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!

Huff’s Birthday Snaps

Thanks so much to everyone who attended our Albert Huffstickler birthday shenanigans on Tuesday night. We were touched that so many of you came out to listen to Huff’s poetry and share your memories…

And now for a few party pics, with (from top to bottom): our festive pirate sporting a LONG LIVE HUFF sticker; a lively honky-tonk performance from TOPSY; Huff’s artwork on display around the store; a small selection of Huff’s many chapbooks (the man was prolific!); our readers, David Jewell, Sylvia Manning, Annie Hartnett, Larry Thoren, Mark Smith, and W. Joe Hoppe; every bookseller’s dream—a happy, bustling bookstore; and… OMG CAKE.

Pirate Huff


Artwork by Huff





Remembering Albert Huffstickler

Party hats on, Malverinos, because tonight is a very special night at Malvern Books… we’re hosting a birthday celebration in honor of the late, great Albert Huffstickler!

PartyReadings will start around 7pm, but come by early for a lil’ honky-tonk cabaret with TOPSY. And for those of you who are sadly unfamiliar with the much-loved Huff, here’s a primer to get you started…

Albert HuffsticklerAlbert Huffstickler (December 17, 1927 – February 25, 2002) wasn’t born in Austin (his bio simply states “born in Texas”), but he lived in Austin in his later years, and became a local literary legend. You could usually find him in a café in Hyde Park, decked out in suspenders, smoking, drinking coffee, and working on a poem. (Rumor has it he wrote a poem a day, and his impressive publication record—four full-length collections, plus hundreds of poems published in chapbooks and journals—lends veracity to the story.) He was a two-time winner of the Austin Book Awards, and in 1989 the state legislature formally honored him for his contribution to Texas poetry. In May 2013, a new Hyde Park green space at the corner of 38th and Duval Streets was named Huffstickler Green in his honor. Huff was a friend and inspiration to many, and everyone who knew him talks of his kindness, his honesty, and his passionate support for local literature. Austin Community College English professor W. Joe Hoppe, who will be reading tonight, describes his friend and mentor as “a great encourager of poetry.” We’re delighted to be raising a glass in honor of Huff tonight, and we hope you’ll join us.

For more on Huffstickler’s work, I recommend checking out Issa’s Untidy Hut, the poetry blog of Lilliput Review, as they have a ton of Huff loveliness to be enjoyed. Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorite Huffstickler poems…


This is how Hopper would have painted it:
the line of yellow dryers
catching the sunlight from the broad window.
Man with his hand reached up to the coin slot,
head turned to the side as though reflecting,
woman bent over the wide table
intent on sorting,
another standing hands at her side, looking off—
as though visiting another country;
each thing as it is,
not reaching beyond the scene for his symbols,
saying merely, “On such and such a day,
it was just as I show you.”
Each person, each object, static
but the light a pilgrim.

 * * *

We Forget

We forget we’re
mostly water
till the rain falls
and every atom
in our body
starts to go home.

 * * *

The Song

My brother and I sang and sang
growing up, sang love songs from
operettas, sang pop, sang country
western. We didn’t think about
it, we just sang because we liked
the way the sound came out of us,
didn’t think about the words, just
sang because it felt good to have
music come out of your body and
we tied our feelings to the music
and let it all go like a kite
sailing up, up out of sight. No
use asking us why, we just did
it, just sang and sang. And
sang our way then into another
time where music was scarce and
it was harder to find the music
to tie the feelings to. I don’t
remember when I stopped singing.
Jack stopped when he died, not
forty yet, still a young man.
Tonight I sit and think about time
and music and where people’s lives
go and it’s night and there’s a
small breeze and I think about
people like Pavarotti and Louis
Armstrong and Ray Charles, singers
who can put people’s joy and
sorrow into music and sing it
for them and I believe to my soul
that there is no more wonderful
thing to do in this world than
to sing and that of all the things
in the world a man can do, there
is no more honorable occupation.

Festive Frolics

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I trust you ate your weight in turkey and were thankful for Tums, naps, and indoor plumbing. Now that the tryptophan has left our systems, it’s officially time to get our Yule on at Malvern Books.

Christmas Decorating

Christmas windows

Cheery, no? You really should stop by and check out our festive bling in person—and take care of all your Christmas shopping while you’re at it!

We also have some splendid events lined up for you this month. We’ll post more details as they come to hand (our Facebook page is the best place to go for gentle reminders), but for now let me whet your appetite with a few snippets…

This Thursday, December 5th, we’ll host a reading from Daniel Chacón and Ire’ne Lara Silva, two participants in this year’s Flor De Nopal Literary Festival. Chacón teaches creative writing at the University of Texas at El Paso and is the author of the novel and the shadows took him and several short story collections, including the acclaimed Hotel Juárez. Silva’s first poetry collection, Furia, received an Honorable Mention in the 2011 International Latino Book Awards, and her first short story collection, Flesh to Bone, was published last month by Aunt Lute Books.

A couple of days later, on Saturday, December 7th, the intrepid/insane locals who took part in this year’s National Novel Writing Month will meet up at Malvern to talk about exactly how drunk you have to be to sign up the challenges of writing 50,000 words in thirty days. If you took part in NaNoWriMo (or are contemplating signing up next year), please do join in the discussion!

And on Tuesday, December 17th, we’ll be hosting something very exciting indeed: a rather rambunctious birthday celebration in honor of the legendary Texas poet Albert Huffstickler, who passed away in 2002 at the age of seventy-four. We’re big fans of Mr. Huffstickler, and we’ll be pulling out all the stops to mark the occasion of his birth. There will be cake! There will be merriment! And, most importantly, there will be readings from assorted lovely types like Annie Hartnett, W. Joe Hoppe, David Jewell, Sylvia Manning, Mark Smith, and Larry Thoren. So do make sure to set aside some time in your busy Chrissie calendar for a lil’ Merry Huffmas…