Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort opens the Houston Poetry Fest, co-sponsored by the University of Houston-Downtown’s Department of English and UHD’s Cultural Enrichment Center, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, in UHD’s Academic Building, Room A405.
Mort is known for her vibrant, public readings, and her first American publication, “Factory of Tears,” (Copper Canyon, 2008) is set in post-Soviet Eastern Europe. The 29-year-old writes in Belarusian as she describes the area’s geopolitical turmoil. Her poetry readings are both in Belarusian and English. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Franz Wright and Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright helped translate her book into English..
The Houston Poetry Festival celebrates its 24th year and runs through Oct. 11. The festival moves to UHD’s Willow Street Pump Station, 811 N. San Jacinto, after Mort’s opening performance. All events are free and open to the public.
The festival, “a celebration of the art of poetry and those who create it,” includes juried, guest and featured poets, open readings, and after-hour readings.
2009 Texas Poet Laureate Paul D. Ruffin will read at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 9, at the Willow Street Pump Station. Ruffin is the Texas State University System Regents' Professor and Distinguished Professor of English at Sam Houston State University. While he specializes in poetry, he has also written short stories, essays and novels.
Other guest poets include Pablo Miguel Martinez (Our Lady of the Lake University), Michael Sofranko (Houston Community College-Northwest), and featured poets are Carolyn Praytor Boyd (The Woodlands), and Carol Munn (Houston). A printed anthology for the festival includes one poem by each special guest.
Here is the rest of the schedule:
Friday, October 9
7:30 p.m. – Readings by Mort and Paul D. Ruffin, 2009 Texas Poet Laureate, UHD Willow Street Pump Station, 811 N. San Jacinto.
Saturday, October 10
1 to 5 p.m. – Open Reading hosted by Robert Clark, the festival board president, Willow Street Pump Station, 811 N. San Jacinto. Poets can come to this session and sign up to read their works. Advance reservations are not necessary.
7:30 p. m. – Guest Poet Michael Sofranko leads the session at UHD’s Willow Street Pump Station, 811 N. San Jacinto.
Sunday, October 11
2 p.m. – Guest Poet, Pablo Miguel Martinez leads this session at UHD’s Willow Street Pump Station, 811 N. San Jacinto.
The Houston Poetry Fest, a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization, sponsors the celebration. For more information, go to http://houstonpoetryfest.info/.