Colorado’s literary aspirations are, appropriately enough, a mile high. And most of the year, our general bookish busyness around the state bears that out. In 2019, the literary scene saw corporate giants arrive in brick-and-mortar shops, the death of a great poet, new authors emerging, and much more. Here are the ten biggest literary stories of 2019:
Amazon Store Opens in Cherry Creek North
Whether or not you’re a fan of Jeff Bezos and his merchandising juggernaut that threatens mom-and-pop shops around the world, the establishment of a brick-and-mortar Amazon store in Cherry Creek North early in 2019 was definitely big news. Especially since it sits just blocks from where the Tattered Cover’s original location once stood, before the Denver indie darling moved to East Colfax Avenue and other locations citywide.
Denver Comic Con Becomes Denver Pop Culture Con
Denver Comic Con was less than a decade old when it chose to change its name following a court decision that determined that “Comic Con” was protected under copyright. Still, organizers maintain that the new moniker, Denver Pop Culture Con, is more representative of what Pop Culture Classroom — the nonprofit behind the event — does both at its annual celebration at the Colorado Convention Center and during the rest of the year. Whatever you call it, it’s the bright center of the nerd universe for one glorious Denver weekend. In 2020, it will happen over the Fourth of July.
The Colorado Author Hall of Fame Debuts
Colorado boasts its share of writers from over the years, but until 2019, the state never had a way to acknowledge them as a group. Judith Briles changed that this past year, when the first inductees to the Colorado Author Hall of Fame were awarded in a ceremony that honored Stephen King, Helen Thorpe, Clive Cussler and many more.
Central City Poetry Festival Debuts
September saw a new poetry festival grace the old mining and gambling town of Central City. The historic Teller House hosted the inaugural event, which brought together writers like keynote poet Khadijah Queen, David Hicks of Regis University's Mile High MFA program, former poet laureate Joseph Hutchison, and many more to interact with readers and fans. The festival plans to return in 2020.
Time Warp Comics Celebrates 35 Years in Business
When Wayne Winsett opened the doors of his comic shop back in 1984, he probably had dreams of it lasting for decades and supporting both his family and the population of four-color fans in Colorado. But he probably didn’t know just how much of an institution his shop would become to local nerd culture — especially his annual celebrations on Free Comic Book Day. “We’re still having fun," Winsett said on the occasion of his 35th anniversary. “We’re not giving up now.”
Kali Fajardo-Anstine's Big Year
When we interviewed Kali Fajardo-Anstine early in the year, we knew her 2019 debut collection Sabrina and Corina was good. But we didn’t know that the National Book Award folks would think so, too. The announcement of her short-listing was both a pleasant surprise and a welcome confirmation that Denver produces some of the best writers in today’s literary landscape — of which Fajardo-Anstine is definitely one.
Denver Poet Laureate Chris Ransick Passes
We said goodbye to one of Denver’s favorite poets in November of 2019. Chris Ransick was the sort of guy who positively affected everyone he met. Luckily, Chris led a life of poetry that allowed him to meet a good number of people in his time with us, whether through teaching at Arapahoe Community College or Lighthouse Writers Workshop, through his several books of poetry (including 2019’s mummer, prisoner, scavenger, thief), or at any of his appearances in town. In terms both personal and professional: He’s deeply missed.
Denver Horror Collective Publishes Anthology
The Denver Horror Collective wants to remind Mile High residents that they’re living in a pretty terrifying place — and Terror at 5280’ is a new collection of short stories that proves that very thing. From tales set at an abandoned racetrack to a snowy alley in Highland to Riverside Cemetery, these are homegrown shivers from some great local writers.
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Colorado Podcasting Welcomes the Hoppys
Denver’s House of Pod launched the inaugural Hoppy Awards, recognizing the best in Colorado podcasting, late in 2019. The top prize went to Montyy Taj and her new podcast Comfortably Excluded. The ceremony was held at the current digs of the House of Pod — Denver’s “one-stop shop for launching a world-class podcast and connecting with a global podcast community,” according to founder Cat Jaffee. Editorial director Paul Karolyi said that podcasting in Denver had “turned a corner” in 2019, which means the second annual Hoppys in 2020 promise to be even bigger.
Lighthouse Announces Tier II Support Through SCFD…and Another Move
Denver’s own Lighthouse Writers Workshop had two big announcements in 2019: first, that it was joining Tier II of the city’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, which supports arts, science and culture in metro Denver. This put Lighthouse in the same category as local cultural stalwarts the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver Film, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Swallow Hill Music, and many other cornerstone arts institutions — in other words, right where it should be. Soon after that, the nonprofit announced that Lighthouse would be moving out of the historic Milheim House at 1515 Race when the current lease expires in 2021. No word yet on where Lighthouse will once again shine its bookish beacon; we’ll have to wait for 2020 for that news.
What were your favorite literary stories in Denver? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.