September 5, 2013

Chis Ransick was the first and only person to serve as Denver’s poet laureate, from 2006-2010. He has a new book of poetry, called “Language for the Living and the Dead.” It’s all about transitions.  With host Ryan Warner, he reads and discusses, “When the Buzzards Return to Crestone,” a poem that celebrates vultures, “Tango Villanelle” and “The Comedian Takes His Own Life.”

Listen to him and fellow poet Eleanor Swanson live tonight at 7pm at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Cafe in Boulder.


July 1, 2013

Robert W. King reads his poem “Grandfather God” from his collection SOME OF THESE DAYS, published by Conundrum Press in 2013, at Conundrum in RiNo.

June 28, 2013

Chris Ransick reads his poem “Paris Conundrum” from his collection LANGUAGE FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD, published by Conundrum Press in 2013, at Conundrum in RiNo.

June 26, 2013

Chris Ransick reads his poem “Why I Gave Away My Wings” from his collection LANGUAGE FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD, published by Conundrum Press in 2013, at Conundrum in RiNo.

June 26, 2013

Eleanor Swanson reads her poem “Paradise” from her collection MEMORY’S ROOMS, published by Conundrum Press in 2013, at Conundrum in RiNo.

June 20, 2013
Honoring the Life of Kurt Brown


We are deeply saddened by the passing of Kurt Brown earlier this week. He was a monumental figure in the rise of Colorado as an important hub of literary culture in the American West. In fact, the existence of Conundrum Press can be traced all the way back to his generosity and nurturing of a young poet named David Rothman, who eventually founded Conundrum Press in 1998. We are honored to have worked with him last year on his memoir Lost Sheep: Aspen’s Counterculture in the 1970s, a brilliant three-stranded narrative of his life, the history of Aspen, and the colorful characters living in Aspen that typified that decade and who went on to influence the nation’s culture. 

As Kurt reflected on his life for his memoir, he wrote, 

Individual lives mean little, in historical terms, and the details of such lives are engulfed by currents larger than any one person can imagine. No one I ever knew said: “I want to escape the industrial juggernaut the nation has become,” or “I reject the arrogant posture America has taken with respect to other nations in the world.” But from the perspective of forty years, it is also possible to see one’s life as part of a larger pattern, something that invests individual existence with meaning, while at the same time, absorbing it almost completely. We live in history as if it were an element, like fish live in water, and it’s impossible to divorce ourselves from our choices, the actions we take in the course of an ordinary life. We are the actors and enactors of history, whether we are aware of it or not.

It is our hope to follow in his footsteps and build on the solid literary foundation that he established for us. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

—caleb j seeling, publisher

Official bio:
Kurt Brown founded the Aspen Writers’ Conference, Writers’ Conferences & Centers, and was instrumental in the success of Aspen Anthology. His poems have appeared in many literary periodicals and he is the editor of several anthologies including his most recent (with Harold Schechter), Killer Verse: Poems about Mayhem and Murder, from Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series. He was the author of six chapbooks and seven full-length collections of poetry, including Return of the Prodigals, More Things in Heaven and Earth, Fables from the Ark, Future Ship, No Other Paradise, and A Thousand Kim. A collection of the poems of Flemish poet Herman de Coninck entitled The Plural of Happiness, which he and his wife translated, was released in the Field Translation Series in 2006.

June 19, 2013
At the Intersection of Poetry, Music, Art, Space, Coffee, and Tacos

An old warehouse building wedged between a doggie day care and a yard piled high with old tires in Denver’s industrial River North (fondly called RiNo) neighborhood may sound like a less than ideal place to celebrate contemporary culture. But poetry has traditionally served as the voice of the common man, and so, surrounded by tires, rusting railroad cars, and howling dogs, Conundrum Press released new books of poetry from three of the Rocky Mountain region’s best poets. But, always on the lookout for the intersection of the art of words with other art forms, we invited artists of the culinary, musical, visual, and space varieties to see if we could create a new kind of cultural experience.

Nanna’s Kitchen created one of the best taco spreads we had the pleasure of diving into:

Ninety-Plus Coffee Estates, whose coffee took 2nd and 3rd place in the World Barista Championships last week in Australia, demonstrated what coffee could truly taste like:

Contributing to our cultural health is a critical part of our mission as a publishing company, so every event we do raises money that goes toward an organization that supports the art of youth, particularly underserved and disadvantaged youth. Conundrum in RiNo raised over $500 for the Young Writers Program of the Lighthouse Writers Workshop and invited two of their young writers to share the stage with the pros. They read their raw and beautiful poetry as the sunset began to flare:

Then Poet Laureate Chris Ransick, Robert King, and Eleanor Swanson read from each others’ work before riffing off each other with their own words.

