Well-versed: It's the little things in life that make it more palatable, and perhaps that's why National Poetry Month deserves attention. Or at least more attention than what's afforded by a few bad jokes. The art of verse, after all, serves no pragmatic purpose; it's there simply to make us look at things differently--like the color of Grandma's roses, or the way we feel after it rains. Maybe that's why National Poetry Month falls in early spring, when our sun-struck brains invariably turn to mush. Luckily, Denver has plenty to offer this month in terms of literate stimulation.
Two local enclaves of spoken-word aficionados kick off the special month with a handful of readings and activities. The Naropa Institute, where the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics provides a year-round forum for bards, presents Roots and Leaves: A Whitman Celebration, with Naropa faculty, including Jack Collom, Anselm Hollo, Andrew Schelling and Anne Waldman, honoring the American poet. The event, which runs from 8 to 10 tonight at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St. in Boulder, features multi-arts performances in addition to the readings; admission is $5 to $10. Call 546-3578. In Denver, the weekly Auraria-campus poetry get-together, Toads in the Garden, throws an open reading for anyone brave enough to step up to the podium from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sign up between 7 and 7:30 (you may also reserve a space by phone during that time) at the Daily Grind Coffee House, Tivoli Student Union, 900 Auraria Pkwy.; for details call 573-JAVA.
Whether you are a seasoned poet, an amateur or someone just looking for a kick, you'll also be able to versify spontaneously--for all the world to see--at the Plex, 14th and Curtis, beginning Friday. How is this possible? An eight-foot-tall, crowd-sized Magnetic Poetry Wall, similar to those interactive mix 'n' match word kits you'll find stuck to every bohemian fridge in town, will be at the entire city's disposal there, throughout April. The wall, brought to you through a collaboration by Magnetic Poetry founder Dave Kapell and the Colorado Center for the Book, will be introduced tomorrow between 6 and 10 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting, readings, children's activities and free poetry-book handouts. And who knows? It could turn out to be your fifteen minutes of a lifetime: Poems created on the wall may be considered for a book scheduled for publication in September.
Last but not least, on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Bug, 3654 Navajo St., Jafrika and Open Rangers collaborate in Random Axe of Rhyme, a monthly evening of ever-changing multimedia performance with a poetic bent. Joining them for April is Jawbone, a trio of Colorado nature lovers that expresses its predilection in poetry, story and song. Tickets are $8 ($6 Bug members); call 477-5977.
Great acoustics: One thing about the cream of the Nashville musicians crop--those pickers are so darn good that you just can't keep 'em down on the farm. Super-trio Douglas, Barenberg and Meyer (that's dobroist Jerry, guitarist Russ and bassist Edgar) prove that point when they play together, weaving stunning, blue-ribbon instrumentals that can't and won't be fenced in by category. Which means that when they haul their instruments on stage tonight at the Boulder Theater, 2130 14th St. in Boulder, the audience should be prepared to watch and listen in sheer amazement. Call 786-7030 or 449-6007 for tickets; they're $15.
In the raw: Essayist and National Public Radio commentator David Sedaris took the concept of "elfin wit" to a higher level back in 1992, when his hysterical recounting of his Christmas-season experiences as a Macy's elf had listeners across the country rolling on the floors. Though his high-pitched voice, rather elfish in itself, seems the perfect vehicle for that and subsequent on-air musings, Sedaris has also proven himself a side-splitting humorist in print: His first book, Barrel Fever, was a bestseller, and the second, Naked, should follow suit. Sedaris drops in tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., to read from and sign copies of the wickedly funny sophomore try; for details call 322-7727.
Barre brawl: The Colorado Ballet is finishing off its season utterly Colorado style, with a rootin', tootin' trio of Western-flavored works. Buffalo Bill's Saloon, a contemporary piece moved along by Richard Jarboe's snappy barroom score as recorded by bluegrass artists Tim and Molly O'Brien, provides the program's focal point; Balanchine's Western Symphony and Martin Fredmann's Centennial Suite complete the bill. Performances begin tonight at 7:30 at the Auditorium Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; subsequent programs continue tomorrow and Wednesday and on April 11 through 13. Tickets range from $14 to $50; call 830-TIXS for showtimes and reservations.
