Bean Cycle, image by Tim Mahoney

“Spoken word poetry is the art of performance poetry. I tell people it involves creating poetry that doesn’t just want to sit on the paper, that something about it demands to be heard out loud or witnessed in person.” -Sarah Kay

We’ve spent this week celebrating the form of slam poetry and spoken word. We have our favorite performances, but there are also countless local opportunities to get involved with slam poetry. We’ve compiled a list of places around Fort Collins where you can hear slam poetry, and even share some of your own. Let us know if you’ve found other fun ways to get involved with poetry, we’d love to know!

Places to share and exchange poetry

  • Poetry Slam at the Bean Cycle, Fort Collins: On the first Friday of every month at 7:30pm, visit the Bean Cycle where you can listen to or share your own spoken word. For the last 12 years, the event has been hosted by Larry “Booger” Holgerson. The Rocky Mountain Collegian says “this accepting social poetry environment is a great place to meet poets and reach a larger audience.” Read the Collegian’s article for more information about these slams.
  • Slamogadro at Avogadro’s Number, Fort Collins: This slam poetry competition happens on the last Sunday each month at Avogadro’s Number. Readings start at 7pm. Follow their Facebook page for more information.
  • I AM Open Mic, Fort Collins: This open mic happens on the last Friday each month at the Bean Cycle Roasters. People are encouraged to “come and share their expressions with the Fort Collins Community.” This event is not limited to poetry, working to bring together musicians, poets, comedians, storytellers, and all creative artists. Open mic starts at 8pm.
  • Lo Co Poetry Slam, Loveland: Make the trip down to the Lo Co Artisan Coffee House on the third Saturday of each month for a local poetry slam. Visit their events calendar for more information on events at the coffee house.
  • Punch Drunk Press, Denver: This organization is located in Denver and hosts various spoken work and poetry events. If you’re interested in Denver and Boulder’s poetry scene, watch their Facebook page for upcoming events.

 

Places to hear poetry

  • ForkSocket Reading Series, Fort Collins: This reading series is hosted by the MFA students at CSU, taking place at the Wolverine Letterpress & Publick House. It is an “attempt at an atypical reading structure intended to inform if not challenge conventional ideologies that have been associated with the negative situation.” These events happen multiple times throughout the school year so watch their Facebook page for event information.
  • The Creative Writing Reading Series, Fort Collins: While the series ended for the school year, the CSU English Department brings in poets and writers both from within and outside the Fort Collins community. Watch the English Department Facebook page for information about next school year’s series.
  • Dead Poet’s Society, CSU Fort Collins: CSU’s own Poet’s Society meets at the Wild Boar on alternating Friday’s from 7-9pm. Visit their Facebook page for more information about this group.
  • Greyrock Literary Club, CSU Fort Collins: This purpose of this club is to “spread awareness about the literary publishing community.” To learn more about this organization, visit their page.
  • The Greyrock Review, CSU Fort Collins: The GreyRock Review is the undergraduate literary magazine at CSU. Check out what others are writing, and submit some of your own creative work! Visit their website for more information.
  • Creative Writing Club, CSU Fort Collins: As their page explains, this club is “for writers who want to improve and share their work in an encouraging and constructive environment.” For more information about meeting times, you can visit their page.

Other ways to get involved locally

  • Front Ranges Writers: This is a group created to compile different readings and events around the Fort Collins area. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
  • CSU English Calendar of Events: For events that are happening at CSU, and within Fort Collins, you can watch our calendar of events for information on upcoming events or speakers.
  • Wolverine Letterpress & Publick House: This local non-profit literary/arts organization is a great source for all things creative. From a calligraphy class to knitting session and Poetry Slams, make sure you check their calendar of events for any upcoming events.

 

Next week is the final week of National Poetry Month 2017. We’ll be featuring local poets, those near and dear to our hearts.

