There's barely an empty chair inside the dimly lit upstairs of Rudyard's Pub on a Wednesday night. On the small stage in the corner under yellow and blue spotlights, Karen Ross is reading a poem about being home with her dog when Hurricane Ike made landfall in 2008.
"He followed me from room to room as I, flashlight in hand, timorously waited out the hurricane," she read. "Few things in life are truer or of greater comfort than a good dog in a bad storm."
The audience laughed and applauded, obviously in agreement.
People of all ages and colors have come together on this evening with a common story – surviving storms.
"The city of Houston and this region has very much been deluged by these experiences," says Pat Jasper, Director of Folk Life and Traditional Arts at Houston Arts Alliance. "And people who have dramatic experiences, like going through a hurricane or going through a storm, often have a story or a song or a poem to share."
The program included some of the city's best-known poets and musicians, but others were members of the community who just wanted to share anecdotes. Storm Songs and Stories was a collaboration between HAA and Houston Grand Opera in advance of next week's premiere of After the Storm, a chamber opera set in Galveston during a fictional hurricane.