While it often gets overshadowed by the music scene, Denver actually has a rich history of underground literature. From the Kerouac-inspired bohemian coffee and bookshops of 1960s Colfax to the Yellow Rake readings at Old Curtis Street Tavern, our city has been spawning independent works of fiction and poetry for decades. And there are few locals today more closely associated with DIY publishing than Charly "The City Mouse" Fasano. Whether hustling his books of poetry or impressively crafted audio-books, or giving one of his now iconic readings (he once opened a sold-out show at the Gothic -- an audience size almost unheard of for a live poet), Fasano has rooted himself in this city, becoming as much a part of the creative fabric as home-brew or cutesy indie-folk bands.
And now "The City Mouse" is gathering together his fellow zinesters and launching As Well As, an online magazine of poetry, fiction, photography, films and visual art. "As technology develops, [art and literature] become accessible in different formats and different platforms," says Fasano. "So this is a building block for people to become aware of what's going on. For instance, since Ken Arkind is such a performance-based poet, this gives people an opportunity to actually sit down and read his work. And it's a totally different tone when you sit down and read it. Or Doug Spencer, who paints with smoke on glass -- people know him from art openings at City. O' City and Sputnik. But this gives people the opportunity to really look at his stuff without other people around."
Fasano's passion for Denver and its plethora of creative types is the primary motivation for launching As Well As. His enthusiasm for all the little pockets of activity in the city is infectious, inspiring those who speak with him to either get out of the house and see a reading (or art-show, band, restaurant, etc.) or stay in and read one of the many homemade publications he champions. After fifteen years of self-publishing his poetry in Denver, Fasano has amassed a group of fellow underground writers for his new online publication that includes Brian Polk (publisher of the eight-year running Yellow Rake zine) and Dan Landes (owner of City, O' City and WaterCourse, and author of the upcoming novel Joonie and the Great Harbinger Stampede). "I had a short-list of people I've worked with that I contacted," says Fasano, "but eventually I want to open it up to submissions. It's an open format."
This Saturday, May 19, Fasano will celebrate the launch of As Well As with a night of live readings and music at Deer Pile, a DIY venue above City, O' City that's also owned by Landes. The celebrations begin with drinks downstairs at City, O' City at 7 p.m., then everyone heads upstairs for readings by Ken Arkind, Dan Landes, Brian Polk, Mike Marks and Mr. Mouse himself, with musical accompaniment by Allan Muñiz and Alejandro Sánchez. Directly after the readings, a comedy event with Ben Kronberg and Magic Cyclops will begin -- though Fasano maintains the two events are not linked.
"Comedy after poetry always works pretty well," he notes. Deer Pile manager "Jonny DeStefano really knows how to throw a party. I'm so excited about this space. It's not like a bar, it really gives people a nice space to focus on the performances. I'm really excited about what Dan has done with that. He continually supports local artists. We just figured out the other day that he was serving me coffee in Gunnison back in 1993 at this place called the Steaming Bean. He's been around a long time."
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And so has the City Mouse.