with the poem "Colosseum," which he had just been notified that afternoon would soon be published in The New Yorker.
YES Prep teacher Lauren Berry gave thanks to all the influences in her life — including Inprint executive director Rich Levy — before launching into "Seventh Grade Science in the Partially Burned Classroom" and "Notes on How to Love a Boy," poems that illuminated girlhood in all its awkward wonder.
After a seemingly British-themed dinner with Texas twists curated by Elouise "Ouisie" Jones, Amis took the stage for a wry scientific lecture on the lifecycle of the contemporary writer and a bout of literary criticism from which not even William Wordsworth's "I wandered lonely as a cloud" escaped unscathed.
Rich Levy announced the gala had far exceeded the initial goal by raising $380,000 in proceeds.
Levy announced the gala had far exceeded the initial goal by raising $380,000 in proceeds that will will benefit the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series; fellowships and other assistance to graduate students at the UH Creative Writing Program; Cool Brains! Inprint Readings for Young People; as well as writers workshops for senior citizens, K-12 school teachers and at-risk youth.
Seen among the literature-loving crowd were Melanie Gray, Nina Zilkha, Consuelo Duroc-Danner, Carolyn Roch Henneman and Matt Henneman, Kathryn and David Berg, Gracie and Bob Cavna.
Also enjoying the fancy fete were former Houston mayor Bill White and Andrea White, Brooke and Dan Feather, Marty and Richard Finger, Jeff Fort, Cece and Mack Fowler, Rachel and Bud Frazier, Vanessa Gilmore and William Fleming, Sis and Hasty Johnson, Anne and John Mendelsohn and Robert and Phoebe Tudor.