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Poetry Preludes, featuring Spokane’s poets laureate, to open Browne’s Addition summer concerts series

Chris Cook is Spokane’s poet laureate. He and the city's previous poets laureate will open the Thursday concerts in Coeur d'Alene Park with Poetry Preludes, starting Thursday, Aug. 4.  (The Spokesman-Review)
Chris Cook is Spokane’s poet laureate. He and the city's previous poets laureate will open the Thursday concerts in Coeur d'Alene Park with Poetry Preludes, starting Thursday, Aug. 4. (The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane poet laureate Chris Cook and his three predecessors will be featured in a series of “poetry preludes” during the Browne’s Addition Summer Concerts through August.

“It just so happened that we have four concerts … and a total of four current and former poets laureate,” he said. In addition to Cook, Poetry Preludes will feature Laura Read (2015-17), Thom Caraway (2013-15) and Mark Anderson (2017-19).

When Browne’s Addition Summer Concert series producer Annie Matlow approached Cook about creating a spoken word segment to accompany each concert, he jumped on board quickly. Of course, it helped that he already had an idea of who would be willing to join him.

“I was ecstatic when the last one finally agreed to it and we were able to make the dates work,” he said.

The choice of material will be left up to each poet, but the initial idea was to open each concert with one or two original poems tied to the outdoors, the neighborhood or the music.

“We’re just kind of testing the waters this year, seeing how people take it,” Cook said. “I love combining art forms.”

As a trumpeter and longtime member of the Spokane Symphony, Cook finds having poetry and music performed on the same stage especially gratifying.

“I think the two art forms work very well together,” he said. “Like music, poetry can have rhythm and form. It can make you sit up in your chair or melt down into – it can make you experience overwhelming things in a very short time.”

During Thursday’s concert featuring Villa Blues and Jazz, Cook plans to kick off the series with two original poems, including a new piece written for the event and an old favorite, “Goodnight, Fred.”

“First time I saw his earnest style, / his nerdy look, his cheesy smile, / I thought, C’mon, you can’t be real— / no one’s like this—what’s your deal? / But through the years, he proved me wrong / just bit by bit and song by song. / He sang about us being neighbors and such– / how we’re growing inside, how we matter so much– / how it’s such a good feeling just being alive…”

The series will continue with Read opening for Free Whiskey on Aug. 11; Caraway opening for Soul Proprietor on Aug. 18 and Anderson opening for Brassworks on Aug. 25. The concerts will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at Coeur d’Alene Park in Browne’s Addition. Poetry Preludes is funded by a SAGA grant from Spokane Arts.

For information, visit Browne’s Addition Concert Series on Facebook.

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