Making Your Desk & Dancing A Tango

We wanted to say farewell to a fantastic year of events with something rather special, and on Sunday afternoon we were able to do just that, thanks to two wonderful visitors: Mong-Lan and Abe Louise Young (below, left and right).

Mong Lan and Abe Louise Young

Our first reader was Abe Louise, who immediately won us over by referring to our stage as “a little wooden cabin.” I love that image—what better place for creative endeavors than a little wooden cabin? Abe Louise shared a beautiful poem by Lucille Clifton, and then read some of her own extraordinary work, including “Forget Making Your Bed,” a poetic shot in the arm for all of us epic procrastinators. It begins:

Forget making your bed. Make your desk instead.
Let your bed sheets lie rumpled on the floor
with pillows underneath them
like elephants in the bellies of snakes.

If you’re a writer who tidies when you should be typing, you need to listen to this poem!

Next up, we welcomed the multi-talented Mong-Lan, an artist whose areas of interest and expertise require a daunting number of slashes: poet / writer / painter / singer / musician / photographer / dancer / tango teacher! She read from two of her eight books (including the bilingual English/Spanish collection Tango, Tangueando: Poemas y Dibujo), and shared some exquisite poetry, including a love poem to tofu and a tribute to the late, great Marcel Marceau.

And finally, Mong-Lan and her dance partner Stephen Shortnacy treated us to a rousing demonstration of the Argentine tango… check out the footage below, and I guarantee you’ll be swaying a little in your seat! Our heartiest thanks to Mong-Lan and Abe Louise, and to everyone who stopped by to help make our final ’14 event such a fun and festive occasion. Here’s to many more to come in 2015…

A Fabulously Festive Lion & Pirate

On Saturday afternoon we were thrilled to once again team up with VSA Texas and Pen2Paper for a suitably merry installment of The Lion & The Pirate Unplugged. Our December open mic got off to a sweet start with a bounty of Christmas cookies and a reading from newcomer Kevin Thornton, who shared an intriguing novel excerpt with us.

Next up we had a wonderful performance from another talented first-timer, Carrington MacDuffie, who played a song of her own devising on her “little guitar” and had us all spellbound with her beautiful voice.

Carrington was a tough act to follow, but familiar faces Shaniqua Esparza and Christopher “Bear” Beam were up for the challenge! Shaniqua recounted a childhood Christmas memory, and Bear shared some of his moving hymns to Kwan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy and compassion.

Logan Perkes, winner of the 2012 Pen2Paper creative writing contest, read two brilliant poems.

And last but certainly not least, the Bingham Creek Sisters (Cathy Welch [Hull] and Joyce T. Snodgrass) shared a couple of their Austin-themed Yuletide songs, including an ode to Mexican food that was hilariously titled (with apologies to the Eagles) “Too-Full, Queasy Feeling”!

Thanks to everyone for making it such a festive afternoon of open mic magic. We’ll look forward to hearing more from y’all in 2015!

Happy Huff Day

Last night we hosted our second annual birthday party in honor of the late, great poet laureate of Hyde Park, Albert Huffstickler (December 17, 1927 – February 25, 2002).

Huff display

Huff crowd

Huff was a brave and insightful poet who wasn’t afraid to confront “the simple mystery of ineffable existence” (as Ric Williams said in his eulogy). He was also a passionate supporter of local literature, and a friend and inspiration to many—so it was hardly surprising that so many lovely people came by Malvern Books yesterday to celebrate this great man’s life with readings, reminiscing, and… cake!


Cutting the cake

And, as always, we had our video camera at the ready to capture some of the action for you. Alas, in our Huffy excitement we lost a little focus, footage-wise—but the audio is crystal clear, so have a listen and enjoy the assorted personal anecdotes and a wonderful selection of poetry, some of it by Huff, and some of it for him. Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by to share their memories of the mighty Huff… long live Huff, indeed, and we hope to see you again this time next year!

Past & Future Fun

Before we take a journey back in time to a brilliant weekend reading at Malvern Books, let’s leap boldly into the future: tomorrow night we’re hosting our second annual birthday party in honor of the late, great poet laureate of Hyde Park, Albert Huffstickler, and you should most certainly join us for poetry, merriment, and festive snacks! Last year’s party was a wonderful celebration of all things Huff, and we’re looking forward to continuing the tradition tomorrow.

