Arts Fest logo.jpg


Texas High Plains Writers, as part of the 2019 Amarillo ArtsFest, is seeking local poets, authors,and artists to participate in this year’s event.


If you are an artist who wants to participate in the poetry interpretation competition, please see the Rules for Works of Art Inspired by Poetry.


For a list of literary events, dates, and times, click here.

If you are interested, please fill out the form below. The event is still in the planning stages. We will keep you apprised as planning progresses.

Check boxes that apply to you:
Please check all activities that you have an interest in participating:

Thanks for submitting!



Poetry Readings 

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – Various Times

Room 81 and Elsewhere in concourse


Refrigerator Poetry

Duration of ArtsFest

Literary Room 64

Express yourself through “refrigerator” poetry.


Exquisite Corpse Poetry

Duration of ArtsFest

Literary Room 64

Help create a poem by adding words to the end of the previous person’s contribution without seeing what was written beforehand.  Come back to see what was created!


Six Stories in 60 Minutes

Friday, May 10, 2019—8:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Literary Room 64

Six of the region's finest flash-fiction authors—Seth Wieck, Ryan McSwain, Jenny Stalter, Noah McCalister, Jonathan Baker, and Mike Akins—will entertain with their urgent and unusual short stories.


Meet Your Local Authors

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – Various Times

Concourse in North End of Mall

Visit with local published authors and discover your summer read.


Poetry-Inspired Works of Art

Duration of ArtsFest

Literary Room 64

View works by local artists inspired by poetry.  Participating artists can choose to create a work based on one of these poems:  Tumbled by Wes Reeves, Forgive Us Our Deudas by Seth Wieck, Amarillo by Chera Hammons, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, and The Summer Day by Mary Oliver.  Go to for rules and deadlines.


Poets and Poetry at High Noon

Saturday, May 11, 2019—Noon

Literary Room 64

A conversation with three panhandle poets—Chera Hammons, Seth Wieck, and Wes Reeves.


So You Want to Write a Novel

Saturday, May 11, 2019—2:00 p.m.

Literary Room 64

Tales from the front lines of fiction with local authors Jodi Thomas, Bethany Claire, Ryan McSwain, and Linda Broday.


Keys to Self-Publishing

Saturday, May 11, 2019—4:00 p.m.

Literary, Room 64

Self-publishing options and marketing secrets for as-yet-unpublished authors, with Bethany Claire, Ryan McSwain, and Craig and Nancy Keel.


Haiku Smackdown

Saturday, May 11, 2019—6:00 p.m.

Literary, Room 64

Watch competitors pitch their best haiku poems—3-line poems of five, seven, and five syllables.  Sign up is in front of room 64 at 5:45.  Participation is on a first-come basis.


Slam Poetry

Saturday, May 11, 2019—7:00 p.m.

Literary, Room 64

A form of performance poetry that combines the elements of performance, writing, competition, and audience participation.  This is an adult event.  No one will be turned away, but this event is rated PG13 to R for possible strong language and adult content.  Three-minute time limit.  No more than 15 spots available.  Sign up is in front of room 64 at 6:45.  Participation is on a first-come basis.


Limerick Smackdown

Saturday, May 11, 2019—8:00 p.m.

Literary, Room 64

A competition consisting of humorous and frequently rude poems consisting of five lines.  This is an adult event.  No one will be turned away, but this event is rated PG13 to R for possible strong language and adult content.  Sign up is in front of room 64 at 7:45.  Participation is on a first-come basis.



  • Participation in the ArtsFest is free.  

  • Only one artwork (2-D or 3-D object) per person will be accepted into the show.

  • All artworks are subject to review.

  • The artwork must be appropriate for viewing by all ages.

  • Artworks must be dry, complete, and ready to show safely.

  • Artwork dimensions cannot exceed 3 feet in any direction.

  • Artwork must be delivered to the Art Institute, Suite 117 in Sunset Center, by 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 7.

  • Artworks will be judged on creativity, style, artistic ability, and how well the artwork

  • expresses the themes of the chosen poem.

  • Prizes will be awarded to one outstanding artwork in three divisions:

    • Ages 5-12

    • Ages 13-18

    • Ages 19 and older

  • Ribbons/certificates will be awarded to additional outstanding works at the discretion of the judges. 

  • Artworks must be picked up from the Literary Room, Suite 64, between 5 and 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 10.

  • When dropping off your artwork, you will be asked to provide:

    • Your name.

    • Your age.

    • Your mailing address.

    • Your email address.

    • Your phone number.

    • The title of the poem that you chose to interpret.

    • The title of the artwork, if it has one.

