Inprint Poetry Buskers at Sunday Streets

April 2, 2015, by


Cigna Sunday Strreets logoApril marks National Poetry Month. As we kick off this month, we thought it would be nice to showcase one of Inprint’s favorite programs, the Inprint Poetry Buskers. These poets spread the joy of poetry by writing poems on demand, using typewriters, at festivals and special events throughout the city. The Inprint Poetry Buskers can often be found at Sunday Streets. This past Sunday, they were writing poems on demand at Sunday Streets on Westheimer. Here, Inprint blogger and poetry busker Allyn West talks about poetry busking at Sunday Streets.

IMG_0533Sunday Streets is a hard thing to explain. The City of Houston, through its partnership with Cigna, talks about the initiative as a way to promote health and fitness. Those of us who have been to one, though, know that it’s much more than that. Sure, you’ll see people riding their bikes or jogging or doing parkour in the middle of the street, but you’ll also see organic farmers hawking fresh turnip greens and aspiring rappers peddling demo CDs.

I prefer the latter uses to the former. Besides, you can’t burn enough calories to offset the small-batch ice cream and brisket-slathered curly fries you buy from the food trucks that are parked on the route. Sunday Streets is really about the people you share the city with. The physical barriers of our vehicles and houses are dissolved. It’s a time when you can study the full behavioral range of Homo sapiens. You can bark, “Free poems here!” and other people look only somewhat askance at you. What a blessing.

IMG_0563I like what Mayor Parker said about Sunday Streets to Houston Chronicle reporter Karen Chen: “We just close down the streets and let Houstonians fill in the blanks.” The most recent one, on March 29th along Westheimer, featured such blank-filling activities as a kissing booth and Inprint’s Poetry Buskers. Sam Dinger, B.J. Love, Michele Nereim, and I spent a few hours writing poems on the spot outside El Real Tex-Mex Cafe, the former 1930s movie theater (and Hollywood Video).

From noon to about 3 p.m., we wrote odes to unicorns and paeans to sweat. Mayor Parker herself stopped by, requesting a poem about change. This is what B.J. came up with:

The funny thing about change is that it

never does. Change is always our expectations.

This morning, I woke up and was surprised,

but that’s not surprising. What is is that

a mourning dove sat just outside my window

and sang the best alarm I’ve ever heard. This,

I thought, is how mornings should be. What needs

to change for this? What changes are necessary?

My days are filled with standing on street

corners saying hi to everyone in their cars.

I don’t know why, it just seemed like a good

way to spend the day. But you know all about

that, so let me change that last line to

something about Spring, how happy I am to

see all the budding trees and how those shades

of pink always make me want to start a family.


Michele wrote about “the humble honeybee:”

Whole hoards of honeybees are dying

all around the world

Good! Then they can’t sting us anymore

But not so fast there, son —

Because the trees are now in bloom

with no one to taxi the pollen

pistil to stamen to make that

sweet flower love

and peach pregnancies

cradles of produce at the Kroger’s

suddenly empty


And so men stand on ladders

— I swear this is true —

with bitty brushes

pollinating each distinct bloom

because it isn’t until

that small work

becomes yours

that you realize the humble honeybee

in fact

has the power to move worlds.

And Sam outsmarted the Houstonian who wanted a smart-ass poem:

 You can’t

tell me

this ain’t

a poem!

Here’s a short video featuring B.J. reciting a poem he wrote for the Montrose District about the neighborhood:

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