Bringing poetry to the people |

Bringing poetry to the people

Joel Stonington
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

People with berets and suit jackets over T-shirts packed into Zélé Cafe for the inaugural Aspen poetry night Sunday.There was also a gypsy, two cool dressers with wigs and a Richard Simmons’ look-alike, complete with headband. OK, they were going to a Halloween party afterward, but it certainly set the stage.

Local eighth-grader Obadiah Jones warmed up the crowd with Beatles tunes and fingerpicking on the guitar. Then Kim Nuzzo took the microphone to introduce the event, soon to be a monthly happening. Nuzzo is an actor, poet and member of the Hudson Reed Ensemble, which is co-sponsoring the poetry night with Zélé.”One of the things we’re interested in doing is to have a poetry night that moves along,” said Nuzzo, snapping his fingers and bobbing his beret-clad head. The goal, he said, is to appreciate the audience, so readers are limited to three minutes.

Seven people signed up for the open mic; they each read their piece and sat down to applause. It had that classic open mic feel – some are quite talented, some definitely worse – and everyone claps. Before the poetry slam got under way, there was time for mingling, literary name-dropping and double-latté sipping.A poetry slam is a competitive event. Each poet pays five bucks and gets three minutes on the mic. Three audience members judge the poets, and the winner takes all. It involves a little more acting and a bit more effort than the standard poetry reading, but it brings the audience into the action.

And by the end of the two-hour event, there had been enough moonbeams, echoes and birdsongs to fill the audience until next month’s poetry night rolls around. Poetry night will continue on the last Sunday of each month through the ski season, with the exception of December, when local humorist Barry Smith will be the featured poet on Sunday, Dec. 10. The poetry events begin at 8:30 p.m. It returns on Nov. 26.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is

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