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Home » Art, Theatre

Poetry in November?

Submitted by Alex_Wukman on November 14, 2011 – 3:46 pm2 Comments
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Buddy Wakefeld does things with microphones that will blow your mind

By Alex Wukman

One of the truisms of Houston is that no one wants to do anything during the summer. From May until about September the arts community seems to go into a coma—few big shows and even fewer big gambles come brave the heat and come to town. Conversely, the fall seems jammed packed with events. So many events happen in October and December that it’s inevitable some get overlooked. Sadly, some of the events that get overlooked also involve art forms that have been reduced to second class citizens. Maybe it’s the disproportionate amount of musicians in Montrose, or maybe it’s because people don’t really care, but it’s rare that someone talks about an upcoming performance art piece, gallery show or poetry reading.

It’s a shame because gallery shows are great places to meet people with lots of money who are willing to buy your art, performance art pieces usually have free booze and poetry readings always lead to fascinating conversation. And two upcoming readings in particular should produce great conversation. On November 19 Houston will play host to the Bayou City Poetry Grand Slam, an event that is being billed as “the first major poetry slam in Houston.” The Bayou City Poetry Grand Slam is bringing over 20 nationally known and ranked slam poets to town to compete for a first place cash prize of $1,000, a second place prize of $500 and a third place prize of $250.

While $1,000 may not seem like a lot in most jobs, for poets struggling to eek out a life on their art $1,000 can be the difference between making rent and picking up shifts at Outback. While the money is nice, it’s not the most important part of the Bayou City Grand Poetry Slam—that would be the headliners.  Savannah Blue Productions, an up-and-coming event production company started by Houston slam team member Savannah Blue, was able to convince two-time World Poetry Slam Champion Buddy Wakefield and National and World Slam Champion Joaquin Zihuatanejo to come to Houston. Not only have Wakefield and Zihuatanejo both featured on HBO’s Def Jam Poetry but they both have competed at the international level.

Despite the energy and intensity of watching two of the best slammers in the world at the top of their game—some people will, inevitably, poo-poo the event. They’ll think that poetry shouldn’t be competitive. They might even say that having that many poets on stage for such short amounts of time, 3 minutes each, makes it hard to follow what they are saying.  Those who want a more focused approach to staged poetry are in luck, on November 23 Invisible Lines, a brand-spanking new performance troupe, will offer a dramatic interpretation of Up Against You a 2003 collection from long-time member of the Houston poetry community Debra Matthes.

When it was released by Fools Court Press Up Against You garnered some attention in the local poetry community, Professor Randall Watson over at the University of Houston—another longtime resident of the Houston poetry scene—gave the book a nice cover blurb and Matthes did a few featured readings around the city. The Invisible Lines press release describes their interpretation of the work as following Matthes’ “turbulent mythos of desire and disappearance as she recoils from sexual trauma, wanders through a world of pain and confusion,” before finally landing in “respite and renewal.”

Invisible Lines is composed of faces familiar to anyone who frequents the Notsuoh’s open mic night, Bucky Rea, Tracy Lyall and Salvador Macias form the core group. For Up Against You the three core members will be joined by Savannah Blue who will serve as a special guest reader, and three troupe associates: Megan Copestake, Kira Jazz and Rachel Rogers.

Bayou City Grand Poetry Slam

Saturday, November 19, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at MECA, 1900 Kane St., Tickets are free for more information and to register for the event click here or call 832-396-9547.

Up Against You

Wednesday, November 23rd, 8pm at AvantGarden , 411 Westheimer. For tickets or more information visit InvisibleLines’ website or call at 832-651-2561.

2 Comments »

  • Houston Peeps, If You Love Poetry . . . « WordPlay says:

    [...] This event is billed as the first major poetry slam in Houston, and will bring over 20 nationally known and ranked slam poets together to compete for a first place cash prize of $1,000, a second place prize of $500 and a third place prize of $250. You can read a bit more about the evening from Free Press Houston. [...]

  • Do I Seem Judge-y to You? « Wonky Woman on a Bent Trike says:

    [...] I can’t wait for tonight; it’s going to be So GOOD. This event is billed as the first major poetry slam in Houston, and will bring over 20 nationally known and ranked slam poets together to compete for a first place cash prize of $1,000, a second place prize of $500 and a third place prize of $250. You can read a bit more about the evening from Free Press Houston. [...]

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