As the fourth largest city in the country, Houston houses a remarkable magnitude of art through various mediums, including a broad literary division. Houston is home to the University of Houston’s distinguished and renowned Creative Writing program, as well as several festivals that emphasize fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
The full spectrum of Houston poetry is showcased annually around town via the growing Word Around Town Poetry Tour. If you haven’t heard of it yet, this seven-day tour is the perfect opportunity to educate your mind and entertain your soul through the works of local poets. Three noteworthy Houston area poets– Zelene Pineda, Joe B, and Stephen Gros– originally created this tour with the ambition of celebrating, quite literally, all the words people could put together. The launch of the tour in the summer of 2006 featured 12 participating poets and was a great success. It has since gathered national recognition, and grows larger and more popular by the year. The range of poetry styles featured always varies from academic, slam, spoken word, and experimental. Hosted at a different Houston venue every night of the week, Bohemeo’s Art House will kick off the 7th annual tour on August 12, and the last event at Dean’s Credit Clothing will mark the end of the tour on Saturday, August 18.
There are currently a total of 23 poets included in the tour– 16 are a part of the new lineup and seven are returning veterans. Being in its seventh year, the organizers decided it was time to expand by debuting new poets and new venues. The Houston Poetry Community responded well to this proposition, and on June 21 Joe B, Stephen Gros, Blanca Alanis, and Lupe Mendez held a “Poetry Draft” at Khon’s Wine Bar. Numerous people showed up to watch as 23 poets competed for one of seven available spots.
The final lineup of new poets is a conglomeration of Houstonian professors, students, activists, and Jazz musicians. They have been recognized and published in numerous local, national, and international publications, along with prize winning slam poets– poets working towards their MFAs and PhDs amongst performers, theatre hosts and producers, blogs, live shows, and internet radio. This year’s new lineup, for the first time ever, will feature more women than men.
The seven returning veterans of the tour have consecutively performed over the past 4 years of the Word Around Town Poetry Tour. This group of poets is composed of Hip-Hop artists, lyricists, teachers, arts organizers and visionaries; and each poet has earned a short one-night feature at a specific venue during the tour.
These 23 poets are featured nightly from August 12-18 at the venues listed below. For more information, visit www.wordaroundtown.org.
The New Lineup:
Blanca Alanis, David Tomas Martinez, Jennifer Gabiola, Oscar Peña, Boby Kalloor, dee!colonize, Kathy Fay, Outspoken Bean, Carolyn Adams, FluentOne, Makeda Rain, Chris Wise, Gerald Cedillo, Marcell Murphy, & Tracy Lyall
Marlon Lizama (Sun., Aug. 12), Kool B (Mon., Aug. 13), Stephen Gros (Tues., Aug. 14), Joe B (Wed., Aug. 15), Jasminne & Lupe Mendez (Thurs., Aug. 16), Maria Palacios (Fri., Aug. 17), & BGK (Sat., Aug. 18)
Sun., Aug. 12– Bohemeo’s Art House (708 Telephone Rd., 77023)
Mon., Aug. 13– The Artery (5401 Jackson St., 77004)
Tues., Aug. 14– Boomtown Heights (242 W. 19th St., 77008)
Wed., Aug. 15– Eat Gallery (4420 Almeda St., 77004)
Thurs., Aug. 16– Secret Word Café (2016 Dowling St., 77003)
Fri., Aug. 17– Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Centers (6500 Rookin St., 77074)
Sat., Aug. 18– Dean’s Credit Clothing (316 Main St., 77002)