Colorado Creative: Susan Froyd

Susan Froyd has highlighted over 400 artists in Colorado for her Westword column “Colorado Creatives”. We wanted to ask her the same questions that she generously asks us. So here is a slightly modified version of Susan’s questionnaire.


You’ll be reading at Art of Storytelling this month, and you mentioned reading poems. We all know about Susan Froyd the art writer/journalist who has championed Denver’s creative communities for decades, so could you tell us a little more about Susan Froyd the poet? Maybe what are your concerns as a poet, are there any particular themes/ideas/feelings you notice yourself writing towards?

I’m uncomfortable calling myself a poet; I’m more of a lapsed poet looking for a doorway back in time. When I last wrote poems actively I was at the crossroads of wordplay and journalism, but I suppose 25-plus years writing for a newspaper has trained me into a different approach. Not long after beginning work at Westword with no previous experience in journalism, I went back to school—J school, to be exact—at Metro, where the two disciplines collided.

At that time, I began a series motivated by a love for the roots of American roots music—the global ethnomusicological threads that bring diverse folk traditions together in new contexts. I was interested—and still am—in the way blues, bluegrass, jazz, swing, country, norteño and other cultural niches intertwine at the beginning. I’ve always wanted to return to that series; still trying to slow down my thinking long enough to step back on that platform.

Thinking back to how long you’ve lived in Denver, could you name your top 3 (more if you want) art openings or exhibits or readings or concerts or anything you’ve seen that has been stuck with you?

Wow, you have no idea! Picasso’s “Guernica” at MOMA in New York (I know, not Denver…); Jason Grote’s play 1001 at the Denver Center; Our Mothers’ Voices, a play in which I performed poorly that grew out of a Women’s Studies class project at Metro in the ’70s; Tara Rynders, “You & Me; art shows of all kinds, too numerous to break down; Miles Davis at the old Denver Auditorium, circa 1971; Tom Verlaine at the Blue Note in Boulder, 1981; Wynton Marsalis Quintet and Oliver Lake’s Jump-Up at the Casino Cabaret; Graham Parker at the Rainbow Music Hall; Talking Heads at Glenn Miller Ballroom; the Kinks, numerous times; Laurie Anderson, Rainbow; Vladimir Ashkenazi; Bob Dylan and the Band, Denver Coliseum; Rolling Thunder Review, numerous shows with Bill Frisell; in San Francisco: Sonny Rollins, John Zorn, Meredith Monk and Ping Chong, John McLaughlin, Max Roach, Bob Mould; so many more, okay, I’ll shut up.

What (or who) is your creative muse?

Music is a big one (list above only skims the surface), and the fleeting sensations of being in nature. Pop culture in general, both high- and lowbrow. Simple pleasures: fiction, film, art and especially the visual.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?

Patti Smith, Luis Alberto Urrea and Robert Altman. Supreme storytellers all, in wonderfully different ways.

Are trends worth following? What’s one trend you love and one that you hate?

I’m pretty happy about the proliferation of comic-book movies and television series, especially the ones on Netflix, which are so well acted and scripted that you totally believe the characters and outlandish plots are real. It’s pop culture thing. On the other end, I think the whole politically correct rulebook has become overbearing, because life doesn’t usually stick to a script.

What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?

Well, not sure I’m an artist, but I’m proud of my tenure with Westword, and the opportunities it’s afforded me the share other people’s stories.

You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?

As noted above, I’d like to resume writing poems. Also, if I could ever afford to live in San Francisco again, I’d be grateful to the universe. Or at least travel extensively.

Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?

I’m not expecting to leave Denver again. I was born here, lived here most of my life and have seen many more versions of “old Denver” disappear than most of the folks out there who so vocally missing it these days. It’s all relative. Being entrenched in Denver’s creative scene has been a gift that would be so hard to leave behind. Thanks, Denver.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

So many. Again, if I attempted to start a list, it would be infinite. But here are a few: Tameca Coleman, Corrina Espinosa, Thomas Scharfenberg, Mar Williams, Peter Yumi, Frankie Toan, Sommer Browning, Esteban Peralta, Julie Carr and Tim Roberts, Tara Rynders, Mark Sink, Donald Fodness  and my brother, j. gluckstern. I love all of my 400-plus Colorado Creatives subjects, and of course it can’t, won’t and doesn’t end there.

What’s on your agenda in the coming year?

Keep on keeping on—freelancing for Westword, grokking my creatives, walking my dogs, maybe even refinding and honing my voice as a poet. Time will tell.

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