AURORA | Prose is in the air this month in Aurora.
Flipping the calendar to April means that it is once again National Poetry Month, and the City of Aurora is honoring the prosaic tradition with a series of writing workshops led by Aurora Poet Laureate, Jovan Mays.
Mays will be leading several free workshops at distinctive Aurora destinations on Sunday afternoons throughout April in an effort to honor the national designation and provide a creative spark for budding metro area scribes. Deemed “Write Aurora,” the first event in the ongoing series took place Sunday, April 3.
“With ‘Write Aurora’ I think it’s going to be an interesting opportunity for people to flex their creativity, write about different places and become aware that there is a nature conservatory here, there is all this public art, and this place used to be called Fletcher and you should know that,” Mays said.
Mays said that he got the idea for the program from the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, where he began working as a community engagement coordinator in February. Lighthouse, founded in Denver in 1997, works to hone the skills of professional and aspiring writers and helps connect authors with publishing houses.
“Once I got involved in Lighthouse I saw how they use wiring in so many different spaces,” Mays said. “You can connect writing to almost anything and with ‘Write Aurora’ that’s what I want to do — that’s the goal.”
A graduate of Smoky Hill High School and named the city’s first-ever official poet in early 2014, Mays said that he hopes the workshops will encourage young writers to find beauty in the unusual.
“It really is an event to try and force people into some of these spaces that could generate that sort of reaction of, ‘Oh, I didn’t know this was this,’ or ‘I didn’t know that this was that awesome … I don’t have to go to Denver for my entertainment,’” he said.
Roberta Bloom, coordinator of the city’s Art in Public Places Division, echoed Mays’ thoughts about shifting the narrative regarding some of the city’s often overlooked cultural attractions. The “Write Aurora” program will culminate April 24 with a tour lead by Bloom through the Aurora Cultural Arts District along East Colfax Avenue.
“I hope that it’s a beautiful spring afternoon and will be a lovely time to see the artwork, learn something, and have an enjoyable, comfortable time,” Bloom said. “And maybe think about that part of Aurora in a different way.”
Set to start at Fletcher Plaza outside of the Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Bloom said that she plans to highlight the area’s myriad public art projects such as the Ghost Trolley piece by Denver artist Lawrence Argent in the center median and the cattywampus blue chair, entitled “Unglued,” which was created by Colorado Springs sculptor Christopher Weed and placed at the corner of East Colfax and Dallas Street in 2007.
Going forward, Mays said that he’s hopeful the writing program will become a part of his legacy as the city’s first ever poet laureate and will become a tradition Aurora’s next official versifier will be able to continue and replicate.
“It’s gotten easy to say, ‘Oh, maybe next year,’ and that’s been one of the challenges of the (poet laureate) program — just getting things off the ground,” he said. “But I think ‘Write Aurora’ can be successful. A big thing I want to do with some of my programming is create things that are tangible for the next poet laureate.”
City council approved an extension of Mays’ tenure as poet laureate last summer. He is slated to continue to serve in his roll with the city through December.