Festivals galore for poetry and prose enthusiasts
"I hope that one or two immortal lyrics will come out of all this tumbling around," the poet Louise Bogan wrote of her affair with another versesmith, Theodore Roethke. Now, we don't mean to suggest that "tumbling around" is the goal of so many poets descending April 7 for the Austin International Poetry Festival – but we do rather like the idea of tumbling as byproduct. These poems have to come from somewhere after all. In any case, AIPF's four-day roster of events – as ever, free and open to the public – is still being finalized; confirmed speakers include Texas State prof Ogaga Ifowodo, Singapore's Kirpal Singh, Barbara Crooker (a 26-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize), and UT's Kurt Heinzelman. There will almost certainly also be some kind of memorial for Sheila Siobhan, who passed away last week after a short illness. As co-founder of the Austin City-Wide Youth Poetry Slam and the Texas Youth Word Collective, a literacy program, Siobhan was a much-loved figure in the regional youth slam scene, as was her late daughter, Shannon Leigh Lewis. For more information about the 19th annual Austin International Poetry Festival, visit www.aipf.org... There are ample opportunities in April for the prose enthusiast, too. First up is the second annual Texas Observer Writers' Festival, a one-day, free event held April 2 at Pine Street Station (1101 E. Fifth). Sarah Bird will read from her new novel, The Gap Year, and a series of afternoon panels will include writers waxing philosophic on such topics as what it's like to report on the Lege and how to write from traumatic experience. The event kicks off at 11:30am; see www.texasobserver.org for the lineup. And the end of the month sees the return of the New Fiction Confab, a corralling of emerging talent by the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation. This year's go-round commences Friday, April 15, with a reading of David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel The Pale King (out that day from Little, Brown and Co.) and continues that Saturday with a variety of workshops, panels, and readings, featuring authors Kevin Brockmeier, Ryan Harty, Dinaw Mengestu, Julie Orringer, and Austinites Amanda Eyre Ward, Doug Dorst, Amelia Gray, and Jake Silverstein. This one's free and open to the public, too, though preregistration for some of the workshops is required. Check out www.austinlibrary.org for more details.