I missed my chance to attend last weekend’s Houston Indie Book Festival because I was caught up in various Mother’s Day events; however, I was able to get in touch, through Signe Cluiss, with Kirby Johnson, cofounder/coeditor of NANO Fiction and one of the organizers of the festival. I asked her if she would write some of her thoughts about the day, and after the break I’ve posted what she kindly sent back.
This past Mother’s Day NANO Fiction, Gulf Coast, Domy Books, and CLMP got together to sponsor the second annual Houston Indie Book Festival. The event featured book sellers, publications, and presses from the Houston and Austin areas and was held in the front and back patios of Domy Books. I was asked for a short review of the day so here it goes.
Warning, as a co-organizer of the event my opinion is completely biased.
What is so wonderful about the Houston Indie Book Festival is that there is no other event in Houston that seeks to bring readers, writers, bookstores, and publishers together. In fact, there are only a handful of literary festivals in Texas and the closest one to Houston is the corporate sponsored Texas Book Festival in Austin. Small presses, bookstores, and publications often work alone with little help from their peers or outside groups, they get lost among the ranks of chain bookstores, and many are only known about through word of mouth.
The HIBF does its best to compensate for this lack of unity and invite every local literary group it can for this once a year convergence of the Houston literary scene. As a result, 25 “independent” lit. organizations came together to trade and sell books, meet the public, and meet each other.
The only downside to this was a lack of planning or consideration for the weather. In fact, as I attempted to put my thoughts together for this review, all I could remember of the day was the sweaty sunscreen grease on my forehead, in the folds of my arms, and the beads of sweat that collected in my boob crack. Everything that happened throughout the day, the readings, the weird guy in a black suit, Dee the wonderful woman from Kaboom Books, and the slightly hung over guy from Dark Matter who sold me this awesome book (see picture), was a blur.
However, the more I reflected and the more I moisturized the pealing skin on my arms and face, I realized that the day hadn’t completely been overshadowed by the temperature. A lot of great stuff happened during the festival by everyone just coming together and hanging out.
Those of you who live in the Houston area should check out some of these bookstores, magazines, and publishers:
Magazines: Gulf Coast, NANO Fiction, Bat City Review, Art Lies, and R2.
Independent Publishers: Effing Press, Arte Publico Press, Blue Cubicle Press, Bright Sky Press, Panhandler Publishing, NAACPencils, and Projective Industries Press.
Thanks, Kirby, for taking the time to do this, and thanks, Signe, for helping.
Everyone, click on some links.