ORGANIZER: Sandi Horton Texas
STAFF PHOTO—JERRY LARSON
HOT Poets Society organizers Cassy Burleson and Sandi Horton plan to expand options to read, write and hear poetry through their new organization.
“100 Thousand Poets for Change”
When, where: 2-4 p.m. Saturday at Art Center of Waco, 1300 College Drive.
“100 Thousand Artists for Change”
When, where: 4-8 p.m. Sunday at the Waco Hippodrome patio, 724 Austin Ave.
When, where: 7-9 p.m. Sept. 30, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Oct. 1 and noon-5 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Waco Convention Center, 100 Washington Ave.
All events are free and open to the public.
Waco poetry weekend for writers, fans
Waco poets and poetry fans will find new outlets for their art — and hearts — this month with two “100 Thousand Poets For Change” events this weekend, the formation of a new HOT Poets Society and an annual three-day Wordfest that’s part of the upcoming Waco Cultural Arts Festival.
The Heart of Texas Poets Society will hold a “100 Thousand Poets for Change” reading from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Art Center of Waco, 1300 College Drive, one of several worldwide events.
It’s an inaugural event for the society, organized by Waco musician and poet Sandi Horton and Baylor journalism/PR/new media professor Cassy Burleson, and affiliated with the Texas are organizing the HOT Poets Society. It joins other poetry groups operating in the area, including the Waco Poets Society, the Black Poets Society and In the Words of Womyn.
Why another group? “Because you can’t have too much poetry,” Burleson said. Horton agreed. “We should all support each other. We’re doing the same thing,” she said. “All that matters is that you love the word.”
Horton, who started writing poetry about 20 years ago, said her participation in poetry events across the state hosted by other cities’ societies led her to consider forming a group affiliated with the larger Texas Poets Society. The HOT Poets Society won’t require any dues, but will charge the $25 needed for Texas Poets Society membership.
Burleson’s experience as an editor for the women’s arts anthology “Her Story,” published last year, showed her how community can form from an art that’s often pursued in isolation. She’s been writing poetry since her days in elementary school — she dates her first poem to 1965, written for a friend who had broken up with a boy — and notes the experiences of sharing one’s writing and listening to others’ form bonds between people.
An openness for sharing poems and listening will mark Saturday’s “100 Thousand Poets for Change,” a poetic twist to the international “100 Thousand Artists For Change,” simultaneous art events held around the world to promote peace, tolerance and creativity.
A “100 Thousand Artists for Change” celebration, sponsored by the Central Texas Artists Collective, will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Waco Hippodrome’s patio. The event, with the theme of “Peace Justice Sustainability and Love” will feature an opening hour of Yoga For Change, followed by a mix of open mic participating and performances by musicians Kristin Breen and Katy Stewart. Admission is free.
The last four “100 Thousand” celebrations aligned with the Waco Cultural Arts Fest schedule and were held as part of the festival’s Wordfest. The Arts Fest takes place later this year, however, resulting in a separation of the events from the festival.
For Waco poetry organizer and activist Jennifer Alumbaugh, who goes by the name Jenuine Poetess, both the “100 Thousand Artists for Change” and the Waco Poets Society, which she founded in 2012, are all about community openness and formation. “We are holding space for the community to express what they need to, whether about social justice, something specific to Waco or personally in somebody’s life,” she said. “We hold space for diversity, inclusion and for all identities and all levels of ability.”
Creativity is a major theme of the WPS, but so is participation with local social justice groups, she added. “Creative expression can be a platform for addressing issues in the community,” she said.
Members of the Waco Poets Society take part in monthly poetry readings and spoken word performances, held on the second Saturday of the month at Rufi’s Cocina and the third Thursday at Tea2Go.
The upcoming Wordfest will give writers of all kinds ways to learn and share. Alumbaugh had helped organize past Wordfests, but stepped down last year. “I personally retired… so I could enjoy it and participate in it,” she explained.
Works from 72 poets hailing from Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Mexico, Washington D.C., Australia and Argentina comprise a printed 92-page anthology that will be available at this year’s Wordfest, Horton said. Many of the out-of-town poets will read from their works in sessions Oct. 1-2 with more local writers taking part in an open mic session Sept. 30. This year’s featured poet is Festival Thom from Austin.
Wordfest will offer workshops in such topics as children’s writing, humor, marketing, editing, poetry and more. Horton recommended those interested in attenting Wordfest acquaint themselves with the event schedule so they won’t miss sessions in which they’re interested. “It’s easy to get distracted,” she noted, adding that both writers and lovers of words will get something from the experience. “You can walk in and not know anything and have fun. We’re introverts, but fun introverts.”