It takes all sorts for open mic poetry night
Not only do they hear voices, they admit it. And they want more.Gabrie Morris and Kent Roberg are co-organizers of Voices of the Vail Valley, a poetry-reading series that has set up shop at Verbatim Booksellers in Lionshead.For the past three Wednesdays, local and visiting poets have dropped by to share a few lines. Tonight marks the grand finale event for the winter season, before the mud-season hiatus.The evenings have been well attended, and they only expect it to grow.”I think poetry comes from the soul; that’s where all poets speak from,” said Roberg.Both he and Morris share their work. Though they admit it can be nerve-racking, they also agree that it helps build a sense of community within the artists’ culture that is Vail<or should be.”It’s still hard,” said Morris. “You’re displaying a part of yourself that nobody else would know. It’s your art, your soul, your heart.”Morris first discovered the art of sharing her work at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in New York. The cafe played host to poetry slams, which are poetry competitions in a very specific style of verse. Slam poets are performance artists<poetry meets rap music meets social consciousness. Born in the ghettos, slam poetry is often improvisational, much the way jazz is. The fundamental elements of the poem are there, but they wax and wane based on the audience and other poets.”The cool thing about poetry slams is they’re a way to connect with the younger generation,” said Morris. “It gives youth a platform to be literary without being geeky.”After one of the slams, they had open mic night for all poets. Morris mustered the courage to share something. And she was hooked.She has consistently felt poetry readings to be based on feelings of mutual support. As for the Vail affair, she thinks it’s too young to define it.”There’s no feel yet,” she said. “It seems supportive – a lot of people are willing to get up and read their poetry. People seem to be comfortable. A lot of people are just testing the waters.”So far, it reminds Roberg of “So You Want To Be a Poet?” Mondays at Penny Lane in Boulder.”It’s good because people are interested,” he said.The two estimate they’ve had 50 to 60 different poets attend over the three evenings. Not everyone who attends reads their work, but all are encouraged to do so.Attendees don’t fit into one simple category. High school students, grandparents, and everyone in between show up ready to read.”We’ve got everyone, from snowboarders to pagans,” said Morris.Subject matter runs the gamut, too, as do the styles. They have set a five-minute time limit for readers to ensure that everyone is heard. Both Roberg and Morris were pleasantly surprised that it’s always been interesting for them.”It doesn’t suck,” said Roberg.In fact, they’ve been so pleased with the response and creations that they’re compiling a book of material written solely by local poets. Still in the early stages of development, the book will ultimately be a fund-raiser for a local children’s charity. They are currently accepting submissions for it.For more information, attend the reading at Verbatim Booksellers at 6:30 p.m.Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.