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Giving local poets a voice

Connie Steiert

Words are arguably the music of the soul that binds society together. They are used to define it, illuminate it, draw it together or tear it apart.When used in rote, words can become mind-numbing or merely utilitarian, yet when raised in inspiration, words can become sublime.All too often we forget just how beautiful words can truly be. Luckily, poetry is there to remind us of the zenith our language can reach; a musically tuned composition that can touch our imagination and quicken our hearts.The Vail Valley Poetry Series was created to both celebrate a love affaire with words and to lend a voice to local poets. The Eagle River Valley might well be surprised how many talented poets and would-be poets exist in its midst.To find out, and to enjoy a wonderfully relaxing and inspiring evening of verse in an intimate, cozy setting, join host Verbatim Books in Lionshead from 7-8 p.m. on Tuesday nights for the VailValley Poetry Series.The joint brainchild of local poets Gabrielle Morris and Kent Roberg, the Vail Valley Poetry Series was born last April and has run continuously ever since with a couple seasonal breaks.&quotThe two of us pretty much started it,&quot says Morris.Meeting each Tuesday night to allow local poets and writers of all levels to share their work with others, the pair is there sometimes to offer their own work, but always to lend encouragement.The reception has been gratifying. Many evenings find 25 to 30 poets and poetry enthusiasts on hand to read, or listen to, original works.&quotIt’s been really cool to watch it as it progressed, developed,&quot says Morris. &quotAlthough it varies greatly from week to week, it’s been amazingly successful; we’ve gotten a lot of good support.&quotMorris says it best in one of her own haikus:&quotPoetic waxingWords created in splendorNourishing my soul&quotSome of the writers who read on Tuesday nights are regular contributors to local newspapers, eager to try their hand and mind at another aspect of writing.Others come from all walks of life: businessmen and women who have this secret, creative side, local high school students and even retirees. In fact, anyone with a creative yen to write is welcome to read. One day, several children from the Learning Camp showed upto read poems they had written.And many of those who read at the Vail Valley Poetry Series are surprisingly talented. One poet who read this past Tuesday night wrote eloquently of the goddess within, another of love. Eagle County Charter Academy fourth-grade teacher Peyton Gill was on hand to read her humorous poem, &quotClass Pet,&quot inspired by her own students’ desire to get a class pet.&quotOne poet who reads, I think is phenomenal, even though he has never been published,&quot says Robert Aikens, manager of Verbatim, who also frequents the Tuesday night poetry sessions.The Vail Valley Poetry Series is not only a wonderful venue to hear a previously undiscovered gem of writing, it is the perfect place for new or unpublished writers to test the waters with a small, warmly supportive audience.&quotIt’s been a really good platform for writers,&quot Morris says. &quotWe’ve had a lot of writers who never ever read their work in front of anyone before. It’s really a comfortable environment, with everyone sharing their work.&quotDuring the high season, there is even a coffee bar available, where poets and their audience can sip espressos and cappuccinos and listen to music as they wait. And, even the occasional short story makes its debut, such as Gill’s charming story of a girl and hersaddle shoes.&quotThe poetry series has morphed itself into a forum for writers as opposed to just poetry,&quot explains Morris.When Roberg and Morris first began to toy with the idea of a poetry venue of some sort, they sought Aikens’ advice. Formerly the owner of Reader’s Feast in Avon, and the co-creator of both Poets for Life, to benefit the fight against Aids in Aspen, and the nationally renowned Fahrenheit 451 poets’ forum in Laguna Beach, Calif., Aikens was happy to lend his expertise.&quotThere’s a lot of poets and writers in the valley, just no outlet for it,&quot Aikens says.If you can’t make the Tuesday night poetry series at Verbatim or, if you can’t get enough of it keep an eye on your local bookstore. Soon, these and other original works will be featured in a new book of poetry and short stories: &quotThe Voices of the Vail Valley.&quotMorris and Roberg are still seeking submissions; the deadline is Nov. 1. The hope is to have the book in stores in time for the holidays.&quotAnyone who submits will have something in the book,&quot says Morris.The proceeds from &quotVoices of the Vail Valley&quot will go to benefit the local chapter of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), dedicated to advocating for the welfare of abused or neglected children.&quotWe decided along the way to put (the Vail Valley Poetry Series) to good use,&quot says Morris. &quotKent came up with the idea of putting together a book. That way, writers participating in the series will have an avenue to have their works published, and the money will be contributed to a local charity.&quotFor more information on the Vail Valley Poetry Series, call (970) 476-3032.


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