After welcoming the audience to the very first Austin Writers Roulette, which explored the many facets of Self-Identity, I explained the reason why I started it: so I could have a creative space in order to read my work and sale my products. Although we writers typically isolate ourselves from distractions, occasionally we must reunite ourselves with an audience in order to share our work.

Opening the show was Thom O the Moment! who thrilled the audience with his lightning quick delivery of politically-laced poetry. And as swiftly as performed, Thom dashed off to attend his third poetry performance for the night.

The second artist, Flo Bowden, took the energy from in-your-face to introspection, detailing the walls that other people construct around us, which shape and confine who we are.

Approached from the opposite side, Donna Dechen Birdwell expanded on the wall metaphor, leading the audience through the walls she constructed as protection and to keep certain people out. Donna also displayed her stylish photographs for purchase.

Peggy Kelsey gave a guided tour of her personal journey negotiating the physical and mental changes involved with maturing into middle age.

The only singer-songwriter in the roulette, Samaria Perez Stanford, first shared her story  of the challenge of being half Puerto Rican, but raised to hide that part of her identity. She wrote and performed “No Olvidare” purposely in Spanglish to reflect her experience.

Next, Brian Stanford read part of his journal from when he was incarcerated. His selection chronicled his spiritual journey as a cerebral young man, looking for something more meaningful than his current situation. Along the way, he sought to define who he was and presently is.

Joined by berimbau musician, Rastinha (Chris Williams), and an interpretative dancer, Melissa Hendrick, I read a poem about men who have tried to recreate me in the image of some other woman—real or imagined—instead of appreciating who I am.

Closing the night, Capoeira Evolucao instructor, Negro (Felipe Roberson), played the berimbau while singing both traditional capoeira songs and one of his original compositions that defined the essence of being a capoeirista.

The next roulette theme will be “The Animal Within: Expressing Your Wild Side” on Sunday, August 12th from 6 to 8 pm at Capoeira Evolucao, Studio 7B, Austin, TX 78741.