The Art of Storytelling
Curated and created by Steven Dunn and Lorenzo James, The Art of Storytelling has its roots here in Denver at various locations over the year. Dunn and James originally met in the Navy and formed a strong friendship, both eventually settling in Denver. Dunn, author of the collection Potted Meat, and James, a poet powerhouse, are both fixtures in the Denver writing community. Wanting to give more space to people of color, Dunn and James created The Art of Storytelling in 2016. Though not exclusive to people of color, Dunn and James wanted to create a space and an audience for writers of all genres and writing backgrounds. After hosting the event at Collection Gallery and even at Dunn’s house, they decided upon a permanent location at Prodigy Coffee, a nonprofit business that employs low income youth from the neighborhood and teaches workforce skills. The Art of Storytelling welcomes readers for their open mic at every show and every reading hosts two featured writers.
Created to help Denver youth with expression through poetry and performance, Minor Disturbance is one of the most important literary organizations in Denver. Going strong since 2006, this organization ensures all youth, regardless of gender, race or sexuality is supported in a safe space and nurtures every voice. It’s currently run by Franklin Cruz and Mary McDonough and has also involved Suzi Q. Smith, one of the highest ranked slam poets in the nation and co-founder of Slam Nuba, as well as Ken Arkind, National Poetry Slam Champion and Director of the Denver Youth Poet Laureate program. Keep your eyes out on Denver, which is scheduled to host the next National Poetry Slam in August of this year with Suzi Q. Smith.
At the Inkwell Denver
Founded by writer and journalist Monique Antonette Lewis in New York City in 2013, Lewis started the reading event at KGB to help writers in all genres more exposure. Lewis, a former board member of the New York Writers Workshop, also taught fiction workshops and edited at City Lit Rag. After establishing At the Inkwell in NYC, San Francisco, London, Seattle, Richmond, and now Denver, Lewis settled on BookBar in November and hosts every third Sunday of the month along with co-host Hillary Leftwich. The series focuses on diversity of writers as well as genres. Every month has a different theme and includes an open mic for writers. The series has also showcased artists along with their work.
Started by local writer, teacher, and performer Nancy Stohlman, The FBomb is Denver’s (and Colorado for that matter) only flash fiction reading series. Stohlman is the author of The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories, The Monster Opera, The Mix Tape which was a finalist for the 2011 Colorado Book Award, and other novels. Hosted at The Mercury Café in Denver every third Tuesday of the month, The FBomb has rotating guest hosts who choose their featured reader (or readers) to ensure each month has a different theme. Started in 2013, the reading series quickly cemented regulars. The open mic is so supportive it draws writers from all over the Denver area. Heading into year four with no sign of slowing down, FBomb proves to be a reading haven in the Denver writing community.
The Leon Affair
Created from the minds of writers derrick mund, Sommer Browning, and Elisa Gabbert, The Leon Affair hosts featured readers once a month along with featured artists. Browning, author of Either Way I’m Celebrating, The Circle Book, Backup Singers and several others has also been known to do a mean standup comedy routine. mund, a familiar face around the Denver area for years, graduated from University of Colorado Boulder with an MFA in poetry and edits SpringGun Press. Gabbert is the author of L’Heure Bleue, The Self Unstable and other collections. The combination of Browning, mund, and Gabbert lends well to this reading series. They never take themselves too seriously, and neither do their featured readers.
DON’T YELL AT ME!
Birthed from the brains of local masterminds Dustin Holland, author of Get More Rad, and Connor Magyar, writer, editor and artist, along with performances by Holland’s older brother Kick Holland, DYAM is one of the most unique reading series in the Northern Colorado area. Broken down in to episodes and now approaching Episode 18, DYAM features a long list of featured readers, musicians, and even plays. Every reading is accompanied by the Holland Brother’s stuffed Bear. The brilliance behind this reading series is how genuine its curators are. Don’t let the sweet demeanor fool you, Holland has been writing and publishing his work since his early teenage years and his motivation and support within the writing community is well known. The series is held at different locations in the Fort Collins and Longmont area once a month.
UP AND COMING READING SERIES
Punch Drunk Poetry
Organized/hosted by Brice Maiurro, this reading series is pretty cut and dry: Open mic signup at 8 pm, open mic starts at 8:30. First come first served. Now on its upcoming third reading, the event does not have featured readers and only showcases an open mic. Maiurro also leads a local writing group once a month to help support the writing community as well. Once a month at Mutiny Information Café in Denver.
Created by local writer and producer/host of Rocky Mountain Revival Levi Andrew Noe. Spangalang recently had its first event and is held at Spangalang Brewery in downtown Denver. The reading hosts several featured readers along with a jazz band. The next reading event is not scheduled as of this date.
Hillary Leftwich resides in Denver with her son. She is co-host for At the Inkwell, a NYC based reading series. She organizes/hosts other reading events and fundraisers around Denver. Her writing appears online and in print.