Hotpoet was conceived during a conversation over cocktails at Leon’s Bar in Houston, TX, between Tina Cardona, Kelly Ellis, and two other poets. Kelly said she would like to publish an anthology of sultry poetry written by Texas poets and call the collection, “Is It Hot Enough For You?” Tina suggested we throw a party with that theme. This led to more discussion about the relationship between poetry and life, which led to a series of celebrations, the fostering of a poetry community, and the concoction (by Tina) of some pretty amazing, original cocktails.
To us, heat equates passion. We believe poets should write freely, even irreverently, on themes they are passionate about, thereby inspiring passion in others. This concept gave birth to hotpoet and attracted a group of like-minded celebrants who became known as Houston’s Hot Poets. With neither membership roster nor bi-laws, anyone could be a Hot Poet. All it took was a way of living and writing with passion, a vibrancy not only applied to craft but also to life, and a focused drive to create and nurture connections with community.
With gatherings and instant anthologies, music and art, joy and friendship, we have continued to celebrate the passion and community that poetry can bring to our lives. Our parties coalesced around twice yearly solstice events, with the first hotpoet Summer Solstice celebration in the summer of 2013. A solstice is a day of extremes and zeniths, revelry and good times. It is the perfect setting to witness the passion that poetry can pour into the world.
That passion created these events and has sustained our artistic community. It has nurtured hotpoet from a collection of poets into an entity with a mission. In order to continue to support and spotlight talented poets and writers, we have expanded our goal to include promoting work that leverages artistic passion into an articulated message. To this end, hotpoet launched equinox, a biannual digital multimedia journal.
Tina Cardona believes in the generative power of poetry to heal. As a clinical social worker, a registered yoga teacher, and an occasional (but passionate!) poet, she spends her days obsessing on how to combine creativity, health, movement, and expansive states of mind in order to help people achieve satisfaction and joy in living. Tina spent years in graduate school at the University of Houston studying poetry and art before switching to Social Work as a profession. She now works in schools coaching teachers, counselors and administrators on how to build skills to connect with students. She likewise coaches students on how to self-regulate emotions, and she advocates for both students and staff on the front lines of education. She has been writing poetry since she was 13 years old (and hiding it just as long) and has been a part of Houston’s poetry scene for over 20 years. Besides publishing her work and performing locally, Tina has also co-hosted multiple events including hotpoet's’ now infamous solstice gatherings, which have been called Dionysian. Perhaps her proudest accomplishment is having raised an amazing daughter who is now a professional artist. On the weekends, Tina can be found caring for her many dogs and one cat as well as hatching ideas with Kelly over cocktails.
KELLY ANN ELLIS
Kelly Ann Ellis lives, works, and writes in Houston, Texas, where she obtained an MA in English Literature from the University of Houston. Cofounder of hotpoet, she is also a long-time member of Poets in the Loop critique group. She has been published in various journals and received awards from BAWL and San Gabriel Writers League. She also had two winning poems in Public Poetry’s Artlines ekphrastic contest in 2012, when her work was showcased in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Two recent publications include a poem in Echoes of the Cordillera, a 2018 collection of poems in response to photography, a cine-poem accepted in the REELpoetry festival in Houston in 2018, and another in 2021. Her work was featured in the poetry, music. and dance production “It’s About Love” in the Houston Fringe Festival in 2019, and more recently her short fiction was performed in the podcast The Short Story Show as the second-place winner of their 2020 contest. She was nominated in 2020 for a Pushcart prize for her poem “Reef," published in Odes and Elegies: Eco-Poetry from the Texas Gulf Coast.. Kelly travels whenever she can and spends time on the nearby Gulf Coast when she can't, where she enjoys writing fiction and essay as well as poetry and where she never fails to find inspiration in the tug of the ocean.
Secretary & Treasurer
Jack Kendall currently lives in semi-retirement in San Jose, Costa Rica. Until 2018, he had divided his time between the Houston and Dallas areas of Texas. He earned a B.A. degree in English and completed graduate courses toward a Masters of Arts in Management. Most of his adult life has been spent working in the financial services area, much of the time as a bookkeeper/accountant, primarily for nonprofits, or as a stockbroker/financial planner. Along the way he became a Certified Financial Planner, a Chartered Life Underwriter, a Chartered Financial Consultant, and a Certified Fund Specialist. His interests include social psychology, behavioral economics, guitar, history, and deeply personal conversations that spin themselves through the night. His poetry is written mostly for his own amusement and amazement. He has owned five small businesses and has the distinction of being the only man in Texas who could go broke owning a gun store.