By Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4) – Franklin Cruz and Bianca Mikahn sat in Coffee at the Point in Five Points and gushed.

“Really galvanizing,” said Bianca.

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They are poets with the Slam Nuba slam poetry group based at the Red Line Contemporary Arts Center.

“Art has been a way for us to make meaning out of our world,” said Cruz.

Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman (credit: CBS)

When They watched Amanda Gorman deliver her poetry on the steps of the Capitol at the inauguration of President Joe Biden Wednesday, they were proud of their art and inspired.

Slam poetry is the height of intellectual pursuits, but not one that needs a fancy degree.

“It’s an equalizing force. It really for some of us who couldn’t afford higher education who were in, potentially backed into corners within so many facets of our lives, it gave us an outlet,” said Mikahn. “Art has been a way for us to make meaning out of our world,” added Cruz.

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Denver’s slam poetry and performance poetry community are strong. Hundreds of people compete and visit open mic nights to take their shot. In addition to Slam Nuba, there’s a team at Denver’s Mercury Café.

slam poetry

(credit: CBS)

“I always think about that quote, that I don’t remember who said it, but the shortest distance between two people is a story,” said Mikahn.

Their review of Gorman’s performance was exuberant.

“You’re just like, there is a lot of emotion here moving folks,” said Cruz. “One of the beautiful things that she was able to do in her poem was almost like a sonic double entendre. Where she would just break up words and the syllables matched up the way that the syllables themselves almost sounded like another word that had another meaning. But it was just in the way she was saying it,” said Cruz.

slam poetry

(credit: CBS)

Mikahn added, “That person now has a voice in this nation’s chorus.”

Slam Nuba is mostly doing online performances during the pandemic. They have reached out for years with programs of creative writing and workshops and mentoring. It’s grassroots work to help people with talent develop the love of poetry, and Denver’s community is strong.

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As Amanda Gorman said, “The new dawn blooms with light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. It only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Alan Gionet