Denver's Society for the Advancement of Poetics has an inside joke: "We're just a bunch of SAPs," quips society founder John Munson, a poet and former railroad engineer who now works as an investigator for law firms. But it's all in good faith. Munson and friends formed the group in 1975 ("At that time, we were just a loose affiliation of local poets," he says) to facilitate production of the first-ever Denver Poets Day. "The city wanted an organization, so I formed one," Munson continues, noting that the first series of Poets Days lasted only from 1976 to 1979, when he hit the rails and the society went into hiatus.
That all changed last year, when Munson revived the event from its twenty-year sleep of the dead. And Sunday, it'll gather steam once more in Civic Center Park, where a healthy sixty poets are lined up for a marathon of readings from 11:30 to 7. Included in the festivities will be the LuLu Poetry Community Award ceremony -- this year going to poet Ed Ward and Mercury Cafe maven Marilyn Megenity for the ongoing poetry nights they host at Megenity's hipster haven -- and an open poetry slam featuring members of Denver's just-returned National Poetry Slam team, which placed only 43rd in a nationwide competition earlier this month, but did so with sweat and poetic panache.
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Munson says most of the slammers -- poetry's "young lions" -- are still in their twenties. But he thinks his generation still engages, and he reminds everyone that "back in the '70s, we were a lot younger and crazier." And these days, he adds, Poetry Day is pure and peaceful, regardless of who is in the audience (mostly an aggregate of old and new poets and their friends). "Last year, it went so mellow," says Munson. "It's just so great for poets to be able to read in that space, even if there's no one there."