API was founded in 1995 to oversee the Austin International Poetry Festival, a celebration of poetry since 1992. The goals of API were to host poetry readings and publish an anthology of poetry that celebrates the diversity of humanity. The Festival itself (AIPF) has always had an international flavor, and has always been non-juried, meaning that any poets who register to attend, regardless of shame or fame, are entitled to read their poetry at scheduled events and mingle with poets from across the nation and around the world. The Festival has grown from a loose-knit group of volunteers to an organization with a governing board and committees.
From the onset, API has published an anthology of poems, di-vêrsé-city, on behalf of AIPF. While poems submitted to the anthology are screened for content and language, there is no restrictive artistic evaluation unless the poets request their poems be submitted to the Festival's annual poetry competition, the Christina Sergeyevna contest.
A Youth program was added to the Festival in 2004 to encourage parents and teachers to gather poetry from creative students throughout Central Texas, and submit their work to AIPF for possible inclusion in an annual publication, di-vêrsé-city Youth Anthology. Annual events in the Youth program include an anthology reading, during which young poets read their poetry in front of an audience, and workshops hosted by Featured Poets and Special Guests from the Festival proper. In 2009 a youth slam was added to the festival.
Popular events at AIPF are: outreach performances at retirement centers and schools; an Anthology Launch reading; performances by noteworthy musicians and world-class storytellers; workshops; panels of experts; and City Reads. Another recent addition to the festival is a Haiku Death Match competition. This is in addition to a haiku open mic.
The dynamic components of AIPF are Fresh Voices (non-juried readings) and New Faces (the Youth Program).
A grateful and special thanks to API Founders: Festival Thom, Herman M. Nelson, John Berry, and Sue Littleton.