Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them
TOP 10 TEXAS BOOKISH DESTINATIONS 2016
Lubbock has been dubbed The Hub City for being the center of a rotation of small towns in a 15-county retail trade zone that extends into Eastern New Mexico. The population of Lubbock in 1970 was 180,568. But country has come to the city, and in-migration from small towns has grown the Hub City tremendously. In 2015 Lubbock County exceeded 300,000, and another engine behind its economic, educational –and literary—growth is Texas Tech University, whose enrollment surpassed 35,000 in 2015.
At a cursory glance Lubbock’s famous sons and daughters might be thought of primarily writing lyrics instead of literature. Its legends include Buddy Holly, Mac Davis, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks with similarly famous players—Waylon Jennings, Jimmy Dean, Tanya Tucker, Don Williams, and John Rich from nearby towns.
However, the creative writing program and the Presidential lecture series at Texas Tech have brought a who’s who of state and national writers to Lubbock.
And there’s a growing group of local authors in a variety of genres, including Angelina LaRue, cookbook author, The Whole Enchilada; S.J. Dahlstrom, middle grade writer, Wilder Good series; former Tech English professor Ann Hawkins, now publishing romance books as author Rachael Miles; and Rene Saldana, bi-lingual children’s books.
Books set in Lubbock include Rave On: The Biography of Buddy Holly; One Day in Lubbock; Don’t Touch the Butterflies, and Timing.
The Lubbock Poetry Society is active throughout the city with readings and open mic nights.
Where does the Rio Grande Valley start and end? It’s a wide-ranging question, and the wide range of literary contributions of cities like Laredo, McAllen, Edinburg, Harlingen, Brownsville, and Weslaco should not be overlooked.
McAllen is the smallest city in Texas (that we know of) that has its own Poet Laureate. Poets Laureate in McAllen serve one-year terms, and are selected by a group including representatives from the arts council, chamber, and city.
The Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, established in 2008, is a four-day poetry festival in deep South Texas held concurrently in two countries on the last full weekend in April. V.I.P.F. is a program of Art That Heals, Inc., and El Zarape Press, with sponsorships by Creative Alignment Consulting and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and welcomes poets from around the world.
The Second Sin Fronteras Book Festival held its annual celebration of books and art for the community on March 5. In 2016 the festival was held at the McAllen Arts Incubator in McAllen. The festival showcases local presses and authors as well as visiting authors and presses from all over Texas and border cities such as Reynosa and Monterrey.
This marks the fifth year of the International Book Discussion between the Oxford School of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico and St. Matthew’s Episcopal School of Edinburg.
Thanks to the South Texas Literacy Coalition, educators and the participating students received a free book to read and discuss throughout the months of January and February. The STLC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing literacy throughout the South Texas region.
The Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley also partner to bring the Festival of International Books & Arts (FESTIBA) to Edinburg.
FESTIBA is a seven-day event literacy and reading event at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg.
The Storybook Garden in Weslaco is an independent children’s bookshop with storytimes, events and workshops.
2016 is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park system. From Yosemite to Acadia to Big Bend, the national parks plan a yearlong celebration of events and activities. If you’re going to Big Bend, it’s also a great time to check out Front Street Books in Alpine and Marfa Book Company in Marfa—both represent a unique take on the local indie bookstore.
Writers find the region an inspiring place to get away from hectic city life and simply create. Perhaps that’s the prime reason the Writers’ League of Texas holds its annual summer retreat on the scenic campus of Sul Ross University in Alpine.
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