Word Around Town 2012 In Review

August 29, 2012, by

In the earlier part of August Inprint friend and local arts blogger Dean Liscum made the rounds at the Word Around Town 2012 tour, a week full of poetry readings at different venues throughout the city, and shared some highlights with us. Now that he’s had some time to reflect on the tour, we touched base with Dean and get his final thoughts.

Inprint: Dean, we know you couldn’t go to all the evenings of the tour, but can you share two or three of your favorite moments with us?

Dean: The most remarkable aspect of WAT is the diversity of poets on the tour. Every city has a wide range of poets that represent a multitude of styles from personal and confessional to spoken-word/SLAM to lyrical to political to communal. Often they congregate in cliques. To hear their brand of poetry, you have to travel to a particular venue or event. Not at WAT, it is welcoming and all inclusive. This year’s tour even featured a performance artist, Boby Kallor, who would read a piece and then introduce another poet or performer, some who sang a Capella. In a hard core poetry scene (not as oxymoronic as it sounds) such as NYC’s Nuyorican Poets Cafe or D.C.’s Busboys and Poets that kind of stunt will get you thrown out on your iambic pentameter with bongos. 

The poetry performances–and these are not readings but performances and make no mistake there is a dynamism in WAT’s performances that cannot be recreated by simply reading the page silently in your study–that come to my mind are

  • OutSpoken Bean and FluentOne’s poem capturing the relationship of a prisoner and his son over the course of their lives.
  • Marcel Murphy’s poem questioning the measure of manhood through the valuation of work, using blood pressure as a refrain and heart disease as climax for denouement of understanding and reprioritizing one’s life.
  • Gerald Cedillo’s poem about how to make love all day, which turns out not to be his personalized, updated version of the Kama Sutra but how to love life.
  • Carol Adam’s poem exploring the soldiers in a Vietnam era photograph, in which they are holding a human head up as a trophy.
  • Tracy Lyall’s poem Godzilla, whose protagonist sounds like Anne Sexton hopped up on Spanish Flies and decked out in leather.

(The lighting at Dean’s Credit Clothing is perfect for dirty dancing or making out, but it’s horrible for video taping poetry performances.)

Kathy Fay did a quiets little piece entitled “Light, No Light”, which completely captivated me.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, some of the themes that arose during individual evenings and across evenings really worked well. I don’t know if they were planned or not but who the hell cares. When it works, it works.

I’d recommend that you and your readers visit Ricardo Alanis’ youtube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/ricardoalanis12. He was the most dedicated documentarian of the entire tour. His channel contains a treasure trove of WAT 2012 performances. Watch the performances and find your favorites.

Inprint: All the readings took place at different venues, which venue did you enjoy the most?

Dean: WAT wasn’t simply a coffeehouse poetry tour featuring the usual suspects in the usual places. I have to compliment the organizers on the venues. All were distinctly different, and yet conducive to poetry performances. Each place had its own vibe and ambiance. In my earlier post, I mentioned my experience of Bohemeo’s, The Artery, Boomtown Heights, and EAT Gallery. I missed the performances on Thursday at the Secret Word Cafe. However, its FaceBook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Secret-Word-Cafe/164952220212270) proclaims that it’s Houston’s only poet owned spoken word and entertainment venue. That’s endorsement enough for me.

On Friday, WAT ventured outside the loop to the Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center. I’d be lying if I didn’t steer toward it expecting a cramped community center with bad lighting and a wheezing air conditioner competing with the poets. When I walked into a state of the art theatre and gymnasium that easily seated 1000, I realized how silly and wrong I was. The final night was Dean’s Credit Clothing, which was appropriate for the end of tour party. Nevertheless, it couldn’t hold a candle to Baker-Ripley Center. But if I’m gonna patronize for poetry, my buck goes to Bohemos.

Inprint: Did the readings inspire you to do some poetry writing of your own?

Dean: I’m a blogger. My own opinion inspires me to write though hardly poetically. Haha.

What WAT really inspired me to do was seek out more poetry performances. Here’s what I’ve found so far and where you’ll be able to find me in the coming year.

  • Thought Crime – 9 p.m. every third Thursday of the month at Khon’s, 2808 Milam (sponsored by Stephen Gros)
  • Wreck the Mike – 9 p.m. every Wednesday at Cafe 4212, 4212 Almeda Road
  • Maven series – every fourth Saturday of the month at EAT Gallery, 4420 Almeda Road  (sponsored by OutSpoken Bean)
  • Poetry Reading and Open Mic – 7:30 p.m. every fourth Tuesday at Barnes and Nobles in Webster, Texas (sponsored by Oscar Pena)

Inprint: Do you know what the organizers are planning for next season?

Dean: Yes. Something bigger and better. This year’s organizers: Blanca Alanis, Stephen Gros, Lupe Mendez, and Joe B. have already begun looking into partnerships and financial support for the next year. They want to expand the tour by

  • booking larger venues
  • producing better marketing materials and reaching more people
  • offering participating poets an honorarium
  • publishing an anthology

With regard to venues, they’d love to hold a show at Inprint or the Menil Bookstore or Discovery Green. They’ve already begun discussions with Red Cat Jazz Café. Of course they hope to include this year’s venues in their line up.

With regard to their featured poets, they’re also planning to hold their “Poet Draft” earlier in the year. Currently, they’re targeting sometime in April and would like to make it part of local celebration of National Poetry Month.

Inprint: Dean, thanks so much for reporting on World Around Tour. We look forward to next year’s W.A. T.!

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