Prolific creative writing scenes are emerging in Fort Collins, according to English professor Matthew Cooperman.
This statement surprised me, as I had never known Fort Collins to be a literary hotbed. However, there are certain aspects of this town conducive to literature production. Cooperman said Fort Collins’ increased interest in writing partly is a product of the laid-back lifestyle of the city.
“There’s always been a really strong sense of community identification, and one that comes out in literary activities,” Cooperman said.
The writing community stems from the University, but it also thrives without it. And interestingly, poetry seems just as important as prose in this new wave of Fort Collins writers. Each poetry reading in Fort Collins has its own unique vibe, and there is sure to be one to fit every schedule.
Here are the best places in Fort Collins to hear some poets:
1. Wolverine Farm Bookstore/The Bean Cycle (144 N. College Ave.)
Perhaps the most well-known monthly slam in Fort Collins is hosted at this Old Town bookstore/coffeehouse on the first Friday of the month. Aptly named the First Friday Poetry Slam, it was started in 2005 by one of Cooperman’s undergraduate students. He said she established the event because she wanted to have a slam close to CSU.
I’ve been in this place when it’s packed with more than 100 people listening to speaker after speaker grab the mic and read. Slams are scored, and at the end of the night, a final three are selected to compete for a cash pot created by listener donations.
The mic is open to anyone brave enough to read to a decently-sized audience. Poet sign-up begins at 7:30 p.m. and the slam starts at 8.
2. Old Firehouse Books (232 Walnut St.)
Another local bookstore, Old Firehouse Books, hosts readings at its location and presents readings at local libraries. Check out its calendar for the bookstore’s reading schedule. A lot of local authors sign their books at readings put on by the bookstore.
This week, Colorado novelist Margaret Coel will read from and sign her latest book, “The Man Who Fell From the Sky” at 7 p.m Tuesday at the Council Tree Library. The reading will be presented by the bookstore.
Later this month, Annabelle Fern Praznik, a favorite local slam poet of Fort Collins, will read from her first book, “The Unfolding,” at Old Firehouse Books. She presents at 6 p.m. Sept. 24.
3. Slamogadro’s at Avogadro’s Number (605 S. Mason St.)
For those who need their slam fix toward the end of the month after First Friday wears off, there’s Slamogadro. Held the last Sunday of every month at Avogadro’s Number, this slam is fairly new, as it just reached a year-old last April.
A group of five CSU undergraduate students started the slam, and it has gained some serious steam. At the one-year anniversary slam last spring, you couldn’t find an empty seat in the venue. Maybe that had to do with slam poet Chris Leja, who has toured on national slam circuits, opening as the featured poet. Or maybe it had to do with the $200 one-year anniversary grand prize for the winning slammer.
Poets sign up starting at 7 p.m. and the slam starts at 7:30 p.m. Check the Facebook page for announcements.
4. University Center for the Arts (1400 Remington St.)
While likely the most formal venue on this list, the CSU University Center for the Arts still draws a huge community for its celebrated reading series. Both those affiliated with the University and those who are not are welcome to these free events open to the public. Huge names have read at the UCA, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning beat poet Gary Snyder in 2014.
Mary Szybist, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry for her title “Incaradine,” reads at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, but in the North Ballroom of the Lory Student Center on campus. Next month, though, the reading series will return to the UCA Art Museum when poet David Baker reads at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22.
Find the full schedule online.
5. The Forge Publick House (232 Walnut St., Unit 7)
This cozy tap room just down the alley from Old Firehouse Books is host to a reading series named EveryEye. The event is put on by Cooperman and his wife, Fort Collins poet laureate Aby Kaupang.
Accomplished poets from across the country, such as John Gallaher, a Northwest Missouri State professor and author of five books, read to normally intimate crowds enjoying beer on tap.
I had the pleasure of hearing Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer read last March. Both of their works were mind-blowing. It was a completely novel experience for me to witness accomplished poets of today’s age perform in such a casual setting. Keep a lookout for Facebook posts announcing EveryEye readings at the pub on 232 Walnut St.
Sad to see it go:
According to Summers Baker, one of the founders of Slamagadro’s, some of the most fun poetry readings he attended while a CSU creative writing undergraduate were at the coffeehouse/bar/bike shop Crankenstein’s. The Old Town hangout at 215 N. College Ave. closed its doors last spring.
Excited for it to come:
7. Wolverine Farm publick house
Wolverine Farm Publishing Co. bought the old brick building at 316 Willow St. and is renovating it, converting it to a letterpress and publick house. According to its website, the plan is for it to be a venue for public discussion and literary readings. I heard from Cooperman that it could open its doors as early as this month. Check this blog for updates as the new project taken on by on Wolverine Farm owner Todd Simmons nears completion.
Collegian Assistant Sports Editor Sam Lounsberry can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @samlounz.