Mixed metaphors: One of the nicest things about music is its wonderfully plastic nature, which allows for open, lively cross-culturalism. In that spirit, it would seem that tonight's the night to compare and contrast classical and folk idioms as they rub elbows at two separate concerts.
For pristine listening and a good chunk of low-key humor, an altogether pleasant bill shared by classical guitarist Liona Boyd and idiosyncratic twelve-string picker Leo Kottke can't be beat. The pair performs--Boyd on the nylons, and Kottke on grittier steel strings--tonight at 7:30 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl.; for tickets, $13.50 or $18.50, call 830-TIXS.
At the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., a whole different kind of musical marriage will take place when Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues takes the stage. Blues harmonica artist Siegel, who once backed such masters as Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Willie Dixon, seems to have found a calling in his effort of more recent years: Chamber Blues, a crowd-pleasing mixture of classical notation and down-and-dirty harp work. Siegel and friends perform tonight at 7:30; tickets are $16. Call 431-3939.
Page advice: Everything you ever wanted to know about collecting books ought to be covered by the experts during an afternoon of Seminars for Booklovers at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St., today from 1 to 4:30. Sponsored in part by The Bloomsbury Review literary magazine and hosted by Patricia Jean Wagner, author of The Bloomsbury Review Booklover's Guide, the free gathering features a number of local speakers on topics ranging from collector's tips to book-preservation techniques. It's just the thing for those old-fashioned folks who still live sequestered among forests of bookshelves; for information, call 436-1070.
Wheel of fortune: It makes perfect sense when an institution as egalitarian as the Capitol Hill People's Fair invites the public to give a hand in choosing performers for the June open-air extravaganza. The annual People's Fair Auditions, a two-day marathon battle of the bands, is beginning to rival the festival itself as the biggest entertainment deal in town. This year's event, free to anyone who wants to attend, runs from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and tomorrow at Sluggers World Class Sports Bar and Restaurant, 2229 Blake St.; those willing to participate in balloting can purchase a score sheet for $1. Come on down and join the peanut gallery; for People's Fair information, call 517-FAIR.
America in-line: Remember when roller skating was something you did at a big, run-down barn of a rink filled with an endlessly moving circle of giggling girls and knock-kneed boys? Maybe you do and maybe you don't. But if you do, you also remember the few dancers on wheels who could skate circles around everyone else. It's a lost art. When we strap on our 'blades and helmets these days, concrete parks and speedy greenways are more to our liking.
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All is not lost, though: Steve Love's Roller Dance Express, a New York-based troupe performing this afternoon at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., blends the best of both worlds, updating the old roller-rink moves with a hip-hop beat and athletic acrobatics. Love and troupe perform today at 1 and 4:30; for tickets, $10, call 431-3939.
Dear diaries: This month at the Denver Central Library's Vida Ellison Gallery, life is an open book, but only until tax day. Diaries of the West, an exhibit featuring prominent selections from the more than 2,500 old journals housed in the library's Western History Department, can be seen in the seventh-floor gallery through April 15 only. A vintage wrinkled page of Colorado history, the show includes diaries kept by a wide variety of figures from the state's past, from Central City miners to Denver housewives. And like just about everything else at Central, it's free. The library is located at 14th and Broadway.
Elder statesman: Abba Eban has been an Israeli diplomat since the Jewish state was first authorized in 1947. Eban's distinguished career history includes stints as United Nations ambassador, cabinet member, negotiator and head of various governmental ministries and committees; he's also penned a number of books, including a 1992 autobiography. Eban reflects on his experiences as a statesman and constant participant in ongoing Arab-Israeli dealings tonight at 8, when he speaks at the University of Denver Fieldhouse, 2201 E. Asbury, DU campus, in conjunction with the Boettcher Foundation Lecture Series. Eban's lecture is free and open to the public; call 871-2649 to reserve tickets.
Poetry in motion: Not quite dance and not quite theater, the art of eurythmy, a system of movement designed to harmonize parts of the body with musical and vocal elements, is truly like nothing you've ever seen before. And the chance to see the artform--an early-twentieth-century invention of philosopher Rudolph Steiner--performed in these parts by Germany's Else Klink Eurythmy Ensemble is something you may never have again. The ensemble appears tonight at 8 at the Teikyo Loretto Heights Theater, 3001 S. Federal Blvd.; admission ranges from $15 to $25. For reservations call 830-