Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them
Some books you read and enjoy, then move on to the next one. Others you might like to savor for a while. And then there are a few that you cherish and go back to time and again. Walt McDonald: Selected Poems (TCU Press, $18.95 hardcover) is one that I will cherish. The tenth book in the TCU Texas Poet Laureate Series honors the 2001 Texas Poet Laureate, 2002 A.C. Greene Award winner, former Air Force pilot and longtime Texas Tech professor, now retired.
Introducing the collection, guest editor and 2010 Texas poet laureate karla k. morton notes that McDonald has had more than 2,300 poems published in journals and 20 poetry collections.
“McDonald’s poems,” she writes, “seem to rise up from the soil and all the earthly waters, ripe with wisdom, connecting one generation to the next: the sweet meat of a fictional history handed down to the rest of the world with the splendor of the grand storytellers of the past.”
The eighty poems selected for this slim volume speak to the range of McDonald’s subjects and the rhythm of his lyrics. He writes about war and family and love, about sandstorms and ranching and fishing, about ordinary folks, old age and death.
I have to admit that most collections of poetry leave me saying “huh?” more often than “wow!” Not this one. One minute I’m laughing out loud reading “Baptizing the Dog at Nine” and “Aunt Linda and the Pink Bikini.” Then I’m savoring his sweet tributes to his wife, Carol, “Nights on the Porch Swing” and “Rock Softly in My Arms.” And then I’m wiping away tears reading “Bargaining with God,” a poem inspired by his granddaughter, who died in 2004.
An excerpt from that one: “I beg Take me / instead of my darlings. Take the ranch / and bank account, the mountain cabin, / but save our granddaughter now. / Let me be Job in rags, Jeremiah / in tears, but heal this little child now.”
Limited edition: Four-O Publishing has teamed up with the Tom Lea Institute to produce a limited edition fine printing of “The Notebook of Nancy Lea 1932–1936.” Nancy Lea, an aspiring young writer and artist, died in 1936 at age twenty-nine. Her grieving husband — artist Tom Lea — and noted book designer Carl Hertzog published her notebook and distributed the tweny-five or so copies to friends as a lasting memorial to her.
The new limited edition includes the notebook as first published plus a foreword by Houston businessman and collector J. P. Bryan; an introduction by Jamie Christy, director of the Bryan Museum in Galveston; an afterword by Adair Margo, founder and president of the Tom Lea Institute in El Paso; and a 24-page color plate section of artwork, photographs and a reproduction of the first page from her hand-written notebook. The 250 numbered copies are $100 apiece and may be purchased by contacting Randy Armstrong at or 325-670-1436.
Glenn Dromgoole’s latest book is West Texas Stories. Contact him at email@example.com.
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National Book Award Winner Andrew Solomon and acclaimed authors Greg Iles, Paulette Jiles, Eric Litwin and Kristen Radke headline the 2017 Dallas Book Festival, a day-long celebration of literature, arts and culture on Sat., April 29.
For the first time, the annual Book Festival is being held in conjunction with the Dallas Festival of Ideas, a series of forums, seminars and discussions about the city’s future, for a unique, unprecedented event in downtown Dallas.
The Book Festival will take place on all eight floors of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St. The Festival of Ideas will be centered across the street at Dallas City Hall. The two festivals will combine for the closing session, featuring a conversation with novelist Yaa Gyasi, with complementary programming throughout the day. All events are free and open to the public.
The Book Festival, which began in 2006, drew more than 4,000 people last year. It features dozens of authors in individual presentations, interviews about their work or taking part in panels. Among the notable writers participating in the 2017 event are:
• Andrew Solomon, who won the National Book Award for The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, and is a noted authority on mental health.
• Kristen Radtke, a writer and illustrator whose appearance coincides with the release of her graphic memoir, Imagine Wanting Only This.
• Paulette Jiles, a novelist and poet whose most recent book, News of the World, was a National Book Award finalist.
• Eric Litwin, a musician and best-selling author of children’s books who inaugurated the popular Pete the Cat series.
