Tag Archives: Events

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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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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The name Sylvia Plath incites thoughts of deep, depressive poetry and a woman who abruptly ended her life. But her raw, revealing writing has inspired and influenced generations of new writers and poets.

Born in 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts, Plath had always been drawn to language. From the age of eleven, she kept a journal and published poems in her regional newspapers and magazines. In 1850, following her high school graduation, Plath’s first national publication was printed in the Christian Science Monitor.

Plath completed her undergraduate degree at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. After graduation, she moved the Cambridge, England as a Fulbright Scholar where she met Ted Hughes, whom she married in 1956. One year later, she returned to Massachusetts and studied with the writer Robert Lowell. From there, she had success publishing her first poetry collection, Colossus, in England and had two children named Frieda (1960) and Nicholas (1962).

Most of Plath’s poetry and writing drew from her personal experiences and struggles. While attending Smith College, she spent a disastrous summer living in New York City. Her experiences from that summer worked as the basis for her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, released in 1963. The novel was originally published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. By sharing her deeply personal experiences, Plath had a great impact on the genre of confessional poetry.

Her tragic death left behind many unpublished works. Those poems were gathered and published posthumously in 1982 as The Collected Poems. Unfortunately, she was not alive for the moment that collection won her the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Plath’s words continue to stand out in time, providing insight into the darkness of life and Plath’s experience of life. Plath was deeply connected to her consciousness and self, something that carried depth within her writing. As Sylvia Plath describes, “I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.”


Video: Sylvia Plath reads her poem “Daddy”

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Edith Wharton may not have published her first novel until she was 40 years old, but she was a prolific writer who actually began writing poetry and fiction as a young girl, even writing a novella at age eleven. Publishing was seen as something women, especially those of her class, didn’t do (their goal was supposed to be obtaining a “good” marriage) so even though she continued to write and publish — in secret, privately, and anonymously or under another name — she was much older when she finally became known as a writer.

Later in her life, living in Paris when World War I broke out, Wharton used her status and wealth to establish workrooms for unemployed seamstresses, convalescent homes for tuberculosis sufferers, hostels for refugees, and schools for children fleeing war-torn Belgium.

In addition to her fifteen novels, seven novellas, and eighty-five short stories, Wharton published poetry, books on design, travel, literary and cultural criticism, and a memoir. Her novel The Age of Innocence won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature, making Wharton the first woman to win the award. She was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930. Besides being the first woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize, she also received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Yale University and a full membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


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“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” ~Gloria Steinem

International Women’s Day commemorates the movement for women’s rights, and was originally called International Working Women’s Day. The earliest observance of a Women’s Day was in New York in 1909, organized by the Socialist Party of America. Over the years, various countries observed a similar day at different times, many in conjunction with strikes, rallies, and other protests in support of increased rights and better conditions for women.

The United Nations began celebrating in International Women’s Day in 1975, International Women’s Year. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace. Many countries currently treat it as an official national holiday with many others (including the U.S.) celebrating it unofficially.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee visited CSU on Monday. She was the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her part in ending the Liberian Civil War. “Trained as a trauma counsellor for former child soldiers, as well as the leader of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement, Gbowee spoke on her experiences with her part in ending the Liberian Civil War as well as the importance of acceptance and embracing humanity.” At one point during her speech, Gbowee said, “When people say America is divided I say ‘yes indeed,’ and when people ask me if we will find our way back I say ‘yes.’ To be whole again, your country must break down issues on the humanity of those issues.”

The 2017 UN Secretary-General’s Message for International Women’s Day begins, “Women’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed.” It goes on to say, “Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies.” It ends with, “On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.”

Video: a International Women’s Day message from UN Women’s Executive Director

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Image credit: bell hooks Institute

Image credit: bell hooks Institute

bell hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins on September 25, 1952. The town of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where she and her five siblings grew up and went to school, was segregated, and her experiences in this community helped shape the commitment to feminism and resistance to racism central to her life’s work.

hooks wrote her first book, Ain’t I a Woman, while she was an undergraduate student at Stanford University. Her pen name, bell hooks, was borrowed from her great-grandmother, but she used the lower-case letters as a means to foreground the content of her writings rather than her identity as author. After it was published in 1981, Publisher’s Weekly ranked it in the “twenty most influential women’s books of the previous twenty years.”