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The Creative Writing Reading Series ended with this semester’s second, and final, thesis reading in the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art. The space was filled with family, peers and faculty members eager to hear the accomplishments of these three students: Joyce Bohling (MA in Creative Nonfiction), KT Heins (MFA in Fiction), and Cedar Brant (MFA in Poetry).

Camille Dungy opened the evening with an introduction, both excited and sad to begin the last event in the Creative Writing Reading Series of the school year.

As my fellow English department intern, I was excited to hear Joyce Bohling read an excerpt from her nonfiction graduate thesis. Associate Professor E. J. Levy introduced Bohling, describing her as a writer marked for a literary life. Bohling’s small, soft spoken demeanor is largely contrasted with her fierce words on the page.

Bohling’s thesis builds on her personal journey with anorexia, moving through the science and cultural history of eating disorders and the modern fad of dieting. As she began her piece, a stark silence settled over the group. Her cultural criticism targeted professionals in the field who combine dieting with extreme exercise as the perfect (“healthy”) duo for weight-loss maintenance.

As Bohling presented fact after fact, her powerful voice permeated the room. The weight of her evidence piled against the alleged success of dieting, moving from a satirical to an outright dismissive tone as we learned more about her personal experiences with dieting. We were left with an important explanation surrounding the reality of Health at Every Size, a lasting message that will still resonate long after the reading.

Levy took the time to also introduce MFA fiction student KT Heins, who shared the first chapter of her novel. As Levy explained, Heins’ violent and eerie prose was something that was both haunting and haunted. The story revolved around a lesbian who lost her lover one year ago to anorexia, an unplanned but recurring topic for the evening.

As she began, Heins’ words were filled with intense imagery that worked to describe the vivid scenery of the world within her novel. We followed her characters as they built a life together, a life before loss. Through her descriptions and narration, I could picture the glass house they bought in Aspen, and the way each character moved in that space, in sync with one another.

A feeling of cold, and loss, carried throughout the reading. I could almost feel the cold surround me, mimicking Heins’ tone as the ghost of the lost partner appeared, followed by the absolute weight of the memory. Her first chapter left me wanting more of this story, a haunting reflection on love and loss.

Finally, Cedar Brant read an excerpt from her MFA poetry collection. While Associate Professor and poet Dan Beachy-Quick was unable to attend the event, he sent a speech introducing Brant’s poetry which Associate Professor Sasha Steensen read.

Through Beachy-Quick’s well-formulated words, we learned of the elegant and philosophical nature of Brant’s poetry. Her deeply vulnerable poetry allows us to “see how she is of and in the world.”

Before beginning her reading, Brant explained that the inspiration for her collection, and the focus on fire, came from the experience she had when her house burned down. Unsurprisingly, her poems are themed around these powerful images and memories of fire. These poems, according to Brant, are a “space where more parts of myself can be contained.”

Brant’s voice was calm and steady as she moved through each poem, delicately circling around the theme of fire. As an audience, we moved through her painful memories and her fluctuating relationship with her sister. Each poem took these smaller memories and expanded into larger ideals and reflections. With Brant, we experienced her giving parts of herself back to the earth, allowing us to dwell on our own relationship with the earth.

When the reading ended, I found myself wanting more. This past year, each graduating MA and MFA student has worked tirelessly on completing their final thesis project. I feel privileged to have shared in this part of their process, hearing just a portion of the work that Joyce Bohling, KT Heins, and Cedar Brant put into these creative projects. I can’t help but think about the small pieces of themselves they will leave behind, pieces that have forever become a part of their work and of us.

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Today we are continuing our focus on spoken word poetry and poets. These are some of our favorite spoken word poems. What are some of yours?

Video: “What Teachers Make” by Taylor Mali

Video: Rachel Rostad – “Names”

Video: Neil Hilborn – “OCD”

Video: Sabrina Benaim – “Explaining My Depression to My Mother”

Video: Beautiful Body by Natalie Patterson

Video: Lily Myers – “Shrinking Women”

Tomorrow we’ll conclude our week focused on spoken word poetry with some local open mic opportunities.

