By Vinh Hoang
It must be said that the night was cool in a way that Houston so rarely is, a promising sign couched in the vibe of familiarity, eccentricity, and coziness natural to the Heights, but perhaps even more so in the person of Sean Morrissey, who was gracious enough to host our second ever launch party at his Melange Creperie, where the housemade crepes are no joke and recommended at our next launch. Houston-based arts organizations and artists joined us in support from Inprint and Writers in the Schools to Gulf Coast journal. Outside the packed standing room only creperie, they formed an exhibition for guests to venture and explore.
Defunkt staff member Haley Harrison worked the crowd with a spaced-out enthusiasm as the MC for the reading, which began with Gabriella Giacono, presently attending the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program as an MFA student in poetry. She opened the night with poetry that could be described as a winding mesmeric flow that kept the audience entranced in attentive silence to the lists she curated.
Catherine Vance, recently published in Defunkt Volume 2 for her non-fiction, read another portion of her upcoming memoir, calling attention to domestic violence and trauma— mincing few words about “the way[s] we all have to accept and integrate our difficult experiences.”
Raquel Abend van Dalen walked up in smiles, partly embarassed by the fanfare Haley had heaped on her. She rose to the recognition with poems from her manuscript titled "Two fried eggs and sausage, please." One poem explored her complicated relationship with the fragile beauty of the Rothko Chapel, a feature of this bustling and traffic jammed city on the Bayou.
Will Burns, a recent graduate of the UH Creative Writing Program Ph.D., closed out our list of featured readers by reading from his working novel—each sentence deserving a breath and a break because of the ensuing laughter. It’s not exaggeration to say his qualities as a humorist and absurdist were on their finest display.
Lex Mercedes, a Houston based poet and musician performed a few of her compositions through a silvery voice with a haunting edge. She provided her own guitar accompaniment, demonstrating her many musical talents.
After the featured readers was the open mic, which drew a number of excited writers and poets, from the more experienced to first timers, each sharing their work to a hardcore few as we went long into the evening. It’s a small reminder of how Defunkt is proud to be a platform and space for Houston’s artists, both emerging and established.
To those of you who could not join us, consider this a preemptive invitation to our Volume 4 launch party, until then…
Defunkt Magazine is accepting submissions for art, performance, poetry, prose, until April 30 2020 for Volume 4. Send us your work and spread the word. Check out our website for submission guidelines and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.