Look into my eye. Look into my other eye. Rub noses!
Texas Nafas, like many other Austin arts organizations, is in trouble. "Sharing poetry with as many people as possible," as it turns out, takes more cash than you might think. According to executive director and producer Farid Mohammadi, the group's funding is $3,400 less than last year's budget after City Council cuts. Such a shortage will seriously damage efforts to sustain the excellent Texas Nafas poetry program on Austin Cable Access Channel 16 (Saturdays, 10pm), as well as DVD productions, including the Naomi Shihab Nye and Robert Bly April Austin readings and the 12-part series Poetry Journal. What does this mean for us? It means that if we have a couple of extra bucks and if we think poetry is a worthy pursuit a tax-deductible donation might make for a good holiday deed. In fact, if you can come up with $100 or more, a DVD of those aforementioned Nye-Bly readings could be yours. In case you're wondering, then, Texas Nafas' address is 1222 Algarita Ave. #220, Austin, 78704. And log onto www.texasnafas.org for more.
Here's something I should have told you earlier: Dragon's Lair Comics and Fantasy's Austin location has moved farther north on Burnet Road, but is still quite conveniently situated, especially when you consider that it's just a few doors down from the wonderful Curio Corner Books in that blue-awninged minimall at Koenig and Burnet (6111 Burnet Rd., to be precise). With the holidays in high gear, I mean ... go buy something there. Plus, you can pick up this very paper, the very skeleton key to this very city!
December's installment of the UTTER Reading Series is just too good to pass up: On Monday, Dec. 6, James Hynes, Zoya Marincheva, and Dao Strom will descend on BookPeople at 7pm. Hynes' most recent novel, Kings of Infinite Space, is something else; Marincheva is a renowned Bulgarian translator and writer; and Strom (Grass Roof, Tin Roof) is a rock star (All Night Lincoln), a really cool mom, and an Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest judge. Speaking of UT-affiliated types, the great Joy Williams, whose Honored Guest is one of the finest short-story collections of the year, will read at the ACES building's Avaya Auditorium on Thursday, Dec. 2, 7:30pm.
Be sure to find a copy of Tin House No. 19 for Texas State creative writing head Tom Grimes' memoir/essay on saving the Katherine Anne Porter House in Kyle.
Starting next week and throughout December, we'll review every possible book that you could ever possibly conceive as giftable. I'm lying about that, actually, but there will be a lot.
This just in: The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center is one hell of a place. Its latest find (they seem to happen almost daily) is a touching letter from Evelyn Waugh to Graham Greene, surely two of God's favorite writers, which includes the line "I suppose we disagree on every unimportant subject. Let me now salute your novels as works of high genius." The letter, found in Greene's copy of Waugh's A Handful of Dust, will bolster the HRC's current exhibition "Writing Among the Ruins: Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh."
As you might have noticed from the giant billboard with a hand clutching a fountain pen coming right at you near I-35 and Airport, the 13th annual Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest is upon us. You can find all the specs on p.75, but here are the essential oils: postmark deadline is Dec. 13, length cannot exceed 2,000 words, last year's winners and Chronicle-type peeps aren't allowed to participate, and this year's winners will be announced in mid-February 2005. But, again, check p.75, or check out austinchronicle.com/shortstory. And tell every single person you have ever met the same.