Zine Fest Houston Is Today!

Hey there! If you’re in the Houston area today, stop on by Zine Fest Houston and see Han and me at the SONIC CHIHUAHUA table! It should be super fun — it certainly was last year, and once again, we’re going to have the PERFECT weather for it. Han and I will be out there from noon until 4:00 p.m.

Click here to see the details, but the short version is this:

Zine Fest Houston
The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art
2334 Gulf Terminal Drive; Houston 77023

(This is not the Orange Show proper, please note, but their other nearby exhibition space.)

There are going to be dozens of zinesters and authors there, and this all-ages community event is always excellent.

We hope to see you there!

Up-and-Coming Writers of the World

I’ll be doing something exciting in the new year — can you believe it’s already time to start thinking about “in the new year”?? — in conjunction with Writespace and Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

Writespace and HSPVA are teaming up in January, February, and March to offer a mentoring program for middle school students interested in Creative Writing. At the beginning of each of those months, a professional writer will teach the kids in the program a course on poetry or fiction or playwriting, and then over the course of the next four weeks, those middle school students will be mentored regularly by CW students at HSPVA.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this! I taught middle school Creative Writing way back in the day for several years, through Writers in the Schools and Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth and their Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth, and it will be fun to get back to working with young students again.

I’ll be teaching the Poetry course on January 8th and the Fiction course on February 5th, and then my colleague Kathryn Peterson will be teaching Playwriting on March 5th. There will be a reading of the students’ original work at the end of the three-month program.

If you have or know any middle school kids interested in Creative Writing, please do send them our way! These courses will be conducted over Zoom, so location is not as much of an issue. This could make a wonderful holiday or birthday or bar/bat mitzvah gift for a young author-to-be! Space will also be limited, so I recommend signing up earlier rather than later.

Click this link for more details and to register.

One Last Campaign Update — How It All Turned Out

OMG WE DID IT!!! My cousin Meredith Jamail Rice was named The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year last night. Named in honor of her brother and my dear cousin Chuck, who died tragically and shockingly when he was twelve about two days after his diagnosis of acute monocytic leukemia, Meredith’s fundraising team Charlie’s Angels broke the fundraising record, FAR exceeding our goals!!

Thank you SO MUCH to all of you who contributed to our campaign and helped save so many lives this spring. Filled with gratitude and joy!!

My Annual Transition Week

So inevitably the first week after school gets out ends up being very transitional for me. I’m either catching up on doctors’ appointments that have been put off during the school year or moving my family into our new summer routine or dealing with an entire list of logistical and administrative details that need to get taken care of, etc. ad nauseum. It’s not what I would like; I would much rather just dive into whatever book I’m trying to finish in a given year, but it is what it is.

Well, this year, my transition ended up being to get sick. Hard to believe, since during the pandemic (which is still going on, by the way) I take more precautions on the daily than most people I know, but whatever. Stuff’s going around, and I got caught up in it. I had exactly one very nice day of summer break and then the next day woke up with the yuck. I spent a full two days being, not gonna lie, kind of angry about it. (It’s also why I didn’t post an earworm this week. I spent most of Monday napping.) But now that I am hopefully on the upswing (KNOCK ON WOOD) I am trying to think about this week as just another kind of liminal space and making use of the downtime as much as I can. Because I am pathologically addicted to being productive, I’m catching up on emails and making a very optimistic list about things I’d like to do this summer and reading books for fun. (Three novels so far this week, yay! I read Kayley Loring’s new release Good Vibrations and then one of her older ones because her romantic comedies are so funny and she uses text message conversations better than any other author I can think of. I also read John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society, and wow, that book is the antidote to what ails you. Good stuff! You’ll see all of them — and so much more! — on my 2022 Reading Year in Review.)

ANYWAY, I do have some updates and reminders for you.

  • You can expect more content on the blog this summer, assuming nothing else goes wonky around here.
  • My family’s LLS campaign comes to an end this week. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to help save lives impacted by cancer! As of this writing, I’m still about $500 away from reaching my personal goal, so if you were wanting to contribute but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet, you have until tomorrow night (JUNE 2nd) to do it. Here’s the link to my fundraising page. I’m also doing a raffle tomorrow evening for three fabulous prizes, and every $25 you donate gets you another raffle ticket!
  • If you want to take my zine class through Writespace, the early bird deadline for discounted registration is this Friday. Here’s the link to register.

And that’s about all the news that’s fit to print for now! You’ll hear from me again soon.

National Poetry Month: Aliah Lavonne Tigh

I’m excited to share with you tonight a poem by Aliah Lavonne Tigh, who read at The Mutable Hour last week. She has a chapbook coming out soon; the launch event is this weekend. You can message the publisher @TramEditions for the event link.

Tonight’s poem, “A Dam is A Form of Failed Diplomacy,” is first published in the chapbook Weren’t We Natural Swimmers (2022).


A Dam is a Form of Failed Diplomacy                                               

In my father’s house,  
                                    floods took the kitchen.  Still he welcomes you 
to any of the other rooms.      Hospitality lives inside us.     Overseas, a cancer eats 

my uncle’s bones.     

