The Mile High Jazz Band is paying tribute to a Nevada poet who contributed to Carson City’s music and arts scene.
The “50th Jazz and Poetry: A Tribute to Bill Cowee (1942-2009)” will be presented from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, in the Performance Hall at the Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St.
Acclaimed poet Bill Cowee inspired, and was the first poet to participate in Jazz and Poetry’s first performance in 2003 at Comma Coffee. Jazz and Poetry, which offers an evening of big-band jazz music and poetry, is a staple quarterly event.
Cowee cofounded the Ash Canyon Poets, a group of working poets. Published in more than 150 journals and anthologies in nearly all 50 states plus England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, Cowee was honored in 2001 with a Governor’s Arts Award and twice received the Nevada Arts Council Fellowship for his poetry.
“This celebration will be a historic occasion. As colleague Shaun Griffin wrote, Bill’s collection of poetry — Bones Set Against the Drift — ‘rang true to this landscape and the people who make the Great Basin home.’ And many successful Nevada poets credit Bill’s mentoring as an important influence in their literary achievements,” said Rita Geil, poet and event coordinator.
Cowee’s work will be read by poets who studied with him or were inspired by him, or those who have been featured at Jazz and Poetry events throughout the yeas. Poets to be featured include: Ellen Hopkins, Shaun Griffin, Rita Geil, Joe Crowley, Susan Sara Priest, Krista Lukas, Teresa Breeden, Gayle Brandeis, Tracy McQuay, Anne MacQuarie, Daryl Chinn, Amy Roby, Ursula Carlson, Doug Barrett, Pam Alvey, Terese Forde, Tim Rhodes, and Reno’s Poet Laureate, Gailmarie Pahmeier. Vocalists are Cindee LeVal, Jakki Ford, and June Joplin.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The program will open with music by middle and high school students from summer jazz camp.
Admission is free for ages 18 and under. Everyone else can buy tickets for $10 at the door or in advance at Carson City Visitors Bureau, 716 N. Carson St.; or online at MileHighJazz.com.
Admission includes a no-host bar; live music by a 19-piece big band and several jazz vocalists; readings by award-winning poets; autographed-book sales of the poets’ work; a souvenir memorial program; anniversary cake; autographed-book door prizes; and a chapbook with selections from Cowee’s poetry (not available in his published book).
A video recording of the event, available for later purchase, will be produced by documentary filmmaker Marc Lempert for air on local cable and for donation to libraries, including Western Nevada College Library, which houses Cowee’s donation of 1,200 volumes of poetry, mostly featuring Northern Nevada writers.
The event is sponsored by Mile High Jazz Band Association and Brewery Arts Center and supported by the Nevada Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
For more information, go to MileHighJazz.com, or call 775-883-4154.