This Sunday, the 10th anniversary season of Houston’s widely celebrated Word Around Town (WAT?!) Poetry Tour begins. The tour features seven straight nights of poetry in seven different venues across the city. The tour will feature 16 of Houston’s top poets and a select nightly feature.
The WAT?! Poetry Tour kicked-off its inaugural launch in the summer of 2006 with 12 poets. The tour’s purpose is twofold: 1) to introduce poets to venues they’ve never been to and 2) to expose audiences to poets they’ve never heard before. This year’s tour features Kool B, Brother Said, Chris Crawford, Gerald Cedillo, Deep, Corina Delgado, Winston Derden, Marlon Lizama, Tracy Lyall, Jonathan Moody, Joshua Nguyen, Nyne, Bishop Ragtime, Bucky Rea, Roses, and Royal the Poet.
We had a chance to interview Lupe Mendez, Houston writer and one of the lead organizers of the tour.
INPRINT: How long have you been involved with WAT and how has being involved with it shaped you as a Houston writer?
LUPE: I have been one of the lead organizers for the tour for the last 7 years; with this tour, it marks my 8th year as an organizer. I would say organizing has helped me push the limits of discipline in my own writing time. It’s been a good 5 years since I have held a spot in the line up and so getting to hear such amazing poetry from the featured poets encourages me to sharpen my words, it builds the excitement in my own writing.
INPRINT: What is new with WAT this year?
LUPE: For the 10th year we have become a bit more bold. We wanted a new sort of energy and so we scratched the traditional half curated/ half auditioned version of the tour and we held the “draft” for any and all poets – all 16 spots were up for grabs and Houston poets did not disappoint! In our line up this year, we have a full mix of academic poets, MFA’ed poets, multiple award winning poets; Cave Canem is represented, CUPSI is represented, Houston VIP is represented, Fringe Festival theatre is represented.
In addition, we are adding two new pieces that won’t be seen on stage this year 1) We have spoken to the Houston Metropolitan Resource Center and have arranged for the archiving of the WAT?! poetry tour – we have enough years under our belt that it deserves to be preserved in Texas History and 2) We are in the beginning stages of creating an anthology of all the WAT?! poets, present and past. We are still in the gathering phases of the task. Later, we want to approach a press to see if they would be willing to publish this historic work.
We have spoken to the Houston Metropolitan Resource Center and have arranged for the archiving of the WAT?! poetry tour – we have enough years under our belt that it deserves to be preserved in Texas History.
INPRINT: What WAT event are you most excited about?
LUPE: The Closing!! LOL. Jokes aside, I am eager to see every night of the tour, as each night is different!
INPRINT: You are celebrating WAT’s 10th year, how do you envision WAT looking 10 years from now?
LUPE: Ten years from now? I see WAT?! in different cities, I see a state tour, a panel on how to begin and create poetic change in the poetry community as an AWP panel. Amazing things, I see in 10 years!
Here is the full schedule, all events begin at 8 pm. For more information visit the Word Around Town Tour Website at www.wordaroundtown.org
Sunday, August 2, Bohemeo’s Art House
Monday, August 3, Talento Bilingüe de Houston
Tuesday, August 4, Inprint
Wednesday, August 5, Willow St. Pump Station, UH Downtown
Thursday, August 6, Alley Kat Bar & Lounge
Friday, August 7, Brazilian Arts Foundation
Saturday, August 8, Khon’s Wine Darts Coffee Art