What About Our Snaps?

The 2010 Austin International Poetry Festival

Big Poppa E
Big Poppa E

Yes, yes, we all know Austin majors in music, but certainly it minors in poetry. The city plays host and hub to one of the most established poetry scenes in the nation, a fact lost on many locals since it isn't electrified and amplified from every street corner. Well, that is, save for one long weekend in April, when poets from near (Austin) and far (abroad) gather for the long-running Austin International Poetry Festival, the largest nonjuried fest of its kind in the world. And this year, AIPF is making the most of the town's music roots by adding the Red River club Mohawk to its list of venues. For festival Director Ashley Kim, the Mohawk was a no-brainer: "Why not bring two of Austin's oldest and most important scenes together – poetry and music?" She points out that not only is Austin "a city of empty stages during daytime hours," but that the Mohawk also "caters to a demographic often missed by poetry organizers: 18- to 30-year-old singles." This year's festival will have something to appeal to all demographics: open mics, slams, youth programming, and citywide readings from local, national, and international poets, including Tara Betts, Christina Lovin, Shin Yu Pai, and Kevin Pilkington. Keep reading for a few of our picks for the four-day event.

Thursday, April 15

1-3pm: Poet Victor di Suvero (who founded National Poetry Week in San Francisco, which has since grown into National Poetry Month) will read in front of his brother Mark di Suvero's sculpture Clock Knot. (UT campus, northeast corner of Speedway & Dean Keeton)

Friday, April 16

1-9pm: Citywide readings from local and visiting poets; see www.aipf.org for lineups and locations.

Saturday, April 17

10am: Screening of The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox, a documentary about American Sign Language poetry, with director Miriam Lerner in attendance. (Huston-Tillotson University, Jackson-Moody Bldg., Rm. 216)

10am: Victor di Suvero leads a panel of poets in symposium on the "four basic pillars of poetry." (Long Center for the Performing Arts, Rollins Studio Theatre)

3-4pm: Texas poet and world slam leader Joaquin Zihuatanejo co-hosts with Natasha Carrizosa the Teen Slam Competition and Awards, with special guests from the Texas Youth Word Collective. (Ruta Maya)

Sunday, April 18

10:30am: Austin Poetry Slam Grand Slam Champion Faylita Hicks will tailor her morning performance poetry for an audience of children (all ages welcome). (Ruta Maya)

2-4pm: Austin slam royalty and Def Poetry alum Big Poppa E hosts a local open mic. (Mohawk)

5pm: Toast the poets at the AIPF afterparty. (Mohawk)

Readings are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Workshops are open to registrants only; registration runs through Thursday, April 15. For more info, visit www.aipf.org.

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Austin International Poetry Festival, AIPF, Ashley Kim, Tara Betts, Christina Lovin, Shin Yu Pai, Kevin Pilkington, Victor di Suvero, Mark di Suvero, Miriam Lerner, The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox, Joaquin Zihuatanejo, Natasha Carrizosa, Sheila Siobhan, Mike Horne, Texas Youth Word Collective, Faylita Hicks, Big Poppa E

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