Man With OCD, Neil Hilborn, Delivers Powerful Poetry Performance

Categories: Poetry

Don't think poetry has much to say to you? Watch this powerful poetry performance by Neil Hilborn, formerly of Houston, now living in Minnesota. Hilborn has OCD and his poem is about being in a relationship.

In June he performed this in the regional finals of the 2013 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam.

What part performance, what reality? He told Reddit some of the tics are planned, others just happen.

The Word Around Town (WAT) Poetry Tour Features Outspoken Bean (with Video)

Categories: Poetry

Outspoken Bean
Poet Outspoken Bean is among the featured performers at this year's Word Around Town (W.A.T.) Poetry Tour 2013. As an invited featured artist, Bean was able to bypass the tour's rigorous draft process. "There were more than 150 poets at the draft this year," Bean tells us. "It was ridiculous; it was a fire hazard." Nine poets were eventually selected to participate in the daily readings. "I was really glad that I wasn't in the draft and that my spot as a featured poet was secure," Bean laughs. "It was crazy competition."

While all the participating poets are performance poets, there are some differences in style and subject matter. "The difference is in the individual," Bean says. "No two poets perform exactly alike, and while there may be some onstage similarities among performers, those are superficial. Experienced poets don't sound like anyone else but themselves. There are some people who are very energetic -- I'm in that group," he laughs. "Others are more reserved, some are funny, others more hard-hitting."

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Did Charles Bukowski Really Say, "Find What You Love and Let it Kill You?"

Categories: Poetry

One of the memes annoying me on Facebook
UPDATE: When this article originally ran we failed to credit the creator of the above image, Richard Tito. See more of his art here.

If you've been on Facebook in the last several months then you've probably seen the quote, "Find what you love and let it kill you." It's usually attributed to the drunken brilliance of poet Charles Bukowski. The question is, is it a legit quote?

This came up because the quote is the title of the latest EP from Linus Pauling Quartet. Singer Ramon Medina contacted me regarding the quote, asking that I use some journalism powers to try and confirm the origin before he told everyone that Bukowski was not the source as Facebook memes would have us believe. Together we did some digging.

Supposedly, the quote is from one of Bukowski's numerous letters, and reads...

My dear,

Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain from you your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you, and let it devour your remains.

For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it's much better to be killed by a lover.

Falsely yours,
Henry Charles Bukowski"

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100 Creatives 2013: Outspoken Bean, Performance Poet

Emanuelee "Outspoken" Bean understands that being a Slam poet isn't for everyone. The process involves performing original work not only for a live audience, but also for a panel of randomly chosen judges who award each poet a competitive score. "A lot of people shy away from it because they say, 'Oh, this is my poem, nobody can judge it; it is what it is.' But the truth is you're getting judged anyway. Even if those people don't have score cards."

A member of the VIP Houston Slam team, Bean describes the Slam process as an unfair game. "But it's so unfair for everybody that no one had an advantage, so it's fair. The reason it's unfair is that you're being judged by someone who has no qualifications. They just walked in a coffee shop, that's their qualifications. And now they get to decide if your poem is any good or not."

Bean and his fellow Slam poets have a favorite trick to level the playing field a bit. "We encourage the audience to boo the judges," he laughs. "Never boo the poet, boo the judges."

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Free for All: Wade Wilson's New Show, Prize Poets and the Chevron Houston Marathon

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There's an opening reception for the new show at the Wade Wilson Gallery on Friday. The "The Illusion of the Precise" features work by a trio of artist, Robert Ryman, Mark Williams and Todd Williamson. The show takes its title from the idea that while at first glance the works seem to be perfect and precise, closer inspection shows them to have subtleties and imperfections. These artists hold that in all things, precision is only an illusion. Ryman is considered by many to be one of the most significant minimalist artists of the 20th century. Both Williams and Williamson enjoy similar reputations.

Opening reception on Friday is at 6 p.m. Regular viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. Through February 2. Wade Wilson Gallery, 4411 Montrose. For information, visit the gallery's website or call 713-521-2977.