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For this week of National Poetry Month, we are featuring spoken word poetry and poets. Today, we wanted to share some spoken word projects you might be interested in.


Button Poetry was founded in 2011, launching the first Button website and blog soon after. They have being promoting and producing spoken word poetry, creating high quality videos and books and recordings, ever since.

 


All Def Poetry is a YouTube channel presented by Russell Simmons that shares weekly performances by emerging and established spoken word artists. “Fresh, riveting, and featuring some of the best voices in the genre.”

 

Project VOICE is “a team of highly accomplished writers, performers, and educators,” using spoken word poetry to “entertain, educate, and inspire” They say on their website that, “Through award-winning performances and innovative workshops, Project VOICE is dedicated to promoting empowerment, improving literacy, and encouraging empathy and creative collaboration in classrooms and communities around the world.” In related news, Speakeasynyc is “is the leading youtube channel for great spoken word poets from around the US,” including the poets involved with Project VOICE.

 


Poetry Slam, Inc. is “a non-profit organization that organizes the National Poetry Slam, the Individual World Poetry Slam, and the Women of the World Poetry Slam. PSi is also charged with overseeing the international coalition of poetry slams.” Their YouTube channel has a great collection of videos from these events and more.

 

Stayed tuned: Tomorrow we’ll be sharing some of our favorite spoken word poems. For today, have fun diving into these great projects and their collections.

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For this week of National Poetry Month, we are featuring spoken word poetry and poets.

Andrea Gibson is an award-winning poet and activist born in Calais, Maine. Gibson has lived in Boulder, Colorado since 1999. Gibson also goes by Andrew and uses gender-neutral pronouns. Their website bio says,

Andrea Gibson is not gentle with their truths. It is this raw fearlessness that has led them to the forefront of the spoken word movement…Gibson has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on war, class, gender, bullying, white privilege, sexuality, love, and spirituality.

Now, on their fifth full-length album FLOWER BOY and their second book THE MADNESS VASE, Gibson’s poems continue to be a rally cry for action and a welcome mat at the door of the heart’s most compassionate room.

A four-time Denver Grand Slam Champion, Gibson finished fourth at the 2004 National Poetry Slam, and third at both the 2006 and 2007 Individual World Poetry Slam. In 2008, Gibson became the first poet ever to win the Women of the World Poetry Slam.

When asked in a 2015 interview “Which poets and/or artists have influenced your work?”, Gibson said,

Oh, so many. Spoken word artists who have influenced me a great deal are Sonya Renee, Rachel McKibbens, Derrick Brown, Anis Mojgani, Patricia Smith…that list is so long I could keep writing names for the next hour. The first poet whose work I truly fell in love with was Mary Oliver, and her books are still the place I find the most comfort in.

Video: Andrea Gibson performing “Angels of the Get Through,” featuring musical accompaniment by Kaylen Krebsbach

Video: Andrea Gibson performing “A Letter to My Dog, Exploring the Human Condition,” featuring accompaniment by her dog, Squash

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For this week of National Poetry Month, we are featuring spoken word poetry and poets.

Image by Jhayne

Hearing a poem read by its author adds an additional dimension to any work.The inflection, the empty spaces, the tone. All of these pieces work together to create the art of spoken word.

Shane Koyzcan was born in 1976 in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. At the National Poetry Slam in 2000, he won the Individual Championship title, making him the first Canadian to win. From there, he continued to garner success for his slam poetry. He went on to publish his first full-length poetry collection in 2005 called Visiting Hours. This work brought together a collection his spoken word and poetry, all dealing with the “intricacies of human emotions.”

His collection made The Guardian’s “Books of the year” list in 2005 for Koyzcan’s “ability to take you straight to the heart of what on the surface may seem like mundane actions but which turn out to be much more complex. He makes you feel the depth of love, joy, and pain in everyday life. Love, after all, is in everything.”

