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The Word on Lit Events

At Lit Fest 2016, participants perused the offerings from local bookstores. Photo by Amanda Tipton

At Lit Fest 2016, participants
perused the offerings from local bookstores.
Photo by
Amanda Tipton

It’s a long-lived festival with an equally long name: Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics’ Summer Writing Program, from June 11 to July 1 at the school’s downtown Boulder campus, is in its 43rd year. The internationally-renowned festival is open to aspiring writers  of all levels.

“At the Summer Writing Program there’s no sense of gatekeeping, or that type of deciding for people what is right for them – anybody can take one of these classes who decides they’re curious. There’s a real openness to the festival,” Jeff Pethybridge, SWP managing director, said. Pethybridge stressed that it’s all about “New encounters.”

In case you’re wondering, “disembodied poetics” have nothing to do with the school’s contemplative Buddhist orientation, but rather refer to the limited material resources the founders – beat poets and cultural icons Allen Ginsburg, Boulder’s Anne Waldman, and Diana di Prima – had at the outset. 

The program offers week-long morning classes in everything from letterpress printing, to audio recording and performance, in addition to poetry and prose.  The afternoons consist of panel discussions, lectures, and artist talks.

Evening readings are free and open to the public.

“When was the last time you did something for the first time?” Pethyridge said, quoting a bumper sticker he recently saw on the back of a truck.

Lit Fest, from June 2-16, an annual celebration of the literary arts is hosted by the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, a well-established nonprofit that offers classes year-round.

“Our festival probably has the broadest range of offerings – seminars, parties, salons, agent meetings –everything from fiction to poetry and memoir to nonfiction to screenwriting and romance novels. Whatever you want to write, we have something. We also have classes just for readers, including one on Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics,” Corey Dahl, communications coordinator, said.

There are classes for youth throughout.

Prices range from free to $1,455 for a “Gold Pass,” with offerings at nearly every price point in between. Most weekends, one-week and two-week intensives cost $200-$400 for adults, $120 for weeklong youth intensives. Dahl advised purchasing tickets, or one of the pass options (starting at $130), in advance.

If you find that your desired class has already sold out, don’t despair – contact the festival at 303-297-1185, or email [email protected].

“Program assistants are really great at suggesting other options,” Dahl said.

And if you don’t know where to start, check out a free visiting author reading.

“We want to be really accessible to anyone who is interested in reading or writing,” she said. “It’s a great way to connect with people in the community who have the same interests.”

Debuting this summer is the Ghost Town Writers Retreat, focused on horror, mystery, thrillers and related genres, August 3-6, in Georgetown, a well-preserved Victorian mining town where participants will tour haunted buildings.

“Georgetown is such an amazing venue.  It’s a deep, rich environment to trigger lots of writing inspiration,” Mike Hance, one of three festival co-founders, said.

There are also general interest fiction and eclectic tracks. The retreat is for serious, although not necessarily published, writers. Lectures, a book signing event, and a film screening are open to the general public.

And also for the first time, the National Poetry Slam is taking place in Denver, August 7-12.  A panel of audience judges determine who advances in this Olympic-style competition.

A variety of free workshops will be offered each day, while slams are at night.

You can experience slam poetry- an oral form with strong social and political overtones, at Denver’s Mercury Cafe on Sunday nights. The Merc team won the 2006 nationals, and has reached the finals every year since.

Check ‘em out and cheer ‘em on!

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