On Saturday, February 18, 375 guests gathered at the Houstonian Hotel for the 2017 Inprint Poets & Writers Ball. Thanks to the efforts of ball chairs Claire and Robert Campbell and Kelly and Michael Sklar and a large group of generous supporters, the event raised $300,000.
But while many balls are merely fundraisers with a bit of tacked on entertainment, Inprint's gala was a delight for all the senses—especially for attendees with a literary bent. Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of the novels Eligible, American Wife, and Prep, was the featured speaker. Her next project is a short story collection entitled You Say It, I'll Think It. The title piece is set in Houston, specifically River Oaks Country Club. "You all are my witnesses that I wrote this before I was in Houston," Sittenfeld told the crowd before reading an excerpt. She also had attendees in stitches with a reading from Eligible, her update of Pride & Prejudice. As a thank you gift for supporting guests, book designers Fiona McGettigan and Cathy Hunt of FioCat Press created a limited-edition handmade chapbook autographed by Sittenfeld and centered around a passage from Eligible.
Before dinner, three Inprint fellowship and prize recipients gave salon-style readings from their works: Poet Hayan Charara, author of three collections, most recently Something Sinister, and the children’s book The Three Lucys, was the surprise star of the evening, both reading and introducing his poems with the timing of a seasoned stand-up; J. Bradford Hipps, author of the novel The Adventurist, read an appropriately Texan excerpt about NASCAR; and Janine Joseph, author of the poetry collection Driving Without a License, told tales of her time as a child star in the Philippines.
Café Annie chef Robert Del Grande, an avid reader and friend of Inprint, designed a three-course menu for the evening. On one side, the bill of fare was printed. The other featured a well-written essay on his process, reflecting the similarities between literary and culinary arts.
Inprint is a nonprofit organization founded in 1983, whose mission is to inspire readers and writers in Houston. Activities open to the pubic include Inprint Writers Workshops, Teachers-as-Writers Workshops, Senior Memoir Workshops, and Life Writing Workshops for healthcare providers. The Inprint Poetry Buskers, with typewriters in hand, demystify and increase appreciation for poetry in communities throughout the city. Through the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series and Cool Brains! Inprint Readings for Young People, allow Houstonians of all ages to hear from the world’s most accomplished writers and thinkers. Guests at the ball were lucky enough to do just that.