In 2010, he performed a portion of his “We Are More” piece at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. In 2014, he released a digital spoken word album titled Silence Is A Song I Know All The Words To. Beyond the audio element, artist Gareth Gaudin illustrated his poems into a graphic novel of the same name.

Koyczan went viral online with his 2013 “To this Day Project.” The spoken word, set to an animated video on YouTube, addresses Koyzcan’s personal experiences with bullying. The video brought further attention to Koyzcan as a slam poet, and raised awareness about bullying.

Video: Shane Koyczan reads “To This Day”

As Koyczan explains, “My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways. Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. This piece is a starting point.”

Through this project, Koyczan hopes to bring attention to the ongoing issue of bullying and its presence in schools today. As his poem explains, he grew up “surrounded by people who used to say/ that rhyme… about sticks and stones/ As if broken bones/ hurt more than the names we got called,/ and we got called them all.”

Spoken word has a way of sticking with people, hearing the words spoken with speed or suspended through dramatic silence. Koyzcan used his own stories to shed light on a problem children still have today. But, “to this day,” there’s still more we can do to help.

Shane Koyczan is currently on a Canadian and International tour that started in April and is continuing through June. This tour promotes his new album titled Debris. He will make an appearance at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado on June 16-19. (For more information: http://bit.ly/2nNHrE6.)

Want to know more about this poet?

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Today, April 17, is National Haiku Day (image by Jill Salahub)

  • The Crisis & Creativity Workgroup, comprised of writers, artists, scientists, and community members, has had a proposal exploring species extinction through poetry/art awarded a grant from the School of Environmental Sustainability — Dan Beachy-Quick and Cedar Brant are principal investigators with this project. More information can be found here: http://source.colostate.edu/school-global-environmental-sustainability-announces-global-challenges-research-teams-resident-fellow-awards/
  • Roze Hentschell attended the annual meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America in Atlanta, April 6-8, where she discussed her paper, “John Marston at Paul’s,” an examination of Marston’s plays written for the boy actors at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the early seventeenth century.
  • EJ Levy was interviewed as part of her recent visit to UMass-Lowell; the interview appears here: https://www.uml.edu/News/stories/2017/EJ-Levy.aspx
  • Dan Robinson’s third novel, Death of a Century, will be re-released in paperback next week.  Of the novel, The Manhattan Review of Books wrote, Robinson “deals with the main character’s shellshock with a great deal of care and sympathy, while paralleling the brutality of the world off the battlefield. This is a book not to be missed; it is a mystery, thriller, historical drama in one package,” and Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “Robinson’s atmospheric tale of betrayal and revenge paints a passionate picture of the Lost Generation…”
  • Barbara Sebek contributed a paper, “Archy’s Afterlives: Temporal Mash-ups During Times of Crisis,” to a seminar at the Shakespeare Association of America conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  The paper discusses the traces left by King James’s court jester, Archibald Armstrong.
  • One of Maurice Irvin’s MFA thesis stories was accepted for publication in Portland Review‘s upcoming Spring Issue.
  • Kylan Rice will be pursuing a PhD in English Literature at UNC Chapel Hill in the fall.
  • What Goes Down” by Kayann Short (BA 81, MA 88) has just been published in Rooted: The Best New Arboreal Nonfiction (Outpost19). Her flash fiction story “When It Was Lost” will appear in the spring issue of Dash.
  • Over the past year, we have lost quite a few members of our English department family.  Each year, CSU hosts a Rams Remember Rams Service.  Here are the details: Our campus community is invited to a candlelight ceremony Monday, April 17, 5 p.m. honoring CSU students, faculty, staff, and retirees who passed away this academic year.  The 15-minute ceremony will be held on the north steps of the Administration Building and will include a reading of the names – along with time for silent reflection. The Danforth Chapel will be open until 6 p.m. as a quiet place for personal contemplation.

