"Whatever a community goes through affects its artists as well. What poets bring to the healing process is a kind of articulateness, a way of expressing what many of us feel and need to find the words for," says David Mason, Colorado's poet laureate, who will be sharing poetic reactions to September's destructive floods along with Lannon Fellow, Pattiann Rogers and David Rothman at a benefit for Boulder flood victims at 5 p.m. Friday, November 1, atLighthouse Writers Workshop
. "By celebrating together and with fine musicians, we hope to raise awareness of the public benefit of this often private art. We'll do our best to raise money to help those most in need, and entertain our fellow citizens in the process."
Regardless of whether they hold official positions like a poet laureate, local poets use metaphor, meter, language and innuendo to capture the aspects of a community that maps, demographics, news media and census reports are not equipped to handle. This ability can be especially helpful for a community hit by the sort of catastrophe that can be difficult to process.
The Lighthouse benefit isn't the only event connecting poetry to flood relief: From 3 to 11 p.m. today, the Boulder Tattoo Project will host a benefit for flood victims at the Laughing Goat, 1709 Pearl Street in Boulder, which will kick off the week-long "Run the Marathon," during which a sixty-line poem by Anne Waldman will be tattooed, in words and phrases, on the bodies of 200 Boulderites.
Waldman was commissioned to write "Boulder Zodiac," a "love poem to the city of Boulder," this spring by the Boulder Tattoo Project; images of water run through the work, creating particular resonance after the floods. A video of Waldman reading the poem will be shown at tonight's Laughing Goat event; a donation of $5 at the door is suggested. Find more information on the benefit here -- and to learn more about the Boulder Tattoo Project, pick up this week's Westword.
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The November 1 Lighthouse event is at 1515 Race Street; there's a suggested donation of $10, with all proceeds going to the United Way Flood Relief efforts. The Unassessable Outcomes will offer live jazz starting at 5 p.m.; the reading begins at 6 p.m. Find more information here.