Poetic License

So You Think You Can Slam?

Meet Houston’s poetry team as they gear up for some Grand Slams. Do you have what it takes?

With Mellanie Perez September 22, 2016

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Write About Now founder Amir Safi takes the stage at Avantgarden.

Write About Now, a poetry slam organization in Houston, continues to speak volumes. Founded in 2014 by Amir Safi, WAN's mission is to make poetry accessible to everyone.

“Write About Now is a stage that allows people to come and share art, experiences and information,” says Safi, who formerly ran Mic Check Poetry in Bryan. “People leave feeling enriched.”

But other things make this weekly open mic night unique. By filming and posting performances on social media, WAN garners national recognition for their poets, like Cristina Martinez, who's been featured on Huffington Post Latina and We Are Mitu. “That’s our role,” says Safi. “To amplify poets' voices and help them reach new places.”

In August, WAN sent their first team to the National Poetry Slam in Decatur, GA, and in March 2017, they plan to send their first female representative to the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Dallas, for which they’ll hold auditions at AvantGarden, the group's meeting place every Wednesday, at the end of each slam this fall.

This year, several of the WAN poets are gearing up for the Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival on Sept 29, a three-day event in Bryan, TX, that features 42 Texas poets competing for a $1,200 grand prize. Five of the seven Houston poets attending the festival are WAN participants, the biggest number of Houstonians since the festival launched in 2011. But you won't find any backstabbing in this group. WAN fosters a community that supports their poets. It’s not about the points—it’s about the poetry.

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“We keep each other accountable,” says member Ryan McMasters. “We ask how people's poems are doing, if we have a prompt, etc. We strive to make each other better.” 

WAN plans to connect more with the community by hosting adult writing workshops later this year. “A lot people write a lot, but they don’t want to share it. I respect that, but a lot of people think it’s because their work isn’t worthy,” says Safi. “It’s important to get out of that comfort zone. People need to hear what you have to say more than you are afraid of saying it.”

Write About Now meets at Avantgarden every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. 411 Westheimer Rd. writeaboutnowpoetry.com

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