Stories in music and poetry
by Charles Braddy
I have seen the mountainsides,
heard the rocks & water,
& for a moment,
I have drowned in love.
I have felt the cold stars,
& held silver in my hands.
I heard the clatter of hooves crossing main street.
I felt the earth tremble.
I sat on the bench,
chatted to myself.
I sat on the bench
I have seen the poetry in shattered glass,
I have wondered why.
I have seen the wounded,
I have seen how they are
I have seen the crazy in rage,
I have seen lovers going home.
There are few art forms as personal as poetry, and for Charles Braddy, Saturday night at the Marble Distillery is especially so.
Titled “Colophenia” — a play on The Who album “Quadrophenia” — the event is “an epic story told through music and poetry,” with spoken word by Braddy and Ridgway poet Erika Moss Gordon and accompanied by Louis Girardot’s jazz and blues.
It’s a not entirely triumphant return for Braddy, who lived in the valley for more than 25 years before housing costs drove him away.
“When I left Carbondale it was kind of on a wing and a prayer,” he recalled.
“I ran out of money in Denver, so I had to do what I could to get by,” he added. “It’s been a struggle, but I’m succeeding and formulating a plan. … It’s a chapter that I’m not real proud of, but I’m getting through it, and I’m making something positive happen instead of be victimized by it.”
Proceeds will benefit Shining Mountains Homes For All, an effort to fund small dwellings for the homeless.
“We’ll be able to purchase a window for somebody’s home,” he said. “I want to see change actually happen — not just talk. A place to sleep is a basic human need for survival.”
His experiences over the past year — including time in shelters and among the homeless — also inform his recent work.
“It’s from the heart,” he said.
He’s looking forward to sharing his thoughts in the community that shaped his work, first through used bookstore owner John Macker and later through the Aspen Poet Society.
For Gordon the venue is not so familiar.
She connected with Braddy through a mutual friend, and although she’s a published poet, performance is a newer skill for her.
“I wrote for lots of years in my head without coming out into the world with my voice,” she said.
“For the last couple years, my focus has shifted to performing poetry. It’s an exchange, and it’s exciting. I’ve just stuck my toe in the waters of music with spoken word, and it’s awesome. It becomes its own journey.”
She’s open to all art forms and admits that poetry may not be for everyone.
“I think we find the thing that makes us be our truest self, that’s what’s juicy,” she said. “There are a million ways people do that. This just happens to be my flavor of expression.”
“When there are things that are stuck, poetry is how I tend to get it unstuck,” she added. “I think if I’m writing what’s true for me, that’s what speaks to other people. I try to peel back the layers and get to what’s universal.”
Gordon thinks the authenticity of Braddy’s message will have an impact.
“This seems so deeply personal to him,” she said. “I love that this is about his experience, and I’m excited to bring my poetry to support this.”
“Colophenia” begins at 7:30 p.m. with a suggested donation of $15.
It’s part of a slow return to downvalley poetry Braddy thinks is gaining momentum.
“I know Carbondale has the potential to be a great literary place if they want it,” he said. “The interest is there — I think they just need the encouragement.”