.                                         He doesn’t know

what his body grows—no voice but pain speaks

          to the host.        

                                     My aunt, nieces, and nephews hope

for cancer drugs in Iran.    This is what sanctions mean.    Here, someone sanctioned

the sale of a flood plain. Barker’s Dam could not protect

these families downstream.  In this development,   

                                      who among us now   would not pray 

.                       against rain.  Or not ask that a loved one can board a plane.  We are all

.                                                               the person we become           

once watching      water fill someone’s room.                       Come in, see— 

          all this drywall’s new. I stand here painting small squares

                                    in likable shades of blue.


Aliah Lavonne Tigh is the author of Weren’t We Natural Swimmers, a 2022 chapbook with Tram Editions out now, and her poems have appeared in Guernica, The Texas Review, Matter Monthly, The Rupture, and others. She holds poetry and philosophy degrees from the University of Houston and an MFA from Antioch Los Angeles. Tigh lives in Houston, Texas, and you can find her on Twitter at @ALoveTigh.




A Poem from Today’s Reading

This morning I was the featured reader at the Friendswood Public Library; they have a monthly series there that’s just wonderful. After the featured poet, there’s an open mic, and I was really impressed with all the poems people read today. It happens the first Saturday of each month; you should check it out. It was a hybrid event today, both in person and on Zoom, and one of the open mic readers was in Washington state.

I’m sharing one of mine that I read this morning, “At the El Felix,” which was first published in the Houston Poetry Fest Anthology (2014). HPF has a juried competition every year and usually has several days of festivities around mid-October.

At the El Felix

You were more than halfway to drunk
that night we spent in a Los Angeles hipster dive,

a room painted the color of espresso
with a Jane Fonda knock-off aerobics video

playing on the TV above the bar and
the booths lining one wall half-hidden

by tangerine velvet drapes
on curved shower curtain rods.

My watermelon martini, nearly gone,
stood, a Lady Liberty among your

six drained pint glasses frothed
in creamy residue. The triangle

of fruit I’d nibbled sat moistening
the paper napkin on the sticky

wooden cocktail table. You
brought what was left to your lips

and bit the last pink flesh
from my discarded rind,

your eyes closing with each slow press
of your mouth to what I’d left behind.

All My Poetry Art Card Designs To Date

Here is a handy index of all my poetry art card designs to date. All designs are handmade by me, one individual card at a time (so please allow for slight variations across multiple cards in the same design). Most of them include fragments of my own poetry, but some contain fragments inspired by other authors. All cards are blank on the inside and are suitable for framing. The black cards have a cream-colored space on the inside to write a short note using a regular pen. All cards are $8 each. Leave a note in the comments to order, or just email me at forest [dot] of [dot] diamonds [at] gmail [dot] com.

Poetry Art Card #1; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2004
Poetry Art Card #2; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2014
Poetry Art Card #3; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #4; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2014
Poetry Art Card #5; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #6; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #7; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2003
Poetry Art Card #8; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2013
Poetry Art Card #9; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2014
Poetry Art Card #10; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #11; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #12; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #13; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2016
Poetry Art Card #14; text copyright Angélique Jamail, 2019
Poetry Art Card #15; inspired by Emily Dickinson
Poetry Art Card #16; inspired by THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern
Poetry Art Card #17; inspired by Edgar Allen Poe
Poetry Art Card #18; inspired by ONCE TWO SISTERS by Sarah Warburton
Poetry Art Card #19; inspired by YOU CAN NEVER TELL by Sarah Warburton


Earworms on Hold for a Bit

So this past Friday afternoon at 5:00 Sunny 99.1 FM here in Houston flipped their holiday switch and started playing Christmas music. I’ve tuned in now and then just to see if they’ve got anything new, but so far it’s been a bunch of very old and pasty standards that we’ve all heard eleventy billion times. Of course, this is my cue to begin curating this year’s 12 Days of Holiday Music That Doesn’t Suck, so I’m going to do that. If you have any requests or suggestions, please put them in the comments.

But also? I’m utterly drowning in work at the moment. My grading stack is the size of two Greater Houston Metro Area phone books from the 1980s, which means the stack is approximately as tall as my face is long, and I’m also trying to get the November zine out and, I don’t know, write a book? Yeah, I’m just a skosh busy at the moment. So Monday Earworms are taking a teensy hiatus. (And that’s not the only thing about to go on a break.) Terribly sorry about that.

I’ll try not to be a stranger around here, but right now, I need to spend more time on Other Things. I hope you’ll understand.

In the meantime, if you find a store that is still selling Chobani Pumpkin Spice creamer, please let me know. Kthxbye.


March Book Chat with Kara

Even though we can’t get away for Spring Break — because, global pandemic — Kara and I are chatting this month about books that transport us far away. Escapist literature, turned up to eleven.

P.S. — For everyone who requested reviews of Erin Morgenstern’s books, this chat is for you.

P.P.S. — Technically, it’s for everybody else, as well, but I wanted to make you Morgenstern-curious readers know I was thinking of you. Cheers!