Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival comes to SPI

I am really excited about Paragraphs being asked to provide a venue on the Island, for this year's Poetry Festival. On April 25, at noon, we will have several poets here to read their work and guests will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with the featured artists. Refreshments will be provided and there will be anthologies, t-shirts and other items available for purchase.

The following is an e-mail I received from RGV Arts:

The Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival (VIPF) continues its second year to celebrate National Poetry Month from Apr. 23—26, 2009, with readings, workshops, and slam contests in venues across the Rio Grande Valley—all free and open to the public. This year’s festival features more than 40 poets in total, with 35 registered poets. Featured poets are Larry D. Thomas, poet laureate of Texas (2008), Amalia Ortiz, a La Feria native who supports herself through poetry readings across the country. Amalia has thrice appeared on HBO’s Russell Simmons presents “Def Poetry Jam. Also featured is Nephtalí De León, noted Chicano muralist and writer. The poets will be conducting readings in schools on Friday, Apr 24, then in coffee shops, libraries, museums, cultural centers, bookstores, and art galleries Valleywide and even in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on Saturday, Apr, 25.
As far as we know we’re the only poetry festival anywhere with concurrent readings in two countries. -- festival founder Daniel Garcia Ordaz

On Friday evening, Apr. 24, there will be a youth poetry slam (recitation contest) as well as readings by college and university students, followed by the adult poetry slam—all at South Texas College (Pecan Campus) in McAllen. Music will be provided during a brief intermission by Pulse.
Poetry is a much practiced yet little celebrated literary genre. It’s in our lullabies, our sad goodbyes, our booty-calls, our bathroom stalls. It’s everywhere. Poetry is a rich and accessible form, but it’s often dismissed as too childish or way too deep, as if poetry isn’t what holds together our favorite songs, our favorite commercials, our favorite speeches. -- Garcia Ordaz
VIPF kicks off on Thursday, Apr. 23, 2009, at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce conference room with an anthology release party. Poets included in the collection will be on hand to read some of the selected entries in Boundless 2009, the anthology of the festival.

Unlike most poetry festivals, we solicit and accept submissions from all poets regardless of whether or not they registered to read at the festival. Poetry is not only for and by dead white men or young angry Chicanos; one of the goals of the festival is to be inclusive. While not every entry received was selected for publication, we are extremely proud of the caliber of the poems, which speak for themselves. -- Garcia Ordaz
Public and private venues have come forward as hosts. Aside from the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and South Texas College (Pecan and Mid-Valley campuses), other venues include Jitterz Coffee Bar (Mission), Galeria 409 (Brownsville), Paragraphs On Padre Boulevard (South Padre Island), Donna Hooks Fletcher Museum (Donna), and Museo Casamata (Matamoros).

We’re stimulating the economy here. We have poets traveling from Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, New Mexico, and northern Mexico, so the festival is already having a positive economic impact on the Valley. We’ll be spending money here—for food, lodging, and transportation. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce understands the business of art, which is why they’re our main sponsor. -- Garcia Ordaz
Boundless 2009 includes poems by poets from around Texas and other parts of the U.S. and even poems by an American living in London
We’re giving a voice to the often ignored and a stage to largely unknown word artists. We’re building international brotherhood and celebrating diverse cultures. Aside from giving poets a chance to ply their trade, sell books and merchandise, we’re also giving the audience free cultural programming. -- Garcia Ordaz
The festival’s grand finale will be the third annual Poetry Pachanga—the event that started it all in 2007 at UT-Pan American. The Pachanga, which follows a private dinner for poets only, is where all registered poets will take the stage, together for the first time. Doors open to the public at 7 p.m. at the Narciso Martínez Cultural Arts Center, with music by Incohero at 7:30 p.m., followed by the Poetry Pachanga. “Borderline,” artwork by Celeste De Luna, will also be on display.
Anyone who has pre-determined thoughts about poetry will find that this is not simply a festival by and for angry young Latinos—although we have some of those. Our festival poets are a broad amalgamation of very diverse poets presenting verses about love, lust, lemons, life—and everything in between. We have professors and pachucos, housewives and hoodlums, silly and serious poets coming together to teach, entertain, and make you think or even pee in your pants. -- Garcia Ordaz
VIPF 2009 is a program of Art That Heals, Inc., and with major funding from the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and also sponsored by South Texas College, the Narciso Martínez Cultural Arts Center and El Zarape Press.

National Poetry Month

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

What is National Poetry Month? FAQ

"When I was in college, poetry was radical; there were giant readings. It was just so exciting; we had books of poetry everywhere. It a part of the culture. I want to bring that back. I want to give people a feeling of excitement. I want to give people a sense of confidence. I want to encourage people to go to the library and browse. Go to a bookstore and browse. Now, who goes to the poetry section of a bookstore? That’s why it’s so good to have National Poetry Month in April, because nobody goes to the poetry section, unless you know what you’re looking for."
—Camille Paglia, interview in the Boston Phoenix

National Poetry Month Events. Click on the calendar to view National Poetry Month events throughout the country and submit to promote your event—any time of the year.

In honor of National Poetry Month, Paragraphs will have a new poem each day for anyone who comes into the store. So stop by and pick up your copy today.