Poetry and contemporary art demystified at SAY WHAT tonight

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Of all the expressive media, probably the most exclusive tend to be poetry and abstract art. They're dense, demanding and heavily symbolic, and they're hard to interpret without some background of study -- all of which gives them a reputation for elitism and pretension. Still, those same qualities are what make poetry and abstract art rewarding to decipher, and that's the impetus for SAY WHAT poetry + art, a Gallery of Contemporary Art event that aims to kill two birds with one stone.

"We do this pretty much once per exhibit," says Daisy McConnell, GoCA co-director. "We just couple poetry and art in the gallery. The idea is that both things can be difficult for some people to understand, so it's sort of debunking the jargon and mystery behind poetry or contemporary art, which can be terrifying for a lot of people."

In the poetry corner tonight is David Mason, Colorado's own poet laureate, who will read selections from his work and talk a little about how to decode what you're hearing. "We've asked him to talk about structure and language when you're reading poetry, and kind of what you're looking for," McConnell says -- but she's quick to add that it's not going to be some boring lecture. "He won't be didactic or belabor the point, he'll just be touching on it and reading the poetry," she clarifies.

In the other corner is McConnell herself, who will be discussing the gallery's current installation, titled Systematizing, which features the work of artists Liz Miller and Chris Baker. And even though Mason's poetry and the exhibit don't have anything explicitly to do with one another, there will be at least one interesting parallel: As part of Baker's installation, he created a program that creates emotive Twitter updates every few seconds and prints them out -- which is, um... sort of like poetry.

If you pay attention, maybe by the end of the night you'll be able to tell the difference.

The event happens tonight at 6 p.m. at the GoCA 121, at 121 South Tejon Street in Colorado Springs. Admission is absolutely free.

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