"I had trouble with poetry when I was in school," confesses Golda Solomon. "It wasn't accessible. My life experiences didn't relate to great British poets and all of that. I found that I related more to poets that told stories."
Solomon has plenty of her own stories to tell. After being heavily involved in the New York jazz scene of the 1960s, she began writing poetry in her early forties at the prompting of a college professor. The result was a dovetailing of music and verse that led to her creation of the Brooklyn Poetry Choir and Po' Jazz, the long-running poetry series at Greenwich Village's famed Cornelia Street Cafe.
"I call it poetry in partnership with jazz," she explains. "When people ask me, 'What instrument do you play?' I say, ' play words.'"
After a triumphant set at Dazzle last year, Solomon is bringing her passion for performance back to Denver. Tonight at 8 p.m., the spoken-word artist will appear at West Side Books, 3434 West 32nd Avenue, improvising alongside local poets and musicians Lynn Skinner, Bob Schlesinger and Ara Cruz.
"Adding the dimensions of music, of sound, of improvisation, brings things out in words," Solomon says. "They take on a new texture and depth. And if my words tell a story, then I've been successful."
Admission is $10, $7 for members of Creative Music Works, the local non-profit group promoting the event; call 303-860-5372 or visit www.creativemusicworks.org. As a preview, Solomon will also perform for free at 6 p.m. Friday, October 14, in Room F-100 of the Fine Arts Building at the Community College of Aurora, 16000 East CentreTech Parkway. Call 303-340-7531 for info. -- Jason Heller
The Denver Mint Reading Series starts off strong.
I had always hated poetry -- didn't matter if it was Poe or Neruda or the Beats. It always seemed so obtuse and meaningless, a lot like reading Shakespeare in the original old English. Give me a good novel any day.
But then I spent some time in Jackson, Mississippi, and I discovered the incredible spoken-word tradition of that city. It opened up poetry to me in ways I didn't know existed: There was so much passion, depth and texture to the performances and messages. I was mesmerized. Since then, I still turn a jaundiced eye to poetry, but I'm always willing -- hoping -- to be surprised.
Tonight, Dan Donaghy will surprise local audiences. He's in town from New York to read from his recently released collection of poems, Streetfighting, as part of the Denver Mint Reading Series organized by the English department at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center. Donaghy's ruminations on the streets of Philadelphia are hard-edged, yet tinged with a certain beauty. Come meet such hardscrabble characters as One-Eyed Timmy and Felix the Widower at 4 p.m. in the King Center Recital Hall on the Auraria campus.
For further information, visit www.denverpoetry.org/mint or call 303-352-3500. -- Amy Haimerl