People’s Poetry Festival Brings Together Diverse Voices to Celebrate Poetry

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – We all have something to say. Some express their passion through clothes, art, or community involvement. Others express themselves with poetry. Haikus, sonnets, limericks, and odes are a few examples of the diverse poetic forms used to express unique thoughts, experiences, and imagination at the fourth annual People’s Poetry Festival held Feb. 28 through March 2. Event locations spanned from the Island University to Del Mar College to Graffitis Downtown.

“The People’s Poetry Festival keeps getting bigger and bigger – it’s an event we’re really proud of,” said Dr. Mark Hartlaub, College of Liberal Arts Dean at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “I appreciate everyone who came to share their talents.”   

The festival covered a wide variety of topics including nature and spirituality, humor, and women and history. From the panels to the open mic night, the Islanders’ community, along with 43 published poets from around the country, local high school students, and the general public came together to share their love of poetry.

“Like great poetry, People’s Poetry Festival doesn’t happen out of thin air,” said Tom Murphy, chair of the People’s Poetry Festival Committee and professional assistant professor of English at A&M-Corpus Christi. “Many people have been working since late August to bring this to life. And like the Coastal Bend, our poetry community thrives on diversity.”

The panels were full of passionate readings and lively discussion. For the first time ever, musical poetry was performed at the event. The “Homebrewed” panel was composed of all local poets. The “From Page to the Stage” panel focused on slam poetry, and the “Humor” panel elicited raucous levels of laughter from the crowd. All the panels were live streamed on the People’s Poetry Facebook page.    

“The poetry and poets were all my students wanted to talk about in class this week,” said Dr. Chuck Etheridge, professor of English who attended many of the panel readings.

Celebrating exceptional writers is another part of People’s Poetry Festival. On opening night, the People’s Poetry Festival committee named Madeline Ricondo of Tuloso-Midway as the recipient of the Robb Jackson Writing Award for high school students. This award honors the late Dr. Robb Jackson, Texas A&M University System Regents Professor and professor of English at A&M-Corpus Christi, whose poetry shared his life experiences and observation of Corpus Christi. Ricondo received a $100 gift card, plus, three poetry books with local ties including a copy of Jackson’s “Open Heart.” The People’s Poetry Festival committee also recognized Juan Manuel Perez, award-winning poet and local history teacher, as the 2019 – 2021 Poet Laureate of Corpus Christi.

The People’s Poetry Festival was sponsored by the Department of English, the Department of Humanities, and the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Del Mar College, the Coastal Bend Writing Project, the Islander Creative Writers, Sigma Tau, Switchgrass Review, The House of The Fighting Chupacabras, Graffitis Downtown, Kspace Contemporary, and Tail Feather Press.