Local artists and poets spread messages about Houston’s East End through postcards

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East End Farmers Market is known for its food and clothing stalls, but this Sunday a new stall debuted in hopes of amplifying community messages.

East End Postales, a city-funded art project, has opened a boutique, distributing a range of free postcards to residents featuring the original works of local authors and poets and their interpretations of nature and community in the East End .

“Everyone I love in such a different way,” said writer Josie Mitchell, who started the postcard project in hopes of spreading the essence of the East End far and wide.

With six vibrant prints – five of which are translated into English and Spanish, the project explores interpretations of the nature of the East End, while literally embodying the concept. Each of the cards, which are encrusted with seeds, can be planted in the ground to bloom native Black-Eyed Susan wildflowers, Mitchell said.

Some of the postcard depictions of the East Houston neighborhood are more literal, resulting in poems and images of the bayou, local graffiti, and community walks with a pet.

In her postcard, star poet Elvira Diaz Ocampo paid homage to the farmer’s market and its future with an image of fresh fruits and vegetables, and nostalgic mentions of its colorful flowers, art, and crisp, thin buñuelos – a Mexican dessert made with cinnamon and sugar fries – available for purchase.

“The oasis of tradition – Nuestros sabores, surrounded by architectural novelty, in the heart of the East End, memories of the past, new ones to come,” Ocampo said during a reading on Sunday.

Others, like poet Lucy Reyna, who has lived in the East End for a decade or so, focused on the changing environment and the gentrification of the community in her poem “Tomorrow” – supplemented by an image of ‘a woman walking past colorful houses overshadowed by dark buildings. .

“Slowly reminiscent of a pandemic, the East End is obscured by shadows of boxes designed to look like houses,” Rena wrote. “Concrete mazes devour the colorful and colorful courtyards, Soon the delicious aroma of the neighborhood will disappear like a hazy cloud.”

Mitchell, 32, started the project last year in hopes of giving back to the community she has lived in for nearly seven years. With a $ 15,000 grant from the Houston Arts Alliance, she intended to fund her own writing project and host a public reading, but when COVID-19 struck – making in-person events dangerous – Mitchell had to get creative.

“I wanted to collaborate with people related to the neighborhood and those who want to party,” Mitchell said. And with many people tired of Zoom meetings and hungry for more meaningful interactions, Mitchell opted for an “analog” form of communication: postcards.

After bringing in a few writers and people from the community, the concept began to develop. Soon artists, poets, writers, graphic designers and a translator from Houston collaborated to form East End Postales, which plans to distribute 1,800 postcards to the community. About half were distributed Sunday to curious passers-by. The rest, Mitchell said, will likely be distributed in future markets.

“I am just grateful to everyone who has shown so much enthusiasm and is ready to share their talent,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to collaborate creatively with people from the East End. “

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