SOCO Reading Series delights downtown Pueblo crowd with trio of poets

By Victoria Ruiz

On Friday, the Southern Colorado Reading Series partnered with the Pueblo Progressive Poetry Project to present readings by three published poets. The event, which took place off-campus at Songbird Cellars, was in celebration of National Poetry Month and featured CU-Boulder instructor Raza Ali Hasan, “Islanders” author Teow Lim Goh and Dorset Prize winner Lauren Camp.

CSU-Pueblo associate professor of English and creative writing director, Juan Morales said audience members could expect “another exciting edition” to the series.

The event was hosted at Songbird Cellars, a small performance hall located in the Historic Mesa Junction. Songbird Cellars is surrounded by local businesses including Taffy’s candy shop, Shuster’s Bakery and The Pantry.

The venue sported instruments as wall décor and a small stage at the front of the room. Anahi Najar, a sophomore nursing student, said Songbird Cellars had a “poetry reading vibe” to it. She said, “The atmosphere was very calming.”

The event, which was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., was slow to start. In fact, audience members were still trickling in approximately an hour later. The door to the venue was kept open until the first poet took to the stage.

Morales introduced Hasan as a long-time friend, stating that they have known each other for approximately 8 years. “(Everyone is) in for a really special treat,” said Morales after thanking the owners of Songbird Cellars and allowing Hasan to begin his reading.

Hasan is originally from Pakistan, according to Morales he moved to the U.S. in 1991. He currently teaches in the CU- Boulder English department. The poems that Hasan read had a distinct theme surrounding mathematics and featured topics such as exoplanets or formulas. The crowd reacted with laughs and murmurs after various readings.

Lim Goh read next. Morales said after reading some of her pieces he “absolutely fell in love with them.” Lim Goh works with Black Orchid Press and currently lives in Denver. For this reading, she assured the audience there would be no “math poems this time.”

Her poetry centered on the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Her performance had a  somber tone and left the audience silent. Lim Goh said, “In the first part of my book, I imagined what the women (held at Angel Island) would have said.”

The final poet, according to Morales, is from Northern New Mexico. Morales said, “(Camp) wins the award for driving the longest to get here.” Pueblo was Camp’s first stop on her Colorado mini-tour where she performs from her book “One Hundred Hungers.”

Camp’s readings weaved through her young-adulthood and her father’s childhood in Bagdad. She described her understanding of her father’s “duality” of values. Camp said she tried to capture her father’s “inability to be just one (culture) and not the other.”

For more information on the SOCO Reading Series or for current updates, like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheSoCoReadingSeries.

Alec Herrera

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