• Greg Iles, whose 15 novels include the best-selling Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree and the forthcoming Mississippi Blood, to be released March 21. Iles will be featured in conversation with Stanley Nelson, editor of the Concordia (La.) Sentinel, whose investigations of the Ku Klux Klan and unsolved racially motivated murders in the region inspired many of Iles’s books. >>READ MORE
Hardcover, 978-1-1018-8715-8, (also available as an e-book and on Audible), 240 pgs., $27.00
February 21, 2017
“There are many ways to become a mother.”
Hyland and Suzette Kendall, an architect and a heart surgeon, respectively, have been happily married, settled into successful lives, for fifteen years. They’ve made the mutual (more or less) decision not to have children before they married, but Hyland, in some sort of mid-life crisis (“Is this it? Is that all?”), decides what’s missing from his life is a child. He wants to have a baby and, due to Suzette’s concerns about passing on a familial tendency to mental illness, suggests they use a surrogate mother. Twenty-one-year-old Dorrie, a literary sort who currently works feeding penguins at an aquarium on Galveston Island, needs the money for college, which she cannot otherwise afford. A conflicted Suzette reluctantly agrees, and her carefully controlled life, constructed to stave off uncertainty and ambiguity, threatens to buckle, along with her equilibrium. >>READ MORE
Marjorie J. Spruill
Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics
Hardcover, 978-1-6328-6314-6, (also available as an e-book and on Audible), 448 pgs., $33.00
February 28, 2017
“Human rights apply equally to Soviet dissidents, Chilean peasants and American women.” —Barbara Jordan
Gloria Steinem refers to the National Women’s Conference, held November 18-21, 1977, in Houston, Texas, as “the most important event nobody knows about.” Twenty thousand women attended the conference. These delegates were Democrats and Republicans, ranging from students to housewives to the presidents of national groups such as the League of Women Voters, the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, and the National Organization for Women. The star-studded cast included Bella Abzug, Margaret Mead, Betty Friedan, Texas’s Barbara Jordan, Maya Angelou, Jean Stapleton (aka Edith Bunker of All in the Family), Coretta Scott King, and three first ladies of the United States. >>READ MORE
Photo at top right by Joe O'Connell; used by permission
In 1951, when Carolyn Osborn enrolled at the University of Texas, she said, “Women generally weren’t encouraged to major in anything much but secondary education and home economics.” An aunt who had been a reporter during World War II gave her the inspiration to try something different—journalism. Now, more than sixty-five years later, Osborn still practices the craft of writing. Her latest book, a memoir titled Durations, will be published by Wings Press in October.
LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Thank you for taking part in our Lone Star Listens interviews, Carolyn. Our readers enjoy getting to know Texas authors and their insights, and we thank you for being a part of this. Let’s start with a little background. You were raised in Nashville until you were twelve, and then your family moved to Texas. What brought them to the Lone Star State?
My brother and I came to Texas as the result of my father’s divorce in 1946 from my mother, who was incurably mentally ill. This October, Bryce Milligan, head of Wings Press, will publish my memoir called Durations, which covers the World War II years and some years after when we settled in Gatesville, Texas with my wonderful stepmother. >>READ MORE
HOUSTON Mon., March 27 Brazos Bookstore, John Scalzi reads and signs THE COLLASPING EMPIRE, 7PMALSO SIGNING DALLAS Wed., March 22, Half Price Books Mother Ship, 7PM [WRISTBAND REQUIRED]Brazos Bookstore, John Scalzi reads and signs THE COLLASPING EMPIRE, 7PMALSO SIGNING DALLAS, Tues., March 28, Half Price Books Mother Ship, John Scalzi signs The Collapsing Empire, 7PM [WRISTBAND REQUIRED]AUSTIN Tues., March 28 St. Edward's University, The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series presents Karan Mahajan, author of National Book Award-finalist The Association of Small Bombs, 6PMSt. Edward's University, The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series presents Karan Mahajan, author of National Book Award-finalist The Association of Small Bombs, 6PMAUSTIN Wed., March 29 Malvern Books, Why There Are Words Austin: Flight, featuring Bob Ayres, Nan Cuba, BettySoo, and W. W. McNeal, 7PMAUSTIN Wed., March 29, The