30th Annual Colorado Poetry Rodeo Celebrates a Diverse Writing Community

Posted by roseanna.frechette@gmail.com

The Colorado Poetry Rodeo (aka Podeo) celebrates National Poetry Month with its 30th event anniversary, Saturday April 14th, showcasing Colorado's diverse writing community with multi-dynamic performances and presentations. The day-long rodeo of words covers a broad literary range including featured performers and writing organizations, a poetry slam, storytelling and flash fiction, Small Press Fair and workshops. Event goes 11:30am to midnight at Denver's legendary Mercury Cafe (2199 California Street). Admission is $10 (come and go). (Early bird admission Before Noon is free.)

The event's evening feature program (7:30-10pm), hosted by Ted Vaca, includes headliners Colorado Poet Laureate Joseph Hutchison; Eliza Beth Whittington of Heard at Hub; Michael Henry of Lighthouse Writers; Naropa poets Swanee Astrid, Simone Liggins, Ben Gross; Slam Nuba co-slam master Hakeem Furious; and performance poet SETH. Joining them, Michael Annis introduces his alt/rock ensemble Ghost Ship Rats in a premiere of the electrifying "Wolves at the Mall," featuring Roseanna Frechette.

Art from Ashes, the award winning Colorado non-profit serving youth through transformational creative writing programs, opens the festival at 11:30am, led by the organization's Director Catherine O'Neill Thorn. Other showcased organizations throughout the afternoon include Columbine Poets, Lighthouse Writers, Cannon Mine Poets, Poetry Society of Colorado, Corner Beet Open Mic, Merc Friday Nights open mic, and Boulder's Beyond Academia Free Skool, interspersed with many of the region’s engaging performers of poetry and spoken word. Those featured include Bill Tremblay, Phil Woods, Guillermo Lazo, Ramon Del Castillo, Carson Reed, Barb Test, Jessica Chernila, Padraic Cooper, Darcy Reed, Franklin Cruz, Kyle Sutherland, Brice Maiurro, James (the man of) Steele.

Ed Ward of Stories, Stories, Nancy Stohlman of FBomb Flash Fiction, Rob Geisen, and Rachel Ann Harding will be on hand for a storytelling hour before early evening kicks-off with a Poetry Slam (6:30-7:30) pitting members of Denver’s three first place winning slam venues (Denver Mercury Slam, Slam Nuba, Minor Disturbance) against each other. The hour-long slam is hosted by longtime slam veteran Ian Dougherty.

Afternoon and late night readings are co-hosted by event organizers SETH, Frechette, and Whittington. From 10pm-midnight audience may step up to an open mic, that also features Tom Peters, longtime host of Boulder's “So, You're a Poet” series. The ensemble Art Compost & the Word Mechanics will provide improv musical accompaniment.

Poetry writing workshops conducted by Julie Cummings of Columbine Poets and poet Claire Boyce will commence in the Mercury Café jungle room. The first workshop will begin at 10:30am, one hour before the official 11:30am kickoff. The second workshop at 11:45. Both are free and open to the public.

Colorado Poetry Rodeo was first presented by KUVO Radio in 1989 with a statewide call for submissions. Selected poets were recorded and aired on the station throughout April (National Poetry Month) with the month-long celebration culminating in a marathon poetry reading open to the community. Since that first KUVO-sponsored year, this annual community event has been kept alive by various organizers and hosts including the late poet Woody Hildebrant, Mercury Cafe owner Marilyn Megenity, Jam Before the Slam hosts SETH, Roseanna Frechette, and others.

“Some of us were involved in the first Poetry Rodeo and are super jazzed to be involved still at a time when our community is definitely alive and kicking, and with so much fresh new energy” says Frechette. “Poetic roots run deep in this town, and it's good to feel that connection... fully charged and current!”

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