Artists may choose any one of the following poems for interpretation, regardless of the artist’s



By Wes Reeves

Yes, our years are

tumbled dust

mingled with those

of the great bison,

the men who chased them

and the women who

sanctified them.

We are the hours

of bumbling

cussing oxcarts and

boy-faced farmers with

their pious brides,

softly weeping.

The microseconds of

finger-jerking lariat

throws, mule kicks to

the head and Krakatoa

gushers of corrupted

Permian daylight.

We are sons and daughters

of ancient soils aching

under a mocking sky,

drying and dying


and rising again on

the breeze.

Forgive Us Our Deudas

By Seth Wieck

The front door exhales new construction scents: PVC adhesive,

latex VOCs breathed onto gypsum dust; clouds of California

carcinogens caught on the wind. New coats on new walls.


Depending on the day

Dad calls this new development:

Seventy forever homes to nest in empty;

Downsized-dreams for retirees; Master suites

for a booming demographic who need

tall toilets and shower-rails escrowed through daisies.

Dad’s kinda funny.


“¡Pepé!” Dad calls. The house echoes like a dark canyon.

Then we find Pepé’s tools. Left tools is left livelihood.


Pepé chased a girl from Jalisco to Amarillo.

Didn’t catch her but learned to pronounce it like we do:

consonants like corners. We don’t roll R’s and L’s.

We roll walls with gallons of yellow.


Pepé was the tenth of ten niños.

He went to work at ten años.

Half his paycheck ayudó his madre.

A payment he’s made for twenty years.


“¿Dónde está, Pepé?” I call.


Pepé’s name is José. But as a niño en la escuela

there was uno José, dos José, tres José,

so he say, “Call me Pepé.”

Pepé’s son is José Jr.


I learnt to sprechen the broken Mexican by pushing crews

at 22. I’ll get the Dad & Son Co. when Dad’s dead & gone though,

which is our kinda funny way of saying something sad.

“Te amo, Papá,” I sometimes tell him.

Dad doesn’t understand that.


Dad does understand that Pepé has blown, dusted, hit the wind,

maybe been deported. Dad estima/esteems Pepé


—I estimate this as love. “The hombre can work,” he says, which he’s

also said of me. Not mano a mano.


We were bound over books and lunch break burritos and library-

loaned novelas. Él leyó Louis L’amour en español: El Hombre

de las Colinas Quebradas regresó El Cañón Oscuro.

I read the whole yard of Dad’s bookshelf when I was a kid.

“Su historia es la historia de la frontera americana.”

That’s from The Sackett Brand. Them Sacketts was cool.


I still owe him Los Dolientos.


From Jaliscan dust came José-Pepé, like agave,

the spirit in him kin to tequila that sweats from his skin;

the flesh threshold that keeps me from him; the squared

puerta, cousin and cognate, gust ajar aliento a soplo

breath to breath Dad & Son Pepé y José Jr. and dust and Adam

returning to dust, American.


By Chera Hammons

There isn’t anything pretty

to look at here. No landmarks,

and the land flat scrub with no trees,

dirty blonde, dry beaten with summer,

even the people bleached bare, all the same kind.

This is the ugly part of Texas.

People always say it as they drive through,

their too-hot tires in danger of throwing

tread on the shimmering asphalt,

the ironed-out snakes smeared greasy slicks

and the bitter lemon skunk smell

of the highway rushing under the license plates.

They can’t get out of town fast enough.

Neither can we, if we are careful.

Loving one thing can trap you here,

draw you into the narrow neck

of a wide bottle, and root you

like the spiny mesquites,

who have survived so long they are native.

Georgia O’Keeffe stayed

for a year herself, it is that hard to leave.

The yellow yards are feral, jagged with stalks,

ruthless with vine weed

tangling through the fences, white flowers palms to the sun like Baptists

swaying, that I have to keep pulling out,

and the grackles and pigeons

hang to the white hem

of a sky brown with acres of cattle.

Born under a bright horizon

of clouds slow-rolling over the plains

like bison, thundering, spitting windy rain,

that is what native eyes first see

and why they have to stay.

The roots stick, fly-paper sweet,

and you get stuck.

In a room I am alone.

In a house we are alone together,


It is not that we are a simple people.

We stayed because it all started out so well.

Then we learned how to wring beauty

from anything we could.


Where the Sidewalk Ends

By Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends

And before the street begins,

And there the grass grows soft and white,

And there the sun burns crimson bright,

And there the moon-bird rests from his flight

To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black

And the dark street winds and bends.

Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow

We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,

And watch where the chalk-white arrows go

To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,

And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,

For the children, they mark, and the children, they know

The place where the sidewalk ends.

The Summer Day

By Mary Oliver


Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?