Throughout her career, hooks has held academic positions at The University of California in Santa Cruz, Yale University, Oberlin College, and City College of New York. She is known as a “crossover” academic, meaning that her works span many academic disciplines. The focus of her over thirty published works has been race and gender theory, but these works are remarkably diverse in how they apply race and gender theory to various disciplines, from pedagogy and teaching to film and media studies. In academic communities today, her works are read, taught, and considered foundational in many fields.

Alongside her various theoretical and critical publications, she has also published five children’s books, a memoir, works of poetry, as well as appearing in numerous films. Today she lives in Kentucky.

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Toni Morrison is among the most acclaimed African American authors in U.S. history. In 1993, she became the first African American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. She also received a 1988 Pulitzer Prize for her novel Beloved and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio on February 18, 1931. Even at an early age, she showed a love of literature and reading, going on to major in English and classics and Howard University and to get her master’s degree from Cornell in 1955. Her thesis focused on the works of Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner, both of whose literary influences can be seen in her work.

Morrison’s novels feature African-American protagonists and span the length of U.S. history, from the colonial period (A Mercy) to the Civil War (Beloved) to the Korean war (Home). In addition to her novels, she has also published a work of literary criticism—Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination—a collection of essays and speeches, several children’s books, as well as the libretto for the opera Margaret Gardner in 2005.

Morrison taught throughout her career and was a professor at Princeton University from 1989 until 2006. A prolific writer, Morrison continues to produce work, publishing a novella as recently as 2015.

Video: Mini bio from Biography.

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~from intern Joyce Bohling


Recently I shared a story here on the blog—“What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?”—exploring career options for English majors. For that post, I interviewed Career Education Manager for the College of Liberal Arts, Katie Russo, who explained all that English majors bring to the professional world.

To continue my exploration into this subject, I attended the CSU Career Fair to talk to recruiters themselves and see what kinds of skills employers are looking for.

I prepared for the Career Fair in all the ways you’re supposed to—took my resume to the Career Center to polish it up, did a little research about the companies and organizations that were going to be there, and dressed in my most professional attire. Still, I felt nervous, like there was more I should be doing.

“Maybe I’ll just wake up tomorrow and be an entirely different person,” I thought Tuesday night. “That seems like it will increase my chances of being hired significantly.”

Of course, that didn’t happen. The name and major printed on the name tag I was given before I entered the Fair declared me to be, still, Joyce the English major.

Joyce, the English major

Joyce, the English major

I was struck, as I entered the Grand Ballroom and took a turn around the room, by the wide variety of employers and jobs. If you wanted to work for a bank, there were banks. If you wanted to work in social services, there were organizations that assist underserved populations. If you wanted to work for a national or state park, there were national and state parks. Restaurants, manufacturers, hotels, public schools, insurance agencies… There were even religious organizations recruiting students interested in a career in ministry. It’s encouraging to think that, whatever your passions and interests, there are employers out there looking to hire you.

Admittedly, one of my greatest fears attending events like the Career Fair is that it will be viciously competitive. I had visions of recruiters glancing over my resume, looking me up and down, and sneering, “What do you think you’re doing here?”

But my anxiety turned out to be unwarranted. Many were very excited to see I had a background in writing and teaching. Some were recruiting for specific jobs and internships that I wasn’t qualified for, but when I said I was looking to get experience in communications, they said, “Oh, cool—our company hires communications people too! Here’s the person to contact.”

Some recruiters were honest that their company’s positions were very competitive, but no one was rude or told me I need not apply.

In fact, only one recruiter told me outright that I wasn’t qualified at all—for the simple reason that her company was only hiring licensed psychologists. She was very nice about it.


In the end, I was glad I overcame my fears and went to the Career Fair. No one scoffed at the idea of an English looking for work or suggested that I transform into an entirely different person; in fact, a number of recruiters seemed very pleased to talk to me and encouraged me to follow up.

What’s more, I found out about some job opportunities in the area I wouldn’t otherwise have known about, which was, after all, the point: to make a good impression, yes, but also to help think about what career options are right for me.

In other words, I was reminded that career exploration is not about becoming someone else, someone that you imagine companies will want to hire. It’s about figuring out what’s a good fit for you.

