The next University of Houston-Victoria Downtown Arts Series will feature two poets who draw inspiration from the world around them and everyday perceptions of reality.
Linda Russo, a poet and essayist, and Jeffrey Higgins, a writer and a UHV English adjunct lecturer, are the next speakers in the University of Houston-Victoria Downtown Arts Series. They will give a reading at 7 p.m. Saturday in the UHV Center for the Arts, 204 N. Main St. A question-and-answer session will follow. The event is free and open to the public.
For Russo, writing a poem begins with a line or thought that she writes down to consider later. Eventually, after letting the ideas sit for a while, she gathers the thoughts and turns them into poems.
“I’m a collector of ideas,” Russo said. “I gather up thoughts and ideas, and I let that material decompose and turn into a rich soil over time.”
Much of Russo’s poetry focuses on perceptions of the world around her, such as politics, social and environmental issues or whatever is outside her window. Her writing process takes a long time, and that results in an accumulation of unfinished pieces. However, after a while, several individual pieces find a way to fit together and can be combined into a book.
“I never set out to write a book,” she said. “We are surrounded by currents constantly bringing in different material. I use the flow of those currents and how they affect us on a day-to-day basis. I follow my enthusiasm and passion.”
In addition to poetry, Russo writes essays about famous poets and writers such as Emily Dickinson, Joanne Kyger, Anne Waldman and Leslie Scalapino.
She is considering reading from her latest book of poetry, “Participant.” She hopes that attendees will leave the reading with a better awareness of the complexity and interconnectedness of things around them every day.
“For more than two decades, ‘ecopoetics’ has been an essential movement in American poetry, combining poetry, investigation, documentation, politics and ethics,” said Charles Alexander, UHV poet and designer in residence and co-curator of the series. “Linda Russo is at the forefront of that movement, and her work therein is a blessing for readers and for the planet.”
Higgins pursues his creative work in any way he can express it, he said. He’s written poetry, worked on films and even has explored music.
“My dad was a musician, so I grew up around music,” Higgins said. “I haven’t had any formal training, and most of my musical efforts are improvisational. It’s a collusion of chaos and structure.”
Writing poetry and other creative work is a way of reframing reality, Higgins said. He has a need to see something exist that wasn’t there before. His inspiration can spring from anywhere: an image, a smell or a piece of information.
“Every piece of creation is like being confronted with something new,” Higgins said. “It all comes from thinking and being involved in the world that surrounds us.”
One of his current projects is the documentary film “One-Way Street/The Possibility of Files” about the Illinois section of Route 66. It originally was meant to be an entry in an Illinois film festival, but was delayed. The film focuses on the land and the people of that region. Much of his writing also focuses on southern Illinois.
“Jeffrey Higgins lives a life as a musician, filmmaker, poet and book designer,” Alexander said. “He does it all well, but it is the poetry that sings, that informs the vision of all the other work and that transports the reader toward new vistas and visions.”
Higgins plans to read from his most recent chapbook, “Things Are Tough All Over.” He hopes that people will take away some image or phrase to carry a moment of happiness to the next day.
“The Downtown Arts Series is an amazing asset to Victoria,” he said. “It brings in top-notch talent and exposes the community to so many perspectives. I hope it will continue to grow and thrive.”
For more information about the Downtown Arts Series, contact Alexander at 361-703-5147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.