Another art form that complements poetry particularly well is of course music. Chimney Choir graced us with their unique blend of Americana and psychedelic synth, dissonance and harmony, playing well into the evening.

The art of space is an often overlooked, yet critical cultural contribution. We could have held Conundrum in RiNo in the tire yard next door, or even in some common space like a coffee shop, but both lack the care and attention to detail that goes into carving out a space that fosters creativity and community—the two elements that every art form requires. We partnered with Converge Denver because their passion has been to carve out such a space in that old industrial warehouse between the doggie day care and the tire yard, filling the inside with studios for local artists and using found materials to make an inviting back patio of the old loading dock that overlooks the South Platte River and Front Range mountains. Truly, without them, the celebration would have been a far less momentous occasion. With their care, passion, and attention to detail,  Conundrum in RiNo was imbued with that special, dare I say sacred, spirit that transformed the evening into a unique and important experience for 120 people. 

This is the kind of celebration Conundrum Press will hold at least twice a year, so be on the lookout for another one in October!

June 11, 2013
Coffee and the Existentialists

from Some of These Days
by Robert King
Come see King in person June 14 at Conundrum in RiNo!

Life, this morning, is like trying to fold a newspaper in the breeze,
maybe waiting for a bus or at a sidewalk table,
where I am, maybe in Paris or North Dakota,
where I am, Jean Paul Sartre or someone climbing off
a box car across the street as a train slows through town.

The pages flutter as I try to contain the temporary news,
print aging so quickly it will yellow into an antique document
announcing World War II or even, in 1980, the death of Sartre.
The guy from the train, gray hair and a thick jacket, goes inside,
comes out with a glass of water, sits at the next table, contemplates.

In the 1950s a high school girlfriend’s uncle
back from Paris told us how the existentialists danced,
worth a course in philosophy, good for a year of thought.
I continue doing my origami in the light tornado
of the cafe’s corner and another arrives, a cyclist

with a helmet we’d have laughed at in the 1950s,
locks his bike, goes in, comes out with coffee, sits.
In khaki shorts, he has a tattoo of the earth,
inexplicably, on his leg. So three men have themselves
at three tables in the sun, and I’m still trying to read,

the news subsiding to tatters of gossip in my hands,
buckling, in a gust around the corner, like a large bird
whose wings I’m trying to subdue, remembering
riding my bike, not remembering riding a free freight,
and wondering what I thought my purpose was.

Years later, years, when I finally got to Paris
and sat in a new chair at Sartre’s Deux Magots cafe
all I knew to say in French was “I want” and
"I’d like" so I sat there, wanting and liking everything
except later, standing at Sartre’s and de Beauvoir’s grave.

The cyclist says nothing, sips his coffee, and the hobo,
maybe, leaves to follow the earth, his plastic water glass
sparkling like fire in the air of the increasingly lonely corner.
The existentialists, if you want to know, danced straight
from the hips up, motionless, their feet and legs going crazy.

At least this is what Uncle Ed told us, his hands
fluttering, fingers impersonating their feet
like skittering birds, like newspaper pages
flying loose across the street, the tracks pointing
both ways, defining themselves by their existence.

Buy your copy here.

June 10, 2013
Man Waves at Train

from Memory’s Rooms
by Eleanor Swanson
Listen to her in person on June 14 at Conundrum in RiNo

He works on his Chevy
truck almost every Saturday
and last night dropped
the eight ball on the break
at Cunningham’s Bar where
Clydesdales march forever
around the light over the pool table.

He still remembers the time
that once, in his tricked out
Camaro, he drag-raced
a Plymouth with a 426 hemi,
its primer silver in the moonlight.
That night, he drank in
the feeling of sitting alone
behind the wheel, watching
the tach climb to red line,
each roaring second perfect.

This morning, like every day,
he got up before light,
climbed in the truck
and began to count the hours
until the weekend.
Then suddenly, another day gone,
he sat in afternoon rush hour.

When he saw the train coming
under the interstate he took
off his cap and started waving
at the Burlington Northern engine,
waving for his life at a train
that had pulled over mountains
where it was so dark you could see
the whole sky full of burning stars.

He pressed the gas and took a lane.
If he didn’t go now
he might never go.
When he got there
it would be just dark
enough to see all those stars—
burning and burning.


Order your copy here.


May 20, 2013
Join us for Denver’s most exciting evening of literary and artistic goodness. Conundrum in RiNo, June 14 from 7-10p. Get your free ticket at 

Join us for Denver’s most exciting evening of literary and artistic goodness. Conundrum in RiNo, June 14 from 7-10p. Get your free ticket at