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Poetry slam and gala are planned for Mancos in April

Artist Kay Salwen created this artwork based on a poem from a student in a Mancos creative writing project. (Courtesy Kay Salwen)
Free events will feature poems from local students, professional poets and poem-inspired artwork

Two public poetry events in Mancos are on the horizon and will feature poems from local students, professional poets and artwork inspired by their writing.

On April 15 from 4-7 p.m. a Poetry-Story Slam will be held at Fenceline Cider. Free food and refreshments will be provided by Absolute Bakery. Teens are encouraged to read their poems and compete for prizes. There will be an open mic for anyone who wants to share a story or poem.

On April 30 from 4-6 p.m. there will be a Poetry Gala at the Mancos Brewery. Free food will be provided by the brewery. Performance poet Art Goodtimes and Diné poet Zoey McKenzie of Shiprock will perform.

At the gala, local artists will display posters inspired by student poems, and there will be an open mic for anyone to share poems or stories. Both events are open to the public and are family friendly.

The events are a culmination of a poetry and creative writing project organized and taught by Mancos author Lisa C. Taylor.

Writing for Resilience brought local teens together for weekly poetry writing, instruction and readings at the Mancos Public Library. It was funded by a $17,000 grant from Colorado Creative Industries and the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the American Rescue Plan.

Teens from Mancos, Cortez and Dolores participated in the project. They collaborated with local artists who created artwork based on their poetry.

The artists are Melissa Blaine, Ben Fisher, Kay Salwen, Marilyn Kroeker and Nicole Carey. The artwork inspired by the student poetry will be on display at the Mancos Brewery during the Poetry Gala April 30.

The weekly poetry sessions really brought out the creative side of students, Taylor said.

“They came a long way, and really hammed it up,” she said. “It was low pressure and really fun. The students shared their poetry with each other and read cutting-edge poets.”

Taylor used “writing sparks” – a word or phrase – then let the students run with it.

“They wrote two to three poems every time, they are really smart kids and are very supportive of each other,” she said.

She encouraged the public to come out the poetry events to support the students.

“If you’ve never been to a poetry slam, you are in for a great treat. The audience is an important part of the event,” Taylor said.

Taylor has been a writing instructor at the high school and college level. She has written two books of short fiction and four collections of poetry, including one in collaboration with poet Geraldine Mills.

Taylor’s new book of poetry is coming out soon. She recently moved to Mancos from New England.