Back in 2005, Larry “Booger” Holgerson, and a few other slam poets, founded the slam poetry event at the Bean Cycle. Taking place at 7:30 p.m. on the first Friday of each month, this accepting social poetry environment is a great place to meet poets and reach a larger audience.
Holgerson starts off each evening with a piece he writes himself, and has loved running the venue for the past 12 years.
“It’s too much fun to stop,” Holgerson said. “This is the hearts and minds of the young people of Fort Collins. It’s a little miracle. I come with one poem and all these incredible people come and share their stories. Everything I bring is secondary.”
Deborah Taylor, a teacher in the Fort Collins area, helps Holgerson run the show.
“[Holgerson] is like the sheepdog protecting the flock. He sets it up really well. The poets are protected, even if the audience doesn’t agree with what they’re saying,” Taylor said.
The evening consists of 15 or so poets, and a full packed house at the Bean Cycle Roasters. The poets are a mixture of first time performers and frequent poets. Ben Means, who has been writing for four years and performing for three, is a frequent performer and also runs the ‘Lo Co Poetry Slam’ in Loveland on the third Saturday of every month.
“I write about anything,” Means said. “I’d recommend coming out and seeing a couple of slam poetry venues. Write your own. Write about what you’re passionate about. Write about something with an inherent meaning to you.”
No matter how experienced, poets still feel the jitters when getting on stage. Corey Wright, who also performs with the band Places Back Home, began performing poetry over two years ago.
“It’s terrifying every time,” Wright said. “The art of performing poetry is so naked. You really have to move people, and here I don’t get the assistance of music to convey my emotions.”
Kaitlyn Phillips is a third year English Education major at Colorado State University, a previous winner of the Bean Cycle’s Slam Poetry event, and has been performing for three years.
“The first time I performed, I was terrified and didn’t know what I was doing,” Phillips said. “Now I’ve come into my voice a little more. But I’d just get up and perform. The Bean Cycle is kind to first time performers. [Holgerson] is like a supportive father: he takes care of the poets and creates a supportive environment that feels familiar. This is where I started performing.”
The community at the Bean Cycle is expanding. Phillips and Holgerson recently visited local schools to show them what the event is about.
“We workshopped with high-school students for a week, they produced one individual poem, one group poem, and we gave them a space to perform,” Phillips said. “It was amazing to see my love for poetry and teaching combined.”
The Bean Cycle is a great poetry venue for making connections and performing in an open and accepting environment. Holgerson encourages new poets to try slam poetry. The poet’s performances are also filmed and uploaded to a YouTube channel called “Booger Poetry.”
“If you don’t unleash what you’re feeling,” Holgerson said, “it’ll build up inside and turn into dark things. Share your thoughts! We all will become wiser for understanding and you will be freer of all that’s dwelling inside.”