Bibliophiles had much to celebrate at the Inprint Poets & Writers Ball this season, as Houston foremost literary organization marked its big 40th anniversary. The gala itself raised a big 44 — $447,000 that is — for Inprint’s myriad literary, performance, and educational programs, as well as support for Houston-based emerging writers.
Chaired by Michelle and Rishi Varma (with help from the host committee, Inprint board, advisory board, and presidents council), the event saw some 350 guests at the River Oaks Country Club. The ball featured a flavorful mix of literary voices and delicious dinner menu designed by Robert Del Grande, chef emeritus of The Annie Café & Bar.
Every year, the Inprint Ball puts its unique and creative imprint on Houston’s gala season, beginning the evening with intimate, salon-style readings from three up-and-coming writers who have benefitted from Inprint programs and support.
This year showcased poet Josh Estanislao Lopez with his moving, hopeful, and funny work about fatherhood and being a man from his poetry collection We Borrowed Gentleness. Oindrila Mukherjee read from her debut novel The Dream Builders, an Indie Next Pick about a new and rising city in India.
PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at UH, Joy Priest, read from her debut poetry collection Horsepower, which focuses on growing up on the more interesting side of the Churchill Downs/Kentucky Derby tracks.
All three writers began their readings with thanks to Inprint for their support when living and writing in Houston.
The highlight of the evening came after dinner, with headlining speaker and reader Jericho Brown. The Houston Creative Writing Program alumnus and poet is the first Inprint fellow to win a literary Pulitzer Prize. Brown wove his own poetry around stories of his time at UH and teaching writing in community programs.
In keeping with Inprint’s 40-year-old message and mission to share the power of literature for everyone, Brown recounted his time leading an Inprint memoir writing workshop for senior adults at the Finnigan Park Community Center and how much those everyday writers taught him.
At the end of the evening, guests received a very special thank-you gift designed by artists Fiona McGettigan and Alan Krathaus of CORE Design Studio: a handmade limited-edition chapbook, Happy Poems by Jericho Brown — signed by the author — which included poems selected by Brown from all three of his books.
Seen partying with the poets were Robin Angly and Miles Smith, Candace Baggett and Ron Restrepo, Katharine Barthelme and Shane Frank, Carolyn Russell Brock and Glen Brock, Heather Brown and Hank Segelke, Laura Calaway, Bettie Cartwright, Yini and Dane Collette, Carolyn and Platt Davis, Mary S and Jack Dawson, Susie and Joe Dilg, Debbie Gary, Cullen Geiselman, Marc Grossberg, Matt Henneman, Caroline Kerr and Andy Lusk, Sabria and Kevin Lewis, Misty and Surena Matin, Nancy Powell Moore, Bobbie Nau, Franci Neely, Una and Eamonn Quigley, Kathryn and Craig Smyser, Marcia West, Andrea White.