Of all starving artists, poets may be the most starving. A challenging art form that demands a type of time and engagement most people just aren't willing to give, poetry tends to get sidelined even in communities dedicated to nurturing challenging art that demands time and engagement, relegated instead to the obscurity of lit journals read only by hopeful MFAs.
That's one reason Julie Carr — one of Colorado's finest poets and a prominent booster of poetry herself (and, as it so happens, one of our 100 Colorado Creatives) — is excited about the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art's Line Break series. As part of the Biennial of the Americas, BMoCA opened a pop-up coffee shop at the Biennial Pavilion in downtown Denver, where for the past month it's been celebrating the muse with a series of poetry-related readings, performances and events. "That's kind of an unusual choice for a museum to make, because it's text and not visual," Carr says, "so that's exciting for me as a poet, to have them taking poetry seriously as an art. They wanted to do populist stuff, get the community involved — that's obviously a cause I believe in."
Obviously, because Carr founded Counterpath, the small press and performance space, with Tim Roberts, her husband. Carr was a dancer before she was a poet, and her ethos has always emphasized performance as much as the page. "I'm always interested in how we can expand our idea of what a poem is," says Carr. "I think a lot of people who say, 'I don't read poetry,' they have a very narrow idea of what poetry is. Poetry can mean performance; it can mean something that's designed for a museum wall, or something that you read privately, or for a mass audience or for a very particular one. One artist I worked with at Counterpath, Christine Wertheim, if you look at her book mUtter-bAbel, every single page is designed like a work of art. But when she performs it, it's like sound-poetry — singing, chanting — it's very theatrical."
Curated by Carr, tonight's Line Break performance brings together a range of the Front Range's most brilliant voices — Ruth Ellen Kocher, Eleni Sikélianòs, Khadijah Queen, Andrea Rexilius, Anne Waldman and, of course, Carr herself — for a reading of feminist poetry she calls Mouthing Off. "I’m also going to ask them to read something from another poet that could be described as feminist," Carr says. "The poets who are performing have a pretty nice range of styles, but we also have a lot of affinity. I think it’ll be an interesting group, and the work might be a little tough and in-your-face, which I’m excited about."
The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 14. BMoCA will continue to present events at the Biennial Pavilion through August; see a full schedule of Line Break here.
As for Counterpath, a 2013 Westword MasterMind winner, it's been on the move with pop-up events since it lost its home near the Mercury Cafe at the start of the year — but it will end the year in a new space. Watch for details on the Counterpath Facebook page.
Follow me — and tell me what to write about! — on Twitter @jefotte
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.