Last Word Bookstore, Steampunk Night with Stephen Sanders, author of Songs for a Mechanical Age: A Volume of Steampunk Poetry, 6PMHOUSTON Wed., Mar. 29, Museum of Fine Arts, screening of Ang Lee's film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, based on Ben Fountain’s novel, followed by a discussion with the author, 6:30PM [reception at 5:30PM]DENTON Thurs., Mar. 30 University of North Texas, Department of English presents Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Marriage Plot, 8PMDALLAS Fri., Mar. 31 B&N - Lincoln Park, Michael Merschel, books editor for the Dallas Morning News, discusses and signs his debut YA novel, Revenge of the Star Survivors, 7PMHOUSTON Fri., Mar. 31 Brazos Bookstore, Writers' League of Texas presents Celebrating Texas Independents: Our Great Literary State’s Independent Presses, Journals, Bookstores, and More, feature panelists are LeeAnne Carlson (Glass Mountain), Will Evans (Deep Vellum Publishing and Cinestate), Jill Meyers (A Strange Object), and Gabriela Baeza Ventura (Arte Público Press), 7PM ABILENE Sun., Apr. 2 Abilene Public Library - South, Texas Author Series: Rachel Caine will discuss Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire from her new series, The Great Library, 2PM
In March 2017 the Writers' League of Texas will partner with some of the state's greatest Independents—in conjunction with Texas Independence Day—to host a series of free and open events throughout the month of March in communities across the state.
These panel discussions (featuring authors and experts and including time for questions and networking) will focus on the great opportunities that Texas has to offer, from independent presses, to journals, to bookstores, and beyond, while also answering writers' burning questions about the publishing process, submitting to agents, catching the eye of an editor, and more. >>READ MORE
WASHINGTON, DC – The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced that Texas’ George and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Library of The Woodlands, Texas, is among the 30 finalists for the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. For twenty-three years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and are making a difference for individuals, families and communities.
“The 2017 National Medal Finalists represent the leading museums and libraries that serve as catalysts for change in their communities,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “It is our honor to recognize 30 notable institutions for their commitment to providing programs and services that improve the lives of individuals, families and communities. We salute them and their valuable work in providing educational opportunities to their community and celebrate the power libraries and museums can have across the country.” >>READ MORE
From the spur of Texas’s boot-heel to the tip of the toe, we’ve traveled the state in search of some delectable destinations for book lovers. Check out all ten on the map as you plan your literary travels! >>READ MORE
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The present generation of Texas authors is the most diverse ever in gender, age, and ethnicity, and in subject matter as well.
Week in, week out, Lone Star Literary has interviewed a range of Texas-related authors with a cross-section of genre and geography. To capture this era in Texas letters, we're pleased to bring you
Lone Star Listens:
Texas Authors on Writing and Publishing
edited by Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon; introduction by
Available in trade paper, library hardcover, and ebook Fall 2017
360 pages, with b/w illustrations and index
Featuring novelists, poets, memoirists, editors, and publishers, including:
Rachel Caine • Chris Cander • Katherine Center • Chad S. Conine • Sarah Cortez • Elizabeth Crook • Nan Cuba • Carol Dawson • Patrick Dearen • Jim Donovan • Mac Engel • Sanderia Faye • Carlos Nicolás Flores • Ben Fountain • Jeff Guinn • Stephen Harrigan • Cliff Hudder • Stephen Graham Jones • Kathleen Kent • Joe R. Lansdale • Melissa Lenhardt • Attica Locke • Nikki Loftin • Thomas McNeely • Leila Meacham • John Pipkin • Joyce Gibson Roach • Antonio Ruiz-Camacho • Lisa Sandlin • Donna Snyder • Mary Helen Specht • Jodi Thomas • Amanda Eyre Ward • Ann Weisgarber • Donald Mace Williams
As a collection of insights into the writing and publishing life, the book will be useful in creative writing classes (not just in Texas alone) and other teaching settings, as well as for solo reading and study—and a great Texas reference volume.
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