The poetry of relief

On Friday, some 50 poets and poetry-lovers gathered at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver to raise $1,300 for Colorado flood victims.

“We reach for articulateness when we need it,” said state Poet Laureate David Mason, underlining poetry’s power to bring communities together and process unprecedented disasters.

“Ultimately, we are here to serve people,” David Rothman later reminded the listeners. In addition to reading, poets donated books and broadsides to raise money for United Way’s Foothills Flood Relief Fund. (It’s not too late to donate, here.)

Colorado’s had more than its share of natural upheaval. Many of the evening’s poems touched not just on the recent flooding — which destroyed more than 2,000 homes — but also on the cyclicality of disaster: fire, drought, downpour, flood. Readers played off each other, adjusting their readings to speak to the ones before them, moving conversationally toward conclusion.

Hoping, as only animals can hope,
for life continuous.

David Rothman, reading from his work drawn directly from stories of the floods.

breathe deep in those
first dark moments and become
the animal you are on an angry Earth

Chris Ransick from a poem written for his daughter as she weathered Hurricane Sandy.

Pattiann Rogers closed the reading with sweeping poems celebrating the multitude of life. “It’s that tenacious will to go on living that I come back to,” she said.

The family — weavers, reachers, winders
and connivers, pumpers, runners, air
and bubble riders, rock-sitters, wave-gliders,
wire-wobblers, soothers, flagellators–all
brothers, sisters, all there is.
Name something else.

 

Donations can still be made here to the United Way Foothills Flood Relief Fund.

Get to know your local poets, readers on Friday included:

David Mason: Colorado Poet Laureate

David Rothman: Poet-in-residence at Colorado Public Radio and Independent contributor.

Chris Ransick: Denver Poet Laureate from 2006-2010 and Independent contributor.

Pattiann Rogers 

Nicky Beer 

Veronica Patterson

Michael Henry 

Crisosto Apache

Tim Hernandez

Allison Hedge Coke 

 

[Image of event broadside, produced by the Colorado College Printshop]

 

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