CSAL Roundtable Discussion 

Sue Doe wishes to announce that the Center for the Study of Academic Labor (CSAL) will host a roundtable discussion of the CSU “Proposal for Re-Envisioning Faculty Appointments” (authored by the Committee on Non Tenure-Track Faculty –CoNTTF) featuring leaders of the academic labor movement on April 27 at 3 PM. Visiting campus will be Maria Maisto of the New Faculty Majority, Joe Berry, faculty member in the Chicago Labor Education Program and  author of Reclaiming the Ivory Tower, John Curtis, former research director of the American Sociological Association, Marisa Allison, founder of the Women & Contingency Database and doctoral candidate at George Mason University’s Public and Applied Sociology Program, and Jim Walsh, University of Colorado-Denver Political Science Professor, social justice activist, and founder/director of the Denver Romero Theatre Troupe.

Reading

New York City author Deborah Clearman and CLC’s Mary Ellen Sanger read from their books on life “south of the border” at Wolverine Letterpress and Publick House on Thursday, 4/20 at 8pm. Deborah writes evocative stories of Guatemalan realities, and Mary Ellen writes of the women she met when unjustly imprisoned in Mexico. There will be wine and beautiful cookies!

TEFL/TESL Advocacy Week 

On behalf of the TEFL/TESL Student Association, we are proud to promote our yearly event, Advocacy Week!

This week helps us achieve our central goals of promoting intercultural, linguistic, and literacy awareness in the community. To give back to the community, we have chosen to run a bookdrive for the Larimer County Jail. Bring in used or new paperback books to stock their shelves! Donation boxes can be found in the English Department office and around campus.

To engage the larger community, this week will feature presentations from Dr. Sue Doe, Dr. Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, Dr. Kristina Quynn, the TEFL/TESL MA cohort, and TEFL/TESL alumni, focusing primarily on L2 and interdisciplinary writing. Find more details in the “2017 Advocacy Week Schedule” flyer.

Click to see a larger version

Lastly, we are excited to welcome our keynote speaker, Dr. Eli Hinkel to present “Teaching and Learning Vocabulary for Academic Writing” on Friday afternoon. Dr. Hinkel comes to us with over thirty years of experience and multiple publications which have influenced her work with ELL writers.

This year’s guest speaker

We look forward to hosting you at another successful and engaging Advocacy Week!

The Human Library 

The Fort Collins Rotaract Club will be hosting an event on Friday, April 21 from 4:30-8p.m called the Human Library.

The Human Library is a concept created in Copenhagen 17 years ago in order to establish a safe conversational space, where the people are the books. A “Living Book” is someone who represents various backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. Books challenge prejudice and help connect people through respectful conversation with those who come to borrow them as “readers”. Each Book has a title that relates to their experiences, backgrounds, and/or identity. However, we challenge people to not judge a book by its cover and come with an open mind!

Conversations during the event are offered for 5-15 minutes, depending on what questions the reader has for the Living Book. Checking out a Book is a first come, first serve basis so people can come and go as they please.

Come engage in the conversation! If you would like to participate in an event that creates an atmosphere of storytelling, promotes community building, and celebrates differences then we would love to see you there.

Some featured Living Books include:

My Life in 2 Bathrooms
Muslim Citizen
Chief of Police

CSU Location: Lory Student Center Cherokee Park
Event Contact Name: Lisa Evans
Event Contact Email: levans2@rams.colostate.edu
Event Contact Phone: 9704818230
Audience: Alumni, Community, Faculty, Retiree / Emeritus Faculty, Staff, Student, Youth, Other
Cost: Free!

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Image by Marcelo Noah

John Updike described Billy Collins’s poems as “more serious than they seem.” And indeed, while Collins’ poems are often laugh-out-loud funny, many end on a touching, sometimes somber note.

Billy Collins is one of the most well-known and financially successful poets in the United States. He was the United States poet laureate from 2001 to 2003 and the New York State poet laureate from 2004 to 2006. On the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he was asked to write a commemorative poem, which he read to both houses of Congress. (See him read the poem on 9-11-2011).

