Best Local Poets In DFW

November 18, 2013 5:15 AM

(Photo credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Verbally expressed or written, poetry can stir the mind and soul. North Texas has its share of nationally and internationally known poets that are published or perform at slams and other events. Here is a short list of some of DFW’s best poetic artists.

Karen X

Karen X is the community love child of the decades of the 1960s through today. This veteran of poetry has worked with well-known poets and curated many literary events at Eastfield College and Southern Methodist University as well as at Paperbacks Plus and for television. Ms. X serves as Executive Director of WordSpace. Once you read one of her pieces, like “Road Poem,” which shows the depth of her understanding of human life and connects it with food, you will see why her collection of poems have been published in six books. She is also a member of the board of directors of WordSpace, a literary non-profit based in North Texas.

Joaquin Zihuatanejo

Joaquin Zihuatanejo is a former high school English teacher turned professional poet. Zihuatanejo, who used to recite his poems as warm-ups to his students, was challenged by his students to submit them for publication. He performed in the Dallas Poetry Slam and his passion bloomed. Inspired by one of his students who said, “Mr. Z., I can kind of tell that you want to be a poet. You’re always telling us to chase our dreams, why don’t you do that. Chase your dream, just be a poet!” Zihuatanejo followed his dream and published his poems, performed on television, on college campus stages across the country and for private corporations. When asked about chasing his dream, Zihutanejo said, “I used to be a skinny punk kid from the barrio of East Dallas, and I grew up to be a world champion. I used to be a teacher who moonlights as a poet. Now I’m a poet who moonlights as a teacher. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss teaching, especially my students, but I feel very lucky to say that I am living my dream, that I am doing what I love. I am a poet.”

Related: Best Poetry Events In DFW

Dwan D. Cribbs (Astari Ra’fran)

Dwan D. Cribbs, who sometimes goes by his stage name Astari Ra’fran, has been a member of the Dallas art scene for several years. Cribbs has performed as a musician and spoken word artist at House of Blues, Richland College, Granada Theater, Green Elephant and Cretia’s. Currently Cribbs is working to complete and publish his first poetry book due to be released in spring of 2014 titled “Thought Tollway Gateway 1.” What makes Cribbs’ poetry noteworthy is his ability line-by-line to pull you into his pieces. When you have finished reading one of Cribbs’ poems, you have felt changed, enlightened, informed and inspired. Cribbs credits Gil Scott-Heron, Big Rube, Nina Simone, Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni as the main influences of his writing style.

Jason Carney

Jason Carney recites harsh reality poetry that is known as slam. His performances have been aired on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam.” He surprises his audiences with his edgy poetry that touches on the topics of racism, southern heritage, politics and family relations. His slam recitals can be viewed on YouTube.

Alexandra Marie Thurston

Alexandra Marie Thurston has been a performer with Dallas Poetry Slam and recites poetry of life and relationships. She recites the “Mathematics of Heartbreak” which delves deeply into the pain of breakups.

Related: Best Specialty Bookstores In DFW

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and
enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at