By Marci Ovadia, Senior Program Associate for Equity and Communications  

After Harvey: In Her Own Words, and Set to Music

A slam operetta inspired by the words of Houston’s youth poet laureate Rukmini Kalamangalam — and commissioned especially for TFN — will be front and center at TFN’s 2018 Annual Conference kicking off our annual conference in Houston on Monday, March 19th at 12:00 p.m. in the Phantom Ballroom. 

If you have not registered for conference yet, register now! 

Photo credit: Indian Times

Who will take the stage?

Rukmini Kalamangalam

Rukmini Kalamangalam, Houston’s Youth Poet Laureate, is a senior at Carnegie Vanguard High School in Houston. She currently serves as Houston’s third youth poet laureate, is a youth poet laureate ambassador for the Southeast region of the United States, and was recently chosen as a finalist for the National Youth Poet Laureate Program. Kalamangalam’s work has been published in the Houston Chronicle, and she is a cultural arts advisor to the Mayor’s Youth Council.

Kalamangalam, who emigrated to the United States from India with her family when she was 6, submitted a collection of poems and was chosen from dozens of applicants to be chosen for the poetry honor.

Houston Grand Opera Community Initiative

HGOco, Houston Grand Opera’s community initiative, believes that opera should be available to everyone and that it should celebrate the stories all around us. Each year, HGOco offers a variety of performances throughout the city designed to inspire and engage Houstonians of all ages and creates unique works based on Houston stories through the Song of Houston initiative.

Writers In The Schools (WITS)

Since 1983, Writers in the Schools (WITS) has worked hand-in-hand with educators and professional writers to teach students the craft of writing. WITS is transforming the hearts and minds of young people all over Houston. The “After Harvey” poem is an example of how students have used writing as a way to cope with the trauma of the hurricane, which hit the Houston area in August 2017.

In the days after the storm, Writers in the Schools’ teachers worked with children sheltering at George R. Brown Convention Center to help them express their anxiety through writing and listen as the children shared their stories.

What Will They Perform?

HGOco, Houston Grand Opera’s community initiative, and Writers in the Schools (WITS) are presenting a collaborative performance commissioned specifically for the Funders’ Network Houston conference that sets 2017 Youth Poet Laureate Rukmini Kalamangalam’s poem “After Harvey” as a slam operetta. The poetry performances from the team of WITS youth poets, along with the interwoven music created by HGO studio artists, exemplify how the two organizations work together to gather stories from communities and create unique platforms to elevate hidden narratives.

This musical piece was composed by Emma Wine. She is a recent graduate of The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.

 Where and When is the Performance?

This performance is the Opening Plenary on Monday, March 19 at Noon – 1:30 p.m. in the Hotel ZaZa Phantom Ballroom.

Pro-tip: We invite you to arrive early to get the best seats! Grab your lunch and settle in for this one-of-a-kind performance.

Why Bring Art and Culture Center Stage at #TFNHouston?

At the Funders’ Network, we believe in learning from place, exploring community stories and amplifying voices from a range of backgrounds and experiences.

We also recognize the important role funders and local organizations can play in supporting the arts in a way that connects economic development, equity initiatives, and other community-building efforts to create more vibrant, resilient and sustainable places to live.