Poetry thrives in unsettling times like these. Listen to the rhythm and flow of high-quality verse at the twelfth annual Poetry at Round Top, a festival where elite poets of various backgrounds and experiences will speak and host workshops, including the home state favorite Naomi Shihab Nye, the Guggenheim fellows Linda Gregg and Pattiann Rogers, and Tony Hoagland, a professor at the University of Houston (and Warren Wilson College, where he taught the polymath James Franco). “I’m not sure that very many people have time for poetry,” Hoagland said. “But it’s got its role to play. Sanity, self-interrogation, sort of how you strive for honesty, the achievement of perspective in a world where things no longer have any scale.” Hoagland, a pop culture poet whose subjects have included Britney Spears, will teach a class on the “composite poem,” a relatively new American form of multilayered poetry that combines disparate information, and on Friday night, he will be a featured reader. “A lot of people think contemporary American poetry is too difficult or sentimental,” Hoagland said. “It’s an art form as alive as rock and roll is. It’s great to get virgin poetry listeners and shock them.”
Round Top Festival Institute, April 26 at 3:30 p.m. and April 27-28 at 9 a.m., poetryatroundtop.org
Always on My Mind
Willie Nelson has experienced extreme highs and lows this month. First there was Tax Day—always a dreaded circle on his calendar. That was counterbalanced by the online birthday wishes from fellow musicians that have been flooding willienelson.com in anticipation of his eightieth birthday next week. But on April 17, tragedy struck the small town of West, Willie’s childhood stomping grounds, when a fertilizer plant exploded, devastating the landscape while reportedly killing fifteen people and injuring more than 200. Willie will extend his healing hands by donating the ticket sales from his Austin show on April 28—his Texas birthday show—to the West Volunteer Fire Department, a handful of whom are among the dead. It will be a family affair, with Willie’s son, Lukas, and daughter, Paula, joining him on the bill for what looks to be an emotionally charged performance that won’t soon be forgotten by those who witness it. And if you can’t, you can still do good by it. “Anybody who can’t buy a ticket,” Willie told Texas Monthly, “can just pretend they did and send the money to the West Fire Department.”
The Backyard at Bee Cave, April 28, 6 p.m., willienelson.com
Meals on Wheels
The food truck craze has propagated food truck flash mobs of sorts, where foodies can gorge on a variety of eats in a concentrated area for a limited time. But because this is a new phenomenon, many people don’t know the best strategy for maximizing their exposure to these smorgasbords. For the Texas Food Truckin’ Fest, a two-day affair in the parking lot of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington featuring more than two dozen trucks, remember these three simple rules. Number one: Order a truck’s specialty (there’s not enough time—or room in your belly—for mistakes). Number two: Pace yourself (remember, this is a taste test—you don’t want to get sick). Number three: Start fasting now.
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, April 26 at 4 p.m. and April 27 at 11 a.m., texasfoodtruckinfest.com
The Lights Fantastic
Next week, it is highly likely that if you have a lot of Houston friends in your Facebook feed, cell-phone selfies with backdrops recalling the neon landscape of the 1982 sci-fi film “Tron” will start popping up. That’s Exxopolis, the latest “luminarium” by the British designers Architects of Air, who show their pieces internationally. Enter this inflatable, labyrinthine world, “where Islamic architecture, Archimedean solids, and Gothic cathedrals meld into an inspiring monument to the beauty of light and color.” And then come out with a keeper for a profile or cover photo.
Discovery Green, April 29-May 5, architects-of-air.com
At Austin Psych Fest, free-spirited concertgoers can follow the tracers of Texas psychedelic rock from its pioneers, including Billy Gibbons (who is reuniting with his early band the Moving Sidewalks) and Roky Erickson (a poster boy for drug-addled rock ’n’ roll), all the way to its current generation, including the Black Angels.
Carson Creek Ranch, April 26-28, austinpsychfest.com
Houston’s Renaissance is partly attributed to its diverse population and wealth of museums, both of which will be on display during the Museum Experience, featuring free pedicab access and admission to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the Czech Center Museum Houston, the Holocaust Museum Houston and a new architectural gem, the Asia Society Texas Center.
Various locations, April 27, 10 a.m., thehoustonmuseumexperience.com