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The life of an outlaw poet

'Blues poet' shares his unique style in a musical literary performance


Experience blues poetry with Tony Moffeit on Saturday in - CCs Gates Common Room.
  • Experience blues poetry with Tony Moffeit on Saturday in CCs Gates Common Room.

Tony Moffeit grew up in the small town of Claremore, Okla., listening to blues on the radio.

At 13, he began contemplating and connecting to the rhythmic qualities of the sound.

Moffeit eventually became the first "blues poet." Over the past 30 years, he's published 27 volumes, received a 1992 National Endowment for the Arts creative-writing fellowship, and won the Jack Kerouac Award for his 1986 volume of poetry, Pueblo Blues.

"With the blues and with poetry, there's a certain magic that occurs with performance, 'cause you're tapping into the language of music ... you're tapping into the spirit and mysticism of it," says Moffeit, now director of the Pueblo Poetry Project.

During performances, Moffeit sings and reads his poetry, often while playing the conga drum alongside Little Ricky and the Roosters guitarist Rick Terlep.

"The greatest honor for me," Moffeit says, "is sharing with the audience those readings where ... there's a mystical sharing."

Moffeit and Terlep have been in the studio for about a year recording the audio CD, Outlaw Blues Revolution, to be released in July. This CD will debut what he calls "outlaw blues" music because the lyrics come from "outlaw poetry."

Moffeit has worked with Todd Moore for more than 20 years developing what they call "the outlaw movement." Outlaw poets write outlaw personas, such as Moffeit's Billy the Kid, into lengthy poems to represent people who promote their individuality and go their own way. By incorporating the energy of blues and jazz music, a form of revitalized poetry emerges.

Tony Moffeit with guitarist Rick Terlep as part of the Visiting Writers Series

Gates Common Room, CC's Palmer Hall, 1025 N. Cascade Ave.

Saturday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m.

Free; call 389-6607 for more.

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