Billy Collins has published fourteen collections of poetry to date. He has received the Mark Twain Prize for Humor Poetry and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. His work has appealed numerous times in the Best American Poetry, and he edited the 2006 edition of this series.

Video: 3-year-old recites poem, “Litany” by Billy Collins. The little boy eventually got to meet the poet.

You also might enjoy this interview with Billy Collins from The Writer’s Almanac Bookshelf.

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~from the TEFL/TESL Student Association

We are excited to announce that Advocacy Week is almost upon us! As a registered GSA, the TEFL/TESL Student Association (TTSA) strives to promote linguistic and cultural diversity, both here on campus and in the larger Fort Collins community. We do this through Advocacy Week, a yearly event where we organize engaging faculty presentations and student-led colloquia, bring in a guest speaker, and take part in community outreach.

This year’s guest speaker, Eli Hinkel (click image to see larger version of the flyer)

This year, we have worked hard to organize the best Advocacy Week possible. We have many presentations planned, including talks led by Dr. Sue Doe, Dr. Kristina Quynn, and Dr. Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala. We also have panel presentations led by graduate students and alumni, as well as INTO CSU faculty. These hour-long presentations will take place starting this coming Monday-Thursday from 12:00-1:00 p.m. and again from 5:30-6:30. On Friday, April 21st, we will have our keynote address given by Dr. Eli Hinkel. Her talk, titled “Teaching and Learning Vocabulary for Academic Writing,” will take place at 5:00 p.m. with refreshments beginning at 4:30. For details on presentation times and locations, be sure to take a look at our Advocacy Week events flyer below.

Click image to see a larger version of the flyer

If you’re looking for another way to get involved in Advocacy Week, don’t forget about our book drive! For this year’s community outreach project, we are seeking new or gently used paperback books to benefit the Larimer County Jail library. We will be collecting books through the end of April and delivering them to the jail during the first week of May. Donation boxes can be found in the English Department office window, the Writing Center, and at INTO CSU in Spruce Hall.

We can’t wait to get Advocacy Week underway! If you have any questions regarding our presentations or book drive, please email Sarah at svannost@colostate.edu.

Hope to see you there!

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Image from rupikaur.com

Artist and poet Rupi Kaur was born in Punjab, India, in 1992. When she was only 4, her parents emigrated to Toronto, Canada. Her artistic and creative ability was something that emerged when she was a young age. Kaur began to draw and paint, inspired by her mom and would write poems for her friends, and even crushes.

As Kaur reflected in an interview, “I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on. I was moved by the ability of books to pull one out of their reality and into someone else’s…I want to put words to feelings we have trouble putting into words. Like the breath before the kiss, I want to make the mundane beautiful.”

At the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Kaur was able to pursue this passion by studying Rhetoric and Professional Writing. She then began posting her poems on social media sites, like Tumblr and Instagram. Through these venues she gained popularity and published her first collective works in 2015 titled milk and honey. 

The collection has received much attention for the voice she brings to violence, abuse, love, loss and family. Huffington Post said that “reading the [Kaur’s] book, is like getting the hug you need on a rainy day, the catharsis you crave after a tragedy.”

From the success of her first collection, Kaur has a contract for two more books with one slated for fall of this year.

While her poetry perfectly captures a wide breadth of powerful moments, it’s not without lots of time and sweat on Kaur’s part. As she explains, “The words get in the way of writing.” Her process often involves “Freewriting. Rewriting. Entering. Backspacing. Coping. Pasting. Until I stop. Until it feels like I’ve gotten out everything that needed to be written and then I will put it away.”

Rupi Kaur has made waves in both the poetry realm and within larger feminist work. In 2015, she posted a controversial image on Instagram of her lying on a bed with an obvious menstrual stain on her sweatpants. This was part of a Visual Rhetoric course at the University of Waterloo.

Through her art, Kaur fights to bring attention to these taboos of society, becoming a powerful messenger for many women without a voice of their own.

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