Austin International Poetry Festival celebrates diversity, literacy


From Thursday, April 7 to Sunday, April 10 various venues hosted the annual Austin International Poetry Festival.

The festival features three days of diversely themed poetry readings, open mics, workshops, symposiums and music at variously unique venues spread all across Austin.

Some of the venues this year included Malvern Books, Nature’s Treasures/Crystal Auditorium, Blanton Museum of Art, Kick Butt Coffee, New World Deli, La Madeline, BookWoman, Westminster Manor, Strange Brew, Threadgill’s and the Baha’i Center.

According to Austin Poets International, the goal of the festival is to gather poets from around the globe to celebrate literacy and diversity through the power of written and spoken poetry.

The festival definitely achieved this goal, specifically through the city read (when locals come to read their poetry) at Threadgill’s on North Lamar on Sunday.

With a part of the restaurant sectioned off for the poetry festival, the atmosphere teemed with tranquility and encouragement as poets stood up one by one to read a few of their published pieces.

While the southern and old-fashioned pieces and poets mimicked the ambience of the restaurant, the values of the Austin Poets International rang true with the sparkle of diversity.

One of these diverse readings came from a woman who dominates in bilingual poetry; she clarified that she does not translate her poems, most of which are about her childhood in a Hispanic home.

As the audience ate plates of chicken fried steak and pecan pie, another poet tugged at their heartstrings with a poem about the mental process as a senior cancer patient.

The content of the readings ranged from the poem of a woman describing a time when her friend was raped to a poem of a woman who could care less about getting fat while eating southern food.

Poet Jos Mason Mazzu describes how her poetry has taken her all around the world until now; she and her husband are now serving as caregivers to her daughter recently who recently fell ill.

“It’s hard, it’s painful, but you remember to the take the words and become a friend of words, and they will come and stay with you,” Mazzu said.

Mazzu really sets the tone for the whole objective for Austin Poets International and its goal with the festival by showing how powerful written and spoken word can truly be.

“It’s a beautiful world with words,” Mazzu said. “If you had one book to take to read for the rest of your life, a dictionary would be it. Collect words from your grandparents, or even somebody from the south, covet those words and they will create something really great.”

Sunday’s reading at Threadgill’s ended with the eruption of laughter as the last poet read her well-known poem on a list of a mother’s lament, setting a happy and conclusive tone for the Austin International Poetry Festival.