A multigenerational writing workshop series and conversation space centering the experiences of current and past residents of Kashmere Gardens, Trinity/Houston Gardens, and Fifth Ward, Letters & Lives encourages participants to dive into memories, make observations, and share their insights and wisdom about these intertwined neighborhoods through discussion and narrative writing. 

Letters & Lives is a pilot project created as part of Curry’s DiverseWorks Project Freeway Fellowship. Curry created the project in response to her upbringing in Kashmere Gardens and research about the neighborhood, both of which were marked by absence—absence of resources, opportunities, outreach from public officials, and historical documentation. 

The Fall/Winter season of Letters & Lives takes the form of generative writing workshops held each Sunday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Mystic Lyon, an art space located in Fifth Ward. The series kicks off on October 27th  with a performance by spoken word poet, Outspoken Bean. Letters & Lives will conclude on Sunday, January 26 with a celebratory event open to the public from 3 – 6 pm at Mystic Lyon. Concurrent with the workshop series, Curry will be gathering short-form interviews and longer oral histories from past and current residents of Kashmere Gardens, Fifth Ward, and surrounding areas to create an all-inclusive rendering of these communities. 

Letters & Lives is part of a suite of projects helmed by Curry, an author and curator, to chronicle the history and present conditions of the overlooked Black neighborhoods of Houston, each of separate origin but with intertwined stories and destinies. The Letters & Lives workshop series and related activities will expand to historically Black communities throughout the Houston area after the pilot phase. The materials gathered will be compiled into “community memoirs,” a term Curry uses to emphasize the literary nature of the project while signaling its departure from the traditional memoir’s intense personal focus. Curry also hopes to demonstrate the deep creativity and potential for artistry present in communal history-making. 


Willow Naomi Curry is a journalist, essayist, and multimedia artist born and raised in Houston, Texas. She has contributed reporting to the digital magazines kaur.space  and VocaLady, and her essays have appeared in the literary journal Fourth Genre and the anthologies From All Corners and Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women. Willow’s interest in communicating ideas across artistic disciplines and her desire to understand and build socially just systems within communities led her to the field of social practice art. In 2018 she was awarded the City of Houston’s Support for Artists and Creative Individuals grant for a cross-disciplinary project proposal focused on Houston’s Freedmen’s Town, out of which she developed the photography exhibition The Fourth Ward Photo Parlour. Curry and collaborating artist Tiffany Smith were selected for the inaugural cohort of We, Women artists for the exhibit, which will debut in Houston in 2020 and tour nationally with all other We, Women projects.


The Project Freeway Fellowship is supported in part by EmcArts, the Houston Endowment, the John Steven Kellett Foundation, and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

Letters & Lives is also made possible through the support of Mystic Lyon.

Date & Time

Sundays, October 27, 2019 - January 12, 2020, 3 - 5 pm; Community Celebration & Reading: January 26, 3 - 6 pm (no workshops Dec. 22, 29, and Jan. 5)


Workshops are free, for all ages, and community members are invited to attend one or more sessions. No reservations are required.


Mystic Lyon
5017 Lyons Ave.
Houston, TX  77020

Additional Information

Willow Curry’s website



Mystic Lyon