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Free for All: Houston Shakespeare Festival, Public Poetry and Brad Thor

Categories: Books, Poetry, Stage

Courtesy of the University of Houston
One of the highlights of the summer, the annual Houston Shakespeare Festival, kicks off this Friday and this year's performances are not to be missed. Guest actors Cindy Pickett (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, St. Elsewhere) and Mark Metcalf (Maestro on Seinfeld, villainous Douglas Neidermeyer in Animal House) take to the stage at Miller Outdoor Theatre to do Comedy of Errors and Hamlet. For Comedy of Errors, they and everyone else will be speaking the Bard's words in a Texas accent. This doesn't extend to the other performances in this year's offerings sponsored by the University of Houston's School of Theatre & Dance -- Hamlet will be done more traditionally, with Pickett as Gertrude and Metcalf as Claudius.

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Update: Free for All: Kirk Whalum, Public Poetry and Dan Wells

Categories: Books, Music, Poetry

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Former Houstonian Kirk Whalum and his brother Kevin Whalum are in concert on Friday at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Kirk, who went to college at Texas Southern University, is touring in support of Romance Language, released last February. The CD is a re-creation of a 1963 recording session between saxophonist John Coltrane and vocalist Johnny Hartman. The Coltrane/Hartman session, like the Whalum/Whalum session that followed, was an effort by a monster tenor saxman to support an underrated vocalist. In both cases, the resulting recordings are exquisitely romantic jazz albums. Expect to hear "Lush Life" and "They Say It's Wonderful." Special guest Nicole Henry also appears.

Enjoy music by the Whalum brothers at 8:30 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Dr. For information, visit Miller Outdoor Theatre's website or call 281-373-3386.

Update: All tickets for covered seating to the Kirk Whalum show have been issued. If you want to see the show (and believe us, you really do), plan on sitting on the hill.

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Top 10 Poems to Celebrate National Poetry Month

Categories: Poetry

Photo by Robert Keim
In an effort to encourage a lifelong love of poetry, the Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month. The monthlong celebration includes poetry-themed events, inspirational resources, educational materials and poetry parties across the country.

Houston has joined in the celebration with several poetry readings around town including the Houston Public Library's Public Poetry reading series, Inprint's First Friday Poetry Reading Series and the beloved annual A Poem A Day campaign presented by the Writers in the Schools.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we wanted to share a few stanzas from our top ten favorite poems for your pleasure.

10. If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine

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Jaap Blonk Presents a Dada Work That's on Par With Duchamp and Breton

Jaap Blonk
Damon Smith, a Houston-based double bass player and visual artist, completely remembers the first time he heard an interpretation of Kurt Schwitters's Ursonate, a piece of Dada art that's the sonic equivalent of the readymades of Marcel Duchamp in terms of scope and impact.

"I think to have a sound poem organized in sonata form is ground breaking," says Smith, who first heard the piece performed by Eberhard Blum on a hatART record.

Smith is one of the individuals responsible for bringing Jaap Blonk, who will present Schwitters's sonata that's entirely constructed out of phonetics, to Rice University on Tuesday. Blonk, a Dutch composer, musician and poet, is one of the best performers of the Dada-era piece that should be in the same conversation as visual heavyweights Man Ray and André Breton.

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Free for All: Art Without a Price Tag

Just because the economy is in the toilet doesn't mean you should miss out on all of the performing and visual arts happenings in town. Even the most expensive productions have some cheap seats, right? Trouble with cheap seats is you generally get a really lousy view. How about getting a great view to a wonderful event without having to shell out any money at all? Yeah, we thought you'd like that (we know we do). Here are three great events that are free:

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The Fat Kitchen
First, there's "Under Repair - New Works on Paper by Mark Masterson." Houston arts refuge Spacetaker is hosting Masterson's exhibit and to despite the show's title, Masterson's work needs no repair, unless the manner in which he turns his canvas into incongruous folds of fabric makes you uncomfortable. Purposely done and delightfully off-putting, they make you want to find a hot iron to flatten the creases in order to absorb more of the painting. His work sends you to the 16th century, Canterbury Tales-style - some feature medieval doctors performing atrocious brain experiments, while others depict gluttonous dinner feasts.

2 to 5 p.m. Saturday as part of the Second Saturday Open Studios. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. 2101 Winter Street Studios. For information, visit or call 713-868-1839. Free.

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