Silas Soule was killed on the streets of Denver on April 23, 1865. No one was ever charged with his murder, but a plaque at 15th and Lawrence streets honors the captain, then serving as the young city's provost marshal, who'd refused to let his men participate in the Sand Creek Massacre and later provided Congress with details of the horrors he’d seen on November 29, 1864. That's when volunteers led by Colonel John Chivington killed as many as 200 members of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes at a peaceful camp along Sand Creek. As thanks for his courage, Soule was murdered by Chivington supporters.
Soule is also remembered in “A Marked Man,” a touchstone poem in the book Marked Men, by Joseph Hutchison, who was named Colorado’s poet laureate last year. Hutchison, who works at the University of Denver, has been teaching a course this month on Sand Creek, and for the third and final class, “A Marked Man” will receive a theatrical performance at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. Ed Osborn, producer/director of Living Room Theatre, will return to the recently renovated Reiman Theater in historic Marjorie Reed Hall at the University of Denver — a stage he last acted on as a DU student in the ’70s — with eight other actors for The Power of Character: A Performance of "A Marked Man."
Not only does the date have resonance — it’s the 150th anniversary of Soule’s death — but so does the location: The University of Denver’s predecessor was founded by Chivington and territorial governor John Evans a few weeks before the Sand Creek Massacre. Evans was ultimately forced to resign for his role in Sand Creek. Over the past two years, DU has been grappling with its founders' ugly legacy, even commissioning a lengthy report that found Evans had created the climate that made the Sand Creek Massacre possible. The school is continuing to decide how Evans should be remembered — and "A Marked Man" is a good start.
This has been a busy time for Hutchison, as April is National Poetry Month, “and I said yes to maybe too many things,” he admits. But working with Osborn has “been an education,” he says. “I formatted the poem for him in script format. It was really amazing to me, once you start thinking in terms of speakers, how the structure of things changes…”
See for yourself when this piece of living history is presented. Tickets are $20 at jhwriter.com.
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Joe Hutchison, Colorado's poet laureate.