The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
When Should You Start Writing Your College Essay? 
When Should You Start Writing Your College Essay? 
May 28, 2024

Let's be frank: there's never an ideal moment to craft college essays. At best, there are times that are somewhat less unfavorable. Why is...

Get jazzy with it: CSU seniors create “The Beat Sessions”

On a Sunday afternoon last December, a group of Colorado State University senior English majors gathered in a recital room at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music to record the first volume of what they called “The Beat Sessions.”


The group of six created a Soundcloud session combining slam poetry and jazz music. The idea started in their beat generation literature class after studying writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The group decided to combine the two art forms for their final project.

“Jazz and poetry have found communion since the beats started doing jazz poems in the 50’s,”

Photo courtesy of Kate McHargue.
Photo courtesy of Kate McHargue.

said Summers Baker, the brain behind the project. “We decided that we wanted to continue that tradition — to see how the writers and musicians of this day and age could alter an art form that was birthed 60-plus years ago.”

Matthew Cooperman taught the class and was impressed with the group’s collective effort.

“They decided to do a collaborative inhabitation of beat aesthetics with music,” Cooperman said. “They were able to explore a collaboration with musicians which is a touchstone of beat work. It extended our sense of literature.”

Baker paired up with his high school friend and DU jazz student Jack Dunlevie for the musical side of the collaboration. The creative process behind it was simple: the poets would stand on the stage in front of a microphone and explain the poem to the band. The band would interpret the mood of the poem and create a music piece on the spot.

Having known each other and creating music together for years, Baker said he considers his friendship with Dunlevie to be more like an artistic brotherhood.

“Since (Jack) started playing piano, we have looked for ways to combine our crafts,” Baker wrote in an email to the Collegian. “I have always had a fascination with the possibilities of combining poetry and music.”

Kate McHargue said she finds poetry to be an interesting medium of writing, even though her forté is fiction. She met Baker through a poetry slam and started a slam at Avogadro’s Number on the last Sunday of each month. She said that the creative and progressive poetry community that this group of friends created inspired her piece “Here’s What We’re Gunna Do.”


In an email to the Collegian, Chris Vanjonack said he is no stranger to reading poetry aloud, but he thinks the tone of the written work is changed when paired with music.

“It’s a completely different ballgame to read (with) live music as opposed to the polite quiet you get at something like an open mic,” Vanjonak said.

Although this idea started in class, the group is hoping to release a second volume of “The Beat Sessions” later in the spring semester.

“There’s a reason the first CD was Vol. 1, so look out for more,” said Moonier Said.

In addition to recording more accompaniments, they want to begin performing the poetry with jazz music live, according to Dunlevie.

“We are interested in bringing the concept to clubs in a jam session kind of format,” Dunlevie said. “There would be a house band with one or two house poets, but jazz musicians and writers could come sit in and get involved.”

The group’s hard work paid off and they received an A on their final project.

“When Summers pitched this idea, I couldn’t have said yes fast enough,” Vanjonack said. “And I’m so glad I did. This was one the best experiences of college.”

Collegian Reporter Zara DeGroot can be reached at or on Twitter @Zar_DeGroot

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *