The Creation of a Literary Community in Houston

The UH Creative Writing Program played an important role in the creation of a literary community in Houston. The UH writing program founded the Houston Reading Series in 1981 and Writers in the Schools (WITS) in 1983. Inprint, Inc., a non-profit organization, independent of the University of Houston, was formed in the early eighties primarily as a fundraising group for UH's program. It also provided funding for the journal Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. Inprint's major fundraiser was the successful Poets and Writers' Ball.

During this same period, other Houston arts and literary organizations launched readings, and shelves of local bookstores such as Brazos and Diverse Works were soon filled with the poetry and fiction of UH Creative Writing Program faculty and students. The writing program grew to become part of the fabric of UH and the city of Houston. It is difficult to imagine UH or the city today without the program and its great impact.

"Is a Gulf Coast 'School' of Writers Emerging Here?", Houston Magazine, November 1984.

Describes UH writing program's faculty as ". . . something like the new wildcatters of words on the Texas prairie" and credits the UH Creative Writing Program for the growth of a Houston literary scene. "From that seed, Houston's literary community has bloomed."

Handwritten note with attached magazine article, from Jim Pipkin to Cynthia Macdonald, June 8, 1985.

The article from the University of Florida Today (June 1985) announces the arrival of UH Creative Writing Program alumnus Padgett Powell to the Florida writing program. Pipkin, a UH English professor, underlined references to UH's writing program in the article, including one that referred to the UH writing program's advertising line budgetand described Houston's program as "rolling in money." The note from Pipkin suggests that Macdonald must have given Powell "a doctored copy of the budget book."

Paradise, Invitation for Poets and Writers' Ball, 1987.

Hosted by Inprint, Inc., the ball featured readings by UH writing program faculty. The event, which was held in the new architecture building designed by Phillip Johnson, was a black tie affair, but attendees were encouraged to dress as their favorite writer or character from a book.

Selection from Phillip Lopate's manuscript "The Dead Father: Remembrances of Donald Barthelme," approximately 1990.

Lopate describes Donald and Marion Barthelme, Cynthia Macdonald, and himself at the home of the Barthelmes following the first fundraising ball for the creative writing program. They are feeling letdown after the ball, but "instead of sitting around comparing notes post-mortem, we--began singing songs. Cynthia had a trained operatic voice, and Donald a lovely baritone and a great memory for lyrics: Cole Porter, musical comedy, jazz ballads. It turned into a wonderfully pleasurable evening."

Domestic Crude, Volume 1, Issue 2, Fall 1982.

This community and student literature and arts magazine ran from 1981 to 1985. Phillip Lopate served as faculty advisor for these issues. It was replaced in 1986 by Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts.

Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, Volume 1, Issue 5, 1986.

First published in 1986, this literature and arts magazine was originally printed and published at the University of Houston by creative writing program students. Inprint, Inc. provided financial backing to launch it, and Edward Hirsch served as the faculty advisor for this issue.

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