“Poet &” seeks to highlight and support Houston poets who have careers or practices outside of writing, and who are not currently receiving institutional support for their writing work (i.e. an MFA program or fellowship). The three-part series (June 15, 22, 29) will be hosted by poets Aris Kian & Joy Priest. This installment features Tanzanian-born poet and organizer Loyce Gayo and 2022 Texas Poet Laureate Lupe Mendez. Each writer will read their work, as well as talk about their other career or practice and what it means to be doing both in Houston, Texas. This event is the result of a grant awarded to us by Poets & Writers to hold virtual literary space for Houston-area write, and will take place over Zoom.
Loyce Gayo is a Tanzanian-born creative writer, teaching artist, and organizer based in Houston, TX. Her work has been featured on Button Poetry, Write About Now, Badilisha Poetry, Fields Magazine, and PBS. Gayo founded a creative writing and performance initiative for East African youths called Paza Sauti and is currently the Program Director for a youth publication called Shift Press. Gayo is a proud dog mom and is currently soliciting names for her new flock of chickens.
Originally from Galveston, TX, Lupe Mendez is a writer, educator, and activist, and the author of WHY I AM LIKE TEQUILA (Willow Books, 2019), winner of the 2019 John A. Robertson Award for Best First Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. He is the founder of Tintero Projects, which works with emerging Latinx writers and the other writers of color within the Texas Gulf Coast Region, with Houston as its hub. Lupe earned his MFA from the University of Texas @ El Paso and has received fellowships from CantoMundo, Macondo and the Crescendo Literary/Poetry Foundation's Emerging Poet Incubator. Mendez's work can be seen in print and online formats, including Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast Journal, the Texas Review, Split This Rock, Poetry Magazine, and Poem-a-Day from the Academy of American Poets. Mendez is the 2022 Texas Poet Laureate.