¡Hip, Hip Urrea!

The story of the Evil Companions goes something like this: Several decades ago, a secret society of Denver writers would meet, drink and gab at downtown watering holes, and while the conversations might have been deep, they weren't always pretty. But when the Evil Companions concept was resurrected in 1992, it was with a lovely objective: to annually honor a contemporary author who embodied the intellectual spirit of the original crew. Oh, sure, cocktails are still allowe -- in fact they're de rigueur -- but tonight's twentieth-anniversary celebration will have a certain level of propriety. After all, this year's honoree, Luis Alberto Urrea, comprises a regular literary trifecta -- a 2005 Pulitzer nominee and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, he made his name as a journalist, poet and imaginative novelist.

"They always say the way authors are chosen is very mysterious because that's how they are -- they're the Evil Companions," notes the Denver Public Library's Jen Morris. "But in this case, he's a very well-regarded author who has a Colorado connection, and we just thought he'd be a great fit for our twentieth anniversary." Case in point: Urrea's a fine author, but also a strong advocate of books, one who's been in the news lately after five of his own works were banned in the Tucson Unified School District as part of a larger ban on all Mexican-American studies. Of this, he wrote on his blog: "It's not about Mexican-American studies, it's about education, it's about the history of this land, it's about the people of this land, it's about literature. Be angry!"

Meet the man at 6 p.m. at the Oxford Hotel, 1637 Wazee Street, where he'll speak, read from his work, sign books and most likely crack a few jokes; for tickets, ranging in price from $60 to $150, go to www.dplfriends.org. Proceeds benefit the Denver Public Library Friends Foundation.
Thu., April 12, 2012

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd