Literary Scavenger Hunt
Books over bonnets: It's an Indie thing this Easter weekend
Forget the Easter egg hunt. How about some literary scavenging?
The Indie Book Festival moves to the Menil Lawn this year and kicks off at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The readings, raffles, and browsing last until 5 p.m. The Houston Indie Book Festival is the result of a collaboration among the Menil, a locally-based flash fiction e-journal NANO Fiction, the flagship journal of the University of Houston’s nationally ranked creative writing program Gulf Coast, KUHF Houston Public Radio and the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.
April may be National Poetry month, but Houston celebrates all that and more at the Indie Book Festival. For three years running, Bayou City has been home to this festival of independent publishing that features a wide range of homegrown literary journals, small presses, local bookstores, writing collectives, and literary advocacy groups.
While Indie Book Festival affords aficionados the chance to check out the state of the art of literary publishing, anyone can appreciate what an impressive literary scene this region affords. You might learn, for instance, that Houston is home to to the nation’s largest publisher of literature by U.S. Hispanic authors. Nicolás Kanellos founded Arte Publico Press in 1979. He was the original publisher of Sandra Cisneros' landmark The House on Mango Street. The press continues to publish dozens of new titles each year and is home to the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, dedicated to the recovery and publication of lost Hispanic literary voices from colonial times to the present, and Piñata Books, an imprint featuring works for children.
You can find Arte Publico Press titles and many others at Heights Books-Libros, Houston's first bilingual Spanish bookstore, which will also host a booth at the festival.
If shopping is your pleasure, you might also check out Houston's premier Muslim culture bookstore Light of Islam and Kaboom Books, which features used and scholarly books. Kaboom also hosts the NANO Fiction reading series. And no book festival would be complete without Houston's premier independent literary book dealer, Brazos Bookstore, or the entertaining oddities of Domy Books.
Where else can you find the latest graphic novels, bootleg videos, and dolls with big heads, sharp teeth and little bodies?
The Indie Book Festival will feature, in part thanks to the Council of Literary Presses and Magazines, a fire sale on literary journals ($2 each) and titles from an array of small presses ($4 each) from outside of the Houston area, incuding The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, Fence and others.
Booths featuring distinguished regional journals, including the African-American arts and culture centered Callalloo, the Pebble Lake Review's range of poetry, prose, and reviews, and American Short Fiction's focus on the arts of story telling. Local publishers will be represented including Bright Sky Press, which publishes local and regional titles including the fantastic Houston Deco, a visual record of the city's surviving Art Deco architecture.
Before you leave, don't forget community organizations such as Houston's premiere literary presenter Inprint or Taping for the Blind, a service organization providing all manner of reading materials for the visually impaired. Taping also features a regularly broadcast poetry show, which is archived online.
Sleuths are sisters too. That's the message of the Sisters of Crime, who work tirelessly to advance the interests of women mystery writers. Or, see if the members of the Bay Area Writer's League or the Creative Writer's Collective can help you write the great American novel.