Aaron Cohick on Colorado Springs
After I read this report by Aaron Cohick, I thought of the Colorado Springs literary community as a fine hard boiled egg. It appears so simple, pretty, balanced. And anything can be positioned to look this way… but a fine literary scene has that smooth and solid center. A good yolk. In Colorado Springs, Mountain Fold Books is the yolk.
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Mountain Fold Books is a non-profit reading room/bookstore/gallery/event space in downtown Colorado Springs. It began a little more than a year ago, and opened its doors in September 2014. It was started by artist, Marina Eckler and writer, Jonathan Fey. Community members pitch in for planning and hosting various events. I was a member of the founding board of directors. Marina remains the Executive Director. She does the curating, programming, and installation in the gallery. Mia Alvarado, a local writer, organizes many of the literary events. The space is very open, and every event brings in a different crowd. Clicking backwards through the online event calendar, I am astonished by the riches:
The very first event at MFB was a reading/performance by Idris Goodwin, local poet, essayist, hip-hop artist, playwright, educator, and radio personality. Idris is one of those people that clearly has time travel capabilities or other super powers, because otherwise he wouldn’t be able to do so much, and to do it so well.
The event holding our attendance record is an American Sign Language poetry reading, given by a group of junior high and high school students from The Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. MFB fills up and people have stood outside watching through the window. The reading was built on the fact that ASL is a language in and of itself, not a notation system for “normal” speech, and as such, possesses the potential for its own, specific poetry. The poems, written by the students, were presented without translation.
Every second Saturday, MFB “projects something on a screen.” It’s a perfect event concept. Once we tried to host a screening of The Crowbocop, but no one came. It will rise again.
Back in May, MFB hosted a day-long bookbinding workshop taught by local bookbinder/poet/printer CJ Martin. He is one half of a local small press, Further Other Book Works and poet/editor/artist, Julia Drescher is the other. Further Other produces a wonderful range of poetry and visual art books. They just did a set of kickass broadsides of unpublished Jack Spicer poems as a fundraiser to produce a book of Helen Adam’s collages.
The final performance of Alice Notley’s The Descent of Alette, adapted and performed by GASP (Girls Assembling Something Perpetual) was held at MFB. The group picture on their website was taken after that last performance. A print by the artist Pilar Nadal can be seen in the background. See also: The Festival to Plead for Skills, LAC Designs, and Sommer Browning’s poetry and comics.
Poet and radio journalist Noel Black is married to the Executive Director of Mountain Fold, so he hangs around a lot and we have to put up with him. Once, he convinced a group of us to help build a haphazard, cardboard enclosure in the MFB gallery. He called it The Encrypticon. We stood behind the cardboard and whispered secret texts to whoever came in.
Beowulf is a long poem. Local high school student Beatrice Hall memorized the first 1,000 lines of it, and kicked off a marathon reading. I missed this event, but in the days following there were pages from a Beowulf coloring book, emphatically colored by children, hanging on the wall behind the counter.
The other local press, the NewLights Press, just marked its 15 year anniversary with a reading and reception.
There have been two showcases of local zines in less than a year. There is quite a crew of local zines/zine makers, and the whole thing keeps getting bigger and better.
Pilgrimage magazine, based in Pueblo, CO (an hour or so to the south of the Springs) celebrated the release of their newest issue at Mountain Fold, with editor Juan Morales and COS poets Jessy Randall and Aaron Anstett.
On the day I turn this text in, on time but over word count, there will be a community reading of the famous speech by Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
This could keep going, and we haven’t even left this one place, this one place that is barely a year old. There are others.
This little city with a little scene seems so full sometimes. But there’s always room for two, three, four, many more. Drop us a line and come visit. There are some nice mountains and the weather is amazing.