City Cast

3 Questions About Poetry with Amir Safi

Brooke Lewis
Posted on July 14
A photo Amir Safi, founder of Write About Now.

Amir Safi, founder of Write About Now. (Provided by Amir)

Amir Safi, founder of Write About Now, didn’t plan on running one of the most popular open mic scenes in Houston when it opened in 2014. However, nearly ten years later, the weekly open mic at AvantGarden has grown from just a small gathering to a world-renown poetry collective. Last month, Write About Now won the largest team poetry slam competition in the country, Southern Fried Poetry Slam Festival, in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Q: How did you first fall in love with poetry?

“I grew up in the Bible belt, so College Station, Texas. There weren’t very many Iranians my age. Poetry became a way of expressing myself and also building community. As an Iranian, you don’t have other people that look like you, you don’t have platforms that cater to your demographics, or help amplify your voice. Poetry is also a way later that I was able to build community with people.”

Q: What led you to start Write About Now?

“When I moved to Houston, I was pretty committed to not ever organizing an open mic or running any kind of arts venue at all. I really just wanted to be focused on a new career I was starting. My friend was getting married at AvantGarden, and he said ‘Hey Amir, come check out this venue. I think you should do a poetry show here.’ We went to the venue, and I met the owner, Mariana. She told me how much she loved poetry. In February 2014, we did the first show. Maybe 15 people upstairs at Avant, and now it’s to the point where we can barely fit in the patio. We’ve actually expanded our shows to Rudyard’s.”

Q: What do you do when you get writer’s block?

“I look at poetry as a garden and writing as a garden. You need light, you need love, you need water, you need all the right elements to make it grow. Not every season is harvest season. Some seasons are for planting. Some seasons are for growing. Some seasons are for harvesting. I look at writing the same. I try not to put pressure on myself to always create because then the garden will be bare. I want to enjoy and love and be energized about the things I am writing.”

Want to know more about Houston’s dynamic poetry scene? Outspoken Bean shares his journey as poet in the city. [City Cast Houston 🎧]

Do you have an interesting Houstonian I should feature in “3 Questions With?”

Hey Houston

Want to know what's happening in Houston? Sign up for our free newsletter, Hey Houston. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.

3 Questions With

See All

The latest in Houston