Last weekend, poetry invaded the city of Austin in the form of the Austin International Poetry Festival. Austin’s a pretty poetic city on any day of the year, but during the four days of AIPF it’s hard to avoid poets in any bookstore, coffee shop, or meeting place in town. And why would you want to? We are a lovely species.
As usual, the festival was a whirlwind of readings, workshops, meet & greets, performances, traffic obstacles, minor mishaps, sleeplessness, and poetic inspiration. (And yes, it IS possible to find poetic inspiration even in traffic obstacles. Just don’t try to write the poems while driving, as that would surely create more obstacles.)
People have been asking me how the festival went, and I have answered each of them the same way: with incoherent babble. Unfortunately, it’s hard to put into words everything that happens during this unique four-day fest. I’ll start off talking about the impressive level of poetry in di-verse-city, the festival anthology. Then I’ll meander into an anecdote about what it was like listening to Anna Yin talk about how she tried to quit poetry but couldn’t do it. Next I’ll launch into an excited rant about meeting Nikki Giovanni (because– wow!) before explaining that I’m still really quite tired from staying up all night for the Midnight-to-Dawn poetry reading at Full English. See? Babble.
I think the reason why AIPF can’t be summed up is because it shouldn’t be summed up. It’s not a cohesive flow of information from one presentation to the next. It’s a scatter of happenings. It is a dandelion puff of poetry seeds breathed across the city. AIPF is not an “outline” or an “agenda,” it is a poem itself. There are so many events and opportunities in the program that I truly believe no two people experience the festival in the same way.
So, instead of a summary, here are a few snippets from my own AIPF 2015 experience. To find out what your AIPF experience would be, save the dates for next year’s festival—April 7-10, 2016.
I’m proud that my poem “Poetry Tumbles” made it into this year’s anthology.
I was so excited to meet Nikki Giovanni. It was a real treat listening her speak and hearing the stories behind poems like “Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day” and “Ego-Tripping.”
The best thing about the festival is the people you meet. I had such a good time talking to Anne McCrady (www.inspiritry.com) pictured here saying something very interesting to Nikki Giovanni.
Even the breaks at AIPF are inspirational. I read some of Nikki’s poetry over lunch and coffee at Austin Java.
Photos from the Midnight-to-Dawn poetry reading at Full English.
Me at the Midnight-to-Dawn event before I needed toothpicks to hold my eyelids open. This photo was taken by fellow poet Rie Sheridan Rose – http://www.riewriter.com
The Nerd Read at Austin Books & Comics with the lovely and talented Rie Sheridan Rose, Joe Brundidge, Mike Whalen, and a poet whose name I did not catch. (That photo of me in the bottom right corner is another of Rie’s.)
A few more events that are not pictured but deserve to be mentioned:
* I didn’t take any pictures this year, but the youth anthology reading is another festival favorite for me. AIPF produces a second anthology composed of poems by kids ages four to eighteen. Listening to these amazing poets read their work always makes me smile.
* Also, all three workshops I attended were excellent.
– Anna Yin’s Poetry Alive presentation was wonderful. She posted a group photo of our class on her website.
– Carolyn Adams’ Postcard Poems session combined two of the things I love most– snail mail and poetry. Thanks to her, I plan on participating in this year’s August Postcard Poetry Fest.
– When is the last time you found yourself wishing a workshop could be longer? That’s how I felt in “The New Face of Fairy Tales” with Pamela Laskin. I left her hour-long class with one complete poem draft and a lot of ideas for more.
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Interested in attending AIPF next year? Follow their Facebook page for news and updates. And feel free to ask me questions about it!