A Thing Called Poem: Finding Poetry in Boulder
Boulder has a lot to offer in terms of music, entertainment, craft beer, and coffee, but sometimes it seems that many of us who reside here forget about the vibrant poetry scene that surrounds us. There are multiple coffee shops that have open mic poetry readings, a number of poetry events on either college campus, and one of the ONLY poetry bookstores in the nation. The great thing about poetry is, like art, while there “rules” within the art form that allow many to learn how to write poetry, there is still room to maneuver around these rules to create all types of poems. Following various types of pentameters is considered the rule, but slam poetry among others is a great chance to break the rule and craft one’s own narrative. There are several places like that in Boulder, and the following are some great starting points for those newly interested in poetry, or anyone looking to rekindle their passion for the art form.
Let’s start with the lovely Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Cafe located on University Hill right across from campus, which is the best place to start a poetry journey. You are literally surrounded with dozens upon dozens of poetry books, with writers from across the world as well as local to Boulder. Authors such as Kerouac, Pinsky, Bargallo and others are just waiting for you to crack their covers open and search for whatever moves one’s mood and curiosity. I usually searched for Neruda in an effort to read as much as I can about the Chilean poet during my college years. Like most bookstores you can pass a good chunk of time without realizing it as there is a wide variety of topics, from stories about life, death, love, loss, etc to how one deciphers some of this stuff. Anthologies are also accessible, and one that sparked my interest was The Anthology of Rap, which was written by one of my old professors, Adam Bradley. From here, once you have found something to peak your interest, and you are ready to see some live poetry you can always look for poetry nights at Innisfree, and a few other places come to mind as well.
The Laughing Goat on Pearl Street in downtown Boulder is certainly a place that comes to mind when one mentions live poetry readings. Monday nights are usually designated open poetry readings, which often consist of either original work by people brave enough to share their work, or different interpretations of writings from famous (or obscure) poets. There are also musical acts basically every night as well, so if one is looking to take a break from their poetry journey, this place also offers that. It has been quite some time since I have been there, so it is on the list of places to return to.
If a larger poetry event is what you are looking for in Boulder (we won’t discuss the countless places to go in Denver for poetry events), then look no further than an annual CU-Boulder tradition that does not have the notoriety it deserves: the CU Poetry Slam. This normally takes place in March on the CU-Boulder campus in the University Memorial Center, and offers a full night of poets competing to be crowned the best slam poet on campus. In previous years, the event was open to all college students, but it was closed again in interest of helping to better build up a slam poetry scene on campus, which is good for the most part. Last year, the event was replaced with a national poetry slam, the Poetry Slam Invitational which is a huge honor and step forward for the poetry scene in Boulder, and Colorado. Start looking for news on this event sometime in January. The above places like mentioned before are stepping stones, but honestly as long as you take a look at poetry, you will find something you appreciate. Enjoy!