AUSTIN INTERNATIONAL POETRY FESTIVAL
Seven years. In entertainment terms, especially in Austin, anything reaching that milestone should move into the institution category. The seventh annual Austin International Poetry Festival, which takes place this week, follows a deceptively simple formula: Get as many poets into town as possible and let them read. Over the years, the formula's been streamlined and shaped to fit audience attention spans while still accommodating the poets, some who have traveled from as far away as England and Australia. Past over-the-top marathons, such as the Night of 100 Poets, are a thing of the festival's storied past, yet events like the midnight-to-dawn readings (Friday at Mojo's, 2714 Guadalupe, and Saturday at Movements Gallery, 214 E. Sixth) have been included to satiate the ultra-hardy, and there's still a mind-boggling number of evening shows for audiences wanting a taste of myriad facets of the art form. The following list, though not complete, highlights some of the events in what has now become as germane to Austin in April as breaking out the shorts and the air conditioners:
TRES-DIVERSE-CITY ANTHOLOGY RELEASE, Borders (10225 Research), Barnes & Noble (2246 Guadalupe), and Book People (6th & Lamar), Thursday 8pm: This year's anthology of participating poets is so comprehensive that three local bookstores have been pulled in to accommodate the debut. Twenty-four poets are scheduled to read at each of the three stores.
FRIDAY PERFORMANCE POETRY SHOWCASES, Ruta Maya (Fourth & Lavaca), 9pm, Waterloo Ice House (Sixth & Lamar), 10pm: Another embarrassment of riches requires two separate venues for this gathering of local, national, and international poets who fuse theatrics into their poetry. The Ruta Maya reading, hosted by Dallas poet Clebo Rainey, will feature, amongst others, New York's Guy Gonzalez, a member of last year's National Poetry Slam championship team; Austin's Karyna McGlynn, who won a returning spot on this year's Austin Poetry Slam Team in last week's blowout Superslam; and Rupert Hopkins, a British poet who also featured at last year's AIPF. Waterloo's reading, hosted by British poet Tim Gibbard (in the midst of a two-month stay in Austin), will feature local powerhouse Sara Sutterfield Winn, old-school Austin poet W. Joe Hoppe, and London's inimitable The Bard Jamuna.
POETICS WITH MUSIC AND THE AVANT-GARDE, Movements Gallery, Saturday 9pm: Local poet Rich Perin hosts this stylistic free-for-all, which includes the Dallas hip-hop poetry troupe Ordained in Lyrics, Australian poet Jayne Fenton Keane, Austin poet and folk musician Jeff Knight, and Talking Drum Poets, another local outfit.
SATURDAY NIGHT PERFORMANCE POETRY, Waterloo Ice House at 26 Doors (1106 W. 38th St.), 9:30 pm: This lineup is one of the most eclectic and intriguing of the festival, including the British group the Bradford Six, 1999 Austin Poetry Slam Team member Vicky Charleston, Toronto's very loud Rob Siciliano, and local hip-hop poet and actor Graffiti.
SUNDAY NIGHT SLAM, Red Eyed Fly (715 Red River), 8pm: Sixteen festival poets compete for cash and glory in the poet's sport of choice, and in the process test out the new home for the Austin Poetry Slam.
All of the above shows are $5. Other AIPF events, such as the I'm Every Woman reading at Movements, Saturday 4pm, and the Cornerstone gay and lesbian reading at Ebony Sun Java House (1209 E. 11th, Suite C), Saturday 7:30 pm, are free.
-- Phil West