The idea of a black Odyssey, inspired by Homer’s ancient Greek yarn, isn’t a new one: One version, a modernized drama, just hit the stage as a dramatic reading at the Denver Center Theatre Company’s New Play Summit. But veteran Denver poet SETH’s version, a new poetic memoir called A Black Odyssey (Mercury HeartLink, $15), has been in the making for thirty years, and serves partly as a mashed-up retrospective of his own poetry and performance work that spanned those years. “All my life, I’d seen parallels between myself and my interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey as an allegory of one man’s journey toward manhood and, actually, toward authenticity,” he explains. The result is a book that’s meant to be read — and chanted, and sung — aloud as it travels the path of a modern black man in America.
So tonight, when SETH introduces the tome at a Tattered Cover book signing, you’ll get more than a reading. In a nod to Black History Month, he’ll begin by explaining his Odyssey and how it was informed by the original’s themes. And then his longtime ensemble, Art Compost and the Word Mechanics, will join him for a performance interpretation that includes both music and meter.
“We’ve been doing the Jam at the Slam at the Mercury every Sunday for thirteen years, and after all that time, they have a sensitivity to performing to poetry,” he says of his backup band. “But I will be reading read some of it a cappella, too,” he adds.
The reading begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street, and admission is free; for details, visit www.tatteredcover.com or call 303-436-1070.
Tue., Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m., 2013