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Author, civil rights activist, and women’s rights activist Alice Walker was born in Putnam County, Georgia in 1944. Born into a family of sharecroppers, she was the youngest of eight children. She grew up surrounded by oral tradition, hearing stories from her grandfather.

Her grandfather’s stories inspired her, at the young age of 8, to being writing the novel that would become The Color Purple. As she explained it, “with my family, I had to hide things. And I had to keep a lot in my mind.” Writing became a way for her to get some of these thoughts out. At the same age, she was shot with a BB pellet in her right eye while playing with her older brothers. This left her with a visible scar in her eye, making her self-conscious and turning her into a shy and timid girl.

Under the Jim Crow Laws in Georgia, Walker attended a segregated school. In her own words, “I grew up in the South under segregation. So, I know what terrorism feels like — when your father could be taken out in the middle of the night and lynched just because he didn’t look like he was in an obeying frame of mind when a white person said something he must do.”

Walker wrote her first book of poetry during her senior year at Sarah Lawrence College, where she graduated in 1965. By 1982, The Color Purple was published as her third novel and turned into a 1985 movie directed by Steven Speilberg, featuring influential women like Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg. Walker won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Color Purple.

Walker’s influence extends beyond her writing. She worked as a social worker, teacher, lecturer, and took part in Mississippi’s 1960s Civil Rights Movement. She also participated in the 1963 March on Washington. In 2003, Walker was arrested outside the White House with 26 others during the March 8th International Women’s Day. In an interview with Democracy Now, she said “I was with other women who believe that the women and children of Iraq are just as dear as the women and children in our families, and that, in fact, we are one family.”

Walker was the focus of a 2014 documentary Alice Walter: Beauty in Truthpart of the American Masters series. According to PBS, the films “showcase extraordinary women and girls who are changing the world.” Beauty in Truth “explores Walker’s relationship with her mother, poverty, and participation in the Civil Rights Movement, which were the formative influences on her consciousness and became the inherent themes in her writing.” (Watch the movie online: https://vimeo.com/136860538).

[Video: In 2013, The WOW Festival included the world exclusive premiere of Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth, a feature documentary film directed by Pratibha Parmar about the life and art of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple. After the screening, Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar took part in a Q & A.]

At the age of 73, Alice Walker continues to be an outspoken activist, using her history as a touchpoint for pushing back against current national issues.

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Audre Lorde was a black writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, teacher, and civil rights activist, who described herself as a “lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Her poems and prose largely dealt with issues related to civil rights, feminism, and the exploration of black female identity. Jerome Brooks says in Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation, “Lorde’s poetry of anger is perhaps her best-known work.”

Lorde was born in New York City on February 18, 1934. Her parents were Caribbean immigrants who settled in Harlem. Lorde learned to read and write at a young age, and wrote her first poem when she was in the 8th grade. She went on to attend a high school for gifted students. It was during college that she came to identify herself as a lesbian and a poet.

She went on to earn a master’s degree in Library Science at Columbia University. She served as a librarian in New York public schools from 1961 through 1968, when her first volume of poetry, First Cities, was published. In 1962, Lorde married Edward Rollins, with whom she had two children and later divorced. She spent time as writer-in-residence at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. Her second volume of poetry, Cables to Rage, came out of her time and experiences there.

Lorde went on to become a visiting professor in Berlin, Germany at the Free University of Berlin. While in Germany, she was influential in the start of the Afro-German movement. “Instead of fighting systemic issues through violence, Lorde thought that language was a powerful form of resistance and encouraged the women of Germany to speak up instead of fight back.” (Piesche, Peggy (2015). “Inscribing the Past, Anticipating the Future”). A documentary was made about her time in Berlin, “Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984-1992.”

Audre Lorde battled cancer for the final fourteen years of her life. She wrote The Cancer Journals, which won the American Library Association Gay Caucus Book of the Year Award in 1981. Lorde once said, “I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and to share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigating pain.”

In 1980, she co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first U.S. publisher for women of color. She was also a founding member of Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa, an organization that worked to raise concerns about women under apartheid. From 1991 until her death in 1992, she was the New York State Poet Laureate. In 1992, she received the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from Publishing Triangle. In an African naming ceremony before her death, she took the name Gamba Adisa, which means “Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known.”

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