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It would take an estimable road crew if poet Carl Dennis traveled to readings carrying all of his awards.
After all, he's been a recipient of a Pulitzer Prize; a Fellowship at the Rockefeller Study Center in Bellagio, Italy; a Guggenheim Fellowship; a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship; and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. To name a few.
Fortunately, as his poetry effortlessly suggests, Dennis is hardly the pompous or relentlessly self-promoting type.
Rather, his work often celebrates everyday folks and events with wonderfully wry observational grace. Consider the house-jealous passerby in "The Man On My Porch Makes Me an Offer." Or the indelible optimism of inked flesh in "Tattoo."
At the same time, Dennis can delicately rip your heart out - and if you think that's a contradiction, you haven't read "Saint Francis and the Nun."
Dennis headlines Friday at the Arts Cafe Mystic. In musical support will be singer-songwriter Nancy Parent, and the evening's Opening Voice poet is John Stanizzi.
- RICK KOSTER
Arts Cafe Mystic, 7 p.m. Friday, Mystic Arts Center, 9 Water St., Mystic; $10, free for students; (860) 912-2444, theartscafemystic.org.