Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordcraft -- Poetry with Texas connections

The Dallas Writers Garret brought together three poets with links to Texas -- JP (Joan) Reese, Andrea Witzke Slot, and Paul Christensen -- last Friday in celebration of April’s National Poetry Month.

“If you’re a slacker, don’t go to J.P.’s class,” notes a review at for Ms. Reese’s work as adjunct professor of English at Plano’s Collin College. No slacker herself, she writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and edits for THIS Literary Magazine and Connotation Press.

Poetry “is what sets us apart,” she told the standing room only crowd at the Garret’s new quarters on 10809 Garland Road before reading from Final Notes, her poetry chapbook out this spring from Naked Mannequin Press.

The second reader was Andrea Witzke Slot. Although she now calls Chicago home, she grew up in Dallas and attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Dallas, and as a member of the English faculty at Collin College while working on her doctorate. In addition, frequent trips to England and her years of work as a primary school teacher in that country have added extra flavor to her accent.

Her collection of prose poems, To Find a New Beauty, out this year, included a new take on Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” a rebuke from the Greek hero’s “aged wife” Penelope for his years of dalliance with the nymph Circe while she kept his kingdom secure at home.

For adopted Texan, Paul Christensen, the reading was a chance to “hang up his spurs,” as he prepared to leave the state after thirty-eight years at Texas A&M University. The two-time recipient of a Violet Crown award for poetry from the Writers’ League of Texas also read a poem at the memorial service for the late Jack Myers, former Texas poet laureate, and co-founder of the Writers Garret with his wife, Thea Temple.
He read from his latest book of poetry, The Human Condition, dealing particularly with a theme of reconciliation appropriate to, as he said, “coming to the edge of what you know.”

The Writers Garret will hold two more readings this season, May 11 and June 1, at its new home, 10809 Garland Road, in Dallas. It also teams with the South Dallas arts community Oil and Cotton, and Paper Explosions this summer, for two zine camps for young writers. For more information about Writers Garret programs, see


Announcing a schedule change -- Next week, the schedule of this blog’s three sections will change to better fit your needs. Beginning April 30, Wordcraft moves to Mondays to bring you faster news from weekend writing conferences and readings. Adventure classics moves to Wednesdays on May 2, for a quick, fun read to get you over the work week hump. Totally Texas moves to Fridays on May 4, to help you plan your weekend.

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