Ozark Poets & Writers Collective: July
By Cat Donnelly
TFW Contributing Writer
The team this year is Eureka Springs native Leah Gould, University of Arkansas creative writing undergraduate Zac Henderson, Missouri State University creative writing grad student Chris Helm and Hendrix College alum Houston Hughes.
The only female on the OPS team, Gould dabbled in two different Missouri colleges before ending up in Fayetteville. While she has been writing poetry as long as she can remember, she discovered slam poetry through the Internet when she was in high school. Even then, it didn’t appeal to her until she accidentally stumbled upon a slam in her freshman year of college.
Gould likes traditional poets such as Frost, Cummings, Rumi and Hafiz as well as performance poets such as Andrea Gibson, Anis Mojgani, Gypsy Yo and Rae Hodge. She can occasionally be seen at RZ’s in the Union at the UA campus at open mic where she has been known to wow her audiences. To find out more, she invited people to find her on Facebook and friend her.
Gould says being on a slam team is “a lot of trying to figure out who everyone is and how they write and how they fit or don’t. And it’s rewarding when it works. It’s interesting to be a part of it.”
The Ozark Poetry Slam is the third Tuesday of every month. Each month is a different type of slam such as a cover slam or having a certain theme. They usually also have a feature. Tuesday, Aug. 16 is the Independent World Poetry Slam qualifier at Rogue at 7 p.m.
Originally from Tyler, Texas, Zac Henderson is finishing up his undergraduate degree at the UA.
He writes poetry about people who are at odds with their situation, for example, a dedicated and caring teacher who is ostracized by her community because someone said she smoked pot. Henderson currently works in a restaurant while he
Henderson and Gould are going to host an open mic at Big Momma’s on Dickson Street some Saturdays. This would be a good way to work into performing poetry at a slam.
Houston’s degree from Hendrix College was in philosophy and religion. He worked at a Halloween store, for Target and the for the U.S. Census Bureau before deciding to drop everything to just perform and teach poetry around the country. He is going on tour in October with Kendal Turner as one half of the “Verbal Circus” stage show.
Houston’s first introduction to slam was hearing someone do a Taylor Mali piece at an open mic at Hendrix. After graduating in 2009, he moved here to be a part of the Fayetteville slam scene.
He wrote his first slam poem because he was “an angry white boy who had suddenly stumbled across a way to rant in public.”
Houston’s poetry revolves around noticing social anachronisms and narrative parallels. His pieces are stories about real people in tormenting situations such as a young boy who is given pills for his ADHD for the grown-ups to control his energy, only to find that they make him numb and unable to think or function. His opinion of performing on a team is that “not killing one another is more important than it might initially seem.”
J.W. Baz, Jamie DeWolf, Derrick Brown, Big Poppa E are some of the performance poets that Houston admires. He has a chapbook and CD out and can be followed at www.facebook.com/PoetryByHouston and www.ReverbNation.com/PoetryByHouston.
Chris Helms describes himself as a delivery slut for a national pizza chain. He has an interest in philosophy as well as poetry so he will quote things from Heraclitus to Plotinus to William Blake. He is a follower of Allen Ginsberg, Philip K. Dick and poet laureate Billy Collins.
OPS usually has a merch table with various chapbooks and CDs from the slam team. Join us at OPWC Tuesday night to catch some energetic spoken word, and we encourage you to bring your own poetry to share at open mic.
As past featured guest Ashley McHugh said, “(OPWC) really encourages a sense of community, even camaraderie, that’s rare to come across, and the atmosphere is always warm and welcoming.”