Life + Arts

Fest spotlights local lit options

Brenda Franco | The Daily Cougar

Brenda Franco/The Daily Cougar

With more than 80 vendors and an estimated 3,000 visitors, the fifth annual “Houston Indie Book Festival” at Menil Park on Saturday was the largest yet, according to festival officials.

Associate editor of NANO Fiction Angela So cited the estimated number of visitors when she said that the event has grown over the years.

“We always enjoy putting on the festival and seeing the growth and support of the literary community of Houston, as well as the opportunity to interact with casual readers and families,” So said.

UH-based journals Glass Mountain and The Aletheia were present as were as Arte Público Press and Brazos Bookstore at the event hosted by NANO Fiction and UH’s Gulf Coast magazine.

The only event of its kind in Houston, the festival is a way for many of these journals and books to reach a broader audience. Magazines and books are for sale throughout the day.

“Not only does it give Houston’s literary culture the chance to converse with the community, but the chance to talk to itself,” said Edward Garza, an editor with “The Aletheia.”

“Only at the Houston Indie Book Fest can I find journals as varied as ‘The Iowa Review,’ ‘The Oxford American’ and ‘American Short Fiction,’ not to mention more regional periodicals like the University of Texas’ ‘Bat City Review’ all lined up side by side and at such great prices,” Garza said.

This was the first time at the festival for The Aletheia group, which publishes two chapbooks a year and whose goal is to exhibit the student voice in a variety of forms.

“We put aside around 130 copies for this event and we were almost completely out of chapbooks by the end of the day,” said Garza’s fellow editor Megan Harrington. “We even had to bind a few more at the festival itself to meet the high demand.”

Arte Público Press has attended since the festival began in 2008. New titles from the press, like “American Copia: An Immigrant Epic” by alum Javier O. Huerta, were showcased. Most of the books were available for purchase for $5, said publicity coordinator Carmen Pena.

Children were kept entertained with an hour-long bookbinding workshop, face painting and readings from Andrea White and Ana María Rodríguez.

There was also a poetry workshop with Janine Joseph, alumnus Ryler Dustin and “Gulf Coast” Editor Rebecca Wadlinger.

The end of the event featured a first-ever panel discussion from editors of various lit mags that shared tips on submitting work to journals.

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