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A Love Letter to the City of Boiled Air

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

We relocated to New York one month ago this week.

Poet Justin Jannise called Houston the "city of boiled air."

It's the city that speaks all languages.

It's the city of all flavors.

This city will forever be home to me.


Megan Thee Stallion.


Tacos Tierra Caliente.

The Menil.

Grimy streets glittering with shattered glass.

El Bolillo.

Endless lists of bangin' coffee shops.

The best damn culinary scene in America.

Numbers Nightclub.

Pearl Bar.

The scent of fresh bread

permeating the streets of Montrose

every morning after.

Flooded streets.

Apartment building neighbors like family.


The Miller Outdoor Theatre,

Hermann Park,

and Japanese Gardens.

The Hobby Center,

Alley Theatre,

Stages Rep,

and Obsidian.

Kaboom Books,

Brazos Bookstore,

Murder by the Book,

The Lift on 19th,

and Half Price in Montrose (RIP).

God, some people come of age when they're a teenager. I am privileged that my awkward, unsure stage lasted well into college, when I moved from the outskirts into Houston. I will forever owe a debt of gratitude to the city that showed me who I am, and how to be that person.

Nothing in the world would I trade for the many nights spent in a cloud of cigarette smoke on the smutty terrace of Double Trouble in Midtown, listening to the tangible percussion of the bands blowing up the Continental Club next door, illuminated in red by the neon glare of the sign overhead.

Nothing compares to the humidity of those early summer mornings in my city in a swamp. Waking up with the sunlight, walking out of my inner-loop studio apartment and into the streets of the Museum District. Tapping my metro card on the platform kiosk and taking the train to the Rice Hotel to sit in the coffee shop to write, and write, and write.

I got to know myself there. I moved in with my fiancé there. I adopted Wolfgang there. I survived every "500-year event" Houston has weathered the last ten years there (seemingly every year).

I founded Hearth & Coffin there.

None of this is to say that we are sad to start this new chapter in New York. In fact, we couldn't be happier. I've spent a lot of time in New York City; I know the streets and the subway system intimately at this point. I have friends there and I have already stumbled into the best $1 pizza in my neighborhood. Not to mention, as the editor of a literary journal I would love to make the New York connections and foster Hearth & Coffin's growth.

But as excited as we are to be in Brooklyn, Houston will always be home. It'll always be the city where I found myself. It'll always hold a place in my soul.

Operationally, nothing changes for Hearth & Coffin. Writers, please continue to submit your works to Rachael, who continues to live and work in Houston, will be there to enjoy all your poetry as normal while I will offer all the same considered care and attention to your prose from my new digs up north.

As we continue to unpack boxes in our new fourth floor walk-up apartment, we reach back and send love to Houston while looking forward to a bright future in New York City. Here's to a colorful future for Hearth & Coffin. May we grow, offer a platform to more writers, and continue to publish new works.

(That dollar pizza is from Supreme on Marcy and Broadway, by the way.)

As they say, Love ya, HOU.

Barrett White



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