And now, back to our Saturday night… we were thrilled to be hosting a reading with Joanne Fox Phillips and Peter J. Story (below), two debut novelists and first-time readers!

Peter J Story and Joanne Fox Phillips

Joanne came all the way from Tulsa to share excerpts from Revenge of the Cube Dweller, an engrossing caper starring amateur sleuth Tanzie Lewis, who uncovers all manner of corporate fraud and finagling at a powerful oil and gas corporation. Joanne herself is the chief audit executive for an oil and gas company… but luckily her fictional imaginings have not got her into any trouble at the day job.

And Peter was reading from Things Grak Hates, a satirical allegory featuring a rather self-absorbed pre-historic nomad. It’s an entertaining and thought-provoking read (and perhaps not for the faint of heart; one reader apparently reported that it made her physically ill—but she still loved the book). Spoiler alert: one of the things Grak really hates is olives, and his attempt to banish them from his world leads to all sorts of chaos.

Thanks to Joanne and Peter for a thoroughly enjoyable evening… and we look forward to hearing a lot more from you both in the future!

Mind Maze: Postcard Habitats & More

Ready for something Raw and a-maze-ing? Tuesday night at Malvern Books saw the return of the fantastic Raw Paw crew, who were debuting their fourth Mind Maze title: Postcard Habitats by Jonathan Lowell.

Mind Maze 4

Each monthly Mind Maze showcases twenty poems from one of Austin’s best poets… and is launched in fine style at Malvern Books (under the gaze of a somewhat suspicious pirate). This month’s poet, Jonathan (above, center), was joined on our stage by (from left to right) new hosts A.R. Rogers and Wade Martin, and fellow readers Jesse Bertron and Paula Starche.

Jonathan is a graduate student in Geography at UT Austin, who, fortunately for us, still finds time to write brilliant poetry. Here’s what he had to say about his new book:

Postcard Habitats grew out of pondering the relationships between movement and place: the pains and pleasures of each, the way our bodies and identities shift and change as we constantly remake our habitats in this world. For a while these poems were journeys, constantly in motion and swirling around me. Now that they are fixed and bound to a page, they are, for me at least, a place. I feel both pain and relief for that.

If you’d like to hear more from Jonathan, and enjoy poetry and prose from Jesse and Paula, check out the videos below (and for previous Raw Paw readings, have a browse of our Mind Maze playlist).

A Merry Winter Weekend at Malvern Books

It’s been a terrifically eventful few days here at the bookstore, so without further ado—let’s put on our recapping hat and get to work!

On Friday evening we played host to a multi-talented duo: Nathan Brown and Jena Kirkpatrick. For anyone who thinks literary readings are po-faced, pretentious affairs, well, Friday night at Malvern Books would’ve proved you utterly wrong, as Nathan and Jena were down to earth and hilarious, and their poetry and music had the crowd laughing and cheering and tapping their feet. If you missed out on this very fun night of brilliant words and music (and a fairly tasty assortment of complimentary cookies and cheese), do yourself a favor and check out the footage below, which features, among other things, Nathan’s memorable post break-up song, “I’m Functioning So Well,” and Jena’s ode to Austin hippies. (These videos are just a sample… be sure to watch the rest on Malvern’s YouTube channel.)

On Saturday afternoon we were delighted to be the chosen venue for the annual Texas Poetry Calendar reading. For the past seventeen years, the Austin reading for the Texas Poetry Calendar has been the culmination of the fall events calendar for Dos Gatos Press, an Austin publishing house founded by Scott Wiggerman (the afternoon’s MC) and David Meischen in 2004. This year’s calendar reading was chock-full of fantastic verse, with close to thirty poets sharing their Texas-related work (about a quarter of the poets featured in the calendar). Enjoy hearing from a few of the poets below—and take a look at photos from the event on Facebook.

No rest for bookstores! On Sunday afternoon we celebrated the recent Vision + Voice collaboration between Austin Community College and the Austin Independent School District. Vision + Voice is a program that encourages literacy and creative expression by combining artwork from ACC students with poetry from AISD students—and we were thrilled to host an art opening and poetry reading that promotes this wonderful joint venture. When you next stop by the store to avail yourself of our Holiday Gift Card Offer, check out the fabulous Vision + Voice artwork that adorns our walls!