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Performance poet Savannah Blue thinks I am. She’s invited me to serve as a judge for The Bayou City Poetry Grand Slam, held this evening from 8 – 10PM at MECA–whose mission it is to bring all kinds of arty goodness, mentoring, tutoring & counseling to our city’s under-served youth–in Houston’s Historic District (the Old Sixth Ward), at 1900 Kane Street, 77007.

I often ride through the neighborhood where MECA is located. Houston’s oldest graveyard, Glenwood Cemetery, is just 4 blocks over and the land there still has all the hills and dips and curves, mazed with twists and turns of bayou, home to centuries-old trees. Which is to say that unlike most of Houston, this space never suffered from the smoothing and flattening and complete de-foresting process that our great city’s early planners decided was necessary. Though much of Houston was and is flat by its nature, most land surrounding our bayous–and our city is riddled with them–used to have gorgeous grades of incline and decline, thick woods. A visit to Glenwood Cemetery lets you see what our city used to look like in terms of topography.

Those hills are excellent training for any walker, runner, skateboarder, wheeler, cyclist; major thigh-burning is afforded, trust me. I’ve suffered the results on many occasions, but the upside is that I was well prepared for both of my NYC Marathons because of the ups & downs of that tree-lined, history-rich graveyard.

Anyway, I find it an immense case of coincidence and serendipity that I’m going to be taking part in an evening of poetry among other equally-passionate word lovers tonight, in a neighborhood I travel often–only a stone’s throw from a place where I feel so connected to my hometown, and by extension, to my family.

Whether you’re from here or just visiting, put this neighborhood on your list of Things to  See. For a sneak peek, you can view a collection of stories about the historic homes of the Old Sixth Ward on YouTube. Here’s the first in the series. The architecture is pure art in and of itself, but there’re also individual expressions of creativity and personal flair throughout the neighborhood. My husband Gary is a photographer–as was my father–and we visit often to take pictures.

My father, both a photographer and a realtor, loved to take pictures in the older wards of  Houston. In addition to being a realtor, one of his passions was to purchase a dilapidated old home with good bones (for next to nothing price-wise) and restore it to its former health and beauty before selling it. I spent many an afternoon, on weekends or after school, helping my dad paint & hammer & sand. They are some of my most precious memories of our together-time. The streets and houses of the Old Sixth Ward bring back those memories, that closeness.

I can’t wait for tonight; it’s going to be So GOOD. This event is billed as the first major poetry slam in Houston, and will bring over 20 nationally known and ranked slam poets together to compete for a first place cash prize of $1,000, a second place prize of $500 and a third place prize of $250. You can read a bit more about the evening from Free Press Houston.

Buddy Wakefield is going to be there.

He’s somebody you absolutely have to see and hear in person. He’s also got one of the most artful and entertaining web sites I’ve ever come across.

Tickets are only $10!  To purchase Tix & see an interactive Map, go HERE. You can also purchase tickets at the door for $15. Heck, I think a chance to visit with Luke the poetry dog

is worth 15 bucks alone and getting to watch Buddy Wakefield perform  is worth thrice the ticket price–but you’ll get ALL of the live-action excitement and word-gorgeousness of this amazing poetry slam to boot. What. A. Deal.

Come on out tonight, Houston Spoken Word & Poetry lovers–You’ll be so glad you did!!!