As most of us in the literary world know, April is National Poetry Month. It is that cheery time of year when we pay tribute to the world of poetry and the people who write great poems. Poets do not traditionally receive the level of book sales, media coverage, and public popularity that other writers do, so I would say they truly deserve a month dedicated to celebrating their unique brilliance.
Houston is brimming with poetry activity all month long and if you venture out every once in a while, you will find it difficult not to stumble upon a poetic activity or two. For Inprint, the superstar Anne Carson will be closing out the 2013/14 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series on April 28th. Michael Ondaatje says Anne Carson is “the most exciting poet writing today.” Houstonians are definitely excited about her reading, with less than a hundred tickets left, Carson is evoking fan girl enthusiasms from poetry lovers. We plan on giving her fans exactly what they want. Unlike other Inprint readings, Carson will be taking the stage by herself, reading and perhaps talking about her poems. She will forgo an on-stage interview. For more information click here.
On a more local level, Inprint was proud to have the Inprint Poetry Buskers out and about last weekend at UH Mitchell Center’s CounterCurrent Festival. If you haven’t experienced the Inprint Poetry Buskers yet, stay tuned, you’ll be seeing them more and more. They write poems on demand for free using typwriters for anyone who stops by to visit them at festivals and other events. For those who feel that poetry isn’t for them, wait until someone writes you your very own poem! Catch them next at the Menil Community Arts Festival May 3rd .
Our friends at Writers in the Schools (WITS) have had a very busy month. WITS celebrates National Poetry Month through the words of Houston students. Executive Director and poet Robin Reagler says, “We publish a poem a day on our blog, and it airs on KPFT also. We are distributing poetry postcards at over 100 Houston locations. We are sponsoring a poetry contest for kids with cool prizes that include a TV appearance and amazon.com gift cards.” If you want to spread the joy of poetry to your kids, WITS has you covered.
Houston poet Kevin Prufer, a faculty member at the UH Creative Writing Program (and one of the nicest poets you will ever meet), is celebrating in a huge way. He is giving readings around the nation this month from his latest collection Churches: Poems. Kevin’s Houston reading is this Thursday, April 17th, 7 pm at Brazos Bookstore. We asked Kevin to tell us a little bit about his latest collection and what inspired it.
“Churches is, first of all, a book about stories,” said Kevin. I was originally going to have ‘Stories’ be the (somewhat confusing) subtitle for the collection, in fact. I’m very interested in the way our experience of the world – or, in the book, our experience of the divine, of mortality and of the irretrievability of the past – is shaped through the stories we tell about ourselves and our world. The longer poems in this book – and quite a few are pretty long – braid multiple stories that often take place in several different times, or are seen through the eyes of several different narrators. A surgeon accidentally loses various objects in the bodies of his patients while one patient describes her surgery and a Greek chorus of university professors provides an ongoing conversation about burial rituals. Or a child dreams about honeybees while floating away from a cruise ship on a rubber raft … while his mother describes her panic and the voice of God interrupts with more distant observations. Or a Mexican hotel clerk (at the El Paso Quality Inn) and a traveling salesman describe vastly different experiences of a rainstorm that threatens to wash the city away completely.” Only a poet can talk about all these various subjects in one poem and still make complete sense—that is the true power of poetry and the true brilliance of Kevin Prufer! Click here for more info on the reading.
Houston Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Zepeda juggles many activities and already has had a busy month. “So far this month, I’ve done a reading and workshop at the McGovern Library on Stella Link, a talk for the students at Lonestar’s Northwest Harris County branch, and I got to judge a WITS poetry slam. On April 30, I’ll be talking to kids at the Thinkery in Austin.” In addition to the public activities, Gwen celebrates the true meaning of Poetry Month, adding “Besides that, I’ve been reading and writing poems.” Can’t wait to hear Gwen’s latest poems at her next reading—we’ll let you know when that happens.
Besides that, I’ve been reading and writing poems.
We talked to Fran Sanders whose organization Public Poetry promotes poetry all year long. They too have some special programming to commemorate the month. “To celebrate National Poetry Month, on the first Saturday of the month, Public Poetry participated in a full day of activity at a neighborhood library that included a slam with WITS/Meta-Four Houston, a reading by our city’s Poet Laureate, plus our own four featured poets, ending with After-Words. Still to come, we’ll “Begin Everywhere” with the Poet Laureate for the State of Texas, Rosemary Catacalos, on Wednesday, April 16, at UH-D’s Willow Street Pump Station at 4:30; and “Begin Again” with a free reading at the MFAH’s Artful Thursday. We are also joining with the MFAH for “The Game,” a museum scavenger hunt where the clues are in verse, as well as launching Public Poetry ex-libris, a live web poetry book club. Poets showcased this month include: Winston Derden, Katherine Durham Oldmixon, Yerra Sugarman, Regina Vigil, Rosemary Catacalos, and Jenny Browne.” For more on all this click here.
Asia Society Texas Center has an interesting poetry event this Wednesday, April 16, at 7 pm. Contemporary Poets and Asia, a performance reading, will explore our troubling world through the lens of poetic bilingualism. Led by John Cayley, Myung Mi Kim, Yang Lian, and Lynn Xu, each reading will introduce contemporary poetry and Asia to the greater Houston community. Click here for more information.
So Houston, April is not just about taxes and aggravating allergies. Get out there and enjoy great poetry and celebrate National Poetry Month with all of us.